As part of our series on the 2019-20 class of interns, meet our Development intern, Blake DeVaney.
Blake is from Baltimore, Maryland, and attended Brown University. She graduated last year with a concentration in Geology-Physics/Mathematics. Although Brown doesn’t have minors, Blake also took many classes in the Theater, Arts, and Performance Studies department.
Audrey Rowland: Tell me more about your Geology-Physics/Mathematics degree. How does that background influence you?
Blake DeVaney: Something really interesting about Geology is that you’re thinking about processes that are taking millions to billions of years. I studied Rock Mechanics, and I did a lot of writing experiments on one-millimeter rock samples and looking at microscopic structures and thinking about how that would affect plate tectonics. That kind of extrapolation and thinking about scale affects how I think about things. The other wonderful thing about Geology is that so much of it is problem-solving. You are given the solution to a science experiment that the Earth has conducted for you, and you have to figure out how it all happened.
AR: That, ahem, rocks. Brown University and Trinity Rep aren’t that far apart! What was your experience with Trinity Rep before starting this internship?
BD: When I got involved in acting, Trinity was an ideal of theater for me. That was the big league. I took a voice class with Rebecca Gibel, a resident company member. I first had the opportunity to see a Trinity Rep show last season, when I saw her in Little Shop of Horrors. I got to go to opening night, and I actually cried, because I was so taken with how beautiful the show was. I had never been in this building, I could count on one hand the number of professional theater productions I had seen, and there I was in the Chace Theater, looking at the set, seeing the costumes, hearing things we talked about in class. I was moved to tears because it was the most wonderful, incredible experience.
AR: You’re now out of school and interning at Trinity Rep. When you were growing up, what did you want to be?
BD: There were a lot of things I wanted to be. It changed a lot. When I was very young, my end-all-be-all dream in life was to be a pop singer. That was the only thing I wanted – that was it. I also took Chinese in middle school, so then I wanted to be an ambassador for a while.
AR: Why was this internship exciting for you? Why choose Trinity Rep?
BD: I decided to pursue acting at the start of my senior year. I was trying to figure out how to make that happen when I saw a Facebook post about internships at Trinity Rep. I talked to Rebecca Gibel about it, and she was such a wonderful resource. She told me that it was a great program and that it would teach me so, so much about how theater works. She knew that I was trying to learn as much as possible about the theater-making process and all its moving parts, and said that this would be the perfect opportunity to go out of my comfort zone and learn a ton.
AR: What interested you about the Development internship specifically?
BD: As an undergrad, I did a lot of event planning and fundraising. When I was the community service chair for my Greek organization, there was a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I found out that the previous year, the Greek houses on campus raised $100. I pulled together a silent auction, and we raised about $500. So when I was thinking about how I could move forward into the theater, I knew that development would be a good place to start out.
AR: If you had your own talk show, who would your first guest be?
BD: Ariana Grande! I love her. I admire her a lot because she is very vulnerable in her artistry and is willing to make art about her PTSD and her struggles with mental illness. I’d want to talk to her about that. I’d also ask her to perform her song “Imagine,” because those whistle tones are incredible.
AR: What does theater mean to you? Why is it important?
BD: As an actor, theater saved my life in a real and meaningful way. Because of the confidence that I built in the first acting class I took, I was able to like myself in a profound way for the first time. That changed the course of my life. Being onstage helps me to regulate my emotions and manage chronic mental illness in a very profound way. Being a theater viewer has also been important to me. It’s a beautiful way to think critically about how you fit into the world and how universal a lot of experiences are. It makes you feel a little less lonely on this planet and more connected to humans. It’s a beautiful exercise in empathy.
AR: Outside of the theater, how do you like to spend your time?
BD: I’ve started making a lot of visual art recently, for the first time in a long time. I’ve been working on large scale embroidery projects, and I’m hoping to get back into painting. When the weather’s nice, I like to hike, which is hard in Rhode Island. I like walking around the city, too.
AR: What’s your favorite play?
BD: I’ve never seen a live production, but I love The Importance of Being Earnest. It’s so funny.
AR: And last, but not least, what’s a fun fact about you?
BD: During my senior year, my friend and I hosted a dinner party for our friends. We called it “Bunny Cianci,” and we made rabbit cacciatore with Mayor’s Own tomato sauce. And this was before I knew that Trinity Rep was doing The Prince of Providence!