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Company Spotlight: Tajh Oates and Brandon Burk

Tajh Oates, Junior Carpenter

Have you ever worked at the Festival before?
Nope. This is my first year.

Where’s your home base?
Statesboro, GA

What’s your education/training background?
I am a rising senior pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre at Georgia Southern University. I also spent last summer as the Carpentry Intern at Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, Connecticut.

What brought you to your field and what keeps you doing your craft?
In middle school, my parents pushed me to find a new extra-curricular activity, so I started doing theatre. I started acting, but when I didn’t get cast in a show, I asked what I could do to help out. Ever since then, I realized how much fun and enjoyment that comes from doing tech theatre. There’s always a sense of accomplishment, and the people that you are around are some of the craziest, friendliest, non-judgemental people you could ever be around. It’s also one of the only fields where everything you do is different. There’s never a boring time in a theatre.

How will you spend your time off while here?
Brotank Volleyball. It’s a thing. Also, I’ve heard that hiking and camping is a big thing here, so I would like to try that out.

What does the Festival Experience mean to you?
It means several things. It’s professional experience. It’s learning new tricks and skills from others. It’s getting to be a part of something bigger. It’s getting to know and learn from professionals in this industry, and not just in my field. And overall, it means that I get to join a family that I can be a part of forever.

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
I really want cryokinesis, or ice powers. I just think it’d be really cool and versatile.

If you had a time machine, where would you like to visit?
The 1920s. I love the cultural changes and newfound freedoms of the period. Also, I just want a reason to where a fancy tux all the time.

Brandon Burk, Actor

Have you ever worked at the Festival before?
This is my first year as a company member, but I have visited the Festival many times as a patron from Las Vegas.  The Festival has always held a special place in my heart and it means a lot to me to actually be a part of it this year.

Where’s your home base?
I have lived in Nevada, primarily Las Vegas, for the last 10 years.  However, I moved to Los Angeles permanently just one week before I arrived in Cedar City.

What’s your education/training background?
I have a BA in Theatre from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and an MFA from the UNLV Professional Actor Training Program.  I’ve been involved with theatre since I was 6, and most recently served as Artistic Director for a theatre company and venue in Las Vegas for 2 and a half years.

What brought you to your field and what keeps you doing your craft?
I was influenced at a young age by my grandmother. She was a visual artist, competed in pageants, and an avid supporter of the arts.  I attended theatre productions with my mother and her growing up and was hooked from the very beginning. My grandmother encouraged and even coached me at times. She helped me get over stage fright and gave me confidence. Today I am passionate about the craft because I see the effect live theatre can have on an audience member that no other art form can. I love being a part of that.  Theatre can change and open people’s minds, give them experiences and emotions that they don’t get in their daily lives, make people laugh or cry or gasp aloud.  And we as performers not only get be a part of it, but we get to experience it right then and there.  It’s immediate. It’s exciting. It lives and breathes in a way a painting or a film cannot, because we are directly connected.  Every show could be some audience member’s first. There’s nothing like it in the world.

How will you spend your time off while here?
Mostly running and writing.  I am currently working on a one man show in conjunction with the Theatre Department at High Point University that we hope to workshop in the spring.  While we are very busy here at the festival, I see it as a perfect opportunity to get some writing done.  There aren’t many more exciting and inspiring places to me than Cedar City in the summer time.

What does the Festival Experience mean to you?
The Festival Experience is more than just seeing a play or even a season of plays.  The Festival Experience is an energy that surrounds this entire town all summer long (and into the Fall).  It’s the energy that only comes from being surrounded by like-minded enthusiasts and practitioners.  Many of our patrons may be coming from areas that do not have a strong theatre community.  For them, this can be a reminder of the power and longevity that theatre has.  And here, patrons and artists and technicians can directly interact.  We form a community.  It’s more than a performer/audience relationship.  We hold a weekly cabaret, there are educational programs and backstage tours.  We are all sharing a passion with one another, and that’s exciting.

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
My super power would be to not have to sleep.  Think of how much more we could accomplish!

If you had a time machine, where would you like to visit?
Goodness, I hope I don’t have to pick just one.  I would love to be around for the conception of all of the great establishments and organizations we know today.  I would make a sort of tour out of visiting the times when the great books were being written, or the U.S. was in it’s infancy stage, or the first time Shakespeare put on a play.  Even the beginning of the Utah Shakespeare Festival.  What an exciting time that must have been, to be a part of something so special, and to have no idea what it would eventually become.

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