Thursday, December 18, 2014

Grads Look Back—As They Step Forward

Guy McEleney, center, with members of the boy band in Bliss, left to right Christopher Huntley, Jamie Ostmann, Guy, Kelsey Bray and Lauren Cocroft
It happens every year. High school seniors, who’ve attended acting classes at SCR since they were little kids, prepare to move on. As two of these young people get ready to take the next step in their lives, let’s look back at what they’ve achieved and what’s in store for the future.

Grace O’Brien, right, with Chaney Liberman, in Annie
Grace O’Brien first walked through SCR’s doors when she was in the third grade, and her parents signed her up for the Summer Acting Workshop—her initial step on a nine-year journey. “I grew up at SCR,” she says. “This has been my home, my stability and refuge in the craziness of life.”

Grace’s theatre experience included much more than just learning to act. She has taken from the program exactly what Theatre Conservatory Director Hisa Takakuwa hopes for every student. “It has benefitted me in all my studies, giving me new perspectives, introducing me to enlightening texts and teaching me the importance of self-discovery.”

Guy McEleney, who also entered the program through the Summer Theatre Workshop, shares Grace’s views. “SCR isn’t just about acting, singing, dancing, etc.,” he says. “It also teaches you how to be responsible, trustworthy and supportive in many ways.”

SCR audiences don’t see the process—the training that has helped these students through their formative years and made them freer, more confident, responsible and supportive young adults. But theatregoers have been able to witness the product—their work onstage.

“Grace remembers, “When I was ten, I’d look to the older Teen Players, wishing that one day I could be as brave, creative, experienced as they were.” Since then, she has appeared in five Players productions and portrayed both Cratchit daughters in A Christmas Carol, Belinda (2008) and Martha (2013).

Guy also appeared in A Christmas Carol, alternating in the role of Peter Cratchit in 2010, which turned out to be more than just a fun experience. “When I was in the show, I learned the responsibility of working with an adult cast,” he says. That experience also taught Guy to understand the emotion behind the text, which was particularly helpful last season, when, as a Teen Player, he had the opportunity to portray an original character in Bliss, a coming-of-age story by Laurie Woolery.

Performing with the Players allowed Guy and Grace to bring their classroom training onto the stage, maturing and developing as they moved from Junior to Teen Players. This spring, they’ll appear in their final Teen Players production, which Theatre Conservatory Director Hisa Takakuwa will announce in the next few weeks. (Stay tuned!) Meanwhile, they continue training in class twice a week.

 “As I was welcomed back into Players in September, I was overjoyed by the sight of my closest friends,” Guy says. “Under Hisa’s direction, I expect to continue learning how to work as an ensemble and what it means to become a character.”

And for the future?

“SCR has been a second home to me, with the students and teachers as an extended family,” says Guy, “Because of my training here, I’ve decided to major in theatre when I start college next fall.”
Grace also has chosen theatre as her major. “I’m sad to leave my ‘home’ behind as I continue my journey on to college,” she says. “But I know the lessons I’ve learned at SCR will be with me, guiding me to embrace the process, every step of the way.”

Karoline Ribak, another senior who’s moving on, recently talked with the Orange County Register during her run as Ebenezer Scrooge’s sister, Fan, in A Christmas Carol. See what Karolina had to say.

Karoline also just announced her plans for college and the future. She can proudly say she has been accepted into and will be attending Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in the BFA Creative Producing program.

Learn more about classes on the SCR website.

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