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Actors share their stories with Fairland students via Internet forum

ROME TOWNSHIP — The star wasn’t there and the technology got a little shaky at time, but Fairland High drama students still got to expand their knowledge of the art of acting via an Internet forum.

As part of the outreach program of the Playhouse Square in Cleveland, actors in the national touring company of Steppenwolf’s “August: Osage County,” spoke to the drama students via distance learning class.

Fairland participated in the forum with students from Berea, Lorain Admiral King, Jackson and Midpark high schools.

Starring in the play that took four Tonys in 2008, including best play, currently is Estelle Parsons, who won the Oscar for her supporting role in the 1967 movie “Bonnie and Clyde.”

However, filling in for Parsons for the hour-long class were the other actors in the play, who talked about working with the 82-year-old Parsons and their own work in film, television and theater.

“When an actor has worked for that long a time, there is a cachet with her energy, … a reverence of professional accomplishments,” Paul Vincent O’Connor told the students. “But once you get into the rehearsal hall, it is all about being with your peers.

“(Parsons) herself is a bit self-contained, very much in her own world. There is a discipline and a hardness that has grown around her professional and personal life. She has never been less than professional.”

This was the third distance learning class the Fairland High students got to participate in where they can interview prominent actors. Last year they talked to Stacy Keach and Tom Hanks, both were appearing at the Playhouse.

Libby George is a well-known face on “Law and Order,” and appeared with Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman in “Kate and Leopold.”

“One of the joys of the theater is you get to work with every generation,” George told the students. “It keeps you young and it gives you wisdom. I don’t think there is another profession where you get to know someone so well from another generation.”

Asking the questions for Fairland was senior Shelby Fuller.

“It was interesting to listen to actors and actresses from Broadway,” she said afterwards. “I could really see how down-to-earth they were. You don’t think about people on Broadway as real people.”