Hello, my Bruin Fitness Pals!
Happy Fifth Week of Spring Quarter! And with spring, do you know what else comes along? You guessed it! The annual Healthy Campus Initiative Celebration, which take place from 4-7 pm on Thursday May 4th! This year’s theme is #DreamRevolution and we are celebrating the grand opening of UCLA’s New Living Amphitheater, located inside the Sunset Canyon Recreation Center. This event will begin with a HCI-funded student project competition, giveaways, and music. At 6:30pm the event will end with free food by Roy Choi’s LocoL.
The main event, starting at 5pm, will feature a high-energy adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is directed by Joe Olivieri, Head of UCLA’s Undergraduate Acting Program. This adaptation, set in the 1960’s, is a fun, new twist on the classic Shakespearean play.
To get the inside scoop on the celebration, the play, and a little more about UCLA’s acting department, I got the chance to interview one of the play’s rising-star actors, Annette Bizal, a senior at UCLA, who plays Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Q: Why did you choose to come to UCLA?
Annette Bizal (AB): I’m from Indiana, where there are a few community theatres but there is nothing quite like New York or Los Angeles. I auditioned for UCLA and when, I got in, I couldn’t believe it. I was thinking “What an opportunity; LA is the hub for film, TV, and voiceover work!”
Q: We all have our own unique dreams and ambitions. What are some of the things that UCLA helped you explore, in terms of your dreams?
AB: Coming in, I did not have a very strong sense of self, but I realized that there are a lot of opportunities to go off and try things here. The university, especially during first year, gave us many opportunities to go see theatre. They either took us off campus or brought in the weirdest forms of performance. In Indiana, it was really just the typical theatre so it was exciting to explore the realm of performance. It really opened my mind to what performance can be.
It’s actually how I got into clowning last year; in Los Angeles, there’s this astonishingly large clowning community and it’s so much fun because it’s all about failing. Going up there, you have to let the audience see your mistakes, which makes it good. It’s been good about helping with my anxiety about graduating as well because you go out there and do the worst thing you can possibly imagine, like fall on your face, and then you realize everything is going to be okay.
Question: How has UCLA assisted you achieving your dreams?
AB: They have a really good network through the theatre program. We’ve had Annette Bening come in a couple times to talk to us about experiences. Had casting directors, like Michael Donovan, who told us the business of acting. The school also has this big alumni network: it has many connections that you don’t realize going in and they give amazing tips.
Question: How has UCLA helped you to lead a healthy life or develop healthy habits?
AB: The school is definitely actively trying to de-stigmatize self-care. Also, I remember during my freshman year they had puppy nights for de-stressing, was a bit silly gave us a chance to laugh off the stress of finals.
I’ve also been to CAPS a couple of times. They are incredibly supportive, which is good that they always push for helping students. It fosters a sense of community that it’s okay to have troubles or be anxious or depressed sometimes, as it’s just a natural part of life.
Question: How theater helped you to achieve your dreams and ambitions?
AB: Getting to express yourself is one of the most important things. But I also love seeing that theatre continues to inspire by art. Sometimes I forget about the true impact of art as I’m surrounded by people who are constantly making art.
Theatre is important politically, socially: it brings people together and put on this sense of empathy on stage so that it breaks down barriers. It has taught me how to see the similarities between the real world and the theatre world. It’s truly helped me develop connections with my audience as well as a new way to broach tough topics.
Question: Tell us what’s been your favorite part of working on this performance.
AB: This performance has a fantastic cast and, now, we are very much a family. Our director Joe is like the well-meaning dad who is trying to herd a bunch of cats who are going in all different directions. There is a sense of play, and it’s really exciting because most of us haven’t performed on such a large scale. Honestly I just love the experience of it all, from the cast to how unique of a performance it’ll be.
Question: What is your favorite part of art?
AB: I love that it generally breaks the norm; it doesn’t follow the rules. Growing up, I felt boxed in, not purposefully, but it’s so relaxing to be able to just say that this is just who I am, this is me; It is also amazing to see others expressing the same feelings of we don’t have to be the same or follow what society says. It is just a breathe of fresh air, as we have no fear to express how we feel.
Question: What does “living well” mean to you?
AB: It has a lot to do with self-care and taking time for yourself. A lot of people I know are always on the go and I think it’s important to take a moment to stop and breathe. Because you can’t serve from empty vessel. Self care isn’t selfish, as people think they have to be good and on top of things all the time and do more, but if you can’t center and treat yourself well, you can’t give your all.
Now that we gave you some insight into one of the lovely actors in this production, please come and watch this amazing rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream during the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative Celebration from 4 – 7 pm on Thursday May 4th. Tickets are free at UCLA’s Central Ticket Office or for $25 online (all proceeds benefit HCI’s Living Amphitheatre). Check out our Facebook event as well!
Hope to see you all there!
Tiffany Hu is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics. She is a blogger for Move Well of the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative. She is the co-Director of the Student Health Advocates, which focuses on educating students on various intersections of health. Tiffany is also the Special Projects and Alumni Coordinator of the UCLA Care Extender Internship, which helps students volunteer at all departments in the UCLA Medical Centers.