Ruby Alexander, winner of the 2017 Sydney Eisteddfod Actor's Championship (12 - 14 Years).
Fourteen year old Ruby Alexander, winner of the 2017 Sydney Eisteddfod Actor's Championship spoke to Sydney Eisteddfod about her passion for acting and the inspiration behind her performance of ‘Time Stands Still’ by Donald Margulies. She also shared what she has learnt from her Sydney Eisteddfod experience so far.
Why do you love acting?
I’m only young, so I can’t say I’ve experienced even half of what some of the characters I’ve played have. I find it so interesting to be able to, I guess, feel emotions through the minds of people that aren’t me, and that are usually so unlike myself. And in some strange way, I feel that I’ve gotten to know myself much better through acting — studying and embodying others. I’ve gotten to meet parts of myself I hadn’t met before! So I guess, I love acting because it’s very much an adventure for me.
what inspired you to start acting?
From a young age, I did drama courses at NIDA and then, I started Speech and Drama lessons when I was four years old, which I’ve continued and really love. When I was eight, I began to read books obsessively and from reading, I became really interested in how people choose to live their lives and how the mind works, which I believe definitely contributed to my interest in drama. I was lucky enough to perform in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at the Belvoir St. Theatre when I was nine, and as Young Nala in Disney’s “The Lion King”, and being surrounded by so many talented and inspiring actors was such a surreal experience. I’m so lucky to have had so many incredible experiences in my life so far.
You chose to perform Sarah from the play “Time Stands Still” in the Sydney Eisteddfod Actors Championship, tell us a little bit about this piece.
I performed a monologue from “Time Stands Still”, a play by Donald Margulies. The play predominantly follows Sarah, a photojournalist overcoming the trauma of being caught in a bombing in Iraq. Before performing this piece, I had never played the role of a character so complex and with so much life experience. Because of this, embodying the character of Sarah proved to be quite difficult, however, I have really enjoyed the challenge and the experience has been very rewarding and such a great learning opportunity.
Which other performers do you most like to watch, and why?
There are so, so many performers that I admire for their work. I recently watched ‘Dead Poets Society’, and I thought that Robin Williams’ performance was incredible. I really admire him for the diversity of the roles he performed throughout his career, and also for the complexity he brought to his characters. Natalie Portman, Amandla Stenberg, and Emma Watson are also performers who I really look up to.
What do you do to prepare for your performances?
A lot of practice! I always try to begin my preparation by forming my own subtext of the piece I’m studying before going on to reading the plays and analysing their context. It is really important for me to understand the character I am playing and to develop a personal connection to the character in some way so that I can perform to the best of my ability. I am immensely grateful to have such supportive and skilled Speech and Drama teachers who help me throughout my whole preparation process, and have definitely nurtured my passion for acting.
What is the best piece of performance advice you've ever heard?
Someone once told me, “Your dreams only work if you do”, which really resonated with me. I always try to keep in mind that the opportunities I’ve had are a result of the hard work I’ve put in. In terms of performance advice, I was taught to take some time before a performance, only a minute or two, to visualise myself performing my pieces. This has really helped me; in this moment I am able to reflect on what I have learnt over the preparation process, and also to feel confident in myself and that I am ready.
What have you learnt from your Sydney Eisteddfod experience?
From the Sydney Eisteddfod, I have been so lucky to have been able to perform alongside others my age that are all so talented. The eisteddfod has also provided such an amazing opportunity for me to learn and grow as a performer, and the feedback I’ve been given from adjudicators has really helped me to improve. To anyone considering entering eisteddfods in the future, do it! I have learnt something from every eisteddfod experience, and I’ve also made some really great friends.