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February 23, 2012

Academy Notes – Paolo Santalucia & Sarah Koehn

Paolo SantaluciaPaolo Santalucia
Eight months ago I started something that I knew would make me grow. I knew that I would be entering into a collective of eight artists. I knew I would be working with incredible theatre-makers. I knew I would be immersed in work that has always inspired me and I knew that I would be learning at a pace and level I hadn’t ever experienced before.

What I didn’t know was how much this would change me. Over the past eight months I’ve started to get a little more used to the fact that every day I discover new things about me, both as an artist and as a collaborator.

I think the best way to describe what we’re up to is that we’re being generously pushed to define and take responsibility for what it takes to be a theatre artist. One of the things that I love about this process is how invested the company is in creating well-rounded performers and creators.

In order to find that definition, Soulpepper has allowed us to go to the AGO, Stratford, Mirvish, and has funded a field trip to see award-winning films. In doing so, they’re giving us the chance to expand our artistic horizons, and they’ve shown us the importance of art in all aspects of our lives.

In another five months we will be entering the rehearsal hall with a group of actors who have been applying this kind of theatre practice in their work for a long time. It’s because of their lessons that I’ve been able to see change in myself, and continue to grow. I know going into the next phase of the Academy I’ll have another set of surprises that will challenge my expectations. I can’t wait to see what those surprises will be. Because when they come, they’ll just reinforce how truly blessed I am to be given this opportunity.

Sarah KoehnSarah Koehn
I can’t begin to describe what a privilege it has been to be part of the Soulpepper Academy for the past eight months.

To start with, I am convinced there is something slightly magical about the Young Centre. The atmosphere is so positive and supportive, something that has stood out to me since my first visit. The atrium always smells like freshly baked muffins or roasting garlic thanks to Les Louises, which I maintain is one of the best restaurants/cafes in the district and there is never a shortage of friendly faces, whether they are from the admin side of things, the production side or acting side. It has been great to get to mingle with all of these people and support each other’s work as shows go up and events get planned.

As for the Academy, we started rigorously in June with a seven week scene study class under the direction of László Marton, one of the most delightful people I have ever met, where we dove into Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. From there we explored a variety of different approaches to acting touching on Brecht with Guillermo Verdecchia, Beckett with Daniel Brooks, Shakespeare with Nancy Palk and Joe Ziegler and most recently Clown with Leah Cherniak.

In the meantime our mornings have been filled with tango, hip hop, tai chi, voice work, movement classes, theatre studies and singing. I can’t say how lucky I feel to walk down to the Distillery District everyday and spend my days with seven of the most talented and hilarious people. I think it took us a good six months to really get to know each other, but now we are like a little family who cry together (literally), laugh together (very literally), prank each other and inspire each other on a regular basis.

We are now slowly starting to discuss the shape and content of our collective piece (a daunting task as we are starting from scratch) and thus we are entering into a new and challenging phase of work. I must admit, I am getting a little anxious thinking about this experience coming to a close, but I have learned things this past year that will stay with me forever and I am excited to see where this experience takes the 2012 “Acadepeeps.”