Over the next four years I plan to get a double major both in Acting and History. This may take an additional year given the nature of the Acting BFA’s course requirements. I hope to do summer theater in Charlottesville my hometown at the Live Arts Theater to get an introduction to performing in extended runs. I might need to begin with some form of internship and gain a foothold, but I am willing to commit my summers to doing this, so I can gain a greater understanding of how regional theater works. This upcoming summer I am applying for a Fulbright scholarship to the globe to study both the history and the performance of Shakespeare. I think that this will be an efficient way to gain experience in both Acting and History. I hope to be informed about the history of different cultures when I graduate, so that I will be able to constantly frame and evaluate my work with a multi leveled understanding of human history. After graduating from SMU I do not plan to move to New York. I want to do one of two things, and this will depend upon casting opportunities. If I can get cast in a tour or a regional theater somewhere I will take this opportunity. I hope to do some traveling regional theater after graduation to see different parts of the U.S., and build a resume. If I am unable to get a role at a regional theater, and this travel plan proves too difficult, I will move to Washington D.C. I would do this both to be in an exciting center of theater. Also because my parents are moving there and I have spent many years away from home in boarding school. They are very supportive of my artistic ambitions, and this immediate support system seems like it would be very beneficial as I begin my career. I am also interested in researching the theater scene in Australia and New Zealand. I am incredibly fond of New Zealand, and it would be interesting to try and bring my art to a less centralized established location. I know that Perth in Australia has a burgeoning Theater scene, and I am eager to hear back from a current Theater Studies Junior who will take a semester abroad to New Zealand next semester. After my experience with teaching with Big Thought this semester, I think that being a teaching artist would be a good way to make money on the side, while contributing to the community I am in and practicing my art. I know that in the US there are many companies that run after school programs with middle school kids, and I think this would be both fulfilling and an additional source of income. My teaching will not need to be limited to theater either, because I plan to complete my Dedman Scholarship with a major in History, and my SATs will serve as a strong enough credential to be a private tutor. If I take the D.C. route I plan to use my parents connection to find on the side cash jobs. My mother is a doctor and knows many very busy well-paid people. Though I could be a private tutor anywhere my parental connection in D.C., a city with many private schools and education-invested parents, will probably serve this opportunity the best. I think it would be easy to establish myself by word of mouth as a dog walker/house sitter/odd job assistant. I am know how to thoroughly detail cars, and I could undercut the market, because I would have limited overhead doing this as an individual. Of course alongside these income routes I will grab opportunities to do voice-overs and commercial or industrial work. I think that having these many different options for income on the side will enable me to have a flexible enough schedule to audition as much as I am able to. I have very little experience working with film, and while I am at SMU I hope to be a part of a film project or two so that I can gain an understanding of the differences acting on camera. After working for a few years in the industry, I plan on auditioning for a grad school to further my training as an artist, and also for the added credibility in teaching and auditioning.
I am a strong communicator, and enjoy collaborating to create work.
I think that my skill set would be greatly added to with the addition of a stronger foundation in music. I plan to take some piano lessons in the next four years, and gain an understanding of basic musicianship. This will help my singing and sight reading. I also think it would be good to exercise different artistic muscles to continue to expand my own creativity.
I also hope to become more flexible with my own personal standards. Unrealistic expectations can make important progress seem insignificant, and thus are not conducive to an enjoyable work experience.
When I enter the rehearsal room, I am focussed on the work at hand. Playing in the room is the most distracting thing for me, and since this is often conducive to discoveries I try not to stifle the urge. Having been taught in High School by David Valdes that the second you are satisfied with what you have achieved in a rehearsal you have ceased being an artist, I try to push myself to find new things each rehearsal. I find that I am most productive and motivated, when I have had plenty of sleep, exercise and food. These things sound basic, but I notice a significant drop in productivity if I don’t support all three needs. It is also important to have a balance in my social life. I can rehearse for hours on end, but taking space from the work is also important for me. This way the next time I come to a rehearsal I am able to bring my outside experiences into the room with me, giving me a fresh look at the piece.
The most important part of my process is discovering why a given story is important for me to tell. Once I have found this, the research and the rehearsal time seems to evaporate, and before I realize it it’s opening night. The process truly is the most exciting part of being an actor: all the days that are spent in rehearsal, taking risks and experiencing failures, while exploring the story.
I work well under time pressure. I learned to juggle my extracurriculars through boarding school. Most days I would leave my room at 8am and return at 9 30pm to begin homework before bed. I function efficiently, when I am in this non stop model.
I value family most in the world. My love of my family is something I want to extend beyond and share with others. Love is a healer. My Mother is a Doctor, and so I had always thought of the hospital as the place to heal and recover. This remained true until I ventured into the Theater. I want my work to connect with people. I want to share myself or a story well enough that a viewer feels that they are not alone. There are billions of people on this planet, and yet somehow we all feel the despair of being alone. This can be helped. As cliche as it sounds life is too short to live in the darkness of despair. Story telling has the chance to pull a person out of this pit. Since growing up in London, and visiting the West End and the Movie theaters, I have believed that Drama can affect people in significant ways. I grew up on stories. Stories have always been a part of family, a part of learning and a part of growing up.
I am not sure whether I would pass up my dream job in favor of my living situation or personal life. I don’t need fame, nor do I plan to search for it obsessively. I know that I can “share the love”, as it were, on many levels and in many places. I don’t need to be in New York or LA to achieve my goals. I would not shy away from an opportunity in the lime light either. Though I have never followed celebrities, I realize that there is opportunity to use your fame and attention to further your goals and what you find meaningful. I would have to weigh the decision to take a job for the chance of “making it” carefully. If this job conflicted with my views and comfort, but also opened doors to doing work that I truly care about, I would probably take the job. I am confident I will not lose my values in the midst of this, because they are at the core of who I am.
I have always been taught to fail big, and to never be satisfied. I am glad that learning from failure is an integral part of the philosophy at Meadows. Risk taking is the only thing that allows further discovery to take place, and so I feel these two lessons go hand in hand. There is no point in failure if you are satisfied with what you have achieved, but if you are satisfied with what you have achieved then there is no reason to continue being an artist.
I love rehearsals. I love playing with a scene, searching for the many different ways to experience it. Rehearsals are the most important thing for my process. I cannot sit alone in a room and do character work. Memorizing lines by myself is also a challenge. I need to be listening to my scene partner and interacting with the text physically and mentally to begin to understand the complexities of any piece. The best directors for me are the directors who can watch me do a scene a hundred times and ask me a question after each run through. The exciting part of acting for me is discovering myriads of answers to these questions, and it becomes less engaging the second anything is handed to me.
There is no point in receiving a fully completed jig saw puzzle from a friend. However, there is a very particular satisfaction that comes from finishing a difficult puzzle as a team. Having experienced many closely bonded athletic and scholastic “teams” or groups, I know that I can safely assert that making art with other people is as strong if not stronger a team building experience than any ropes course, football team or debate team.
As the process continues into production (and throughout the run, because it is never truly finished), I find things that I connect with the given show. This last spring working on “The Exonerated” by Eric Jensen and Jessica Blank, I found music and pictures that connected the show and the character more closely to my own world. Though it is different for every show I have been in, there are always connections that I discover along the way that bring the script and the world closer to home. I usually end the run with a pre-show ritual that has developed over the course of the process through these various connections.
George Riley was born into the Colligan family in Ridgewood New Jersey. He grew up in the College town of Hanover New Hampshire, before moving across the pond to London England at the age of 6. He attended the Hall School and Hereward House. Two traditional English all boys public schools. In the sixth grade he decided to embark on a new adventure and left his English school for a boarding school in Western Massachusetts called Eaglebrook Boys School. George commuted across the Atlantic for vacations, until the 8th grade when his family moved back to the United States to Charlottesville Virginia. Upon finishing Eaglebrook George was faced with the decision to continue boarding at a High School in New England or return to his family in Virginia and attend a day school at home. Having become acclimated to the joys of living with friends and personal responsibility, George decided to continue his education at St. Paul’s School in Concord New Hampshire. He has always been a New Hampshire man and it will forever be his home.
George discovered the stage at Eaglebrook his ninth grade year, when he participated in the fall farce directed by his football coach Jeff Connor. George had a blast making people laugh, and enrolled in theater classes upon entering St. Paul’s. Though he had many interests at St. Paul’s, his theater classes with David Valdes quickly pushed to the forefront. Spring term of his sophomore year George faced the difficult decision between continuing his favorite sport Tennis and dropping it for the spring show. George dropped tennis to take part in Woody Allen’s farce Don’t Drink the Water, and never looked back. The next fall George quit the football team after preseason to take part in the Fall show The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. He was hooked. Junior summer George attended the National High School Institute aka Cherubs at Northwestern, a five week theater intensive program. Senior year George and his best friend Robert George, sixth grade roommate, traveled to Chicago Unifieds to audition for College Acting programs.
George fell in love with SMU, when he visited after visiting and touring many different options. He loved that the Meadow’s School was about helping artists discover how they wanted to use their artistic voice and form a unique artistic identity. This philosophy differed from the other schools on George’s list, who were more focussed on fitting their graduates into other people’s visions. SMU would allowed George to pursue a double Major in Acting and History. George believes that in order to be the best artist he can be, it is important for him to learn as much about the world and the many stories of the world as he can.