First look at director of ‘Colossal’

Helmet off—Mark Anthony Vallejo removes helmet during rehearsals at the Proscenium Theater in P2. CN/Jonathan Carlos

By Jonathan Carlos

The Theater Arts Department at East Los Angeles College debuted a play called “Colossal.” Mark Anthony Vallejo, the director, said he is thrilled to bring the play’s debut to the ELAC Theater Department. 

“I’m really excited that the students at ELAC are working on this type of production, because it’s physically demanding. Some of the concepts I’m directing, you have to learn in a graduate program or have to go overseas and watch these shows because they are not traditionally done here in the states,” Vallejo said. 

“What you’re about to see is a work of art that is influenced by my Chicano upbringing, opera and my constant affinity towards non-western forms of theater, especially European theater.”

“I’m really excited that these students are gravitating towards my work, and they stuck with me and now have a historic show that’s never been done at ELAC.” Rehearsals started Feb 29 and lasted two months because Vallejo was directing another play in Long Beach called “Anna In the Tropics.”

Vallejo originally was going to direct “Peter and the Starcatcher” by Rick Elice and “Oedipus El Rey” by Luis Alfaro. But while he browsed the Los Angeles library reading books, there was one he could not put down, “Colossal.” 

Vallejo choreographed the dance with his own unique taste with the help of Joe Reyonalds, Alejandro Yerna, Jashon Roberts and assistant director Lauren Grace Parra, which is also her first official play debut as an assistant director.

One of the challenges in directing the play was choreographing the football scenes. 

His focus was to turn the actors into football players in a short amount of time. He used drills, stretching and tackling to teach the actors with the help of Joashon Roberts, a football specialist.

Vallejo said he never majored in dance, but he had a lot of experience from “Contra Tiempo” in Los Angeles Theatre Dance Company in 2015. He majored in theater and got a Masters of Fine Arts Degree for directing at UCLA. 

He took dance classes because he uses his body as an instrument and shows his actors how to move. Vallejo has been directing in other universities, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and in the Metropolitan Opera in New York City just to name a few. He enjoys directing shows that involve more movement from his inspirations like Robert Wilson, Pina Bauch, Martha Graham, Christopher Nolan, opera and his father Jose Vallejo. 

His father used to play football in high school and Vallejo wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, but he missed his chance due to his pursuit of theater at Garfield High School. 

“I’ve always dreamt of playing football, but now that dream has materialized into this play, and I am honored to be sharing this with my dad,” Vallejo said.

“Colossal” is a play written by Andrew Hinderaker. The story is focused on a football player named Mike, played by Omar Blancas, who suffers a spinal injury after protecting his teammate. Mike falls in love with this teammate  Marcus, played by Jared Magana Diaz. The show follows Mike and a younger version of himself, played by Norman Antiono Campos, recounting the past. 

“Colossal” will show in the P2 building at the Proscenium Theater at 8 pm on Friday. Matinees are at 2 pm on May 18 and 19. Tickets are $10 presale and $12 at the door and can be purchased online at www.elactheater.org.

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