UNIVERSAL CITY – A budding drama program at Northeast Lakeview College has students learning stagecraft to help create a theatrical legacy at the 10-year-old campus.

Professor Lisa Fritschle, an experienced teacher of acting, directing and stagecraft, leads the program.

She wants to inspire the next generation of thespians while expanding the young college’s performing-arts division.

“The drama program has really grown on me,” said Aaron Oakes, a freshman and actor. “The overall involvement is what I’d say I like the most. I’m in two theater-related classes and the drama club, and it’s awesome to see so many people involved. Even people that have never acted before were eager to get involved this year.”

The collegians recently completed a successful performance of “Woman Hollering Creek,” a farce play by dramatist Rita Anderson, who also directed the production.

Fritschle acted in the play alongside her students.

“When NLC approached me about their choice to go forward with my play, I was completely flattered when Lisa wanted to play the role of Mrs. Razzaster,” Anderson said. “In addition to being amazing in the role, Lisa served as an exemplar for the cast.”

Anderson said some of the performers never acted before, but took direction and made adjustments well.

“I was blown away at their growth from first rehearsal to final performance,” Anderson said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the work they did.”

“It was a fun play to be a part of,” Fritschle said. “Mrs. Razzaster was a fun, wacky character. When choosing the play, my department chair thought it would be a good idea to act alongside my students so they could see an example of how their professor approaches a role. I had fun working with my students.”

The unique approach had an impact on the entire cast, according to Oakes.

“It was an honor to work with Rita Anderson and I had a really fun time rehearsing such a wacky, fun play with the whole cast,” Oakes said. “I have high hopes for my plans with the theater department of NLC later down the road.”

According to Fritschle, the nascent NLC drama department is deepening its roots and growing.

“I like the fact that we are building a strong, albeit small, program,” Fritschle said. “This gives those involved many opportunities. I love that I am really able to get to know my students and learn from them.”

She added, “I would like to be able to direct a show each semester instead of just one in the fall. Another goal is to provide a workshop each semester that would focus on different aspects of theater.”

Other students in the play said it was a memorable event.

“I had the opportunity to be a part of the cast in the production ‘Woman Hollering Creek’ here at NLC and it was great,” said Megan Jacks, a sophomore in the ensemble cast who understudied all the female roles. “It is one thing to take a theater class and learn about the techniques, and another to be able to get up on stage and perform.”

Her stage experience was “filled with laughter and excitement,” with bonds of friendship and artistry formed during the production.

“The drama program at NLC, although not very large, is amazing,” Jacks said. “The fact that the program itself is small means having more intimate classes and the ability to partake in more one-on-one time with the professor, if necessary.”

Jacks said the drama curriculum adds greater motivation to attend college.

“I have learned so much more in the past couple semesters than I could have ever imagined, and the fact that I actually want to go to school now says a lot in itself about the program,” she said.

Acting builds self-expression by promoting artistry, said those involved.

“Theater is the only ‘living’ art and, in a world where we’re increasingly disconnected through automation and technology, it’s a beautiful and a necessary way to find identity, have fun, explore issues in a safe environment and to build community,” Anderson said. “There’s nothing like it.”

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