March 8, 2004
Theater arts student helped bring UCSC dance/theater
production to renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival
By Scott Rappaport
Over the past three years, Bahia Simons-Morton has gained quite a bit
of production experience studying theater arts at UCSC.
Bahia Simons-Morton helped coordinate
the logistics necessary to make the trip to Scotland happen.
|Profiles of other outstanding UCSC
students are available online.
She has served as stage manager for several full-length student plays,
directed two productions, and worked with Shakespeare Santa Cruz as
assistant stage manager for the acclaimed companys annual holiday
But Simons-Mortons adventure during the summer of 2002--helping
to bring a UCSC experimental dance/theater production to Scotlands
renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival--has proven to be her most unforgettable
experience as a theater arts undergraduate.
It started with a performance class she attended, taught by graduate
student Shakina Nayfack. Studying a variety of movement theories, the
class generated ideas and material that eventually evolved into Ragesties,
a show that reflected the emotional repercussions of the September 11
attacks on the World Trade Center.
After Ragesties was staged at UCSC on two consecutive weekends,
the class set its sights on the Edinburgh Festival and embarked on a
fundraising campaign. Along with Nayfack, Simons-Morton helped coordinate
all of the logistics necessary to make the trip happen. This included
arranging for a performance space at the Scotland festival, and finding
a two-story flat within walking distance of the theater for all 10 participants.
Before they went overseas, Simons-Morton helped Nayfack technically
rework the show, because they knew the festival would not provide the
resources normally available to students at UCSC in terms of lighting
and sets. She also participated in numerous rehearsals as the work was
transformed into a revised production called Bodies in Crisis
in preparation for the change in venue.
It was an essential, real-life, theater experience, Simons-Morton
observed. We performed every night for a month during the festival.
I had never worked on a show that ran that longit was a constantly
changing piece of theater.
It was also an invaluable experience working outside of the UCSC
environment and figuring out how their theater worked, Simons-Morton
added. I really learned about being the one in charge. There was
no safety netwe didnt have faculty to fall back on if something
As both production and stage manager for the endeavor, Simons-Morton
supervised all technical aspects of the show, called light and sound
cues, scheduled and facilitated rehearsals, ran production meetings,
assisted the director, and coordinated promotion and publicity. But
she also found time to take advantage of one of the main perks of being
a festival participantthe opportunity to see a multitude of other
productions for free.
There was a huge variety of performancesfrom one-man self-written
pieces, to shows in a big-top circus tent, to amazing Brazilian theater,
Simons-Morton said. I was able to meet a lot of actors and see
a lot of experimental theater that I had never experienced before.
Now a senior, Simons-Morton will help run UCSCs 2004 Chautauqua
Festival this year in her new position as co-production manager of the
annual student theater extravaganza. Featuring 12 shows in two different
performing spaces, the festival takes place over two consecutive weekends
in the spring.
As a theater arts major at UCSC, you have a lot of freedom in
how well-rounded you want your education to be, Simons-Morton
noted. Youre able to take classes in all aspects of theater,
including acting, directing, lighting, sound
you dont have
to choose between the artistic and technical side.
In many other schools, students dont really become involved
in productions until graduate school; they just take theory classes,
she added. But at UCSC, you can participate in shows from the
very beginning. Theory means a lot more when you can apply it.
Profiles of other outstanding UCSC students are available online.
Return to Front Page