PXP recently had the chance to talk with young artist and graduate student, Amanda Rose Benjamin, about her experience in the arts, and her involvement in Sea View Playwright's Theatre's production of The Crucible by Arthur Miller.
1) Tell us a little about yourself and about your role in Sea View Playwright's Theatre's production of The Crucible by Arthur Miller.
I am a native Staten Islander and have been a part of the Staten Island community theatre scene since 2013. I was a Muse Arts Scholar at Hunter College where I received by Bachelors in Theatre in 2016. I've performed with many different groups on the island including In The Wings Productions, Hemlock Theatre Co, Sundog Theatre, and of course, Seaview Playwrights Theatre where I'm preparing for my role as Abigail Williams in "The Crucible". Of all the roles I've played, Abigail is my favorite because she has so many layers to her that I can explore. It's been a pleasure getting to bring her to life.
2) For people who might not know, tell us a little bit about the show.
"The Crucible" is Arthur Miller's retelling of the events of the Salem Witch Trials. My character, Abigail Williams, seeks revenge on Elizabeth Proctor, the wife of her ex-lover John Proctor, and attempts to accuse her of witchcraft in the middle of the 1692 witch trials. This play is Miller's haunting allegory inspired by the McCarthyism era when the United States Government blacklisted Americans who were suspected of being communists.
3) Tell us about a memorable moment/experience shared with the cast/crew of the show.
I had the opportunity to visit Salem last month with a few of my cast mates to do some research on the witch trials. Being able to travel to the place where these events took place really helped me put in perspective the gravity of what these girls did and how this town was never able to wash its' hands of these trials. Salem is also a beautiful New England town, not only for its' history but for its' scenery. It was a very moving experience and we had a wonderful time.
4) What are the benefits of being a young artist?
There are countless benefits of being a young artist. For me, I find that I can carry elements of my craft into my daily life. From my experiences as an actor, I feel I am able to interact and articulate well with others as well as handle working under pressure well. I've also found that as a young artist there are so many opportunities to learn new things and every young artist should take advantage of that.
5) What are the challenges of being a young artist?
One of the biggest challenges of being a young artist is the constant chance of rejection. At times it can be very discouraging, however it's important to keep working on your craft and finding ways to improve your material. I've learned it's important to always ask for feedback and learn from your mistakes. Eventually the right part will come along, but in the meantime you have to keep working at it.
6) What was your first theatre experience?
My first theatre experience was when I was cast in a musical revue at my local parish. I was only six years old and I played Gretel in "The Sound of Music" section. I absolutely loved being a part of the cast because everyone was so kind and talented. From that point on, I knew theatre was something special and I wanted to keep performing.
7) What would you say to someone who thought theatre wasn't for them?
Theatre is a part of the everyday experience. Theatre is not always the big spectacles we see on Broadway. It can be described as someone performing in the subway, giving a presentation in a large lecture hall, or making a speech to a crowd. And even if you've never "performed" in these settings, you have witnessed these events at least once in your life. Whether you know it or not, you are an audience member witnessing theatre on a daily basis. Therefore, you are always a part of the theatre experience and there is a type of theatre out there for you.
8) How can people find tickets to Sea View Playwright's Theatre's production of The Crucible?
"The Crucible" runs September 8th to the 17th at Seaview Playwrights Theatre. Tickets are on sale at http://svpt.brownpapertickets.com/