In the Loop
Alumni News : Feb 3, 2015

Michelle Bellaver makes her New York theatre debut in How I Learned to Drive

By Leland Henry

After moving to New York City in June 2014, Michelle Bellaver (MFA Acting ’14) will perform in her first New York theatre show, How I Learned to Drive at the John DeSotelle Studio’s Nu•ance Theatre. Bellaver is cast as the leading role, Li’l Bit, a character that has long been on her bucket list to play.

This Pulitzer Prize-winning play is told through 35-year-old Li’l Bit’s flashbacks of growing up in rural Maryland in the 1960s from the age of 11 to 18.

“I have never had to age this severely for a role,” said Bellaver. “There are a lot of different perspectives on life, and it’s a wonderful challenge.”

The flashbacks center around Li’l Bit’s driving lessons with her Uncle Peck, with whom she has a complex, and often unhealthy, relationship. Bellaver said that although their childhoods were very different, she has empathy for and an understanding of her character.

“I admire her ability to not be a victim of her circumstances,” said Bellaver. “No matter what the circumstances in my life, I’ve always tried to learn from them and grow stronger.”

Bellaver said she uses both her classical and contemporary training from UF to execute the show’s heightened language told through a contemporary point of view.

“Training at the end of the day gives you confidence. After three years at UF, I feel confident that I can do the work,” said Bellaver.

Bellaver is a company member of The Hippodrome State Theatre and has previously been seen in Other Desert Cities and Don’t Dress for Dinner.