Artist of the Issue: Julien Alam

“Most of my characters have really just been different parts of me,” said Julien Alam ’19. But they are also all different—ranging from a middle-aged grieving father in Scotland to a club owner in World War II Berlin. Julien somehow tackles all of these different characters with equal emotional depth, humanizing roles that appear far away from our modern lives at a private boarding school.

Julien began his theater career as a second former in the One Acts Play Festival, and he encourages other younger students to do the same. “Start with One Acts,” he explained, “And when you do One Acts, do crazy stuff. Make bad choices and be weird and then you’ll be noticed and that’ll move things forward.”

Julien has grown immensely since his first role the One Act called Glasses. “I feel like I’ve become more intentional with all the choices I make,” he reflected, “I used to just act big and crazy and that would work, but I’m now able to actually make a choice for every single thing that I’m doing and have a reason for those actions.” His most challenging role to date was the Emcee in Cabaret, but this was also his favorite. “The character was so complicated. I loved the challenge,” he said, adding with a laugh, “Breathing was not allowed during the song Money.”

This past summer, Julien completed an acting program at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, one of the top performing arts schools in the country. He learned the Meisner technique, which is based on the idea that actors can put themselves in certain circumstances with their imaginations, instead of using personal memories from the past. He described an exercise in which he was asked to imagine that one of his best friends had died. “It felt so real,” he said, “I’d never felt that before, and it shook me….It was a completely different style of theater and acting than I had ever done.”

        Aside from acting, Julien is interested in dance. In fact, encouraged by his mother, who was almost a professional ballerina, he used to do ballet. Julien’s first performance was for around a thousand people in The Nutcracker, where he played a party boy. He stopped ballet because of the large time commitment, but upon coming to Groton and needing to dance in the musicals, he picked up dancing again, and grew to fully enjoy and appreciate it. At NYU this summer, he also was able to participate in two different forms of movement classes, studying Suzuki and Williamson. He is continuing to explore Suzuki with one of Groton’s choreographers, Nicole Harris, through weekly lessons. Julien also performed at the 2018 spring and fall dance shows.

        Not only does he act and dance, Julien is also a filmmaker, and is working as a Film Club head alongside Karla Sanford ’19. He said, “I used to make little movies when I was young all the time. I used to love experiencing with ‘magic’—making things disappear on film or using a green screen or making someone float. Theater and film are very different worlds for me but I love both of them and I love when they interact.”

        In addition to his acting, dancing, and filmmaking, Julien made his directing debut with the 2018 One Acts Festival. He explained his decision to direct a play, “Laurie always used to say actors aren’t creators, they’re interpreters. And you’re in the hands of someone else.” Julien said directing made him appreciate Groton Theater Directors Laurie Sales and Andrea Underhill more for “all the little choices they have to make.”

        Julien’s favorite class at Groton has been Theater and the Creative Process taught by Laurie Sales. He said, “It was hard but fun to let your imagination run wild and then to try and put that onto the stage.” Julien’s final project combined his two favorite subjects: theater and classics, which, according to him, are both just forms of storytelling.

Julien has always looked up to older students in the theater. Phoebe Fry ’17, Verity Lynch ’17, Malik Gaye ’18, Alex Waxman ’18, Christian Carson ’18, Elyssa Wolf ’17 have all been role models for Julien. “I loved all these people not only for their talent but also for the way they were accepting of everyone,” he recounted. Julien, as a Theater Prefect, is now that kind of leader for younger students. “He’s an amazing role model,” said Caroline Drapeau ’21, who has performed in Cabaret and The Mousetrap with him, “he’s so talented but phenomenally humble as well.” Ask anyone in the CPAC — Julien Alam’s talent is matched only by his support and kindness towards others.