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Blinn College graduate selected as apprentice at the Portland Playhouse

Blinn set the stage for former student’s journey into the theatre profession

October 19, 2017

Kayla KellyBlinn College alumna Kayla Kelly recently was selected as an apprentice at the Portland Playhouse, a theatre that specializes in producing quality, intimate, performances in Portland, Ore.

The apprenticeship provides emerging artists with professional experience and training in a small group setting through the end of June.

Kelly earned an Associate of Arts degree in theatre arts from the Blinn-Brenham Campus in 2015. During her two years as a Blinn student, she made her breakthrough as an artist, landing her first major role as Eliza Doolittle in the College’s production of “Pygmalion.” 

“That was my first major role and I really enjoyed it,” she said. “It was a cool experience to research and develop that whole character.”

Kelly’s performance earned a Respondent’s Choice Excellence Award for acting during the Texas Community College Speech and Theatre Association Play Festival in 2015.  

Kelly explored a variety of elements of the theatre profession at Blinn.

“Since it was a small theatre, it was really hands-on and we were able to do everything from working on the set to learning our lines together,” Kelly said. “It really helps you grow as an artist. You don’t get a lot of opportunities like that in big theatre departments.”

Kelly gained experience in stage work, building and painting sets, working lights, operating a box office, and even ushering before she continued her education at Stephen F. Austin, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree.

While at Stephen F. Austin, Kelly was part of a student improvisational troupe called Improv Strikes Back, which taught workshops, held rehearsals, and produced shows.

Now that Kelly is an apprentice, she will continue to work in various production areas such as marketing, development, literary, casting, and education, and learn all aspects of running a theatre by working closely with core company members. 

In addition to taking courses, she will produce a solo show and train with a Shakespeare company to put on a performance for a local high school.

“I knew I wanted to work in theatre, but I didn’t how I could make this a living,” Kelly said. “That is why I applied to this apprenticeship, because it sets you up to learn and work every aspect of the profession. Theatre is something that is so broad, it is not just acting on stage and developing a set. You can manifest it into any kind of career, and I am hoping after this I find my path.”

Blinn College offers students an opportunity to earn an Associate of Arts degree in theatre arts. In addition, students involved in the theatre arts program are encouraged to participate in a series of five student productions each season. Students take part in a variety of roles such as acting, set design, costume design, lighting, box office operations, and stage work.