Learning in the land down under

KSC alumna Kenzie Klem studies acting in Sydney, Australia

Australia is home to The Great Barrier Reef and the Sydney Opera House, as well as a massive population of kangaroos (according to the Australian Wildlife Society). In addition, the land down under is also currently the home of KSC alumna Kenzie Klem, who studies acting in Sydney, Australia.

From a young age, Harvard, Massachusetts, native Kenzie Klem has always had a niche for acting. “…ever since she was little, she’s been like over the top… dramatic about everything,” said her younger brother CJ Klem, a sophomore and geography major at KSC.

Once Kenzie arrived at KSC, she joined Three Ways ‘Til Sunday, KSC’s improv club, and registered for “as many classes as [she] could” in order to “ha[ve] a wide skill set under [her] belt.”

When Kenzie was 19, she decided to audition for a play at The Apron Theatre Company located in Putney, Vermont. Unexpectedly, she landed a role in “August: Osage County” and was ecstatic.

“…I got a call saying I had been cast and I was thrilled. I was the youngest actor in a cast of 13 and the incredible amount of talent I got to surround myself with was unbelievable,” she said.

She found that the summers she participated in The Apron Theatre Company were “eye opening and incredible experiences… These older actors inspired me and taught me more than I could have ever imagined… The director, Hallie Flower, was one of the most incredible people I have ever worked with and she was the one who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, so I owe her so much for that support.”

During her senior year, Kenzie grew exceptionally close with Kirstin Riegler, an assistant theatre and dance professor.

Riegler first met Kenzie when Kenzie signed up to be a spotlight operator for the musical Little Women in the fall of 2015.

Riegler said, “My first thought after meeting her was utter joy to have her [as] a part of Little Women because tech week for that show was long and stressful at times, and Kenzie always remained positive with a smile on her face. In my classes, my first impression was LEADER. She is such a leader and a positive role model for those around her. Her eagerness to learn was like the water in the room and the rest of my students soaked it up like a sponge.”

The time eventually came for Kenzie to make a decision as to what she wanted to do after her undergraduate studies. She applied to the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), located in Sydney, Australia. According to their Annual Report in 2013, “Entry to NIDA’s higher education courses is highly competitive, with around 2,000 applicants from across the country competing for an annual offering of approximately 75 places across undergraduate and graduate disciplines. The student body for these courses totalled 166 in 2013.”

“…She didn’t even think she was gonna make it into the program…,” said CJ Klem, noting that it was Riegler and The Apron Theatre Company that pushed her to audition.

But she did. After a “really intimidating” audition, Kenzie received a phone call telling her that she had been accepted.

Photo contributed by Kenzie Klem

Photo contributed by Kenzie Klem

“I was speechless and also wanted to scream with excitement at the same time. I was so excited to tell all of the people who supported me and pushed me to follow what I love,” Kenzie said.

CJ said that he was “just really, really excited…”

“I always support her. I want her to do whatever makes her happy but…to make money in that profession is very tough, so for her to make it into that school, I think it’s a huge deal, so I’m super proud of her.”

Riegler noted that “Pure and utter excitement” was going through her mind.

“I knew she would [make it],” she said. “…She worked so hard to get into the program and to see the confidence that is within her everyday is breathtaking. I feel like a proud mom…”

Kenzie also made it into the The Actors Pulse, “a Meisner acting technique school,” also located in Sydney.

“When I auditioned for The Actors Pulse, it was just myself and the head of the studio, which was a bit less intimidating. It was an interview process, as well as performing a monologue. I couldn’t believe that right on the spot after my audition, he invited me to be a part of the full-time program. I was absolutely in shock as well. I had never been in a situation before where I got accepted on the spot, so I didn’t really know how to react, other than being so grateful and trying to contain my excitement. I later went on to find out that only [two] other people were accepted into the full-time program at The Pulse, which made me even more proud.”

Kenzie, who lives with relatives while she studies in Australia, hopes to eventually “…Act for a theater company…more specifically…tour the country with a show.”

“I want to travel and share the joy of theater and story with everyone that I can,” she said.

“When we are all in a theater, it doesn’t matter where we are from or who we are; we are all the same in a theater. We want to be entertained, we want to use our imagination, we want to escape from reality and be taken into the world of a play. I think that’s the magic of theater.”

Kenzie also commented saying, “If you are determined enough, you can reach any goal. Acting is the only thing I can picture doing with my life. My love for it is so intense that I know how much work and effort I need to put in, and I’m willing to do that.”

Alexandria Saurman can be contacted at asaurman@kscequinox.com

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