Thursday, September 6, 2012

Featured Associate Artist: Aysan Celik

Welcome to our new blog series of Featured Associate Artists! We'll be asking a new Associate Artist each month the same ten questions so that you can get to know some of the many faces that have been working with us over the years and contributing their talents to our projects. Many thanks to our first, actress Aysan Celik!

Name: Aysan Celik
Year Joined The Civilians: 2002
Where you’re from: Claremont, CA
What City You’re Living In: The San Francisco Bay Area, and out of a suitcase.

How did you first get involved with The Civilians? 
An actor had to drop out of Canard, Canard, Goose?, and Michael suggested me to Steve as a replacement. Michael and I had worked together at the American Repertory Theater a few years prior, when we were both still in swaddling clothes.

What have you done with us, both in terms of investigating and performing? 
Performing: Canard, Canard, Goose? (the original production at HERE Arts and the 10th anniversary concert at Joe's Pub), This Beautiful City at the Studio Theater in DC (I covered the set of roles originated by the wonderful Alison Weller), the cabaret series Let Me Ascertain You (specifically Porn and Atlantic Yards), many a benefit, and almost every reading and workshop production of Paris Commune over the past ten years (and I am thrilled to be in rehearsals for the premiere right now).

Investigating: due to timing, I have missed a couple of chances to create pieces from the very beginning/interview process. I have experienced this on pieces outside of The Civilians, and I am hopeful for another opportunity with the company.

Tell us about something that surprised you, either in an interview, in using the investigative method, or in a rehearsal process.
If Steve looks like he is shocked at what you are doing, it could mean he is actually tickled.  (Could)

Sometimes it can catch me by surprise how absolutely strong and hopeful people can be while in dire situations, or when faced with censure or derision.

Why has it been interesting to work in this way?  
The text in the pieces is from people simply answering questions. They have not tried to shape their thoughts into a play, a film, or a novel. They're sharing their stories, speaking their truths. Granted, there is potential there for crafting or dramatization, but because a question is being answered in a moment, live, spoken, I think it’s less worked over. It’s direct. Most of the time, it does not seem to me like they planned what they are saying so that they could create something that is stylized or polished. This text then of course becomes developed into a theatrical experience by directors, designers and actors, and yet those words are still there, as they were spoken. That interplay of the un-crafted with the very crafted is interesting to me.

What is the last project you worked on outside of The Civilians? Ingmar Bergman's Persona - adapted and directed by Craig Baldwin, at HERE Arts this past August. It was a stage adaptation of Bergman's shooting script for the film, in which he wrote beautiful, weird and haunting commentary, and very vivid narration that is not necessarily reflected in the film in an obvious way. Any fan of the film should read this shooting script - it is a revelation. Bergman was fittingly a character in this piece, and was portrayed by Michael Rudko. Nick Westrate played Sister Alma (the nurse), and I performed both the doctor and Elisabeth Vogler (the actress who has a nervous breakdown and stops speaking).

What artist has had the biggest impact on you? 
There are so many. A few major ones: Pina Bausch, Yoshi Oida, Shinichi Suzuki, Jim Henson, and Gene Kelly.

What’s the last play you saw? 
A Bird in the Hand, by Jorge Ignacio CortiƱas. It just opened at Theater For a New City. I highly recommend it. It is magical, cruel and funny. The birds are exquisite. I love his writing.

What’s your favorite bad movie? 
She’s the Man is a teeny bopper take on Twelfth Night, to which it bears very little resemblance. So many of the performance choices are so confounding, so deeply awkward, and sometimes even unintelligible, that they are kind of ridiculously funny. At moments, you wonder if it's all on purpose! Also David Cross is in it, so yay.

Do you like sports?
Yes. I love the Olympics - everything makes me cry.  I absolutely love watching tennis!  A few of of my all time favorite players to watch: Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams and Serena Williams.

What question would you like us to ask our next Featured Associate Artist? 
What book do you re-read?

Click HERE for Aysan's bio!

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