Fusion Alum in Women-Led Theatre Production

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Electric violin resonates and swords clash in The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s dazzling rendition of The Three Musketeers. The show is the New York premiere of the adaptation by Catherine Bush which follows the story of D’Artagnan, a woman fighting her way through Paris to achieve her dream of becoming a musketeer. Fusion’s own Piera Van de Wiel, a past co-director, co-head of the Alumni Relations department, and recent Tisch grad, takes the stage in this amazing production, and she spoke with us about her experience.

Talk about your involvement with the show, from your first audition to where you are now. What drew you to the production?

I auditioned back in April as I was preparing for my final semester at the Tisch School of the Arts. As soon as I saw that it was The Three Musketeers, I thought to myself, “YES! We need this production – we need something to bring the community together through love, persistence, and fighting for what’s right!”

What have you enjoyed most about bringing your character to life?

I was lucky enough to be cast as Milady De Winter, lead antagonist in the show. Bringing her to life has been exhilarating! She is cunning, devious, powerful, and pure evil; however, she does everything with an elegant grace and charm, which makes her all the more villainous! You find that she is always one step ahead, and ready to fight for her survival – no matter what situation you put her in.  I find that empowering.

What was the greatest challenge you faced in working on this production? How did you overcome it?

This is my first time performing in an outdoor space, which means that sometimes the elements can surprise you! Questions arise: can we use mics, music? But what I have learned is that you can use everything to your advantage! During the second week of our run, I was on stage and the heavens suddenly opened, and although the stage is covered, the wind and rain were beating against my face – but I LOVED IT! I used it to fuel my character and her actions, and it gave me that extra drive!

Talk about your experience working on the team for this production. It’s so exciting that the director, playwright, choreographer, stage manager, costume designer, prop designer, and lighting designer are all women!

Yes, it’s brilliant! The creative and management team are predominantly women, and it’s been so exciting to see their visions come to life. Whether it was the words on the page by the playwright Catherine Bush, the direction by Jenny Bennett, the beautiful choreography by Tiffany Rea-Fisher, the productive skills of Jessica Pecharsky, or the lavish stunning costumes by Rachel Dozier-Ezell, all of these women have worked to put together a fabulous production. It’s so important for women to be represented behind-the-scenes as well as on stage and on camera.

3M_JillJones189(Photo Credits to Jill Jones) 

How has what you learned as part of the Fusion team helped you so far in your post-grad life?

Fusion taught me how to be part of a team, that all members and departments work together, and that every part is integral to achieving the best outcome! My time as co-director with Gabriela Alcalde and Leticia Bianco showed me the strength of leadership, fellowship, and partnership, and with vision and mission we can promote and celebrate women in the arts!

What’s next on the horizon for you, in the near future and long-term?

I’m an actor, but I’m also a singer-songwriter, and I’m currently in production for my first album with a renowned Canadian producer and composer. In the coming months, we will work on developing, recording, and mastering my records. Come November, I will be managing a “Women and Film Event” with the Princess Grace Foundation-USA in Monaco, so I can’t wait for that! I’m also excited to announce that I am now a contributor for Like A Boss Girls, a female-driven digital platform to empower women, where I will be posting editorials and videos twice a month!

I know you just graduated less than three months ago, but it’s pretty fantastic to book a job doing what you love right out of school. Any advice or words of encouragement to people looking to do the same after graduation?

I feel so fortunate and lucky that I booked a job right out of college. My advice would be to go looking for the opportunities, don’t wait until they come to you! And something that is very important to me is networking and building relationships with people. If you put yourself out there, you will be one step closer to getting where you want to be.

And lastly, anything you’d like to say to this year’s Fusion Film Festival team as we prepare to kick-off the 2017-2018 season?

You have the power to make change. This year is a new year. Bring yourselves and your ideas and push, inspire, and create opportunities for women in film, TV, and new media! And remember, you will always have the support of the past leaders! I will forever be an ally to Fusion, and I’m so grateful for everything it taught me.

You can see The Three Musketeers at the Richard Rogers Ampitheatre in Marcus Garvey Park, Harlem every night until July 30th. Admission is free. Showtime is 8:30pm on Fridays, 8:00pm all other days. Check out the following link to find out more: http://www.cthnyc.org/the-three-musketeers/

Reviews: The New York Times, TimeOut, and Stage Buddy.