Guest Artist Johamy Morales Leads Shakespeare Workshop

The Hope College Theatre Department was fortunate enough to have our guest director for the spring production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Johamy Morales, lead a workshop for students during the week of October 20. Johamy will be spending time in 2020 with the cast in preparation for the production, but she was able to give us a small taste of what is to come during the week-long training. She holds an MFA in Acting from Ohio State University, was previously the Education Director at Creede Repertory Theatre in Colorado, and is currently the Director of Education at Seattle Children’s Theatre. Through her broad range of experience she was able to bring a new perspective to tackling Shakespeare. 

Johamy Morales

We started each session with basic vocal and physical warm-ups. There were exercises such as passing a ball around the circle while naming our favorite desserts instead of each other’s names. Tossing the ball ensured that we were communicating clearly with our body language and fully receiving the energy from the person who tossed the ball to us. We then transitioned into a follow-the-leader style exercise of movement which challenged our openness, imagination, focus, and precision. We morphed our movements to copy the leader. At times the exchange was so smooth that it was difficult to decipher who was initiating the movements. The group discussed how this taught us not to impose but rather to flow with the ensemble so that no single person dominated and we worked as a unified whole.

As the warm-ups and large group work came to an end, Johamy led us in what she called “table work.” This involved learning about scansion, rhythm, paraphrasing the text, and all the nitty-gritty aspects of working with Shakespeare. The first few days we learned singular lines at a time and moved around the space to incorporate their rhythms into our bodies. The physicality also allowed us to explore the many possibilities of the lines and find intentions, meanings, and motivations for each segment. 

In small groups we dissected a brief section of text with Johamy at the ready to answer any questions. She assured us that all questions were good questions, and everyone was comfortable and ready to absorb as much of her knowledge as possible. The passages grew longer as the workshop went on and we eventually analyzed and paraphrased a short scene.

The week culminated with a chance for the participants to work on individual monologues with Johamy. One exercise she introduced to strengthen our monologues was using general, small household items and attaching a specific person, word, or action to each item while speaking. In doing so, the actor’s performance grew more specific and the monologue became a more compelling story. Johamy also pushed us to “chew our words,” meaning to enunciate words more than we often think necessary. Johamy taught us the importance of using the language that Shakespeare has already given us and to focus on acting “with it/on it” rather than“around it/on top of it.”  Shakespeare’s plays demand direct and bold “on-the-line” acting. 

Working with Johamy Morales for a week was a powerful and exhilarating experience. The enthusiasm she has created around Shakespeare is palpable. We cannot  wait to see her work on Twelfth Night, so mark your calendars for April 17–18, 23–25 at 7:30 p.m and April 19 at 2 p.m!

Spotlight on Student Projects: THE “S” WORD

All seniors who graduate from Hope College with a theatre degree are required to do one of two things: complete an internship or create a project, known as a 490. Megan Clark, a triple major in theatre, education, and history, has always known she would finish up her career at Hope with a 490 project. This semester, she is collaborating with fellow student, Makeya Royer to co-produce a play. Instead of turning to a published play, Megan and Makeya have chosen to produce a new work written by Megan:“The ‘S’ Word”, to help spread awareness of an issue that has impacted and continues to impact our culture : suicide. 

Throughout her time at Hope, Megan has been involved in a variety of devised and student-led productions. All of these processes, from devised piece The Line Between to 490 Her Real Name Was, written by Deana Velandra (2018), have been primary influencers in Megan’s drive to create a meaningful piece. Megan was both cast in and  designed scenery for Velandra’s production. She credits this production as being the moment her desire to write her own play was born: “I knew after being a part of the experience that I wanted to be able to write my own small play. But I didn’t want to direct it, I wanted to be in it.” So she is.

Megan partnered with Makeya, who is co-producer and director of the play, while Megan plays a character based on her own experiences. Makeya also serves as the play’s lighting designer in true theatre fashion, wearing different creative hats to bring the piece to life. Throughout her time at Hope College, Makeya has taken every opportunity she can to work with and observe theatre faculty as they direct productions. She loves to act, but through her experiences she has also learned that she enjoys putting together a show from behind the scenes as well. She says: “Hope has opened a door for me to experience what the process of directing is. I find passion in this because I still like acting, but I sometimes don’t want to work center stage. It’s a nice balance of still being a part of acting, but also working in the shadows to bring a productions together.”

“The ‘S’ Word” is woven together in a way that pulls a story line from Megan’s own life while also taking fictional liberties. The plot follows a girl named ‘M’ as she navigates her college experience with roadblocks such as depression, anxiety, rocky parental relationships, and more. In the play, ‘M’ works to keep up with her friendships and classes as she also works through the hardships of being a bisexual student attending a conservative university. 

When I asked Megan what she hopes her audience will take away from the production, she gave me two answers. 

First, she said: “There is no one right way to deal with life. There is also no one right way to come out, if that is where you are at in life, because this play deals with sexuality. Life is messy, but the important thing is that you find those people that are going to support you through it. If you don’t have a supportive family, create your own family with the people you meet. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you get to a certain point. It’s okay to ask for professional help.” 

She then adamantly concluded: “We need to talk about suicide. We keep shoving it under the rug. We have also kind of romanticized what suicide is. I hope my play doesn’t do that, because I want it to be painful, ugly, and real. If anyone is feeling like they are in that position, it is okay to ask for help. If you have a friend that is in that position, don’t tell them their feelings are invalid. Know the warning signs.”

When I asked Makeya the same question, she also had words of encouragement for the audience. She emphasized that “you are not alone.” She then went on to say: “The world has an idea of who you should be, but that doesn’t mean you should be that person. You should be you, and in order to be you, you don’t have to be ashamed to seek out help, such as therapy. There is nothing wrong with seeking professional help . You’re not alone, just be you.”

“The ‘S’ Word” is a moving story that deals with issues very relevant to our society today. Due to its painful content, Megan, Makeya, and their creative team want to make sure that everyone in the audience will be supported. The number for the Suicide Prevention Hotline is included in all advertising for the production. There will also be a talk back after every performance, offering closure on the content of the play for those interested in discussing its contents and connections to the outside world. 

“The ‘S’ Word,” written and co-produced by Megan Clark, is co-producted and directed by Makeya Royer. The cast includes Megan Clark, Emma Clark, Emi Herman, and Judah Renshaw. Its creative team is made up of Valerie Dien (stage management), Timothy Embertson (scenic design), Peter Hayward (sound design), Maxwell Lam (costume design), and Makeya Royer (lighting design). Performances will be held in the DeWitt Studio Theatre on November 1 at 7:30 p.m., and November 2 at 3:00 and 7:30 p.m.. Tickets are $2 at the door. 

Off-Campus Spotlight: Ben Douma ’20, Los Angeles

It’s been quite an experience to move off of Hope’s campus for the fall semester and immerse myself in LA’s Hollywood industry. It’s pretty different out here, but I personally enjoy this environment a lot. I figure I’ll share some of my experiences and observations in a short blog-like format for those on Hope’s campus. 

School is a 10-minute walk away from my apartment, on the 16th floor of a building that also houses a bunch of casting agencies- so there’s a constant stream of actors going in and out. The view from my school is phenomenal. It directly faces the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory, and you can see the city sprawl for miles and miles.

I am taking 10 credits of classes which meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays. My fellow students are all very passionate about making art through film production, which is really cool. Our big semester project has split the students (30 total) into two teams. Each team is working on producing an original 10-minute TV pilot episode. I am one of two cinematographers on our team, so we are in charge of setting up the lighting and operating the camera equipment. Pre-production has all come together so we are starting filming this weekend, and, man… 10-hour shooting days are draining.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I have my internship. The program that I’m taking classes through has set me up with an internship at a camera rental house, where I’m occasionally able to get my hands on some top-notch industry-standard cinema cameras. Pretty cool stuff, as seen below.

It’s interesting to see how many of my expectations about LA have been proven false. I assumed that LA would be a bustling place of people with city-smugness on their faces. But wow, is LA chill. Often, people even give you that signature “friendly passerby smile when you make eye contact” that you see everywhere at Hope. In LA, most people’s craziness is reserved for when they are driving on the road. That expectation was fulfilled and then some.

I’ve been lucky enough to get an inside look at the Hollywood industry, and it’s unique to any other industry I’ve seen. On one end of things, there is a great comradery between people that are working together on projects. But you also see that many people are operating with a socially transactional mindset. This is mostly due to the fact that you need to have good connections and a broad network if you want to move up the ladder in the film industry. You sometimes see that people in the biz won’t take the time to get to know you if they realize that you don’t have anything to offer them in terms of their career advancement. Which is a little off-putting.

Being out here and focusing so much on storytelling has made me very thankful for the experiences that I have been given by Hope’s Theatre Department and Vanderprov. I find myself at an advantage within these creative circles in LA because for the past three years, I have spent hours upon hours entrenched in the nitty-gritty of story development and character exploration during rehearsals. And not to mention the level of professionalism that is expected while being involved in a Hope theatre production. It’s something I hadn’t truly realized until I got out here and had to start applying my storytelling skills to a further extent. 

So if you’re thinking of coming out to LA anytime soon, I highly recommend it. I haven’t even begun to mention the thrill of celebrity sightings, studio tours (as seen in the photo, I got to hold a real Oscar award!), and free tickets to shows like America’s Got Talent, Jimmy Kimmel, etc. It’s fun stuff. Plus, the sun is always shining. But believe it or not, I’m starting to miss the brisk breezes and changing colors of autumn of Hope’s campus… 

Hope College Hosts Playwright Arlene Hutton

During the week of September 2, Hope College’s Theatre Department was lucky enough to host playwright Arlene Hutton as she worked on her new play, The Shakers of Mount Lebanon Will Hold A Peace Conference This Month. Hope College has committed to staging a production of the play, opening on November 15. Our Theatre Department is a member of the Big Bridge Consortium, providing us the opportunity to work on new plays, such as The Shakers. The Big Bridge Consortium is a group of twelve colleges that have commissioned three playwrights to each create one play focused on peace and faith. Arlene’s play is the first of the three to be written.

Above: Playwright Arlene Hutton (Photo courtesy of Hope College Theatre Department)

Arlene Hutton’s residency was a completely new theatre experience for me. I, like many of the other students involved, have never been in a room with a playwright actively revising the play we’re preparing to create. After each rehearsal and read -through, Arlene provided an opportunity for the actors to express their thoughts, letting the group be vocal about what they liked and what they were confused about. It demonstrated her willingness to listen and work with us theatre students. She listened to the ideas presented and took each into consideration, letting the conversation flow as a respectful group discussion when trying to decide whether or not to make a change. One of the key phrases Arlene asked the group to frame their thinking around was “What if?” This phrase places people in a more open mindset, allowing themselves to think about the possibilities of a script or a change and not focus on a negative “I don’t like” statement, which ultimately adds nothing constructive to the script writing process.

Above: Arlene Hutton with members of Hope’s The Shakers cast (Courtesy of Hope College Theatre Department)

I was also fortunate enough to be a part of a production meeting Arlene attended. Her knowledge of Shaker history was astonishing. While we were examining photos of Shakers from the play’s time period, Arlene named nearly every Shaker pictured, while also knowing their general role in the community, too. Additionally, she shared a wealth of information on the clothing the Shakers wore, indicating her devotion to sharing her play’s historical world.

Above: Arlene Hutton with director and Assistant Professor Richard Perez, choreographer and Professor Emerita Linda Graham, and Hope College’s complete cast and stage management team of The Shakers Of Mount Lebanon Will Hold A Peace Conference This Month

On Saturday, the last day of Arlene’s stay at Hope, the cast spent the last half hour of rehearsal asking questions about her profession. We learned a lot about her varied career in the theatre, having worked as a playwright, a dresser for Saturday Night Live, an actor, and a house manager. She taught us that if someone is truly invested in working in the theatre world, it doesn’t matter what role they take in it; they will find fulfillment in the joy of creating meaningful art. Over Arlene Hutton’s weeklong residency at Hope College, she deeply impacted each one of us working on the production, and left us with a wonderful play to produce.

Caroline Dargay ‘22

Students Launch Theatre Symposium

Last Fall, a group of Hope Theatre students started Theatre Symposium. The mission is to give students resources to grow as a theatre artists through conversations and workshops with working professionals, new play readings, and audition techniques.

Symposium engages in a holistic, encouraging intra-arts environment by including student artists from a variety of disciplines, bringing them together and connecting them with Hope alumni who are currently working in the arts.   One of the ways Symposium is achieving this is through holding “mock” dance calls.  Symposium has held two such dance calls to date, intended for Theatre and Dance students; with choreography by Hope Dance Department majors.
These audition workshops were monitored by current Theatre Symposium President Katie Joachim.

Theatre Symposium students having a reading and discussion of the new play “Back Cover.”

Symposium highlights this year also include visits from Hope Alumni:

Symposium’s first workshop was with Tiny Breakfast, a Grand Rapids-based improv troupe. Founding members Jake Mate (’17) and Ezra Sprik (’16) led students in various warm-ups and games, and offered tips for how to build and improve strong skills in improv.

Lauren Ezzo (‘15) has become a prominent figure in the audio book industry (recognition incudes an Audie Nomination for her readings in Nevertheless We Persisted and five “Earphone” awards from Audiofile), came and talked about how to succeed in the audiobook industry and find a niche as an artist after college.

Theatre Symposium president Katie Joachim (left) and Voice Actor Lauren Ezzo (right)

The final visit for the year was a skype call with Eric Van Tassell (’08), Lighting Director of the Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center in Lady Lake, Florida, and former Hope Summer Repertory Theatre Production Manager.  He responded to student questions about technical applications and walked us through resume and cover letter tips.

With elections for next year on the horizon, Theatre Symposium is looking forward to the coming years and how to grow and develop to more fully fulfill its mission. Meetings are held every other Tuesday at 9:30pm in the DeWitt Studio Theater. Please drop by!

Send a note to theatre@hope.edu for more information.

Interview with Daina Robins, director of THE GLASS MENAGERIE

The Hope College Theatre Department opened our first mainstage production of 2018, “The Glass Menagerie”, this past weekend! The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams tells the story of the Wingfield family. Recalled through the eyes of Tom, the memory play shares the story of his mother, Amanda, and his sister, Laura. As a young girl, Amanda was a fêted debutante with a life of comfort and admiration. Amanda now worries especially about the future of her daughter. As an extremely shy 23-year-old, Laura has yet to find a suitor. Instead, she spends most of her time quietly arranging her glass animals. Tom is a writer who feels trapped in a dead-end warehouse job and dreams of a more adventurous life. As each escapes into a personal “glass menagerie” the play provides a glimpse into a family that is desperate to break free of the burdens of its past and present.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Daina Robins, the director of the production as well as the Chair of the Theatre Department, and ask her a few questions about the process.

Olivia: WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO DIRECT THE GLASS MENAGERIE?
Daina: I never really thought about directing it. Actually, Rich Perez, [associate professor of theatre at Hope] mentioned it, so I can give him credit for planting the idea. Frankly, it had to do with anticipating that he was going to be casting a large number of women in his production this semester. Partly, it was choosing something that I thought would give three undergraduate students a role that comes by once in your lifetime. Of course, this is the case with a lot of plays, but most of them are not as great [as “The Glass Menagerie”]. To have the experience working on such a classic play allows you to appreciate what a lyrical, musical, and tender writer that Williams is. I’ve seen productions of it, there are film productions of it, but working on it allows you to know it in a deeper way. I think a lot of undergraduate students don’t know the play, and a lot of the people in our audience haven’t seen it. And, we haven’t had Jean [Bahle, adjunct assistant professor of theatre at Hope and also playing the role of Amanda] act for us for a number of years…not since 2004, when we did a production of The Golden Ladder in the studio theatre. I’ve directed her a number of times, and I thought it would be a lovely role for her. The students really have a chance to learn from her, and I didn’t feel I was taking a role away from a female student because, between the student-directed productions and Rich’s devised piece, I felt there were enough opportunities for the women who were ready for it. So it’s a lot of balancing what you think the department wants and needs, what we can design, and it’s a beautiful play that again I don’t think many Hope students have seen.

Olivia: YOU’VE DIRECTED GUEST ARTISTS QUITE A FEW TIMES IN THE PAST, EVEN PRETTY RECENTLY ON JANE EYRE THE MUSICAL AND THE TEMPEST. WHAT IS IT LIKE DIRECTING JEAN, WHO IS ONE OF YOUR COLLEAGUES, ALONG WITH YOUR STUDENTS?
Daina: Well, I joke that I’m Jean’s evil twin sister. I met Jean when I first came to Grand Rapids, before I even got the job at Hope. She is such a kind, gentle person, and I’m not [laughs]. But we’ve always kind of really gotten along, and I think we appreciate each other and recognize some kind of simpatico both personality wise and artistically. She’s incredibly easy to direct, because she’s such an open, generous actor. She is used to working with people who are learning, and she’s ahead of the game. She’s a wonderful actor, and she raises the play for everyone else, and she does it in this generous way, you never feel like she’s impatient with others. She’s a sensitive, insightful, and incredibly humble person.

Jean Bahle, playing Amanda Wingfield in THE GLASS MENAGERIE

Olivia: WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT YOU HOPE OUR AUDIENCE IN HOLLAND WILL TAKE AWAY FROM THIS PRODUCTION?
Daina: There’s a whole history surrounding the play, and I think on one hand we’re honoring that. I think sometimes Amanda gets a raw deal. I really empathize with her…she is alone, she’s raised these children on her own, it’s coming out of the Depression…she makes total sense to me. Yes, she has wonderful memories of her youth…but I don’t even blame her for that. I have a lot of sympathy for Amanda, and I think she’s often cast as the domineering mother and I don’t think that’s what she is. Jean as an actor has an incredible ability to complicate or humanize characters that someone else might just put in a “mean” category. I think her portrayal of Amanda also helps us see the humanity of her. And I think the play also tries to help us see that everybody is special in some way, and it’s up to us to find that in each other, rather than just saying ‘well, this person doesn’t fit in.’ Yes, Laura doesn’t fit in, but Tom doesn’t fit in either…so in some ways, as we all struggle to fit in we sometimes take away those edges of ourselves, the things that make us unique. Rather, let’s see every person as an individual, and find what they’re about.

Junior Shanley Smith and sophomore Jacob Starr in THE GLASS MENAGERIE

Remaining performances of The Glass Menagerie will be Thursday-Saturday, February 22-24 at 7:30 p.m in the DeWitt Center main theatre.

Hope College Theatre Department receives recognition at the Region III Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival

The Hope College Theatre Department is proud of the hard work and effort of their students. Hope Theatre participates in the Region III Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. The annual regional theatre festival is a gathering of more than 1,300 college theatre students and faculty who join together to showcase the best work of the five-state region of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. In addition to invited productions that are juried and selected to perform, theatre students also have the opportunity to display their work in dramaturgy, design, stage management, directing, playwriting, musical theatre, as well as acting.

This year, Hope College received incredible recognition. Senior Akia Nyrie Smith and her scene partner senior Sam Hill, received the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Award, sophomore Emmie Sandstedt received the Stage Management Fellowship, and junior Rachel Dion was selected for the KCACTF/Lort Leadership Award for artistic administrators. These four students will represent Hope College and attend the National KCACTF festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC in April.

Junior Rachel Dion

Sophomore Emmie Sandstedt

As Smith put it, “I just feel very grateful and honored. I am in a very mixed state of shock. I honestly didn’t think I would be here, but I was hoping and I was praying. And I couldn’t be happier with the turn out.”

Senior Akia Nyrie Smith and her Irene Ryan partner, Sam Hill.

Other special recognition at the festival included participants and their scene partners who advanced to the semi-final round of the Irene Ryan Acting scholarship: senior Kierney Johnson and her partner senior Elizabeth Schonfeld, junior Rachel Dion and her partner sophomore Maxwell Lam, and sophomore Gracen Barth and her partner junior Shanley Smith.

The Irene Ryan semi-finalists and their partners.

Senior Nathan Gingrich was a Stage Management finalist and sophomores Teresa Cameon and Katie Joachim were finalists for the Musical Theatre Intensive that included an opportunity to perform in the Musical Theatre Intensive showcase.

Sophomores Katie Joachim and Teresa Cameon.

Senior Nathan Gingrich alongside Theatre Office Manager Reagan Chesnut and sophomore Emmie Sandstedt.

Other accomplishments at the festival include the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship participants and their scene partners – junior Jose Angulo and his partner junior Brynne Fritjofson, junior Olivia Lehnertz and her partner senior Griffin Baer, and junior Katrina Dykstra and her partner sophomore Katie Joachim. Junior Olivia Lehnertz also participated in the Dramaturgy program.

Junior Olivia Lehnertz presenting her dramaturgy research.

Hope College Theatre Department was also selected to tour their production of “The Line Between” as a participating production to the festival. This regional recognition was a great honor for the entire cast and production team. “The Line Between” had two performances on during the festival.     

The cast and crew of “The Line Between” with Hope College President Dennis and Betty Voskuil.

As Lehnertz said, “It was a really great opportunity to tell this story for our peers in theatre. The audience was so engaged and supportive. It’s definitely a highlight of my college career.”

Congratulations to the Hope College Theatre Department for the honors received at the festival!

Theatre Alumni Emily Svendson (’15) and WAR PAINT

Hope College Theatre alumni Emily Svendson (‘15) has been backstage on Broadway as a wardrober for WAR PAINT.

Starring Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole, WAR PAINT is a new musical about the women who dominated the beauty industry, Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden. With fierce competition, the two women sacrificed everything to become two of the country’s first major female entrepreneurs.

Svendson has been working with the production for the past year and a half, starting with the early stages in Chicago.

“WAR PAINT has been the most difficult and most rewarding journey I have been on. This show has been a huge part of my life for the last year and a half. I worked on the out of town last summer at the Goodman Theatre and even then in its early stages, it was a huge, challenging show. Once we started in New York, I knew most of the company from the summer but there were a million of new challenges and problems to face. From learning Union Rules, adjusting to little bitty living spaces, and many others, I have learned so so much about myself as a dresser, an artist, and as a human. It’s been the most surreal experience. If you told thirteen year old Emily (who sat in her room and cried to I Dreamed a Dream almost every day) that she would do a quick change with Patti LuPone, she would have thrown cheese in your face,” Svendson said.

As a wardrober, it is Svendson’s job to maintain costume quality during every performance. She assists with quick changes, attends to costume mishaps and makes sure that everything is ready to go. Some off-stage changes can be as quick as 30 seconds!

During performance, Svendson and her crew would start little backstage rituals to keep the buzz of backstage bustling – whether it be high fives to the beat of the music or spending time with Ms. LuPone when she was around.

WAR PAINT gave its final performance on Nov. 5 so LuPone can undergo immediate hip replacement surgery. For Svendson, closing week was crazy and strange.

“We were fortunate to know that it was coming (sometimes you don’t get much notice) but it’s still en ending of a huge chapter. During the week, we spent our down time getting ready for load out: cleaning out dressing rooms, sending every costume to dry cleaning, organize accessories. Our closing performance was one that was really special. The energy from the audience was positive and full of love, which made everything that we were doing worth it. Change is always hard but it brings bright new beginnings,” Svendson said.

Now that the production has closed, Svendson hopes to trust the process and continue to find  more work.

“That’s the best and worst part about Broadway; nothing is ever certain. It’s terrifying that you could spend years on a show only for it to last a few months. But that’s how this business goes. You just dust yourself off and keep going.”

LA: Chad Coe

What happens to our students after college? In this series we will look at Hope College alumni taking on the real world in no other city than Los Angeles.

To begin our series we will start with Hope alum, Chad Coe, a 2004 graduate with big dreams. We are so proud to see his dreams becoming a reality.   

Chad Coe made his Victory Theatre debut this fall in the World Premiere Parody based of Hedda Gabler – Resolving Hedda.  He is just coming off the Ovation nominated West Coast Premiere of The Lyons at The Road TheatreChad was also in the original cast of The Rose and the Rime at The Kennedy Center. His Los Angeles theatre credits include: Dracula Directed by Ken Sawyer, World Premieres of The Red Room Directed James Mellon and The Light Bulb w/ Stephanie Powers. He can be seen on TV recurring on Colony(USA Network) and Matador (EL Rey Network)

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Coe was originally recruited to Hope by the basketball team. However, the summer before freshman year Coe became ill and was not able to join the team in the fall. During this time, Coe was inspired by his brother, a student at NYU, who was shooting a feature film. Excited about a new passion, Coe quickly joined Hope’s theatre program in hopes of chasing a similar dream to his brother’s.

“It was kind of a serendipitous moment for me,” Coe explains.

He acted in plays in elementary and high school but when he took his first acting class with Professor Jean Bahle, Coe knew theatre was the right fit.

Though Coe actually graduated with a communication degree from Hope, he was a huge part of the theatre program. From his favorite role in Hope’s devised piece, The Rose and the Rime, where he and the cast performed in Washington D.C. on the Kennedy Center stage for Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Coe threw himself into theatre productions and took every acting class the department had to offer. Coe is thankful for the technique he learned at Hope that served as a foundation for taking his craft out into the working world.

In the midst of his TV and theatre career in L.A., Coe began to lose the “why” in acting career. What was he doing all this for anyway? Last spring, Coe was cast in the Nicky Silver play, The Lyons. The play is a dark comedy about family relationships. The production was in an intimate venue in the city and ran for a 5 months- A long run in the city of L.A.

  

What draws Coe to L.A. is the creativity surrounding him. Need a drummer? Ask the neighbor. Need a graphic designer? Ask the barista. Creativity is wheeling in and out of every conversation and the collaborative opportunities are never ending.

“What is it inherently inside of you that’s bringing you here? If you work and work and work, you get better but you have to really strip down and reveal who you are.”

To follow Chad Coe and his career in L.A as he continues his work check out his website! www.chadmcoe.com

We are proud of our Hope alums and the contribution they are making to the theatre scene in Los Angeles.

Faculty Summer Series: Daina Robins

Daina Robins, Professor of Theatre and Chair of the Theatre Department, has co-led a May term to Ireland for the past four years. Professor emeritus John Tammi led the first Ireland May term in 1996, But now Robins joins him as they take a group of students through winding cobblestone streets and incredible cliff side views. The aspect Robins loves most about leading with Tammi is the fact that he is a wonderful storyteller and has a terrific sense of humor, two things that blend right in with Irish culture.

The traditional classroom is transformed into a mystical, magical, foggy fairytale as students learn about the culture by interacting with it day in and day out.The students pile into 9-person vans and travel throughout the countryside in order to soak in everything Ireland has to offer. The trip takes you through Dublin, Belfast, Galway, and other small towns that are filled with quaint pubs, gorgeous landscapes, and rich history.

Even though Robins and Tammi have theatre backgrounds, you do not need to be a theatre major or even interested in theatre in order to partake in this incredible opportunity. Conversations spring from the rich cultural heritage that is woven into the roots of the country. Conversations of politics, history, poetry, religion, people, and politics evolve in the vans between visiting historic sites, museums, and theatres.

Primarily built as a Senior Seminar, the Irish Culture and Celtic Wisdom May term culminates in students writing a life view paper. The class gives students access to the Irish people and culture and prompts them to ask deeper questions of themselves.

 “Immersing into a culture gives you the opportunity to reflect back on your own life: What are your values? What is your belief system? What is your relationship to faith, religion, politics, land, family, urban life, art?”

This term is three plus weeks of self-exploration through the study of Celtic culture, Irish people, and the way others live and breathe the same way we do on the other side of the ocean.