Community-oriented theater professor wins big

By Samantha Iniguez

 East Los Angeles College adjunct professor James Buglewicz was one of four community college professors awarded the 2019-2020 Hayward Award.

The Academic Senate for California Community College website said, “The Hayward Award for ‘Excellence in Education’ honors community full-time and part-time college faculty who demonstrate the highest level of commitment to their students, college, and profession.” 

During his time at ELAC, Buglewicz has developed curriculum for the Theater in The Community Certificate of Achievement and Stagecraft Skills Certificate. 

He has also implemented a program with professional partners that provides student, teaching artists and technical interns with hands-on teaching and work experience. 

He also founded Touring Children and Inter-Generational Theater, a program where volunteer actors travel and put on performances for children and older audiences.  

Buglewicz found his passion for theatre in high school. An english teacher suggested Buglewicz star in one of the school productions. Since then, Buglewicz has been practicing and making a living through the arts. 

“My parents were worried about my career choice, but they let me do what I wanted. It wasn’t until I got a job teaching at a college that my mom was happy, even though she knows I had been successfully supporting myself in the arts for about 20 years,” Buglewicz said.   

Buglewicz has made it his mission to bring theater to underserved communities. He started as a performing arts coordinator in Tucson, Arizona and continues to bring the arts to communities to this day as a producing director for the theater at ELAC. 

Buglewicz  said, the Certificate of Achievement in Theater in the Community and the Certificate of Achievement in technical theater creates a bridge that allows high school students to take theater classes and gives them the opportunity to graduate with one or two certificates depending on how many classes they take. 

He said he implemented a program with professional and educational partners that provides student teaching artists and technical interns with hands-on teaching and work experience, to help artists gain experience for potential part-time gigs.

One of the ways he does this is through Touring Childrens and Inter-Generational theater. 

The traveling show performs at elementary schools, libraries and retirement homes. Buglewicz either adapts stories for the show or writes original stories like “My life was saved by dolphins’ ‘ by East Los Angeles College Story Theater, for the Children’s show. 

Children volunteers were invited to join the cast at the beginning of the production and were placed as ship passengers.

Christopher Magallanez is a ELAC alum in the Theater Department. “Jim once said that the purpose of this project was to take theater into communities where it was needed most,” Magallanez said.

“He said that we were ‘planting the seed of art’ into the hearts and the minds of children. They may grow up being told that a career in the arts is unattainable, but we come to nurture the artist that lives within everyone.” 

For the older audience, the East Los Angeles College Story theater traveling theater performs stories like “Fool Me Once” or “Henrietta’s Horrible Day,” a  comedy about a recently widowed elderly woman who gets continuously scammed.

Not only does the traveling show bring theater to audiences outside ELAC, but it also provides an opportunity for ELAC students who have thought about acting but have never explored that interest. 

“Most of the actors performing in the shows are volunteers who have never had any traditional training or classes, but they get to explore their interest and get right out there and perform,” Bugelwics said. 

“There is something about Jim that is truly inspiring. I’ve worked with him on two theater productions here at ELAC. His calm presence is very comforting, especially during extreme situations, which in theater is inevitable.” Michael Moretta, a student of Buglewicz, said. 

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