A Noise Within helps prepare the next generation of theatre-makers in the LA area
By A Noise Within
November 9, 2023
A Noise Within (ANW) is well known for its “resident artist” program, a core group of 20+ seasoned actors and creative theatrical professionals, who are featured in nearly every show at ANW. Lesser known are the other performers who might make up any given ANW production, and the theatre company’s commitment to making connections with a broader theatrical community in the greater LA area. One of these longtime collaborations is with East Los Angeles College (ELAC), and their Theatre Arts & Communication Studies program.
This collaboration between ANW and ELAC began in the 2014-15 season. Members from A Noise Within staff would teach a master class for the summer Shakespeare intensive at ELAC. But in addition to that, ANW started to invite 4-8 students from ELAC to audition at ANW every season. This exchange used to happen only once a year, but the collaboration was so successful, it developed into two auditions in the fall, and two in the spring! And when student actors were cast in an ANW production, they became non-equity actors in the show. Alicia Green, ANW’s Director of Education and Community Outreach says, “This is a unique partnership.”
Vanessa Mizzone Pellegrini, an Associate Professor in the ELAC theatrical program explains the special value their students receive from this collaboration “(It) bridges the gap for ELAC actors from their classical acting training to the professional world.” And two ELAC students— Hakop Mkhsian and Erick Valenzuela — are performing in the current production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, finishing its final week at A Noise Within.
Hakop Mkhsian, who has been performing as part of the ensemble for Midsummer, has nothing but praise for the process. “My experience has been phenomenal,” says Hakop. “This has been such a great run. I have loved every minute working with all these wonderful people.”
Erick Valenzuela, Hakop’s classmate and castmate, quotes the Bard when he talks about this educational experience at A Noise Within. “’All the world’s a stage,’ and that stage is a classroom,” says Erick. “I have found a school away from school and a desire to remain a student perpetually.”
ELAC works hard to give their students “the confidence…tools and training they need to be successful,” explains Vanessa Mizzone Pellegrini, but also “know how hard it is to get in front of the people that can hire you.” She credits this ANW partnership for “doing just that.” And the members of ANW community benefit from the talent, professionalism, and positivity that comes from the ELAC cohort as well. “They are active participants in post-show conversations and other events,” says Alicia Green. “The cast loves having them.”
A Noise Within looks forward to working with our partners and friends at ELAC for years to come, and will continue to joyfully nurture a new generation of talented theatre-makers in the process.