In our latest spotlight on a BA (Hons) European Arts (ETA) graduate feature, we catch up with New York based actor, model and illustrator Eva Solveig.
Name: Eva Solveig
I’m Eva Solveig but you can call me Sóla, I’m originally from Iceland but now live and work from my base in New York. Since graduating, I have been very busy with a wide range of work – from running an international theatre company, Spindrift, to working as a freelance actor, model and illustrator.
Tell us about Spindrift
Spindrift is an all-female, Nordic, experimental theatre company that I founded with three other ETA graduates: Anna Korolainen (Finland), Bergdís Júlía (Iceland) and Henriette Kristensen (Norway). The company grew out of a study group we set-up whilst at Rose Bruford and its goal is still to push ourselves further as people and develop our artistic skills. Spindrift focuses on exploring how different ‘perspectives’ influence the human experience. We set out to question socially normative behaviour, and do this through physically based, devising methods. We often work with visiting artists to create our work, whether they are productions or workshops. Spindrift’s productions aim to reflect on human behaviour and our workshops encourage the participants’ experimentation, self-expression, psychophysical exploration, and individual freedom in devising.
What projects do you have coming up?
Spindrift is working on Them at Tjarnarbio in Reykjavik, where we also performed Carroll: Berserkur in 2015. Them investigates the male experience through documentary theatre. We were curious about exploring experiences that we as women might not have access to, and therefore maybe not even be aware of, and so we conducted interviews over a two-year period with men in Europe, North America and Australia to research Western notions of masculinity and gendered experiences.
What have you achieved as an artist with Spindrift?
For me Spindrift’s biggest accomplishment was receiving the European Union Erasmus+ fund for two years when we were shaping our training practice. This allowed us time together to create exercises and teach at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin and Norwegian Actor’s Centre in Oslo, from where we brought the workshop to the Finnish Actor’s Centre in Helsinki.
In these workshops we encourage participants to play with and devise from different and previously hidden aspects of their identity and physical qualities. At the heart of this, we are passionate about a feminist training practice where the whole range of emotions and movement qualities is explored without value judgments, because we believe the entirety of the human body and experiences has theatrical potential. Seeing people’s reaction and receptiveness to our unique training practice, their freedom in devising and the richness of their autobiographical material was a huge confidence boost in our practice and a wonderful way to network.
What other project do you work on?
All the Spindrift members are currently based in different countries, so whilst running Spindrift I have also sustained myself by working as multi-discipline freelancer, in both New York and the UK. I am an actress, practitioner, model and illustrator.
What are the cultural difference working in the UK and New York?
In the UK I worked in regional theatre, on low budget features and short films – such as Unlined, a beautiful, ‘raw poetry’ film – in the UK I felt the industry was definitely often looking for precise, preconceived “actor” recipes.
In between New York performative work I have had some of the strangest freelance ‘survival jobs’. These are ‘quick win’ high-paying culture shocks: for example modelling jewellery in upscale parties, hosting a bankers and Instagram model party, and trying on clothes for rich people. I choose to think of these types of jobs as creative fuel for a curious mind.
In New York everyone is hungry for a new flavour – though money, beauty and mass appeal still dominates experimentation, thought and craft. Here, I have done both some of my most alternative things – like working with Xavier Cha on Abduct for Frieze Film and Moma Cleveland – and also some of my most typecast – a couple of series of Jon Glaser Loves Gear, a half improvised cable comedy, as a European fake wife acting as the straight man to Jon’s persona.
How did studying on ETA help prepare you for your career?
The wonderful thing about ETA is that it emphasises individuality, creativity, rolling-up your sleeves, and daring. It helped me overcome a perfectionism and encouraged a sharing attitude and a love for rough finishes. It helped me learn how to fundraise and take control, which is what has helped me be an actress through the last seven years. I felt like it gave a flurry of performance practices from which students can mould their own method that works for their individuality and interests, whilst helping them adjust to different ensembles.
You have been very proactive in the #metoo movement. What advice would you give artists entering the industry?
After the launch of the #metoo movement in Iceland, I have observed that the sexualisation of feminine movement qualities and women in general can be deeply rooted in actor training and our cultures.
Do not allow any training to make you excuse yourself! It is a process and these reactions can happen without you realising. Know that when you graduate there is a world of marketing, branding, typecasting and a flurry of labels that will be fun to mess with.
Prove to yourself you are capable; do not worry about external labels. Treat your professional self – not just your products and collectives – as a business. Learn to accept and embrace different aspects of yourself and put your best foot forward, establish what you are, what you want to be, and then play with breaking that too.
I would also recommend finding people you admire and who you want to grow with; then propose work ideas to them. And, if you work with agents – remember they work for you and don’t get lazy – no one will represent your artistry or achieve your goals better than yourself. There is nothing more important though than getting off your ass and just creating something every day, big or small, and being in a constant state of le jeu – which should be taught to everyone everywhere and be practiced daily.
One final thing that helps me overcome the natural fears you get as an artist is to imagine your creativity as a gift, and give it to someone specific. Working in this state of generosity changes the way you approach your work and your fear of sharing it. I will always prefer working from, with and witnessing this creative energy over an indulgent selfish performance practice.
And dude, just be a nice person!