~ By Taylor Blaire Mosher, student writer for the College of Arts and Humanities

Four new faces have joined the staff of the Department of Theatre Arts this fall including a new costume designer, scenic charge/props master, lighting/sound designer, and a box office manager/communications coordinator.

The new staff members bring with them a diverse range of experience and expertise in the theatre arts. Though each artist works in different capacities, they all work toward the same end goal: producing phenomenal theatre productions.

“Each of these individuals adds their own expertise and unique talents to our University Theatre productions,” said J. Daniel Herring, chair of the Department of Theatre Arts. “The creative skills these individuals possess help our department achieve a higher artistic quality while ensuring our students are receiving a more engaged theatre arts education.”

We caught up with each of them for a Q&A. We learned what they’re looking forward to most in joining Fresno State, their history in their specialty areas, how they’ll contribute to the department productions and more.

Costume Designer

Costume designer Kristine DoielKristine Doiel joins the Department of Theatre Arts both as a lecturer and costume designer.

Doiel has designed and constructed costumes for more than 50 theatre and dance productions in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Santa Clarita, Milwaukee and Central California. Local designs have been seen at Sierra Repertory Theatre, Playhouse Merced and CSU Stanislaus. Doiel has also worked for Los Angeles Opera as assistant costume director and for Long Beach Opera as costume director.

While recently earning her master of fine arts at UC Davis, Doiel designed costumes for multiple talented guest artists in the theatre department. These projects included designing costumes for newly devised works by NYC choreographer John Jaspers and by director Greg Pierotti, associate writer and original cast member of “The Laramie Project.”

Current projects include fabricating a plastic bustle dress for artist Margaret Laurena Kemp and designing dance costumes for PUSH Dance Company in San Francisco. Awards include the UC Davis Provost’s Fellowship in Arts, the Princess Grace Foundation Theater Grant and the Dramalogue Award for costume design for “The Rivals” at Ensemble Theatre in Santa Barbara. To view Doiel’s costume design work, visit www.kristinedoielcostumedesign.com.

Question: What are you most looking forward to here at Fresno State?

Answer: I am most looking forward to getting to know the students. It is so exciting to work with students who are passionate about theatre and eager to learn the fine details of mounting a production.

Q: How did you become involved in costuming?

A: I developed a love of costumes at a very young age and have a particularly strong memory from early childhood of seeing Franco Zeffirelli’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Juliet’s costumes made a huge impression on me. Also, my mother provided a trunk of dress-up clothes that my sister and I spent countless hours playing with. Fast forward to high school where I joined the theatre crowd and it became more and more clear that I wanted to be involved with costumes in some way.

Q: What do you enjoy most about costuming?

A: What don’t I love about costumes? Research, shopping, fabric, sewing… but what I really love is that each project is new and different. I like analyzing new scripts, exploring new concepts and researching art and history. I have been fortunate that my projects have been very eclectic so I haven’t gotten bored yet!

Q: What is your role in putting together “A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations)” and other upcoming productions?

A: My work here in the theatre department is multi-faceted. I am teaching costume and makeup classes, but I am also responsible for all the costumes designed for the theatre and dance department. This includes assigning student or staff designers and creating costume budgets for the season. I am also designing costumes for three of the productions this season. The first of these is “A Particle of Dread.” I will also design the costumes for “Wondrous Tales of Old Japan” for the Theatre for Young Audiences program, as well as for the final show in the spring, “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

Q: What can you tell us about the costumes for “A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations)?”

A: This is a retelling of the classic Greek play, “Oedipus Rex,” in which a king is told that he will be killed by his son and the son will then marry his mother. In fear of the prophecy playing out, the king leaves his baby boy out in the wilderness to die, but this, in fact, sets in motion the events that lead to the fulfillment of the prophecy. In Shepherd’s brilliant retelling of the story, we are caught up in a modern murder mystery of sorts. The department chair, J. Daniel Herring, is directing the production and envisioned an environment that could be a morgue or a butcher shop …  both apt symbols for the play. J. Daniel also envisioned everything in white except for small amounts of red where blood is called for — and this is a bloody story! In keeping with the director’s vision, the costumes are all white with the occasional red accent. I also wanted to reference the original Greek play by including some modern versions of ancient Greek clothing. This is particularly evident in the choices for the women’s clothing and footwear.

Q: What production are you most looking forward to working on this year?

A: It is difficult to pick favorites because I find each production I work on has something of interest for me, but I admit that I am looking forward to “Wondrous Tales of Old Japan.” The tales are a collection of folktales with fantastical characters that include a sea turtle, dragon princess, a snow maiden and magical dogs. Additionally, we will be looking to Kabuki theatre for inspiration for the design of the show. Can’t wait!

Q: What production do you think everyone should see in their lifetime?

A: That is so subjective! Some people like musicals and comedies, some mysteries or drama… I would just say that everyone should experience live theatre and dance. There is nothing like being in the same room as the performers. It can be electric!

Q: What’s a fun fact that people might not know about you?

A: I lived in Finland for a year when my husband participated in a Fulbright Teacher Exchange.

Scenic Charge and Props Master

Scenic charge and props master René NielsonRené Nielson joins the Department of Theatre Arts as the new scenic charge and props master.

A California-born scenic charge artist, Nielson has an associate’s degree in fine arts from Allan Hancock College and a bachelor of fine arts in theatre arts from Southern Oregon University with an emphasis in scenic art. She has a master of fine arts in theatre arts from San Diego State University with an emphasis in scenic design and technology.

With over 10 years of experience in the scenic art field, some of the highlights of Nielson’s career include “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” and “Hooway for Wodney Wat” at Pacific Conservatory Theatre in Santa Maria; “Lucky Stiff” at SOU; “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” and “The Drowsy Chaperone” at SDSU; “Animal Crackers” at the Cygnet Theatre in San Diego and “In Your Arms” at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego.

Question: What are you most looking forward to here at Fresno State?

Answer: Working with the students and helping them gain an appreciation and passion for scenic art and theatre arts.

Q: How did you become involved in scenic art?

A: I have been an artist and theatre lover my entire life. Through a good friend, I discovered scenic art and applied to the summer program at Pacific Conservatory Theatre. I had a phenomenal mentor, found that I loved working in the paint shop and that I could merge my love for art and theatre into one passion.

Q: What do you enjoy most about scenic art?

A: I love creating beautiful, fantastical sets, thinking outside-the-box and being super creative.

Q: What role do you play in putting together “A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations)” and other upcoming productions?

A: For “A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations),” I am the charge and props master. As charge, I get to realize the vision of the scenic designer and create paint processes to simulate the look and feel of the design. As props master, I work with the director to create props that fill the world of the play and serve the story and its actions.

Q: What can you tell us about the set for “A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations)?”

A: Our faculty scenic designer, Jeff Hunter, designed the set for “A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations)” and it is supposed to resemble a morgue with Greek architectural influences, as is my understanding. It is very clinical and is created to resemble enamel tiles like you would see in a hospital.

Q: What production are you most looking forward to working on this year?

A: “Two Gentlemen of Verona”

Q: What production do you think everyone should see in their lifetime?

A: There are so many good ones! Whichever show excites them the most.

Q: What’s a fun fact that people might not know about you?

A:  I can sign in American Sign Language.

Lighting and Sound Technician

Lighting and sound technician Regina HarrisRegina Harris joins the Department of Theatre Arts as a lighting and sound technician.

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Harris has been designing in the local theatre community for several years. She is a proud alumna of the Fresno State theatre department.

Harris has designed extensively for local theatre companies including StageWorks Fresno, The Motley Fools and Open Book Productions. Some of her favorite highlights include “Les Misérables,” “Into the Woods,” “Dogfight,” “Peter and the Starcatcher,” “Wonder of the World” and “Heathers: The Musical.” She is delighted to return to her alma mater and work in the department where her passion for theatre truly blossomed.

Question: What are you most looking forward to here at Fresno State?

Answer: I am looking forward to collaborating with our department directors to create unique and dynamic theatre experiences for our audiences. I also look forward to working with students to help them hone their skills and gain experience in technical theatre.

Q: How did you become involved in theatrical lighting and sound?

A: The behind-the-scenes aspect of theatrical productions has always been a point of fascination for me. It was during my tenure as a student at Fresno State that I was introduced to different lighting techniques and how they can truly enhance a production. I designed my first show as a student at Fresno State in 2011 and began designing in the community in 2013. Since then, I have designed lights and sound for 20+ shows in the community and here at Fresno State.

I’ve been involved in theatrical sound design for about eight years. I co-designed “The Elephant Man,” directed by J. Daniel Herring, with Skylar Montierth here at Fresno State. I started to develop as a sound designer with Stageworks Fresno and have really loved it ever since.

Q: What do you enjoy most about theatrical lighting and sound?

A: My favorite aspect of lighting is discovering new and innovative ways to illustrate a director’s concept through lighting — the way in which you can manipulate the mood of a production just by the color choice or where and how you position a lighting instrument. It’s always encouraging to hear patrons’ reactions to lighting design elements after they’ve walked out of the theatre. When it has affected them to the point of post-show discussion, I feel true fulfillment in my job.

I love sound design because it aids so much in telling the story. If done properly, it can transport you into the world of a show and potentially make it 10 times better.

Q: What is your role in putting together “A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations)” and other upcoming productions?

A: As the lighting designer for the show, I make sure that all the lighting elements are fully executed per the director’s concept. Not only am I responsible for lighting instruments and projectors but also the backstage lights, so the actors can see where they’re going! My position as the lighting and sound technician for the department means that I have to make sure all technical aspects of the lighting and sound designs are working for all mainstage shows, even if I am not designing.  

Q: What can you tell us about the lighting design for “A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations)?”

A: The lighting design is going to play a big role in establishing the mood of this show. I don’t want to give away TOO much but be prepared for one bloody night at the theatre, as well as some other surprises along the way.

Q: What production are you most looking forward to working on this year?

A: I’m looking forward to working on all of the productions this year! My role varies from show to show. Lighting design, sound design and master electrician are all on the table for me this year. I love the new challenges each show poses and working with the director to solve them in the most artistic manner possible.

Q: What production do you think everyone should see in their lifetime?

A: Without question, “Les Misérables” and “Hamilton.”

Q: What’s a fun fact that people might not know about you?

A: I can whip up a mean fried chicken and sing you a rockin’ rendition of any Adele song while I do it!

Box Office and Communications Coordinator

Box office and communications coordinator Miguel GastelumMiguel Gastelum joins the Department of Theatre Arts as a box office and communications coordinator.

Originally from Tulare, California, Gastelum is a graduate of the theatre arts program at Fresno State. Gastelum has worked in the local theatre scene for several years in several capacities (directing, producing and performing). He has also worked with several local theatre companies including StageWorks Fresno, The Motley Fools, Selma Arts Center and even started his own theatre production company, Open Book Productions, with several other Fresno State alum.

Gastelum also worked for a local marketing company, Marketing Plus, as the traffic and account coordinator. He is excited to join the Fresno State family and can’t wait to give back to his alma mater.

Question: What are you most looking forward to here at Fresno State?

Answer: I’m looking forward to working for my alma mater and to be working for the department that I graduated from. I really fell in love with theatre here and I am so excited to help the department grow their presence in the community and online.

Q: How did you become involved in theatre and box office management?

A: I first became involved with theatre when I was in middle school. At the time, I was heavily involved with the music department at my school. The band director, who was also the musical director, asked me after the first day of musical auditions why I didn’t audition for the musical. I didn’t have a good answer so I showed up that afternoon and landed a role in “The Sound of Music.” I’ve been obsessed with theatre ever since.

Box office management came much later in my theatre career. I worked for StageWorks Fresno, a local theatre company, for a short amount of time and began to hone my box office skills there. Later on, I started a small theatre company with friends where I also oversaw the box office and marketing. I slowly began to realize how much I enjoyed the administrative side of running a theatre company and well, here we are!

Q: What do you enjoy most about working in the theatre arts?

A: Theatre is my passion. I love its ability to impact audience members. Theatre is such a unique art form in that it only exists in that one iteration for that one night. You are taking part in art being created right before your eyes. Everything comes together to create a uniquely visceral and raw experience. That’s pretty damn cool.

Q: What is your role in putting together “A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations)” and other upcoming productions?

A: I am the promotions coordinator for the Theatre Arts Department. Essentially, I make sure people know that our shows are happening. I create content for our social media platforms; show artwork, photographs, GIFs, promotional videos, etc. I also make sure we are visible to the community by posting our shows to community calendars, coordinating television appearances and distributing press releases to local media outlets. I also oversee the ticketing operations. I gotta get those butts in the seats!

Q: What production are you most looking forward to working on this year?

A: All of them! I love the process of developing a concept for the show artwork and trying different ideas until I finally land on one that I am happy with. Every show poses a new challenge and I love that.

Q: What production do you think everyone should see in their lifetime?

A: That’s a tough question. Theatre is subjective and the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I was fortunate enough to catch the national tour of “Hamilton” and I would definitely say that is something everyone should see RIGHT NOW.

Q: What’s a fun fact that people might not know about you?

A: Um…I always hate this question. I’m really not THAT interesting. When I was younger I did have a pet turtle named Michael Angelo. So there’s that.

Q: Anything else you would like to share?

A: Just that I am so excited to be back at Fresno State! Go Dogs!