Anna Cherkezishvili approaches her eighth year here in the United States. From the moment she landed she began auditioning and – almost as immediately – began performing.
In an extensive interview on the program “In The PassionPit” Anna shared how her family lived through the Civil War in Georgia This was the foundation of two defining parts of her life. The first – due to power-outages and curfews, much of Anna’s childhood was spent in doors and in the dark. “I used to imagine my room was a vast castle when I played with my dolls” she said, “allowing me to cultivate new realities in my mind with my imagination.” One can see how an artist’s imagination might grow rapidly – even in such a dark and forbidding atmosphere. The second is her choice of work once she arrived. She was part of two companies: Dramatic Adventures, which told immigrant stories, and Identity Theatre, which opens its casting doors to differently abled artists.
“I want to give back,” Anna said with a smile.
ArtsIndependent interviewed Anna recently about her mission as an actress in America.
Tell us about yourself as an artist
I am a Georgian born actress, currently living in New York. I am a recent graduate of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting. Since childhood, I had interest in art and music and my parents would take me to the theater to watch plays for that reason. Since then, I had developed strong liking of theatre and was willing to become an actress. When I graduated from school, my only dream was to become an artist. I entered college in the Georgian University of Theater and Film. Since then I never looked back and kept following the path of the creative artistic journey. I am primarily a theatre actoress but would be happy to work in film industry one day. I am also very enthusiastic about devising theatre work and do enjoy creative writing. I constantly work on my craft and have strong interest into creating the kind of work that gives voice to Immigrant actors who have stories to share and have their artistic vision that is unique to them.
What inspired you to come to the United States?
It is not easy for me to put this into words, I wish I could express every enthusiasm and will I have for working as an artists in US, as it was always my lifelong dream to come here. I grew up watching American movies and cartoons on TV. Growing up as a kid of post-soviet era, which was tough for a young person to live in, I was always amazed by the freedom of the individualistic expression of American artists. It was the beauty and grand of how bold and vivid the American musicals and films were that inspired me. Great musicals such as Singing in the Rain or Hello Dolly or movies such as Steven Spielberg’s ET or Star Wars, it all fascinated me and encouraged my imagination. I treasure every single opportunity of growth I’m given here. My mother never stopped believing in me and in my love of acting which always encouraged me to go after my dreams. Georgia is a country with long- time tradition of theatre and film but with completely struggling economy. Due to many years of war and complications of post-soviet era of living it is hard to maintain the industry there. The reason why I came to America, is because this country is the land of opportunities for people like me who are hard working and willing to contribute to the society. I know that in this country professional artists can achieve the best of their potential. The culture of theatre and film in US is absolutely magnificent and one of the most famous in the world.
What have you been doing since you arrived?
In 2013-2014, I was lucky to audition and join the New York theater company Dramatic Adventure Theatre. I traveled in Slovakia with the company to create the play, “Ako David.” Which we presented in New York at the Abingdon Theatre. Following this, I traveled in Ecuador and acted in a play “La Maldicion de la Tunda” which we presented in New York as well, at the IATI Theatre. Within the same time period, I was honored to be invited by Identity Theatre director Nick Linnehan to join the play “True Colors of Weddle” a children’s musical. I had another great opportunity of joining the legendary Heights Players for the production of Christmas Carol at the John Bourne Theatre. After this production, I was part of the Fun Fest Feb Fest festival produced by TeamTheatre company, portraying role of an immigrant woman in the play “No Friends”. I am proud for the fact that the play’s director Chrysi Sylaidi garnered Director of the Play of the Decade by Broadway World 2020.
How has the pandemic affected you in terms of your career?
I was very sad about seeing how it affected not only theatre and my career, but the entire country. It is a very challenging time that everyone went through. I think most people are still recovering from the stress that pandemic caused and it is still an ongoing issue. Seeing all the theatres closing it’s doors was definitely a sad experience. But I must say community of actors and theatre makers I have been honored to know, did not give up and stopped working even from their own homes. For example, I attended the sessions of Global Gab: Cross Cultural Conversations by Rattlestick Theatre. Which was a program created for international artists in US discussing the challenges they faced during pandemic and beyond. I volunteered as well for the wonderful theatre project created by Marialana Ardolino called Quarantine Theatre where actors read plays via Zoom. I participated as Fanny for the play reading of “As It Is In Heaven” by Ariene Hutton. I volunteered for the reading of “Othello” by Shakespeare, for the same project as well, this time portraying man’s roles of Lodovico and The Duke of Venice.
What are your ultimate goals?
I am looking forward to work towards sharing the stories I have been long willing to share through my creative process. My goal is to raise the awareness of the Immigrant Artists. I am looking to bring my understanding of humanity into the theatre and accept others understanding of humanity. I am looking to work with talented actors and theatre makers who serve our craft. I have great appreciation of the high level of professionalism in America and I am willing to create characters that moves people and is memorable to them. I would like to create work that ethnically diverse audience can relate to as well as American.
What’s happening for you next year?
Next year and the following year, I have several projects I am planning to work on. I am looking forward to work on the project “A Mirror Returns Image with No face” with Ms. Suzi Takahashi. And the play “Hanna” about a Georgian Immigrant Woman, which I am working on with Rusudan Tchubabria a Georgian American writer. I am very excited to be recently invited to join the new play project at the TeamTheatre called “Censored” as well as their festival Fun Fast Feb Fest 2021. As well as I am honored to be invited to join the Rattelstick Playwrights Theatre for their Global Forms Theatre festival 2021, where they only invite the top international artists to participate. I will work on the project “Inside the Artists Mind” with Dorothea Gloria and Myrna Davonne.