Interview with Brittany Olinkiewicz

"I chose a scene from three plays by José Luis Alonso de Santos and directed them in the original Spanish.

…I want to know, if you’re performing in a language that isn’t your audience’s primary language, how does that affect the acting?"

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Field Work Term

Diamond Head Theatre, Honolulu, Hawaii—"I did set design for them."

No Shame Theater, Los Angeles, CA—“It’s SNL-style skit theater,
but more about pushing controversial topics. I did some writing and acting, light board, publicity.”

Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain—On study abroad

Independent Study, Madrid, Spain—Researched the plays of José Luis Alonso de Santos

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Course Sampler

  • Shaping the Spanish Self, with Sonia Perez
  • New Works Ensemble, with Dina Janis
  • The Lyric Essay, with Mark Wunderlich
  • Viewpoints, with Jenny Rohn

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“I went to a lot of plays during my semester abroad in Madrid, and that’s where I first saw a play by José Luis Alonso de Santos. During the censorship of the Franco dictatorship in Spain, playwrights couldn’t say anything about religion, politics, anything sexual. After the dictatorship, Santos came out with this play called Going Down to Marrakesh, which both shocked and educated people about drugs, urban life, and a marginalized group of young people rebelling against middle class morality.

“I’m interested in that—how people find collective identity, and also rebel against authority—the transition to democracy, and how Santos portrays that in his plays. So I’m writing my thesis on three of his plays. I contacted Santos, and he met with me while I was on my Field Work Term doing an independent study in Madrid. He was writing and directing a new play, and he let me sit in on a rehearsal.

“When I came back to Bennington in the spring, I chose a scene from each of the three plays that exemplify the themes I’m interested in and directed them in the original Spanish. The people performing the scenes were Spanish students, but not necessarily actors. It’s about exploring the language. I want to know: If you’re performing in a language that isn’t your audience’s primary language, how does that affect the acting? I’m excited and a little overwhelmed! But this is such a good place to push yourself.

“There are times as a student when you’ll get frustrated with Bennington, because what Bennington is trying to do is push you out of your comfort zone. When my advisor and my Plan committee encouraged me to think about doing a big project in my senior year, I could have backed off, but I didn’t. I could have just taken advanced classes in my senior year, but they told me, ‘You can do more than that.’

“I feel corny talking about my community and my friends, but it’s true. Before they come here, people are often concerned about ‘Oh, Bennington’s so small’—but I find that the size is one of the biggest benefits. I’ve been performing with the same group of people since my first year, and it’s nice watching us grow together, collaborating, knowing each other’s strengths.”