Exciting news from the Drama Department at Austin Community College!

The cast of Well by Lisa Kron
directed by Kristen Rogers

photo credit: Jaden Davis
Letter from the Interim Chair
It is finally official! The ACC Drama Department has been approved to offer a new Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Degree in Theatre Technology! This is a landmark event for ACC as our department will be only one of a handful of colleges in Texas that offer this degree program. There will be two tracks: a Scenic Construction, Lighting, and Media Technology Specialization Track, and a Make-up Artistry and Costume Technology Specialization Track. This degree program will provide workforce training for students desiring to work professionally in areas of theater crews, construction, rigging, and board operation, just to name a few. We are so proud that ACC will continue to be a vital training ground for providing certified, professional theatre artists to the Austin live performance industry!

We are also very proud that our productions of This Day Forward and Well have been recognized by the B. Iden Payne Awards Committee as additions to their Short List for nomination consideration. This recognition goes a long way for our department, and we are honored to be included with the greater Austin theatre community by the members of this committee. 

I also want to personally congratulate the members of our drama faculty who have garnered some impressive awards and distinctions. You’ll find more detailed information about those faculty achievements in this newsletter. Thank you to the dedicated faculty who continually bring notoriety to the ACC Drama Department. 

We have enjoyed such a wonderful year, and we have very exciting things ahead of us. You will not want to miss any of it, believe me.

Please take time to enjoy this newsletter, and thank you for you continued support of ACC Drama!

Perry Crafton
Interim Drama Department Chair   

Thank you to everyone who helped make
our production of Well such a success!

Director: Kristen Rogers
Scenic Designer: Rachel Atkinson
Costume Designer: Stephanie Dunbar
Lighting Designer: Alison Lewis
Props Supervisor: Deya Macias

photo credit: Jaden Davis


Jade Williamson

Interview by Jamie Rogers

Where are you from? 
Pearland, Texas! A suburb southeast of Houston.
Were you involved in theatre in high school?
Yes, I was in theatre all four years of high school and was in the International Thespian Society.
What were the reasons you decided to enroll in Austin Community College?
I wanted to live in Austin. I had heard about ACC’s great drama department and I knew I wasn’t ready for a university yet. So, ACC was the perfect option for me!
Any favorite classes in the Drama Department and why? Important things you have learned so far?
Acting 1 last semester with Perry was so great!! In such a short time, I feel like I learned so much about acting as a craft and I noticed many improvements in my skill. I’m currently in Introduction to Costume and that class has been so enjoyable. I’m finally getting to dive into a design/technical side of theatre and it’s so interesting. 
You were cast in our spring Production of Well . Can you tell us what characters you played and what the rehearsal/performance process were like?
In Well , I played Dottie and Joy. Both of these characters were very, very different. In the beginning, I struggled some to find a way to make the characters noticeably different. My director, Kristen Rogers, helped so much with that. We played with different walks, voices, and postures until we found one that worked from an audience perspective. She was super helpful. Performing this show was loads of fun! Putting on a show with such a variety of characters and such a good message has definitely made this one of my most favorite theatrical experiences.

Jade Williamson in a performance of Well
photo credit: Jaden Davis
Do you attend school and have outside employment? If so, how do you do you find a balance between work and drama department involvement? 
I don’t have a full-time “job” per-say, but I do work as a Favor Runner when I can. School is my first priority, and I’m lucky to have parents that are willing to help me so I don’t have to work 40 hours a week to survive. When I’m in rehearsals for a production, my work hours definitely dwindle, but I always try to balance my priorities in order to get everything done that I need to.  
Any overall advice to give to current Drama Majors on ways to get them involved in the department?
Just get out there! Audition for things, go to Makers and Methods, try to involve yourself in any way possible. Once you start you won’t be able to stop and you won’t regret it! I’ve made so many friends and companions in the short time I’ve been here, it’s worth it, I promise.
What does the future hold?  
At the moment, I’m not sure. I know where I want to be, I’m just not sure what path I’m going to take to get there. I want to get a degree in Theatre to be a teacher, an educator. So, I’ll end up transferring to a four year university eventually. Until then, I’m focusing on learning more about my craft and exploring the world of theatre.


Heather Barfield

Interview by Jamie Rogers
Where are you from? What is your educational background?

My family moved to Austin when I was six months old, so you could say that I am an Austinite. I went to school in AISD and graduated from the Liberal Arts Academy at Johnston High School. (Today, that magnet program has become LASA at LBJ High.) After high school, I went to NYU for a short stint in film school, but then returned to Austin to reassess my goals. Eventually, I was accepted into UT Austin’s Anthropology and I graduated with Honors. I was heavily involved in theatre performance throughout Austin and in particular with The VORTEX. However, I wanted to learn more, and I took the plunge to apply for graduate school at NYU Performance Studies, which is a wonderfully rich field that encompasses anthropology, theatre, performance, critical theory, gender studies, and performative writing. NYU was profoundly influential in how I understand and teach theatre today. Once I received my Master’s degree from NYU, I returned to Austin. Because I am such an avid learner, I was accepted into UT’s Theatre and Dance Department’s Performance as Public Practice Program. After nearly a decade, I received my Ph.D. It was a long journey and required extreme discipline, energy, and focus.

Where have you taught theatre? How long have you been teaching in the ACC Drama Department, and what classes have you taught?

I have taught theatre both as an academic and as a professional practitioner. I have taught at UT Austin, Austin Creative Alliance and at The VORTEX for specialized programming. Since 2012, I have been teaching Introduction to Theatre courses for ACC Students. I regard my teaching at ACC as an opportunity to share my passion for theatre and performance studies with those who may not quite understand or know how to appreciate the value of live, performing arts.

You are a part of the Peace and Conflict Studies program and degree plan at ACC. Can you tell us what that explores and about the upcoming Symposium that will be held in April?

This April, students will have the opportunity to explore concepts of “boundaries,” which is robust and extremely germane. Borders and boundaries are intricately linked to identity, sentimental notions of place and space, and the “performance of bureaucracy.” How can we understand our shifting populations and sense of belonging through art, expression, and performance? In what ways can art generate fruitful dialogue and cultivate empathy, especially during times of divisive laws and pubic sentiment swayed by media, hype, and rhetoric? How can we know how we feel about a subject without exploring varying viewpoints and perspectives? As we are all becoming more and more of a globalized society, I feel strongly that understanding how peace can be more equitably woven into our lives is a noble pursuit.

You are Associate Artistic and Development Director of VORTEX Repertory Company. How did you become involved with that company? Can you describe your responsibilities in your positions there?

I have been involved with The VORTEX since I was a teenager, performing before live audiences for many years, almost three decades. I have also directed multiple award-winning productions, the most recent of which was Privacy Settings: A Promethean Tale . In this production, I adapted the Ancient Greek play Prometheus Bound with a contemporary theme of whistleblowers, digital privacy rights, and data mining. In the second act of the production, audiences needed to interact with the performers in a game-like role-playing space in order to solve an impossible riddle.

The VORTEX Company has grown profoundly since the 1990’s and I have worked in a variety of roles. However, my position as Associate Artistic Director is to help steer the season programming, discover plays and artists whose work is in alignment with our mission, and to network with national and international theatre companies for mutual exchange of ideas and possible collaborations. As Development Director, my primary objective is to build relationships within Austin and beyond to strengthen fundraising efforts. I also am responsible for researching grants, writing proposals, and building a culture of philanthropy to sustain the programming and events of the theatre. 

Privacy Settings: A Promethean Tale

As a director, you have won many awards. With what theatres have you worked? What have been some of your favorite productions?

I have worked with VORTEX, obviously, as director, writer, producer, and arts administrator. I have worked also with Rude Mechanicals, Rubber Repertory, Different Stages, and a host of other companies that have come and gone in Austin since the 90’s.

Some of your artistic work includes Devised Theatre. Can you describe your particular process when collectively creating new work?

For me, devised work is a lengthy process that begins with deep research and inquiry. For example, for my Privacy Settings: A Promethean Tale , my first focus was on the original text of Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus. Simultaneously, I was researching the latest news, papers, and books about US and International privacy and civil liberty laws and regulations. I take copious notes during this process, including going on writing and creativity retreats. From the beginning, I set up a general calendar or timeline of activities in the process and this becomes more specified as the group gets closer to the opening night. In some ways, a director of devised work needs to work backwards on the timeline. For cast and devisers in the production, I often ask them directly to see if they are available for the rigorous commitment to both the show schedule and rehearsal process. It is important to let more traditional actors understand the nature of devised work, which can be wildly improvisational or tediously precise or fabulously fun. Creating devised work means allowing a multitude of voices to contribute to the show’s narrative and style. It my job as director to integrate all these ideas into a cohesive and entertaining structure for the audience.

You were just rewarded a U.S. Scholar Fulbright grant for research in France to work on “Performing Migrant Stories.” What are your expectations for that process, and what are you exploring through your research and collaboration?

I will be working with primarily Syrian migrant communities in Southern France to co-create community-based theatre. I believe theatre can be a bridge to help both local and newly migrated groups communicate in peaceful and meaningful ways. It hard to have set expectations on the process, but I do hope to gain some valuable Arts Based Research and qualitative data that could be applied towards other communities, especially in border communities in Texas.

Can you tell us a bit bout your involvement with Canopy Theatre Company and EFF-Austin?

Canopy Theatre is Bart Pitchford’s new company that focuses on using the tools of theatre to heal and distill stories from the ravaging effects of war and other political violence. This would include projects related to veterans and marginalized voices from conflict zones. I am currently Board President of Canopy Theatre and am proud to help Bart with his artistic vision.

I also serve as Board Member of Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Austin “chapter.” This organization was borne from the early days of the Internet when the potential for innovation, electronic creativity, and digital privacy were budding concepts. I am deeply invested in digital privacy laws and hope that schools and colleges can include more courses on basic privacy and data protection awareness in their curriculum. Of course, I also am so thrilled about the potential of human-machine interactions from a theatre-making perspective. There are dozens of companies across the US and even more in the EU that are experimenting with the electronic frontier and live performance such as with VR/AR productions.

What are your future plans?

I plan to learn some VR/AR code to accent some of the more experimental theatrical productions I am interested in pursuing in the intersection between human rights and theatre. 

GREG ROMERO 's play,  Big Iron Fires , has been selected to be presented at the William Inge New Play Festival in Independence, Kansas. The William Inge Festival only accepts 20 plays out of hundreds of submissions.
His play,  Bulldozers , has also just been selected to be presented at the Last Frontier Theater Conference in Valdez, Alaska, in June.  

JAMIE ROGERS presented on a panel titled "From Classroom to Colleague: Transitions from Grad School" at the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Knoxville, TN.

ACC Drama Department 2018-2019 Season

The Real Inspector Hound
by Tom Stoppard
September 27-October 7 in the HLC Acting Studio
Admission is free of charge

This Day Forward
by Nicky Silver
October 25-November 4 in the Austin Playhouse Theatre
General Seating is $8.00

by Lisa Kron
February 28-March 10 in the Austin Playhouse Theatre
General Seating is $8.00

Sight Unseen
April 18-28 in the HLC Acting Studio
General Seating is $8.00

Performance times are at 7:30pm for Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings,
and at 2:00pm for Sunday matinees.

Additional information can be found at our newly redesigned website: www.austincc.edu/drama
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