Monkey Motivation: Fuensanta Vera Meseguer
Fourth Monkey are starting to look forward to marking our ten-year anniversary, which falls in Autumn 2020! As a school, we are so proud of everything we achieved since we started and a big part of this is thanks to our students and alumni – our actors in training are at the heart of the Fourth Monkey community and what keep us striving to offer bold, innovative and playful training year after year!
To celebrate our alumni community as we gear up to our tenth anniversary, we caught up with a selection of Fourth Monkey graduates to share their memories and experiences of their time at the school, as well as what they have been up to since they finished training. Here, Fuensanta Vera Meseguer, a graduate of both the Year of the Monkey and Two Year Rep training programmes and a member of the graduating Class of 2018, does just that…
What made you choose Fourth Monkey for your actor training? Had you completed any other training before joining the school and, if so, can you tell us a little bit about how the two compare?
Before Fourth Monkey, I studied Economics for five years and had done a bit of actor training in Spain during my final year at University – somehow anticipating my career change! Whilst training in Madrid, it felt like everyone was competing with each other and I was very disheartened by the lack of play. I thought to myself “This isn’t how I remember it”, as I used to act a lot as a kid and stopped when I was seventeen.
Fourth Monkey felt like a safe and playful space from “day dot”. Even during the audition, I could feel the support from the team; as a young adult trying to change my career path in a new country, that’s exactly what I needed to open up. Plus, all the practitioners at Fourth Monkey are outstanding. With the training being rooted in physical theatre, it was exactly what I needed after five years of academic life – I must admit I was sold when I read about their training in Commedia dell’arte and Butoh. That was it. I had to try.
Can you share a few personal highlights and memories that stand out from your time training at Fourth Monkey? Any practitioners who have influenced your creative choices or any classes that have stuck with you since you graduated, for example?
The three years I spent at Fourth Monkey meant a lot to me. One of my personal highlights is the audition for the contemporary season. It was a particularly hard time for me and to make things worse I broke my foot just a few days before the audition day. I remember being in the room and forgetting that my leg was plastered, being totally present and alive. It felt like a little personal breakthrough.
Devising The Woman and the Canvas with Guillaume Pigé and the guys from Theatre RE was such an unforgettable experience. The moment we found out we were going to bring the show back for our final year showcase, I cried. Not because of the inevitable pain I knew we’d go through, but the joyful experience we were going to immerse ourselves in.
In terms of classes, I’d say Voice with Sarah Case had a massive impact on me. She helped me find a confident voice and provided me with the necessary tools to face the furture challenges . Similarly, Daniel Goldman’s vision and playfulness in the room had a big influence on me.
(Image: The Woman and the Canvas)
Before you started your training at Fourth Monkey, what were you most excited to try or to learn more about? Did this shift or change as your training progressed, and have these interests been reflected in the choices you’ve made in your work since you graduated?
Before Fourth Monkey, I wanted to feel free with any text. Spanish being my first language, I had a lot of respect for classical texts and felt like I was unable to have real fun with most contemporary English pieces, let alone Marlowe! I was really looking forward to performing Shakespeare but quickly fell out of love with it. Our relationship has of course changed and I now find myself reading sonnets at home every now and then.
Mime has a special place in my heart. I didn’t really get it until the second year and struggled to enjoy the technical side of it to the point where I really didn’t want to do the class. Them, one day my brain exploded with colours as we were creating this wonderful tableau – it clicked! I have been more involved in screen work the past few months and would love to create something more physical for stage in the near future. My training and natural predospition for movement work will always be there, in the back of my mind.
Tell us a bit about what you’ve been working on since you left Fourth Monkey – what have your professional highlights been? Are there any interesting collaborators, projects or shows that you can tell us about?
I have been lucky enough to work with The Cervantes Theatre, in their show Yerma and in a Rehearsed Reading of Lope de Vega’s Fenisa’s Hook with Ustinov Studio’s Artistic Director Laurence Boswell, who had a real impact on me.
I also had the pleasure of working with Michael Gracey (The Greatest Showman) on his latest commercial for the US, he is a brilliant director and human, with fascinating ideas. I loved talking to him and the team, the shoot was three days straight so I learned a lot from simply watching them. I was so sad when it was over!
I have also just shot a short film in Brighton titled KID A directed and written by award winning director Conor Kinsey, which was a truly inspiring experience. I managed to make sure I did some theatre – literally just before the lockdown, I was cast in a play called La Jana with Global Voices Theatre Company, as part of the Latin American Season at the Tristan Bates. I am so looking forward to it, the text is fun and the team behind it have done some great stuff in the past. I am feeling truly grateful for this opportunity.
As your creative career progresses, what are you hoping to work on or create in the future? For example, are there any collaborators you’d particularly like to work with, any theatre or arts genres you want to experiment with or try?
Before the lockdown I was devising a show with ‘Ministry of Clown’, a theatre company founded by two Monkeys. The piece is inspired by a well know Spanish classical play and was going to be shown at Festeloff this month. This has unfortunely been postponed, so I am really looking forward to picking that up where we left it once this is over.
A few years ago, my partner and I saw a show called Another One by Lobke Leirens and Maxim Storms at the Edinburgh Fringe and we have been obsessed with their style ever since. They’ve influenced us a lot when writing or devising for fun at home, and we would love to do a workshop with them and create something along the same lines.
The past few months I have been doing more screen work so I would like to play with something more experimental and physical heavy theatre. Maybe this is the chance to get started..!
What advice would you give to any prospective students preparing for their audition or gearing up to start their actor training in September? Likewise, do you have any advice for our students who will be graduating this summer?
For those auditioning and starting in September I’d say, get physical before then because it’s gonna hit you hard otherwise! Also be brave enough to fail and kind enough with yourself to stay positive. You’re everything you got and the ensemble will need you.
For those graduating, focus on your performance, not on how many agents are coming or not coming. Once out, don’t wait for your agent to send you to castings, be generous to everyone you work with and stay curious. Also, forget the casting as soon as you turn around and walk out of the audition room door, once it’s done focus on what’s next. And finally, make sure you do something that makes you happy that doesn’t involve acting.
Finally, a topical question – how have you been staying creative in lockdown?
Luckily enough, my partner and I have been R&D-ing two scripts with Transition Stage Company via Zoom. Both scripts are beautifully written and we have met some great people in doing it. We also filmed and edited a short film on the phone during the first week of lockdown called Blank (available on YouTube), that was fun. I also write poetry every other day. Finally making sure I squeeze in some yoga practice everyday has been a game changer, I thank Fourth Monkey for that!