This post is the sixth in our Neighborhood Studios blog series to share the journeys of seven people who have participated in Neighborhood Studios, the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s summer teen apprentice program. Each one of their stories is a different perspective on the way this program can shape you and prepare you for your future career, college, and a life that’s connected to the arts. Each post will highlight a specific skill they gained or growth they experienced as an apprentice, as a teacher, or as a staff member.
Today we’ll meet Daisy Infantas, a Neighborhood Studios apprentice and student at the University of Hartford where she is studying Psychology. Daisy played the role of Ophelia in Hartford Stage’s Neighborhood Studio production of Hamlet.
Guest Blogger: Daisy Infantas, Neighborhood Studios Apprentice (2015)
The clock is ticking while I’m getting ready to go on stage and play one of the main roles: Ophelia. I’m putting on my costume and fixing my hair while everyone else is doing the same. I kept telling myself, “You got this. Don’t focus too much on the words. They will come to you while you’re on that stage”. I kept looking at the time and the more I looked, the more I told myself the same thing over and over again. As I made my way to the stage I noticed that I was not the only one that was nervous. I realized this is the moment I get to show my true capabilities as a performer. I stepped out from behind the curtains and onto the stage where the spotlight turned to me as an indication to say “the floor is yours, use it wisely.”
Performing a Shakespearian play is not about how well you can memorize the words, but how you can put yourself in the characters shoes: How you can truly react, how your character would react, as well as letting yourself become a part of that character. When I played Ophelia, I began to study her character and how she might have felt in situations like the death of her father. That, in turn guided me into the facial expressions and the behavioral aspect of her personality (making a sad face or any other form of expression). Ultimately, this helped me with movements. For example, whenever Ophelia felt the need to cry, she would stop what she was doing and automatically start to feel as if she were to collapse. With plenty of hard practice, I was able to get a sense of what my character felt, and what her behaviors might be.
Stepping on stage to perform is a very overwhelming feeling: your heart starts to pound extremely fast but the moment you step out into the spotlight everything stops. You can hear nothing but your own breath as you say the first line. It is in that moment when you let the audience feel what you feel. How? By the exaggerated movements and the tone of one’s voice. The louder the tone of voice, the more the audience feels. The bigger the movements, the more likely the audience will move with you. If I were to portray the feeling of betrayal, I would instantly raise the tone of my voice, and my body movement would be heavy and imbalanced. My facial expression would be a mixture of confused yet sad. The more you try to give yourself to the audience, the more they will react with you in such a powerful way. Similarly to watching a sad movie like Marley & Me, or Titanic (I cried like a baby), the audience grasped a connection between the character in an emotional sense just like they would if a loved one dies.
When I played the scene where Ophelia goes insane, the audience was extremely silent. Everyone froze in the moment my character froze. Same thing occurred when I danced: the audience danced back through the energy that was given to them.
I truly felt like I was not alone when I was performing since the audience was by my side throughout the entire play. They laughed when I laughed, cried when I cried, and even felt a sense of sympathy when I portrayed an insane woman. I can truthfully say that Breakdancing Shakespeare has trained me a lot with having such a powerful pull with the audience, as well as making sure they are able to follow me every step of the way.
Experience Neighborhood Studios for Yourself!
Visit the Greater Hartford Arts Council website for more information about how you can apply to become a Neighborhood Studios apprentice in 2016! www.letsgoarts.org/NeighborhoodStudios
Apprentices must be between the ages of 14-18 and reside in the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s 34-town service area. Additional eligibility requirements are listed in the Apprentice Guidelines. Neighborhood Studios applications are due by April 29, 2016. Apprentices will be selected and notified by the end of May.
About Neighborhood Studios:
Neighborhood Studios, the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s award-winning, nationally recognized summer arts apprenticeship program, will enter its 18th season when it kicks off in June 2016. The six-week summer program provides area teenagers between ages 14 – 18 with an immersive, hands-on education in the arts, as well as career-skills training. Read more about the Neighborhood Studios experience on our Let’s Go Arts blog.
The experience of Neighborhood Studios aligns with the Common Core’s description of students who are college and career ready in Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, & Language. Additionally, all Neighborhood Studios align their work with the Common Core State Standards as well as the National Core Arts Standards.