Allison Dominguez, a Spring 2022 graduate from the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance’s Acting concentration, spent part of her final semester training with the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF)’s Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy (ITJA), in an online program led by Los Angeles Times Arts Editor Ashley Lee.
Dominguez, an acting grad, has also been cultivating an interest in arts journalism and dramaturgy, including reading scripts for the National Committee of the 2022 Bay Area Playwrights Festival. For ITJA, she joined a cohort of several dozen theater students from around the country, meeting in February 2022 for a series of online workshops, while also responding to online productions with drafts of journalistic pieces and receiving and sharing critique in master classes.
Separately, Fall 2021 grad Avery Flasher-Duzgunes, profiled in the March 2 Spotlight as a Regional winner in dramaturgy for KCACTF, has received a Kennedy Center Dramaturgy Intensive Scholarship to attend the virtual Dramaturgy Intensive July 14-17. Congratulations, Avery! Both Avery and Allison were mentored in their dramaturgy pursuits by Prof. Scott Horstein, head of the Department’s Theatre Studies concentration.
Allison Dominguez discusses her experience attending the ITJA:
What are your big takeaways from the ITJA sessions?
One of the first big focuses was on the importance of format. The format of the piece is not only your blueprint, but it can help compliment what topic you choose. I found that I really love trend style pieces, ones that are often done in a list format. These are quicker to write, they often incorporate new info, opinions from social media, they require you to be fast and (of course) on the trend!
We also dove deeper into the concepts of “punching up” versus “punching down.” How do you speak to a show that you truly didn’t like, but that came from a small new group that had excellent intentions? Versus how do you talk about a gigantic big-budget show, that has glaring issues and will likely never even see your work? You can of course treat them very differently, and finding those differences in nuance makes a big impact on the voice of your piece.
What was the most fun thing you got to work on?
I got to watch UC Riverside’s recent production of Brownface, a new play by Carissa Atallah. As a California college student myself, I found that her work and voice rang so true and felt so familiar. It was full of incredibly relevant topics, but also genuinely funny Gen Z slang, mannerisms and jokes. I therefore felt like I perhaps had a very useful point of view when writing my piece for it.
What else did you enjoy about the ITJA workshops?
I loved getting to connect with students from other states, and hearing about what their schools were currently working on. We also had a group-chat where we’d send in our work for questions or tips which was super sweet! The three-hour workshops were led by Ashley Lee, the Arts Editor of the LA Times, and also included guest speakers. Their combined knowledge and experience covered so much of the theatre journalism scene across the country, and just continuing to follow their work on social media has made me feel much more in the loop.
Is there something in theater journalism or advocacy that you are particularly energized to pursue, coming out of ITJA?
I love the idea of younger people coming out and having a bigger platform to share their thoughts on new theatre works. Theatre students and online fandom enthusiasts take up a far bigger part of this industry than we give them credit for, and they are among the most passionate and most diverse. But which shows stay open is too reliant on reviews and on recognition from awards -- there need to be more voices in those groups. I surely don’t know how to fix that in one simple swoop, it is an issue that largely circulates around class, privilege, and access to theatre, but it is a goal worth pursuing that will undoubtedly make our industry even better.