~ ~ ~ PRESS ~ ~ ~
"Jhansi Ki Rani, played by Ishika Muchhal, is an Indian warrior queen. Jhansi Ki Rani was one of the first woman of Indian royalty to learn the art of self-defense. ... The effort to dismantle gender roles in Indian culture is effectively portrayed in Muchhal’s performance."
Jaelyn Decena, The Cougar Chronicle
"Designer, Juliana Romero and Movement Artist, Sky Spiegel have created this piece in collaboration with the three performers Yunni Lin, Ishika Muchhal and Mady Thornquest. These students bring experience in a wide range of dance forms and performance to create a coherent style of movement that represents their explorations into the abstract concepts of Estés. It is the penetrating howling and freedom of the wolves, combined with the moon’s energy, that forms the backdrop to a journey of self liberation. ... it makes for a delightful visual experience."
Richard Beck, Broadway Baby, 2019
"Ishika created beautiful work this past semester. Transformation was evident in how she controlled her stage time, allowed the transition to live fully, explored a new aspect of her intensity, and let go of some constraints she had. She achieved equal success in her modern classic and contemporary pieces. Her commitment to work is admirable and her appetite to grow is always there. She was able to utilize her facial movement with greater precision… There is a new range in her performative palette, and she understands the importance of and how to use it to create nuanced work. Ishika has a lot to offer. The professional preparedness was on the highest level. Always present in class and ready to work with positive energy and enthusiasm. She is patient and a giving scene partner. Her demeanor was always polite and kind. In our discussions, Ishika was attentive and respectful. The expansion is evident in Ishika’s greater appetite to express bolder her inner dynamic, energize acting choices, understand stage time, and use transitions, allowing truthful and gentler movements to reveal her hidden world. Along with her emotional intelligence, she engaged imagination to use intuitive impulses and create specific images. It was liberating her power and adding colors to the rainbow."
Mirjana Jokovic, Actor and Studio Teacher at CalArts
"From her first day to the final she built at the end, I saw a growth and comfort in Ishika to own her physical ability by connecting it to a growing strength and clearer line connecting her impulse with her action. She was remarkable in her final. Graceful, expansive, pure, peaceful, finding a rawness at her edges. I think her work in both [The] Fig [and the Wasp] and what I saw in class, touched a new trust in Ishika. I saw her own the moment to moment, filling it deeply and to its edges to inform the next moments. She is a leader, but also took a humble approach when developing her strength in class exercises, which I admire. She balances when she leads with when she turns inwards on new material and learning. Great work."
Anthony Nikolchev, Movement Teacher at CalArts
"She transforms, plays and enjoys playing. Great student, dedicated, committed and consistent. Wonderful energy. Great member in the cohort. Understands the material and runs with it. Very flexible and alive imagination. Excellent work; curious performer. I enjoyed very much her performance in the MOD [The Fig and the Wasp]. Great presence."
Rafael Lopez Barrantes, CalArts Voice Teacher and founder of the Barrantes Voice System
"Ishika had a very strong semester and showed such lovely progress from the beginning to the end. During both the Shakespeare monologue and radio drama you showed a lot of growth and did a very good job of maintaining your Classic American Stage Speech sounds. You are a joy to have in class – you have a really good foundation for Speech work, and I’m looking forward to seeing how you continue to progress with the work."
Toni Smith (Dager), Speech Teacher and Voiceover Director
"Ishika pays close attention to the work of her peers, and is an active, thoughtful participant in discussion. She and her partner created a wonderfully nuanced filmed version of their scene from Measure for Measure. They made inventive use of their separation in real life, incorporating eye line angles and reaction shots to sell the fiction of togetherness. The editing overall had a natural syntax, peppered with intelligent cinematic choices highlighting the characters’ perspective. She found intensity in stillness and restraint in the first section of the scene, allowing her to expand more fully and surprisingly at climactic later moments — such as her “brother is forfeit” line. Her final monologue as Angelo was the high point of her semester: spontaneous, dynamic, emotionally transparent AND full of physical detail."
Lars America Jan, Director and Studio Teacher at CalArts
"Her dedication, sensitivity, and hard work were a great asset to the ensemble. In addition to a great work ethic, she is able to take direction and, over time, apply it to her work and continue building those skills in her future work. Ishika is able to take her curiosity for the work and translate it into discoveries and play with joy."
Daniel Passer, Studio Teacher at CalArts
"You just brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for your beautiful performance."
Samantha Behr, Playwright of The Fig and the Wasp
"Ishika is incredibly hard working, creative, and takes her training seriously. She is an intelligent, motivated, and supportive member of an ensemble. I was so impressed by the level of passion she has for acting and how she backs that up with dedication and hard work. As a result she demonstrated significant growth in her work and in her ability to take on a range of complex, emotionally challenging roles. Ishika has the talent to play a wide range of character types, i.e. dramatic, heightened, comedic, naturalistic/contemporary.
She intentionally took advantage of opportunities to stretch her range and try different characters. [In her sonnet], Ishika did an excellent job of physical and vocal transformation, giving her character a heavy and nervous energy. It was a powerful performance... [In Angels in America], Ishika dove right in and bravely confronted the emotional intensity of the scene... she brought passion and sincerity to it. I really enjoyed their strange and fascinating take on Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights using 2-D video game concepts. Weird and brilliant! Their commitment to the highly stylized and absurdist mode of performance was very strong performance work, and Ishika created this incredible half-body MIHA costume. Ishika also revealed her interests and talents in sound design and music production."
Chi-Wang Yang, Acting Teacher at CalArts
B. K. Dawson, Staff and Alum at CalArts
"Ishika. YOU. ARE. A. STAR. I saw The Fig and the Wasp last night and was absolutely FLOORED by you. You showed grace, strength, power, emotion, range, everything that a leading woman can be ... You are a force of nature ... Congratulations and I pray that you are proud of the mic you just dropped. ... You are what the Arts needs in this world. Never ever stop."
"Ishika is a powerhouse of intellect and talent, and a generous ensemble member. Mature, disciplined and intellectually curious about the work, she was a reliably hard-working presence in class, always prepared and ready to work, very professional in demeanor. Her Poem Project was well done and deeply personal, allowing a fiery connection to her material that is a less-showcased side of Ishika. Her Anna Deavere Smith Project was also strong work, great commitment rounded out the three-dimensional characterization. Her final demonstrated a near-perfect understanding of our skills/techniques..."
Voice Faculty at CalArts
"Ishika is a delight to have in class. I appreciated her enthusiasm and seriousness for the work and her craft. She was always prepared and committed to the work. She brought in a dance that was beautiful, entertaining and seducing. She has great skill and work ethic… Character sketches demonstrated a strength for observation and variety of character. She really played with a variety of dynamics to create characters that saw the world differently."
Estela Garcia, Movement/Masks Teacher at CalArts
"It is with great pleasure that I acknowledge and honor Ishika Muchal for successfully addressing and incorporating her perfectionist tendencies in beautiful, powerful and effective ways. Her final, and the approach to it, showed a significant expansion in creative prospective and technical application. Her precision with the language was easy and unlabored. And, when left to her own devices, became largely instinctive. Her final presentation of Constance was well-grounded and deeply connected. There is a size and scope in her interpretation of the material that I haven’t seen or felt before. Ishika’s transcription work continues to be topmost of notches! She’s using the technical aspects of transcribing sounds into her speech to inform her creativity and involvement."
Christopher Fairbanks, Speech Teacher at CalArts (Skinner's Good Speech/Standard American)
"You are more than an actor. You are an artist and creator. I see you think about theater and your work like a live painting. I'm excited to see where this work takes you. You were brave and I saw the work."
– Kalean Ung, Voice Teacher at CalArts (Barrantes System)
"Ishika was a pleasure to have in class, such great energy and effort in her day to day participation. She has a natural enthusiasm that is infectious and inviting; because she is having fun, her development was organic and considerable! In addition, she has good musical skill and picked up the Conga and Pandeiro quickly."
– Sean Anthony Moran and Jessica Moran, Capoeira Instructors at CalArts
“Ishika, you have an especially expressive, beautiful face! We can see how much you love your craft and performing. The moments in which you tap into authentic feelings are so riveting! You’re doing such a great job of staying grounded and not pushing too hard. You really stay in each moment and live there, which is lovely. You have an excellent connection to the storytelling and you understand your character. It was a delight to watch and hear you!”
– Spotlight Review, Music Center
"You have more than one lens because you look at people as people. You look at them as another human being."
- Barbara Gholar, Excellence in All Things
Feature on Rubio: Great lede on this feature article, and I loved the way you framed the assemblywoman’s uniqueness and goals. You also had perspectives from several other people, which I think is always crucial in a profile like this.
Feature on Ritacca: This is a superb profile of an interesting professor. Great job getting a wide range of quotes from others to round out what she’s like. Very good job.
Opinion Hollywood diversity: Superb opinion piece here. Sharply written, doesn’t waste time or words in making its point, and is supported with strong evidence and explanations of why the problem exists. It also, crucially, highlights a solution to the identified problem. Very well done.
News story pandemic: This is good news writing. A solidly written piece, broad sourcing, some depth about vulnerable populations and concerns about vaccination proof.
- Jeremy Fugleberg, News Correspondent and Citrus College Journalism Awards Judge
“Imagination should be her middle name. Ishika has tons of ideas! She had helped develop much of our show and is a crucial part of the class. Ishika helped in creating a lot of the dance and she even created the songs in the play. In movement class, Ishika is never afraid of expression. She is so focused in class. She works well with viewpoints and took directions quickly. Ishika continues to be a strong leader. I continue to enjoy what she contributes to the camps play process. She is not just smart but very giving, willing to even share her lunch with a hungry classmate.”
– Aries Sanders, Acting Teacher in Discovery on Stage)
“Ishika’s Neil Simon monologue had good focus and understanding of the material; really great interaction with imaginary other and wonderful character arc; nice commitment to passion of character and situation, and nice connection with other characters. Hope you can do the play! Gogol monologue was charming and funny with great dramatic stakes and physical illustration; good interpretation of a flighty character; cute and appealing, well-defined character; well-staged and entertaining.”
– DTASC (drama competiton) judges: Natalie Brice, Robert Artz, Hannah Tamkin, and Steve Hovendahl
"What I admire most in Ishika is that she has consciously worked to break down her own perceived barriers of language and expression. In the summer of 2017, Ishika worked on creating a dance piece that explores specific sociopolitical issues of stereotyping. She…leaned into what she seemed to fear and this allowed her to open up a unique space of learning where discipline, creativity, and free-thinking merge to enable deeper understanding... Ishika materialized for herself a distinctly radical approach—the ability to intertwine text, rhythm, gesture, movement, footwork, expression, and props while drawing from her classical training in Bharatanatyam. Ishika is alert to learnable moments, allowing herself to recognize new pathways that lead to different world views. Ishika chooses to actively realize her aspiration, flourishing into a thorough young artist with a unique voice of her own. [She is] a young woman of exceptional talent and creativity with a commitment to shaping more just communities-- It’s truly a rare and powerful combination. I believe Ishika has gone above and beyond in her efforts to understand the world around her and artistically respond to it.”
– Dr. Elizabeth Kurien, Bharatanatyam teacher (Indian classical dance)
“Ishika is amazing! Over the course of nearly thirty years of teaching, there is only one Ishika. She has earned straight A’s throughout her four years of high school, taking some of our most rigorous AP courses and thriving. She has been a vital part of the high school drama program since she arrived on campus and included the performing arts each academic year. I have had the excellent fortune of having Ishika in AP United States History as an 11th grader (she earned a 5 on the exam) and as a 12th grader currently in AP Art History. I make my tests tougher because she is one of the students earning over 100% on every test.
In addition to class, Ishika is a leader on campus. She has participated in our Interact Club sponsored by Monrovia Rotary all four years at school. As a junior, she was our club President. In truth, she has been my best President in six years of advising this club. Ishika worked to build membership, followed through as a leader for every event, and set a tone of commitment and hard work throughout the year. For her 16th birthday, Ishika asked for donations to Stop Hunger Now, a project Rotary and Interact work together on. Each year our community packs 20,000+ Stop Hunger Now meals to be sent to schools in Latin America. The donation from her birthday money helped set a new record of meals that could be purchased and packaged. Ishika traveled as Rotary’s representative to France last summer and she has been honored by our community as a leader and stellar representative of what Monrovia is most proud of as a community.
Ishika has the respect of every teacher who has ever had her in class – teachers consistently seek me out to say, ‘Do you know about Ishika? She is awesome!’”
– Mrs. Annie Van Dyke, teacher, Interact advisor
“We talk a lot about the potential of our students at MHS, and in [Ishika's] case, the world ‘limitless’ comes to mind.”
– Mr. Paul Dols, Renaissance coordinator, Renaissance Hall of Fame
“You are a very unique girl. You have creativity, talent, brains, etc. People like you will run this world, and I know with someone like you running the world, the world will be a beautiful place.”
– Mr. Richard Montenegro, teacher)
“Ishika is an extraordinary young person who began thinking about, caring about and supporting others at the tender young age of 4 when she began volunteering for various nonprofits throughout our community. As the former Mayor of Monrovia, it has been a pleasure to watch Ishika grow in her love of volunteering and her scholastic achievements. A talented actress and singer, Ishika excels theatrically and was recently a lead character in MHS’s production of Tarzan.”
– Mary Ann Lutz, Citrus College trustee, former Mayor of Monrovia, NWPC SGV President
“You are great, but you know that. You are talented, but you know that. Make sure the world knows! You were a silver lining in a sky of grey clouds."
– Mr. Anthony Flucker, teacher and director, film and video production
“You are such an amazing person and you have one of the most beautiful souls. Thank you for being someone I can count on for anything and always having a smile on your face! You are going to be big one day and when I look at everything you have become, I will feel blessed to have been able to work with you.”
– Samantha Avalos, stage manager
“Excellent focus and great self-awareness. Good attention for hand to hand work. Great attitude overall.”
– Jeremy Jackson and Dominic Catrambone, professional actors, stage combat and acting teachers
“You are one of the most incredible young ladies I have ever met. I am so honored to have been your teacher and experienced your thoughtful intelligence and wonderful performances.”
– Ms. Swava Stengel, teacher
“You’re so passionate about what you do that I honestly can’t help but feel motivated to do my best. You’re nothing but a kind, beautiful, and hardworking human being.”
– Valeria Munoz, student and cast-mate
“I can’t wait to see you perform at the Pantages! Thank you for always giving your all and making AP European History an absolute joy to teach.”
– Ms. Natalie Harrison, teacher
“I am so happy to have had you as a student and to have watched you perform over the years. You have made MHS a better place and now are going to make the world a better place.”
– Mr. Mark Lovers, teacher
“What a creative and fascinating child! It’s rare to meet a naturally creative child.”
– Richard Stubbs, songwriter, musician, teacher
“You have been one of the best performing and well-rounded students I have encountered in the past 13 years of my teaching career. You have served as a motivation to keep me on top of my game. Your potential is unlimited.”
– Mr. Robert Montes, teacher
“Very well done, especially your part. I’ve seen the Disney movie before and…the entire drama department did exceptional. I hope every single one of you is offered a job in Hollywood.”
– Ryan Wiles, student - regarding Tarzan
“Having known Ishika for more than ten years, I have observed her grow into a poised and accomplished young woman. She is talented, caring, dedicated and focused in her endeavors. Ishika has superior interpersonal skills and works well independently or in a group setting. She has shown good leadership skills when involved in group projects. She is well liked and respected by her peers and adults.”
– Jenny Pappano, Interact and American Cancer Society advisor
“You are truly one of the most wonderfully weird individuals that I have ever known. Know your limits – infinity.”
– Mr. Carlos Cuellar, teacher