NEYT is a fantastic place for kids of all ages, abilities, and interests to come together and create art. It not only has productions but also tons of classes ranging from dance to improv to sewing. It also has free opportunities for doing tech and crew and costuming. While it is a theatre, it is also a community. It is a place where kids can feel safe to express whomever they may be and find a tight-knit group of friends who have so much love and support to give.
My Name is Izabel Estrin, I am a recent alumnus of NEYT, I graduated this past summer. I am now a freshman at New York University Tisch School of the Arts for Drama. There are about ten different acting studios based on techniques at Tisch and I am in the Meisner studio, which is named after Sanford Meisner, an acting teacher who derived his training from Stanislavski and created the Meisner technique. The major principle of this technique is “the reality of doing under imaginary circumstances.” The first year of this training is all about learning about yourself and how you feel and express emotion organically, and the second year is when you apply it to character work and scenes. We have this conservatory style studio training three days a week from 9 am to 6 pm and then we have our general education classes for the other two days. For these classes, I take a freshman English course and a course called Intro to Theater Production which includes being on the crew of a show here at Tisch and I will be doing lighting for the Meisner studio’s production of Richard III this fall. It is overwhelming but also very exciting. It’s crazy that I get to do what I love so much for school and I credit NEYT as a big part of why I ended up at Tisch.
NEYT taught me so much about myself. I discovered my love for stage makeup there when I helped with makeup for shows before I started acting in them. It helped me become familiar with the process of auditioning and casting and how to deal with rejection in a healthy way. It helped me realized that I wanted to pursue acting as a career. I’d like to include an excerpt from the essay I wrote to get into NYU, I think it captures what captivated me so much about being on stage and this discovery happened at NEYT;
“For the first time, I became aware that being born with my right hand and part of my right foot missing was different from everyone else. I would hide my right arm in long sleeves and pockets, and never wear open-toed shoes. In tenth grade, I found theatre. My first show was a melodrama at New England Youth Theatre (NEYT). I was very nervous about acting in front of an audience, but the longer I was on stage the more comfortable I was becoming my character. I played an over-the-top salesman trying to sell ridiculous products to the audience. I got laughs -- magical moments for me. I could take my arm out of my pocket.”
The welcoming community and the overwhelming support of all my peers sparked my love for performing and from that night on it grew, and NEYT helped foster that growth. The spring of Junior year I auditioned for The Hot L Baltimore directed by the absolutely amazing Hallie Flower.
I had such a life changing experience with that show because it was a very hard spring for me as my parents were going through a divorce and rehearsal felt like the one place I could both let that all go and also express what I was feeling through my acting. The theatre was my safe haven and the adults were open and loving arms to hug me and also were there to listen to whatever I had to say. From then on I auditioned for and did every show that NEYT produced for the rest of my high school career. I also took classes such as scene study and stage makeup. I spent all my time there after school and on the weekends and was also part of the mentor program which is for the older members of NEYT to volunteer, throw events that raise money for charities and our scholarship program, put on the cabarets twice a year and overall just be there for the junior members. The friendships I made at NEYT will be with me for the rest of my life.
When someone asks me about NEYT now I get a huge smile on my face that doesn’t go away and I tell them that it is a magical place that encourages kids to take risks, be themselves, stand up for others and for what is right, but above all to have fun and experience the pleasure of play. As is engraved in the stone floor before entering the theater, “leap and the net will appear,” I have taken a huge leap to move to Manhattan and pursue such an uncertain career, but it is because of NEYT that I can trust that the net will indeed appear.