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Graduating actor chases career, despite economy

BY MARY HARRINGTON | MAY 12, 2009 7:30 AM

Even with an unknown future in a brutally competitive profession, UI senior David Pinsof is graduating with big goals and big talent that may take him far.

Pinsof is a daydreamer. He relishes daily in the opportunity to morph into another form, tell a stranger’s story, create a new character, and share it from a stage. And since enrolling in a high-school acting class and landing leads in the school’s productions, the young actor has harnessed his imagination with a strong work ethic, riding his creativity to college scholarships, coveted roles, and a performing-arts diploma.

“I love getting to live in an imaginary world for a little bit every day,” the 21-year-old said.
Four years following his freshman Orientation at the UI, Pinsof will leave the school with a trail of his footprints lingering on campus stages.

His entrance to the local acting scene was far from quiet. Beating out graduate acting students for a coveted role in the 2006 University Theatres Mainstage Production of Betty’s Summer Vacation, the then-freshman immediately caught the attention of directors in the department.

“He is highly talented and as hard-working an actor as there is,” said a Eric Forsythe, a UI professor of theater and head of directing.

In four years of college, the Highland Park, Ill., native has flexed his acting muscles in 13 UI productions, two of which were Mainstage shows. He has never gone more than several weeks without daily rehearsals for whatever role he was taking on at a time. And all the onstage practices and performances were just in addition to his theater and psychology double major, a schedule that Pinsof said proved challenging at times.

But a diverse education was one incentive pulling him away from acting conservatories and to the UI.

“I think it’s good not to get isolated in just one area of study,” he said. “Every other subject can and should be applied to the theater.”

The theater student has also mixed his acting education with community service as a member of the UI Arts Share program, an outreach opportunity allowing performing-arts students to work with Iowa high-schoolers both on stage and in the classroom. After auditioning, Pinsof nabbed one of the four available spots in the program.

“This experience has absolutely affected me,” he said. “I’ve developed an even greater interest in education in this process.”

Like most young actors, Pinsof does not yet have a postgraduation job, but he’s considering either moving to Chicago or Los Angeles to pursue his acting career or working toward a career in theater education.

“It’s a future that’s impossible to predict because the profession is so bizarrely impossible, but if anybody is prepared for the next step, I think it’s David,” Forsythe said.

And the soon-to-be graduate is prepared for life as a struggling artist at the chance to live his passion.

“This is one of the most vicious fields out there,” Pinsof said. “But for an actor like me, you need that constant expression to survive. It’s just as important of a thing as eating and drinking, as breathing.”


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