Artist of the Week: Claire Edmonds

The UC Irvine community fosters a wide array of hidden talent. As students, we often find ourselves too caught up in the struggles and stress of our own studies that we don’t stop to appreciate the work of individuals outside our own academic departments. With this column, I’ll be attempting to bridge some of these gaps and expose the many talents of our fellow Anteaters.

Courtesy of Claire Edmonds

Courtesy of Claire Edmonds

Actress, director, photographer and fourth-year drama major Claire Edmonds began acting at age 9 in her hometown of Atascadero, California. Today, she is one of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts’ most outstanding performers, having received the school’s prestigious Honors in Acting and participated in over 16 UCI stage productions since her first audition in September 2010.

The Early Years

While in high school, Edmonds began to spread her artistic wings, playing roles such as Elizabeth Proctor in “The Crucible” and Wicked Stepmother in “Cinderella.”

“I think it’s amazing how crucial those kind of years are. I took it really seriously and I’m glad that I did because I still feel that there are things that I learned and gleaned and taught myself then that have shaped me,” said Edmonds about her high school acting career.

For her first Mega audition at the beginning of her freshman year at UCI, Edmonds returned to “The Crucible,” performing one of Abigail Williams’ monologues, and was cast in a main stage production of the Christopher Marlowe play “Edward II.”

The real turning point of her collegiate acting career, however, was her role as Aunt Mary in Paula Vogel’s “How I Learned to Drive,” an intense story of control and manipulation, which she landed in her sophomore year. “That was amazing. A role that changed how I looked at acting. It’s a part that requires you to play multiple characters,” Edmonds said. For her role, Edmonds played four different characters, which all propelled the story in different ways, strengthening her versatility as an actress.

The Technique

Acting is about believing, and about being honest on stage. It is about making a work of art come to life. To get into her characters’ minds, Edmonds likes to identify with them.

“You try and find things that you have in common with the character, and sometimes they’re not what you would expect,” she explained.

“There’s always going to be part of you there because us as humans are always going to be so much more dynamic and strange and malleable than a piece of text and a character in a play, so there’s bound to be little parts of you in the character.”

The process of portraying a character varies by individual production. Edmonds has been preparing for her upcoming role in the Shakespeare play “As You Like It,” since September, but will not appear in the play until this spring. However, student actors such as Edmonds often do not get this much time to prepare.

Photography

Edmonds’ talent spans from performing arts to visual arts, and she also runs a photography business, taking headshots for other student actors, both inside and outside UCI, and plans to maintain her business after graduation in June.

“I really believe as an artist in general about intersectional art. So being a dancer and a photographer, and a painter and an actor is the best thing that I think I can do for myself because inspiration has to come from all angles. Once you get stuck in one tool for so long, you’re bound to get bored,” Edmonds said.

Though musical theater is not her emphasis, Edmonds has enrolled in musical theater classes, which at UCI are extremely intense. Students must audition to gain entry into these classes, and often spend class time singing alone on a stage in front of the entire class and instructor.

“If you can do that, you can do anything,” said Edmonds.

Edmonds has also enjoyed several of UCI’s dance classes, such as Modern Dance, that have enhanced her flexibility as an artist.

What She’s Doing Now

This spring, Edmonds will play “Audrey” in the Shakespeare play “As You Like It,” a role she competed with eight other women, included several master’s students, to get.

“The callback was pretty intense and it was eight girls and they all were amazing and had amazingly different interpretations of the character,” Edmonds recalled. “She’s really naïve but she’s also really sexy. It’s a strange kind of comedy and I’m excited to play her.”

Audrey and Edmonds also have something fascinating in common — Audrey, a “country wench” is a goatherd, and Edmonds grew up on a farm in her hometown where she often cared for goats and other animals.

New York Plans

In October, Edmonds plan to move to New York, where she hopes to work and perform in summer Shakespeare festivals, and continue taking photographs to pay the bills.

“I’m really grateful for this department and all the things I’ve gotten to do,” Edmonds says of her time at UCI. “I feel pretty prepared for the real world.”