Kati Sweigard is a Senior Theater Major with an English Minor at Ohio Wesleyan University.
Carianna Arredondo: Tell me a little bit about your background and upbringings and how you came to making the decision to live in New York for a semester?
Kati Sweigard: I was born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, which has a great theatre scene. My parents are both from Chicago, and met in a high school musical so I’ve always kind of been destined for theatre in some capacity. My mom still works with wardrobe and costumes in Cleveland, and costumes is one of my focuses for my theatre major (the others are performance and stage management). I decided to spend the semester in New York to get a real world exposure to theatre and figure out first hand if a huge city like this is both somewhere i could live in the future and somewhere I can pursue theatre.
CA: That’s so cool. I know I often see you in the lounge working on stories, how long have you been writing and what types of stories do you write about?
KS: I’ve been writing since I was seven, but only seriously started considering it as a career when I was in high school. I write mostly young adult, and mostly fantasy or urban fantasy. A little sci fi too, mostly because I think it’s helpful to write what you know and what you read. I’m still kind of bridging the gap as a reader from YA to adult, but I think as a writer I’ll be sticking with YA.
CA: I remember you were trying get a book published here, or in the pursuit of that anyway–how’s that going?
KA: Well, writing it was the hardest part I’ll say. I first became interesting in looking to get me work published just because there are students here with internships in publishing. I decided to look a little more into it. I sent query emails to agents–– most of the time they say no—but I figured try it out in the city while I’m at least here.
CA: Have you heard back from anyone at all?
KS: I have not. But I only have sent them out to about seven people– normally 90 out of 100 are rejections so we’ll see.
CA: Good luck, I wish you the best. So where are you interning and what are some tasks they give you?
KS: I intern at the Lee Strasberg theatre and film institute. I’m lucky in that I get to take acting classes there in exchange for my interning hours- I mostly do administrative office work and I also am a production assistant for their fall show. On Saturdays I work with their young actors program as a classroom assistant for kids ages 9-11.
CA: How has working for this theater helped you in deciding what you want to pursue in the near future?
KS: I’ve become more confident in where I want to be in theater. It’s nice that I’m in a class that allows me to develop tools I can use in my acting. A lot of the people that work in administration and even the teachers are still working actors––it’s nice to know you can still have your day job and have time to pursue the arts. I also think it’s really unique that the main part of my internship is taking classes. They approach acting in a different style. At OWU we approach acting with the Stanislavsky method and Lee Strausberg’s method is derived from Stanislavsky, but how you utilize the technique is different. Stan is more about imagination Strasberg is about channeling your real life experiences and recalling how something made you feel—as opposed to creating it from scratch. I am extremely grateful that I can have the chance to get exposed to different methods while in the city.
CA: What are you expecting to get out of your time here in the city?
KS: I’m expecting to figure out if New York is the place for me. I want to make sure I want to pursue acting and that I have the guts for it. The weird thing about acting (and writing and trying to get published for that matter) is that 99 times out of 100 you will get rejected. So it’s hard to have both nerves of steel AND the vulnerability to create and be open to doing honest work that really forces you to risk everything.
CA: I can totally relate, the same goes for working artists as well– you just have to put yourself out there and keep on keeping on. What are your top spots to hangout/decompress/etc. ?
KS: I hang out in union square park a lot. There’s a farmers market on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and it’s just a very lively place where you can still feel anonymous and have some privacy. I rehearse there a lot with one of my scene partners for class. I also love argo tea. It’s pretty much your regular tea and coffee shop, but the tea flavors are to die for.
CA: As a fellow coffee lover myself, I normally hang out at El Beit in Brooklyn for coffee, where do you go?
KS: Cafe’ Grumpy has been my go to spot since I’ve been here.
CA: I have not had the chance to go there, but I’ll definitely check them out. Well, for my last question, if you could give any advice to someone thinking about participating in the NYAP what would you tell them?
Go into the program willing to explore more than just the field your internship is in. You’ll learn and be inspired by so much more. I’m here for theatre but I’m learning about art and publishing and music and food and all sorts of things that I didn’t sign up for, but I am inspired by everyday.
CA: Well stated, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me about your internship!
KS: Thank you too!