On January 27th, DTC’s Brierley Resident Acting Company came together for a week at the Wyly Theatre to explore the challenges of acting in classical Greek tragedies with the Academy Award-winning, legendary stage and screen actor, Olympia Dukakis. Over the course of the week, the company engaged with Ms. Dukakis in acting exercises, conversations and performances of scenes from plays first written nearly 2500 years ago. DTC artistic director Kevin Moriarty brought Ms. Dukakis to Dallas to help prepare the company for possible future productions of classical plays– perhaps as early as next season (which Kevin will be announcing on April 7th!). Company actors Hassan El-Amin and Christie Vela reflect on their experience working with Ms. Dukakis:
Day one there was great anticipation and excitement as we all awaited the arrival of the Academy Award-winning legendary actress, Olympia Dukakis. When she entered the room she filled it with her presence. She was regal, royal, and elegant all at the same time; and, I might add, very beautiful! It was a moment of awe and all eyes in the room where glued on her.
She was dressed very casually, all in black, slacks, blouse, jacket, tennis shoes, and she had a beautiful radiating smile on her face. Ms. Dukakis proceeded to greet everyone by name, which I thought was impressive, knowing that she had spent time with my picture and résumé and selected the characters I would be reading in the workshop based upon my personal information…how cool! And after a few minutes of adjustments to the room we sat in a circle ready to begin what would turn out to be the most awe-inspiring 5 days spent dissecting the detailed and delicate intricacy of “Acting” and the Greek Classics, Elektra by Sophocles under the guidance of Mrs. Olympia Dukakis. She was INCREDIBLE! She was AWESOME! She was a wealth of knowledge and information. She was inciteful, challenging, nurturing… it was a great experience.
— Hassan El-Amin
|Needless to say, there was great anticipation in the months, weeks then days leading up to the workshop with Olympia Dukakis. Anticipation, and intimidation. On Monday, I took Cab 3 up to the 9th floor, the doors opened and she was standing there. She said to me, “You’re Christina”. Yes ma’am. “Let’s go downstairs and smoke”. I don’t smoke, but when a legend asks you to join her on smoke break, you do.
My first impression of her was that she was absolutely gorgeous. When the workshop started she owned the room with grace, authority and humor. She is larger than life, but made us feel that we were as big as she. The next five days were an amazing and intricate look into Ancient Greek culture, the craft of acting and most importantly a luxurious time for our company to bond and work together in the way you only get to when surrounded by great artists.
I don’t know how anything is ever going to top this experience for me. At the end of the week, when she called me her colleague, I was brought to tears. Playing Electra on the 10th floor of the Wyly, with only my fellow company members and Olympia feeding me my lines and pushing me further than I have ever been pushed, is the pinnacle of my career. I can’t imagine anything better than last week ever happening to me again.
— Christie Vela……………………
PICTURED AT TOP: (Back) ALEX ORGAN, LIZ MIKEL, CHAMBLEE FERGUSON; (Front) CHEYNEY COLES, HASSAN EL-AMIN, SALLY NYSTUEN-VAHLE, CHRISTIE VELA, OLYMPIA DUKAKIS, DANIEL DUQUE-ESTRADA and KIERAN (MICHAEL) CONNOLLY.