Exciting news from the Drama Department at Austin Community College!
Hanging out together:
the cast of Well by Lisa Kron
directed by Kristen Rogers

photo credit: Kristen Rogers
Letter from the Director
When I first became interested in directing Well , it was mostly based on the subject matter. As a play centered on a mother-daughter relationship, it speaks to a human experience that I believe has been—and still is—vastly underrepresented on the American stage. Furthermore, my scholarly research (particularly my soon-to-be-finished dissertation) focuses on the treatment of female mental illness on stage and screen. So, I first read Well (at the suggestion of a colleague) because I was interested in the exploration of health and illness—and especially examining why certain illnesses are often dismissed as “not real” or “all in your head.”

As I’ve explored the play further in preparation for this production, I’ve become increasingly intrigued by this idea of what is “real” and “not real.” And how can we tell the difference?

In this play, in a way unlike any of her other work, Kron pushes the concept of “real” to its limits by breaking the boundaries of theatricality and ultimately demolishing her own game of playing pretend. As an author, Kron is brutal with herself. She questions the truth of her own memories, interrogates her personal artistic process, and refuses to let herself off the hook or take shortcuts. In performance, Kron makes and bends and breaks the “rules of theatre” faster than we can keep track. By writing an autobiographical piece that appears to implode in performance, Kron recognizes her own real need to create an “exploration” of her formative relationships and life experiences, but she does not allow the character of “Lisa” to indulge herself or hide behind the façade of theatre.

Working with this cast and the designers and entire production team has been a fascinating (and totally fun) process of discovery. We have questioned and tested and played and re-questioned each step of the way. We have allowed ourselves to get lost and, I think, have found a way to honor and reflect Kron’s beautiful mess of “reality” and “theatricality” in our approach to this production.

In the beginning of the show, the distinction between what is “real” and what is “theatrical” appears to be very straightforward and concrete. And then we see, as the play progresses, how “theatricality” is shattered and how “reality” dissolves. By the end, what is undeniable is that—no matter what we think we are dealing with (wellness and illness, or racial integration, or family relationships, or “truth” as we perceive it)—definitions are never as simple and lines are never as clear as we’d probably like them to be.

Kristen Rogers
Director, Well by Lisa Kron    


Alison Lewis

Interview by Jamie Rogers
Where are you from? What schools have you attended?

I am from Austin, Texas. I received my BFA in Theatre Design and Technology from Baylor University.

What draws you to designing lights for theatre?

I like how much lighting really influences how the audience feels about things. Lighting to me almost always feels like a subconscious extra character whose main job is make sure everyone is feeling how the director wants the audience to feel. I also enjoy how much lighting design is like painting, but only for a moment. I mean, there are whole art movements that have been dedicated to light and trying to capture a fleeting moment. As a lighting designer, I get to craft those moments in real life for the audience.

Can you tell us a bit about your design process?

My process always starts by reading the play purely for the fun of it and seeing what I get from it. What I feel when reading the play before I talk to the director is very important because it allows me to see how I might need to shift how the audience perceives something. Next is talking to the director and allowing them to talk about the play as a whole. Phrases become key here and as they talk, I jot down phrases that stand out and that I know I can emphasize with light. After that, I normally review with the director what I wrote down to make sure that I’m not latching onto anything that they didn’t want me to, or giving them a chance to clarify some phrases. From that point, I delve back into the play with all these phrase in mind and starting thinking how to technically execute the plan. From there, it is mostly technical work, placing lights and colors into the right configurations to allow for me to “paint” these scenes to life.
Lighting Design for The Little Prince
ZACH Theatre

Why did you decide to pursue lighting design as a profession? Are there particular productions that you are drawn to?

Whenever I got my degree, I had an emphasis in Scenic and Lighting Design. I’ve pursued both, but I have fallen more into lighting as time progressed, and since I really enjoy it, I’ve stayed! I really would love to work on a production of Pippin at some point. I also love new works as there are more “high-idea” conversations on what we really want to accomplish with this play.

Lighting and Scenic Design for When She Had Wings
Long Wharf Theatre Children's Show
Describe your design process for our upcoming production of Well. What are some of the design challenges?

This design process was pretty standard at the beginning, but the challenge has been designing a space that is pretty restrictive on what we can and can’t do. Working around and with rep plots is always interesting and really is a mental shift from the minute details that building your own full plot requires, to now thinking, “Well, how can I accomplish the same feelings with what this plot provides?” Working within constraints though very rarely a downside though, and in fact I feel like some of my best work is when I have to think creatively and then make choices I would have never had thought to make.

I also feel a challenge is going to come with programming. The stage is essentially divided in half between realism and the theatre. Trying to maintain the façade of realism on the stage is always a bit of challenge and the subtle shifts of light really need to remain unnoticed, but subconsciously perceived. But then the other half of the stage is full theatricality, so it’s like having two different shows happening for a good portion of the production.

Are you currently working on any other projects?

Yes, I am currently also working on a production of Xanadu with TexArts.

Any advice to students who wish to pursue a career in lighting design?

My advice is to get out there as soon as you have your bachelor’s degree. Hone your technical skills because for a lot of small theatres, you are your own crew, electrician, etc. Networking is the best thing you will ever do, so don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to every person! We have all been there, and as the years go on, odds are you have mutual colleagues. I would also say wait a few years before heading to grad school. Once you are out in the field, you start to notice what it is you want from grad school, and at that point you can make the decision if you even want to go. You interview grad schools as much as they interview you, so you really should know what you want to accomplish before you spend all that money! 

What are your future plans?

My future plans right now include a lot of things. I really want to teach abroad for a few years sometime soon. I also have my eyes on a few grad schools whose programs are exactly what I’m looking for. It’s a little up in the air right now, but I’m allowing myself this year to design and work and feel out the waters. 


Tryston Davis

Interview by Jamie Rogers
Where are you from?

Austin, Texas

Were you involved in theatre when you were in high school?

Yes, I was. Throughout High School, I was into Musical Theatre.

What were the reasons you decided to enroll at Austin Community College?

I wanted to get all of my core classes out of the way and focus on my acting while I’m here. Then I'll transfer to Texas State University for Musical Theatre.

Any favorite classes in the Drama Department and why? Important things you have learned so far?

Acting 1 and 2 are so much fun! I’ve learned so much. Before taking these classes, I’ve never taken drama courses, and now my skills have grown. I understand my physical actions more than ever.

You are currently cast in our upcoming production of Well. Can you tell us what characters you play and what the rehearsal/performance process has been like?

I play Head Nurse, Howard, and Myself. Each character is drastically different. Rehearsal has been mind blowing. My director is brilliant, and my cast members are talented and kind. It’s just an amazing environment.
Tryston Davis in rehearsals for Well
photo credit: Kristen Rogers
Do you attend school and have outside employment? If so, how do you find a balance between work and drama department involvement?

I obviously go to ACC, and I work at Old Navy. I work on the weekends, and I go to school in the mornin gs every weekday except Fridays.

Any overall advice to give to current Drama Majors on ways to get them involved in the Department?

Keep your mind open and always go full out every minute of every day. And you will see yourself improve like crazy.

What does the future hold?

My future holds so many things that it makes it hard to choose between Vocal Performance or Musical Theatre.
If attending ACC Drama’s upcoming production of Well , here are REVISED DIRECTIONS TO AUSTIN PLAYHOUSE:

*Please note that due to ACC construction, the South parking lot and the loading dock entrance are currently closed.

You will now be entering the ACC Highland campus at the intersection of Highland Mall Boulevard and Jonathan. There is a four-way stop there. Enter the parking lot on Jonathan, which will take you directly to the correct entrance on the North side of campus. ACC will not ticket our patrons' cars.

Take the escalator or elevator down to the lower level. Turn right. Austin Playhouse will be on your right, by the water feature.

For our upcoming production of WELL by Lisa Kron...
check out our "sneak peek" of the

Scenic Design by Rachel Atkinson

and Costume Design by Stephanie Dunbar

HEATHER BARFIELD received a U.S. Scholar Fulbright grant for research in Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, France in collaboration with Syrian performer, Nawar Bulbul, Aix-Marseille Université and Compagnie La Scène Manassa. She will be conducting arts-based research that culminates into a community-based performance titled, “Performing Migrant Stories.”

“Performing Migrant Stories” is a collaborative, creative, theatrical, and arts-based research (ABR) project that focuses on migrants in and around Aix-Marseille University, in partnership with Compagnie La Scène Manassa. “Performing Migrant Stories” is a pursuit in understanding personal experiences of human beings who have lost homes and homeland due to the ravages of violence and/or economic collapse. This project uses methods of devised performance, storytelling, applied theatre and self-reflexive ethnography to evoke alternative modes of transformational healing and identity and to interrogate cultural assimilation with voluntary participants from both migrant and local communities.
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 17-27 in the HLC Acting Studio
Admission is free of charge

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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