Good afternoon, YouthMundees! At YouthMundus, we aim to not only be a platform for music, film and global change, but for the artists and global changemakers who create them. Our Artist Spotlight series aims to create a space for discovery of new, budding global talent, while simultaneously offering you an exclusive glimpse into their creative process. In this week’s edition, we’re extremely excited to feature the multi-talented Charlie Trepany, an emerging actor, playwright, and journalist based out of LA!
An actor, playwright, and journalist originally from Los Angeles, the multi-talented Charlie Trepany has always had a fervor for expanding his arsenal of knowledge: In 2019, I graduated from Georgetown University, where I majored in both English and Theater & Performance studies with a minor in journalism.
Despite Charlie’s present-day theatrical ambition, his passion was born from a myriad of unsuccessful hobbies: “After miserably failing at baseball, soccer, and football, I asked my parents to sign me up for acting classes, because it seemed like a fun things to try. I ended up falling in love with it.”
During his adolescence, Charlie began auditioning and working in the film and television industry. His dedication to his craft eventually evolved in high school, where he developed a love of theater and improve.
The love Charlie had for his artistry was only deepened when he explored it internationally: “My acting journey has taken me to the United Kingdom, where I spent a semester training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, as well as to the Czech Republic, where I was an artist-in-residence at the Svanda Theater in Prague last summer.”
However, during college, Charlie not only honed his theatrical craft, he discovered a new passion: playwriting: “I remember on the first day of my Writing Stage Adaptations class, my incredible professor Miranda Rose Hall took us upstairs to the empty theater and asked us to sit in the audience, look at the bare stage, and imagine all that could be possible — all that we could make possible. This exercise was so simple, but so profound for me. It was then that I knew playwriting was something I needed to explore.”
While stuck in quarantine, Charlie has utilized his extensive free time to revisit his love of playwriting, which has led him to begin a dark comedy that he coyly explains is “about love, loneliness, and Tiger King.”
However, when not acting or working on his playwriting, Charlie is covering the news for the life, entertainment and travel sections of USA TODAY.
What inspires you and your creative process?
I’d say my community of artist friends keeps me inspired to stay creative. These are some of the deepest relationships I have in my life, and I get so energized from their support and from rooting for their success! Having my acting class in Los Angeles has also been so grounding, especially in this age of quarantine. It’s given me a group of actors I feel so connected to, even though we haven’t been in the same room for months. Since quarantine began, my acting teacher has pushed us to write our own work from an actor’s perspective, and I’ve been so surprised by how much I’ve shifted as an actor from writing this way! Putting my unfiltered feelings, fears, and experiences to paper has awakened stuff inside me I didn’t even know was there, and facing this stuff has been both wonderful and completely terrifying (but mostly wonderful).”
When I’m struggling to get started with writing, I’ve found myself coming back to what one of my playwriting professors told me at Georgetown: ‘Writing doesn’t come from ideas. Ideas come from writing.’ Which basically means: don’t think, just write, write, write! Getting out of my brain when I write has made my work so much more grounded and honest. Writing by hand has also been a great way for me to get out of my head and speak from the heart. I’ve also learned how important it is to have a ritual before I write — a mini-ceremony to quiet my outer worries and let whatever story that wants to come through, come through. I take walks around my neighborhood before I write. I listen to certain songs. Sometimes I meditate. I write down my dreams every night. These little rituals give me the clarity and safety to write what I need to.
What is the connection between your art and social justice?. To me, the most powerful performances are ones that bring people together and spotlight truths we’d rather not face. That’s why theater is so direly important — and why it has existed through much of human history. There is a deep link between theater and social progress, and society needs artists, whether people want to acknowledge this or not. I believe theater also lends itself to human connection in a way no other art form can, allowing people to experience a communal event. My greatest hope is to make work that taps into feelings that can reach an audience in their hearts — and, hopefully, inspire reflection and positive change. What inspired you to acting and playwriting? What were the challenges you overcame in this? It’s hard for me to remember the exact moment I wanted to be an actor, because it’s always felt like something I knew I would end up doing. It’s strange. I remember watching TV one day and something just clicked. Like, “Oh yes, that’s it. That’s what I’m gonna be when I grow up.” Just very matter of fact. “Oh, I can play pretend for a living? Yes please.”
Maybe it comes from being a weird only child, but some of my earliest memories are playing pretend by myself, running through the house imagining I was some kind of wizard or Jedi or dinosaur. I can’t tell you how many times my teachers called my parents because I was “off in La La Land again,” lost in my imagination instead of paying attention.
I’ve been so blessed that my parents have always supported me in pursuing the arts. But I remember not everyone in my life has. Some of my peers in college, especially as we got closer to graduation, made comments implying I was weird or stupid for wanting to act. In the moment it bothered me, but I’ve learned life is meant to be lived for yourself instead of other people.
What’s been the most rewarding part of being an artist for you? Do you have any advice for future artists? “The most rewarding part of being an artist is getting to reach out and connect with people in a deep, honest way. I believe the center of every great piece of theater is human connection. I’m endlessly inspired by the ways people connect (or fail to connect) and how those relationships shape us as people. When I’m able to connect with others, and heal others through connection, I feel most fulfilled as an artist.”
“To future artists, my advice is: Keep at it! Get in class, stay training, keep expanding your creative horizons. And surround yourself with other creatives who want the best for you! In an industry where it can often feel like it’s you against the world, community is everything. Acting is hard, but you don’t have to go through it alone.”
Do you have any advice on how we can do our part in supporting emerging artists like you? Honestly, just take a chance and come experience our work with an open mind! There’s so many exciting, experimental projects from emerging artists that I truly believe can change the world. Everyone has a story to tell, and you’d be amazed by some of the untold stories that are out there, just waiting to come to the surface. And, of course, spreading the word about our work — especially if it deeply impacted you — is a great way to support an artist, especially one who is lesser known. A simple Facebook share, retweet, or Instagram Story shout-out can go a long way.