Stav Meishar is a true renaissance woman, determined to leave no performance skill unexplored. Born and raised in Israel, Stav made her first appearance on stage at the age of 10 and hasn’t left since. AICF caught up with Stav and asked her a couple of questions about being an artist.
1) What or who inspired you to want to be an artist?
I can point to specific events more than I can point to specific people. To Name a few: Hanoch Levin’s Requiem, Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands, The Phantom of the Opera, the band The Dresden Dolls, The Rocky Horror Picture Show…These are all very unique and unusual pieces that I feel shaped who I am today both as an artist and as a person. I have a tendency to be attarcted to the avant-garde, fringe, and off-the-mainstream types of performances, and I know much of this attraction come from all this dark, weird art that I consumed while growing up.
2) What was was your creative journey that has brought you to where you are in your career today?
My creative journey has been a very bumpy one. I’m a the type of person who enjoys planning everything in advance, and so I had it all figured out when I was 13: Go study theater in Thelma Yellin (Israel’s leading high school for the arts), move to London to study musical theatre, then stay there and become a star in West End musicals. Thelma Yellin was the only part of this plan that worked out. I graduated at top of my class – both in the theater department and academically – and value the education I got there to this day. Then I went and auditioned for schools in the UK and though I got accepted to a couple, reality hit me in the face when I realized how much tuition was and that without a EU citizenship, my chances of getting financial aid were very slim. So I switched London with NYC, got into a musical theatre conservatory with a generous scholarship, graduated at top of my class and started working to get to Broadway. I got more acquainted with Broadway and its inner workings – the intrigues, the lesser interest in creating truly innovative theater, the financial/commercial concerns – the less I thought “this is where I really wanna be.” I still love Broadway and see plenty of incredible shows there, but the type of performance art I enjoy creating would probably not fit on a Broadway stage. So though I’d still love to be on Broadway one day, my journey has led me to a place where I’d rather create the art I truly love in a smaller setting.
3) What do you need as an artist today?
The only thing I need as an artist is the freedom to create. When you truly love your work and have the freedom to evolve in any direction possible, everything else is secondary. And usually, in my experience, whatever seemed abysmal in the beginning ends up being more of a success than anyone believed it would, and I think it’s thanks to that freedom of creation.
4) What creative project are you working on now?
These days I am performing with my first independent project in over a year – a ukulele act combining Shakespearean monologues and contemporary musical hits called “the dUKEss of Rock” (a word play on The Duke of York – who’s a Shakespearean character – and uke, which is a nickname for ukulele). This act has grown from a constant struggle in my artist persona: on one side my Thespian side which respects and loves the traditional playwrights; and on the other side my attraction to the unusual and bizarre. “the dUKEss of Rock” helps me solve this conflict without choosing either or. The act got its debut at a steampunk/Burning Man event last month, and next week I’m flying to perform it at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. It’s a huge honor and joy to be able to be a part of it.
5) What does it mean to you to be an Israeli artist?
Being an Israeli artist means that I have a good starting point. In a field where what one creates should be more than aesthetic, it should have a say about the world we live in – being an Israeli means I can dare be direct and open and say what I truly think through my art. It the way I was raised to be. I am grateful to have been raised in a country where one always speaks their mind, it helps me be a braver artist.
6) Where do you see yourself and your career in 10 years?
I’ve grown to love spontaneity, grown to love how unpredictable life – as an artist and as a person – can be. Opportunities come, and if they are tempting, I take them. I don’t know where they might lead, but I run with them and end up in places I never imagined, feeling blessed and grateful to have gotten there. All I know is wherever I am in 10 years, I’m gonna make the best of it and be happy as pie.
7) What does it mean to you to have an organization like AICF available in the art world?
It’s amazing to know that there’s an organization like AICF supporting me and other artists such as myself. I know so many talented Israeli artists who were able to pursue their dreams through AICF funding, and just being able to connect with other Israeli artists through AICF – having that support network that enables collaborations – is extremely valuable. Especially now, when I am living and creating outside of Israel, AICF helps me stay connected to my country and the incredible talent it has produced. It’s good to know AICF has my back and supports me whether I am in Israel, NYC or Timbuktu.