Conservatory Alumna Rachel Charny: From SCR to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts

Tania Thompson
 | May 25, 2017

Rachel Charney in London

Velveteen Rabbit

​Rachel Charny and Jamie Ostmann in the Spring 2010 production of The Velveteen Rabbit.

Course Schedule: How Rachel Charny Studied Acting at SCR

From the age of nine until she graduated high school, Rachel Charny studied acting at SCR’s Theatre Conservatory. Here’s a snapshot of some of her classes and shows during that decade.

  • 3-4 Grade Year I: Focuses on the basics of storytelling through movement, vocalization and character development with emphasis on ensemble work.
  • 4-6 Grade Year II. Helps refine skills and move on to mime, improv, enhanced vocal work and beginning dramatic play development.
  • 5-7 Grade Ensemble: Teaches students how to use the body and voice (actor’s tools) to further develop techniques through mask work, movement, voice and improv.
  • 2009-12: Junior Players, where techniques previously learned get deepened. The Players learn the rehearsal process and present a full production (show).
  • 2013-16: Teen Players, an advanced performing ensemble that rehearses and presents a production (show).
  • 2013-16: Musical Theatre, where actors prepare for musical theatre auditions and performances, how to “act” a song and “sing” a scene.
  • 2010: Velveteen Rabbit (Junior Players)
  • 2010: Cinderella (Summer Players)
  • 2011: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Junior Players)
  • 2012: Sleeping Beauty (Junior Players)
  • 2012: Seussical (Summer Players)
  • 2013: Alice vs. Wonderland (Teen Players)
  • 2013: Annie (Summer Players)
  • 2014: Bliss (Teen Players)
  • 2014: Peter Pan (Summer Players)
  • 2015: David Copperfield (Teen Players)
  • 2015: A Christmas Carol (SCR Segerstrom Stage)
  • 2016-17: Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, London

To meet Rachel Charny is to get caught up in her enthusiasm—and her love for theatre. She's been in London this year, taking classes at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), but before that, she developed her actor’s craft in classes at SCR’s Theatre Conservatory. Her journey started with watching Theatre for Young Audiences shows with her parents.

“I think I was a very imaginative young kid and getting to see stories that I loved so much come to life was exciting," Charny recalls. "The actors always seemed to having so much fun and I wanted to learn and join in." She did, at age nine, when she enrolled in the kids acting program at SCR and spent the next decade honing her craft.

“I learned so many valuable lessons as a kid at SCR—about communication, about creativity and about expression,” she says.

Charny realized that acting was what she wanted to do with her life when she became a member of the Teen Players ensemble. She knew the choice wasn’t going to be easy or glamorous, but she was up for the adventure and the excitement.

What SCR moments stand out for you?

I really enjoyed doing David Copperfield my junior year of high school in Teen Players. I remember that play being a challenge in terms of research and because it was a beast of a story because it goes through so much of his life. But everyone put so much work into it and the style that Hisa [Takakuwa] brilliantly chose to do it in challenged us to be present for the whole show. This play had us going from being a character in a scene to being an actor actively engaged in the story. A Christmas Carol also stands out to me because I had the incredible opportunity to observe and learn from professional actors in a nurturing and safe environment.

What strengths did you find during your decade in classes?

South Coast Repertory gave me a home away from home. It allowed me to play, stretch my imagination and have a safe space to make big, bold choices, to mess up and be a kid. It taught me that the theatre is collaborative and that there is a whole army of incredible artists (who aren’t on stage) who help bring to life the stories. I have made friendships that I will have for the rest of my life, no matter what side of the Atlantic I’m on.

How did your experience at SCR support your application to RADA?

I owe it to Hisa! She helped me with my audition pieces and generously dedicated hours of her time to make sure that I was comfortable and ready. I don’t know what I would have done without her. And having the support of all my friends in class was wonderful. I hope I carried with me all of the lessons I learned over my 10 years at SCR with me, too.

What have you been learning in London?

My time here in RADA’s Foundation for Acting course has been amazing—I mean absolutely incredible. Of course, it’s often exhausting and frustrating, but I wouldn’t change a moment of this year. The course has been everything I wanted and more. We had everything from Meisner and Stanislavski techniques to animal movement, sonnets, text analysis, sight reading, poetry, scene study, clown, filmmaking, playwriting, dance, voice and so much more.

I learned about the history of acting in the West, devised contemporary pieces of theatre, studied the Realist period and got to do scenes from Strindberg, Chekhov (in Russian!) and finally Shakespeare. I played a bullfrog and the color yellow; sometimes I had to cry and laugh at the same time; and sometimes these things happened within hours of each other. I became very familiar with the library and what all of the studios looked like at night when no one else was there. I got yelled at by the receptionist for coming in too early and staying too late. I jammed my finger in a door hinge as I was running in my rehearsal skirt and corset, but it only helped my performance of Miss Julie that I had to give 15 minutes later. I bowed to one of my teachers on the stairs once—I think he just muttered to himself, “Americans”—but he indulged me by bowing back. Singing classes taught me that “my soul is in my breath” and dance taught me that in order to go up, I must first go down and vice versa. At one point, I had to learn a seven-page-long poem about a flaming turtle and perform an interpretive movement piece while I did my recitation. In my clowning class, we had to learn how to have fun; I never realized it was such a hard thing to do.

Very long story short: it’s been a wonderful year. It has taught me that this will be a never-ending, lifelong process and every new role, new play and new ensemble will teach me something. I am very ready to continue this exciting pursuit of my dream.

What have you been doing for fun in London and what has made your time there memorable?

I have gotten to spend time in one of the most vibrant cities in the world.  Living in London and taking advantage of its museums and theatres, exploring the city with my new friends and even people​-watching on the street or in pubs, was and is exciting and inspiring. It has been so useful to me as an actor to be constantly stimulated by the surrounding culture.

Get your start with acting classes at SCR. Summer Acting Workshop is coming up—two sessions to choose from in July. Enroll now!