Part of a new series in which we interview our teachers and staff to learn more about them and get their insights into the world of performance. This week’s interview is with Melanie Kirkpatrick, who has worked as a director and teacher for PAA, most recently directing “Annie KIDS” and “Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark” this past summer.
MK: 2 years
How long have you been working in the performing arts?
MK: I have worked in the performing arts on and off (mostly on) since I was 14
What is your performance background?
MK: I first discovered theatre in high school thanks to an amazing teacher, with my first performance being A Midsummer Night’s Dream in which I was both a fairy and a mechanical. I started auditioning and performing in every show possible and ended up studying theatre in college. I started directing while in college, and discovered I liked it almost (almost) as much as performing. This led me to pursue both acting and directing for a time, at one point seriously considering a professional directing career. I ended up taking a path that led me to the business side of theatre, working for a time at the Portland Stage Center in Portland, Oregon before moving into PR for the film industry which took me to Los Angeles. Eventually, by the early 2000s, I found her way back to the stage. I have since worked as a high school drama teacher, taught and directed children’s theater and classes, directed in a variety of venues, and from time to time even find my way back onto the stage.
What is your favorite role or production you’ve been involved in?
MK: My all-time favorite role was playing Susy in a play called Wait Until Dark. I loved that role because it was unlike anything I had done before. From an acting perspective, it was terrifying because the show was performed in an intimate space and the character was blind. This meant no room for mistakes. But when all of the pieces came together, it was an exhilarating experience.
What is your top piece of advice for aspiring performers?
MK: Stick with it. This business is full of rejection and self-doubt and terror, and it is easy to quit. Most people do. But if it’s what you love, take a deep breath, walk it off and stand back up. Come back every day, keep working, keep trying. Don’t quit.
What do you think makes PAA special or unique?
MK: PAA is about the process, about development. It allows kids not only an exciting space to perform, but a safe place to take risks, to learn, to grow, and to create. I love that with PAA it isn’t about a single show, summer, or class. It’s about developing kids through performance.
What is your favorite quote?
MK: “I thank God I wasn’t born perfect” -Bob Fosse
Anything else you want to share?
MK: “The Actor’s Vow” by Elia Kazan
I will take my rightful place on the stage
And I will be myself.
I am not a cosmic orphan
I have no reason to be timid.
I will respond as I feel; awkwardly, vulgarly,
I will have my throat open.
I will have my heart open.
I will be vulnerable.
I may have anything or everything the world
Has to offer, but the thing
I need most, and want most, is to be myself.
I will admit rejection, admit pain, admit
Frustration, admit even pettiness, admit
Shame, admit outrage, admit anything and
Everything that happens to me.
The best and most human parts of me are
Those I have inhabited and hidden from
I will work on it.
I will raise my voice.
I will be heard.