All the World’s a Stage at SMC
After high school in Hawaii, Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau learned to craft an audition monologue as an SMC Theatre Arts student. He landed the first film role he auditioned for, and there hasn’t been a year since without a film or TV credit. Reached on location in Atlanta while shooting the movie Den of Thieves, Kaiwi says, “I use the technique I learned at SMC—how to break down a scene into beats—for every single role I play.”
SMC alum Jocko Sims says SMC Theatre Arts Department Chair Dr. Adrianne Harrop helped launch his acting career. “She believed in me from the beginning,” he says, “and recognized a talent that I did not.” Cast for a five-episode role on the TNT series The Last Ship, his performance was so strong that his character was written into the show, now in its fifth season.
“Santa Monica College is the main reason I got accepted into Juilliard,” says Merced native Anthony Richardson, who started at SMC in 2014. “The Theatre Arts Department faculty has been amazing—from day one!” He credits SMC Theatre Arts instructors Roxanne Captor and Aric Martin, a Juilliard alum, for encouraging him.
And recently, a group of SMC Theatre Arts students returned from the regional competition of the 2017 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). The students held four sold-out performances of QUARTET: 4 Short Plays by Samuel Beckett, directed by SMC Theatre Arts Professor Perviz Sawoski, and brought back awards for acting, technical theatre, stage management, and musical theatre; and scholarships to workshops at CSU Summer Arts 2017 and Ireland’s National Academy of Dramatic Art. This is the sixth consecutive year SMC was selected for the regional festival.
“Santa Monica College is the main reason I got accepted into Juilliard…the Theatre Arts Department faculty has been amazing—from day one!”
– SMC Alum Anthony Richardson
Like many students, 22-year-old Israeli-born Sivan Aviv sought a career in television and film when she entered SMC’s Theatre Arts program. “My teachers helped me see that I don’t have to be an ensemble player,” she says. “I can be a lead.” That confidence helped Sivan land a role in the Oxygen crime show Snap, and she has signed on with Cast It Talent.
Jordan Barksdale of Kansas was on track to a journalism career when the death of her stepfather in a car accident made her question her direction. Encouraged by her broadcast journalist mother to follow her dreams, Jordan came to SMC in 2014 to explore film studies and acting. “The whole world of theatre opened to me,” Jordan says. SMC gave her “the kind of training that gives you a really strong foundation, whether you go toward stage or screen.”
This spring, Sivan and Jordan are both taking part in a theatre arts exchange in England, performing QUARTET at Bath Spa University.
Professor Sawoski incorporates her background in theatre, dance, and karate (she holds a Black Belt) into her classes. “Martial arts and performing arts are close,” she says, “and I have come up with a combination of acting and movement techniques that even beginning students can get.”
And as Jordan points out, acting is just one part of putting on a theatre production, and it’s not the only job in show business.
SMC offers hands-on training in technical stagecraft—from projection, stage, and sound design, to set building, lighting, and costuming—with degrees and certificates in both Theatre Arts and the Career Technical Education-oriented Technical Theatre track. To learn more, visit: www.smc.edu/theatre.