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Caroline Avakian

Who are you and what significant contributions have you made to the organization?

I graduated from St. John's in 1998 and during my time there I was very involved in Student Union and Student Government but my biggest passion was always Chappell Players. I was Vice President of CPTG for two years and also a member of the Theatre Honor Society - Alpha Psi Omega.

How was the transition from college to the real world? How was life after graduation?

The growth and joy I experienced in Chappell Players led me to pursue a Master of Arts in Theatre once I graduated St. John's. I also attended a two-year acting conservatory in NYC called The New Actor's Workshop - which was run by George Morrison, Mike Nichols, and Paul Sills - three greats in the theatre and improv world. So life after graduation was pretty great. I felt prepared to take my skills to next level and knew that theatre would always be an important teacher in my life no matter where I landed.

Did being involved in the Chappell Players prepare you for life after college? How so?

Absolutely, I learned so much from my experiences on stage but also from other Chappell Players. We were a tight-knit group and I'd like to think that in many ways we grew up together. I also think that theatre and all that comes with it - overcoming stage fright, speaking clearly and projecting your voice, character analysis, the stress of auditions, etc. - prepares you for what you'll experience in life after college. One of my strengths as a professional is public speaking and I owe that to my theatre and improv training. It also helped tremendously as I transitioned to on-camera work as a television correspondent, earlier in my career.

What is your favorite CPTG memory or performance?

Rehearsals were always the best part of the day. I felt like once I entered the auditorium, I was home and ready to play! Being with friends, working through lines, singing each other's songs, and just the camaraderie that exists between cast members are wonderful memories of time very well spent. My favorite show that we staged was my very last at Chappell Players - Into the Woods. I played the Baker's Wife and loved my character, her songs, and her interactions with all the other characters on stage. I loved the depth of that show and its message. It felt like we were making magic and having a beautiful collective experience with every performance. A beloved memory!
Have you been able to remain involved with theatre as much as you hoped/wanted?

When I was Director of Communications at FilmAid International, I traveled to Kakauma Refugee Camp and taught a series of acting workshops to refugee youth who were creating short films on the issues and conditions they were experiencing in the camp. They were so motivated to improve their acting skills and it was truly one of the most meaningful and cherished professional experiences of my life. Currently, I'm an avid theatre-lover and go-er and I have recently been feeling the itch to somehow get back into it. So who knows? Maybe I'll be coming to a local production near you. 

Do you have any advice for Chappell Players going through college or those who have recently graduated?

Enjoy your time in Chappell Players and explore your craft, and know that whether you go into doing this work professionally or not, the skills and confidence you hone in theatre really give you an incredible edge in the outside world and as you grow in your career. It's like a secret weapon that you always carry with you. Be confident in those skills and bring that joy and sense of play and exploration into the work you do.

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