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The Artist’s Journey: Zoë Chao – Week 1 - La Jolla Playhouse Blog

The Artist’s Journey: Zoë Chao – Week 1

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Each week, The Artist’s Journey will provide an insider look at the creation of a production, from first rehearsal to opening night, through the eyes of one of the show’s key players.

Zoë Chao is an actress in the UCSD graduate theatre program and is co-starring in Surf Report. This is her first professional production.

Zoë Chao

Zoë Chao

This is my first blog. Ever. It seems fitting since this is also my first time in a full-fledged, fully endorsed, “too-legit-to-quit” production. And how lucky I am that it is the world premiere of Annie Weisman’s new play Surf Report, directed by Lisa Peterson at La Jolla Playhouse.

This is my residency. All 2nd year acting M.F.A. students make the transition from Galbraith Hall to La Jolla Playhouse to participate in one of the Playhouse’s season productions. Here we earn our Actors’ Equity card and work side-by-side with professional artists from around the world.

A little bit about me: I was born and raised in New England. I come from a family of artists, so the world of the gallery and museum, which is touched upon in Surf Report, is familiar to me. I concentrated in the History of Art and Architecture as an undergraduate and worked for a commercial gallery and as a Getty intern at a non-profit gallery in LA. I had every intention of becoming a curator until I worked on a project called Karaoke Ice, a mobile installation piece that consisted of an old ice-cream truck remodeled into a kaleidoscopic traveling karaoke studio, which happened to need a charismatic MC. It was my job to audition actors to be this karaoke ambassador, who had to dress up in an Avatar-esque squirrel helmet/mask and tail. During the audition process I realized how much I was itching to be on the other side of the audition table. The following year I was off to UCSD to begin my first year in grad school for acting.

In Surf Report, I play Bethany, a twenty-something photographer in New York who has spent most of her young life trying to uproot her Southern California pedigree. The ways in which the world of art is examined throughout the play hits close to home. Our first week of rehearsal was kicked off by a lovely company breakfast prepared by the Partners of La Jolla Playhouse. Then we continued with table work, designer presentations and finally, up on our feet!

It’s continually rewarding to apply the many lessons I have learned and continue to learn over in Galbraith Hall within a new context. I have changed a lot as an actor during my time here and to see these new lessons take flight is exciting. More and more it is apparent to me that training here at UCSD is undoubtedly rewarding in ways I never could have foreseen. The opportunity to work on such a satiric yet poignant new play with such a talented and generous cast, crew and team seems only possible here given the important relationship established by La Jolla Playhouse and UCSD’s Theatre & Dance Department. It is a gift to wake up every morning and go to Surf Report rehearsal!

More to come next week…