Student Reflections: Arianna Gayle Stucki and Ian van Maaren

Thursday, May 26, 2022
Juilliard Journal
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Drama students dancing in a line in a production photo from "Indecent"
Fourth-year drama production of 'Indecent'; pictured: Orlando Rivera, Lennox T. Duong, Luca Fontaine, and Arianna Gayle Stucki

Students Reflect on an Action-Packed Year

Just before commencement, we asked students—some graduating, some staying on—to reflect on their time at Juilliard. They wrote about highlights, top takeaways, and things that were and weren't surprising. In addition, some shared what scholarship had meant to them and what their summer/future plans are. Keep an eye out for entries from other students and check out this video highlight reel from commencement. Congratulations to the class of 2022!

Arianna Gayle Stucki

Performance highlight
I got to perform in my favorite play, Indecent by Paula Vogel, with my best friends as part of my group’s fourth-year season. The play follows a Yiddish theater troupe from the 1920s through the ’50s. Because of a COVID postponement, we ended up performing it on Holocaust Remembrance Day, and one of our dearest mentors, Ruth Kanner [guest faculty, spring 2020], was able to fly in from Tel Aviv to attend. It was one of the most fulfilling moments of my life.

Biggest surprise
How ready I am for the next phase of this journey. I went directly from high school to my undergrad, at NYU Abu Dhabi, and then came straight here for my MFA, so I’ve never worked professionally as an actor before. But this year, we were able to meet many industry professionals—casting directors, producers, entertainment lawyers, alumni. And all of them have made clear that the four years of training is the greatest resource I’ll have for the rest of my career. The greatest resource besides, of course, the Juilliard community and network.

Least surprising
The fact that COVID is still a part of our daily lives. And while I’m not surprised, I’m extremely grateful for and appreciative of the leadership the school and Evan Yionoulis and Derrick Sanders in the Drama Division showed in navigating the pandemic. If things got canceled, they pivoted, and they also championed the idea of making short films to make sure we could share our work with all parts of the industry as we graduate.

Top takeaway
I was one of the most disillusioned voices in my class when we first went on Zoom. I was sure I couldn’t learn about what I really want to do without an audience in the room with me. I even considered leaving the school at times. But when it comes to the loss our world has felt in all that has followed March 2020, enduring and shape-shifting to meet obstacles has taught me about the human spirit and the importance of listening to one another. To learn about what it is to be human and thus a better actor—and ideally a better human—I don’t need a stage or a set or 400 people watching me. All I need is access to other people, in any form, and to listen to them.

Arianna Gayle Stucki (Group 51), who’s from Ogden, Utah, has been cast as Mayella Ewell in the national tour of Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird

A group of student instrumentalists and their two teachers stand, holding their baroque instruments, in a half circle in a rehearsal room
Ian van Maaren, second from left, with the 1681 viola da gamba he plays

Ian van Maaren


  • Performing a J415 concert under the direction of the legendary Masaaki Suzuki
  • Representing the HP department in a concert for the Gotham Early Music Scene
  • Going on tour to the Netherlands to perform concerts with students in The Hague

Top takeaway
Always be open to reevaluating your artistic identity. When I entered the first year of my master’s last August, I arrived as just a baroque cellist. Now I am a double major student studying baroque cello and viola da gamba, and I get to play on an original gamba from 1681 that was donated to Juilliard by Sam Rhodes (faculty 1969–present; Juilliard String Quartet 1969–2013). This experience has shown me that one’s artistic identity is eternally malleable, and to never be afraid of taking a risk in a bold new artistic venture.

Ian van Maaren is a first-year master’s student from Boston in the Historical Performance program

These pieces are adapted from a special feature that originally appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of the Journal.