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ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Mai Ohana (DR ’13)

Mai Ohana

Name: Mai Ohana

Where were you born: New York City

Siblings: Only one. A twenty-two-year-old older brother named Guy.

College: Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts

College area of study: Visual Culture and Psychology. I study art history, how art affects us in all areas of our life, and art making. I’m very interested in how the brain works and for this reason I am also studying abnormal psychology. I love to intertwine my two passions by exploring art therapy and other expressive therapies. In this I have learned that sometimes it is impossible to rely on words to explain, and we must rely on the visual to express what is actually in our minds.

First show you ever saw: Fiddler on the Roof when I was 9 I think? My aunt took me and I fell asleep because Broadway shows ran past my bedtime. After that I saw Wicked with my mother and definitely did not fall asleep during that.

First pet’s name: A ginger tabby cat named Scruffy. I read a book very early on in my academic career (maybe when I was 5 or so) where a man adopted a cat and named it Scruffy. I don’t remember the name of the book and I doubt I’ll ever find it again.

Hero: I don’t really have any heroes but my biggest inspirations are always the people I surround myself with. I love seeing people that I go/went to school with doing amazing and inspiring things especially when it comes to the things they are creating. I currently live with some amazing visual artists and musicians and they push me to create every day.

What was your first Waterwell experience: My first Waterwell experience was working with Pat Diamond and A. Rey Pamatmat on Waterwell’s New Works Lab production of A Spare Me. It was an incredible and eye opening experience to see a play start off as a little seedling made from video recordings we sent A. Rey into a fully realized play less than a year later! In addition to this being a learning experience for all, the play went on to be published! Not only was this an amazing experience while it was happening, but now others can enjoy it and I can see my name printed as an original cast member of a published play.

Pet peeves: I’m trying to remove the word “just” from my vocabulary which is a concept my 10th grade acting teacher, Roger Manix, introduced to our class. Nothing should be “just” anything. It should be fully whatever it is. I recommend everyone start doing the same and notice how much more confident you sound in your speech!

Favorite play/musical: I don’t think I can pick just one! For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf will always hold a very special place in my heart. I think because it speaks to my visual side since every woman is represented by a color in addition to dealing with controversial and important topics such as race, sexual identity (in the new edition), trauma, and sexual assault. Since For Colored Girls is a choreopoem and not a play, I’ll also include The Mineola Twins by Paula Vogel and The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl.

Karaoke song: You really don’t want to hear me sing.

Favorite New York spots: The Williamsburg waterfront, deep into Central Park, basically anywhere I can catch a patch of grass.

What are you reading right now: Currently, two different readings for school. One is “The Case of Little Hans” in Freud’s The Wolfman and Other Cases, and the other is a neuroscience textbook.

What is your philosophy of art: Draw what you see.

Where do you see yourself in ten years: Finally finding the perfect way to fuse my two passions together. Making art. Seeing the art my friends make. Reading the newspaper and recognizing names of people I went to school with.

Give us one piece of advice: The only advice I listen to and try to take is to listen to your instincts.