Make The Connection

February 8, 2024 | By Cole Hatcher

Professor Israel Franco Muller (left) explains to Ohio Wesleyan student Elizabeth Sumoza '25 how light cues are programmed for Teatro Círculo's New York City production of 'La Monja Alférez.' (Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Sumoza '25)

Staging a Career

Ohio Wesleyan Student Helps to Light Up Spanish Theatre Production in New York City

Elizabeth Sumoza '25 (left) and OWU student Madison Cartnal '24 operate the lightboard as part of their work with Teatro Círculo in New York.

Name: Elizabeth Sumoza '25
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
High School: Chicago Waldorf High School
Majors: Sociology and Anthropology and Theatre
Minors: History and Spanish
OWU Connection Experience: Assisting with a theatre production in New York City through a Siglo Latinx internship

Sumoza and Madison Cartnal '24 of Newark, Ohio, spent fall semester working with Glenda Nieto-Cuebas, Ph.D., Ohio Wesleyan associate professor of Spanish, and Erin Alice Cowling, Ph.D., associate professor of Spanish at MacEwan University in Canada, on their Siglo Latinx project researching 21st-century adaptations of early modern Spanish theatre being created in North America.

My Internship

"The role that this specific internship had in the Siglo Latinx project involved a trip to NYC, funded by OWU's Small Grant Program, to work on 'La Monja Alférez,' a play written by Juan Ruiz de Alarcón, directed by Daniel Alonso de Santos, and put on by Teatro Círculo. Teatro Círculo is a not-for-profit theatre company that focuses on producing works by both past and present Latinx artists.

A Meaningful Experience

"This is particularly meaningful to me because I am a Puerto Rican and Venezuelan artist who has aspirations to be a part of the theatre industry.

"Being in a space that values my cultural heritage is exciting, especially when I get to share that passion with a community of people who share my identity and have the same cultural vocabulary. The play that Teatro Círculo was putting on meant a lot to me as a queer person as well because I got to see my identity represented in a culture that isn't traditionally accepting of changes to the status quo."

Memorable Moments

At first, the show's lighting designer, Professor Israel Franco Muller, asked us to do smaller tasks while he and the technical director, Omayra Garriga, prepared the stage for the final technical rehearsals. … Closer to the night of performances, I got to help out with some lighting issues that they were having.

"When we arrived, Israel and Omayra were in the process of rewiring all of the lightbulbs that they had hanging from the ceiling, to create the effect of stars in the night sky, into one channel so that all of the light bulbs could be controlled by one slider on the light board. However, once they had rewired the bulbs, there was a section of them that had completely burnt out and needed to be replaced.

"That section had not been programmed along with the other bulbs that had already been rewired, so when that section was replaced, I went to the lightboard to merge it with the light bulbs that had already been programmed. I found which cues used the light bulbs, matched the light intensity of the new section with the sections that were ready to go, and then I merged the new light bulbs in with the existing cues so that all of the bulbs would come on and off at the same time. It was really fun to learn about programming cues and get the chance to operate the board.

"After that, Omayra asked me to attach a clamp to a projector so that she could hang it and project the overtitles for the show. Those were the two big things that I felt really proud of doing because it was so different from the spheres of theatre that I'm used to working with."

Being in a space that values my cultural heritage is exciting, especially when I get to share that passion with a community of people who share my identity and have the same cultural vocabulary.

Elizabeth Sumoza '25

Graphic Design Faculty

Lessons Learned

"This was my first time being involved in any kind of professional theatre. I've only ever been involved in high school and college theatre, so this was my first real-world experience. It was useful to see just how fast everything works, especially with the knowledge that Teatro Círculo had to operate out of a different space since theirs is under renovation. …

"Working the lightboard for a show outside of the walls of our school, for a show in the famous New York City that people have paid money to see, was such a surreal experience. Not only did I grow in some of the skills that I will need to use and that will give me leverage over other actors in the field, but I got to network with people whom I may be able to work with after I graduate if I remain intentional about using these connections now.

"Israel, the lighting designer for the show, also teaches in Puerto Rico and works on a lot of different projects, so I'm currently working out the logistics of studying with him in Puerto Rico for a semester."

On-Campus Component

"Prior to this trip, part of the internship involved us bringing Estival Producciones to OWU to perform their show 'Que de Noche Lo Mataron,' which is a modern reimagining of the Spanish Golden Age work 'El Caballero de Olmedo' by Lope de Vega.

"It was personally really exciting to me because it's the first show on the OWU mainstage that has been completely in Spanish during my time here. It's always really exciting to see that my heritage and my desired profession can combine in really wonderful ways.

"On an academic level, it was amazing to get the chance to ask the playwright, the director, the technical director, and the actor questions about their experience with this show. It was a sneak peek into getting to know what professional theatre, and even more excitingly, professional bilingual theatre, is like before I went to experience it myself outside of my familiar school bubble."

My Campus Involvements

"I am a member of Theta Alpha Phi, the Theatre Honor Society on campus, and I'm involved in a production every semester whether I'm acting or working behind the scenes as a crew member."

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan?

"I was attracted to OWU through the OWU Connection and the amazing travel opportunities it offers for little to no cost. As someone who really can't afford to travel like this normally, I've been really grateful to be a part of so many life-changing experiences like this.

"I work two jobs while being a full-time student, and these trips have provided me with the motivation to keep working hard because I can see the bigger picture of what I can accomplish after college.

"My passion for theatre has grown because of opportunities like these, and the prospect of graduating soon and entering the 'real' adult world is much less overwhelming now that I've been able to experience so much outside of OWU."

My Plans After Graduation

"I'm a Theatre major, but I'm a lot more well-versed in thinking about elements of performance than I am with technical elements. I chose this major because I wanted to go into acting after I graduate, but now I'm really excited to add knowledge of operating the light board and managing the technical elements to my repertoire so that I can be open to more kinds of opportunities in my career."