Actor recognizes the importance of stagecraft such as props and sets.
By Emily Garcia
Students performing in “Dracula” may look familiar to audience members who have seen previous productions at this college.
Drama sophomore Mason Ortiz has been cast as Dr. Seward in “Dracula” and has appeared in “Romeo and Juliet” as Tybalt, “Harvey” as Dr. Lyman Sanders, “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum” as Marcus Lycus and “The Boys Next Door” as Jack Palmer.
Seward runs the local insane asylum and is pursuing his love interest, Lucy, throughout the play, which premieres at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 20 in the auditorium of McAllister Fine Arts Center, Ortiz said Sept. 13.
When Lucy falls ill to a vampire bite, Seward investigates why she is sick and who bit her.
To prepare for this character, actors must not only memorize their lines but live like the character, Ortiz said.
“Learning your lines is only half of the battle because then you must dig deeper to find out motivations behind everything your character does,” Ortiz said.
The theater program at this college gives students a good environment to grow as a person and an actor, Ortiz said.
“Community college gives me the flexibility to not only act outside of the department but also study, work and do shows here,” he said. “Most four-year universities with a theater degree don’t allow students to get outside acting jobs because everything you do will be based in that one department.”
He also participates in productions at Viva Theatre Co. in San Antonio.
Ortiz aspires to have his own production company, continue acting and writing and explore directing.
Drama sophomore Ailyn Duran, who will portray Lucy in “Dracula,” has acted in “Sordid Lives” as Dr. Eve and “Harvey” as Nurse Kelly.
“My character Lucy is very extravagant and she is very open about her sexuality and that was considered scandalous during the time she was living in,” Duran said.
The time period of the play is the Victorian era, which marks the reign of Queen Victoria 1837-1901.
Queen Victoria influenced modesty in England where speaking or showing physical love in public was frowned upon.
After Dracula bites Lucy, she turns into a vampire and starts feeding off the blood of children, Duran said.
“I have never played a character who turns evil, so I try to play the character in a way that would make me scared,” Duran said.
Duran said she has worked with all of the directors here, and they have different styles of directing.
Theater Instructor Ronald Watson is the director of “Dracula.”
Watson knows what he wants, will explain to his students how they should act out their parts and will constantly remind students how he thinks the characters should be portrayed, Duran said.
In contrast, theater program Coordinator Paula Rodriguez lets the students develop the characters in their own way and adds less direction to how she thinks the characters should be portrayed, Duran said.
Duran hopes to pursue professional acting after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in theater at the University of Texas at Austin.
Drama sophomore Eric Dorsa will play Renfield in “Dracula” and has also starred in “Sordid Lives” as Brother Boy and “Harvey” as Dr. Chumley.
“Renfield is a lunatic to the outside world, but internally what is going on is he is being possessed and used by Dracula,” Dorsa said. “It is like a blurred reality where the outside world thinks that he is crazy, but really it’s not what it seems.”
Dracula possesses Renfield’s mind to see his emotions and fears to manipulate the world to his advantage, Dorsa said.
Students can learn a lot about themselves by participating in drama productions because they can learn to empathize with the characters in the play and learn to walk in other people’s shoes, Dorsa said.
“It is just really fun to get to portray different facets of life and different characters,” Dorsa said.
Dorsa plans to get an associate degree in theater. Studying acting is helping him develop skills in public speaking, Dorsa said.
Theater productions involve more than only actors being on stage, Ortiz said.
Students have the opportunity to create props and costumes for shows, build the set, work on the technical aspects of the show and become stage manager through theater classes.
“You don’t have to start off as a performer. You can be a techie, and there is nothing wrong with that because the techies are the life of the show,” Ortiz said.
The lighting crew, costume makers, prop makers, set designers and makeup artists create the universe of the play to submerge the audience and actors into the world of the show, Ortiz said.
Dracula is at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 20-29 and at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 23 and 30 in McAllister auditorium.
Tickets are $5 with an Alamo Colleges or high school ID; $8 for other college students, seniors and military; and $10 general admission.
Students interested in the theater program may contact Rodriguez at 210-486-0492.