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A group of little ones had just arrived for the first day of Elf rehearsal. Ranging in ages from 7 to 10, the stage seemed to swallow them whole as they giggled and gathered into some semblance of a line under the stage lights.

One young actress caught my attention. She was teeming with nervous energy that seemed to overcome every fiber of her being – without a prayer of standing still, she shifted her weight, tangled her arms, and stared at the floor.

During my tenure in theater production, I’ve seen this particular hue of anxiety once or twice, and approached my new student. With a few short cues, I had her step off and re-enter the stage with her head held high, shoulders squared, and arms resting comfortably at her sides. Like a dream, she floated in stage left and took her place among her fellow classmates completely transformed – calm, collected and confident.

She carried her new found gusto with her throughout the rest of rehearsal and, ultimately, to show-time itself.

There are many battle cries around the value of performing arts. How it brings a unique beauty to the world. How it serves as the ultimate form of self-expression. How it challenges us to think. How it inspires us. How it moves us.

As someone who has dedicated her life to the performing arts, I believe in all of these truths, but also in art as a discipline. Mastering your craft in performing arts requires honing inherent traits that have a way of strengthening your life both on and off stage.

Poise under pressure. Playing well with others. Presence in front of a crowd. Practicing for perfection. Just to name a few…

I believe in performing arts as a discipline that enriches us and enables us to be better, more productive people. If you needed another reason to find value in the arts, it is because they make us better human beings both personally and professionally.

This fundamental belief was the initial inspiration for the Summer in NYC Program, a three-week performing arts summer camp in The Big Apple where the students reside at The Juilliard School, working with world class artists, teachers, casting directors and agents. Private lessons are coupled with dynamic seminars, workshops, and activities along with attending performances on Broadway, at the New York Philharmonic, American Ballet Theatre, and more.

If you are interested in learning more about Summer in NYC or would like to continue this conversation about arts as a discipline, let’s chat.

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Updated: Oct 21, 2018

In case you missed our Daniel Island debut, the Daniel Island News shared a beautiful review of “Madame Butterfly: The Untold Story” presented at the Blackbaud Atrium on Daniel Island from January 25 to 27.

Produced by yours truly and presented by the South of Broadway Theatre Company, Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini featured acclaimed soloists Nathan Matticks, Vittoria Gilda Miranda, Esther Williams and Jorge Alexander. The program was orchestrated by Daniel Schlosberg and Abdiel Iriarte. Ron Mendola, DIPAC director of music, served as guest conductor.

There were many kind words shared in this feature, but I am most honored and humbled by a quote from Pat Maraziti following the performance as it speaks to my mission to make Charleston a hub for globally acclaimed theatre.

“No need to travel to NYC to the Metropolitan Opera…to experience Puccini’s hauntingly beautiful opera, ‘Madame Butterfly,’” stated Daniel Island resident Pat Maraziti. “Visionary Mary Gould brought an amazingly scaled version to the flower-adorned atrium of the Blackbaud on Daniel Island…Surely, if this production is indicative of the future offerings by Mary and her team, the Daniel Island Performing Arts Center cannot be built soon enough. Bravo!”

I assure you, neighbor, we have plenty in store for you and the Charleston community this year. Stay tuned!

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Updated: Oct 21, 2018

For far too long in my theater career, I struggled to understand performing artists who did not practice for the sake of performance. I’m talking about those talented birds who hone their skills purely for the sake of personal enrichment with little to no interest in pursuing their craft as a profession.

As a producer and instructor, this puzzled me. What was the point of the tedious practice and meticulous work without the reward of a masterful performance to share with an audience?

Now, I have come to respect the performing artist taking the stage for the sake of the audience – whoever and wherever that may be.

The artist and the audience are dependent on each other for the experience of the performance – neither exists in a vacuum. For this dynamic to be successful, each party must present compassion and understanding for the other.

To bring this full circle, the same delicate dynamic exists for each performer presenting their craft to his or her audience – whether that audience fills a 600-seat theater or is a party of one, the artist themselves.

For my charges who perform for personal enrichment, often challenging their own perceived limitations and exceeding their own expectations is as daunting (and rewarding) as the career performer achieving a standing ovation from a packed house.

Whoever your audience, dig deep for the courage to explore, practice and perform as an artist. Enjoy the overwhelming experience of being in the throes of art with your audience – after all, we’re in this together.

Whether you are pursuing performing arts for personal enrichment or as a profession, I want to help you take your stage. If you’re interested in learning more about private lessons or becoming a part of upcoming South of Broadway productions, let’s chat.

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