Statera Mentorship: Meet the South Texas Regional Coordinators

Mentorship is at the core of Statera's mission of taking positive action to bring women* into full and equal participation in the arts. Statera Mentorship is now in the larger Houston Area and we’re thrilled to introduce you to the South Texas Regional Coordinators. Here are some quick stats before we dive in:

South Texas Chapter Founded: Winter 2019
Dates: Class I runs from July 1 - December 31, 2019
Application deadline: Class I mentor/mentee applications are due by June 1, 2019
Website: www.stateraarts.org/south-texas-mentorship
Facebook: Statera Mentorship

South Texas Regional Coordinators (left to right): Amariee Collins-Lawrence, Christine Arranz Jugueta, Mara McGhee, and Julie Ann Arbiter.

South Texas Regional Coordinators (left to right): Amariee Collins-Lawrence, Christine Arranz Jugueta, Mara McGhee, and Julie Ann Arbiter.

STATERA: What do you see as the greatest need and/or the most common need for mentorship relationships?

Christine Arranz Jugueta: The business can often be so touch and go, especially in the theatre, when most gigs only last a few months. There is a need to engage in deeper conversations about the field, to pass on and gain knowledge about navigating the course, to continue to have/hold guidance around work that can be very inconsistent and to develop a wider view on all that is necessary for success.  It is important that women help give each other strength, provide empowering support in following their dreams, explore possibilities and inspire one another to cultivate wisdom.

Mara McGhee: I wish that I had a mentor who could connect me with the right people and show me where I could find the right opportunities. Now that I'm older and have lived in the theatre world for a while, I know the ropes a little bit better. I had no idea what I didn't know when I was fresh out of college.

Amariee Collins-Lawrence: Good pairing is the most important.

Julie Ann Arbiter: Willingness to listen. 


STATERA: Tell us about your work in the theatre / or in the arts.

Julie Ann:  I'm a Production Manager by way of Stage Management. After a particularly nasty breakup here in Houston, I gave myself some time and then moved to New York because, as I told my mom, I'd always wonder if I didn't try. I spent 5 years in New York. I started freelance stage managing but quickly aligned myself with The Public Theater and rose from an over-hire Production Assistant to an over-hire Assistant Production Manager to a full time Assistant Production Manager to an Associate Production Manager and finally, to a full blown Production Manager! My work covered all manner of things. I did readings and workshops, festivals, events, Shakespeare in the Park, new works, and musicals (most notably, Hamilton). I spent the most time working on my favorite program, The Mobile Unit. This program tours 90-minute versions of Shakespeare plays to all the boroughs of New York to perform in community centers, libraries, shelters, and secure facilities. I did 8 tours in New York City and the maiden voyage of Mobile National's production of Sweat. I learned so much and worked with inspiring people doing work that felt deeply important and urgent - making art accessible to everyone, no matter their circumstance. Not surprisingly, this sparked a deeper understanding and interest into anti-racism work.

Mara: I have been doing theatre on various levels of professionalism since I graduated college. I enjoy all aspects of theatre, and have experience in all forms. I have done both musical and non-musical theatre, improvised and rehearsed theatre, in front of and behind the curtain, for adults and children, and every combination therein. 

Amariee: I started at 5yo in children's theater and did theater until the 8th grade. In middle school, we traveled to other schools putting on performances. Currently, I just act with church plays and mime. 

Christine: I'm an actor, writer, singer, songwriter, director, music arranger/producer.  These days I am most interested in experimental and devised work, non-traditional casting and mixing genres.  I'm also in the midst of artist development as a singer/songwriter/producer and am experimenting with a fusion sound around jazz, folk, blues, world and sacred music.   


STATERA: Can you share about your journey to the Houston area arts scene?

Mara: I'm getting my feet wet again after tepidly dipping my toes in the scene for the past 3 years. I work in theatre education, and enjoy performing. My first connection was through Comedy Sportz Houston. I did Sportz up in Milwaukee when I lived there, and it was wonderful to find out that they had a chapter down here. I then did the Alliance auditions and introduced myself to several theatre companies. I found work and started meeting people. From then, I've auditioned for several other companies and have been slowly wading back into the scene. 

The South Texas Regional Coordinators at a recent meet-up in Houston.

The South Texas Regional Coordinators at a recent meet-up in Houston.

Amariee: I attend many plays and events. 

Christine: I've been visiting Houston on/off since I was about 5 years old.  Many of my relatives on my father's side of the family have settled in the Houston area.  I moved here for my longest stretch in December 2017 and have been exploring the theatre/arts scene slowly.  I've made connections in the visual arts, dance, music and theatre scenes and am enjoying learning more about this diverse and thriving community.

Julie Ann: I've been, in some way, part of the Houston arts scene my whole life! I took classes at HITS Theatre and was fortunate enough to attend the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts here. It was there that I was exposed to technical theater and really wrapped my mind around what those jobs entailed. When I was asked to Stage Manage, things fell into place for me. The job used all my organizational and "mom" skills (caring for people, being prepared, etc.) and I was intrigued! I went to college at the University of Evansville in Southern Indiana where I got a degree in Stage Management. After graduating, I came back to Houston to get my sea legs as an adult. I freelanced around town as well as juggling a few day jobs to make ends meet. The work was hard but rewarding and I met a lot of really wonderful people. During the 5 years I spent in New York, I met my awesome husband, got married, and got tired of the city. As exciting as the city was, it was also exhausting and we missed our family. So we started looking for jobs. It felt like a sign when the Associate Production Management position became available at The Alley Theatre, where I'd spent a little time before moving to the city. I've only been back at The Alley for about 4 months but it feels like home! The staff is amazing, we're building community, and it feels like we can make some real change. I'm also thrilled to spend more time with family, including my new niece! 

STATERA: What is your own most memorable mentorship experience?

Julie Ann: I'm a person that thrives with feedback, particularly tangible feedback. I have this very vivid memory of getting assigned my first mainstage show at The Public and being nervous to lead a room of older, more experienced, Broadway-veteran men. I set up a meeting with Stephanie Ybarra, who was then the Director of Special Artistic Projects at The Public and oversaw the Mobile Unit program (she is now the Artistic Director at Baltimore Center Stage).  We talked about many things and put together strategies, but the take-away that sticks with me most is this - She said that when she felt like I was feeling she did everything she could to feel powerful. She would put on her favorite boots, bright red lipstick, and hoops and walk into that conference room full of confidence. Sometimes the outside gesture can trick them and us. 

Amariee: Meeting with my mentor and understanding what we both needed to make things work. 

Christine: A woman named Letecia Layson has been mentoring me for a few years as I have been seeking ways to teach about spirituality in the theatre.  It has been very amazing to learn about her viewpoints on leadership, her experiences of theatre as it relates to ritual and spirituality and to experience her amazing energy.  She has challenged me, provided loving support and imparted very precious knowledge.    

Mara: I remember my high school theatre teacher chasing me down to work on monologues. As an air-headed teen, it wasn't a priority to me, but he knew that if I wanted to be a theatre artist, I had to jump this hurdle. 


STATERA: How did you become connected to Statera Mentorship? 

Amariee: Through Christine! 

Christine: I have been involved with Statera in various capacities since it first started in Utah in 2015.  I have long been interested in Mentorship and was very excited about this new program, which I learned about at StateraCon in 2018.  Since I am so new to the arts scene in Houston and South Texas, I thought it would be great to get to know the community through this program.  I reached out to Minita and Erika and founded the South Texas Chapter, which I'm very proud of (especially because our team is SO RAD!!).

Julie Ann: The amazing Props Master at The Alley, Karin Rabe, connected me to Christine and I fell in love with the idea of reconnecting to the Houston Arts community in this way. 

Mara: The fantastic women at the Alley Theatre introduced me to this organization. 


STATERA: Talk to us about your leadership style and why you're called to work in this capacity for your community. 

Amariee: I am an action leader. Solving problems and finding solutions or navigating to achieve results. 

Julie Ann: I think my leadership style is a balance of building relationships and managing expectations. The first part is getting to know someone and approaching them with unconditional positive regard. Being a human can be so hard. We're all doing our best. The second part is about getting the parameters out on the table so you know what you're working around. We can't do everything but we can do a lot! For example, I'm a big believer in setting up meeting agreements. The one I always include is being respectful to people's time - I'm going to start and end my meetings on time because we've all got lots to do and it's important to me to be able to understand the layout of my day. 

Mara: I try to remember that people don't know what they don't know, and that patience will make everyone's job easier. There's no point getting upset when someone asks a question, or when they make an error. It's all a learning process, and we are all trying to figure it out together. 

Christine: I feel very drawn to leadership. I incorporate extensive administrative and teaching experience and enjoy investigating the broad view.  I like to create strategies and put a strong focus on building a solid team.  I find that holding humor is important and am learning how to cultivate spaces where everyone's gifts can be highlighted, developed and explored.  I care about supporting women in the arts especially in parts of the country that are not typically known to be progressive. I want to develop my leadership by learning how to live in a culture that has lots of bold and opposing belief systems swirling around and think that Statera Mentorship South Texas is a great way to do that.   


STATERA: What recent personal projects or upcoming projects are you excited about?

Christine: Right now, I am in the second phase of developing my solo play,  THE RED THREAD. I will be doing a workshop performance of the piece in the SF Bay Area in the fall.  I am always ever developing music and various workshops and am hoping to hold a concert and launch a new workshop in the fall or winter.  I'm also revamping my website and would love to collect testimonials on my work.  I would be most most grateful if anyone from StateraConIII in Milwaukee could send a testimonial over to my email:  wearetheredthread@gmail.com.  And, of course, folks can stay updated through my website (which has some new demos posted):  https://www.christinejugueta.com/    

Mara: I'm doing Catastrophic's show called Speeding Motorcycle. We open June 27! Check out my website www.MaraMcGhee.org.

Julie Ann: This is a long way off but I'm really excited for Amerikin at The Alley next season. Chisa Hutchinson wrote this powerful script that was part of this season's Alley All New play festival (headed up by Liz Frankel); I'm so pleased that it's going to be part of our full season. It's an exciting script that touches on current race relations, postpartum depression, community, parent-child relationships, and our personal values. I'm also pumped to see Mara in this summer's production of Speeding Motorcycle at Catastrophic Theater


Interested in learning more about Statera Mentorship? Visit www.stateraarts.org/mentorship. Apply by June 1st to be a mentor or mentee in South Texas at www.stateraarts.org/south-texas-mentorship. And if you have questions, please visit Statera Mentorship: Frequently Asked Questions.


*A NOTE ON INCLUSION AT STATERA

Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as non-binary. 

Intersectionality: StateraArts works through an intersectional lens for gender parity. We understand and acknowledge that systems of oppression and discrimination are interdependent and span all social categorizations such as race, class, gender, ability, religion, parental status, size, age, and sexual orientation as they apply to a given individual or group. Addressing one spoke of systematic discrimination or disadvantage means holistically addressing them all.