2022 Andrew A. Isen Young Artist Gift Recipient for Signature in the Schools: Lilla Woodard
Lilla Woodard (center) in The Pursued, The Pursuing, The Busy, and The Tired

Blog: 2022 Andrew A. Isen Young Artist Gift Recipient for Signature in the Schools: Lilla Woodard

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From Signature in the Schools, Lilla gained valuable training and confidence, while challenging herself throughout the process.

After the application and selection process, Lilla was chosen as the 2022 recipient of the Andrew A. Isen Young Artist Gift for Signature in the Schools. Lilla played the role of Brylee Matway in the world premiere of The Pursued, The Pursuing, The Busy, and The Tired by Dani Stoller.

The Gift of $2,500 is awarded to one participant for demonstrating excellence in their work and is to be used for educational purposes; a panel reviews applications to evaluate the applicants on the following criteria: growth, work ethic, contribution and future planning.

From Director of Education David Zobell and Education Program Manager Matthew Strote

“We are delighted to honor Lilla with this Gift. During this year’s program, we found Lilla to be determined, kind, curious and open-spirited; she acted professionally with fellow students as well as with her adult mentors. Lilla goes above and beyond in all ways, and we look forward to seeing her continue to evolve artistically and professionally.”

What Lilla Learned

Lilla shared that “being a part of the Signature in the Schools production this year has been an incredible opportunity and privilege. The program has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be a good actor and how to reach a high standard of performance, especially during my monologue.”

Lilla recommends this program to all students and noted that it’s true you don’t need any theater experience to participate—she said that you should just “be prepared to work hard and bring a good attitude to the Bootcamp and to rehearsal. If you’re passionate and even mildly interested in theater, I would say go for it!”

Lilla explained that Director David Zobell challenged her to try one new tactic every time she performed, which taught her a valuable lesson about pushing herself to keep her performance authentic and energetic. Lilla also learned about performing the genre of comedy and performing on a set that’s staged in the round.

Signature in the Schools’ participants are given the opportunity to work with theater professionals. Lilla said that “meeting the staff at Signature, specifically during our first table read of the script, helped me to realize the large number of job opportunities within the theater industry—it was enlightening. I plan on participating in my school’s spring play and will bring the professional attitude and sense of responsibility that I learned at Signature.”

During the program, Lilla received valuable training, which she will take back to her fellow students at Washington-Liberty High School. She shared that she “will also have the confidence to lead warmups and acting exercises during rehearsals, specifically using techniques about building a convincing character through isolating and highlighting body parts, which we were taught during our weeks of Bootcamp.”

From Playwright Dani Stoller

“Lilla understood the world of this play from the very first read and was able to bring immense depth to a character that could feel very surface without the right actor ‘behind the wheel,’ so to speak. She was able to perfectly balance both the satirical elements of Brylee, while also breaking the audience’s heart. I remember every night after her monologue when she reached for the cookies and hearing the audience laugh…and then become silent…she shifted the entire energy of the room without a word, which is quite the superpower.”

Lilla added that it was very helpful as an actor to get to work directly with the playwright. Lilla shared that she “got a much deeper insight into the world of the play and of Brylee thanks to being able to ask Dani questions throughout the process. I was able to motivate my choices as a performer in a way that most accurately reflected the story. Plus, Dani is such a cool person, and it was awesome to have the chance to work with her and bring her vision to life.”

Lilla Looks Ahead

Lilla shared that she received her acceptance to the University of Virginia during rehearsal for Signature in the Schools. She said that she “plans to be involved in theater during college, exploring all the elements that come together to make a production. I hope to direct a play, drawing on my experience, including ensemble-building exercises, to bring out the best in all the actors.”

She explained that she intends to double-major for her bachelor’s degree, including a degree in theater, and she also looks forward to studying abroad; she hopes to join the foreign service and use her time overseas to explore forms of theater across the world.

Raised mainly overseas as the child of a diplomat, Lilla said that she has been lucky enough to experience a range of international theater, from Balinese dance drama to Hungarian Opera.

Lilla’s final thoughts about Signature in the Schools and the Andrew A. Isen Young Artist Gift

“My dream is to use theater to bring people closer together across borders, facilitating cultural exchanges and highlighting marginalized groups that continue to face intolerance. I love theater more than ever thanks to Signature.

About the Andrew A. Isen Young Artist Gift

About Signature in the Schools