Monthly Archives: November 2009


Student Stories | by Black Box Acting

I’m in need of a major head check. I have signed on for a 6 hour show with a 6 month rehearsal process. In a new adaptation of Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” I’m portraying Brunhilde, a warrior maiden turned disobedient daughter, who’s then banished to become a mortal wife, later scorned by her husband, and finally ends up saving the world. Does anyone have an inhaler? I’ve started hyperventilating. Deep breath and then I remember what two of the most amazing teachers/mentors/women have taught me since I started my training at Black Box, “It’s a formula”.

I started my Meisner training with Laura and Audrey after a friend emailed me, giving me helpful advice on becoming a better actor in Chicago. She told me to try interning somewhere, to watch a casting session, and then said most importantly, I must take class with Audrey Francis and Laura Hooper. This friend has no idea what she has done for me. Because of that fateful email I was introduced to an acting technique that has turned my world upside down, professionally and personally.

I didn’t know what Meisner was. It had never occurred to me that this technique could unlock me as an actor. I’ve now completed three levels of Meisner with Black Box, and feel I’ve grown so much in a short amount of time. My ensemble deserves a lot of the credit here too – when I go to class I am surrounded by professional actors/artists who strive to put integrity back into their work.

After auditions I usually replay the whole day in my mind for a good 48 hours, obsessing over all the little things we all obsess about. But that’s all out the window now. Because I now understand that I am enough. And with “The Ring Cycle”, Meisner has saved me from jumping off a cliff. I can now, with confidence, go through moments with this formula and not let the script or heightened language intimidate me enough to quit this business and become an accountant. I go through my script and decide what I want. I figure out how I would go after it. And all the while Audrey and Laura’s lessons stay with me and inspire me to work hard and be fearless.

Audrey and Laura have a way with each individual student and allow everyone to advance at their own pace. I’m not going to color it rosy, it’s hard and I have gone to places I didn’t know I was capable of. But Black Box, and the women who started it, believe in their students. They have instilled a confidence in me in the past 6 months, a confidence to find my process as an actor, and a confidence in being a strong individual. The training has also allowed me to make some pretty huge decisions personally that I wouldn’t have been able to make without the studio and all of the people affiliated with it. We all push each other to the limit because we, as artists, know that we are all capable of honesty and fierceness in our work.

And damn, it feels good.

-Darci Nalepa (currently enrolled in H 1.0 – Hybrid: Meisner + Viewpoints)