By Zoe Ekeh
Sam Acosta’s interest in acting started when he was in eighth grade. In his homeschool co-op, he had to act in a play for speech class. This led to him starring as the lead in the play “Much Ado About Nothing” by William Shakespeare.
“It was a really weird experience,” Acosta said. “I hadn’t done much acting before, but I fell in love with it right away.”
After this first play, Acosta asked his co-op if they could do a high school play and his request was accepted. He continued acting in plays his co-op put on until he decided to come to Cedarville University and major in theater performance and minor in theater design.
“My fascination with theater really spans to my love for storytelling,” Acosta said. “I think that storytelling is something that is one of the best ways that we learn as people.”
As a sophomore at Cedarville, Acosta got firsthand experience directing two senior theater projects, “Brothers Grimm Spectactulathon” and “I And You.” After directing those two plays, and taking the two directing classes, he wanted to expand his repertoire of directing. He contacted Assistant Professor of Theatre Stacey Stratton about doing an independent directing study.
Stratton has been a professor at Cedarville for four years and teaches theater performance. Acosta has taken every class Stratton teaches, including Acting Movement, Musical Theatre, Advanced Performance Technique, Shakespeare, Acting 1, Acting 2, Voice for the Performer and Audition Prep just to name a few, as well as two prior independent studies.
As a freshman, Acosta was a lead in the first play Stratton directed. Stratton thought he acted well and saw him incorporate what he learned from his acting courses into his acting repertoire. She believes that the knowledge Acosta has as an actor has helped him gain his directorial and writing skills. This collection of skills makes him what Stratton calls, “an all-around good at everything theater guy.” Some of the other theatre productions he has been a part of at Cedarville are “All My Sons,” “Meet Me in St. Louis” and “Anne of Green Gables.”
An independent study is a course a student requests to take, and they work with a professor to gain more training and experience in a specific area of study. Acosta is the assistant director for the university’s fall play “The Giver” this semester for an advanced independent directing study. In addition to being the assistant director, Acosta is directing his own senior theater project as well as someone else’s.
Stratton says, “Sam is a fantastic director,” mentioning his instincts and his way of interpreting an actor’s errors. “He can turn back to the actors with some ideas, some form of instruction or question to make them respond in a way that usually corrects whatever the issue of the performance was.”
Stratton says Sam is a natural at directing and that he “just has the brain for it.”
Stratton said the job of an assistant director could be done in a couple of ways. An assistant director could be a stage manager, floor sweeper, or a person with creative input. As assistant director, Acosta can test his skills and is given opportunities to hone his instincts. Stratton and Acosta review each other’s notes.
“It’s been fun for me to be able to have input from someone else who’s super creative and very gifted and put some of his ideas on the stage as well, and that’s been fun for him too,” Stratton said.
Jokingly saying, “if he can learn to wake up when his alarm clock goes off, I think he will be very successful,” Stratton said Acosta has gifts and is passionate about success after college. She just thinks that he will have to figure out which area of theater he wants to focus on.
Acosta, on the other hand, has something of a clear view of what his plans are after college. He wants to go to graduate school and get an MFA degree in directing or script writing. Ultimately, he wants to write and direct a miniseries one day, as well as continue to work in theater. Later down the road, he wants to teach at a college.
“I love teaching,” he said. “I love the idea of pouring into the next generation.”
Zoe Ekeh is a junior Journalism major and writer for Cedars’ Arts and Entertainment section. An Ohio native born and raised in Dayton, Zoe has always loved music.