Academy Spotlight: Elizabeth Zerebko

Hello hello!

I am Lizzie Zerebko, and I am currently taking the American Classics at Antaeus under Rob Nagle.

After being born and raised in the Pasadena area, I went on to study Theatre at USC. I had a brief stint in London while studying at BADA (British American Drama Academy), which reinforced my love for classical theatre- I’ve never looked back. After graduating in 2010, I worked at A Noise Within as an intern and took classes there for nearly a year.

Certainly my favorite post-graduation project has been “Shakespearience” at the Alex Theatre, a field trip that serves as an introduction to the wonders of Shakespeare. The audiences (1,000+ students each time) are unlike any other- they allow themselves to feel moved by the material, and have no problem verbally expressing it! Their unique energy is overwhelming at times, but ultimately very rewarding. When I was a wee freshman in high school I saw this show myself, and it is a wonderful opportunity to give back. I can’t wait to perform again this coming March. (www.theatricaleducationgroup.com).

I could, of course, tell you that I’ve ALWAYS wanted to be a performer since I was ten months old, yadda, yadda. BUT- what I remember most as the true change in the way I viewed theatre was a daytime student matinee at Pasadena Playhouse’s production of PRIVATE LIVES, directed by Art Manke. The overwhelming beauty, intriguing style, and sublime execution have colored my pursuits through the years, both in acting and directing.

It was from that performance, I believe, that I garnered my conviction that theatre should be beautiful… somewhere at its heart should be the search for and attainment of beauty, or the failure thereof.

My goal is to talk to Art Manke one day and just let him know what a great influence that particular show has had on my development. I hope that I am bound to run into him at some point, as Facebook tells me we have far too many mutual friends. Hopefully I will be able to give him that compliment and validation- after all, as theatre artists isn’t it our mission to affect the individual with human truth for days or years to come?

What brought you to Antaeus?

With this developing belief and the resulting inclination toward the classics, how could I not be drawn to Antaeus? In fact, I had been looking at the classes for years before I was able to audition, even while I was still at school. The welcome I have experienced this fall, paired with the dedication and talent of those I know involved, tells me that I have come to the right place.

My time with the American Classics has been wonderful. I know that I speak for many when I say that the class gives us an outlet where we can be truly excited and challenged by what we are working on. Rob has been astoundingly flexible and supportive, and has let each of us form our personal class journey to fit our needs. As long as the pieces fall within the guidelines of O’Neill, Williams, and Miller, we have been able to take on whatever material we are drawn to- whether a traditional two-person scene, a monologue, or a female version of Death of a Salesman featuring a Wilhelmina Loman. Our guest moderators have been very informative as well, bringing fresh eyes and new perspectives to make even more well rounded scenes.

The level of talent in the student group is truly apparent in the work. I am constantly impressed, as their honesty and willingness have created some of the best theatre I have seen in a long time. Everyone’s positive attitudes also create a nice support system that allows for more risks, regardless of the “success”.

I can walk away from this fall’s class knowing that I have reached for things that have scared me, highly triumphant with some…and no so much with others. I’ve been reminded of the immense detail and continuous thought that separates a good performance from a great one. I’ve remembered my personal weaknesses and my ticks and tried to work through them. AND, in the grander scheme of theatre scholarship, I am walking away with a wonderful comprehensive introduction to three distinct American playwrights, each with their own distinct voice that I had never been able to hear before. I am thrilled. I can’t wait for some High Comedy in the spring.

I will leave you with my favorite quote, shown to me by a dear friend and mentor:

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”

-Louisa May Alcott

 

Thank you. Any and all of my information can be found on my website, at http://www.zerebko.com.

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Academy Spotlight: Marjo-Riikka Makela

Tell us about yourself (where you’re from, maybe where you studied, how long you’ve been in LA, your favorite credits):
I’ve been to Los Angeles for about 3 years now. I’m originally from Finland. In my early twenties, I worked as a professional actress in a big repertory theater company in Finland. I had the wonderful opportunity to perform many lead classical theater roles, and also have fun with completely different, more modern characters, such as Peppi Longstocking. Even though it was a very wonderful experience to work on a repertory company, doing 3 shows simultaneously and having a monthly paycheck from the theater, I felt that I needed to learn more and grow as an actor. Working can at times be very result oriented and there is not always much room for exploration or “taking risks” which is a necessity for any artist in order to grow. With only a little amount of actor training at that point, I was simply doing it all by instinct (and probably pure good luck!) so after working non-stop for a couple of  years, I got worried that I would start repeating myself or developing mannerisms and therefore was hungry for learning new ways and gaining deeper understanding of the actors process and character transformation. I decided to expand my artist journey to study acting and directing in Denmark, Russia and U.S.A. I trained at the Russian Academy of Dramatic Arts (GITIS) and also have an MFA in Acting from CSULB.  Here in USA some of my favorite roles include Medea in direction of David Bridel, Yelena in Uncle Vanya at the Classic Stage Company’s summer series in NYC,  and my work with Sarah Kane and Andrei Malaev-Babel at the Stanislavsky Theatre Studio in Washington DC. My directing credits include Shakespeare, Chekhov, Schiller, and devised work.Tell us why you love acting or what made you choose it as your profession, etc. I feel that acting chose me. First it was a hobby for me, as I already had two other professions (I had prior degrees both as an equestrian trainer and gymnastic on horse, and as a psychiatric nurse) but very quickly theater took over all my time completely and there was no point of returning or doubting since then. I knew I had a whole new life in front of me right at my very first theater rehearsal, and at the opening night of my very first play, I knew I had arrived home. I believe that acting is a profession of calling. I wish to be serving something greater than myself, working together with the ensemble to tell a story of another human soul, and this way striving to expand empathy in the world. As one of my student’s so well put it: “Actors are professional human beings!” I feel so very blessed to be able to practice this art form and to PLAY all day long! What keeps us young is inspiration, and I am allowed to bath in it daily! Antaeus is a wonderful place for any artist to grow and share this love for theater!


What brought you to Antaeus?
I was so very blessed to meet Liz Swain via our mutual Michael Chekhov acting technique teacher friend. We spoke about the art of acting and of course Shakespeare all night, and I immediately knew that I wanted to deepen my understanding of Shakespeare with her! She is truly  a world class teacher! I have been very impressed by Antaeus as a company. The high level of training and talent at Antaeus is undeniable!What do you want to gain from the class?  Do you have a specific “problem” on which you want to focus?

I really wanted to embrace the whole experience with “new-born eyes (and ears!). Even though I have a lot of experience (and technique) as an actor, I’m a complete beginner in my Shakespeare in English. The images are so much more vivid and beautiful and the text works me in a completely different way than it did in any foreign translations I worked earlier in my career.  Liz has opened up a whole new universe to me!

What do you think of the class so far?  Absolutely in love with Liz and the class!

What is your experience with classical theater?  Has class reinforced/changed what you previously thought, or have you learned new things, etc? Yes reinforced many things and opened new doors to language!
 
Tell us a fun fact about you or highlight one of your unusual special skills. I don’t know if I have any special skills, but I speak fluent Finnish and can stand on a horse while it’s galloping! ;o)
 
Anything new and exciting going on in your life? (doesn’t have to be acting related, can be an engagement, upcoming trip, new dog, etc.) My acting studio has a little scene study showcase coming up. We call the evening: Tennessee Williams-Cafe, and I’m very excited for the wonderful actors in it! Also, I just got invited to direct a production in Brazil and I’m exited for the trip!