It’s on the spot, one shot.
Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s theatre department attended and competed at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Norman, Oklahoma held last month.
Theatre Arts majors Marcus Perez and Myles Martinez advanced to the semi-finals round of the Irene Ryan Scholarship competition as partners, and Perez, as well as Theatre Arts major Leah Luna, received callbacks after their professional auditions.
After winning the Irene Ryan Award, Perez chose Martinez as his partner for the competition because they worked together in the Fall 2010 production of “Boxcar.”
“We had worked together in ‘Boxcar’, so we had that chemistry already built, [which] makes the whole process easier,” Perez said. “The whole point of the Irene Ryan Scholarship competition is to show off your range as an actor and how well you work with a partner.”
The two made it to the semifinals round after being chosen from about 200 other pairs, but failed to make the final cut.
“We were the first team in AMK history to make it to the top 32,“ Perez said. “I’m not ashamed of [not breaking to finals] because if one of us had made a mistake I would have probably been angry about it, but the fact that neither of us made mistakes, I wasn’t hurt by it at all.”
Though Perez and Martinez were compatible at the competition, and were frequently complimented on that fact, how they each got into the theatre world are different stories.
“I’ve been performing since I was in the fourth grade, so theatre isn’t even a choice to me anymore, it’s just how I live,” Perez said. “It’s the only thing I know.”
Martinez, on the other hand, didn’t begin his theatre career until he was well into high school.
“I’d just gotten out of an athletic background from some injuries; I just needed something to do,” Martinez said. “One of the things that drew me to [theatre] was that it’s constantly changing; there’s something new to it [all the time.]”
After a shoulder injury took Martinez out of boxing, he auditioned for a high school play, “The Curious Savage,” and developed a passion for theatre.
“I went and auditioned for it and I remember being nervous because it was something I was really new to,” Martinez said. “After I did it, I realized it was something I wanted to do.”
Luna, like Perez, has always loved theatre but wasn’t involved until she went to college.
“A lot of people thought I was super weird when I came to school, ‘Theatre? Why Theatre?’ because I didn’t do One Act in high school, but I always knew I wanted to act,” Luna said.
Luna described her love of the movie theatre when she was younger and said she has always wanted to be a part of that.
“It’s a way to get away from life, and your stress and problems for two hours,” Luna said.
Luna and Perez both did the Professional Audition portion of the festival, where they had the opportunity to audition for graduate schools and professional theatre companies.
This was the first year the festival offered this kind of audition.
“You wait in line, go in order, walk on stage, hand your music to your person, sing a song and perform a monologue,” Luna said. “I could vaguely see people in the audience so I don’t really know who I was auditioning for but it was actually not that bad.”
Luna was number 25 out of over 180 performers who auditioned that day. After, she waited for the coordinators to put up a “callback” list, where the companies chose who they wanted to see again.
“I had messed up a tiny bit in my audition so I at least wanted one callback, so I was super excited when I got two,” Luna said. “I didn’t really ever think about going to grad school, but this really opened my eyes.”
Luna received a callback and interview from Canterberry Summer theatre in Indiana and the University of Arkansas Master’s of Fine Arts program for Acting.
“I’m super excited that I did well at the auditions, just to give hope to everybody else here at school,” Luna said. “Even though we come from a small school, other, bigger, schools are taking notice that there’s talent here.”
Perez received a callback and interview with the Arkansas Shakespeare Company.
“It was really neat to talk to professionals and see that it’s possible to continue past A&M-Kingsville in our theatre careers,” Perez said.
Luna, Martinez and Perez all have high hopes for the future, and they all hope to continue in theatre as the years progress.
“I can’t say that I have a complete plan as to what will happen or where my life will lead me, I just hope I get to stay on the stage,” Perez said.