Anna Rose Deleon Guerrero, a 2012 graduate of Saipan Southern High School and currently a student at Northern Kentucky University, recently participated in an intensive three-week summer course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England.
Deleon Guerrero told Saipan Tribune of the jetlag she had to work off during her first week of courses, as the flight there was a long one.
But that hurdle, among other things, did not keep her from an experience she describes as life-changing.
Deleon Guerrero first heard about the intensive summer classes from her mother, but was taken aback by the cost of tuition.
“It was just so expensive!” she said. “ The exchange rate from U.S. dollars to U.K. pounds is absolutely terrible.”
On her mother’s urging, she persisted, however, and after writing an essay, touting her resume, taking headshots, and receiving donations from kind friends and family, she was able to go as one of the 27 to be accepted for the Acting in Musical Theatre course.
Hundreds all over the world apply for the school, with 136 chosen this summer, she said. For regular courses, only 26 are accepted at the prestigious school this year.
She said she feels lucky and proud of herself to have been accepted, and grateful to those who helped her get there.
“No matter what, there are always people who are better [than you],” she said.
Spurred through her jet lag by her excitement over the city and classes, Deleon Guerrero soon discovered the “intense” in “intensive,” as she said rehearsals sometimes extended well into the night.
“We were in classes from 9am to 4:30pm, 5:30pm, 6pm, or even later, depending on whether or not we were seeing a show that evening, or staying late for rehearsal, or staying late for a class that went later than usual,” she said.
The school is well-known for it’s training of such alumni as Orlando Bloom, Daniel Craig, Hayley Atwell, and Dame Eileen Atkins, among others.
Because of the workload required by her classes, she rarely had time or energy to go out. She spoke of one night-out however, an experience that taught her the raw power of theatre and art.
She caught a showing of War Horse one night and described how the audience was moved to tears with such simple yet nuanced stage conceits.
“[It was] unlike any show I’ve ever seen or done. The fact that a man-operated, horse puppet made of wood could reduce grown adults to sobbing wimps, including me, just tells you how well they do what they do,” she said.
Among her class activities were stage combat lessons, puppetry, masked performance, period dancing, and the basics of the Argentine tango.
“I learned how to beat the breath out of someone, and kill them with a sword, without actually doing so, which was so much fun,” she said.
A notable instructor of her courses was Patsy Rodenburg, a voice instructor known for her many books as well as instructing such talents as Natalie Portman, Hugh Jackman, and Ian McKellan.
Her life is about her craft, Deleon Guerrero said, adding that she is always looking to improve herself.
But living and pursuing her dreams aren’t without a cost. As a major in Musical Theatre in NKU, she has had to draw from her life-savings, scholarships, and her patience and resilience, as she described financial pressures as “always present.”
She acknowledged that there may be more profitable and secure paths out there like teaching or nursing. Nevertheless, she believes rejection, financial worries, homesickness, or the heartache over the loss of loved ones while she is away can all be overcome.
“Any fears, sorrows, or hardships are overcome by my passion. They will always be overcome by my passion. Passion is more powerful than all of those combined,” she said.
Training in ensemble work helped her grow as a human being as well as an actor, as she learned to access a new level of presence on stage, which was simply, despite her doubts, learning to accept herself as she was.
“We could all use a little more theatre. It’s powerful. Actors are not afraid to tell and express what others are terrified even thinking about,” she said.