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Interview: Ana Karneza of TWELFTH NIGHT at 4th Wall Theatre Company

Now through July 24th.

Interview: Ana Karneza of TWELFTH NIGHT at 4th Wall Theatre Company
Julliard student and visiting actor to 4th Wall Theatre Co., Ana Karneza.
Headshot by Marcel Sandoval-Castaneda.

4th Wall Theatre Co., was one of the first theater's I had the privilege to visit when Houston's theater industry began to repopen. One of their most exciting recent new adventures is creating a Summer Shakes program, where Houston area high school students are treated as professionals and learn from some of the best Juilliard theater students, all while putting on a production of the famous bard, William Shakespeare. Philip Lehl is an alumnus of Juilliard and often credits his time with the institution for his artistic success. This year, Houston has the great fortune of witnessing the brilliance of accessibility advocate and actor, Ana Karneza.

What is it like coming to hot, and humid Houston?

It's been great! The climate is something to get used to, but Houston makes up for it with strong AC.

Interview: Ana Karneza of TWELFTH NIGHT at 4th Wall Theatre Company
Kassandra Cruz, Jayden Taylor, Camron Lettries, Bob Beathard in 4th Wall Theatre Co.'s Summer Shakes production of Twelfth Night. Photo by Gabriel Velazquez

How were you chosen to join 4th Wall Theatre Co. for the summer?

We received an email through our school from Philip Lehl (4th Wall's Artistic Director) and I auditioned for it. A friend of mine did the program last year and had a wonderful time so I decided to give it a go.

Interview: Ana Karneza of TWELFTH NIGHT at 4th Wall Theatre Company
Kassandra Cruz, Andrea Vargas, Bob Beathard, Camron Lettries in 4th Wall Theatre Co.'s Summer Shakes production of Twelfth Night. Photo by Gabriel Velazquez

How has it been so far mounting a Shakespearian production?

I can't believe we're in our final week of the process! We just finished our technical rehearsals and everything's coming together. I enjoy working on Shakespeare's plays, there's always more to discover and the opportunities for play are limitless.

What is your role and what are you bringing to it? How are you collaborating with Director, Philip Lehl?

I am playing two characters - Olivia and Orsino, which gets interesting in the last scene when they talk to each other.

Philip first met with only Kassandra (Juilliard classmate) and I to work on our scenes since we have a lot of scenes together. We talked about the circumstances of the scenes, played around with blocking, and then we had rehearsals with everyone in the cast. Phil always begins with what the actor's bringing, rather than imposing an idea of a scene. He's got great instinct and encourages play and discovery, which is how I love working.

I can tell that Philip and Alric Davis (co-director) deeply care about this project and all the high school students involved in it. With such investment and encouragement in place, it's easy to show up and bring yourself fully to the work.

What is it like collaborating with high school students to bring this production to life?

Oh, it's been wonderful! They have so many ideas and are encouraging of each other's work. For some of them it's their first Shakespeare play and it's such joy seeing them find their own power through the play's words and making those words their own. They are a talented bunch with good spirits and kind hearts - could not have asked for a better group.

And everyone in this cast can sing so well. You can hear singing somewhere in the theatre at any time, so the atmosphere is always joyous.

Kassandra and I also got to teach a few workshops with them in physical comedy, movement, and mask work. I'm thankful for their wonder, openness, and willingness to try new things with us - truly inspiring.

Interview: Ana Karneza of TWELFTH NIGHT at 4th Wall Theatre Company
Ana portraying the role of Azdak in a production of Bertolt Brecht's Caucasion Chalk Circle. The show was a main stage student production at NYU Abu Dhabi, directed by Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Waleed Shah.

What have been some of your favorite aspects of Houston?

Can I say working at 4th Wall Theatre?

Any future projects or endeavors from you in the future?

I still have two years of training left at Juilliard and that's as far as I can see into the future, so stay tuned!

Interview: Ana Karneza of TWELFTH NIGHT at 4th Wall Theatre Company
Ana portraying the role of Azdak in a production of Bertolt Brecht's Caucasion Chalk Circle. The show was a main stage student production at NYU Abu Dhabi, directed by Orlando Pabotoy. Photo by Waleed Shah.

4th Wall Theatre Co.'s Summer Shakes production of Twelfth Night runs from Thursday, July 21st to Sunday, July 24th. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening performances are at 7:30 PM, and a Sunday matinee performance at 3:00 PM. Tickets can be bought at 4thwalltheatreco.com.

 




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