Skyline to get first theater class in over 25 years: Experimental class coming in the spring


David Evans

Donna Bestock, the dean of creative arts, expands on how the new drama classes will work. (David Evans)

Skyline College will be receiving a new theater class starting in spring. According to records this will be the first drama/theater arts class since the 1982-83 Skyline year, when they were all consolidated at Cañada College due to a Title 13. 

Those who were involved in getting the class, as well as associates with the theater, all agree that after many student performances, presentations, and hard work along with the improvements made to the Skyline College Theater, it seemed like a right time for the class to be reintroduced. 

“This is the first time we have had a reason to set up a class again now that Skyline is an independent name” said Donna Bestock, dean of creative arts, “Because of that particular growth and because we had students already involved in lots of hours of volunteer work without getting any college credits, we decided to put in the class” 

Bestock went on record saying that all she wanted was to give students “something that we hope they can take to an employer and say I’ve been trained in this field.” 

Some such students include Ben Rampley, the current theater club president who believes that it was everyone in the theater club who contributed and proved that they are a serious part of Skyline.  

“We have proven ourselves, showing we are dedicated to the theater” Rampley said, “We have done productions, our members have helped with other productions like showcases and dance concerts” 

According to Alan Ceccarelli, the theater manager who also serves as faculty advisor and technical director, when he was hired, there were plans to revamp the theater building and give it a major overhaul. In doing so, they were going to try and restore a lot of the old theater elements and really try and bring back the drama department–which meant a class was not too far off. 

“[The theater class] has been approved by the curriculum community. Not only did they approve the class, but they also approved the creation of a drama department.” Ceccarelli said, “That was [the] dean’s pet project. She requested the reinstating of the drama department, while I requested the class itself” 

Prior to this, if any students were interested in theater at Skyline, there were little to no options available.   

As of very recently student options had the option to attend club meetings, where one could learn and be a part of all theater productions, but as previously stated they would get no college credits. Other options included going to another community college all together, most notably Cañada College.

The professor of the new theater class will be Alan Ceccarelli who was hired because of his many years of experience in the field of creative arts and because, according to him, he was hired to “help get things going in the right direction”.  

“I have a lot of experience professionally, in regards to union and non-union theater work, for the last twenty years” Ceccarelli said, “I’ve also been teaching stage craft at the high school level for the last five years, so as well as working professionally in the field, I’ve also been teaching” 

The official name of the class is “technical production/stage craft”, and is designated Drama 680. The class will begin next semester and is technically an experimental class.  

If the class goes well then more classes will branch out from there, which is why the Theater Club President Ben Rampley hopes students interested will take the class seriously. 

“I would hope that people who join the class will be serious about it,” Rampley said, “I think it would show them there are aspects in theater productions like light, sound, stage work that can be appealing to a large brand of people and hopefully [they] can find a passion in it.” 

The class is set up so that it can be taken a total of three times and it will be taught in the theater. 

“A student can take it the first time and do lighting, take it the next time and do sound, and then take it the third time and do set building,” Bestock said, “It’s kind of designed to be three classes in one” 

However, both Alan Ceccarelli and Donna Bestock would like to stress that this is not an acting class. “This is just a technical class; there’s no acting or directing.” said Bestock. 

“Specifically, I do not teach acting. What I’ll be teaching is the technical aspects of productions and how to produce a show,” Ceccarelli said, “What I’ll be teaching is how to produce a live performance like music, plays, or musicals; it’s all the aspect of live performance from a production point of view, not an acting point of view.” 

This class, according to those involved, gives students who are interested in technical production an outlet to learn tools of the trade and to learn production techniques, especially now when the theater has been upgraded with the latest in theater technology. This in itself is helpful not just in theater but any entertainment venue. 

“This gives students who’re interested in entertainment a chance to learn what it’s like to be in that particular trade–what it takes to be in that particular craft, to see if it’s something they might want to pursue as a career–which is what junior college is all about”