Becoming Rosalind: Moafi brings alignment of body, self to acting work

Moafi warms up right before the opening performance for As You Like It.

Moafi waits off stage for her cue during technical rehearsal for As You Like It on Aug. 8. The cast did not finish rehearsing until midnight.

Text by Jessie Cadle | Staff Writer
Photos by Michelle Kanaar | Staff Photographer

The day after opening night of Chautauqua Theater Company’s As You Like It, Sepideh Moafi, who portrays protagonist Rosalind, prepares herself for the next performance with yoga on the stage of Bratton Theater. With lights dimmed and the theater cleared, she works, breathing deeply.

It helps her clear her mind, stay open and move into her body. Moafi works out six days a week.

“The most important things to me in my life are taking care of my instrument (my body) and the work,” Moafi said. “Working out is the most essential element of my day.”

Moafi emanates determination. When not exercising, she runs lines or analyzes the script. Operatically trained conservatory actor Moafi functions best when focused and in tune with herself.

Though As You Like It closed Friday, she hopes it will not be the last time she plays the fierce Rosalind. In her operatic life, she portrayed Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro four times, at ages 19, 21, 22 and 23; Susanna matured as she did.

Moafi aims to bring more maturation to Rosalind.

“It’s less about me going to (Rosalind), rather then finding her inside myself,” Moafi said. “It’s just about me accessing these parts of myself.”

Moafi laughs with Andrew Weems (Duke Frederick/Duke Senior) during a break in the Aug. 8 rehearsal.

Wardrobe supervisor Danielle Waterman helps Moafi with her hair an hour before the Aug. 11 opening performance of As You Like It.

Moafi works out at the Turner Community Center the morning of Aug. 1 after having an Alexander Technique session, and before heading back to Brawdy Theater Studios for a general meeting, fitting and rehearsal that will go until 10:30 p.m. that evening. Moafi practices Pure Barre, which is a strength training method that uses elements of ballet, pilates and weights. This kind of exercise helps Moafi attain focus, which is vital to acting.

Moafi gets July 23 off from rehearsal and uses it to get groceries, do laundry, review her script and practice singing. Even while she lays out by the lake at University Beach, she reviews her script.

Moafi accepts congratulations from an array of people after the opening performance of As You Like It on Aug. 11. Members of the Chautauqua Theater Company were invited to the President’s Cottage for a reception after the performance.