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The Artist’s Journey: Zoë Chao – Week 4 - La Jolla Playhouse Blog

The Artist’s Journey: Zoë Chao – Week 4

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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

The list of pros that accompany participating in Surf Report could go on for much longer than I’m supposed to blog here. However, the only drawback to having my residency take place mid-quarter is that I had to give up teaching. My students have made it abundantly clear that I have neglected and abandoned them. So, in a meager attempt to show that I haven’t forgotten the Fiercest Public Speaking Section in the World, a shout out: They are in the midst of writing their Speeches to Persuade and I can’t imagine a more persuasive, feisty motley crew. Wish I could be there. Break legs Alex (Andrew) Young, Andrew Elefant, Andrew Lien, Hana, Lana Nassoura, Lana Dongses, Vishnu, Saagar, Ish, Erin, Dyanna, Phu, Stefanie, Jasmin, Yoon Bae, Chris, Hunkyu! Luckily you are now under the tutelage of the stellar Anne Stella. This is, however, my official “I miss you…and you have to come see Surf Report or your grade will suffer.”

In other news: week 4 of rehearsal is on a roll. This past weekend we completed four full run-throughs off-book and we’re now in the process of going over each act with a fine-toothed comb. Our patient PAs and stage managers give us line notes if we mess up. I realize that I’m really going to have to warm up my articulators before running this show. Annie’s writing is so quick-witted that there’s no time to stall in delivery. Warming up used to seem arduous and chore-like, but it has now become an essential, calming part of my pre-show ritual. That, and blasting music while dancing spastically.

Liv Rooth (Jena) and I will be taking a surfing lesson with our surfing sage in the cast, Gregory Harrison. Growing up in Rhode Island, I often fantasized about being one of those California Roxy Quicksilver Beach Babes, blessed with consistently sun kissed skin. A few years ago when all of this actually mattered to me, I had my uncle take me out into the ocean for a surfing lesson. I was sure I could pick it up in a day – “I’m nimble enough.” Looking good up their on the board was the LEAST of my concerns. I got a photo alright. I went back to the East Coast with a picture of me in my wet suit standing out of the water, in the sand. Never quite made it to standing but this time around, I have a feeling the surf deities will be looking out for me.

All this recent surf talk reminds me of my uncle and two cousins who live in Santa Monica and are quite surf-minded. Several years ago, we took a family trip to Rincon, Puerto Rico, which is considered a surfing Mecca. There we got to witness little boys ages seven and eight whip through the water, maneuvering with such ease and poise. There was no sense of weight. It must be like flying. In a sense these boys were bilingual: fluent both in land and in ocean.

I can feel in my bones these first days of summer…