Lauren Buangan

I was involved in the very early summer camps of Arts & Learning Conservatory. In particular, Pirates of the Caribbean as Capt. Jack Sparrow (the most fun role to ever, ever play) and Star Wars as Padme/Other roles. I was in junior high at the time and they didn’t have any sort of drama or theatre program there, so A&L was a great outlet for me. It also really helped solidify that theatre was something I wanted to at least pursue as an extracurricular activity.

Following my Arts & Learning Conservatory experience, I got very involved in theatre in high school and eventually became the President of my high school’s International Thespian Society. I tried a little bit of everything including acting, directing, set construction, and playwriting. I even competed in Shakespeare monologue competitions and won a couple of youth playwriting awards in Los Angeles.

By the time I was in community college, I knew arts and entertainment was my passion. I studied both theatre and film production before eventually transferring to UCLA as a theater major. UCLA really broadened my horizons when it came to performance studies and my stagecraft abilities. I got very involved in stage management and the Shakespeare Company at UCLA. I also got an international perspective on the performing arts when I studied drama for a term at Queen Mary University in London.

Upon graduation, I did work with P3 Theater Company in Long Beach and Method & Madness in Los Angeles, though most of my production credits are with South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa. I became a stage management intern for South Coast Repertory’s 18/19 Season and worked on Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike, A Christmas Carol, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience, and M. Butterfly. I was asked to return to SCR as a production assistant for the 19/20 Season and worked on Where the Mountain Meets The Moon and I Get Restless (a production that was sadly cancelled mid-rehearsal because of the pandemic).

In a very unexpected turn of events, I had to understudy for the main actress for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Like a scene from someone’s worst nightmare, I donned a costume I never wore to act and sing a part I never rehearsed. I drew on years worth of experience in acting to get me through; from my Shakespeare days all the way back to Arts & Learning’s Pirates of the Caribbean where I had to improvise and unstick a pull wagon pirate ship for a dramatic exit.

I performed in front of several hundred school children that had been brought in for a field trip. For many of them, it was their first exposure to theatre. As I waited in the wings, I thought back to my first experiences in the performing arts and how profoundly important those moments are to me. I thought about how Arts & Learning Conservatory was my first production experience outside of school and how I essentially caught the theatrical bug from the two wonderful summers I spent in their arts camps. In many ways, I have ALC to thank for helping send me on this wonderful life trajectory. Because of my experiences with them, I know first hand how important the arts, creativity, and self-expression are for young minds.

I survived that harrowing understudy incident and will take that adventure with me forever. Just as I have taken my Arts & Learning experience with me through my young adult years and beyond. The pandemic has put a hold on my career for now, but I know theater will return. I will be very ready when it does.