by Molly Cutter and Diana Leighton, from the Maharishi School website
22 September 2009
When first meeting alumna Alana Waksman, it quickly becomes apparent that energy and passion are two key attributes in building a first-class speech program in a school setting. This past year, the dynamic 22 year-old became the Maharishi School's Speech Coach and Director, successfully translating her energy, enthusiasm, and passion for theatre into Maharishi School’s award-winning speech program.
Alana grew up in Fairfield and attended Maharishi School, K-12, graduating in 2004. Even as a child, Alana has always had a passion for acting. Her first play was ‘Winnie The Pooh’ in 2nd grade. Altogether, she acted in seven plays during her time in Fairfield. A key part of her drama training was her participation in Speech Competition for four years while at Maharishi School under the direction of Rodney Franz. She won the acclaimed Critics Choice Award for Group Mime in the All-State Festival two years in a row, along with the Readers Theater Banner.
This year she headed up the Speech program along with fellow alumnus Brendon Thomas. Together they led this year’s Group Mime to win the prestigious Critics Choice Award, bringing home the coveted All-State Banner.
Alana attended Connecticut College where she acted in approximately fifteen theater productions and gained a B.A. in Theater and English. During her time at college she directed two full scale productions, as well as a few shorter length shows. She also has attended acting intensives at Berkshire Theatre Festival, Shakespeare & Company, The O’Neill National Theatre Institute, and St. Petersburg Dramatic Arts Academy in Russia. Those lucky enough to see her act in a recent play saw her cast as the hilarious and shy Hilda in “Room Service,” directed by Elaine Speer, which showed at Spayed Theater in May.
Alana and two other Maharishi School alumni, Miranda Mallard and Kate Vigmostad, will be teaching a theater, dance, and music workshop this coming June 14th – 19th for high school students. They will also be teaching workshops for ages 5-8 and 9-14 from July 6-18th. Anyone interested in joining this can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alana is a dynamic young woman, directing a one-act play and acting in another one-act play in the Iowa Plays Festival that will be showing at the Sondheim Theater in Fairfield.
Maharishi School Newsroom interviewed Alana to find out more:
MSN: Why has theater been your passion?
AW: I’ve always liked theater because it felt purposeful. You have to be so honest with yourself, to confront things within yourself and break through blocks. It forces you to stay in the moment, and create a whole different definition of yourself.
MSN: How has Transcendental Meditation (TM) played a part in your life? AW: Growing up with TM as part of my life was an awesome foundation. It gave me a base level understanding of self, stability, and confidence. I feel with TM as my basis, I grew faster, and the theater programs I attended allowed me to test that basis, which made me stronger. I understood more about what it really meant to be in the moment, to listen, to be honest with myself, and to give my all in every moment.
MSN: What was your experience of teaching Speech?
AW: It has been a gift. It has been a gift to be able to share all of the knowledge I have been learning for the last four years. It is a gift to be able to impact these students and help them to grow and understand more about themselves. That has been the most fulfilling part. It has also helped me to continue to understand and learn more about myself. The students have inspired me to continue to acquire knowledge and experience so that I can have the most profound impact on them.
MSN: What brought you back to Fairfield after graduating from college?
AW: Well, I was exhausted. There is an awesome connection between the people in this town. I only realized the depth of the experience here, after I left. Theater is special in this environment because it’s easy for the people to feel connected. It’s a very special town, so receptive and powerful.
MSN: What do you see in the future for yourself?
AW: Right now I am on the Invincibility Course (IA) getting rested and nurturing myself, getting ready for my next step. Eventually I would like to go to graduate school in Prescott, AZ, where I can design my own MA program. I want to study how theater and training as an actor is a spiritual practice.
MSN: If you could give President Obama one message, what would you say?
AW: Don’t take anything personally. With my job this past year, I have had the experience of being in a leadership role, and it is not always possible to please everyone all the time. All you can do is act from your deepest heart, believe in what you believe in, and keep moving forward. So, that is my advice for President Obama as well – continue to stay strong in your heart and act according to your deepest beliefs.
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