Sunday, September 30, 2007

A New Original Play

In early 1982 I brought my California bride back to the Los Angeles area where she lived before we were married. I took a job at California State University, Dominguez Hills [CSUDH] (in the City of Carson) as Director of Research and Funded Projects. In 1997, I moved from that position to organize and become Director of the Office of Community Service Learning until my full retirement in the Spring of 2006.

CSUDH, at that time, was one of the youngest campuses in the California State University system. It had begun in the mid-60s and was what I like to refer to as a "minorities" campus. The student body was a marvelous blend of black, white, Hispanic, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Filipino, Samoan and other ethnically diverse students much like the Los Angeles area. I believe it is the most diverse campus west of the Mississippi River.

A couple of years ago, there was an initiative to build a living history of the campus. Focus groups were held with residents of the local community, past and present faculty, staff and students. The Dominguez Bridge Project was born and one of the latest results of the work is a new play, The Little College on the Hill. I have been cast in it as Leo Cain, the founding President of the then college/now university.

This will be a very special production for me for a number of reasons. I began acting 13 years ago at Dominguez Hills under the direction of Sydell Weiner. In that production of A Shayna Maidel was a young freshman named Naomi Herrera (now Buckley), a first semester freshman at the time, who is co-writer of the present script along with Brenda Arrieta Killian, another CSUDH Theatre Arts graduate. Both of them are among my stage daughters and it was great seeing them this afternoon at the first read through of the script.

The Director is Bill DeLuca who previously cast me in 3 plays, Harvest Moon, Boy and Tales of the Last Formicans. Bill also is founder of Teatro Dominguez which, among other things, takes student written short plays into the classrooms of schools in the Carson area. He is pictured below with Dan Weinell, another one of the cast members with whom I have previously worked.

Bill De Luca (L) and Dan Weinell at the opening read through

So, I'm getting back up on stage again. It's a huge cast of 35 many of whom I have acted with previously and several with whom I worked on the campus over the past 25 years. It will definitely be a challenge and a lot of fun.

And, oh yes, we open November 9 and run 2 weekends.


Eric Valentine said...

It sure looks like you're going to be busy again for awhile. It must be a good feeling, working with former actors again. :)

Leon said...

It sure is. I've had a chance to watch the 2 writers "grow up," having met them when they first started college. And I had good experiences with all of the cast members I've worked with before which sometimes isn't the case. :-)

Anyway, there will be more posts about this experience which is unique for me because I lived some of it in my 25 years on the Dominguez Hills campus.