Skip to main content

Professor Chris Mangels and College of the Sequioas Theatre Arts Department

Feb 26, 2016 11:53AM ● Published by Ronda Alvey

Gallery: More Photos [2 Images] Click any image to expand.

For the Love of Art

March 2016
By Jordan Venema

An irony about theatre, though every play and musical is a kind of an onstage pageant, is it needs neither stage nor pageantry to be done well. Still, we judge books by their covers, and the biggest-budget productions can become blockbusters from hype alone, before a critic could ever convince us otherwise. But good theatre, real theatre, can happen spontaneously anywhere – in an alley, on the street, dressed down, without all that pomp and circumstance. And that performance could be the greatest theatre you’d ever see.

“The arts” suffer from a sort of stigma, which is evident in the dismantling of creative departments across the country, and the pressure put on students to pursue more practical educations. So with a bias already against it, some unwittingly overlook good art, and especially theatre, even when it’s staring them in the face. If it’s not hanging on a wall in the National Museum or performing onstage off Broadway, it probably didn’t get a fair shake.

College of the Sequoias Professor of Theatre Chris Mangels recognizes the prejudice against the arts, as well as against kids becoming artists, though that hasn’t stopped Mangels and department faculty from cultivating a conservatory atmosphere as well as producing high-caliber performances. This semester alone, the department will stage three performances: The musical The King and I, and plays Sylvia and Animal Farm.

The King and I (March 11-20) represents “the first time we’ve done one of the golden age musicals, I think, in 12 years,” says Mangels, who expects the other performances to push audience’s expectations. Sylvia (April 8-10) is a family story told through the eyes of the household dog, Sylvia, and will “be produced, directed, designed, and acted by the Artistic Company, which is our core student body.”

The third play, Animal Farm (April 22-30), is a product of the “experimental theatre ensemble,” which challenges traditional interpretations with reimagined direction and perspective. “It’s always fairly out-there stuff,” Mangels says with a chuckle, admitting their interpretation of Animal Farm will be the kind of theatre you’d expect to find in New York.

Considering the quality of the theatre, prices for tickets come at a bargain, but if you doubted COS Theatre Arts Department’s performances were worth the ticket, just look at its other productions – its students. That the program has exported students to some of the most prestigious and competitive conservatories in the country, as well as internationally, is the proof in the pudding. Danielle Behrens, a current cast member of the Broadway national tour of The Wizard of Oz, graduated from Marymount Manhattan, Adam Rodriguez and Cassidy Kipp both graduated from one of the nation’s top conservatories, NYU Tisch, and Sarah Gallegos is enrolled in England’s Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. Other students have attended programs at Fresno State University, UCLA and Syracuse.

Magnels doesn’t take much credit for their success. “Honestly, a lot of it comes out of the students,” Mangels says. “We’ve had a long run of really ambitious students and they were hungry, and really, if you don’t have the students to begin with, it doesn’t matter how hard you’re pushing.” 

Even if his students weren’t hungry, one gets the impression that faculty would push regardless, striving to create a program with both “a level of community and accountability” for its students. Unlike most university programs, a junior college can upstage traditional prestigious programs by offering a real-world environment. 

Mangels jokes that a four-year university can be something like a summer camp. “You don’t have to deal with the real world if you don’t want to,” he says, “but that’s not the case with a community college.” Not only are students closely tied to their community, as opposed to living in the campus bubble, but also often work to pay for their own tuition. Many former COS students (like Mangels himself) return to the COS program in some capacity, whether as an audience member or even actor, meaning students commonly act alongside “real” actors.

Some students might find the additional competition a nuisance, but Mangels also believes it becomes a training opportunity as they work alongside community members. 

Beside the quality of its faculty and students, Mangels says the support of the COS administration has contributed to the department’s creative freedom. “We have a lot of autonomy to work on things,” says Mangels, as the department maintains financial security through fundraising and ticket sales. That autonomy translates to creative stability and credibility, which ensures that students will continue to challenge their audience – and themselves – with performances that would make many conservatories proud. That might be why these schools are accepting students from the COS Theatre Arts Department, and why you should catch their performances while you still can.

www.costheatre.org

The King & I, March 11-20

In Print, Arts+Entertainment, Community
  • Arlene Arnold came to the world of quilting in 1975 with millions of others in the Great Quilt Re...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/22/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Here Comes Santa Claus!

    12/22/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    Get your photo taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus at our FREE community event! Enjoy hot chocolate a...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    12/22/2017
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/24/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Arlene Arnold came to the world of quilting in 1975 with millions of others in the Great Quilt Re...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/18/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Every Monday in the PHS cafeteria, come play bingo. Doors open at 430pm, early bird games start...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    12/18/2017
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • Arlene Arnold came to the world of quilting in 1975 with millions of others in the Great Quilt Re...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/19/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Hanford's Third Tuesday Takeover

    12/19/2017
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    12 participating venues, each with live local music, and art on display. Come on out and be a par...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    12/19/2017
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • Arlene Arnold came to the world of quilting in 1975 with millions of others in the Great Quilt Re...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/20/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Arlene Arnold came to the world of quilting in 1975 with millions of others in the Great Quilt Re...


  • Arlene Arnold came to the world of quilting in 1975 with millions of others in the Great Quilt Re...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/22/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Here Comes Santa Claus!

    12/22/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    Get your photo taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus at our FREE community event! Enjoy hot chocolate a...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    12/22/2017
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • Arlene Arnold came to the world of quilting in 1975 with millions of others in the Great Quilt Re...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/24/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/25/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Every Monday in the PHS cafeteria, come play bingo. Doors open at 430pm, early bird games start...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    12/25/2017
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/26/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    12/26/2017
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/27/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Horse Camp For Beginners

    12/28/2017
    10:00AM — 12:30PM

    Topics to include history, daily care, medical care, safety, halter and leading a horse, grooming...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/29/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    12/29/2017
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • New Year's Eve with the Eagles

    12/31/2017
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    Join us this New Year's Eve for this hike to celebrate the beginning of 2018 with the Bald Eagle,...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    12/31/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    01/01/2018
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    01/01/2018
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    01/02/2018
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    01/02/2018
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    01/03/2018
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • VCRC: General Support Group

    01/03/2018
    06:00PM — 07:30PM

    Valley Caregiver Resource Center invites you to attend a general support group


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    01/05/2018
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • In January 2018, Arts Visalia is pleased to host their annual Orange Blossom Quilt Guild. The Ora...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    01/05/2018
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • Indoor Yard Sale

    01/06/2018
    08:00AM — 01:00PM

    Time to get organized and make some CA$H after the holidays! Clean out the attic, garage or shed...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    01/07/2018
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    01/08/2018
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    01/08/2018
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


Check out our sister publication, Enjoy Magazine: Northern California Living