Veronique Ory '00

Sage on  Stage

 

Eva Gil ’01 and Veronique Ory ’00—recent Russell Sage College graduates, highly praised professional actresses, and founders of their own theatre companies (both of which emphasize women’s experiences) got their start on stage at Sage. Read on as they share how the experience they gained with the New York State Theatre Institute (NYSTI) as students at RSC informs their current projects and impart some frank advice for aspiring actors.

Eva Gil '01

From Sage Sister to Strange Sister

Eva Gil ’01 is completing an apprenticeship at the Actors Theatre of Louisville (ATL) in Kentucky, where in addition to performing and working with technical and stage management staff on regular-season productions, she was involved in the prestigious Humana Festival of New American Plays, which ran from March 7 through April 8 of this year. “Many famous plays premiere at the Humana Festival,” she said. “To be a part of that kind of history is astonishing.”

 

Each year as part of the festival, ATL commissions a play for the apprentice company. “This year the apprentice company worked on the play Neon Mirage, a collection of vignettes on the themes of Las Vegas and the American dream,” said Gil. “It was really well received by the sold-out crowds at the festival, and we were all proud of the hard work that went into the show.”

 

Prior to moving to Louisville, Gil was an actor in New York City, where she and a friend started the Strange Sister Theatre Company. “I started Strange Sister as a way to create work for myself that I could control and be proud of,” she said. “My friend and I decided to produce a two-woman show. That went so well that we produced two more plays. I found I have a knack for producing, which is a great skill in this business. As a student, I had a great experience helping produce and act in The Children’s Hour through Encore! (RSC’s student-run theatre group). I am sure that experience led to my confidence producing plays in New York City.”

 

Gil’s long-term goals include developing plays for schoolchildren, based on women in history who broke through barriers. While this project is still in the research and writing phase, her inspiration is rooted in her days at RSC.

 

“I am fascinated by biographies of people who are not well-known, but who have amazing stories of struggle and determination,” she said. “I am sure my Women in the World class at Russell Sage helped fuel that fire. And NYSTI’s outreach to children and schools is a model for the kind of theater I want to put out in the world.”

Gil is generous with advice for aspiring actors. “Check out smaller markets like Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Chicago,” she said. “You don’t have to go to New York City right away. Produce your own shows. Be a self-starter so you aren’t waiting around for projects. Make them happen! Strive to be a well-rounded human being, because you are trying to play an array of people on stage and the broader your experiences, the deeper the well you have to draw from.”

 

Acting Athena
Veronique Ory ’00 began attending NYSTI classes in acting, voice and movement at age 12. “The staff is great; they are people in the industry with experience in the field they are teaching. This propelled me to want to learn more,” she said. “When I started college I was only 16- years-old. Since I had a relationship already with NYSTI and I aspired to act on their stage, I thought Russell Sage was a perfect match.” She remembers working on a production of Agnes of God with NYSTI’s associate artistic director Ed Lange and theatre classmates as pivotal. “That show created a grand sense of perspective that I could make it in Los Angeles and anywhere I go,” said Ory, who moved to Los Angeles after graduating in 2000 to pursue film and television. “I found that I missed theatre,” she said. “I love the rehearsal process, the creative discoveries which continue throughout the run of the show. Film and television are generally more focused on the technical aspects.”

 

When Elizabeth St. Lawrence Welsh ’01 moved to Los Angeles the RSC classmates began the Athena Theatre Company, which includes representing the perspective of women in society as part of its mission. “Both Elizabeth and I were members of the Athenian Honor Society at Sage. We love what Athena represents: wisdom, strength, and beauty,” said Ory, whose recent portrayal of a blind woman in Athena Theatre’s production of the 1967 Audrey Hepburn movie Wait Until Dark won accolades
in the Los Angeles press.

 


Ory is candid about the challenges of her career. “I have to juggle several survival jobs, like tutoring, teaching French, and being a nanny. And I can’t plan anything too far ahead just in case a project comes along.”

 

But she is clear that the sacrifices come with a reward. “I am succeeding because I am always working in theatre or on a film. It is through developing my craft and sharing my passion for the arts that I am able to learn and grow as an actor as well
as a producer.”