Traveling the World of Theatre in Texas

The Texas Story Project.

“It’s not that bad…” These are the words of the technical director of the Drama Department of St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.

In the Fall semester of 2019, Dion Denevan will have now held this position for 11 years. He attended the University of South Dakota and obtained his BFA in Theatre Technical Design. He also has obtained two other degrees at Sioux Empire College in Hayward Iowa and Western Dakota Technical Institute in Arts in Theatre and Computer Editing Drafting, respectively. His main duty as Technical Director includes designing sets, lights, and sound, and to implement them in the current production.

“It’s not that bad…” these words are constantly heard by the student assistants working for the drama department when building whatever set Dion has designed. The work involved to produce a show is grueling, demanding, and very, very tiring, but VERY rewarding. After designing over 100 shows, over 70 being in the state of Texas, the creative and manual process of this industry comes naturally to Dion.

Of his 70 Texas shows, 32 have been performed at St. Mary’s University, and 4 have been musicals. His most recent shows include “The Birthday Party” (Harold Pintor), “The Triangle Factory Fire Project” (Christopher Piehler in collaboration with Scott Alan Evans), and “Crimes of the Heart” (Beth Henley).

One of the things that Dion is proud of having participated in is the Granbury Opera House, as well as designing a show for Ronnie Claire Edwards, the actress who played “Corabeth Walton Godsey” in the famous TV series, “The Waltons.”

Dion definitely has had his personal trials and tribulations, “This job is very demanding, I’ve definitely spent very late nights working, probably should’ve spent more time with my family...” he says in our interview. But the one thing that he would like to get across is this, “If a kid from South Dakota can end up designing over a hundred shows so far, anyone can do it, don’t ever dismiss your dreams. Keep your dreams alive. Most of the time they end up happening.” Despite being satisfied in pursuing this dream career, Dion states that he has endured the repetitive and disheartening comments of, “You need to get a real job” or “You’ll never be able to support yourself with that kind of job” from friends and family, and has always pushed through. “And now look where I am,” he says, “I just had to make it happen.”

Dion was asked if given the opportunity to redo his career, would he choose to continue down this path again. “Oh, I definitely would. Becoming a part of the theatre world is something I’ve always seen as inevitable,” he says. “Ever since I was almost blown up by a [fuse box] in my middle school production of Cinderella in South Dakota, I’ve always known that I want to do this for the rest of my life.”

He would like to give a word of encouragement to those interested in the technical theatre fields. “Be wary of the impacts this field can have on your personal life. There’s late nights, there’s life/family issues that either drive you away from your work or keep you from engaging with your family. Sometimes you want to pull your hair out, but most of the time it is a job where you have fun and you’re constantly learning. Endure through the hardships and the rewards are bountiful.”

Emily Infante is a sophomore Chemistry major/Drama minor at St. Mary’s University. She is first-generation Mexican American, the first person in her family to attend a four-year university. She plans to one day, return to the school district that she attended to help future first-generation students struggling to find a post-secondary school plan.

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