Two TRAIN Students Land Roles in Feature Film

Written by Dani Brown

Cadence Theatre Company and Virginia Repertory Theatre are delighted to announce that two TRAIN students, Nena Daniels and Ellie Duffey, both seniors at Appomattox Regional Governor’s School, have landed roles in Permanent, a coming-of-age comedy set in 1983 in a small town in Virginia.

Photos by Jason Collins Photography

TRAIN is the two theater companies’ year-long, sequential program that helps serious acting students in the Richmond area learn practical applications of their artistic craft, build relationships to succeed in the business, and get a better understanding of themselves as artists. Daniels has been with the program for two years, and Duffey has been with the TRAIN program for three years.

Permanent, starring Rainn Wilson (The Office) and Patricia Arquette (a Best Supporting Actress winner for Boyhood), tells the story of an idiosyncratic family striving for an artistic identity. The film centers around the family’s 13-year-old daughter, who tries to fit in at her new school despite encounters with bullies.

Daniels and Duffey, along with some of their fellow TRAIN students, heard about the opportunity to audition through TRAIN, which involves not only acting technique for the stage but also acting for film and television. This helped Duffey overcome an unfamiliarity with auditioning for film. “Before TRAIN, I had never been drawn to film,” Duffey said. “But after our classes, my interest and knowledge of the business grew. Auditioning has always been nerve-wracking, but with the tools I had studied in class, I felt more confident auditioning for this film.”

Both young women drew on the skills they had learned in TRAIN during filming. Daniels had already learned how to react to her scene partner and develop a backstory for her character. But some challenges were new. “I realized early on while filming that theater and film are two different platforms,” Daniels said. “I noticed that I would act big on screen when I didn’t need to. Film acting is about simplicity. The more simple it is, the more complex.”

Duffey also found acting on film to be a new experience. “I learned how to connect with another actor on camera,” Duffey said. “Throughout the entire process, I practiced patience and flexibility.”

Landing the role in Permanent is not Duffey’s only recognition this year. As a cast member of Quill Theatre’s production of Love’s Labour’s Lost, she received a Richmond Theatre Critics Circle nomination as Promising Newcomer for her portrayal of Moth. “Being nominated was so amazing and so cool,” Duffey said. “I’m so proud of the work we all put into Love’s Labour’s Lost, and to be recognized for that was so special. It meant a lot to me and to the entire cast.”

Both young actors look forward to the seeing the results of their work on screen.

“I had an absolute blast from the first day of filming to the end,” Daniels said. “I was in an environment with loving and caring people who had immense talent, from the working crew to the actors. When I finished filming, I felt this immediate sadness that an experience like this was coming to an end but appreciative that I had been involved with such a wonderful production. All of a sudden, everyone in the room burst into applause. I was filled with emotion to the point that I gave them all hugs one by one.”

TRAIN Program Director and Acting Technique teacher Laine Satterfield said, “We are so proud when our students get a chance to share their artistry with a wider audience. Our objective at TRAIN is to give them many possibilities to further their craft in the professional world.”

Permanent will be out in select theaters, Amazon Video, iTunes and On Demand on December 15, 2017.

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