A creative at heart, Julia Morales ’20 has always wanted to bring stories to life. However, the Dramatic Media major says theatre never crossed her mind as a way to do that until she came to TLU. Although she was in her high school’s media program for all four years, she realized her passion for live theatre after being stage manager for “Othello” directed by Dramatic Media Professor Shannon Ivey.
“That show was a big one to take on but it was one that would ultimately help me find my creativity again,” Morales said. “I was the person who made sure that all the moving parts of the show were solid. During that process, my confidence in myself grew 1000 times over. That came in handy when I directed my first one-act show, ‘Gruesome Playground Injuries,’ in spring 2019.”
Recently, Morales had the opportunity to be a Student Director for San Antonio’s Public Theater production of David Kimple’s play, “Sink, Florida, Sink”—a play taking place after a series of volatile hurricanes have most of Florida under water and the remaining residents of a small beach town left fighting to keep their island afloat.
Professor Shannon Ivey (L) with Julia Morales '20 and Dramatic Media Department Chair Professor Dave Legore.
During that time, she was able to shadow Director Shannon Ivey and Stage Manager Sondra Gervasi, and even ran a few rehearsals herself.
“This was such a great experience and I even got to work and become friends with the David Kimple during our tech week leading up to the opening of the show” she said. “And this was all thanks to my awesome Professor Shannon Ivey.”
A review in Broadway World praised “Sink, Florida, Sink” for its strong acting and Ivey’s direction noting how she, “made excellent use of the space in her visionary staging and direction of this production. Not a single part of the stage was left unexplored, causing the audience to forget they were watching a show altogether.”
Being able to have one of her students beside her while directing was not only a highlight for Ivey, but a chance for Morales to see how equity theatre works.
“It is vital for TLU students to learn in union houses, ”Ivey said. “Actors’ Equity provides very strict guidelines for how artists should be treated. It is imperative that TLU students not only learn union rules, but also how to work alongside professional talent in all areas of the theatre from the executive director to the board operators. Julia’s work in ‘Sink, Florida, Sink’ was unparalleled. She was not only committed from the beginning, but she also served as a strong voice to the overall success of the piece. Our partnership with The Public Theatre of San Antonio is an amazing opportunity for TLU Dramatic Media students, no doubt.”
Morales says her professors are always letting students know about outside job opportunities so they can get work and experience in our field. Last December she and few others were board operators for a show at The Public Theater called "An Infinite Ache" Directed by Jim Mamerella. The summer before she started "Sink, Florida, Sink," she and some of her peers had the chance of a lifetime to work merchandise for the Philip Tour of "Hamilton" written by Lin Manuel-Miranda where they were able to watch the show every single night free of charge.
Morales hopes to build up her network with more theatres in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and Houston. She says she would love to end up in New York working as a stage manager or director in any form or fashion. She currently has several projects and opportunities lined up after graduation and says none of that would be possible without the guidance of TLU’s Dramatic Media program.
“I love that the department is full of opportunities to create,” she said. “We don't just learn film or just theatre, we learn both. That isn't really done at other schools. We are encouraged to dip our toes into both worlds and to create original student content. There is always student work being done, therefore we always have projects that need to be worked on. That is where our department really shines.”