I met Ana Valdes Lim at a ServiceSpace retreat in Northern California. I’d already read something about her background at Julliard and the remarkable theater work she’s doing in Manila through Assumption College. Spending three plus days together with her in person was a quite a treat. We all felt lifted by her warmth, liveliness and unreserved engagement.
I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask her for an interview. I’d read that for Julliard’s centennial, Ana was among the one hundred graduates featured in the magazine that was produced for the occasion. I had some idea about her theater work in Manila, but otherwise knew nothing of her journey. I didn’t know, for instance, that with the help of a grant from Julliard, she’d written Workshop, A Manual On Acting (1997) with exercises on actor training and rehearsal practices. Her book, Evolutionary Theater:A Book for Actors, Directors and Teachers followed in 2009. And then Theater for Wellness: Creative Techniques to be Well and Whole was published in 2016. These last two were written to share and support Filipino artists.
It was fascinating learning more of her unique story, and our interview begins as Ana is reflecting about her studies at Julliard….
Ana Valdes Lim: This was a few years before the hit musical, Miss Saigon. So, Asians in theater, we weren’t visible. Miss Saigon was a turning point, I think, for Asians in Broadway musicals. Anyway, going to Juilliard felt like home. It was like I was a fish and finally found water. I took to the exercises readily and had such a happy time there. The teachers were very fierce sometimes in their criticism, but never to the point that I found the school so difficult. I had a very good experience. I met teachers who mentored me, and I just bloomed, you know? Read more