Reporter’s note: Each summer, Chautauqua Theater Company opens its stage doors to young actors and theatermakers for a fully funded fellowship. This summer’s conservatory includes 14 actors, four design fellows and one directing fellow. They will work alongside CTC staff and visiting professionals, and serve as the core of the theater company for all CTC shows. To help readers get to know them, interviews with CTC conservatory members will run regularly in the weekend edition of the Daily throughout the summer.
Who: Isabel Pask, 22, Chautauqua Theater Company conservatory actor.
Pask started the season with CTC’s “Young Playwrights!” and also appeared in “The Community Engagement Project” and the CTC After Dark production of One Arm. Her main role came when she appeared as Esperanza in the inter-arts “Mango Suite” collaboration. She will finish the season with Romeo & Juliet.
Where she’s from: Pask grew up in Dallas, Texas, and is a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, where she studied acting and creative writing. After the season ends, she will be moving to New York City.
First theatrical memory: The title role in a 10-minute version of Hamlet at a community theater camp is how Pask got her start. She was 8 at the time.
“I remember just going home with my parents and reading it and them helping me kind of go through it, and I just thought it was so cool,” Pask said.
Theatrical credits: While at Carnegie Mellon, Pask appeared as Constance in The Three Musketeers and Celestina del Sol in Cloud Tectonics by José Rivera. She spent the last two summers working professionally at Santa Cruz Shakespeare and Quantum Theatre in Pittsburgh, where last summer she appeared in Peribáñez by Lope de Vega.
Dream roles: “I don’t know if I have that many dream roles right now,” Pask said. “Words are really important to me, and if I read something and I’m like, ‘This is a story I want to help tell,’ then I want to be a part of that.”
A lover of Shakespeare, Pask said she is intrigued by productions that are flipping genders, and would play Hamlet or Macbeth if given the chance.
What she would bring to a deserted island: Pen and paper, an endless supply of chocolate and a friend.
Currently reading: Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros, essays from James Baldwin and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz.
Favorite food: “Anything with chocolate.”
Why Chautauqua: Pask said CTC Artistic Director Andrew Borba offering the role of Esperanza in the inter-arts adaptation of Sandra Cisneros’ book The House on Mango Street was a deciding factor in her coming to Chautauqua. She read Cisneros’ book as a high schooler and recently happened to pick up a Spanish translation of the book at a secondhand bookshop.
Although she is happy to see Latinx stories on the Amphitheater stage, Pask, who is Puerto Rican, said she hopes “Mango Suite” has a life beyond Chautauqua where it can grow and include more Latinx artists.
“At its heart, this is a story about a young Latina girl,” Pask said. “This is a story about a girl who doesn’t belong, this is a story about what that’s like, what that experience is like for a young girl, and I think it’s important to think of now, especially in our political climate.”