Hailing from New York, Julie Jesneck is the talk of the town for the new play Grace, or the Art of Rock Climbing. With absolutely no past experience in the physically and emotionally demanding sport known as rock climbing, Julie found herself as the lead character in the play she considers to be one of her best roles so far.
An adventurous individual, Julie is a bright actor who enjoys taking on challenging roles but also appreciates the finer details of life. Miss A had the joy of interviewing such a talented individual where her enthusiasm embodied her love to learn.
Q: Tell us about yourself – your background, goals, acting inspiration.
A: I’m from New York and in New York you audition for plays that could be out-of-state and if you got it, you would travel to wherever the play would be. Denver Center is a great place and has the capacity to provide actors with great roles.
Q: When did you get into theatre?
A: I would say I got into theatre when I was around 13 years old but truly got into it when I was 15. I would go to the state theatre every summer for acting courses. Then I went to Michigan in high school and studied performing arts which lead me to Juliard in New York City. I graduated and had so much hopes and dreams. I was a wide-eyed 21 year old who was ready to take on the acting world.
Q: Where do you draw your inspirations?
A: I’m drawn to actors who are invested in being a human being. Not the glamour side of acting. I appreciate those who are willing to be fully involved in the human experience because it shows they have the capacity to move and change people. They can talk about subjects that are not so beautiful… how we suffer but how we grow and overcome.
Q: In the past, what have been your favorite roles?
A: The current role! I have learned quite a bit – the physical technique of rock climbing and the capacity it of learning emotionally and mentally. It asks so much but I have an appetite for challenging work so I absolutely enjoy it. The aspect of searching and being able to complete a challenging role is very fulfilling.
Q: How did you prepare for this role?
A: When I auditioned, they took us to Chelsea Piers and we have to climb a wall without knowing how to climb. I was doing fine at first but as the wall started to convex, that was when I got nervous but when I got to the top, something in me shifted and I knew this was going to be a wonderful mental exercise. As I prepared for the role, I realized it really teaches you how to explore the space between one hold to the next and I was very excited about the techniques. Each move that you are in gives you a new perspective which is what the play is about. Every progressive move gives the character a new perspective on life and you realize you can only work at the moment. It’s a true mental challenge.
Q: Have any other roles given you a new perspective on life?
A: I was Desdemona in Othello. It was a fully embodying experience to be in a female role in Shakespeare. Speaking in Shakespearean is not just about the words but you speak with your whole body and there was a freedom when you fully learn the language. Understanding the play gave me a moment to acknowledge my achievements and I feel the same about [Grace, or The Art of Rock Climbing]. You could say it’s kind of a contemporary version of Othello. It has really helped me understand what it is to be alive and the choices you make in your life.
Q: Is this a small, medium, or big cast?
There are seven people, which is a pretty healthy size for a play like Grace.
Q: What are the benefits of having a cast of seven people?
A: The relationships you develop are more in-depth and strong. You also have more time for rehearsal. The story of the play also dictates the relationship you have with your cast-mate. I was constantly on stage so I never really had the time to sit back and chat with them but everyone is very nice and every time I had a scene with them, it was always a joy.
A small cast like this helps relationship develop more in depth. Also, because this is a new play, I was able to be in the process of any rewrites and other cast members could give their input to help improve your role. I really liked how everyone was very invested in the play.
Q: Are there any interesting stories you can share about your cast members?
A: John Hutton, who plays my father, is a beautiful climber. He understands the vocabulary of movement. It helps that he used to climb.
A truthful tale about life’s hardships, relationships and finding self-love, Grace, or The Art of Climbing is performing in the Space Theatre located inside the Denver Center for Performing Arts.