Tziyona Gheblikian: Where were you born and raised?
Phebe Hibshman: I was born in Exeter, New Hampshire. I was then raised somewhere outside of Philadelphia, and later moved to Baltimore.
TG: That is really cool! What’s it like there?
PH: The Northeast is pretty different than down here, it’s busier, and almost as pretty. I have lived in many different places because my dad was in the military to begin with, and then he was a priest. So with that, we traveled a bit, and as an actor I traveled a bit too. I then studied at Maryland, and later at LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art). Subsequently, I went to New York and did some projects there, then to Florida, to Orlando, and worked all around here for some time. Afterwards, I settled for a bit, got married, and had children.
TG: Amazing! That’s definitely a lot of travelling, and tons of sight-seeing. I’d possibly like to do that someday.
PH: It really is a lot of fun.
TG: What was your favorite subject to learn?
PH: Well, I wasn’t very academically successful, but it wasn’t until I got on stage and began to perform that I really found my calling. So theater, definitely theater.
TG: Do you play any instruments?
PH: I play piano, guitar, the cello, and I compose music.
TG: That is so awesome. I tried getting into playing guitar but was way too impatient.
PH: Yeah, I don’t know what it is when I pick up a guitar, I really get into the zone, although I’m not as great of a guitar player as Mr. Matla. I think he’s a really good guitarist. I’m mostly just good with chords, and creating music and songs.
TG: So will you be using those skills in the coming play?
PH: I have composed music for plays before, but not for the coming musical, we’ll be strictly following the music provided.
TG: How has the transition to being a play director here at the Hebrew Academy been so far?
PH: I’ve been really impressed with the faculty here, it’s a wonderful family. The people have been really supportive and kind to me, so I really like it here a lot. I think they run the school fantastically, in an effective way that that I have not seen before.
TG: I’m glad to hear that, I think so too. I love it here.
PH: Yes, I was kind of nervous because I’m not Jewish, but was really surprised. I count it as a privilege to be here.
TG: Were you frequently the lead role in plays?
PH: Now wouldn’t that be nice? I could usually get the lead role in school, but I do not believe that getting the lead role is such a big deal as people make it out to be. I am good at stealing the show. You can come on stage with one line yet steal the show. You don’t have to be the lead role, all you have to do is portray that story, move the audience, and have fun.
TG: I really like that theory.
PH: I’m trying to change the attitude of a lot of the thespians, It’s easy to undermine the smaller roles, and be entitled to getting that lead role, but that’s not real theater. Real theater is about the community and ensemble acting; being kind and supporting each other. You can really tell when people are tense because it affects their performance. So I’m hoping to build a really close and caring thespian community upon Hebrew Academy, and hopefully it will show in the next play. I think the students are really intelligent here and will get it.
TG: How many plays have you been in?
PH: About 50.
TG: Oh my.
PH: It’s been fun. I stopped for a while after having my kids, but I have been up for shows lately at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, and have been working at the New World School of the Arts here.
TG: Do you ever get nervous?
PH: Yes, I think we all do, but I have a natural ability to be on stage and in front of others, it doesn’t really frighten me as much as it does to other people. I definitely do get nervous, but I eat it up, I love it.
TG: Do you have any advice as to how to deal with those nerves?
PH: For stage fright, you definitely have to pretend that you’re hosting a party, and that the people coming to your party are nervous. So you want to welcome them into your party; you want them to feel at ease. The idea is that you stop focusing on yourself being nervous, but rather the audience being nervous, therefore you “comfort” them.
TG: That will be all for now, thank you so much for your time and enjoy the rest of your day.
By: Tziyona Gheblikian (10th Grade)