Where did you grow up and what were your earliest performance art activities?
I grew up in Bristol, TN, which shares a border with Bristol, VA. It’s home to the “World’s Fastest ½ Mile,” the Bristol Motor Speedway NASCAR track. My earliest performance art activity was the 3rd grade Christmas play at my elementary school. It was about a school putting on a Christmas play, and I had a big solo that talked about how I was going to take over the production and be a terrible tyrant, which has been a common thread in many of my other performance art activities since then.
Where did you study and/or earn your degree (special awards, etc.)
I received a B.A. in Theatre from the University of South Carolina where I performed in 15 productions over 4 years. I was a recipient of the Helen Hayes Undergraduate Outstanding Contribution Scholarship, as well as the Columbia Free Times Personal Favorite Performer of 2016.
What were you up to before joining us this summer?
This past year I have been living back in Tennessee with my family and working as an Instructional Assistant at a middle school while preparing to (hopefully) return to school for an MFA in Acting in the near future.
Are there some favorite roles you wish to have mention?
I was recently Olivia in Twelfth Night, which was definitely a favorite. While in college, I was also in a one-woman show called Grounded about a female fighter pilot who switches over to piloting drones, which was very challenging and powerful. I also loved both of my roles in our summer season here as Bellomy in The Fantasticks and the Tour Manager in Elephant’s Graveyard!
Are there any aspects of your training in the theatre arts that you wish to share?
While at the University of South Carolina, most of my training was focused specifically on performance, however, I was also a student employee of the Lab Theatre, our campus’ smaller, black box space, so I have a little bit of experience on the technical side of things, including house management and box office work, as well as set and prop building. In school, I was also very lucky to get to work on two premiere performances of shows with the playwrights themselves, one of which has gone on to publication: Herculine and Lola by Dipika Guha in the Center for Performance Experiment and Player King by Ryan Stevens in the Lab Theatre.
If you could use one word to describe your apprenticeship with Festival Theatre, what would it be?
Great-experience! (I’m cheating)
Festival Theatre is so lucky that, after a successful apprenticeship, you’ve decided to stay! What are you most looking forward to about your new job?
I’m most looking forward to really getting integrated into the community. I’ve met so many wonderful people during my time here so far, and I’m so excited to get to become a part of their world while getting to continue to make art. I couldn’t imagine anything better.
What are you most looking forward to artistically at Festival Theatre?
We have our Youth and Family series production of Cinderella coming up which is SO EXCITING. I’ve gotten to sit in on several of their rehearsals and the work that the actors and Jackie, the director, have put into it is so beautiful. So, I’m super excited to get to see that one go up as my first Y&F show as Arts Education Director. We also have our production of Little Women coming in the fall, which has a beautifully written script and a youth-led cast! I’ll be in that one, so I’m super excited to get to work with all of the actors and tell such a beautiful story. Then, to finish up our Fall/Winter Season, we have Miracle on 34th Street. There will be several guest artists coming in for that one, and it’s sure to be full of Christmas cheer and holiday spirit! I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
What is one fun fact about Brooke Smith?
Like the previous Arts Education Director, Rachel Kuhnle, I also have a twin sister! Her name is Jordan, and she’s a 6th grade English and Social Studies teacher.
Do you have a favorite quote?
Yes! It’s from Harry Potter. I think about it all the time, and I made my sister put it up as a part of the decorations in her classroom. “It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” There’s also a quote from The Great Gatsby that I’ve started to think about a lot as I’ve gotten older that sort of follows the same vein. “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone...just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had.”
What do you like to do for fun?
I like to read and do a little free writing, as well as play volleyball, swim, and play with my dogs. Also, I recently visited Franconia Sculpture Park for the first time, which was super fun, so I foresee myself doing that a lot more in the very near future!
What is most important to you as a theatre artist? What is a value you hold as a theatre artist?
The most important thing to me as a theatre artist is accessibility. To me, this means making theatre available for as many people as possible, as well as creating and producing works in which people are able to see characters like themselves. This goes along with a value that I hold as a theatre artist, which is authenticity. Even if we’re doing the strangest, most surreal play, there still has to be something authentic about it to reach people. And, theatre can’t be truly authentic in our world without showcasing a diverse group of people and their experiences.
If you were on a desert island and could only have 3 things, what would they be?
I would have my fully charged iPod and then probably two books. Wild by Cheryl Strayed, which a friend gave me and I am right in the middle of finishing, and then maybe an old favorite like Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, or maybe I’d just cop out and take a Harry Potter book.
If you could have a super power, but you had to choose between either flying or the ability to become invisible, which would you choose?
Flying! I’m very afraid of flying in airplanes, but if I could just fly on my own I think I’d love it. And, I’d be able to travel to places much faster.