Exciting news from the Drama Department at Austin Community College!
Cast of Gloria

photo credit: Jaden Davis
Letter from the Chair
I hope everyone had a pleasant spring break. I want to thank everyone who came out to see our spring production of  Gloria . Staging this work was a wonderful experience and I trust it was an enjoyable evening at the theater for our audiences. If you did miss it the first time around, we will present selected scenes from the show at this year’s Peace and Conflict Studies Symposium on April 13. The Peace and Conflict Studies Center will hosting its 7th annual Spring Symposium on Friday, April 13th 2018 at ACC’s East View Campus. The theme this year is the role of the arts in establishing a culture of peace, and explores how art can model alternate world making and the crucial role it plays in our own day-to- day world making, beyond the gallery and the proscenium arch.

We have a few more events planned for the spring term, so I invite you to stay plugged into the newsletter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds. This week we will host Vic Mignogna for a session examining the acting industry from the perspective of a professional voice actor. In April, we will be doing a bit of new play development through our New Works Workshop. At the top of May, be sure to join us for an evening of scenes and monologues (and more!) at the Actor’s Showcase. And we will present another student production with Annie Baker’s  Circle Mirror Transformation , in early June. We’ll hold open auditions in April so prep those monologues…

~ Marcus McQuirter

Written  by Marianna Foran , ACC DRAMA MAJOR
Interview originally appeared in the ACC Student Media Blog February 2018

Nicholas Davila and Holly Palmer rehearsing

In the cozy walls of the Austin Playhouse the ACC Drama Department is rehearsing for the Spring production of  Gloria  by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. While the cast was preparing, cast members Nicholas Davila, Remy Joslin, and Holly Palmer were able to discuss their experiences.

“This is the first show I’ve done with ACC’S theatre department and honestly as soon as I walked into the doors for the initial audition, I’m like this is where I need to be because the people are great. There is just this certain quality that most theatre companies or groups carry and it’s definitely prevalent with these people. So immediately I felt very welcomed and very natural coming in here. It wasn’t difficult getting to know these people because they’re all great people. I think it’s different to work on a show as fast as this because usually I have been given more time to work on shows, but everything is structured really well. We have a game plan at all times, so I’m not really worried about anything.” Davila, a first time ACC student, enthusiastically gushes. Joslin also found herself having a pleasant experience.

“Its given me something to do, which is nice because I just moved here from the Houston area,” says Joslin. “ So I didn’t really know anyone and the theatre department has definitely given me friends. The professional ties are cool as well.” Joslin says as she discusses the theatre department and what kind of an effect it has had on her.

The cast and I then moved onto  Gloria  and they all gave me a little insight on their characters in the show.

“I play three characters; Ani in the first act, Sasha in the second act first scene, and Callie in the second act second scene. All three of these people come from different general backgrounds but they all have the unifying trait that they are terrible in the way that they are two-faced.” Palmer says.

Gloria’s character, Lorin shows some of the “terrible” traits Palmer references. 

“So I play Lorin in  Gloria, ” says Davila and the way the script puts it is that Lorin is a sad, sad, sad, sad guy. During my first entrance, my character is kind of uptight, he’s been a fact checker at this magazine company for a long time. He just turned thirty-seven so he’s very stressed out because he feels like he hasn’t gotten anywhere in life, the job just isn’t fulfilling to my character. He doesn’t really enjoy it all, so a lot of that comes out on stage with a few uncalled for outbursts. Lorin is a sad guy and it is so much fun.”

Holly and Amy rehearsing
Headlining character, Gloria, has a scene that justifies her character’s terrible attitude.

“I play Gloria and Nan,” Joslin says. “Gloria, I kind of relate to a little bit because she is basically a normal person, according to the script. But she ends up in an event that makes her complex in the sense that she is still ‘normal’ but she has become the result of how people mistreated her and the negative energy towards her that has built up over time.”

Following that, Davila then gave some insight on his views on  Gloria  and how it may affect the audience.

Gloria  covers a topic that is kind of becoming a big issue in society. You just flip on the TV and you see it on the news all the time. So to see that on the stage and how it can just happen so quickly and take your life by storm greatly affecting everything about people’s lives. People who didn’t deserve anything, or did depending on how you view the show’s characters.  Gloria  captures the drama of situations like that and it puts in into perspective. Like, wow, my life today could be drastically different if one thing happens that is out of my control.”

After the more serious note of our chats, things then lightened up when the cast members told me why they were majoring in theatre. “I am majoring in theatre because I feel like its a very good art form to express the art I like,” says Joslin. “It’s like a humanistic type of approach to art, and also being expressive and all that jazz,” Joslin says.

Whereas Palmer says, “I was originally going to be a music major, because I was a singer. I am a singer, but then I got into theatre in my junior year of high school and it was like a magical process. It’s not even just acting I like, its just the whole process I like. I even told our stage manager Lindsey that if I didn’t get cast I would put my name in to be the assistant stage manager or something. I can’t imagine doing anything long term that isn’t theatre.”
“Theatre is the only thing I really feel passionate about,” Davila says thoughtfully. “When I’m not doing it I feel like I’m not fulfilled as a human so being here is good for me.”

The Interpreting Process

by Lauren Post and Dany Casey
It is a common misconception that if an individual is fluent in two languages, one can interpret between the two. If only it were that simple! Like theatre, the process of interpreting is an art, which makes performance interpreting an incredibly dynamic experience. As students in the Interpreting Training Program here at ACC, we were fortunate enough to collaborate with the Theater department on the spring production of Gloria.

This semester, we took lessons from previous experience and incorporated it into our collaboration. We attended the first read through of the play, which greatly benefited our process. The director’s notes from the start aided our understanding of its meaning. For example, the word ‘ambition’ was heavily emphasized, as it is the subtitle of the play. We were able to play with that word in our interpretation to reflect its importance. It is impossible to skillfully interpret anything if you do not fully comprehend it. Being privy to conversations throughout the rehearsal process was a huge asset and allowed us to create an interpretation that reflected the vision of the team performing Gloria. Rehearsals provided access to vast amounts of subtle information. It is not only what is said, but HOW it is said. What is the tone of the message? How are words or statements being emphasized? Even pauses utilized in a sentence greatly impact the sign choices we make as interpreters.

This particular play offered some new territory for us with the use of profanity. This is an aspect not often taught in classes, so we were able to employ our Deaf friends, mentors, and peers to give us some variety and fresh ideas on the colorful language of the play. English to American Sign Language is not a 1:1 translation, and there are often many ways to translate one concept. As native English users we were forced to transform statements and monologues into the visual language that ASL represents.

In the constellation of considerations for performance interpreters (where to stand, how many interpreters, how to divide and assign roles, who interprets sound cues, how to show the affect of a ‘Sarah Tweed’ song, etc.), we faced innumerable decisions, each deliberated with a goal of clearest access for the Deaf audience member. We were incredibly fortunate that the cast and crew of Gloria understood and supported our commitment to that access. In the spatial constraints of the Austin Playhouse, the Gloria crew worked with the interpreters to stay visible and in a good sight line for the Deaf audience. As a team, working through the various challenges that presented themselves as the play progressed proved to be invaluable in our careers as future certified interpreters.

None of this extraordinary experience would be possible without the amazing support we received from the cast and crew of Gloria and the many mentors that volunteered their time to watch each rehearsal and performance providing us feedback on how to improve. Our growth as interpreters is thanks to everyone involved in this play and we extend our most sincerest gratitude to all. We look forward to the future of this collaboration between ACC’s Theatre and Interpreting departments to provide continued access to the art of theatre for all!


IA Enstera

Interview by Alden Kahl, ACC Drama Major
What drew you towards stage design and how did you get started, both in theatre and more specifically at ACC?

I have always been interested in building worlds and environments, whether through using legos, dirt and grass, or my ever-changing dollhouse (with electricity). And although I burnt out with acting by the time I was finishing up my BFA in acting (at Texas State), my interest in the design aspects of productions has never lessened. I have been a full-time freelance set and costume designer in theatre and film since 1997 and can’t see changing that…if I have any power over the future.

In 2014, David Yeakle approached me about designing the set for The Wiz. The mere idea of working with David was delicious enough, but the idea of playing in the wonderfully colorful world of The Wiz was just plain irresistible.

The Wiz

photo credit: Anne Wharton
You work in Europe as a set designer as well. How is that experience different than designing for American productions?

There are quite many differences between US and European theatre. Whereas the US has quite a strong history of plays being determined by script, in Europe and Russia (where I am currently doing a workshop) the performance is mostly determined by direction. Meaning, directors are not held to the choices of the playwrights. There are positives and negatives in both approaches. If discussing differences in design aspects, these are mostly in the organizational elements and implementation of the design. Whereas in the US we are accustomed to having a stage manager to consult with about just about all parts of a production, in Europe and Russia there is no stage manager…or at least not in the same responsibilities. The stage managers in Europe and Russia have the responsibilities we would usually associate with a technical director in the US. In all honesty, when working in Europe, I truly miss stage managers. However, when working in the US, I miss the monetary support afforded by the European and Russian governments.

Can we get an insight into how you design and how designing long distance forced changes in your method?

I have always been a rather hands-on type of designer, whether I’ve been constructing the set, technical directing, or whatnot. Tele-designing, if that is an actual term, has forced me to become more concentrated and specific on communication with my construction teams. I would still prefer to attend production meetings in person and tend to be quite finicky about the details and will address the finishing details myself. Thus, even if absent from meetings, I still insist on being present when the show loads into a space. 

What sort of projects are you working now and in the future?

In addition to Gloria , I am currently working in a workshop of “The Schooling Of Bento Bonchev” at Taganka Theater in Moscow, followed by “Patella: The Floating Bone”, a dance/movement project at the Theatre Academy in Helsinki (March), “Cherubin”, the opera at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore (March), “Violet”, the musical at St. Edwards in Austin (April), a production workshop in Berlin for a new opera (May), and a project with Breaking String Theatre to be done at the Rollins (Long Center) in August. And there are talks in the works for other projects in the US, Netherlands, Estonia, etc.

You have a long list of companies and productions you've worked on/for. Is there a particular show whose design you're fond, or proud, of?

There are aspects of every design I can be proud of, but there is a small handful I believe to have had a deeper connection with me than the others. This is not in any way to deny connections with other designs, but to admit I would like to have had held onto the relationship a bit longer. If made to choose one, I think the one closest to my soul being would be the set I designed and built for Breaking String Theatre’s “Uncle Vanya” at the now-defunct Off Center. Maybe it’s because my roots are in Scandinavia or the wonderful appreciation I have for old wooden structures, I had never felt more at peace on a set, being surrounded by all forms of wood, from planks my son, wife, and I tore off the walls of a dilapidated barn to wood chips scattered like a moat around the playing space, canopied by dead branches gathered from a neighborhood park.

You've worked with ACC in the past, on The Wiz and Antigone , how has the Gloria process been different than those?

For The Wiz and Antigone , I was able to “be in the room where it happened” (please excuse my Hamilton reference. I couldn't help myself) Being how I thrive on creative production meetings, I would have rather have been present for production meetings and some rehearsals. Rhythm is THE most important part of plays (even design), and it is almost impossible to learn the rhythm of the play while physically absent from the creative team. Fortunately, I have worked with (and utterly respect) Marcus McQuirter prior to Gloria and can somewhat “hear” the rhythm I believe he would compose for it. It is also a relief to be able to trust the construction talents of Tomas Salas and the crew he knows to put together.

Lastly, you're studying for a Master of Arts in Scenography. How has the process for that been like?

That is quite a loaded question, possible with no concise answer. 

I have been attending Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland since August 2015. As I am nearing the end of my studies (with just my thesis to write), I have not yet had much time for recollection of the entire process. It has been challenging to return to school after a two-decade absence, but also exhilarating to be amongst new talent and energy. Structure of school in Finland is much different from that utilized in the States. Therefore, I have been able to travel for work (sometimes for months at a time) during my studies, and still be counted as attending university full-time….and that is a wonderful thing, for I love what I get to do.

Set for Gloria

photo credit: Lindsey Ollinger


I have been acting all my life. From school plays to church programs, community theater to drama camp, I got into anything and everything I possibly could. I even minored in Theater in college. About eight years ago I was working on a video production with a friend who encouraged me to audition for a then small company called ADV Films. It was explained that they dubbed “japanimation” into English and were always looking for actors. I auditioned, got cast, and just kept getting cast. My first role was Vega in a release of Streetfighter II. A few years later I met some people who worked for Funimation in Dallas and before long was working for them as well. Then some opportunities arose in NYC as well as LA. I was very fortunate to get involved in this field while it was still relatively small. In the last years anime has exploded into virtually every medium, and I'm very grateful to be part of it.
For someone seriously wanting to pursue voice acting professionally, the main thing they need to do first is ACT. Get as much experience in acting as you possibly can. Almost every voice actor I know has an extensive background in theater. Some even have degrees in it. Many people think that because they can make funny voices or sound like a well-known character that they should be a voice actor. It's not about making funny voices or imitation. It's about creating a believable and strong character. It's about acting a role through a roller coaster of emotions. Do you need a college degree? No. Are there classes you can take? Specific classes in voice acting are not generally offered in schools. However, you would benefit greatly from classes in acting, theater, voice & diction, etc. Another thing that needs to be pointed out is that voice acting is not as easy as many think. I have received emails that say, “I think I would be a great voice actor, but I could never do live theater. I would be too nervous and self conscious on stage.” If you think stage acting would make you self-conscious, double it for voice acting. People who are good at it only “make” it seem easy. Most voice actors got into the field through a friend who recommended them. There is no question that knowing someone in the business will get you in the door. But it is your skill that will keep you in the room…
Vic Mignogna

*excerpt originally posted from www.risemboolrangers.com

PERRY CRAFTON recently completed his term as Chair of the Higher Education section of the Texas Educational Theatre Association and member of the TETA Board of Directors. 

GREG ROMERO 's full-length play,  Door to Balloon , was presented in New York City as a staged reading by Boomerang Theatre Company as part of their "First Flight Festival of New Plays". The reading took place at Ripley-Grier Studios on March 11th.

His all-ages play,  Of Plastic Things and Butterfly Wings , will be produced by Dripping Springs High School on May 1st.

KRISTEN ROGERS is directing Little Women , the Broadway Musical, as a Guest Director at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. The show runs April 12-15 and April 19-22.
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