Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Spotlight on Aaron Phillips

Aaron Phillips thought he knew Shakespeare. That is, until he took the summer theater intensive last year with instructor Giles Davies.

Cast members of The Tempest, Aaron Phillips, right, and Lorenzo Tonelli 
“I didn’t understand how beautiful and complex Shakespeare is until I took that class,” said Aaron, 18, of Apollo Beach.

Aaron first learned about the Patel Conservatory when he came to the Straz Center for the Florida State Thespian Festival last year.

A student at Lennard High School in Ruskin, he was amazed when he came to the Straz Center for the festival.

“I thought, ‘What is this huge place with all these beautiful theaters?’ I didn’t know it existed,” said Aaron.

He was ecstatic to learn there was a place for him to continue taking theater classes after high school.

Having competed at the festival with a Shakespeare monologue from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, he took the Midsummer theater intensive at the Conservatory to learn a bit more about Shakespeare.

“I loved my instructor [Giles Davies]...he is a Shakespearean genius,” said Aaron. "I realized I would try to say the words, but I never understood what that meant. It's deeper than just the words." 

He says Davies also taught him how to be more open-minded.

“I was semi self-conscious before, and that really holds an actor back. [Giles] has taken that self-conciousness away from me... I’ve let go of that nervous energy.”

This summer, Aaron plays the role of Sebastian in the upcoming Patel Conservatory Theater production of The Tempest.

The production will be the culmination of this summer's three-week theater intensive, also taught by Davies.

“It’s been astounding to me, to see the growth not only in myself but also my cast mates. We’ve gotten 100 percent better and we’ve only been here a week,” said Phillips.

The Tempest is set on a remote island, where Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place using illusion and skillful manipulation.

Aaron enjoys playing the role of a ‘bad guy’ as a contrast to the roles he’s had in the past. “My cast mates give me really great energy.”

Come check out this Patel Conservatory theater production, and perhaps you, too, will discover that you didn’t know Shakespeare quite like you thought you did.

“It’s a romance, it’s a comedy, it’s dramatic, it’s everything,” said Aaron.

The Tempest will be Aug. 8 and 9, 2013 at 7 p.m. in TECO Theater. Click here for tickets.

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