College of Fine Arts News Archive

June 2018

  • Student stage managers keep SummerStage Festival running smoothly

    Student stage managers keep SummerStage Festival running smoothly

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    SFA theatre students Yanelly Vargas, left, and Kylie Wakulat review their rehearsal notes as they prepare for the opening of the SummerStage Festival, which runs June 29 through July 19. Vargas is stage manager for “Crimes of the Heart,” and Wakulat is stage manager for “Pinkalicious the Musical."

    June 8, 2018—Robbie Goodrich

    While many of their peers are taking summer vacations or lighter summer class loads, SFA theatre students Yanelly Vargas and Kylie Wakulat are deep in production mode for this year's SummerStage Festival at Stephen F. Austin State University.

    As stage managers for the School of Theatre's two featured plays - Vargas for "Crimes of the Heart" and Wakulat for "Pinkalicious the Musical" - the theatre majors have been busy for months, beginning with auditions in March, followed by design meetings throughout the spring and now rehearsals, all leading up to the SummerStage Festival opening on June 29.

    It's a tough, tricky job to make sure that the entire production team is on the same page.

    "Stage managers communicate with actors, directors and designers throughout the entire process," Vargas explained. "We run the audition process, and during rehearsals we assist the actors and director. We also create a prompt book that includes a script with blocking and light/sound cues. The prompt book includes any information needed for the production, such as cast list, calendars and reports."

    "We work closely with the director and the technical designers of the production to ensure that the vision of the director is met," Wakulat said. "When the shows begin their runs, the stage manager is the one to make sure that, with every performance, it is what the director intended it to be."

    "Pinkalicious the Musical" with book by Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann, music by John Gregor, and lyrics by John Gregor, Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann, is the story of Pinkalicious, a little girl who can't stop eating pink cupcakes despite warnings from her parents. Her pink indulgence lands her at the doctor's office with Pinkititis, an affliction that turns her pink from head to toe - a dream come true for this pink loving enthusiast. But when her hue goes too far, only Pinkalicious can figure out a way to get out of this predicament.

    "Crimes of the Heart" by Beth Henley is about three sisters with very different personalities and lives who reunite when the youngest of them, Babe, has just shot her husband. The oldest sister, Lenny, takes care of their grandfather and is turning into an old maid, while Meg, who tries to make it in Hollywood as a singer/actress, has had a wild life filled with many men. Their reunion causes much joy, but also many tensions, according to the description at

    "Crimes of the Heart" is the second show Vargas has stage managed at SFA. This past spring, she was stage manager for Denise O'Neil's "Sorry, Not Sorry," which was part of the School of Theatre's Festival of New American Plays.

    "Throughout this process, I have discovered that one of the most important things is communication," said Vargas, a sophomore from Carollton. "If any problems arise, I have to communicate with the appropriate people and find the most efficient solution. Communication is everything."

    During the past spring semester, Wakulat, who is a technical theatre and design major from Katy, stage managed "And the Pursuit of Happiness, 1994," which was also part of the biennial Festival of New American Plays. Last fall, she was assistant stage manager for "Mr. Burns - A Post Electric Play." She also stage managed throughout high school, including for productions of "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Giver," "She Kills Monsters" and "The People."

    Directed by Cleo House Jr., director of the School of Theatre, "Pinkalicious the Musical" will be presented in Turner Auditorium at 10 a.m. June 29, July 10 and 19; at 2 p.m. July 7, 10 and 18; and at 6:30 p.m. June 30 and July 14. General admission tickets are $8. A pay-what-you-can performance is at 2 p.m. July 10.

    "Crimes of the Heart" is directed by Dr. Inga Meier, assistant professor of theatre, and will be presented in the Downstage Theatre at 7:30 p.m. July 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, 18 and 19 and at 2 p.m. July 14. General admission tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for students/youth. An audience "talkback" session is planned following the July 7 performance. A pay-what-you-can performance is at 2 p.m. July 14.

    While stage managing is a difficult job, it's also a rewarding one that's filled with important lessons that will carry over into successful careers in professional theatre.

    "I wanted to work in SummerStage as soon as I could because I knew this would be a great opportunity for me to meet other students, faculty and staff members that I probably wouldn't be able to meet if it wasn't for SummerStage," Vargas said." As soon as I found out that Dr. Meier would be directing one of the shows, I knew that I wanted to work with her. Who knows if I would ever get the chance to work with her again, and I definitely didn't want to miss this opportunity."

    The SummerStage Festival is sponsored in part by Tipton Ford Lincoln.

    For tickets or more information, visit or call (936) 468-6407 or (888) 240-ARTS.

    You may also be interested in the following related article:

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  • Annual 12x12 event raises funds for SFA art scholarships, grants

    Annual 12x12 event raises funds for SFA art scholarships, grants

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    Left to right: Korey Burns, Aldo Ornelas and Shelby Locklin

    June 5, 2018—Robbie Goodrich

    Work is well underway to make this year's 12x12 scholarship fundraiser for the Friends of the Visual Arts at Stephen F. Austin State University another success.

    The silent auction features 12-by-12-inch pieces of art created by approximately 70 artists from Nacogdoches, Lufkin and other areas of East Texas. Anyone may silently bid on the unique one-of-a-kind pieces, according to Crystal Hicks, event committee chairwoman.

    "This event has become a staple of the summer," says Hicks. "It's well-attended, and the bidding is always energetic and competitive."

    Silent bidding ($250 minimum) begins Thursday, June 28, at The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House and will continue up to the day of the art party, which is planned for 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, July 14, at the art center.

    The purpose of 12x12 is to raise funds for the FVA scholarships and grants that that are awarded to SFA art students. Between $12,000 and $15,000 is awarded annually in scholarships to deserving students in the School of Art.

    The awards help students defray the costs of special projects for art classes or M.B.A./B.A. exhibitions. Some recipients have attended conferences or gone on school trips that will help with their professional development. This has included Maymester trips for art students to go to Big Bend for a special photography project. The organization also awards scholarships for elementary school students to attend the SFA Art Academy.

    "It's so rewarding to visit with the students who have received a scholarship," says Hicks. "And it's even better to hear from them after they've gone on to continue making art after they graduate. We invite former students to attend and participate, as well."

    The annual 12x12 art auction and party is a summer favorite of many East Texans, but no one appreciates the effort that goes into the planning and the donated art more than the students who benefit from the work of generous volunteers and artists.

    Among those benefiting from FVA scholarship is Aldo Ornelas, a graduate student in ceramics from Mexico. For Ornelas, who is himself contributing a piece for the 12x12 auction, an FVA scholarship allowed him to make his first tuition payment as an art student at SFA. Ornelas said he greatly appreciates his art professors because they give him "the freedom to explore and create, and it's the perfect environment to explore."

    Receiving an FVA scholarship helped Korey Burns of Columbia, Louisiana, purchase the kinds of materials to make her work successful. Burns recently graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree.

    "It's hard as a student to be able to pay for supplies to create art," Burns said. "Being a metalsmith, my materials tend to cost more than others. By receiving a scholarship, I am able to purchase the materials I need to make my work successful. Without scholarships, I do not think it would be possible to produce the work that I enjoy creating."

    Burns was recently notified that she was accepted for a fulltime metal art residency at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

    "There, I hope to continue learning and growing as an artist," Burns said. "I know the change in area will be a huge impact on my art. Professionally, I will be introduced to new opportunities for showing my work at galleries and consignment shops for my jewelry line, and I will have new teaching possibilities."

    South Lake junior sculpture student Shelby Locklin is a second-year scholarship recipient who plans to be a working artist. She enjoys teaching and does private lessons. She said that it means a lot for a group of "complete strangers" to reach out and show their support and care for her and her goals as an artist.

    "I wouldn't be here if it weren't for them," she says, describing SFA's art department as "a small program, but with a lot of ambition."

    "The professors care about their students, and it's a good working environment," she said. "I love being with other creative people."

    "We rely on the generosity of the artistic community to provide the pieces for the auction," Hicks said. "And, of course, the generosity of art lovers in the area is paramount. We're fortunate that both artists and art appreciators alike continue to make this a successful event."

    The Cole Art Center is located at 329 E. Main St. For more information about 12x12 or to become a sponsor, call The Cole Art Center at (936) 468-6557.

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