‘Being accepted into the Full Time Actor Training at The Gaiety School of Acting was one of the most exciting moments of my life! I was heading to a new country to dedicate my time and energy to my passion, acting. While at the Gaiety School, I loved my classes and the full immersion of voice and body training.
After working professionally in Ireland for a few years and starting a theatre company (http://AboutFACEIreland.com), my husband Paul Nugent (http://PaulNugent.net) whom I had met during my time at the Gaiety School, and I, received an offer to move to the States. We started off in Boston, with me teaching theatre at a high school and Paul acting regionally.
When Paul booked a show in New York we decided it was time to head to the big city! And that it is – BIG. Not only is there a huge number of opportunities for work in theatre, TV, indie film, but regional theatres audition from NYC as well, so you can book for work all around the country. There is Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, Fringe and so much more. There is Equity and Non-Equity work, paid and unpaid and there is no shortage of actors of every age, size and ethnicity!! Very quickly you learn that the best way of finding your feet is by finding a community, whether that is an active company that lets you volunteer or a class that helps you keep your skills sharp. Paul and I were lucky to plug into a few communities and eight years later we are still working with the those groups and individuals we found within our first year in New York.
We started a new play festival with our colleagues and friends at Tangent Theatre Company (http://tangent-arts.org/ http://NEWvemberFestival.com) now located up state, we joined a new works development group in Jersey City (INKubator at http://www.arthouseproductions.org/home.html) and Paul has become a resident artist at ‘The Cell Theatre’ (http://www.thecelltheatre.org/) where we both have done numerous readings and performances.
The reality is that it can be difficult to make a living as an actor. Even the Equity minimums can be a far cry from a living wage, especially if you are not working year round! Work in TV & film can really help in the money department as well as voice-over, commercials and audiobooks.
While in the city I’ve tended toward survival jobs of a different kind, working in a lot of non-profits and production, this work has sharpened my management and production skills and introduced me to a larger network of people from a variety of backgrounds. I’ve seen the parallels to casting in the human resource department and the planning of a season in the programming of a church. I’ve discovered a lot about myself and about how I want to use my craft. It was eye opening to learn that there are as many types of successful careers as there are actors. My training at The Gaiety School of Acting has put me in good stead on this side of the pond – our skills and technique are on par with the best. In New York, I’ve learned a little bit about a more emotional approach to acting that seems prevalent over here.
Most importantly I’ve learned that the number one priority is to ‘be yourself’. Not the perfectly honed neutral actor that can do anything, though that of course is great, but the person with quirks and personality that can only be you! It took me a long time to embrace that about myself, to be confident that being me was enough (….but I can dance and sing and juggle and….). I love developing new work. I love working with playwrights and watching them grow, watching their work take shape and meld into what it is meant to be. I enjoy readings and the freedom they bring you to use your instincts and not overthink your choices. I love working on camera and even started my own campaign to be a TV cop a few years back. Producing is also something I enjoy; picking the project and bringing together talented people who I respect to create a living, breathing work – this all gives me great joy and satisfaction, and is all part of what it means for me to be a creative actor.
This September it all comes together for me in The McGowan Trilogy, part of Origin’s 1st Irish festival. I’ll be working at ‘The Cell’, which is a home away from home, an incubation space for artists, with my very talented husband, on a play that I’ve been blessed to be part of the development process on. Seamus Scanlon, the playwright, wrote his first play three years ago, and since then he has continued to explore the character of Victor McGowan in numerous one- acts, short stories, a novel and even a screenplay.
The McGowan Trilogy is a series of one- act plays (DANCING AT LUNACY, THE LONG WET GRASS, BOYS SWAM BEFORE ME) set in Ireland that expose the character of Victor McGowan as a fierce, complicated and conflicted soldier; Paul plays him with such sincere depth, nuance and abandon. It is an honor to be working with Kira Simring and Nancy Manocherian at ‘The Cell’ and I adore the piece that I am in, ‘The Long Wet Grass’ – I’ve loved it in every form, from short story to screenplay. I am so thrilled to be playing this complex woman! These are the moments, the shows, that remind us why we came on this wild adventure and have given our lives to the theatre’
Anna Olson Nugent (GSA Class of 2001) will be appearing with Paul Nugent (GSA Class of 2001) in THE MCGOWAN TRILOGY, a series of one-act plays by Seamus Scanlon at the cellas part of 1st Irish Theatre Festival, for a strictly-limited engagement from September 11th – October 5th (338 West 23rd Street, New York, NY). The Opening is Saturday, September 13, 2014. Find out more information here.
Feeling Inspired? Has Anna’s experience awakened something inside of you which you are curious to explore? Why not consider our One Year Part Time courses in Performance, Advanced Performance or Performance Theatre Company, currently enrolling, and take your passion to the next level.
Our Two Year Professional Intensive Actor Training course applications for 2014 are now closed but we will be accepting applications for the 2015 intake soon.