Beaufort County has a new theater company. Sea Island Classical Studio, which opened late last month, plans to teach classical acting skills and hopes to make classical theater a main stream within the rich Lowcountry theater scene.
The company’s Artistic Director Libby Ricardo, a theater graduate of New York University and the University of Georgia, said she found early in her schooling that, “the classics are unavoidable.”
“These works have shaped our shared experience,” said Ricardo, who was recognized as Best Director in the 2014 South Carolina Broadway World Awards. “That’s why they’ve lasted and why they’re anything but dull.”
They were prevalent in her studies at NYU, she said, because they call for healthy vocal practices, body awareness and critical analysis of the text.
“To be encouraged to bring our intelligence to the work was reassuring and refreshing,” she said. “Applying the same discipline to contemporary material added depth and resonance to the performance.”
Collaboration is the key to Sea Island’s approach, Ricardo said. “There is a discourse between the actor and the audience in theater, and we intend to implement that principle in our teaching and our productions.”
“The point of training is to give everyone tools and a common vocabulary, because each actor will eventually shape her own approach,” said Ricardo, who also teaches at the University of South Carolina Beaufort and conducts private coaching and classes. “Different artists take different routes, and so a theater company focused on training becomes a kind of workshop where methods collide, interweave and enrich one another.”
Lowcountry audiences have a wide array of productions to choose from due to an abundance of talent, venues and interest in the area. These conditions create the opportunity that Ricardo and other Sea Island founders have identified.
“The students I’ve met in my own teaching practice are inspiring, the theater artists in the community exhibit a commitment to training and the audiences prove again and again that their appetite for theater is healthy and vast,” Ricardo observed.
“We share the same bountiful source of actors and audience, and the same inspiration to share, so we intend to cooperate with other theater companies,” Ricardo said. “We’re thrilled at the choices people enjoy here and we will support and celebrate that by working together.”