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Meet The 2015-2016 Lark Apprentices

Lark News
2015-16 Apprentices
From left to right: Corey Ruzicano, Maia Safani, Rocky Friedman Vargas, Gillian Heitman, Jack Spagnola

It's Fall again which means there's a new set of Apprentices roaming The Lark's halls. Get to know the new 2015-2016 Apprentices, Rocky Friedman Vargas, Jack Spagnola, Maia SafaniCorey Ruzicano, and me,  Gillian Heitman!

What is your role at Lark?

ROCKY: I am the Development Apprentice. I support the fund raising team here at The Lark. 

COREY: Artistic Programs Apprentice!

MAIA:  I am the Global Exchange Apprentice.

JACK: Roundtable Apprentice.

GILLIAN: Communications Apprentice.

How did you get here?

ROCKY: I was an audience member many times over - I even won an audience raffle once! The more I got to know the organization, the more I wanted to be involved. When the opportunity to apply for this apprenticeship arose, I took it and the rest is history. 

COREY: A few years ago I worked at the Orchard Project, and so many of the brilliant artists I met there had worked at or around The Lark and since then I'd followed this organization whenever I could. I graduated from Emerson College about five minutes ago, where I got to work with my heroes at HowlRound and ArtsEmerson, and heard about the apprenticeship from one of my friends there. 

MAIA: I graduated this past spring from Northwestern University in the suburbs of Chicago. While there, I experimented with acting, directing, playwriting, and devising. As a Theatre and Art History double major, I've always been interested in the intersections of culture through the arts over time. After spending a summer abroad and a semester working in global independent film programming, I realized the importance of global arts in encouraging communication and cross-cultural understanding. 

JACK: I graduated from Hampshire College in 2014 where I studied theater. The student run theater program was a great stepping stone for me, as I was able to produce, write, stage manager, and design shows throughout my four years there.

GILLIAN: I hail from San Francisco, studied theater at UC Davis, and tried my hand at the Bay Area theater scene. I've always wanted to do art in New York and The Lark was the best fit for me, and me for it, I hope.

What is your favorite thing about theater?

Corey Ruzicano
COREY:  I came for the stories and stayed for the people. I was a really nervous kid who wanted to act to escape, and it taught me to love people and understand the world through their eyes.  I stayed for that. 

ROCKY: Theater is the best medium for connection - being in or a part of theater allows you to transcend all boundaries. Nothing else is quite like that, to me. 

GILLIAN: Theater, like all great media, has the profound ability to inspire and move you, but theater has the advantage of being a live experience, which I think adds to its power and ability to affect you.

What is your favorite part of your job at The Lark?

Maia Safani

MAIA:  I love that I get to interact with artists from all over the world who share a common desire to learn more and share what they know about different perspectives, experiences, and dreams.

JACK: Having the opportunity to hear multiple new plays a week at the Roundtable readings.

GILLIAN: I love the openness and commitment in the work and atmosphere. Everyone is so genuinely passionate and generous. It feels like a privilege to be in a space that takes care of its apprentices as well as its staff and artists.

Are you working on any projects now or in the near future?

Jack Spagnola

JACK: A 10-minute play of mine was selected for [the Actors' Theatre's 8 Tens @ Eight Festival] in Santa Cruz, California, so I’m working on editing that script.

COREY: I'm piloting a drama program at a charter school in Brooklyn which is exciting and terrifying and I'm not entirely sure why anyone decided I was qualified to do it.  I'm also interning at the 52nd Street Project. And, just like we all are, trying to find time to write.

ROCKY: I am affiliated with Living Room Theatre, Actors with Accents, the Weekend Play Experiment and several other groups.  It’s great; I am always working on something. 

What, to you, is exciting about theater now? At the Lark?

Gillian Heitman
GILLIAN: New voices and new material. One of The Lark's missions is for Equity, Access, and Inclusion and I feel like more and more of the world of theater is becoming a place where those whose voices were once silenced are now beginning to rise up and share their experiences. I hope we continue to grow as audience members and allow ourselves to be changed by someone else's world view.

COREY: This is the starry-eyed Pollyanna in me, but I think we're in a time of incredible abundance in the art world. We talk so often of scarcity and not having enough but being able every day to watch people make space for one another and make stories and change out of what they have is pretty heartening. 

MAIA:  I'm really excited about how accessibility is slowly being redefined in the arts. I love that there are plays going up around the world this year that embrace the fact that we are all different, and challenge us to start conversations about our difference in the hopes of fostering more understanding. Specifically at The Lark, I can't wait to be a part of the process of bringing in playwrights from China, Mexico, Russia, and more to New York City.  

If you could write yourself into any play or musical and become a character in that world, what would it be and why?

Rocky Vargas
ROCKY:   I would be an Aztecan warrior in a play about the Conquistadors. It just feels right. 

MAIA: Jellyfish #4 in The Spongebob Squarepants Musical, because Spongebob is amazing, jellyfish are amazing, and I would love to swim next to a pineapple under the sea - it sounds like it would be an exciting and tropical underwater adventure!

JACK: As someone who considers himself a very mediocre dancer, I would love to have the opportunity to transport myself into the role of Billy Elliot in Billy Elliot.