MFA Student Profile: Samuel McGehee
Samuel Angus Mcgehee
Where are you from?
Pluto, India, Scotland, Arkansas, Boston, Italy
What is your performance/theater background?
I have no background, only underground, ‘time’ is something that stops existing as soon as the song ends.
What were you doing just before you came to the Accademia professional/performance wise?
I was professionally digging trenches in the memory of my hands. Also exploring bluegrass and latin-lounge music with Bolivian producer Heinz Kurtz.
Partially the fact that I grew up inside made it seem natural; as the paths the ADA has taken have often reflected my own interests. Also, I was familiar with many teachers who I respected and wanted formal training from.
What have been some of the most influential/impactful moments of your training at ADA so far?
It’s hard to say. ‘Impacts’ don’t always reveal themselves immediately.
What is something unexpected that you’ve found while working towards your MFA?
Theatre and devising -the way it is taught at ADA- leaves open a lot of doors for raw life to flood into the process. Within this I have been continually surprised by the vast diversity that the lives of other people can offer, as long as they are not phantoms floating aimlessly through this universe.
What work are you most proud of that you accomplished during your time in the MFA program so far?
Speaking on stage
You recently performed in India with former ADA Artist In Residence Abanti Chakraborty. What can you share about this experience?
Actually, this time around I didn’t perform, rather I assisted Michele Bottini in teaching a workshop on Commedia dell’Arte. The Indian actors were able to take the forms we were offering and quickly make them their own as India not only has a colossal cultural body but is still in direct contact with the tradition from which their culture springs. Technical aspects aside, It gave their work an immediate depth which was satisfying to see
You have spent some time in India before studying and performing. What was different about this experience? What challenges did you face in the creation process and how did the tools you have gained from the MFA help you to find solutions?
The time that I spent in India prior to this trip I had busied myself entirely on becoming Indian in every facet of my experience, focusing on language, music and philosophy. Obviously that changed me. This time we were bringing something as a sort of offering which in my mind was more of a formalized cultural exchange. Indian culture has said to be a culture of adjustment and it was interesting to see that their way of adjusting to different forms (CdA) seemed to be a sort of inglobating or digestion. So really, India’s colossal Self kept me a humble student. I have learned that I can love a place as one loves another person. Also I met some interesting people both in the commercial theatrical scene in Kolkata as well as in the experimental scene in which theatre is done with ‘another purpose’ in mind.
What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?
Exploring more the new direction theatre will take, which is evidently a sort of mix between musicians and dancers (obviously not the typical relationship). Physical theatre reached a sort of interesting apex with dance-theatre, but now that is not enough to make useful art. Music has not yet made the same chemical reaction in the “the-a-ter” that dance has.
Also I am working on making my artistic voice bold, via the concrete means offered by my various examples of training learned through the ADA
Looking beyond the program what are your plans post-graduation? How would you like to use your degree? What direction do you see yourself moving in?
I see myself developing my above-mentioned theories by performing and teaching. Performing because it is in my nature and teaching because I have grown up around teachers so I see the benefit both in it being a fertile ground for experimenting and learning. Performance is in my opinion the only viable means to making ART.
Art is something that is per-form-ative and I call myself an artist
Who do you think is a good fit for this program?
Not actors, not dancers, not thinkers, not musicians, not directors, not teachers, not students, not people who know nothing, not people who have figured it out etc. ad infinitum
Perhaps people who are bound to Art by some mysterious and unknown feeling they possess.