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Alumnus Takes Center Stage at The Camille Playhouse: Eric Vera Named Executive Artistic Director

Alumnus Eric Vera's career is on a fast upward trajectory.

Eric Vera's career is on a fast upward trajectory.

After graduating in 2008 with a bachelor of fine arts degree, Vera served as the head theatre teacher at West Mesquite High School in Mesquite, Texas, where he received a First Class Teacher Award for his outstanding achievements. This June, Vera was named the Executive Artistic Director of The Camille Playhouse in Brownsville, Texas. His mission remains constant - make theatre accessible and relevant to the community.

Vera explains, “Upon my hiring at The Camille, I made my goals very clear, and the Board of Directors agreed with them full heartedly. I want to continue to provide our community with quality theatre but move us forward in 2011. We are branching out, and getting anybody and everybody who is interested in any aspect of theatre in these doors. I want to make sure that every young person in our community knows that this is a place where they can explore life through the best fine art out there, the mother of all of them - Theatre.”

Vera's return to The Camille Playhouse is a homecoming. Raised in Brownsville, Vera participated in the theater's programming as a youth. In his high school senior year, he attended a performance and was immediately, as he describes it, “dazzled by the theatre”. He enrolled in The University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre and Dance and immersed himself in his studies. Vera reflects, “I always wanted to teach. There was no question about that. My UT advisors described to me the curriculum set in place for B.F.A. Theatre Studies students and it was perfect for me. I realized it would be rigorous, but knew that it would make me a better teaching-artist and performer because of it.”

When asked about the university's influence on his success, Vera relates his experiences with great affection.

“Joan Lazarus's Directing the Young Performer class really helped me to develop a lot of the directing strategies and pedagogy I use in the classroom and stage today. Joan was able to help me bring out the best of who I am as an actor, director, and teaching artist and blend it with her visions of what makes good theatre and theatre education.

I also learned so much about directing from Stephen Gerald. Stephen has the perfect mind-set when it comes to teaching his B.F.A. students. He allowed me to direct a scene from Gypsy that really confirmed my decision that I was on the right path to what I wanted for my future.

I was fortunate enough to stage manage the production Aisle 7 under the supervision of Denise Martel. Denise taught me the ropes of stage management and I use those tools to this day any time I am in a production as a stage manager, director, and actor. I am a better EVERYTHING because of the experiences I had while learning side by side with Denise. Production management is something else we delved into. THANK GOD! Now that I am directing an entire theatre, those skills have come into play more than one could ever imagine.”

As the Executive Artistic Director of The Camille Playhouse, Vera has a full plate. The theater produces six mainstage performances, a Youtheatre production and a Summer Workshop for Kids that mounts four musical productions involving over 200 young people. In addition, he was recently accepted into the University of Northern Colorado where he is pursuing a master's degree in theatre education. His goal, he explains, is to always better himself, and by doing so, continue to make a positive impact on the community.

Visit The Camille Playhouse here. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011