SMC Stages Alumna's Play on Pompeii

By Quyen Trinh '03

Angela Santillo visited SMC in February to read through the play.

Saint Mary's Performing Arts spring theater production, "Sera," is a haunting and surprisingly funny play about the final hours of the ancient city Pompeii before it disappears under Mt. Vesuvius' volcanic eruption.

"Sera" received its world premiere at Saint Mary's in April, a production that was noteworthy because it was written by Angela Santillo '05.

Santillo, who is finishing two intensive years of graduate study in Sarah Lawrence College's MFA theater program, says Pompeii always fascinated her.

"The science, the emotion, the powerful images we see in our history books," Santillo says. "I wanted to create a piece that explored the dangers of nature and our tragic tendency to be passive when faced with adversity. What resulted is a play that is more collage than story, more sensory than plot."

Santillo, who had a double major at SMC in English and performing arts, is no stranger to the stage. She brought the audience to tears with her senior project,"Red Umbrellas" — her first fully produced play, which she wrote and directed.
Upon graduation, Santillo was awarded the Louis LeFevre Prize for an outstanding theater student.

After graduation, Santillo expanded her horizons from actor and writer to theater manager, becoming company manager and producer for foolsFURY Theater, based in San Francisco.
She also returned to SMC as the production coordinator for the Performing Arts Department, and as the MFA in Creative Writing Program's administrative assistant. Her stint in theater management lasted two years before her creative itch led her to New York.

Santillo has also worked as a teacher's assistant, introducing theater to high school and college-age students at Westchester Community College and Lehman College in the Bronx.

Santillo says she has embraced the classroom as a platform from which she can help promote social change. "Good art critiques. Great art offers change," she says.

"Sera," directed by Rebecca Engle and choreographed by Cathy Davalos, was performed in LeFevre Theatre in late April. An alumni wine and cheese pre-show event was on April 23.