Name: Kelsa Dine
Where are you from?
Pleasant Plain, Ohio
What is your performance/theatre background?
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in theater from Goucher College. In addition to acting, I studied movement, playwriting, costume design, a little bit of general set/lighting design, and directing — the school had a sort of holistic approach to theater that I really appreciated. I was also the producer for a production of student-written and student-directed short plays. My primary interest when it comes to both acting and playwriting lies in new or experimental theater.
What were you doing just before you came to the Accademia?
Unfortunately I didn’t have much of a chance to do much of anything performance-wise just before I came to the Accademia — I had recently graduated, and I was working and hadn’t quite figured out how to balance what I needed to do with my day versus what I wanted to do. So mostly I focused on writing and revising plays.
Where did you first learn about the Accademia and what specifically about this program made you want to attend?
I first learned about the Accademia maybe my junior year at Goucher — a lot of dancers from Goucher study at the Accademia, and a few theater students too. I heard a lot of good things about the school from people who had been there, and I ended up doing a month-long theater intensive during the summer of 2012, and I loved it. During the last week, Scott McGehee gave a little talk about the MFA program, and after hearing about it, I decided that it was basically my dream program, and that I absolutely had to figure out a way to come back!
What have been some of the most influential and impactful moments of your training at ADA so far?
The work that I’ve done with my core teachers and workshop instructors — particularly in voice and movement/dance classes — to push through my hesitations and reach past my percieved boundaries has been really eye-opening and valuable.
What is something unexpected that you’ve found while working towards your MFA?
I’ve started to realize how freeing it is to become aware of habitual movement cycles, and then work to break out of them. It’s a little like having a new body!
What work that you have done during your time in the MFA program are you most proud of?
I’m very proud of the work I did with Torbjörn Alström in learning an entirely new skill — maskmaking. Performance-wise, I am proud of the work I did with André Casaca during his clown intensive!
You recently performed with three other artists working at the ADA on a devised piece called C’era una volta…. First, can you tell us what the piece is about? Can you tell us about the process?
C’era una volta… is a modern re-imagining of a selection of Italian fairytales collected by Italo Calvino. To begin the process, the four of us — Melanie, Genevieve, Dory, and myself — each took turns reading our favorite stories to one another. Eventually we managed to narrow it down to five fairytales, which we then casted evenly among ourselves. Each of us played multiple characters in the show, and sometimes multiple characters per story! Once we had our stories, we created a script for each one, and then worked to figure out the specific theatrical languages we wanted to use. From that point onward, the process was pretty straightforward — we figured out what we needed, and set to work collecting and building our props. In the meantime, we memorized our lines and talked through blocking together. We worked in the space the last two days, and did a tech run with the lighting technician at the very end. Even though we only had seven days to figure everything out, everything came together very smoothly.
How has the MFA program prepared you for the creation of a professional piece? What kind of challenges did you have to overcome and how did you find solutions?
The MFA program has given me a wide range of tools and skills to assist me in my creative work. In addition to the more practical skills (physical, vocal, etc.), working in a cohort has also taught me to be a better listener, to stay more open and to say “yes” to my co-creators. Probably the biggest challenge we faced in creating C’era una volta… was the problem of time. But I think we did a good job of dividing and conquering, so to speak — each of us selected an area of creation to focus on, which allowed us to get a lot more done in the time we had! Additionally, good communication and flexibility really helped in the creative process. It was a really positive experience!
What was it like performing for an Italian audience? Can you tell us more about the experience of working with ARCI during the Notte Rossa?
It was definitely challenging to perform for an Italian audience — memorizing and trying to correctly speak my lines in another language was difficult. But also really rewarding! Working with ARCI was fantastic. Everyone was very gracious and welcoming and seemed excited about the work we were doing.
What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?
I’m excited for the gradlab projects! I can’t wait to start playing around and exploring and creating. I’m also really looking forward to the time we will spend in Berlin and the Czech Republic.
Looking beyond the program what are your plans post-graduation?
I was really intrigued by the cohort-based structure of this program and I hope to take what I’ve learned here to use in building my own traveling company in the future. I also hope to perform post-graduation and maybe teach at some point too!
Who do you think is a good fit for this program?
I feel like having some kind of theatrical/musical/performance background definitely helps, but I think anyone who has the will to meet the challenges presented by this program with an open and eager mind could be a good fit.