Stephanie Newman intends to add pizazz to the Umpqua Community College theater scene.
Newman, the new UCC theater director, said the college’s facilities impress her and that she looks forward to directing and producing plays. “I’ll need to think about how to get the theater to pop,” she said.
Newman replaced longtime theater director Dean Remick, who retired in January after 28 years at the college.
She received undergraduate and graduate degrees in acting from the University of California, Irvine, and worked as a professional actress before taking the UCC position.
She has also taught acting classes for children and adults in New York City.
Newman will direct and produce three plays during the 2013-14 season in addition to teaching classes for the college.
Roseburg High School drama teacher Brad Allen said he is eager to work with Newman and see what she brings to the program.
“It’s exciting to have fresh blood that comes in with a fresh approach and a vision. She has the skills and enthusiasm to be able to bring new exciting projects to the community that serve everybody,” he said.
The 2013-14 UCC season will include Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” “Bus Stop” by William Inge and “Brownstone” by Catherine Butterfield. Newman also will bring in “National Theatre Live,” video of professional theater in London.
Newman said she was intrigued by the area because of the community involvement in the arts. “I’m floored by the interest in the arts. Just blown away,” she said.
It is not always practical for people to travel to Eugene or Portland to see theater, she said.
“The community will be surprised by the offerings. I believe in having a purpose to what you do,” she said.
Allen said Newman brings professional credibility to the position because she is a regionally known actress. She is a good fit for the job because she is young, vibrant and energetic, with a wide breadth of knowledge about acting, he said.
Newman has ideas that will speak to younger performers and draw them to the UCC drama program, Allen said.
“Especially for my kids, it’s exciting to have somebody like that (who) they can go work with after they get out of high school,” he said.
Newman said budget constraints may prove challenging, but she is up to the task.
“Money is always an issue, but grants and sponsors are available,” she said. “The budget is smaller than I am used to, but it helps students be more creative.”
She said one of her goals is to build or renovate a studio with mirrors so students can see themselves perform. She said she also wants to increase the number of student-run projects.
“The students get more confident, and it’s thrilling to see that. A lot of them didn’t know they had that in them,” she said.
• You can reach reporter Betsy Swanback at 541-957-4208 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m floored by the interest in the arts (in Douglas County). Just blown away.
UCC theatre director