By Kate Luce
Five theatre and dance students are currently taking their degree to the next level. While some are currently are in graduate school, others are finding careers that tie directly to their degrees. The following Raclin School of the Arts graduates are doing big things both near and far.
Sam Angelina, BFA Musical Theatre Performance, is currently attending Ohio University to pursue an MFA in Costume Design and Technology. Although Angelina received her undergraduate degree in Theatre Performance, her time working in the costume studio was nothing short than memorable.
“I knew I wanted to go into design around my sophomore and junior year of undergrad, but at that point, it was too late to switch my focus without adding more time onto my undergraduate degree. So, I decided to work on my portfolio and try to get into my desired field for graduate school,” Angelina says.
She had an interest in Ohio University after meeting with the head of the costume design program, Helene Siebrits, at University Resident Theatre Association (URTA) in Chicago. After clicking right away with Siebrits and learning that Ohio University offers a wig design program, Angelina’s interest for attending grew.
Over this past summer, Angelina was contacted once again from Siebrits and was offered a spot in the MFA program as a costume designer and wig technologist.
Although Angelina has only been in the graduate program for a short while, she has been busy designing costumes and wigs, as well as acting and building life-long bonds with her peers.
“I just finished assistant costume designing Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson and am currently assistant designing Rhinoceros by Ionesco which opens after Thanksgiving. I’m also gearing up to be the assistant designer for Objects in the Mirror and will be having my design debut in April with the Playwright’s Festival. I’ve also been designing for the film department,” Angelina says.
“Friday nights, I participate in Midnight Madness, which is a short play festival put on by the Playwriting MFA students every Friday night. The way Midnight Madness works is the playwrights choose a different writer to produce every week. The producer chooses a theme on Monday, and everyone has until Friday tech rehearsal to write, cast, rehearse, and tech their play. I am friends with many of the playwriting MFAs and have been cast five times now,” Angelina says.
Dayandra Leão, BFA Theatre Performance, is residing in upstate New York. After graduation, she has been crisscrossing the country for auditions and extra acting classes. She attended the prestigious Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre in Los Angeles, Ca.
“There's no right way to act, and everyone gets to their emotional toolbox in a different way, be it from Meisner to Chekhov to Strasberg to Stanislavski himself. For me, after reading Stella Adler's book, her technique seemed like it would resonate with the kind of actor I am. She never believed in turning oneself inside out and harming yourself by trudging up past trauma. She was an advocate of living a full life, having a vivid imagination to fill in the blanks between you and your character, educating yourself because knowledge will strengthen that imagination, and using physical actions to pinpoint specific choices while acting. Before I even studied her technique intensely, I was doing much of what I just described, and I knew that I had to go and study it more after finding that out,” Leão says.
After Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre, Leão has also been working on Emilia and the Heart of the Rainforest, throughout New York, working for the Merry-Go-Round Youth Theatre since she has left South Bend.
“I wanted the chance to hone my acting every single day while on tour so that when I made the eventual move to LA, I would have the endurance and authenticity that I needed to make it there. I also value the work that Merry-Go-Round does as the largest theatre for young audiences in New York State. I’m able to perform for over 100,000 kids in 100+ performances of my tour alone. Moreover, I am able to portray a Brazilian indigenous character and be that stepping stone for representation that I aim to be. Merry-Go-Round is also considered the "Broadway of the Finger Lakes" due to the quality of work that is produced there. It is on its way to becoming a developmental site for shows that eventually go to New York, and I have seen lots of new works being put on by equity actors because of that,” Leão says.
She performs two shows a day, five days a week. It’s a lot of work, but for Leão, it’s worth it.
“To be able to draw up the energy I need and be there 100% honestly takes a toll on you. But in that same token, I've realized how I can always get myself to a place of realness from this job, and how to keep that illusion of the first time alive even when I'm dozens of shows in. I also love this show because it is shaping the minds of the next generation and showing them the beauty that is theatre,” Leão says.
Recently, Leão, has been auditioning throughout New York for short films and student films. She has had auditions in Syracuse, Ithaca, and even Toronto.
However, her stay in New York is not permanent. Her goal is to move to Los Angeles after her contracts end in New York. She wants to get into film, television, and the bustling theatre scene in Los Angeles.
“I don't want to limit myself by never trying to move to the heart of film and T.V. I owe it to all the people who supported me along the way, and to myself, to give it my all. I hope to be able to break barriers and have good representation for Latinx actors, as well as all people of color. I want to be an ally within my work and show the world that anything is possible if you believe and work hard enough to achieve it,” Leão says.
Ian La Fountain, BFA Technical Theatre with a concentration in Lighting Design, is currently attending the University of Nevada Las Vegas and pursing an MFA in Lighting and Design.
“Graduate school was an opportunity that presented itself late in my senior year. It wasn't really planned. UNLV came in with a strong offer. Graduate school is a lot of politics, you have to quickly learn how to navigate the university structure to get what you want from the education,” La Fountain says.
Currently, La Fountain is opening The Flick at the Nevada Conservatory at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
While here at IU South Bend, La Fountain was involved with more than just lighting. However, after discovering his passion for lighting, La Fountain won an award at the United States Institute for Theatre Technology for his lighting design work in Dead Man’s Cell Phone in 2017. His award-winning work was then featured in Theatre Design and Technology Journal, alongside other students who also won the award.
“IU South Bend gave me a lot of freedom when it came to my art. The professors in the theatre and dance department are fantastic. Not only did they help make me a better artist, but they gave me the confidence to advocate for myself,”
Once La Fountain graduates with his MFA, the plan is to shift his focus from theatre lighting to concert lighting.
Nich Sikorski, BFA Theatre Design with a concentration in Lighting Design, has remained in the South Bend area. He has taken the position of Technical Director at Penn High School, teaching high school students the same passion for theatre he has.
“At the time, I was also looking at Goshen College’s position for their Technical Director. I took the position at Penn because this was a great way to expose future generations to theatre and help to prepare them for college for those that want to pursue theatre as a career. When I went in for my interview with Penn, I was blown away by their theatre spaces and how technologically advanced they are, and I thought that this was a great place to be. It’s funny, in high school I wanted to go to Penn for school, and in my college years, I became their DJ for prom,” Sikorski marvels.
Sikorski’s position at Penn High School is very complex. He works with scheduling the school’s theatre productions, setting the stage for these productions as well as the band, orchestra, and choir concerts. He works hands on with students with set, lighting, and sound design of theatre productions, as well as teaching his students proper stage and house management.
“I enjoy how hands on the job is. There really is not a dull or boring day at the office, but mostly, I enjoy exposing the students to new technical ideas, teaching them new and exciting ways to light design and sound design. It truly is rewarding when a student who has never played with lights or designed for a show before gets some experience in that field and is truly blown away by what they accomplished,” Sikorski says.
As of recently, Sikorski has just closed Penn High School’s fall production of Shakespeare in Love: High School Addition. He has been setting up for the Madrigal Dinner Theatre performance and Viva Voce Choir, and in the near future, will be working on the stage design for Fiddler on the Roof.
Sikorski plans to stay at Penn High School for a while, but graduate school is his next step. Nonetheless, his experience with Penn has been rewarding and very fulfilling.
Tyler Marcotte, BFA Musical Theatre, attended the Open Jar Institute in New York this past summer. The Open Jar Institute is an intensive week-long program that provides students with one-on-one training with Broadway performers, directors, choreographers, and agents.
Marcotte auditioned for the Open Jar Institute the last day of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival this past year. She took a chance after several other IU South Bend students decided to audition for the school also.
“My experience was amazing. I worked with Broadway professionals such as Angelique Ilo, a performer from the original Chorus Line on Broadway, as well as Bob Cline, who is a casting director for the regional circuit. We saw four Broadway shows, as well as, had workshops every hour of the day,” Marcotte says.
With the busy schedule of the Open Jar Institute, Marcotte found confidence with her passion in theatre. With hard work, comes great rewards.
“The greatest thing I took away from my experience is that I can do this. With enough hard work and effort, going to auditions, honing my skills and non-stop work, I can make my dreams a reality. My experience in New York was not only eye opening but encouraging as well,” she says.
As of now, Marcotte is back to doing the same hard work that the Open Jar Institute inspired her to do. She has been busy with auditioning, preparing her website, and recording videos.
“The work never ends, but I would not want to have it any other way!” Marcotte exclaims.
If you are interested in the theatre & dance program, or auditioning for a role, please visit the department pagehere.