Thursday, November 10, 2011

Focusing In on ELENA WRIGHT

Elena Wright
Introducing the second of our two 2011-2012 Focus Actors -- Elena Wright! Elena is a Bay Area actress and company member of PlayGround. You may have seen her as Thuria in The Verona Project at Cal Shakes or Athena in Salt Plays Parts I & II at Shotgun Players. We asked Elena a few questions about her experiences in the theater, and here's what she told us: 

NAME: birth name - Elana Wright, equity name - Elena Wright, it causes lots of confusion...


FIRST THEATER EXPERIENCE: playing Eve in a church play when i was 4. i still remember how much i loved having a part and getting to hold my favorite stuffed cat while onstage.

Elena in Salt Plays Part II: Of the Earth (photo by Pak Han)
FAVORITE THEATER EXPERIENCE: being in Oleanna in college. it was a two person show and the other cast member was my teacher. i learned so much by working with someone who was so committed and professional. The subject matter was incredibly intense, and every night the audience would audibly react to the ending. That was one of the first times I realized how powerful theatre could be, and that i could be a part of something that moves people.

BEST TEENAGE MEMORY: Meeting my best friend. Growing up, i had always felt a little out of place and unique, and it wasn't until freshman year of high school that i met someone who taught me that you don't have to be like everyone else, and in fact, being yourself is way more fun. 19 years later, she's still my best friend.

WHAT KIND OF THEATER EXCITES YOU? Good theatre. Of all kinds. Theatre that requires risk and passion, which can mean anything from new works to Shakespeare, contemporary dramas to farce, classic award winners to experimental physical theatre.

WHAT'S COMING UP NEXT FOR YOU? The season of Playground, where I'm a company member. And looking for the next gig, which is what a professional actor spends the majority of their time doing....

Elena as Una in Blackbird (photo by Pak Han)

CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE PROJECT YOU JUST FINISHED? I just closed Blackbird, which is another two-character play with an intense theme. What was interesting about it for me was realizing how much harder acting can get the more you do it and the more you know about how to do it well. When I did Oleanna, I was a very young and inexperienced actor. I used my intuition most of the time, and "felt" my way through it, but in Blackbird, I used equal amounts of skill and sensing. This actually turned out to be much harder, since sometimes, those two things cancel each other out, and are hard to do at the same time. It proved to me that the more you know, the more you have reason to stay humble.

To learn more about Up Next's Focus Actor program, visit our website:

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