Monday, August 09, 2010
SAN PEDRO HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA TRAIN CHUGS UP AGAIN WITH HIRING OF TAMI MARINO, A POPULAR AND “HILARIOUS” ARTS THEATER INSTRUCTOR FROM DANA MIDDLE SCHOOL
AFTER 18 YEARS OF BUILDING A FAMILY AND FRIENDSHIPS WITH STUDENTS AT HER FORMER CAMPUS, THE THEATRICAL TEACHER AGONIZED OVER THE DECISION BUT THEN REALIZED SAN PEDRO HIGH SCHOOL,WITH A NOW-DEFUNCT DRAMA PROGRAM, NEEDS HER EXPERTISE;
DRAMA STARTS THIS FALL, BUT AUDITIONS START NOW; 16 STUDENTS OVER THE SUMMER ALREADY SHOWED UP FOR MONOLOGUES AND MORE AUDITIONS ARE EXPECTED AUG. 17.
“Performing is part of my life and not doing it after a year killed me. Now I’m ready to shine and be back in the spotlight once more.” – 17-year-old Shawn Evans
By Diana L. Chapman
Tami Marino had an excruciating decision to make. For the past 18 years, she had taught English at Dana Middle School, handled the drama courses, encouraged students to perform who had never done so in their lives and built a family on campus she thought she might never leave
San Pedro High School’s performing arts program began to sputter, suddenly seizing abruptly a year ago, leaving students in the lurch.
That disturbed her immensely. And then, San Pedro High principal Jeanette Stevens offered her a job to teach English and drama.
That’s when the angst started and the excitement began.
While she was bothered that the high school students -- who more than ever need to be prepped for potential drama careers were losing out -- she was troubled about leaving Dana. “A bug that had been planted in my ear” years ago, made her seriously consider the proposal. Former San Pedro High drama teacher, Ellen Pomello, consistently told her she belonged there.
“It was really difficult,” explained Tami, 51, who still has a lot of heartache about leaving Dana. “I had a difficult decision to make, but I’m excited. I couldn’t believe San Pedro High didn’t have a drama program and I believe my path is now here.”
Students couldn’t agree more. Sixteen students showed up for July auditions, several who had the instructor at Dana and others who couldn’t wait for the program to start again. Another audition will be held 10 a.m. Aug. 17 in Room 253. Interested students can email her at email@example.com
During auditions she was surrounded by students, mostly seniors, who were in their glory not only that drama had returned, but that Tami became the new teacher.
“Ms. Marino’s” strengths, her former students said, were getting students on stage who were shy, coaxing the emotional side of characters out of them and making them perform to their best ability.
They all complained that the lack of drama at the school was discouraging and they couldn’t wait for the July auditions.
Russell Gielsih, 17, a senior, stepped on the stage and spoke his monologue with few hitches during the July auditions. When he heard Tami was coming to the school, he didn’t believe it. While at Dana, he said: “Ms. Marino did an amazing job with production. I heard about (her coming) from my friends and thought they were teasing me. We didn’t have drama for a whole year.”
Said his friend, Sarah Moreno, 17, also a senior, that she was with Marino when she had her first lead part at Dana: “I just love her. She’s hilarious.”
Students reading monologues didn’t seem too nervous during the July auditions in front of a panel of three – which included Tami, Dana teacher Elise De La Cruz and Cathy Subric, also a teacher, who specializes in making costumes. Both volunteered to help.
Pleased that during the summer, so many students showed up for auditions and that the word of mouth is getting out there, Tami said it will take her several months to develop the students to do performances. With enough students, she hopes to put together at least two shows, one in the fall and one in the spring and more whenever possible.
She has ready teamed up with dance teacher, Cherry Booth, and she plans to hook onto several of the dance events and perhaps put together a musical.
“We want to do lunch time performances,” Tami explained. “We want to get the kids out there. Some of these kids have never been on stage.”
Other students, who had never had the instructor before, couldn’t believe their good fortune that in their senior year they were going to have a chance to perform again. Many of them said they were entering college for dance or drama.
“I was like: “We are going to have play productions!” exclaimed 16-year-old Hailey Garrett, who also has performed Hawaiian dancing since the age of five. “The kids here have just been basically out of luck. “It’s a great opportunity.”
Said her friend, Jessenia Galvan-Lloyd, also a 16-year-old senior who performs jazz, belly, African and Modern dance, she was thrilled to hear about the new teacher after having her at Dana.
“Being on stage is like an adrenaline rush,” Jessenia said. “I was so excited to get such a great teacher. She does all these exercises to help you with your character. I played my characters and spoke my lines, but she made me become the person I was playing. She gets the full potential out of you.”
Tybris Green, who has never performed in his life, nervously showed up for. But under the teacher’s watch, he relaxed, and explained he wanted to add drama to his tool kit.
“I didn’t do as good as I wanted,” he said.
But the instructor disagreed, telling all the students they “all did a really good job.” She was proud, she confided later, that they had the guts to show up.
“Everyone” should take theater,” Tami said, because it teaches confidence, empathy and how to collaborate .
To gear herself up for the high school job, Tami did something she had never done before. She went back to a high school a reunion at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach walked the halls, visited the football field, met former school mates and “re-experienced the feelings” she had in high school.
“My main thing is I’m not as much about them going out and becoming professional actors, but in theater you can learn so much about yourself,” she said. “Any profession you are going to choose in life, theater can only help you with that profession.”
While students were excited about the instructor coming aboard, the principal couldn’t wait to add her especially due to all the changes at the school, including a new house called Creative Expressions which includes drama. Tami’s daughter, Samantha, will arrive in the fall from Dodson Middle School at the same time as her mother.
“San Pedro High School lacked an experienced theater teacher,” Stevens said. “With the numerous talents that exist within our diverse student population, it is important to me that we continue to provide courses that are of high interest to students. Tami Marino is a talented and experienced educator that has a strong repertoire of skills that were lacking at SPHS.
“With high recommendations from the community and her former principal, we were extremely pleased to bring theatre back to SPHS with Ms. Marino leading the charge!”