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ACTOR JENEFFA SOLDATIC talks about her favorite books – Page 3

Touring with David Bowie...

READERSVOICE.COM: What is “session work” at the Studio?
JENEFFA SOLDATIC: Twice a week there is session, which is closed and private, for members and people in the audition process, to watch actors work on a scene or monologue.
When you are a student at the school you are allowed to go to view the session work on Tuesday and Friday at the Studio, but not allowed to work until you graduate (as a working finallist), or are accepted as a member of the Studio.
At the session there is a moderator, who oversees the work, and this is a sacred time where an actor can have time to openly rehearse in front of an audience, and get feedback only from members. It is not about a performance; rather the actors’ work.
That is what makes the studio so famous, it is a place for professional actors to work on their craft. There is nowhere else like it. It’s about the craft and your skills, not the final piece. As a professional actor you never have this luxury outside of the studio.
RV: What is the Stanislavski method and the Alexander technique?
JS: Stanislavski created a method of working. He studied what made his actors tick.
His study involved emotional memory, motivation – actions, and the concept of deconstructing a script into beats.
The Alexander technique was founded by an Australian man in the 1900s: an actor form Tasmania who kept losing his voice. He realized that his use of his body was creating this loss, and created a technique for performers on how to use their body properly.

RV: After you graduated you joined the Dallas symphonic pop group “The Polyphonic Spree” (the group has many members all of whom wear long white robes and sing uplifting slightly gospel-influenced songs), which toured with David Bowie. How did David Bowie find out about Polyphonic Spree?
JS: David heard the band a couple of years ago, after they did a cover of his song 5 years. He loved them, and that year he was curating a music festival in England, and called up Tim (DeLaughter, founder of the Polyphonic Spree), saying he wanted them to be in it.
Tim was amazed but said they couldn’t afford for the 25 of them to travel to Europe, but David loved them so much that he told them not to worry. They did the festival and ended up platinum in the UK.
RV: Where did you perform with David Bowie?
JS: We did five weeks of his North American tour. The US and Canada.

RV: What was David Bowie like? Did you hang out with him much?
JS: I didn’t get to hang out with him, although I did with his band. We had passing moments in the halls of the stadiums, and he is the nicest guy. He is witty, bright and so personable, unafraid of talent.
He loves The Polyphonic Spree, and every night in his own set would mention the band and how much he liked them, getting his audience to applaud us.
Plus he changed around his set so that his first encore song was Slip Away, and we came on stage and sang with him.
RV: Do you have favorite actors, and which ones and why?
JS: Juliet Stevenson- I have never seen a better performance than in Truly Madly Deeply.
Ellen Burstyn – not only is she an amazing actor but she is also one of the heads of the Actors Studio. She shares the chair with Al Pacino and Harvey Keitel.
RV: What are your plans?
JS: I am planning to stay here in NYC, working in sessions developing my craft and scripts at the Studio; and to work doing quality theatre and film here in NYC and in Australia.

-story by Simon Sandall