Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spotlight On...Jelena Stupljanin

Name: Jelena Stupljanin

Hometown: Belgrade, Serbia

Education: BFA in Acting from the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade, Serbia; also, attended the Lee Strasberg theater and film Institute, NYC

Select Credits:
Much Ado About Nothing (Margaret, Boomerang Theater Company); Stray Dog (Elsie, Cino Nights with Rising Phoenix Rep); Woman-Bomb (Solo performance, United Solo Festival); Progress (She, HERE Art Center); Wild Honey (Maria, Atelje 212, Belgrade, Serbia); Bash (She, Yugoslav Drama Theater); Alice (Alice, co-production with Atelje 212, Belgrade, Serbia and Intercult, Stockholm, Sweden); First Love (The Girl, Atelje 212, Belgrade, Serbia) Phantoms (Sana, Atelje 212, Belgrade, Serbia); Front Page Doll (Babe the 'Doll', Musical Theater 'Terazije', Belgrade, Serbia); “Cirkus Columbia” (Azra, dir by Bosnian Oscar winner Danis Tanovic, Best Actress award at the Alexandria film festival, Egypt); “The Ambulance” (Sofie, dir. by Goran Radovanovic); “New York- Belgrade” (Katarina, dir by Nikita Milivojevic);  “Foxes” (Stasha, TV Series, National Serbian Broadcast Channel 1)

Why theater?: There's something about when the house lights go off and the stage lights light up that opens the whole new world to me, the world of the plays I'm doing. And, that feeling to me is the most thrilling, beautiful and, at the same time the most scary and the most safe thing I'm experiencing when I'm on stage. I always love actors that I'm performing with because I think those are one of the most vulnerable yet one of the strongest people I know and to be sharing the stage with fellow actors and to be exploring the world of plays is something I would love to be doing for the rest of my life.

Tell us about Much Ado About Nothing: Daniel Talbott directed Much Ado About Nothing last Summer in Central Park for Boomerang Theater company and I was part of that production as well and, now we're back with it again. Although it was suppose to be the same show as the last Summer, it really now is a new one. We're now in the close theater space which brought the whole new feeling to the play and with several other new cast members (mostly for the lead parts) who brought the new energy to it so, we're doing almost this whole new production of it which is great.

What is it like being a part of Much Ado About Nothing?: I am having so much fun doing this show over again and I was thrilled when I heard that we'll be playing it this time as the Boomerang's Repertory season show over at the Secret Theater! Needles to say, it's one of the Shakespeare's most beautiful plays and Daniel has a way of making it so alive and, also he made it speak so well to the modern time and I'm just really having a blast, exploring it all over again and with him and, playing it with the company of brilliant and amazingly talented actors.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love theater that addresses the issues of our time. But, having said that, I absolutely love both comedy and drama. What's important to me is to see or to be part of the show that hopefully can evoke emotions, feelings in the audience that they can carry with them after the show is over and that will make them think and perhaps even change in a better way. I am still a huge believer that theater can change If not the whole world cause, that's really not possible but, the individual who will then carry the idea into the world and hopefully 'infect' the others with a positive change. Harold Clurman was teaching a lot about that. As well as Stanislavski and Chekhov.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: I always go back to Chekhov when I think about a question like that. But, also, there are so many amazing modern playwrights and, that are part of Rising Phoenix Repertory, (the theater company I'm a member of) or, that are working with this company and, that I'd love to work with and, hopefully we'll get to do something together soon. Some of them are Lucy Thurber, Crystal Skillman, Zack Calhoon, Kristen Palmer and many, many more...

What’s your favorite showtune?:
"My Favorite Things" from the Sound of Music

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:
So many people!! And, I feel very lucky to say that with many of them I've already worked with and so, I'd love to go back and work with them again. But, beside the obvious choices (such as Ryan Gosling and people like that :) the first one that really comes to my mind that I haven't yet had a chance to really share the stage/ screen with is Addie Johnson Talbott.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: My friend Marko Jovanov at the young age and Julianne Moore when I get older :)

What show have you recommended to your friends?:
Besides Much Ado About Nothing :) really anything that comes from Rising Phoenix Repertory and also, Ratlestick Theater company. Those guys always inspire the hell out of me!

What’s up next?: I am playing a lead role in 'Cirkus Columbia' the film directed by a Bosnian Oscar winner Danis Tanovic ('No man's Land', 2002). And, after many international recognitions and awards that this film won (Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival- Best Foreign Language Film; Official selection Toronto Film Festival; Bosnian contender for Oscar nomination 2011; Best Film by Audience- Sarajevo Film Festival; Best Film by Audience Thessaloniki Film Festival; San Sebastian Film Festival etc) and, after it has been shown here in NY, this film opens in Los Angeles on March 9 for a limited run. I'll be shooting two other film projects this Spring/ Summer, the first one being a short film and the second one a feature, both here in NY and I'm very excited about that.

For more about Jelena, visit