Evelyn Giovine

Last February I ran across Princeton’s campus to McCarter Theater to share with one of my professors that I had just been accepted to Yale School of Drama for acting. As I ran, I tried to memorize what I was feeling—a mix of shock, excitement, fear, relief—so that if I ever found myself playing a character in a similar situation, I would be able to recall that feeling.

A year into my Yale training, I now find myself in an environment in which my sole focus every day is to strengthen and specify not only my mental and emotional life but also my physical life. I spend mornings and afternoons with fifteen other actors studying Voice, Speech, Alexander Technique, Stage Combat, Grotowski, Acting Chekhov, Acting the Greeks, Scene Study, and Text Analysis. Evenings are in rehearsal.

In October I was in the premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Scenes from Court Life at Yale Repertory Theater. Every night during the run I practiced what I learned in classes, even specific moves learned in Stage Combat. Because Yale trains actors, playwrights, and directors, we also collaborate on new plays. In a third-year playwright’s thesis, The Hour of Great Mercy, I played an unhappily married, no-nonsense, sixty-year-old Alaskan woman. Yale is stretching me to step out of the comfort zone. I hear my acting teacher’s voice in my head: “Would you rather be right, or would you rather be interesting?”

As I begin research for my next character in Trojan Women at the Yale Summer Cabaret, I am thinking about my Princeton English thesis, a creative, academic journey playing Sophocles’ Electra.

The literary characters introduced to me by Princeton professors still inspire me. Caddy Compson, Isabel Archer, Judith Shakespeare, Duessa, Becky Sharp, Natasha Rostova, Blanche DuBois and Hedda Gabler, to name a few, all spark different parts of my imagination. Through lectures, precepts, and papers, I discovered the depth to which I could explore and connect with these women. Because of Princeton English classes I push myself to go deeper. There is always more to discover.