Pruitt as Charlotte in Southern Promises at The Flea Theater. Photo by Joan Marcus.
There are so many reasons theatre is recognized as an art form – it brings people together to share meaning, feel emotion and above all, watch an incredible performance. For Yvonne Pruitt '18, it's also the opportunity to tell an attention-grabbing story.
Earlier this month, the College of Communication and the Arts alumna debuted in her first post-graduation production in Southern Promises at The Flea Theater in New York City, New York. The show – recently reviewed by The New York Times – examines slavery through the story of a plantation owner who, on his deathbed, vows to set his slaves free. However, after his death, his wife ignores the request and chaos erupts on the plantation.
With its poignant messaging, the play piqued Pruitt's interest from the start. "The reason I love acting is to grab people's attention and make them think and consider… I love to tell stories that need to be told," Pruitt said. She is playing the role of Charlotte, a character who is tough, beautiful and not afraid to do what it takes to survive.
Southern Promises at The Flea Theater. Photo by Joan Marcus.
The recent graduate joined the theatre company in early 2019 and became a member of The Bats, an Obie Award winning acting company with over 100 members. While the past few months have been filled with rehearsals, Pruitt has grown into her character, making sure her performance really embodies the essence of the production.
"We spent a lot of time working through the text and the characters, constantly digging to understand our roles and the story we are telling," Pruitt commented. "The Flea Theater is a community of committed and talented people that support and encourage one another as they create art."
That sense of community has followed Pruitt from her time as Seton Hall University to the beginnings of her career today. Stepping onto campus as a freshman, she enrolled as a theatre major and wanted to start performing right away. She immediately auditioned for Seton Hall Theatre's production of Radium Girls and the rest was history.
Pruitt in As It Is In Heaven during the 2016-17 Seton Hall Theatre Season
During the four years that followed, she found a close-knit family in her cast members and fellow classmates. She performed in numerous Seton Hall productions, including The Learned Ladies (Fall 2016), As It Is In Heaven (February 2017) and more recently, Steel Magnolias (Spring 2018). Although each storyline was different, every performance helped develop her confidence and creativity, reflected Pruitt.
As a student, she also learned the value of relationships beyond the stage as a mentee in the Communication Honors Alumni Mentorship Program (CHAMP), a collaborative mentoring program that matches students with alumni offered by the Career Center and the College. There, she met Chris Aurilio '05, general manager of The People's Improv Theater, whose insight and career advice follows her work and professionalism today, she noted.
Sometimes though, you just have to go back to the basics. When rehearsing for Southern Promises, the actress relied on her education and training to move her forward. "There was one point where I just felt stuck and I didn't know how to get myself out of it," she said. "So I said to myself, 'Okay, enough. Let's get back to what you learned.' That method worked. It reminded me that when you're lost, you can trust yourself to fall back on education and training."
Categories: Arts and Culture