Spotlight on Alumni: Sarah Jurgens
Since graduating from York University in 2009, I have done mostly film & TV work. I spent some time in London, England doing theatre work shops, and founded a production company with my good friend Sasha Singer-Wilson, who also graduated from the same program. Our company is called the blood projects. At the moment, I'm auditioning and busy travelling to promote Swearnet, the new trailer park boys film that's due to release in theatres soon. Within our company, we are juggling a few projects — one of which is a new play written by Sasha Singer-Wilson.
What did you NOT get taught at York that you wish you had been taught?
I wish I had been taught more of the “business” side of acting. For example, finding the right accountant and how to file your taxes as an actor, how to find the right agent for you (because you don't want to jump on the first person who comes knocking on your door), how to manage rejection so it doesn't deplete your sense of self-worth, and how to handle the public eye with grace and appropriate PR.
Can you tell us a story of a moment where your training at York was clearly useful?
Four years seems like a lot for intensive acting training, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. Education is a powerful tool and my training is so rock solid; so ingrained in me now. One of my favourite things at York was our Clown Training. Clowning became an integral part of my process as an actor. It developed an entirely new level of vulnerability for me, it taught me the power of humor & tragedy and that they are often one entity. It taught me how to improv! When I was going through the callback process for Swearnet, I found I relied deeply on the fundamentals of clowning and it allowed me to improv in the audition room effortlessly. I booked the part because of what clowning taught me.
Did connections, friendships, relationships you made at York help you afterward?
Absolutely. I started a production company with the talented Sasha Singer-Wilson, and we produced our first full length play along with Melee Hutton, Paul Lampert, Niki Landau, Mark Wilson, Jamie Maczko, Karen Glave, Julia Pileggi, and Erin Kehoe. Most of them were Yorkies! The play, titled little tongues, was well received with Critic's Pick NNNNN/5 in Now Magazine: “Stellar off-site debut by writer Sasha Singer-Wilson… The total commitment to realism is stunning, with strong dialogue and outstanding performances by the entire seven-member ensemble, building an absorbing and deeply emotional narrative.”
What was the most challenging aspect or experience of training/studying at York?
The most challenging aspect for me was to maintain perspective. Sometimes it's easy to forget what's going on in the rest of the world when your submerged in such an intensive training. The breaks are great because it gives you time for all the training to really sink in.