Artist of the Month - March 2001
Actor, Director, Producer , Eve Passeltiner -
The Transformation Of An Artist
by Carol N. Wells
Eves insights to theater and acting, came pearls of wisdom that
managed to instruct and inspire my own art and provide a window to the
arts in general.
Eves passionate discourse on how it all began for her, is one ofbeing
born with and into the theater, rather than having had to search for the
outlet. Her Godfather founded the St. LouisRepertory Theatre, and by 3
years of age, Eve was used to watching her parents as well as other actors
perform on stage while she silently participated in the wings, and was
always part of the back stage milieu. What might have been tedium or boredom
for other children in that predicament, must have been fuel for a very
young, but very well formed innate passion for Eve. Her favorite play
was, The Miser by Moliere.
Eves vision of having an acting company was formed from those early
theater experiences. Theater is family. Theres an always an
empty feeling when a show is over, says Eve.
When Eve was 5, just old enough to start acting in plays, she and her
parents moved to Indiana, where her father taught at Purdue University
for one year. After that, it was on to New York.
During her time in New York, it was in public school that Eve was able
to engage in theater once again. In the 6th grade, she helped write a
recreation of The Wizard Of Oz, in which she played the wicked witch of
the west. In high school, she directed and performed in The Women,
by Claire Booth Luce; and received the Award for Excellence in Drama from
Bronx High School of Science.
College in Pennsylvania provided Eve the opportunity to play a male role
as part of McHeaths Gang in Three Penny Opera. Additionally, she
had roles in The Overtones, and The Great Nebula in Orion. Along with
her theater productions, she managed to be the captain of the basketball
team, J.V. field hockey and the J.V. La Crosse team.
So with all this acting ability and opportunity, my immediate assumption
was that Eve, of course, had a degree in drama. But interestingly enough,
Eve graduated with her degree in microbiology.
I loved science, but I didnt want to be a doctor or be a scientist
locked up in a room somewhere. Science is very similar to theater, in
that its about problem solving and experimenting, claims Eve.
After college, Eve spent about 2 months in Europe to see and experience
different cultures and ways of living that would become important to her
artistry. She then worked in trade publicity for hardbacks of Simon &
Shuster Publishing Co. for about one year. Eve was involved with three
different theater companies: Avalon Repertory Theater, Hawk & Handsaw
Theater Company, and Lovecreek Productions. While the stereotypical occupation
of a struggling actor may be that of waiting on tables, we are not surprised
to find that Eve did not fit into this category. During this three year
period, Eve free-lanced as an Planner of international financial conferences.
This allowed her to travel to Japan, England, and spain and gain knowledge
of event planning marketing and business.
So what finally made her move from New York?
I wanted to move away from the harshness of the city. The... who
do you want me to be so youll pick me attitude. Its
too hard to create under those circumstances. Too much of New York is
in trying to get the job rather than the acting. It was depressingly materialistic,
and New York has changed over the years. There is a much greater demand
for musicals now as opposed to straight plays, Eve explained.
A few years before moving to Moab, she toyed with living in Seattle, auditioning
for Artistic Director of the Intiman Theater in Seattle. Although she
was told shed do well, the thought of 9 months of gray skies deterred
her. Fortunately for us, Eve found her way to Moab in 1993.
Eves fantasy goal was to have a theatre company at some point. But
her first priority was to become part of the community before introducing
it. Eve got her chance to not only be part of the community, but in bringing
the community together, big time. In November of 1995, Lucy Wallingford
suggested the city turn a building then known as the Stunt Mans
Hall of Fame Museum into an art center. It was natural for Eves
interest to be piqued. Being an artist herself, one cannot help but also
be a patron of the arts. Eve became involved by writing a proposal to
the city on what kinds of uses the building would have and invested a
grand scale effort in soliciting input from the community as to what kinds
of arts classes, events to hold and how people could contribute in the
form of teaching and other ways to support a facility that we now know
as the Moab Arts & Recreation Center. You may remember filling out
questionnaires at City Market regarding this information.
Through Eves efforts, we now have a beautiful building that provides
a grand diversification of events, classes, and opportunities available
to all ages throughout our community.
Doing intimate theater in Moab was initiated when Eve saw Laurie Collins
audition for Don Juan In Chicago. Laurie had made quite an impression,
and Eve approached her later about doing a play together. Their first
joint venture was Elee mosynary a play by Lee Blessing. There was no advertising,
and it wasnt even done on the stage. The actors decided to use space
in an unusual wayperforming in front of the stage in a workshop
production of the play, meaning the actors read from their scripts part
of the time. Eve was unsure as to whether people would accept this style
of theater. But that first performance netted 40 people in the audience,
proof that theater really could work successfully in Moab.
How did you come up with Dessert Theater? I was curious
With my background in marketing, I wanted an angle with a different
niche. It just came to me Eve confided.
So began Moab Repertory Theaters modest birth. It is a separate
and unique entity that rents its space from the MARC just as any other
event, and people support it with their generous donations.
I asked Eve where she finds her plays and what criteria she uses to choose
Well, I have a bookcase of plays I brought from New York, and Laurie
has some too. Sometimes I go to Salt Lake or even New York to check out
a play. I subscribe to American Theater Magazine; and then my father is
a great source since he goes to the Dramatist Bookstore in New York to
get plays for me. I have a list of plays to do five years long. But how
I choose a particular play, is based in part on casting difficulties,
but more importantly on whether it has something to teach, whether its
a comedy or not. I want to expose people to things they might not be exposed
to otherwise. Getting people to see things in a different light is what
makes it exciting.
When asked what inspires her, Eve had this to say about acting.
The inspiration comes from intention. You have to ask yourself,
what are you doing, and why are you doing it. There is always
an internal clue as to why you might not want to say a particular line
or group of words. It is problem solving in the human experience. How
to trust the nakedness when youre not sure just how
it will turn out.
I wanted to know how she provides the substance to form the characters
in any given play, so that they become alive and real to the audience.
Theater is like a religion to me. Its the tribe I belong to.
Ive totally devoured it from the time I was three. Acting is hard
work, and when I was growing up, every adult I knew, was in the business.
In my earlier years of acting through high school and college, I kept
getting in my own way. When I wasnt able to act, I acted out in
other ways, and this is true of any artist. Im finally at a point
now where I dont get in my way anymore. For me, I try not to do
comfortable. In every character there is always a small part
of you that can relate and you blow that up and explore it. The more specific
you are for yourself, the more universal you become. Its when youre
vague with yourself that theater becomes muddied, and unclear to the audience.
Acting is all about the preparation leading up to letting go and being
in the truth of the moment.
Sometimes you work from the inside out, in other words from intent and
desire. Other times you work from the outside in; how would this person
walk and speak and see the world. Sometimes you borrow from someone that
reminds you of the part. Environment informs you to a large extent. Exploring
a similar situation gives you insight into how you yourself would react
and then you draw on that. This is where improv can free you
up to discover a part before your brain has a chance to decide how its
already going to be. And then theres a whole missing character until
opening night, and thats the audience.
Research plays a key role in finding the essence of the character. For
the part in W;t, I researched hospitals and what it was like
in that environment to go through ovarian cancer. I also researched the
poet Dunn, who the main character was an expert on. Basically, you live
your role. However, I didnt decide to shave my head until the actual
night of the opening performance. And I was glad I did. It suddenly gave
a more weighted feel to the character. People who have actually
been through that type of experience came up to me after the play and
thanked me for playing the part to its fullest.
Though Eve has performed in many plays, she has also directed, and I found
myself wondering, what the main differences are between directing and
Directing is teaching and more problem solving. Youre helping
push the right buttons to get to that place the actor needs to be. Youre
working on sculpting a big piece instead of just one character. The truth
about the moment becomes about serving the story as a whole.
Having an eye for what works and what doesnt, and giving people
room to play is a large part of directing. I dont believe in actors
being puppets, especially when it comes to walking here or
crossing the stage there. You come by an instinct to teach
people to trust themselves, and to explore and try something even though
Theres the whole choreography in directing; how to keep things moving
while keeping in mind the whole picture of a given story.
Its like being a parent. You support and give to everyone in a way
that they can hear it and blossom. Its about how to bring different
levels together for the play. Thats what it is to be professional
and thats what makes it fun and invigorating.
Eve stays on top of her craft by attending workshops. Last October she
attended an actors workshop by Patsey Rodenburg, who has worked
with such actors as Judy Dench, Ian Holm, and Ralph Fiennes to mention
a few. This July, Eve will be traveling to Umbria, Italy for 2½
weeks to attend an International Directors Symposium. It is sponsored
by La MaMa Etc. Theater of New York and directors and designers from around
the world will be hosting workshops at this symposium.
We are ever so fortunate in a small town such as Moab to have the talents,
guidance and inspiration of Eve Passeltiner available to us through the
Moab Repertory Theater and the opportunity it allows the community to
become part of theater, grow as individuals and become enriched because
In March there will be a Shakespeare workshop that people can sign up
for, and Michael Shurgot will have materials available in advance. There
will be a performance on Friday and Saturday the 30th & 31st of March.
Also, Moab Repertory Theater in conjunction with CEU will be hosting some
free lectures on Why Theater is so Valuable to Society; and a lecture
on shakespeare and Hamlet and how clues are given about acting and directing.
These lectures are provided from a grant through the Utah Humanities Council.
For more information, call the Moab Repertory Theater: 259-3983.
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