Thursday, August 1, 2013

Performing at UVA

Hey everyone. My name is Alexander Bozicevich and I am doing a major called Political and Social Thought with a minor in Theater.  I am going into my third year, which is something that I am still coming to terms with. I love cuddling, puppies, long walks on the beach, and treating blog intros as if they’re entries on a dating site. Yeah, I’m a theater kid.

Being a theater kid was something I had to ease into. I did plays all throughout high school, but when asked if I wanted to be an actor I’d always say no. I prided myself on having more practical career plans (even while entertaining fantasies of some Hollywood director discovering and begging me to be in his film as I regretfully accepted). Then came the summer before college when I attended a summer governors school for the performing arts and, as these once-in-a-lifetime, memory-making summer programs are apt to do, I had my life changed and realized that performance was not something I could leave behind in high school. Suddenly the fine arts opportunities were a crucial part of my college decision.

Flash forward to first semester at UVA. I had considered and then decided against going to a school specifically for the performing arts in favor of a top liberal arts school (dear old UVA of course), and I was anxious to discover what opportunities there were to pursue performance alongside my other interests.

The answer turned out to that there were many, an overwhelming number in fact. In high school there were the school plays and drama class and beyond that not much else for actors to do other than watch movies. At UVA I found there were the department shows, a much wider variety of theater classes, and everything grounds had to offer including student groups, open mic nights, flash mobs, film opportunities, and everything in between.

First semester at college was the first time in four years that I didn’t do a play. It was my first break during a school year from nightly rehearsal, but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t involved. In fact, I got one of my first experiences with film. Something I hadn’t known when I applied to UVA was that the university hosts the yearly Virginia Film Festival. A subset of that is the Adrenaline Film Festival, which is a filmmaking contest in which teams make a film in 72 hours. I was cast in a film called Time Flies about a woman living at home who is diagnosed with leukemia and how this affects her and her family. I have only fond memories of the experience, and our film ended up winning an award.

Since then I’ve continued to be a wandering soul among UVA arts scene. Every semester I’ve tried something different. Class wise I’ve sampled not only what the theater department has to offer (leading to the decision to become a theater minor) but I’ve also tried courses in fiction writing, music (both on the vocal and songwriting side), and sometime next year I plan to take a dance class. For activities the range stretches even farther. First semester of last year I was in my first department show, the unrestrained production of the popular rock musical Spring Awakening. In the spring I performed in the Barrio Cultural show, an event put on by the Organization of Young Filipino Americans. Not only did I perform in the original play written for that show, but I danced the Igorot, a traditional tribal coming-of-age dance whose participants wear loin cloths and stage fight with bamboo spears. Another exciting opportunity I had in the spring was to appear as an extra on the AMC pilot of a show called Turn slated to come out next fall. Though not done at UVA, I never would have heard of the opportunity if the Drama Department had not hosted the casting director for one of its weekly theater events. Both summers I have been in shows at LiveArts, an edgy community theater downtown.

A scene from Spring Awakening. 
The original play for the Barrio Cultural show.
The Igorot dance, apologies for the blinding paleness.
The poster for my group’s film in the Adrenaline Film Project.
A still from the play “Really? No, Really?” performed at LiveArts. Fun fact: I am wearing a blood packet in my belly button which at the end was popped when my character got shot.
I cannot stress enough crucial persistence, personal initiative, and the willingness to experiment are if you want to make the most of what college has to offer artistically. For many it will be an adjustment, especially if you are used to getting all the lead roles in your high school’s production. I’ve gotten the opportunity to perform in many fun and rewarding ways in college, but it was only after experiencing many setbacks and rejections. First year alone I auditioned for at least six different things and did not receive a part. In college you have to up your game, especially at a school with as many talented students as UVA, but if you do stick with it and find a way to express your passion, regardless of what discipline it falls under, you’ll find yourself growing as an artist and a person... not to mention having the time of your life.

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