Week 19 | Artist 19 of Created to Create 2017 | Alžan Pelesić, Actor/Musician
I was born in former Yugoslavia (Bosnia) on October 5, 1973 in a town of Derventa to a journalist Father and a literature professor Mother.
I began to read at the age of 4, and was directed by my Father in a 20 minute long mono drama. I participated in school plays, attended music school for classical guitar and voice, parallel to regular education and was very involved in extracurricular activities in drama, poetry, pioneer fire brigade, Boy Scouts, and more. In 3rd grade, I sang in my first band, and throughout years I pursued playing with different musicians and bands.
In 1992, I was preparing to enter the Belgrade School of Dramatic Arts, but following the breakout of civil conflict in Bosnia, and losing our home, my entire family moved to Germany where we spent almost 5 years as war refugees.
We spent our time working, saving, and hoping to one day return home. However, even after the war was officially over, we couldn't move back since our house was still occupied by other war refugees. At that point, Germany denied us the stay since the war was over and they didn't care that we still had nowhere to go. In 1996, we started the process of immigrating into the US, which was eventually approved in 1997. In December of 1997, we touched ground at the O'Hare airport in Chicago.
Shortly after I took the entrance exam that would allow me to study here, and in June of 2002 I was holding a BA with major in Acting from Columbia College Chicago. Soon after I started my professional career in Chicago theatre. Over the years, I acted in plays with companies such as TUTA, Trap Door Theatre, European Rep Theatre, Emerald City Theatre, Silent Theatre Chicago, Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, Steppenwolf Theatre, Goodman Theatre and had two American and two European tours in Greece and France, and more.
From 2009 to 2013, I spent almost 4 years in Belgrade, Serbia where I acted in 4 feature films and 2 TV series. In 2013, I came back to the Chicago theatre scene and continue to work here.
Where were you born? Where do you live/work?
Born in Derventa, Yugoslavia and live/work in Chicago, U.S.A.
What fuels your desire to act?
My desire to act, play, and create is fueled by the notion that I enrich human spirit and that giving something positive makes this world better.
Tell us about your connection to Michael Chekhov's work.
Just recently, I played one of the background characters (Yefim) in Uncle Vanya, directed by Robert Falls at the Goodman Theatre Chicago, and it was a marvelous experience since Robert studied Chekhov at the Moscow Art Theatre and shared with us all the wonderful secrets of Chekhovian and Stanislavsky approach to the character building. We spent 21 days, 8 hours per day in analysis of the text alone and I could not be more proud of the results.
How do you work with overcoming fear and doubt?
I approach my fears and doubts by trying to look at them from different angles, talking to my director and my colleagues, designers, and keeping in mind that open communication and sharing experiences helps not to feel alone in all that, and that collaboration and openness eventually leads to great work. Those challenges are maybe what is best for us because when we are outside of our comfort zone, we begin understanding people, things or events that aren't close to us personally. Exploring fears and bringing them to the light brings us closer into this diverse world.
What is your greatest obstacle in working with self?
My greatest obstacle is time and a hectic schedule that demands good organization. I must say that that too, with practice, and a routine, I navigate pretty well.
How do you heal from rejection?
Rejection has never been easy. I always remind myself that there must be a good reason that I didn't get a part and that new challenges are still ahead, so I keep my head up, don't look back, look straight ahead, and smile.
What are you inspired by NOW?
Right now, we are all witnessing a troublesome national and political status of several citizen groups in the U.S.A. I believe that if we put out enough thought-provoking work that points out our issues, we will hopefully come to the conclusion that there may be light at the end of the tunnel.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I was depressed for a few years in Germany because of the ongoing civil war back home and it took me a while to start thinking of my own future, so my advice would be to not participate in self-pity, but actively pursue goals and desires in life.
Who had a powerful influence on your work?
Most powerful influences were my parents, Milica & Fadil, my classical guitar professor Elmirzad Krpo, and my acting teachers Brian Burke, Amelia Barrett, Jeff Ginsberg and Tom Mula.
What is your next project?
My next project is creating a performance piece with several of my Silent Theatre colleagues for our friends of the band ODE, and their new album release.
How do you reward yourself for a job well done?
After job well done, I spend more time with my wife and catch up with my friends.
What are your hopes and dreams?
My hope is that I will witness people of this world elevate their minds and truly care for one another.
What is your advice to self in pursuing the business side of work? Do you have any advice for making/producing your own work?
Do not stop! If there is down time and no project ahead, create, write, document thoughts, and hope to learn more.
Have you ever experienced discrimination and how did it affect you?
I did experience discrimination on personal level in the years leading to the war and shortly into it and yes, it hurts. My advice would be to keep a clear head and an open mind.
How did you heal from discrimination or how are you currently healing?
Having knowledge, staying human and letting knowledge and humanity fight the darkness.
How do you/did you claim your power back after said discrimination?
Share your experience with friends and people whose advice you appreciate.
What advice do you have for auditioning?
Always be fresh going into an audition, have various monologues and songs ready, and remember that it is not easy for those who are auditioning you either. Also, be true.
10 things that make you happy are...
10 things that make me happy are: my wife, my parents, my brother, my nephews, my family, my friends, performing, traveling, learning/mastering a new skill, and making others happy.
In 2017, SUPER SPACE is serving as a vehicle to facilitate Created to Create Project.
CREATED TO CREATE
INTRODUCING ONE ARTIST PER WEEK, FOR 52 WEEKS IN 2017.
Beginning, January, 1st, 2017
ACTORS, ARTISTS, THEATRE MAKERS, FILM MAKERS, DESIGNERS, TEACHING ARTISTS, STUDENTS all chosen because they spend a part each day creating. Artists will be chosen in no particular order.
Introduce artists from different parts of the world. People who use different mediums and whose practice is at a different skill level. A thing they all have in common is unique sense of style and self-expression.