Originally from Padua, Italy, Paola is a graduate of the École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris and have the honor of being one of 40 students in the school’s 50-year history to receive Masters Certification in Theatre Pedagogy under Lecoq’s direction. Her combined 20-year career as a teacher, artistic director, business coach and sport trainer, has provided her with the fortune to work with individuals from over 35 different nationalities.
She has worked as an award-winning artistic director, teacher, director, and actress in England, Scotland, Spain, France, Israel, South Africa the United States, and Italy. In Italy, she founded Kìklos Teatro, an international theatre organization of which Paola served as co-artistic director of the company and co-director of the international theatre school. The company toured productions in all Europe and in 2003, the school was awarded the prestigious distinction of ‘Best Show’ at the national ‘ROMA TEATRO Festival’ for Italian Theatre Schools. As an artist, she continued to direct and perform for the theatre company, in addition to working in independent & short film.
Relocated to Chicago in 2004, Paola has created a wide net of collaboration both in teaching and directing with Universities (DePaul, Nortwesterm, Columbia College, UIC) and theater various companies (Redmoon, Palasticine and 500 Clown). She also founded The School for Theatre Creators: a professional program in Devising Theatre and Performance that has now found its new home in Los Angeles- CA. At The School, she leads a team of teachers with a wide diversity of experience in acting, directing and writing.
I'm not an actor, but a teacher and a director and a coach. Teaching is an amazing inspiring journey that depends on a clear commitment to listening to the greatness of each individual. That's what is beautiful about teaching for me. It's what inspires me to be in a classroom every day, because then from this greatness - when I recognize this greatness - I have to find a way to lead each individual to the awareness of their own greatness that they can create as an artist and as a community member. All can make a meaningful contribution to the world around them.
What inspires me is to lead students to become fully self-expressed performers and human beings who give themselves to their craft; who invent themselves as a channel of transmission for the work to travel through. So, I teach acting as journey towards independence and authenticity. And of course, as a craft based on a set of tools that can be learned, exercised, and utilized as an artisan. But the journey at school, it's really a transformational journey - a journey of growth and because of that, every student becomes a better human being and so, a better actor.
What is your greatest obstacle in working with self?
Working for yourself is a challenge because nobody expects anything from you. You don't have to report to anyone, so you could stay in bed all day if you wanted to. I don't think as human beings we are designed to do things that we don't want to do, that are difficult, or that we're scared of, because our brain is more designed to protect us. So when there is something we don't want to do, we don't like to do, or we are afraid to do, we send stress signals to the brain and the brain goes into protection mode. That makes us not want to do anything. And that's like a normal feature for human beings. I feel that all the time, by the way.
If I could choose between going to the beach and being at the office, it's a clear choice. If it's a classroom, it's okay. I love it. It's like going to the beach. But all the other things around the business that I hate to do, I would rather be at the beach. So what keeps me going, what keeps me wanting to do things, is to make sure I have positive thoughts that I keep creating for myself. Positive thoughts that I keep staying connected with the vision that I have, with what my work is in the world, with what I want to do, what I want to create, what I want to be for other people, what contribution I want to make, and how that makes me feel when that becomes a reality. So, I make sure that I stay connected to those feelings as much as I can all day long.
But more deeply, what helps me to stay connected with those feeling is actually sports or physical activities. Perhaps it's because I have a sports background since I was a former professional athlete before I went into theater. So for me, sport is so important to keep the body working and possibly heavily working. That puts me in a really good mood. I make sure I make time for that in my daily schedule.
What are you inspired by NOW?
Right now, I'm actually inspired by the possibility of this difficult moment that we're all going through - for what is going on right now in the United States - and of what this difficult moment can actually bring out. I am inspired by the possibility of people - of us - waking up and getting together; finding each other again. Finding ways of being together that have been lost. This moment demands us to get closer as human beings, to go back to the basic of connections, of living, of listening. So all the things that have been a little bit lost, now because the challenge is out there, there is this possibility of finding them again. And that really inspires me, and I hope that we don't have to go through such pain to get to that. But, I think that there is a big possibility for this to happen, and I'm really, really rooting for that.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
This is what I would say to my younger self - just chill. Everything is going to work out. Everything is always going to work out. Just do your best every day, every hour, every minute of the hour. Make sure you're doing your best and you don't cheat on yourself by cutting corners, but just relax. You are molding into what you wanted to be, and what you wanted to be, it's not going to happen today or tomorrow. Enjoy the molding journey and relax.
Who has had a powerful influence on your work?
I mean, I'm not sure I can point out a mentor specifically that influenced my world because I think that who I am today is a mixture of so many things, especially life experiences. What I've had to go through, the experiences that I've had, and who I have to become through these experiences and how much I've had to stretch - I don't think there's a mentor that can be all of that. I had cancer and that was one of the most incredible experiences that changed me from deep down and made me who I am today. It changed my way of working; it changed everything for me. So my cancer, I believe, was my biggest mentor.
If I have to identify a person, the training that I had in France with Jacques Lecoq had a huge impact, especially because it was my first encounter with theater after coming from a sports background. As I said, I was a professional athlete, so theater wasn't even my second language - I think it was more like my tenth language. Because of the way that school is in Paris, it is not simply a theater school, it's a journey; a developing journey for yourself. It was an amazing experience and something that made my life do a 360. Every single person that I met on the way, every single one, was impactful. I went to live for a year up north in Scotland in a spiritual community where I literally cleaned toilet for six months and for the other six months, I planted vegetables. That was an amazing learning experience too. So there are many, many different components of who I am today and in the way that I am shaped, but those stand out the most.
What is your next project or a recent project?
Well, my next project and my recent project - they are the same - is the school because I just moved the school from Chicago to Los Angeles. This is my first season in Los Angeles. And of course, the school has years in the bag. So, it's not a new school in terms of the structure itself, but it's a new place. It's a new state. It's a new city. And it's really, really, really different.
Right now, I'm focusing on rooting the school here in Los Angeles because I believe that this is the right place for the school to be. I want it to grow here; I want it to find its place in Los Angeles. The school is so opposite to the energy that is Los Angeles. That's why I wanted to be here, and that's why I think it's perfect for Los Angeles because it's going to bring something that doesn't exist here yet. And it will be probably a little bit difficult at first to find my way in because it's very different. I think it's perfect, and I wanted to offer that to the actors that are here, to everybody. I want to try to be a contribution to the acting scene in Los Angeles that I think is getting a bit superficial and a little bit quick. Quick fix and quick solution. How do I get there? And there are not quick fixes and quick solutions. There is rigor and work. And if you don't have fun doing that, just don't do it. Right?
How do you reward yourself for a job well done?
I always reward myself, no matter what. Because even if I didn't do the job well as I would have liked, that doesn't mean that there wasn't purpose. Life is done with trial and errors, and sometimes things go well. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes I make the right choice. Sometimes I make the wrong choice. I don't care. I always reward myself because I was there doing it, playing the game. So sometimes you lose the game, but I know I was there playing the game. And the way that I reward myself is I go to the beach and play beach volley. It is my treat. I love beach volley. I live for beach volley, and for me, to be at the beach, at the ocean, in nature in general, it's a big reward. I need that. I need to do that, and I do it as much as I can.
What are your hopes and dreams?
I think right now my hope and dreams are really for a world that is not divided by race. I am sickened by what is going on at the moment politically, not only in the United States, but everywhere. And I'm going to hold the vision of us, human beings, getting back together, connecting to a deeper core level that is what makes us all equal and the same, which has nothing to do with the body where our soul resides. But, instead, to find a place where we can all be together in the freedom of being different, because we recognize that our core is exactly the same for everyone, and so we can be different, but still respect everyone else. So I'm going to hold that vision possible, regardless of what the reality is telling me today. And in the work that I do every day, I keep in mind that, too. Because I hope that my students going through the journey that they're going through, rediscovering themselves and watching their classmates do the same, they recognize that they are exactly the same. They have the same process, they have the same fears, they have the same hope, they have the same dreams, and so I hope that those people are going out and affecting others.
What is your advice to self in pursuing the business side of work? Do you have advice for making/producing your own work?
Well, the advice for pursuing the business side of work is get someone that knows how to do it if you can. That's my best advice. It's very difficult to be many different people, and sometimes it really doesn't work. For instance, I am really good at my work; I'm really good at teaching. I'm really not good at the rest of the other part of the business. I do it. I do my best, but I think that if you want to succeed, you must recognize what you're good at and find other people that are good at what you're not. And I think the same rule goes for producing your own work, creating your own work. Because we're all good at different things, and even if we are good at a little bit of everything, you never can get to the depth of every single part. So I'm always for recognizing which role is needed and who is good at that role. And then all those roles need to play together. They need to communicate. They need to be in exchange. I think it's really important to recognize those differences and go look for people that are good at that.
What advice do you have for auditioning?
I don't audition, but I have advice for auditioning. It is sad to me to see how actors beg when they go to audition. Because I don't audition, but actually I hold auditions sometimes is why I have advice. Actors give their powers away so easily, and they think they have to go in, and they have to be liked by the people, they have to make sure that the people want them, and they don't realize that it's a partnership.
As an actor, you need to come in knowing that it's your job, and they need you as much as you need them. In that way this is a partnership. So as much as I need to see if you're good for me, it's the same for the actor. You need to see if it's a good thing for you, and hold your power, and show what you have, show what you can do, be a professional, and use your craft. I may not need you in that moment, but I always recognize someone that is good, and I always remember it. Even if in that moment it's not the right thing for me, that doesn't mean that you're not good. That doesn't mean that you've failed. That means I'm looking for something else, but you are indeed good. If you come in with the idea of having to do something in order for me to like you, or so you can get the job, that for sure is going to make you look bad, because you're leaking energy that you need to do your job.
10 things that make you happy are...
Yes. I think I said that already, but nothing makes me happier than going and play beach volley. I think absolutely nothing makes me happier than be at the beach, in front of the ocean, and to play beach volley. In addition to that, food makes me happy. Being in nature, in general, makes me happy. Watching my daughter play with the horses makes me happy. Watching kids play makes me happy. But, hey, those are subcategories. Beach volley is my first love.
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.