The artist: Corinne Gelfan |

The artist: Corinne Gelfan

What is your career and your current job title? Since 1993 I have been a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist having moved to Grass Valley from Los Angeles two years ago. But my first love and career began professionally in Los Angeles by joining the Greenwood County Singers in 1965, touring the USA with their hit “Frankie and Johnny.”

Describe in a sentence or two your art: The art and craft of acting is the ability of a person to create the illusion that they are someone else, giving the viewer the opportunity to have a life experience they might not choose for themselves. It is a form of communication on the highest level, establishing a safe environment to empathize with the emotions of others and be transformed to places beyond their imagination.

How long have you been working in this discipline? Over 25 years. After a year with the folk group, I expanded to nightclub, USO shows for overseas troops, dramatic and musical theater, television and commercials.

Why do you do it?: It is a magical experience to transport myself into the personality of a new character. It gives permission to jump into behaviors that may challenge my own inhibitions. The safety net is that there are no repercussions to my actions. I only need to justify them in terms of the character in the play. Where else can you find this kind of emotional freedom?

What do you hope to accomplish?: I am currently in rehearsal for the play, “Plaza Suite” by Neil Simon, opening April 29 at the Black Box Theater at Nevada Union High School. Comedy is at its best with Neil Simon. There is a special thrill, raising an audience to laughter. It does, indeed, release those all-healing and rich endorphins that stimulate our immune system and give us that burst of life energy. What better goal could I ask for?

Do you create your art with an exact message you want the viewer to receive and if yes, what is that message?: Though a playwright may have a particular message in mind I think the interpretation goes through two stages. One is how the director chooses to interpret the playwright and then how the actor uses his tools and techniques to actualize that interpretation. The possibilities are limitless.

Where do you want to be with your art, in terms of part-time versus full-time status, art positions and where your works are seen?: This play is the first venture for Richard Winters (director/actor) and Robert Smith (producer/actor) as a team. It is the beginning of their vision as a new theater company with a fresh view for the kind of quality talent and stage material they would like to offer to the Grass Valley community. I hope to be a staple in this group and do a couple of plays a year.

What kind of special training did you take?: Most of my training has come from hands-on experience, stemming from the innate joy of being an exhibitionist. However, many years of singing and dancing lessons from tap to jazz nurtured my art, including life itself.

What’s your favorite part of your endeavors?: I once did a play about rape. It was very intense and sometimes we could hear people walking out in the middle of the performance. At the end of one performance I was in the bathroom and saw a woman with glazed-over eyes. I said, “You’ve been raped, haven’t you?” She said, “Yes, but I never told anyone.” My mission was complete. I urged her to talk to someone. I had communicated, reached out and touched someone. Their life had changed and I was a part of it.

What’s your least favorite part of your endeavors? After weeks of rehearsal and performances, many wonderful and close friendships have been formed. Then it is all over. My new family disengages and disappears. It is time to move on. There are always some feelings of loss and sadness.

How many hours a day or, if more appropriate, a week do you spend on your work? If I am in rehearsal it can certainly add up to 10 to 15 hours a week intensifying the week before opening. If time and money permits it is like any other job, eight hours a day and five days a week.

Do you consider it hard work and could anyone do it? The magic comes with making it look easy like most crafts. But if it was that easy everyone would do it. One of the biggest drawbacks is the job inconsistency and financial risks. Most people are not willing to live like a gypsy on a shoe string. If you are looking for stability, “This ain’t it.” Most people don’t feel comfortable getting up in front of strangers exposing their soul to the world.

Any other comments you’d like to include? Come see this play. It runs four weekends from April 29 through May 22. Laughter is the best medicine. It is healing and infectious. It is a great evening of diversion and creates an opportunity to share with others and participate in viewing life with all its humor … at a safe distance.

To recommend a creative talent for this weekly feature, contact Pam Jung at or 477-4232.

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