premieres Croatian star
|Posted November 11, 2005|
Alma Prica, who is esteemed for her acting skills and is considered one of the leading actresses of the Croatian National Theater, has traveled in every sense of the word.
She has come a long way – from dreams of star-studded fame at age 14 to serving as an ensemble cast member in the Croatian National Theater for more than 15 years; acting on the big screen and in countless venues around the world and, most recently, flying from Croatia to the University of La Verne to play her first American role in Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard,” directed by ULV theatre director Steve Kent.
There is much more to Prica than first meets the eye.
She may appear to be a petite, almost fragile, and somewhat reserved woman, but she comes to life onstage allowing her seemingly confined passion to shine through the characters she portrays.
During last Thursday’s rehearsal in the Dailey Theatre, Prica’s talent was painstakingly obvious, as she fully embodied her lead role as Llyubov, proprietor of the cherry orchard estate in the play, with vast skill and seemingly little effort.
“She makes her character a living, breathing person, and you can’t help but notice,” senior theater major Jonathan Serret said. “She also has a quality of being like someone you’ve known for 30 years when you’ve really only known her for 10 minutes.”
Prica radiates a distinctive sense of grace and professionalism but does not seem the least bit pretentious. In fact, she is moderately superstitious and was reluctant to discuss her personal achievements or to count her life blessings for fear of jinxing herself.
Despite her phobia of flying and insecurity concerning her grasp of the English language, Prica ultimately chose to play the lead in “The Cherry Orchard” because of her previously rewarding experiences working with Kent; Croatian director Georgij Paro, who has taught at ULV as a visiting professor for the last 15 years; and David Flaten, chairman of the department of theater arts, on several productions.
“It was an unusual, but very brave and risky decision by Steve and David to invite me here,” Prica said. “I agreed to do it, but I still carried many fears and doubts.”
Prica, a native of Zagreb, Croatia, was raised in an environment surrounded by theatrical masterpieces and literary classics.
“I would attend several performances of the same play,” Prica said. “Even though it was the same play, the same actors, same lines and same staging, it was never the same. There is always a different energy that one feels between the audience and the performers and this is the aspect of theater that I fell in love with.”
“There is something I’d rather be than an actress and that is an observer in a theater, but you can’t make a profession out of this,” Prica added.
Although Prica has a deep-seated love, passion and appreciation for theater in all of its encompassing forms, she said her heart belongs to classical productions involving large casts.
?Prica attended drama school at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Croatia, graduating with a degree in acting.
Because of her immense talent, she has played a variety of roles from the works of the world’s most prestigious playwrights, ranging from Lermontov and Krleza to Shakespeare and Euripides.
“Everything I’ve learned about life, I’ve learned from the theater,” Prica said. “Theater is my greatest life school.”
Kent said the opportunity to work with an actress of Prica’s fame and stature would be one that ULV theater students would not soon forget.
“(Students) are working directly with a theater artist at the peak of her craft and are learning by example,” Kent said. “She’s one of the most generous, sweetest and cultured people I’ve ever met.”
Christopher Smith, senior theater major, also said Prica set the proverbial bar in acting, compelling her costars to rise above their comfort zones in order to match her level of expertise.
“Her acting skills force everyone to raise themselves to a higher level than they’ve ever gone before,” Smith said.
Prica said she was very appreciative of the opportunity her role in the play has allotted her, as she has been able to form relationships with faculty, cast and crew members on and offstage.
“I feel I can learn a lot from this experience,” Prica said. “The friendships I’ve made here will enrich my life.”
“The Cherry Orchard” opens Nov. 29 and will run until Dec. 4 at the Dailey Theatre.
Jessica Bell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.