Meet The Marketing Team: Ethan Baez

Today’s blog post is about our newest contributor, Ethan Baez. You may recognize his name from recent posts, where he led the interviews of some cast and crew from Our Town. Today we get to know him!

Ethan Baez, Junior B.A. Theatre major

Ethan, tell us all about yourself.

On February 13th 2001, in Kissimmee, Florida a beautiful baby was born in Kissimmee General Hospital. A couple doors down, I was being pulled out via plunger because I wanted ten more minutes and already my mother had enough of my antics. When I was a toddler, I looked like something a bakery you would call a roll, and yet I wanted to dance when I got older. If you ask me, it’s because I knew my dad would have hated it and even as a toddler, I lived to spite. As I mentioned though, I was in the shape of a circle, not a Zendaya, so that dream quickly died. Then, in middle school, I learned you could be so good at something people would bully you for it. In my case, I’d get pushed around and called a nerd on the basketball court, because I was really good at writing history essays for Mrs. Andrews. I soon learned my designated bullies were not so good at those things, which began to explain a lot. It also explained the origins of my own sarcasm, because I quickly went from coming home with hurt feelings to coming home with vindicated feelings but black eyes.

In eighth grade, I remember having to recite a poem for English class called “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman. I got a B just for attempting it, and although I couldn’t memorize the whole thing, Mrs. J praised my delivery. Then I started writing my own poetry, which I knew was bad, but I also knew I wanted it to be better. I then went to an arts school for my high school years where I learned how writing poetry is painful, so I wanted it more. What I didn’t want was to worry about academics and grades, so in my sophomore year when I was told I needed to fill an elective credit, I chose theater. At that point I had already shown a successful inkling towards performance poetry, and monologues didn’t feel much different than that, so I was allowed to take some acting classes. I also auditioned for Peter and The Starcatcher, in which I used Reuben’s monologue from Oceans 11. This was a rookie move that my teacher told me not to do ever again, but he liked my energy so I played Alf.

The show was funny, a technical marvel, and I made friends. I also got to witness enough behind the scenes drama to last me until my final moments, but the draw of the stage had its hold on me. I played Lt. Shrank in West Side Story, General Hammond in M.A.S.H., Eurydice’s father in Eurydice, performed in a number of director showcases, and did enough actor work to rival the work I was doing to better myself as a writer. When it came time to start thinking about what I was going to do in college, I stressed over whether I’d pursue writing or theatre. I knew I could only do those two things for the rest of my life, but my family could only afford for me to pursue higher education in one of them. This is when I found out about GTA, and when I had an honest conversation with my high school teachers who felt I was a better writer than I was an actor. I made a choice that I do not regret for a second. I still do not know if I agree with them.

Some years later, I am now twenty-one. I’m pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, and I’ve joined the GTA Marketing Team to help fulfill my writing itch. You may have seen me as Gonzalo in The Tempest, or in the audience of every GTA show since Legally Blonde. I was the one laughing like a hyena. I still write poetry, but unless you frequent open-mic nights in Atlanta then you have not heard or seen any of it. I also write plays and sketches, one of which will be performed in the GTA New Works Festival along with some other really amazing scenes done by amazing people. I’m extremely happy to be working with the marketing team for the foreseeable future, and I look forward to giving you all the GTA updates all the time.

Meet the Crew of Our Town

By Jeilianne Vazquez & Ethan Baez

As Our Town comes to a close, we want to spotlight the backstage crew who make the magic happen. Peyton Wehunt, Prop Master, and Allison Lamb, Assistant Stage Manager, work hard on the tiny details that really make the show come to life. We asked them about their process, their perspective on the show and script, and what this show means to them.


Peyton Wehunt, BFA Design & Technology for Theatre major

Tell us about yourself and what it means to be Prop Master for Our Town.

Peyton: I’m Peyton, and I’m a sophomore here, BFA tech design with a focus in scenery and costumes. Working on Our Town props has been a lot of fun. It’s not a show that has a tremendous amount of props. It’s very mime-focused. For me, personally, I felt like those props really needed to stand out and tell their own story in their own way. So working on those props (I believe there are five), every single one of them has either been completely handmade from scratch or has been pulled from storage. For example, we have some songbooks in the show. We got them out of an abandoned church and they are from the early 1900s. It was a miracle that they weren’t torn to pieces.

All those little things have been fun and honestly, I would say, a little more challenging than the bigger shows that we do. Because in those shows I probably have a hundred props. You can say, “This is a great baby bottle, we’re moving on,” however, for something like this, those five props are gonna get seen a lot closer. The audience can say, “Why is that prop real if the others are fake? What gives it that justification?.” You’ve got to spend more time and justify its existence.

Do you just have organizational control? Or did you have any hand in actually making them?

Peyton: The work of a Prop Master is a little weird because we’re kind of what we call ourselves, and by ourselves I mean me, the “redheaded stepchild” of the backstage crew. You find yourself lumped in with Paint Charges and Board Operators, but prop masters go to production meeting, while those other positions don’t come into the process until tech week. Prop Masters deal with more design work. We do script analysis; reading the script, trying to find the meaning behind the text, making our list of everything needed for the show, researching the time period and what that time period looks like for these specific pieces. Once you get that paperwork done, you gotta go out and figure out what’s in prop storage. If we don’t have it in prop storage, can we borrow it? If we can’t borrow it, can we buy it? And then the buying is a whole process. We’re kind of in the middle because on the one hand, we don’t get to go to design meetings and we are not considered designers. But, on the other hand, we are more involved in the pre-production process than most other technical positions are. So it’s kind of a unique space!

Is part of your process removing emotion from the script, or do you like to keep it there? How long does it take? What’s your experience with that?

Peyton: That’s a great question. It’s complicated because my first read-through of a script is just to get an idea of what the show is about. I actively don’t watch shows I haven’t worked on before because I don’t want to muddy my work with somebody else’s or accidentally steals somebody’s idea. So I find myself reading through the first time just to get an idea of what the show is about, and then I read the second time to start breaking things down. For example, I am currently working on The Secret Garden. For Mary’s props, I’m going through and looking for things like what kind of person is Mary? And then I have to hone in on it. What would her doll have on it? What would a doll for her be like?

In Our Town, the newspaper bag for the paperboy gets handed down generation after generation. You really have to dive into the script and realize that this bag doesn’t just belong to the paper boy. When he leaves this job, it’s going to the next guy and it’s not gonna be a one size fits all so we have to adjust accordingly, so I make little notes about that. But really, those honed-in, fine details don’t come until I go and see a rehearsal. It’s really just words on a page until you see an actor make it come to life.

What connections do you have to this show?

Peyton: The show really does make you hone in on the idea that everything happens really fast and you’ve really got to sit down and appreciate the moments you have with people, because if you don’t, you’ll end up down the line realizing how much you regret it.

What character do you relate to the most?

Peyton: I really gravitate to Editor Webb. There’s a lot of characters that have their own personalities, but don’t get the real moments to shine, or they have a little humorous moment, but then that’s all they are, a humorous moment or a serious moment. But Editor Webb kind of falls in the middle. It’s a big bummer, because I don’t make any props for him but I really like that character! He’s not portrayed the way that you would imagine a father in the early 1900s to be. He feels like a person you would talk to now. It’s not entirely because of the script. Sammy Nelson does a terrific job of making you feel those emotions, but his connection with Emily (Maddie Compton) on stage is also really good. You can really feel that father-daughter connection between them.

Once the show starts, do you start taking your foot off the gas a little bit? Or do you have backstage duties that you’re responsible for?

Peyton: While we do get to breathe a little bit, my job isn’t done. For example, with Living Out, I focused on the heavy-hitter props, like the food, that had to get reset and cleaned and replaced every night. If it’s a show with weapons, those weapons need to be cleaned and maintained every show. You’ve got to see it through all the way to strike. You’ve got some stuff to do, but if we’re going 100 miles an hour, all the way to opening, after the show opens you’re probably going, maybe 45.

Anything that you want to tell the audience?

Peyton: I try to take one of the props and I make a little easter egg for the next show that’s coming up. In Living Out, there was a train that was sitting on the set, representing Murder On The Orient Express. There is a hint on the Our Town stage for The Secret Garden, so anybody in the audience that’s watching, see if you can try to figure out where our easter egg is! There are only five props, so I have no doubt somebody will find it.


Alison Lamb, BA Theatre major

Tell us about yourself and your role for Our Town.

Alison: I am a junior BA Theatre major and I am an Assistant Stage Manager for Our Town. Basically what that means is that I assist Kailie, our Stage Manager, help with paperwork, set up the rehearsal space, and run the show.

​​Have you read the show and if so, do you need to know the show to be a good stage manager?

Alison: I like to read whatever play I’m working on at least once or twice before rehearsal. I was already familiar with Our Town, but do you have to be familiar with it to be a good stage manager? Absolutely. I don’t know how you would function if you didn’t know what was happening. In order to be on top of things, you have to have a good idea. The interesting thing about tech and stage management is that when you’re reading a script, you’re looking for very different things than an actor would, because we’re in charge of tracking deck, tracking props, and tracking costumes.

Do you find any emotional relevance in the work that you do as a stage manager?

Alison: Absolutely! I can’t speak for all stage managers, but if they don’t, I’m not sure why they’re working in theatre. The emotional side is partly why I get excited about it. I mean yes, doing paperwork and stuff is very satisfying. But also at the end of the day, I’m there for the story and what the script and the play has to offer the audience and the cast, just as much as anyone else. I’m just experiencing it in a slightly different way. Stage managers are potentially reading the play even more than the actors are, because we have to analyze the script, write up paperwork and then be “on book” during rehearsal, in case an actor forgets their line. When the actors are “off book”, we’re still looking at the script in case they need a line. So we’re reading the script night after night. You pick up on a lot of details that you missed at the very beginning. That also kind of helps with motivation and passion for the work that you’re doing because you find little bits of gold here and there that you know aren’t gonna stand out. An audience might never see it but we know, and it’s so cool. In the rehearsal room, I would be sitting next to the rest of the stage management team or Zechariah (the director), and something clicks at the same time for multiple people. Then you just look over and it’s like “Wait, like did you hear that? That’s right!” So all of that is definitely emotionally grounded.

Why do you want to be a Stage Manager? What do you love about it?

Alison: Well, the interesting thing about stage management is that stage managers are one of the biggest cogs in the wheel, but also, they are one of the biggest areas that no one sees. Of course, if you’re working in professional theatre, you know how much stage management does. But for the average person, if you say, “Oh, I’m a stage manager,” they will have no idea what your role is. The idea of being such an integral part of the massive enterprise of theatre is really attractive to me because it leaves the work to speak for itself. Being behind the scenes, a kind of stage ninja. If you’re doing your job right no one knows you’re there. I’m always attracted to the people who are moving mountains and never get recognition or the people who are making the world go round but no one quite sees them do it. I think that kind of speaks to our world and how the little guy can make a difference. And just every day, seemingly small things, you know, end up changing the world.

What is a normal day as far as rehearsals look like?

Alison: Stage management usually gets to rehearsal 45 minutes before anyone else. We make sure that the stage is swept and cleaned, we preset for the show, we set up all the props, make sure everything’s in place and where it needs to be. We make sure that all of the actors are present and feeling well. If anybody’s running late then we call them and make sure that we’re helping them in any way that we can. Because of COVID, we check everybody’s temperature. Our stage manager Kailie is in the booth during runs. She is calling the show and that’s the majority of what she’s doing. Once we hit go, that’s her one big job! Makes everything go round. For ASM’s like me and Phoebe (Sweatman), we’re making sure that nothing catastrophic happens backstage. We are on headset, so we’re in constant communication with stage management and other crew members. If anything needs to be stopped or delayed, we’re all in communication to create a safe environment and to keep everybody updated.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Alison: Sometimes I think that straight plays get a bad rap. We all love the big musical that has all the dance numbers. I’m a sucker for musicals because you’ve got to love all of the pretty, shiny work that’s happening. But I think plays, like Our Town, get overshadowed which is such a shame because Our Town is such a beautiful story. It’s one of the simplest places maybe ever. Even when you walk in the space, you’ll see two ladders and the table, and it only gets simpler. In the third act, really the point of the story is seeing beautiful things in the mundane, that life is worth living because of the small moments. Truly living life, not doing crazy, big things but just simply being with each other and having community. I think that that is something that we all need reminders of.


Meet the Cast of Our Town

By Jeilianne Vazquez & Ethan Baez

It’s opening night of Our Town! This show has come together in a short amount of time and we are so proud of the cast and crew and can’t wait to share their hard work and creativity with the community.

Our Town presents the small town of Grover’s Corners in three acts, and depicts the simple daily lives of the Webb and Gibbs families as their children fall in love, marry, and pass on–ultimately reminding us of the importance of living our lives with intent and purpose.

The newest member of the GTA Marketing Team, Ethan Baez, interviewed cast members Marcello Valencia and Anna Nowosielski. Marcello is a junior BA Theatre major who plays Sam Craig, and Anna is a junior BFA Acting major who plays Mrs. Soames. They tell us what the shortened rehearsal experience was like, and


Marcello Valenica
BA Theatre major

Marcello, tell us about your role in Our Town?

Marcello: My character’s name is Sam Craig, he is a cousin of the main two families. He comes back to town after everything that has transpired. He wasn’t in the picture, though the majority of the show. And so he comes back after a tragedy. The town that he once knew is not the same, so much has changed. The guilt of him leaving and not maintaining a connection with the place where he grew up is really hitting him. It’s a moment that the audience will see how it goes from the normal, happy, and joyful tone to a very serious and realistic one.

You mention your character has been gone. He’s coming back to his hometown and it’s changed. For your characterization, are you drawing from personal experience?

Marcello: Yeah, he had other desires. A lot of people from Grover’s Corners want to have a family. They wanted to live a very quaint life, but he saw himself doing bigger things. He wanted something beyond that. He knew if he stayed there he wasn’t gonna change and he wasn’t really going to grow. That’s why he left and he doesn’t regret it. However, there is a sense of guilt. As you know, all these people that I’ve loved are gone now. He sees these people who he should know he should be close with when he’s not. There’s a part of him that says, what if I did stay? Or what if I didn’t choose to grow but just stay in the safe place? He’s really contemplating that during his scene.

You mentioned that the play shifts in tone a lot from being very joyful, happy and exciting to something more introspective and painful. You’re going into rehearsals every night, and you’re playing this pain. Do you have a process to get out of that painful acting?

Marcello: A lot of it is just appreciating it. It’s not like you have to get out of it. The purpose of the show is to emphasize how precious life is. How we really don’t take advantage of it as much as we should and no one truly can. You can say 20 million times, “oh my gosh, life is so precious, I need to take advantage” but if you’re truly living in the moment, you can’t take advantage of every aspect of it. You know, you can only live as much as you know. There’s a scene where it goes back in time. She’s trying to live that moment, but it’s hard for her because she knows so much about the future. It just really emphasizes at the end of the day, life is so short and you have to really just appreciate the people you have.

So, we’ve talked a little bit about your process of getting in and out of character. We’ve talked a little bit about what the show means to you. How do those contribute to the rehearsal process as a whole? What’s a day-to-day rehearsal look like for you?

Marcello: I’m not gonna lie, it’s a lot of sitting! I am near the end of the show and obviously because I wouldn’t make sense for my character to just pop up! A lot of it is just watching and understanding the show, just really taking it in. Seeing these characters go through that process of their process so I can better understand mine. Seeing them try to keep such a bright and happy tone regardless of them knowing, hey, it is gonna be a gut-wrencher. Watching them work on that and seeing these beautiful moments. It helps with my character when I’m thinking “oh my gosh, I can’t even imagine what these moments that I’ve missed that I could have been a part of if I just stayed.” So I’m learning from them and watching how they do acting and take on their roles is beautiful to see.

Anything else you’d like to add on about the show?

Marcello: If it wasn’t obvious already, bring some tissues! It is an amazing show. This is just one of those shows where I think everyone needs to see and it’s a great reminder that life is so precious. Make sure you tell those people that you love them one extra time. Don’t take for granted the little things.


Anna Nowosielski
BFA Acting major

Hi Anna, could you tell us about yourself and your role?

Anna: My name is Anna Nowosielski. I am a BFA acting major and I’m a junior. In Our Town, I’m playing the role of Mrs. Soames and I’m understudying Mrs.Webb.

Do you have any familiarity with Our Town? Is this the first time you’ve performed in the show?

Anna: I had some familiarity with it. I’ve seen it a couple times, some versions better than others. One of the things that I’ve always really enjoyed about seeing Our Town and experiencing the story of the show, and what the show represents is the simplicity of it, and how that simplicity is so powerful and so poignant. How it really is a play that anyone can do and anyone can do well and it still always lands and especially in that last moment. The beauty of the simple life is able to shine through in a way that always really connects well with audiences.

I’ve spoken with some of the other cast and crew and we’ve talked about this idea of the emotional relevance of a show being a reminder versus being a lesson. Could you speak on that?

Anna: Yeah, I don’t think it’s a lesson just because a lesson makes it feel like it’s very harsh and hard. Even though the story of Our Town has very deep and intense final moments and a very deep and intense meaning, it absolutely is a reminder just to look around and have that patience and love for one another. Have that patience and love with yourself and with your own life and appreciate all the moments as they pass by. For me personally, it’s definitely been a great reminder to just be with the people around me more and appreciate who I have in my life and appreciate the life that I have. Life can be really difficult sometimes and you can really get caught up in worrying. But, sometimes that really isn’t as important when you’re considering the fact that you have so much to be grateful for and you have so many people around you that you really gotta take the time to notice.

Does this discovery come from your analysis of the script or analysis of the character a little bit of both?

Anna: Well, the character I play is the town gossip. She does like to stir the pot, she definitely does. But I really do admire how much she loves. You don’t see her a lot, but in Act 2, her entire purpose is just to show the joy of not only the families, but also the townspeople at a very joyous celebration, a wedding. I absolutely do think that while it’s kind of a funny bit, it’s nice to just be the person who’s like, “God, isn’t this a wonderful moment? Isn’t this beautiful, isn’t this incredible?” I’m very lucky to be working with some incredible actors, incredible crew members, and incredible directors. They have really just helped create the world of the story and the world of the town. Every time we settle in for a run you definitely are like, “yep. I need to call my mom more.”

With your character of the town gossip, how easy was it for you to settle into this kind of character? And if there was a process, how much of it was your general approach to acting and how much of it was “I’m going to use this for this character”?

Anna: So, I love talking to people, even though I myself can be a very introverted person. However, I’m a very loud and expressive person in normal life. I love observing people and while I don’t think of myself as a very gossipy person, I do think I’m a very observant person and I think most actors are. In that sense, Mrs. Soames is if I just said all the things I was observing out loud all the time. I think in the first act, she definitely comes off as a rude person. But in the second act, it’s definitely shown that she really cares about the people in Our Town and she really loves the people in her town. Then in the third act, it’s shown again that she especially loves the main character, Emily. That she really cares for the young people in the town. She really wants them to have a good life. And I agree, I also want young people to have a good life. I think that she has a good heart, I like to think that I have a good heart. I didn’t want to characterize her because it was a big thing Zechariah Pierce instilled into us as our director. He didn’t want us to characterize these characters. So, I definitely had to work to just make sure that she was authentic. Even in the moments where she is like being gossipy, it was very grounded in reality and not hateful for the sake of being hateful.

How is your process of finding more humanity in these characters as opposed to just finding a caricature?

Anna: I think for finding the humanity in the characters, the main purpose of it is to make it feel like this is a real place and that they are real people that even that audience members can connect with and even us as actors can connect with. Because there’s definitely a difference between I’m over here playing a real character and someone over here playing a character. Your connection is always going to be different. Especially for those of us who have ensemble roles, who are very simple, it’s very easy. I think, at least from my understanding and from my experience, it’s very easy to slip into a caricature and just be like, this is what I do instead of really looking at your character. From what I’ve observed and what I’ve seen, I think my fellow castmates have done an incredible job of really observing the characters and really figuring out what they’re about, what they’re doing, making sure that every moment that we’re on stage, we are in character. We’re not just playing the little guy next door in this podunk little town. We are making these moments really come to life and being present in those moments.

Anything else you’d like to add on about the show?

Anna: Come see Our Town! I think it’s an incredible show. It’s just a beautiful show about life. Anyone can come see it! It is truly a wonderful piece of art and I am so grateful and so lucky to be a part of this cast and this show.