Interview with Rhiannon Fernandez,
Theatre Arts Graduate of Fresno State
For more information on this exciting and intensive arts program, please visit www.CSUSummerArts.org.
Hello and welcome to CSU Voices and Views,
I’m Erik Fallis of CSU Public Affairs here with Rhiannon Fernandez, a Theatre Arts graduate of Fresno State. Rhiannon is here to discuss CSU Summer Arts, Cal State’s intensive program of workshops in theatre, music, dance, visual arts, creative writing, and media. Each year, hundreds of students and guest artists gather to learn and create art.
Rhiannon took her first Summer Arts class in 2006. Since then, she has been involved both as a student, and as a staff member. Her latest adventure was a class on Sword and Forcery for Stage and Screen.
So Rhiannon, what is Summer Arts?
An incredible experience, to be able to learn from a wide range of guest artists who know so much more than I do. And to be able to rub elbows with other artists that are learning just as much as I am. And I got so much attention as an artist, that’s kind of addicting.
Could you explain what you learned in the Sword and Forcery class?
It was mostly taught with ideas from the Society of American Fight Directors. They teach safety, because they are real swords that you are fighting with, they’re just dulled down so they’re not sharp. But also, they want to know that you can act the scene well. They want to know that you can–in addition to protecting each other–can you provide the audience with an experience that they can lose themselves in. So, safety first, acting as well, and fun. They always say just have fun–you’re out there striking and blocking.
Is there a story you could tell us from your experience?
Collin Bressie is one of our guest artists, and he brought this idea from a class he took. You could fight each other with pool noodles, because with pool noodles you can actually hit each other and not worry about injuring anyone. So, they would cut the pool noodles to different sizes, to the size of a sword, to the size of a dagger.
The idea is that we would take up the quad at the dorms and spread out to each side of the field, and each big team would rush toward the middle, and fight each other. So, they put out this invitation to everyone at Summer Arts. And so, we had a really good turnout. We had students, we had staff.
We start, and we had a great time. We rushed each other, we’re battling each other. And these three people stood out to me as just being really great. They were going in there and having a blast. So afterward I go up to them and I say: “You did really great and I’m so glad you came out.” And I’m thinking they must be dancers, or martial artists, something of a physical discipline. And I ask them, “What are you guys out here for?” and they go, “We’re memoir writers!” And I just thought it was hilarious that these memoir writers came out and were just whopping everybody’s tail. And they got so into it.
Great. The Summer Arts experience, how does this play out in your life once you leave school, once you leave Summer Arts?
I think it’s had a direct effect on how I have been able to move forward in my career, and my desire and motivation to move forward. Every summer I go back to my “normal life” and I’m unsatisfied. After having been able to just get so deep into my chosen art, I’m not satisfied with not being that into it all the time.
When I chose to move down to try to get an acting career going–I moved to Southern California–and there were people that I knew from Summer Arts that would say, “I can put a roof over your head. You can sleep on my couch. I’ll feed you. I’ll give you whatever ‘how to break into the business books’ that I already own.” Just so supportive.
If you already have a community of people that you know and love, it makes it so much easier to get on in life.
Well congratulations on graduating!
And good luck.