(The DreamYard Project)
Nanjean: My name is Nanjean Gonzalez, and my daughter Ariana and I live in the Bronx. We originally heard about the Tempest auditions from Lori Brown-Niang, who works for DreamYard. Originally Ariana was shy about it and didn’t want to audition. I encouraged her to, “Take it as an experience. It doesn’t matter whether or not you get called back.” I wanted her to try and overcome her shyness. She was intimidated by the new experience; she was in tears wondering, “What am I going to do for my audition? I need time to rehearse!” She likes to be very informed about what’s going on. But then just she killed off her shyness immediately! She picked up a book and said, “You know what? I’m going to read. I know how to read and I’ll get my feelings across with a passage.” She walked in with a smile and began reading her book. She remembered to pause at periods and sound alarmed with exclamation points. She pulled it off and even received applause from her interviewers. We went in just for the experience, seeing it as another form of an interview—an opportunity for her to get herself out there. It turned out to be a fun experience.
I’m always thinking of little things to do with her, so it’s a pleasure to take part in this play with her. It’s been such a delight to watch Ariana in the Tempest rehearsals. She picks up on the songs and dances so fast and continues to sing and dance at home. She encourages me to work harder. She didn’t start talking until she was three years old. Early on, she didn’t give any type of eye contact—she had a hard time transitioning, we couldn’t do anything in reverse without an outburst of crys and tantrums. She would hide underneath tables. She didn’t want to talk to anyone, and later only communicated through sign language. So to see her, after so much therapy and after pushing her so intensively from the very beginning, overcoming her shyness and singing and dancing is amazing! She sings and dances better than me.
Ariana: I’m ten years old now, and ever since I was little I always liked to dance and sing, so doing this right now feels amazing. I have the greatest memory ever, so if my mom ever forgets something I always remind her. I’m about to go into the 5th grade. I go to school at P.S. 68. All of my teachers have been so nice to me—when I’m sad they cheer me up. I’ve met friends there too. Jon Paul, who is also in the show, goes to the same school as I, and we play together often.
Nanjean: I have an Associates degree in Human Resources and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Psychology. I hope to one day open a novelty store and retire on the beaches of Hawaii. I love to take on new adventures and this experience is one that I will treasure close.
Ariana: My favorite part of rehearsal is the dancing, and I can’t wait to have my costume fitting! But the dancing, I know all of it and I’m trying my best to do it well—I love doing it so much!