Meet the artist: Ashley Nilsen
Current Hometown: Minot
What kind of art/arts do you practice?
How did you get started?
I was always interested in performing from a young age, I would watch movies and see these actors living these different lives through the characters they created and decided it was what I wanted to do with my life.
What influenced your pursuit of this art?
My family was a big influence. Both of my parents were heavily involved in their theater departments in college, they were also our drama and speech coaches in high school, so they passed that on to us kids. My brother and I were both Theater majors in college. I continued on with community theater at Mouse River Players and became a board member there.
Where might we have seen/heard/experienced your work?
Minot State University, MSU Summer Theatre and Mouse River Players
How would you describe your style?
I’m more laid back as a director. I like to see what my actors can do before I start blocking all the movement. Then we start with a frame and build on it until we have the show ready to go. Acting wise, I’m very much a character actor. I enjoy finding the quirks in each character I play.
What do you feel has been your greatest artistic achievement?
It’s definitely getting to direct at Summer Theater. It’s something that I always wanted to do while I was in college. It’s taken this space that I’m so familiar with after 15 years and made it feel new because I’m experiencing it from the other side.
If applicable, are there particular themes you like to explore in your work?
Comedies are great, we need them, but I tend to gravitate towards dramas. I like telling stories about emotional turmoil and hard hitting issues. I’m a strong believer that theater should affect you on a personal level and make you think as you leave the auditorium.
What do you most enjoy about the creative process?
I love working with people and the connections you make with them. When you spend all this time working on the show, pouring your heart and soul into it, you’re also creating a family that’s going to exist in this way until the final bows happen, then it changes to fit the next show you work on.
What projects do you currently have underway or will you soon have underway?
I am directing The Bridges of Madison County at MSU Summer Theater, will be performing in Seussical the Musical, the closing show Summer Theater, and will direct the last show of Mouse River Players’ upcoming season.