Open house highlights acting skills, invites aspiring thespians


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Drama professor Linda Jackson-Whitmore prepares to bow down with her class after performing various scenes and skits in one part of the drama department’s open house for high school students on May 5 in the Knox Center.

By Xavier Johnson, Assistant Sports Editor

An open house for interested Middle College High School and Contra Costa College students was held in the Knox Center on May 5 as a part of the drama department’s preparation for the 2016-17 academic year.

Classes from the drama department presented a short show for about 20 students in attendance featuring examples of what they have been learning in their classes throughout the spring semester, drama professor Linda Jackson-Whitmore said.

Adjunct drama professor Kathy McCarty said, “I hope the open house showed that the drama department is an open, inviting and fun environment that’s on the upswing.”

During the show, drama department Chairperson Carlos-Manuel Chavarría spoke about the new additions to the growing drama department that will be enacted in the coming semesters.

A new class, Theater History, taught by director and adjunct professor Angelina LaBarre, will be added for fall 2016.

Chavarría said a drama transfer degree is in the works as well.

Jackson-Whitmore said, “The program is definitely growing a lot. This isn’t just a place where students come in and take one class anymore. This is becoming a full course students can take and then transfer to a four-year.”

Alongside the new additions to the course, a drama club will also be started, Chavarría said.

MCHS student Luis Gonzalez said, “I’m glad I came. I am pretty interested in joining the Drama Club.”

The open house performance started with John Morocco introducing students from his Drama 106 Technical Theater Production/Stagecraft class.

They gave a presentation going through elements of technical theater production like lights and sound, explanations of stage positions and theater terminology.

The presentation was a cumulative look of what they learned during the semester.

Jackson-Whitmore had students from her Drama 122 Acting 1 class. Most were MCHS students taking their first drama class, she said.

The class performed acting exercises they learned in class.

The exercises covered stage combat, stage picture practice, prop use exercise and a monologue performance.

The exercises were good basic exercises that newer actors learn, Jackson-Whitmore said.

MCHS student Miguel Serrato said, “Acting 1 was cool. I didn’t really know what they did in these drama classes before. That monologue was tremendous.”

Actors from the production of “The Laramie Project” performed a short scene from the play.

Acting 2 students Oz Herrera-Sobol and Derian Espinoza performed the scene to show students what kind of productions they can get involved in, LaBarre said.

The Drama 123 Acting 2 class took the stage and performed improvisational comedy scenes.

Improvisational comedy is a more advanced exercise the Acting 2 students do.

Melissa Hadiyanto, Tayler Meulpolder, Jay Lamar, Herrera-Sobol, Espinoza and Ivan Cazlada all took the stage. They did two improvisational comedy games — one called “Freeze” and the other “Mormon Tabernacle.”

Meulpolder, Herrera-Sobol and Espinoza all said they are interested in joining the Drama Club and continuing being part of the drama department.

McCarty said, “Students saw there is a diverse group of people in the theater department. It’s an open environment where all students can grow.”