What the Students are Saying

What the students are saying about LAUNCH PAD Preview Productions:

“Launch Pad was an intense and equally  rewarding experience where I had the opportunity to originate multiple characters. I was also able to learn about (the fundamentals of) playwriting and design which was a first hand experience I deem priceless."
 
- Roz Cornejo, Senior BFA LAUNCH PAD Summer Reading Series

"LAUNCH PAD was a great experience that  showed me how the process of writing a play is just as important as discovering how to perform it. Working at the same table as the playwrights really puts you at the center of the writing process, breaking the myth of the perfect first draft. Great plays are never perfect in their first incarnation and Launchpad allows students to watch them grow and change firsthand."

- Nick Freedson, Junior BFA LAUNCH PAD Summer Reading Series

"Working with LAUNCH PAD on We Want the Funk: a rustbelt lullaby on the one! was my first experience in a professional acting environment. Rehearsals were fast paced and open dialogue between all cast members was encouraged. The cast was driven, loving and focused. It was amazing to watch the director and playwright study subtle nuances in the play from preview to preview and change them in order to achieve the most outstanding overall performance possible. The overall process was absolutely thrilling!"

      - Alexander Hudson, Junior in We Want the Funk: a rustbelt lullaby on the one!

“Being privileged enough to create a role was a vital part of my development as an actor. I’m so thankful I had the chance.”

      - Trevor Wade, sophomore BFA actor in Kingdom City

"It was an intensely collaborative, lively experience. Truly what theatre should aim to be--a handful of people with wholly different life experiences all getting together to create an amazing story right now."

     - Dakotah Brown, BFA graduate, actor in La Niñera: The Nursemaid

"I've never had a better understanding of a playwright's work and insight. To be a part of the playwright’s process is an absolute honor. An experience I’ll never forget.”

    -  Carlos Peñuela, BFA graduate, actor in Melancholy Play

"I felt that being in the room with a professional playwright, watching her process--both her struggles and her creative MacGuyvver-ing out of those moments of stasis in the writing--to be some of the most powerful moments of true instruction that I’ve ever had."

    -  Brian Granger, PhD candidate and dramaturg for La Niñera: The Nursemaid and Kingdom City

"Working on these new plays places our department on the front line of contemporary theater, rather than the sidelines. There’s no buffer between the moment of inspiration and study; instead, our students are making the texts others will study later. I have to say, these new works erase the line for me between working in college theater and participating in a professional theater lab."

    -  Jason Narvy, PhD graduate, actor in Kingdom City

"My learning and growth were boosted by this process like I never thought they could be--it’s a rare position an actor finds themselves in, and it is so, so valuable."

    -  Joelle Golda, senior BFA actor in La Niñera: the Nursemaid

“To work on a play that can, and most assuredly will change at any given time is exhilarating. It really kept me, as an actor, on my toes. One of the first things I do when I read is a play is flip to the page of the original cast and crew-to see who was a part of the world premiere. It's so wild, and incredibly exciting to know that one day I'll flip to that page and see my name. There's nothing like it-working on a play that is truly a living, breathing thing."

   -  Brennan Kelleher, BFA graduate, actor in The Dinosaur Within and Plumfield, Iraq

“Working on Kingdom City has been one of the most artistically and intellectually rewarding experiences of my academic and professional careers. I had the opportunity to participate in the development of an important new piece of American drama.”

   -  Clareann Despain, PhD candidate, assistant director of Plumfield, Iraq

“Being part of this truly collaborative process and having the opportunity to work first hand with the writer and creative team was the most empowering theatrical experience I have ever had.“

    -  Amy Gumenick, BFA graduate, actor in The Dinosaur Within and Plumfield, Iraq

What the students are saying about the LAUNCH PAD SUMMER READING SERIES course:

"The LAUNCH PAD Summer Workshop provided the unique opportunity for me as a young director to better understand how to work with a playwright by observing the playwrights' processes as well as assisting with workshopping the plays. It was a fast-paced environment that required each of us to participate in more than one role in the development of the staged reading, which not only encouraged us to continue pursuing training in various aspects of play development but also created a rich and creative learning environment during the workshop."

-  Nabrasha Nelson, Senior BA Theater Major with a concentration in Directing

"I loved LAUNCH PAD Summer Workshop 2014! It helped me understand playwriting, and how a theatre company works with the playwright to put their play up on its feet! I also liked how I got to do many different jobs such as being an assistant stage manager, an assistant playwright, and to portray a character. It really helped me to delve into theatre and to see the process as a whole.

-  Megan Connors, Junior BA Theater Major with a concentration in Theater and Community

"LAUNCH PAD, an opportunity to make choices. Choose big! 

The class that gave me the biggest growth as an actor!

LAUNCH PAD, the creation of a political and artistic voice (a play), by students collaborating with professionals! 

A taste of the real world!

A chance to for experience in our field of work"

-  Rigoberto Sanchez, Junior Theater Major, BFA in Acting

"It was fun and exciting to have a new challenge and new friends every week. I will take the skills I learned in this class with me. I already used them in a stage reading I did just last week.

-  Jesse Waddell, Junior Theater Major, BFA in Acting

"The LAUNCH PAD class with Risa Brainin was an amazing experience to work with some phenomenal playwrights. I learned so much about the process of working a new play and watching it move from paper onto it's feet! The experience was invaluable and one that will sit with me forever. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate in this class." 

-  Sian Harden, Junior BA Theater Major, with a concentration in Playwriting 

"LAUNCH PAD is one of the most exciting, strengthening, and best learning experiences that I have ever had. I'm so glad I got to be a part of it because it strengthened my acting and connected me with people I would have never met otherwise. All actors should be a part of a workshop class at least once in their careers."

-  Sarai Ford, Junior Theater Major, BFA in Acting

"LAUNCH PAD taught me a great deal about aspects of the playmaking process that I otherwise would not have known. It put me in contact with phenomenal actors and playwrights that had tremendous amounts of insight and experience to bring to the table that everyone involved was able to learn from. For me, it was an experience that was absolutely essential to my growth in theater."

-  Austin Jiang, Sophomore Theater Major, BFA in Acting

"My experience in LAUNCH PAD was a very rewarding one. I got the chance to work with such a talented and creative group of people, and to work with a new playwright each week always had me on my toes wondering what we would dive into next.  It was nice getting the chance to help the playwrights with their creative journey just as much as they helped us with ours.  The fast pace of the class made the experience a challenging yet exciting one, because to get a whole new play/script each week really has you learning so much in such a short period of time."

-  Solmyra Araiza, Senior Theater Major, BFA in Acting

"Being a part of the LAUNCH PAD Summer Class was one of the best experiences I have had as an actor at UCSB. I loved getting to work with professional actors, directors, and of course, playwrights. It taught me to be flexible and disciplined in doing the work, to collaborate and contribute, and most importantly, how to have fun during the process. "

-  Charles Grant, Senior Theater Major, BFA in Acting

"As the teaching assistant for this summer pilot course and as someone who has supported myself as an actor, I witnessed, firsthand, how the LAUNCH PAD program successfully bridges academic study of performance making with the working methods of the professional theater. Prof. Brainin balanced investment in each student's individual process with attention to the direction of public readings. Members of the class collaborated with three nationally recognized playwrights, learning to creatively embody the roles of designers, actors, stage managers and assistant directors. I felt the excitement in the room when the class realized that their contributions in our workshop were resulting in substantial changes to one of the scripts, which was concurrently in rehearsals at a regional theater on the east coast. I saw students’ confidence as a theater makers grow as they registered the value and impact of their work here in the UCSB community, as well as within the larger arena of national new play development."

-  Blythe Foster, Graduate Student 

"It was such a unique experience to be a part of an artist's work in progress. The script is constantly changing and we were always discovering something new. It is a chance when the playwright and the actor can really come together and create something beautiful."

-  Kody Siemensma, Undergraduate Student 

"My experience working on the LAUNCH PAD workshop of Joyce Carol Oates' play Bad Touch was unbelievablely fulfilling on both an artistic and personal level. To have the opportunity to "come home" to UC Santa Barbara's Theater Department to work with such an iconic writer (not to mention the wonderfully talented students and faculty of UCSB) on this thought-provoking play was, for me, a dream come true. To watch these young artists have the opportunity to collaborate so closely and directly with a literary giant of Joyce's caliber was incredibly inspiring. To be so challenged and rewarded by the process myself? Well, that was just an unexpected bonus. I can't say enough good things about this remarkable program. In a world inundated by technology and lack of personal connection, being able to workshop art in this intimate way alongside peers and working professionals is not just a treat, it's completely necessary."

Jessie Sherman, Alumnus

"LAUNCH PAD was one of the most important classes I have taken here at UCSB. Between getting to work so closely with incredible faculty, and experiencing first hand the intensely collaborative process that can come from this type of play workshopping, I feel that my passion and understanding of my art has been taken to the next level."

Katie Walker, Undergraduate Student

"LAUNCH PAD is really something special. It's a program which practices a real dedication to excellent storytelling, and as a result, the talents going into its productions come out fresher and bolder than they were coming in. It was a privilege to work in an environment which not only values but also seeks out and expertly synthesizes the various abilities brought in by individual members."

Christine Hamlin, CCS Literature major & Theatre minor