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Theater department prepares for in-person fall production

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Abelina Nuñez
Social Media Editor

The University of La Verne theater department will debut its fall production “Language of Angels,” which tells the story of a young girl’s disappearance, with performances Nov. 18 through Nov. 21 in the Jane Dibbell Cabaret Theatre. 

The play by Naomi Iizuka is three acts with different stories. The first story centers around the theme of the past coming back to haunt you, the second story is letting go of your past, and the last story is the dangers of holding on to your past.  

“I think the message of this story is your past coming back to haunt you,” Johnpaul Ortiz, director and junior theatre and film major, said. “And it’s very important to college students to understand because this is the time when …  we start to grow into the people who we truly are and what we become for the rest of our lives.”

Ortiz said he read this play in class and immediately knew he needed to make it a reality and had a meeting with Tom Ontiveros, associate professor of theater design, who gave Ortiz the green light to do the production.

“I was excited. Originally this was going to be…  a small production one day on the side; (it was) a feeling of trust and accomplishment that they have handed me the opportunity to do it,” Ortiz said.

Immediately after, Ortiz called his family and friends, let them know the news, and jumped right into it too.

The cast members include: junior theater major Claire Ng, senior theater major Aiden Oliveres, junior theater major Julieta Del Toro, senior theater major Beth Royce, senior psychology major Breanna Moir, junior theater and business administration major Nickolas Mclean, senior theater major Jozelle Magdaleno, senior theater major Hannah Steinmann, freshman education studies major Katelyn Koepp and senior digital media major Nick Ceballos. 

“In the beginning, it was just trying to understand the characters and understanding the entire scene, since there’s three acts and you have to differentiate between them all,” Moir said. “Then we got into just going over the scenes, learning our lines and reactions.”

Moir said she is excited to have a live audience and to have that type of energy when they are officially open. 

“It feels so great being back since I have missed the in-person work so much,” Caitlyn Hayne, assistant stage director, and junior business administration and theater major, said. “I know a lot of people, so it’s great to finally be back and have actors actually working in front of us and being in the same room as them and being able to create something physically in front of you.”

Miranda Tejeda, 2021 alumna, designed the costumes. She said they had weekly production meetings where all the designers and technical crew got together to discuss what needs to be done for the upcoming week so they can make sure they are on time to perform the show.

“It was my first time seeing the play as a whole since like a read-through, and it has grown so much,” said Tejeda, who works as a stage manager at Ophelia’s Jump Productions in Claremont . “I’m so proud of all the actors. They are amazing and brilliant, and it was really good, especially coming out of a pandemic and not seeing any shows being performed in that space.”

The cast and crew members have been following the La Verne COVID-19 Guidelines, and since this is a show where they are close in proximity, they make sure that they sanitize their hands every time they walk in, always wearing masks and taking breaks in the open green room.

Rehearsals have been four days a week for about two hours each time. 

“The Language of Angels is truly something to be seen,” Ortiz said. “It tests what we know of what it means to hold onto our past… The idea of letting go is so hard, and it could only be done through this type of art form,” Ortiz said. “The show does have some darker elements and darker things to it, but if they are willing to stay through and watch, nothing less than absolute brilliance.”

For tickets and more information, visit eventbrite.com/e/language-of-angels-tickets-192443964077,  or call 909-448-4386.

Abelina Nuñez can be reached at abelina.nunez@laverne.edu. 

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