A Toast to the Talented: Chiara Motley – a True Double-threat

When Chiara Motley ’03, a 5’8” thin blonde with a shining smile, strides into a room, you will never guess that she recently convinced hundreds of audience members of being a 55-year old mother striving to maintain a dark family secret. But, with her innate natural talent and conscientious approach to acting, Motley played the role of Kate Keller with a certain kind of poise not usually akin to a 17-year-old high school senior girl. With her love for the stage and a flair for singing, Motley has found herself in a number of theatrical and musical performances here at Andover. Here, she talks of her life in terms of theatre and music before, during, and after Phillips Academy. Phillipian: You’re an avid contributor to the theatrical and musical aspects of the Andover community. Aside from your recent performance in this term’s All My Sons and your upcoming aria in this week’s Cantata/Orchestra concert Bach’s The Passion According to John, where else has the community seen you perform? Chiara Motley: The first piece of theatre that I did at PA was during my Lower year. Care Van Zile ’02 took a chance on me and asked me to take the female role in the three-person play Copenhagen – an independent and semi-illegal theater performance (We had to rehearse under the pretense of being a physics club, as rehearsing from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. for underclassmen was out of the question.). That remains to be one of the best theater experiences I’ve had at Andover. The next fall, I was cast as the title role in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, a Drama Lab again directed by Care. This winter, I was lucky enough to be cast in a 520, directed by the notoriously wonderful saint [Instructor in Theater Jean St. Pierre]. As for singing, I didn’t really get involved at PA until Upper year, when I joined Fidelio Society. Fidelio taught me how to sight-read, sing ensemble music, and harmonize. My singing has improved markedly in the past two years. Phillipian: When did you first realize your passion for singing and acting? How did you involve yourself in these before you came to Andover? How long have you been singing and acting? C.M. The first musical I saw -though it was not particularly well-done -The King and I, prompted my love for both singing and acting. It wasn’t necessarily the musical, but the fact that I could become so absorbed in the characters onstage. The first musical that I was in was The Emperor’s New Clothes in third grade. I was a chorus member and it was a fairly low-level community theater production. Even so, I adored being in it. I think that above all, I wanted to be able to take an audience with me into a different world – just as I had been entranced when I was very young. Before Andover, I did a lot of musical theatre – amateur as well as professional. However, I was involved in very little straight theater until coming to PA. Interestingly enough, straight theater has come to be my favorite type of performance. As I performed more, my goal became more defined — Miss St. Pierre noted that the best plays make you think about your life and the choices you’ve made. I hope to do this, or at least offer a couple hours of a good distraction from life. Phillipian: The role of Kate Keller in All My Sons is no doubt a challenging one. How did you tackle such a dynamic part that held such depth to it? C.M. I read and reread the lines, I worked on physicality, and I searched for inspiration to convey a mother’s love for her children and a 30-year old marriage. I read about the 1940’s – I even downloaded 1940’s music in my most desperate attempts to shed light on a life to which I have relatively little experience relating. Miss St. Pierre offered much emotional inspiration, and [Instructor in Theater Kevin] Heelan physical inspiration. Phillipian: You’ve won the chance to sing a difficult aria in this week’s Cantata concert. How are you preparing for this? C.M. I’ve been practicing the aria all week with Mr. Thomas as well as with Ariel Gold ’04, with whom I’m performing. Last time we performed this aria, there was an embarrassing incident with the oboes that forced us to stop the piece and start again. I think we’re all hoping that this won’t happen on Friday, and we’re practicing quite a bit to make sure that we’re competent technically as well as musically. Phillipian: Do you see yourself on stage in the future? Do you plan to include theater and music into your life in college? C.M. I definitely plan on pursuing theater and music in college, although I’m pretty adamant about continuing other subjects of interest, such as biology and English. I don’t plan on majoring in theater in part because I don’t think I can dedicate the next four years of my life solely to that. I want to use college to try a variety of subjects. Phillipian: Who has been the source of your inspiration to continue to pursue your talents at singing and acting? C.M. Care Van Zile has inspired me with her dedication to theater, her trust in my acting, and her continued support even after her graduation. My singing teacher at home has continued to inspire me musically. After teaching me for three years, I still take lessons from her over breaks. And even through periods of great frustration with my voice, she has made me feel as if my work is not in vain.