Theatre student travels to China to study acting

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CSUN theatre major Patric McInnis left for China on Aug. 29. McInnis was one of two students awarded a full scholarship by the Chinese Government Scholarship Council to attend the most prestigious theatre school in China, the Central Academy of Theatre Arts in Beijing.

“CSUN has been successful for the last seven years with scholarships to China, but this was the first year that two students were awarded from the same school,” said Professor Justine Su, coordinator for the international programs and director of CSUN’s China Institute. The other student who also received a scholarship is Sean Hill.

Hill will study directing and McInnis will study performance arts.

“The Theatre Department has a commitment to international programs,” said Peter Grego, the new chair of the department.

“Patric McInnis heard about the scholarship through his roommate, who went to China,” said William Taylor, theatre manager and head of publicity for the Theatre Department. Taylor said Hill and a group of CSUN students went to China at this time to perform a play called “Blasting Holes in the Night,” written by Anthony Valadez.

McInnis said he did not think he had a chance to be accepted when he applied. He wrote one essay, had two interviews, and was then awarded the scholarship.

“We were the first students to be interviewed for the scholarships,” McInnis said.

McInnis said he became interested in acting during his junior year of high school.

He said he was inspired by the talented actors of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and was specifically moved by the Broadway musical, Rent.

McInnis said he was intrigued by the emotional response of the audience at the end of the show. He looked around and saw that many people were crying, and he said he knew he wanted to be a part of theatre right then.

McInnis said he would like to adapt the discipline and focus he has seen in the Chinese culture into his own life, and into his acting.

“China is the exact opposite of America in every way possible,” McInnis said.

He said the pace of life is differs from that of America because it is much slower in China.

McInnis has been a Buddhist for three years now, and is excited to see how the religion has shaped society.

The China Institute at CSUN was created for the purpose of encouraging exchange between the two countries. For the past 23 years, the institute has worked on bringing the Chinese culture to CSUN students.

“I believe (the theatre students) will become excellent bridges of intercultural and cross national communication,” Su said.

One week prior to his departure, McInnis said he did not have a list of the classes he would take or any details of what his schedule would be like during his stay in China.

He said he gains more perspective on life when he travels.

“The only thing holding me back would have been fear,” McInnis said.

He said he expects to come back with a great resume and hopes to jump right into his professional career.

“There is a 99 percent chance to be guaranteed an acting career in China after graduating,” McInnis said.

The Central Academy has helped develop and produce many actors, such as Jet Li and also Zhang Ziyi from the film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

He said that his experience departing for China is going to be much like that of the one he had two years ago when he said goodbye to his family and friends for college. He packed the same bags, and continues his journey to the other side of the world.

Melanie Saxe can be reached at melaniensaxe@hotmail.com.