The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Incidental Lives column
Mar 12, 2013 (The Honolulu Star-Advertiser - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Pity poor Lea DiMarchi. For four years now the love-addled lass has chased fickle Demetrius only to be overshadowed by her supposed friend Hermia, fought over by the aforementioned Demetrius and a magically demented Lysander, and subjected to the mischievous enchantments of the sprite Puck.
That's a heck of lot to deal with for someone who still has to decide which college to attend next fall.
Then again, the Punahou senior's ongoing experience playing Helena in school productions of William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" has clearly been enriching.
It was DiMarchi's performance of Helena -- and her inspired recitation of Sonnet 141 -- in last month's Hawaii regional event of the English-Speaking Union's National Shakespeare Competition that earned her a trip to New York City to compete in the national finals at Lincoln Center next month.
"I try to look for pieces with a lot of emotional places to go, and Helena's monologue has a lot of different points of opportunity to show emotion," says DiMarchi. "Sonnets are a beast of their own. I picked Sonnet 141, which is romantic but has bit of wit in it, too. It was something I could have fun with."
DiMarchi will reprise her role as Helena again this month for a performance interview at the prestigious Juilliard School, one of several programs she's considering.
Born and raised in Honolulu, DiMarchi spent her childhood summers visiting extended family. Her parents, physicians James and Joan DiMarchi, and grandparents had a deep appreciation of the humanities, which they stoked in Lea and her brother Tyler with ballet, opera and theater performances in Boston and New York.
DiMarchi attended acting workshops in Boston and took full advantage of Punahou's robust arts programs in middle and high school. Her first exposure to Shakespeare came in the eighth grade.
"We were introduced to it not by reading it off the page, but by acting it out and watching movies of stage productions, which was really important because Shakespeare is meant to be performed," she said.
And thus DiMarchi experienced firsthand Shakespeare's own contention that love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.
Since then DiMarchi has studied the Bard from a variety of performative, historical and literary perspectives. She had to lobby administrators not to cancel her current Shakespeare class, despite an enrollment of just five students.
"My parents have always been very supportive of my acting," she said. "I think they know I'm trying to pursue the arts from the most intellectual path I can. I value intellect and academics and a means of improving yourself through art."
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