Friday, November 16, 2007

All “Brushed Up” for the Final Weekend

After 4 days off following last weekend's performances of The Little College on a Hill, Director Bill DeLuca scheduled a brush up rehearsal for last night. Even though a couple of cast members were not there because of class conflicts, it went well and we all feel prepared for this weekend's final 3 performances. I was able to get some pictures during the rehearsal. (Fellow cast member Roberto Vazquez kindly snapped the photo of The Ancient One).

Upstage, looking out

From the stage left wings

During the protest rally

During Keven's dream

The Ancient One

I also want to thank and salute Candice Embrey (pictured below), our first time stage manager. She has taken charge and conducts herself like a seasoned pro, not a newcomer to the stage managing craft.

Finally, below is a piece written by cast member Joanie Harmon that was distributed via e-mail to the entire CSU, Dominguez Hills community. It says it all:


As the "roving reporter" of our university's Communications and Public Affairs department, I have been privileged to learn about my alma mater from the inside out. I've met accomplished alumni, ambitious and committed students, and a dedicated faculty and staff who teach and support them all, to graduation day and beyond. In addition, it is a common occurrence when I socialize in my non-campus circles, that I meet people who have been affected by Dominguez Hills in some way, either directly or though a family member or friend.

Participating as a cast member in "The Little College on a Hill" has been a watershed experience for me. In watching the production unfold, I have witnessed a true story within a story. My fellow alumnae, Naomi Buckley ('01) and Brenda Killian ('00), have gone straight to the heart of the matter here on campus. In depicting the history of Cal State Dominguez Hills, they have brought a gritty realism to the ivory tower. To quote their script, our university is "not a social experiment, it is a social advancement that is long overdue."

One of my favorite moments was during a pivotal scene that involves the entire cast. In it, the campus community unites for a protest rally that spans four decades of issues at Dominguez Hills. While the words did not necessarily follow a linear conversation, at one point, someone dropped a cue and to fill the gap, another actor jumped ahead.

Words and gestures that had been such a challenge during the hours of rehearsal crystallized and the cast seamlessly followed the scene from the "new" starting point. When there was a pause, we picked up the lines we were supposed to say previously and finished the scene. No one in the audience could have known the difference, but we did, and at that particular moment, as during many others, we were an undefeatable team.

If only the pervading atmosphere on campus were like this scene – and its quick save – at times. Not once during the entire production of "Little College" did I see that legendary actor's ego surface among any of the cast members. I think that the campus community could definitely learn from this collaborative, collegiate spirit that pervades the production. All worked for the good of the show, from the most accomplished actors to the first-time novices.

I witnessed moments of laughter and nervous energy as we rehearsed lines that were at first difficult to remember. Voices that were usually soft-spoken were encouraged to project themselves in order to deliver these lines with flair and emphasis. But most importantly, I witnessed moments of great humanity. I watched as younger and more expert actors taught older, less experienced actors the tricks of the trade. In return, the older cast members – many of whom were new to the stage but more schooled in life experience - gave in return the encouragement and mentoring that is so needed by youth of every circumstance.

One cast member will soon be graduating from a local high school and is deciding where to begin his college career. Another actor, who works at CSUDH in Outreach, took him under his wing and outlined the steps he would have to take to apply to Dominguez Hills.

"The Little College on a Hill" is a microcosm of our university. It looks back at the beginnings of the college, which were in part a response to the violence of the Watts Riots and the need for social change. It highlights the intellectual freedom to question, think and grow that a progressive institution provides.

Most importantly, it reveals one of the greatest "points of pride," as our new President calls our many achievements as a university. Dominguez Hills may have started as a "little college," and in many ways, it still is.

But the accomplishments of its people, the warmth of its on- and off-campus community and its effect on not only the local area and the state, but numerous corners of the world, have made it a giant in the California State University system, and indeed, the entire nation.

We would like to invite you, the campus community to see "The Little College on a Hill." Every student, faculty and staff member and alum should see this play, because it's all about us!

Joanie Harmon (Class of '03)


Thank you Joanie!

1 comment:

Eric Valentine said...

A wonderful post Leon and pictures to go with it too. Good Luck my friend. :)