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Alumni Spotlight

Carmelita Becnel


As you know, I left UCSD right before graduation to ASM on Anna Deavere Smith's House Arrest at the Mark Taper Forum. Fortunately, on the day of our UCSD Theater & Dance graduation ceremony, Anna and Eva Barnes threw me a surprise graduation ceremony following the day's rehearsal - speeches, music, flowers, cake, and diploma included!

From there I went back home to Louisiana to work with director Barry Kyle on two fabulous productions, then to the Alley Theater where I stage managed on season contracts for four exciting years. At the Alley, I was fortunate to work with a resident acting company and very talented theater professionals all the while enjoying the annual Houston Rodeo, the best barbecue, and 102 degree summers! Some of my favorite projects at the Alley include the world premiere of Edward Albee's The Play About the Baby, directed by Edward and starring Marian Seldes and Earle Hyman; The General from America, written and directed by Richard Nelson; The Trip to Bountiful, directed by Michael Wilson; and Jitney, directed by Jonathan Wilson.

Jonathan Wilson brought me to Hartford Stage Company for a production of Sophocles' Electra, which quickly led to a job offer as the Resident Stage Manager of HSC. I accepted the new position and left the steamy temps (and good food) of Houston for the winter wonderland of Connecticut. At HSC I basked in the great delight of working with the lovely and talented Michael Wilson and Jeremy Cohen for three wonderful years. My most favorite memory of HSC is the great Eight by Tenn project (eight obscure one-Acts by Tennessee Williams, divided into two alternating programs,"Rose" and "Blue"). Great concept, fabulous direction and acting, and the surprise of the broad spectrum of Tennessee's talent (one play was a futuristic sci-fi story, one was slapstick/farce, and one a full-blown musical). On this project - my first as resident SM at HSC - I worked with a great group of people (onstage and off) like Elizabeth Ashley, Amanda Plummer, Denny Dillon, Annalee Jefferies, Jennifer Harmon, and Kevin Geer. Incredible also because on this show I also met my current soulmate/boyfriend/lover/companion/significant other/gentleman friend/whatever-you-want-to-call-him, Jamie Cuthrell! And we're still together......

I've been fortunate enough to work with such fascinating people as Athol Fugard, Horton Foote, Joe Brancato, Gregory Boyd, Pam McKinnon, Erik Rosen, Regina Taylor, and Gordon Edelstein, as well as just about everyone I've worked with everywhere.

Now I'm the Production Stage Manager at the Program in Theater and and Dance at the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University. I love it! The program is not an academic department, so basically the arts serve as enrichment to the students and they are "encouraged to explore their artistic interests and talents" while pursuing their majors. The best part is that the students work alongside theater and dance professionals as they learn. Please check out the Lewis Center for the Arts website It is my great pleasure to share my own experience, knowledge, and skill with students of all levels of experience, knowledge, and skill; helping them learn, open their minds, and create! It's a unique program and philosophy, and even if we don't propogate future theater practitioners, we're definitely creating future supporters of the arts. And it's also good to see some of our UCSD Theater alums working with our students: Steve Cosson and The Civilians, Robert Brill, Trey Lyford, and Suzanne Agins! I'm looking forward to seeing more UCSD representation at Princeton....

And, on a personal note, Jamie and I are currently happily living in sin in a farmhouse in Lawrenceville, NJ, with our two kittens Bello and Baci. Jamie is the Technical Director and Theater Master at the prestigious Lawrenceville School (that's right, I can't get away from theater folk).

Oh - and, if I'm not mistaken, this year is the ten-year reunion of the Class of 1999. I'm looking forward to seeing UCSD, La Jolla Playhouse, and San Diego again, and can't wait to see my old classmates and mentors! In keeping with my Louisiana background, I promise to bring the jambalaya, bread pudding and hurricanes! Of course I mean the drink "hurricane"....not the other kind.....

Much love to all, and continue making art everybody!


Of Interest:

TheatreForum - An international theatre journal since 1992
La Jolla Playhouse - UCSD is home to this Tony Award winning theatre
UC San Diego Home Page - UC San Diego's Main Web Site
9500 Gilman Drive MC0344
La Jolla, CA 92093
Tel: (858) 534-3791