Who: Sofia Bunting Newman, CTC conservatory actor.
Newman came to Chautauqua shortly after reconnecting with her roots as a drummer. She picked the instrument back up shortly before this summer to audition for a performance of Spring Awakening.
“I hadn’t touched a drum kit in five years,” Newman said. “But part of me had been wanting to get back into it for a while, and it felt like I kind of manifested this opportunity.”
As it turns out, her musical revival would prove the perfect match for CTC’s highly musical season.
Throughout the summer, Newman has flexed both her acting and musical muscles, performing in the Young Playwrights Project, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as a band member in One Man, Two Guvnors and now as a musical revolutionary in the New Play Workshop show Agent 355.
Working as an actor is exciting for a number of reasons, Newman said. But her main reason for loving what she does is the sense of collaboration and creativity that comes from pulling a play to its feet.
“I love that I never quite know what to expect,” Newman said. “I love figuring out what the challenges are going to be, rising to meet those challenges and coming together with like-minded, creative individuals to make something that has never quite existed in the way we’re making it before.”
Where she’s from: Vancouver, British Columbia.
Both of her parents are actors, so from a very young age, Newman found herself surrounded by theater.
“I think I knew early on that theater was how I wanted to spend my life,” Newman said, “aside from a brief stint when I was 5, when I wanted to be a ballerina-teacher-firefighter. That didn’t quite work out, but here I am doing theater.”
After performing in many plays in Vancouver, doing seven summers of Shakespeare with a children’s theater company there and working on professional and pre-professional shows, Newman moved to Upstate New York to pursue an internship opportunity.
There, she met her manager, moved to Brooklyn, “and I’ve been auditioning ever since,” Newman said.
Favorite theater memory: The production of Spring Awakening that encouraged her to get back into drumming.
Aside from reinvigorating her interest in music, Newman said the production was a treat to be a part of.
“It was a group of extremely competent and smart theater practitioners putting together a show that ended up being absolutely stunning,” Newman said. “It was really a moment in time, and I felt so thankful for getting to be a part of it.”
Favorite food: Amidst the hustle and bustle of CTC’s summer season, Newman said she’s been resorting to vegan versions of comfort food to fill her up at the end of a busy day.
But, Newman said, above all other recipes she has tasted in recent memory, one stands head and shoulders above the rest: vegan butter chicken.
“I’m still thinking about it,” Newman said. “It’s been three weeks and I’m still thinking about how good it was. It was just the tops.”
What she’s watching: The most recent season of “Queer Eye” on Netflix, as well as “Killing Eve” on Hulu. Newman said she’s a recent but passionate fan of Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
“At this point, I just trust her with my life,” Newman said.
What she’s listening to: Ingrid Michaelson’s ninth studio album Stranger Songs, based entirely on the Netflix show of a similar name: “Stranger Things.”
“As an artist who is also someone who consumes a lot of art, that’s very exciting to me,” Newman said, “because it makes me think, ‘Hey, maybe I can write an album about the shows I love, too.’ ”
Favorite thing about Chautauqua: The people she has gotten to work with at CTC.
Newman said that while she’s sad to see her friends and peers leave the grounds as the season winds down, she’s grateful for the connections she has forged over the summer, and looks forward to staying in touch with everyone.
“I feel like I have found my group,” Newman said. “It’s like a found family; it really is. It’s rare to experience that in this way, to this degree.”
Dream vacation: Sweden.
“Even though I just saw the new film ‘Midsommar,’ which is set in Sweden, and that put me off a little bit,” Newman said.
Connecting with her family heritage would be a big motivation behind the trip, Newman said. Her grandmother is from Sweden, and Newman said she’d love to discover the culture and heritage beyond the efforts she made to learn Swedish over a two-week period on the Duolingo app.
“(It) did not go so well,” Newman said. “I can say, ‘I am a woman,’ and that’s as far as I got.”
What’s next: Immediately, Newman is headed back to Brooklyn.
She said she’s looking forward to potentially doing more theater work with people she has met in CTC once they all get back to New York City.
“There’s talk of potentially producing Heathers,” Newman said. “We’ve started casting it in our heads based on people who are in the conservatory and, gosh, it would be so much fun.”
Long term, Newman hopes to focus on working in theater with the occasional role in film and television if it came her way.
“I’m always looking to expand my repertoire,” Newman said. “Bring it on.”