Barbara Crozier was at it again last week. The air conditioner was broken and only a few of the stage lights were functioning in the century-old Crystal Theatre, but the stalwart director forged ahead for the week's rehearsal.
As they say, the show must go on.
She had the students going through a round of warm-ups, all acting as witches in their upcoming performance of Macbeth. As the actors crept on to stage, Crozier crawled out to one of the only remaining pools of light, beckoning her troupe to bring the performance closer to the house and invoking more witchery from them as she attempted to inspire their acting.
The students in the theatre's summer program range in age from 5th grade to recently graduated. Devin Contreras was filling in that day as Macbeth himself, running the lines and acting as a mentor to the younger ones who were no doubt impressed by his leadership. In July, he heads to Tyler Junior College, which he says is only a minor stop on his way to the big screen.
Meanwhile, Angelica Mathis was back, fresh off of a season of one act play in Gonzales High School and a former Camp Shakespeare celebrity herself.
“She's here every time we rehearse and I can count on Angelica to be here and keep everything calm,” said Crozier, looking upon the young actress as an assistant director for the class.
Each year around this time Crozier gathers her actors in the Crystal to go over some new Shakespeare scenes as well as some lighter works that they will unveil in August. This is their 25th year, Crozier figures, but cannot be too certain. Each year she seems to need to scramble for additional funding — or trouble shooting the theatre as she was this day — so being a year or so off shouldn't put a worry on anyone.
Each year for the past several, Crozier has got a student placed into the prestigious Camp Shakespeare at Winedale program near Round Top, where professional theatre directors take a small batch of small-town kids and college students and mold more-proper actors out of. This year it is 6th grade student Daniel Garcia who will be making the trip.
“I hope to learn new songs,” he said. “I know there's more songs out there I can learn. And I also want to become a better actor and learn better ways to express my character.”
Last year he played a large part in “As You Like It,” and this year it's King Duncan in “the Scottish play” as he is trained to say, for it is bad luck to mention the word Macbeth while on any stage. Just ask the next actor you meet about that bit of trivia.
“Daniel is one of the most committed students we have had. If you are give him a job, he is going to do it to the best of his ability,” Crozier said.
The theatre is planning again on bringing some of the accomplished Winedale students to the Crystal, as they perform “The Tempest” on June 23. That sets up another show on July 14 with “The Taming of the Shrew.” It will all culminate Aug. 7 with “Shakespeare Under the Stars” over at the Gonzales Memorial Museum amphitheater. The 7 p.m. performance should allow for a cool evening in the historic structure with fine acting and patrons are encouraged to bring a picnic to the free event.
There, you will be able to see some of your favorite Shakespeare Ninjas back in action.
“The real future of this program is kids like Devin and Angelica who will go away and hopefully some will come back and they will be the backbone of the theatre as we move forward,” Crozier said.