An aspiring and successful actor, Che is deeply immersed in the Rochester cultural scene. So much so, we’ve named him Che of The Town!
Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 50 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields.
For the full series, see Che of The Town: Interviews
Actress Margeurite Frarey was born and raised here in Rochester, attended the School of the Arts, and is an alumni of Geva Theatre Summer Academies.
Marguerite Frarey, A Gifted Familiar Face in the Acting Scene.
Tell us a little about yourself, where your from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc.
I grew up in Rochester, NY and I have so much love for the city. I have a great deal of nostalgia for it; I pine for walks in Mt. Hope Cemetery, eating deep fried oreos at the lilac festival, sailing on Canandaigua Lake. The older I get and the more I explore the world, the more I appreciate how and where I grew up. My parents intentionally lived in the city so that I would go to city schools rather than suburban ones. Because of that, I was exposed to a vast array of people with different backgrounds than me. 33 different languages were spoken at my elementary school. I went to School of the Arts for high school and though there are clearly problems with the district and the educational system in this country as a whole, I grew from my experience there because of the people I was surrounded by. I knew early on that I wanted to go into theatre, and continued down that path for college at Fordham University in New York City. My four years there were spent getting to know the city, honing my craft, and learning a TON about myself. I graduated a couple years ago, then decided to move to New Zealand for 9 months to be an au pair. Then I lived in the Twin Cities in Minnesota for a few months, which I absolutely loved. And now I’m back in New York City, finding my way as a young artist.
What inspired you to be an artist/entertainer? Early experiences worth sharing?
I sort of wish there was a specific moment I could point to and say, “That, right there! That was it!” But I think it was pretty similar to how many of us get there. When I was very young, I was lucky to be part of a family that fully supported my self expression. I found joy in play, dance, music, and make believe. I fell into theatre because it was fun. And that’s great! It’s wonderful to be able to do what you love. When I had the opportunity to do professional theatre at Geva Theatre Center at a fairly young age, I found inspiration in the older actors, who I admired very much. I was just in awe of them. There was one actor in particular who’s work I was enamored with, and there was a speech of his in the play that I would watch from backstage every night, and every single night, it felt extraordinarily meaningful, and important, and moving. My experiences at Geva were a huge part of my development as an artist. I did the Summer Academy training program for young actors for three years.
One of the biggest takeaways from that for me was the value of inquiry. I strive to constantly exist in the process of inquiry. When we stop asking questions, we stop moving. And as human beings, that movement is our aliveness. As an artist, it’s particularly important because it is necessary to our work, but really, I think we all need it. One of the most affirming parts of theatre is the sense of community. It is not a solo art. I’m not in my room painting or writing a novel — both of which are noble ambitions and I applaud those who choose them. Instead, I’m in a room with a group of people wrestling with an idea. That’s exciting to me.
Talk about a time where you have faced adversity/conflict and have triumphed.
Oh man, well, the truth is, most of the conflicts I have had to overcome in my life really stem from myself, both personally and as an artist. Maybe one of the biggest challenges is continuing to believe in myself, waking up every day and choosing that. Life isn’t easy, and life as an artist is often unpredictable. I have a lot of goals, and sometimes I have unrealistic expectations for myself about how fast I can meet those goals. It’s important for me to find a balance between being too hard on myself and not pushing myself enough. I tend to live in extremes, and it takes a lot of work for me to find that balance. I tend to want to control my life. Life doesn’t work that way. I have to take what comes my way and make the best of it. I do have some control over my reaction to the world around me, and those choices can be very freeing and a kind of triumph. Or maybe the triumph is letting go of the need to control. It’s a never-ending process.
What do you believe sets you apart from other artists/entertainers?
This question is hard for me, because there are lots of things I could say about myself that are specific to me but that other people might share as well, and that’s okay. It’s the particular mix of things, of qualities, talents, interests, and sensibilities, that make me who I am. I don’t think it’s something I can describe verbally, what makes me “me.” We’re all different, I don’t feel the need to try to be better or more unique than the next person. Especially in theatre, we’re all working together towards a common goal. Of course there is competition, that’s an unfortunate necessity of the business. I’m driven, professional, and compassionate. I’m interested in telling the stories of those who aren’t often heard in the mainstream society. I’m interested in the body, what it carries and how it communicates. I’m a little all over the place. But aren’t we all?
Do you have other interests or hobbies?
I am interested in human rights and social justice, yoga, and working with kids. The buildup to the most recent election coincided with a surge in young people getting politically involved, and I was part of that. I felt I could no longer coast along oblivious to what was going on in our country and our government. Right now in New York City, there are resistance events every single day, from protests and rallies to town halls to fundraisers, and more. We’re up against a lot and it’s easy to feel powerless, but there are also so many people who are working extremely hard to make this world a better place, and that’s motivating. That’s the kind of environment I want to work and live in. I’m still figuring out how to fit that into everything else I’m doing in the best way, but I try to stay informed, have conversations, and take action as much as I can.
I’ve been doing yoga since I was 10 years old, and since then I’ve been off an on in terms of how regular my practice is, but two years ago I did my 200 hour teacher training at Kripalu, a yoga and meditation center in the Berkshires. I am not currently teaching often, but I’m working on my personal practice and thinking about what I want my journey as a yoga teacher to look like. I’d actually really like to teach at the YMCA because I support their mission as an organization and because a lot of the yoga classes I have taken at the Y are pretty much one style and I’d like to bring some variety to that. Yoga helps me feel like my best self, happy and balanced in the world.
I work as a nanny here in the city and have been doing so for years now. Kids are just magical little beings. Of course they’re also a lot of work. It’s a good challenge and rewarding for me because I get to be part of the development of these humans.
Any projects you have out or currently working on?
I’m currently auditioning and also working on a few projects with my theatre collective, The Culprits. We’re a group of Fordham alums here in the city who got together at the end of senior year and formed a collective because we wanted to keep working together. I’m co-directing a workshop of To Kill A Mockingbird and also working on a new devised piece. We have lots of ideas and passions and we’re seeing where it all leads.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
I don’t know. What I want changes every five minutes, I don’t know how to answer a question about 5 years from now. I have some ideas of things I want to do in my life, but I don’t know when or where or how. I want to be acting with the best artists and companies in New York, places like Roundabout, the Signature, New York Theatre Workshop, The Public, The Atlantic, Theatre for a New Audience. I’d love to travel more. I want to teach yoga and learn more about nutrition, body work, and psychology. I want to help people. I’m thinking about going to grad school, maybe for theatre, maybe for social work. I want to get more involved in community organizing. Some days I dream about running away and building a cabin in the woods, or living on a farm. I want to road trip around the country and visit every state. I’d eventually like to have a family. I want a life that is full, in which I am connected to others and growing every day.
What advice can you give to aspiring artists/entertainers?
There are no simple answers, but keep asking questions. Listen to yourself. Take opportunities to experience the unfamiliar. Stay open. Surround yourself with love and support. Read, see theatre and concerts, go to museums, inspire yourself. Figure out what you have to offer and give.
How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?
I’m not a big social media person, I don’t have twitter or Instagram, just my personal Facebook. I am working on redesigning my website, so once that’s up, you can check me out at margueritefrarey.com.