• Joyce Lao

An Asian Actress in a Chekov Play?!

You are probably wondering why I decided to entitle this blog as such.

I have never seen an Off - Broadway or even an Off Off Broadway production of a Chekov play with an Asian actress, at least in New York - have you?

I was pleasantly surprised when I received a cmail invitation to audition for the role of Charlotte from Chekov's, The Cherry Orchard. Although I am classically trained in music, I am not classically trained in drama. I always find classically trained actors to be more interested in of course - classical plays. I do not know why but even in my musical journey - I have quite moved away from anything classical except for delighting and funny pieces. For example - my favorite opera is Don Giovani - because it is funny. Aside from favoring comedy, I am also drawn to Russian works. My professor at Juilliard told me to consider choosing a Mozart or Rachmaninoff piece for my first voice recital. I chose Lilacs by Rachmaninoff. It is more of an art song than an aria but I love how smooth the accompaniment flows with the voice notes. Another reason is - maybe because I have some working knowledge of the Russian language.

Going back to my audition - aside from my Chekov audition, I was also preparing for 3 comedic contemporary musicals all within 2 days. Although the monetary rewards of the musicals were much more enticing, I was more excited about my Chekov audition.

I have always wanted to bring people of color, especially Asians and Filipinos like myself into the "forefront". Although I am not a big shot in the industry, I recognized that I have to start somewhere. I decided to direct, write and produce my own work so I started "The Ally Artists Group" in 2012 and invited performers and actors whom I think are very talented but were not given a chance to showcase their skills to audition and to collaborate with me. We did the work and we had come success! After a year, I found a friend to co-manage the group. I will expand on that on a different blog.

I took this audition seriously but also reminded myself to have fun! oddly enough I was told over and over again in acting classes and workshops that I should play a rich ingenue - because I have an air of royalty and because of how I speak when I read my lines. I find that fascinating because it is the total opposite of my personality..... but if my acting coaches see me that way, then why not just play that type right? And so, I did - for a few years. And I did not book any shows where I played what my type is - I ended up booking either multiple/ensemble or silly roles which I very much enjoyed.

To cut it short - I did book a role on this production! It is an Equity Off Broadway show and I am so excited! Did I book the role I originally auditioned for? Well, I will reveal this in the coming weeks!


cmail - Actors Access messaging system

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