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TAAP Class 2016: Brianna Barnes, Performance Apprentice

August 18, 2016


As someone who is wound up pretty tight, I can happily say that Aspen…despite the altitude…has taught me to breathe. The vast majesty and beauty of this place has incredible power over the way you think. It causes an immediate humility of the heart—that although important and special, you are so finite and small compared to the universe God created around you. This has helped me realize that fear and anxiety aren’t worth the effort. Just look around—the mountains are still standing. Whatever your worry is—you’ll keep standing too. Aspen also stimulates a sense of reckless abandonment in the soul. The spirit of adventure reigns supreme here, and rubs off on you quickly! Whether it's hiking up 14,000 feet or white water rafting, or trying new and exciting culinary flavors—Aspen asks you to take a chance.

Mamma Mia! at Theatre Aspen was my first professional job after graduating from The University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music (CCM) this May. And it was without a doubt the best decision I could have made. My summer here encompasses the things I love most about being actor—seeing incredible parts of the world, working with high-caliber professionals and talent, and gaining new experience in unknown or untapped performance areas. Our rehearsal period was short and fast, but we accomplished it all with our fearless leader, Mark Martino. This was my first time putting a show up on its feet in 2 weeks, and I learned a TON! How to pick up choreography quickly, how to swiftly make acting choices and stick to them, and how to create chemistry with a group of extremely talented strangers. But it was all worth it when our Aspen audience came into the equation. Mamma Mia! certainly brings joy and fun and laughter into people’s hearts! What a great energy that is to be a part of. When you have businessmen and 80-year-old ladies and teenaged boys all up on their feet dancing at the end—you know you’ve done your job right.

As my time here in Aspen comes to an end, I am left feeling more grateful than anything else. Grateful to have gotten hired right out of school and stayed employed as an actor for 4 months (can’t ever take that for granted!). Grateful to have worked with such high caliber talent in an incredibly professional company. Grateful to have experienced nature in a way I never have before. Grateful to have grown as an artist while simultaneously growing as an adult. Grateful to have been inspired by actors with decades of experience and knowledge—who still love what they do. And grateful to leave with new friendships and connections made. I feel I have the tools now to go to my next adventure—New York City—with confidence and strength. Hopefully my summer of breathing will translate into the busy streets of NYC and I can bring the sense of joy and freedom I have found here in the mountains to the concrete jungle. 

Brianna Barnes