Shannon Spangler is an alumna of The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute®. He recently participated in the March production of Pulitzer-prize finalistRed Light Winter by Adam Rapp, which was invited to participate in the International Theatre Schools Festival (ITSelF), currently running in Warsaw, Poland.
LSTFI was first invited to represent the United States at ITSelF in 2011 and has been consistently invited back to participate for every incarnation since. Ms. Spangler discusses her process and excitement for bringing the production to the international fore in an interview for The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute blog.
“It has really been nice to come back to a home and get to move into this phenomenal journey that we’re about to take to Poland.”-Shannon Spangler, LSTFI alumna on “Red Light Winter”
Q. What attracted you to this project?
A. Laura Savia. I’ve done a lot of work with The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, because I went to the NYU program, and every one of the shows that I have done has had an amazing director who’s incorporated phenomenal production values. I just really, really enjoyed working on LSTFI shows, and when I saw this one, I had full confidence in the show. I read the play and loved it. Laura Savia was my teacher at one point, and I was like, “I want to impress her!” So that was the goal of the audition. I didn’t even care if I got it. The goal was to do a good audition, and I did, apparently.
Q. Red Light Winter is a Pulitzer-prize finalist, but it’s known for its challenging, sexual, edgy material. Can you talk a bit about your character and your approach to this material?
A. Christina is difficult because there’s not much about her in the text. Most of her answers are one or two-word answers. She has moments when she gives more of herself, but it’s few and far between in the text. There’s a lot you don’t know about her past from the text, so a lot of what I did was timeline. I just made up answers: when she started doing this, how she started being a prostitute, what she likes about it, and what she doesn’t. Apparently, she doesn’t have to, because she has an apartment. There are a lot of details missing in this character. What I found really fulfilling about it was filling in those gaps and discovering what erupted out of the choices that I made in that timeline.
Q. It’s not often that working actors can be involved in productions with other actors who have experienced the same training. Can you talk a bit about collaborating with other The Lee Strasberg Method® trained artists and how that’s impacted this production?
A. Our warm-ups are great. Laura leads us through a basic physical warm up, and then we sit in chairs and flop around and do relaxation, and it’s fantastic! It’s been good to never feel weird with any aspect of technique. Everyone in the room knows what we mean, and everyone’s okay with it, and that’s really cool. To all speak the same vocabulary and kind of know where the other person is aiming… Things like that are really helpful and make a really good unity within the group.
“To all speak the same vocabulary and kind of know where the other person is aiming… Things like that are really helpful and make a really good unity within the group.”-Shannon Spangler, LSTFI alumna on working with other Method actors
Q. In addition to the production this past March, this production has been invited to participate in the International Theatre Schools Festival in Warsaw, Poland later this month. As an acting student, did you imagine that such opportunities would be a part of your training?
A. Absolutely not. I actually graduated last May, and it’s really been an incredible opportunity to be a part of that as an alumni. To walk in and greet the people at the front desk, like, “It’s been so long since I’ve seen you!” It has really been nice to come back to a home and get to move into this phenomenal journey that we’re about to take to Poland.
Shannon Spangler is an alumna of The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute’s program at New York University. Learn more about The Lee Strasberg Method Acting™ BFA program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts.