I was recently interviewed by Megan Minutillo, founder of The Write Teacher(s), for their Movers & Shakers Q&A Series. We talked about directing, the arts, education and my involvement with The Vagina Monologues. See below to check out the interview. Then head over to www.thewriteteachers.com to check out their work! Megan and her team are doing some pretty incredible stuff over at The Write Teacher(s). Their website states, “We believe that arts are essential. We believe in community. We believe in framing a conversation for all topics, and we do it through the lens of theatre, books, television, film, music, and of course, education. The world is changing, and we want to set the framework for the discussion.” Bravo, Megan!
Movers & Shakers Q&A Series: Andrea Bertola
Feb. 7, 2013 | By: Megan Minutillo
I’m happy to introduce you all to our next Mover & Shaker, Andrea Bertola. Andrea and I are working on an upcoming production of The Vagina Monologues at HERE together, and she is, without a doubt a Mover & Shaker. Her wit, her passion, her dedication to the arts for social change…well, it’s truly inspiring. I’m proud and honored to call her a friend and a colleague, and so very pleased that she was able to do this interview.
TWT: First things first, did you always want to be a director?
AB: Yes! Even when I was little, I was constantly creating theatrical “masterpieces” for my family. My little sister was my first leading lady, whether she liked it or not. All the world was my stage: the fireplace, the diving board, the garage, our swing set; every family gathering provided me with a doting audience. One time, I got in trouble for putting out a donation basket and asking for tips from my relatives! An early indication for things to come…ha.
TWT: You are currently directing an upcoming V-Day benefit production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, which will be performed at the HERE Arts Center in New York City. What’s it like to be working at the space where this monumental show was first work shopped?
AB: It is truly mind-blowing. I’m ecstatic and honored. The Vagina Monologues is such an important piece—it beautifully merges art with activism, and with that comes great responsibility. While directing the show, I’ve been very conscious about paying tribute to the original women that were interviewed. I want to honor their lives, their stories, and this monumental work of art. I also aim to breathe new life into the play by making it fun and approachable for a new generation.
People are drawn to this piece for many different reasons: some are drawn to the play as a work of art; but many others use it as a way to process their emotions as they recover from violence or abuse. This show has the ability to change the way a community thinks and addresses issues of violence against women.
All of the proceeds from these V-Day benefit productions of The Vagina Monologues will be given to local organizations that work to stop violence against women and children. We’ve already sold-out our show, and we have raised thousands of dollars for our beneficiary. The outpouring of community support and generosity is breathtaking.
Eve Ensler said it best when she was asked about the Vagina Monologues and the V-Day mission, “This may be one of the only times that a theater production has really been able to serve a social movement to this degree, particularly economically.”
TWT: What’s your favorite part of being a director?
AB: As a director, my mission is to examine challenging or controversial themes that speak to contemporary issues in our society. My favorite part about this is presenting these ideas in a way that creates a unique experience for the audience. I believe the energy and atmosphere of the world in the play should stimulate the audience’s senses from the moment they step foot into the theatre. The audience should be jostled (gently) and engaged by theatre, not patronized or preached to. By creating these highly interactive experiences they become a more captivated audience.
While directing provocative, innovative, and envelope-pushing productions, I aim to spark a healthy dialogue between cast, crew, audience, and critics. It’s one of the main reasons why I got my Masters degree in Educational Theatre. Theatre can be a catalyst for social change, and I want to do my part to make the world a better place.
TWT: What advice would you give to high school students who wanted to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?
AB: Get a dual major in marketing! I’m serious. Not because you’ll need a fallback career (you won’t IF you are passionate); but because you’ll need to know how to sell yourself. No matter what career you pursue in the entertainment industry, marketing is key. This industry is all about the packaging. You can be the most talented director in the world, but no one will see your work if you can’t write a compelling synopsis. Marketing will teach you how to make a website, how to engage an audience via social media, how to pitch a project and where to find investors. Believe me, you’ll need all of those tools to get ahead of your competition.
TWT: You’re a board member of the viBe Theater Experience. Can you explain to our readers more about the organization?
AB: viBe Theater Experience (viBe) produces original, free theater, music, and videos about real-life issues written and performed by teen girls. We provide a safe and creative space for underserved girls to express their voices, take on challenges and gain the self-confidence necessary to succeed personally, artistically and academically. viBe empowers girls through free programs, which engage and inspire them to write, create, publish, direct, and perform personal and truthful collaborative theater and music. Since 2002, over 60 viBe productions have brought free theater, live musical performances, music videos, and radio plays to thousands of diverse audience members, changing their perceptions about the kind of art that young women can create.
TWT: Just for fun, what movie could you watch over and over and over again?
AB: I would be totally lying if I didn’t say Father of the Bride. I know, I know. In my defense, Steve Martin and Martin Short together on-screen is nothing to scoff at! “True Romance” and “Gia” would be my second and third place favorites.
TWT: In today’s economy, arts programs in schools are being cut. What reasons would you give a politician for preserving the arts?
AB: The arts provide opportunities for self-expression; they expand our understandings; they give us the self-confidence we need to succeed personally, socially and artistically; they push us to think out-of-the-box and to view the world in new and unexpected ways. They bring magic to our world by filling it with beauty, color, music, and imagination.
TWT: Who is/was your greatest teacher?
AB: This is a tough one. I grew up with a boatload of learning disabilities (dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADD… to name a few) and school was always challenging for me. It’s hard enough to have confidence as a young kid, let alone a kid who is constantly being told they have a learning disability. Learning disabled? What a terrible phrase. It was heartbreaking. My greatest teachers were the ones who believed in me, saw past my struggles and appreciated my creativity. The ones that cheered me on and pushed me to reach for the stars: Mr. Grayson, Mrs. Karczewski, Caroline Worth, Maggie Lally, Joe Salvatore, Stephen DiMenna….and my parents.
So far, our online fundraising campaign has raised $1,620.
We’re now 32% to our goal! Please support the cause. Every little bit helps!
2/7/13 Special Announcement: Extra tickets have just been released for The Vagina Monologues.
The show sold-out a month in advance, these extra tickets will go FAST.