Theatre & Film Showcases Student-Directed Projects


Catherine Davis/San Jacinto Times

(Back row, from left) Stage Manager Caylin Salinas poses with student directors Corey Nance, (front row, from left) Marcus Delzell, Katy Sammarco, and Gerardo Galarza.

From acting on stage to working behind the scenes, theater and film students of San Jacinto College Central Campus learn to do it all. But after taking instructions from others to help bring the department’s shows together, at the end of the season, four budding student directors have the opportunity to put their skills to work by directing a production of their own.

This year, Gerardo Galarza, Katy Sammarco, Marcus Delzell, and Corey Nance were selected to direct shows they will debut on April 19 and 20.

Students with two semesters of study under their belt are eligible to sign up for a directing project, produced either on stage or film and after much consideration by the department faculty, Theatre Professor Dr. Jerry Ivins decides the final four directors. Fellow professor Brian Hamlin said the students’ work ethic and accomplishments are weighed carefully before selection.

Moreover, interested participants must first submit a detailed proposal outlining their dream cast, the design layouts of their set, lights, and costumes, and the message they want to relay to the audience.

All four students chose to direct productions that feature sensitive topics ranging from family issues, drug abuse, and bullying to homosexuality, self-harm, and self-love.

“It’s not just controversy for the sake of it,” Galarza said, “It’s controversy to make the audience think.”

Students are free to choose either an existing script or write their own, but it must adhere to the 20 to 45-minute time limit. Delzell is the only student of the four directing a film.

“I like films better,” Delzell said. “And it gives everyone who’s working on it an opportunity to see how it works because there’s a lot of elements that go into film that aren’t in live theater.”

The student directors faced multiple obstacles while organizing their projects including competing with each other and the department’s last show of the season, Baby Dance, for their preferred actors.

“You don’t get the pick of the litter,” Sammarco said. “No, there’s four of us plus Baby Dance which gets first priority. So it’s like a fight to the death on who gets who.”

Also, they have the added challenge of staging their productions around the existing set for Baby Dance, which opens a few days later, that will not be removed for the students’ projects.

“This kind of obstacle shows how the students can turn objective into action for their shows,” Hamlin said.

Meanwhile, each student has a different reason for taking up the challenge to direct a show, but Galarza said he is using the opportunity as a stepping stone toward the career he will eventually pursue.

“I really want to direct in the future,” Galarza said, “High schools compete with a forty-minute limit, so this experience has helped me cut my show to the main plot, while still keeping details.”

On the other hand, Nance said experiences like this help him better understand himself and open new areas of interest.

“I started off college wanting to be a doctor,” Nance said, “Now I’m in fine arts, doing theater. Each time I dip my hand in something I feel I get closer to what I have a calling for.”

The student productions will be shown at 7 p.m. on April 19-20 in the Powell Arena Theater of the Fine Arts building (C13) on the Central Campus.