Jewish Wisdom for Goys & Gers


Lorenzo Possanza: Making or Breaking It in New York!

How did you get your start in acting?
I started theater at the age of 12 years old attending a small laboratory theater at ”Teatro le Machere” in Trastevere [Rome], and I found myself at ease in acting and interpreting different characters since the beginning. During the five years spent at Teatro le Maschere I realized that being an actor is not just a hobby but a real passion that I would like to pursue after high school, making this profession my job.

What brought you to the U.S.?
At the end of the five years, my teacher-director decided to cast me for an important show that was held at the theater ”Stabile del Giallo” in Rome for four weeks; in this experience, I enjoyed acting in a professional show with trained and talented actors. With the passion for theater and acting came another passion: English. In fact, since childhood I was fascinated by this language, so I decided to “combine the two passions” and leave for the United States after high school.

How and when did you wind up in New York?
I considered various acting schools in New York and the one that I decided to attend was the “Stella Adler Studio of Acting,” which teaches acting through the Stanislavski technique, which I find very accurate and valid. The school requires a high level of knowledge of English that at the time I hadn’t, so I decided to attend a short course in July 2013. So I left for New York to attend a summer course at the theater school “Circle in the Square.”

Was the experience all that you expected?
During this brief experience I grew as actor and my interest in acting in English also grew. In that Summer, I passed the audition for the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, and I started the Evening Conservatory later in the fall.

What challenges did you face?
The first months were very hard, and I had to settle down in a new city that I barely knew, where the prices of living are very high. I had to speak a language that is not my native language. After changing five places in a month, I finally found a friend with whom I could share an apartment.

Did you find many differences from Italian schools?
As I started school I noticed a strong collaboration between students and teachers with a positive vibe, always encouraging. I found the ”way of teaching” very new and different from the Italian way, which I consider more “academic” and less simple. All the teachers were confident in my acting skills and they tried to bring out the best of me. During the year I find new friends with whom I could share thoughts and experiences; I met many students of different ages and nationalities who opened me to different cultures and languages.

How did this new style of teaching impact you personally?
At the end of the first year I felt completely transformed, more confident on the stage, and now I know how to analyze the script and characters that are given to me, thanks to the Stanislavski technique taught by the school. My level of English has grown dramatically, as well, and at the end of the second semester I performed in the show “Dog Sees God” by Bert V. Royal, where I played Van, an easy-going, daydreaming high-school student.

How did that go?
It was very exiting acting in my first show in English, although I was very nervous in the first two shows. The show was a great success; all my colleagues and teachers were enthusiastic about my work and my English.

What else about the school made an impression on you?
After the summer break, I started my second and final year, which was more challenging and with new classes; there were many scenes to be presented in a short period of time and more homework to do at home. I started studying Shakespeare, which I found extremely difficult to act and analyze because of the language (Elizabethan) and the different (classical) way of acting Shakespearean characters. Stage Combat was another class presented during the second year, in which I learned how to punch, kick, and fall in scenic way. Since the beginning I followed this class, so new and interesting, with passion and dedication. I had fun studying the precise movements and how to “fool” the audience into believing that the fight is real.

Can you identify a particularly challenging role that you played?
At the end of the second year, I performed in the show “The Seagull” by Chekhov, in which I played Semyon (Madvedyenko), a poor teacher, marked by an unhappy marriage. This show was a real challenge to me in proving to everyone (including myself) that not only my accent is completely American but also my character is “real” and carefully studied in every single detail. I achieved my goal and, at the end of the year, the teachers told me in what I have improved and what I needed to improve in the future.

So after your training, what were your next steps?
After finishing the school, I decide not to go back to Italy for the summer and I start auditioning through a website called “Backstage” where I could find dozens of auditions for theater, television, and commercials. My goal now is to audition only for theater because I would like to apply what I have learned at school directly on the stage and because it is important for me now to be in contact with the audience.

How about film or TV, any plans?
Working in film and television is still something I would like to pursue in the future. After a couple of auditions, I was cast for a show called “Cherish Every Precious Moment” where I play John, a character with a strong personality who fights to save his community and his wife from drugs. The show was presented at the theater ‘Producers Club Theaters’ (a theater founded in 1994) and it was a great success.

Now where are you in your career?
After finishing the four performances of the show, I auditioned for two companies: an American company “Love Creek Company,” which was founded in New York and has been active for 30 years and an Italian-American Company “Kairos Italy Theater,” which was founded in New York in 2000 with the aim of creating a cultural exchange between Italy, the United States, and the international community. I got in both companies and started working for Love Creek Company with the show ”The Godson”, a single act drama-comedy where I play a very funny, mentally unstable character.

What memorable roles have you had recently?
At the end of the show, I went back to Italy for a month and, when I came back, one of my teachers called me to rehearse for a show that will be presented in September 2016: ”Johnny Got His Gun,” which talks about a soldier who is almost deadly injured fighting in World War I. After a week of intense rehearsing the American company “Love Creek Company” cast me in another one act show (comedy) “A Little Analysis”, in which I play a gangster who kidnaps animals and blackmails the owners in exchange for money. After finishing the four performances, the ”Love Creek Company” contacted me again, this time, to play Orestes in the play “Andromache” by Euripides, performed in middle April at the theater “The Beckmann Theater” in New York. The show was hugely appreciated by the audience and was my first Greek play in English.

What’s on the horizon?
In the meantime, the Italian-American company ”Kairos Italy Theater” contacted me to perform in the show “Characters in Search of a Country,” based on “Six Characters in Search of an Author” by Pirandello. It was presented in late April with more performances in June. This show will also be presented at the festival ”In Scena”—the Italian Theater Festival in New York.

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