Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Girl Wrote It: Ali Scaramella, Actor

Ali Scaramella A Girl Wrote It marks Alison’s first production with Wide Eyed.  Recently, she has performed at Joe’s Pub and Ars Nova in the new musical Salamander Leviathan by Krista Knight and Barry BrinegarOther NYC credits include: Girl / Group- A Daughter’s Tale (La MaMa ETC), The Light Inside (Examined Man Theatre), Murder in the Cathedral (Hoi Polloi), Invader? I Hardly Know Her!, directed by Rebecca Hengstenberg (FringeNYC), A Frontier, As Told By The Frontier (Columbia Stages/The Cherry Pit and New York Theatre Workshop), and the NYC debut of Pink! (DownPayment Productions / Workshop Theatre), which was nominated for seven New York Innovative Theatre Awards. Regionally, she has worked at The Kitchen Theatre Company in Ithaca, NY in their productions of Circle Mirror Transformation, boom, and Speech & Debate.  Her film work includes the short film Underneath (written by Jake Paque and directed by Tim Butterfield), and the feature film Honeysuckle.  Alison has trained at Connecticut College, the British American Drama Academy, and The Lee Strasberg Institute for Theater and Film. 
  • You’ll be performing in Deirdre O'Connor's Penicillin as part of our upcoming production of A Girl Wrote It. Can you tell us some of your initial thoughts about the piece? How are rehearsals going?  
I loved the piece right from the start!  The dialogue seems not only incredibly witty and smart, but also very realistic and poignant at times (no small feat).  She’s really done most of the work for us!  One-Acts can be tricky- there’s a lot to fit into a pretty small space- but this piece covers so much ground.  It’s really a testament to the writing that you can get to know these characters so well and watch them transform over the course of twenty pages. 

Rehearsals are going great!  I feel pretty lucky to get to hang out with Rebecca Hengstenberg and Michael Komala three or four times a week.  
  • When did you know that you wanted to be an actor? How did you get started? 
I think I’ve wanted to be an actor for as long as I can remember wanting anything (at times, against my better judgment).  My father is a High School English teacher who also directed the Drama Club plays for a while, so I spent a significant amount of time when I was very little in the auditorium watching rehearsals of plays like Rumors and Annie.  That undoubtedly played a part in lighting the fire.  I got started the usual way- summer camps, school plays, and then went on to get my undergraduate degree in Theater and to study in some conservatory settings.
  • Who or what do you consider to have been your biggest creative influences to date? Why?
WOW, that’s a tough question.  I feel very inspired by the creative people I get to make theater with, many of whom are also very dear friends, and the collaborative process of putting on a show leaves an imprint on me every single time I do it.  There have also been some formative experiences that helped me to not only develop a sense of creative identity, but to grow into myself as an adult.  I studied abroad in college at the British American Drama Academy in London.  That program was very challenging and inspiring for me for a number of reasons, the greatest being that it forced me to face some of my insecurities and fears.  I was surrounded by lots of very talented people who seemed so comfortable and confident in their skin, and I suddenly found myself being very afraid to fail.  I realized that I could either let the experience pass me by without ever pushing myself to grow, or I could throw caution to the wind and take a risk.  I didn’t always succeed in doing this, but I really gave it a good go.  I failed a lot, but I learned even more!  There was also a summer in college that I interned at The Pearl Theatre Company here in NYC, and that was the first time I truly understood just how rich and varied the theater community is.  I saw so much amazing theater that summer (Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice, Chuck Mee’s Iphigenia 2.0) that it really awakened in me a whole new appreciation in me for the craft. 
  • What is your favorite part of the creative process before you perform for an audience? Do you have a particular pre-show ritual that you engage in before curtain? If so, can you share it with us? 
I get extremely superstitious, though I have learned to work against it over the years, especially once I moved to NYC and realized that I’m not always going to be able to control my pre-show conditions.  Sometimes I’ll be racing to the theater from another job, sometimes the dressing room will be in a leaking basement with no bathroom, sometimes there won’t be a dressing room, so you have to go with the flow and have a ritual that is adaptable.  Usually I like to warm up- I do some sad little version of yoga that would probably make real yogis cringe, and I try to breathe and listen to my nerves and connect with my body.  I do the some vocal exercises.  Sometimes I run around like a crazy person.  Sometimes I play Katy Perry really loud and dance.  Sometimes I sit in a chair in the corner by myself and try to be still.  Depends on the show!  Often I have a little conversation with myself that goes like this: “Oh wow I’m so nervous I want to puke.  Why do I like doing this?  This is awful.  This is torture.  I don’t like doing this at all.  I think I’m going to go home.  No one will know I left.  I really don’t feel like it today.”  And then I get out there and in the first two seconds I find myself thinking, “Oh yeah... THIS is why I like doing this.  This is awesome. ”
  • I believe this is your first time working with Wide Eyed. We’d like to get to know you a little better. Could you tell us a little bit about what you like to do in your spare time? 
So many things!  And also sometimes nothing.  Literally.  Sometimes I don’t leave my apartment for a day or two and I’m perfectly content with that.  I love music.  I just purchase a Ukulele a few weeks back, so that’s been very fun to play around with and learn.  I think my neighbors probably hate me now.  I love to read.  I love to cook.  I love to be outside.  I love to walk around and explore the city.  I love to see plays and movies. Most importantly, I love to be with my friends and family! 
  • Are you working on any additional projects at the moment? Care to share with us? 
I have a couple readings coming up in the next couple months, one at The Lark and one with a brand new play development group.  Other than those, we shall see!

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