ASC Theater alumnus shares secrets of success


Skills acquired at the Adams State College Theatre Department have assisted Derek Garza, graduate year 2005, in professional theater. He recently finished his second play run in Chicago, where he currently lives, and in two weeks begins a show in Toronto, which will tour London.

"When we say 'great stories begin here,' Derek is a perfect example," said Dr. John Taylor, professor of theater. "Combining ability and desire with strong educational training has helped him to achieve what many others only dream about. We are very proud of him."

Garza took an opportunity to visit his family, in Denver, and included a trip to Adams State.

During Jenna Neilsen's, assistant professor of theater, "Styles in Acting," class, Garza encouraged the students to "understand the language of Shakespeare." He said there will always be a market for classical theater. "There are Shakespearean Theaters throughout the country. Actors can make a living doing classical work."

He said the skills acquired at Adams State gave him an overall appreciation of theater. "I received a great overall concept of theater, including directing, stage managing, light and set design. When I got to Penn State, I felt prepared."

Garza finished his MFA at Penn State in May 2008. Dr. Paul Newman, program coordinator of theater, said Garza played Brick in the Adams State production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and Kip, in "Wonder of the World". "He has taken his skills and his training from ASC Theatre and furthered them at one of the finest graduate programs in the country. I am so proud of his accomplishments and his drive to succeed in a very competitive industry."

Garza said his best advice, for current students, is to surround themselves with positive people and "never let go of the pursuit for your dreams. It is so easy to give up, but it is the struggle to accomplish your dreams that makes everything worthwhile."

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By Linda Relyea