February 2005

Rick Mokler

Associate Professor in the Theatre Arts Department

Production chairman, assistant professor, resident director - Theatre Arts

Number of years at SBCC: 14, I think. Maybe 15.

Total number of years in education:            Way too many - 32

UCSB - BA in English, UCSB - Secondary Teaching Credential, CSU Los Angeles - MA in Theatre

Quotations from nomination(s): “ As a teacher, Rick displays an uncanny and extraordinary blend of organization, enthusiasm and knowledge, a combination which inspires his students to great lengths above and beyond a ‘typical’ acting class…. Rick truly cares about his students and treats them with great respect…. He works with students whenever they request it – well beyond the daily office hour…. Rick is always cheerful, positive, polite, whether in the classroom, theater, or hallway. He is always happy to be here…. Rick is not only a dedicated and committed educator, as well as a talented director, but he is a genuinely modest person who keeps ‘backstage’. He is one of the ‘unsung heroes’ at SBCC, his work done on the sidelines, not in the spotlight.”

Interview with Rick:

What careers or jobs did you have before working at SBCC?

I taught high school and junior high school for 17 years. For the most part I taught acting and directing but I spent a couple of years teaching high school English as well. I took two breaks from teaching/directing. I served as the assistant to the producer for a show that originated in Beverly Hills at the Canon Theatre and went to Broadway. I did the director's apprentice program at Universal Studios working on "Quincy"; and I was a production assistant at CBS Television City working on pilots that were spin-offs from the Three's Company offices. (Remember "The Ropers"?) But mostly I have been a teacher and a director right here in Santa Barbara.

Who was your most influential teacher and why?

This one's easy. Pope Freeman took me under his wing when I was a rookie director and taught me the vast majority of what I know today about directing and acting.

What is your favorite student line or excuse?

I'm not too big on excuses. We have a saying in acting class that goes like this:

What do they call actors with good excuses?

Answer: Waiters.

What are you reading now?

I'm reading two things in preparation for my upcoming directing gigs:

The Enchanted April, a novel by Elizabeth von Arnim and (see it this March)

Alias Shakespeare,  a scholarly book that presents the theory (which I believe) that Shakespeare didn't write any of the plays attributed to him.  Rather, they were penned by Edward DeVere, the seventh Earl of Oxford.  (Don't miss this summer's production of The Beard of Avon. Tickets are available at the Garvin Theatre Box Office!!)

What do you love about your job?

Where do I begin? I think I have one of the best jobs in the country. It is such a luxury to be a continuously employed, relatively well paid, professional stage director with a great deal of artistic freedom, financial support , terrific facilities, talented colleagues, enthusiastic patrons and tenure. I'm lucky that I also like teaching and making a difference in the lives of our students.

What has been your greatest accomplishment and/or challenge?

Being a good step-father to my two amazing daughters.

What's one thing most people don't know about you?

I once was a very good ping-pong player.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

My wife in my arms, my daughters at home, and all them liking my current play.

What historical figure would you most want to meet?

Shakespeare so I could ask him if he really wrote all those plays and sonnets.

What is your favorite place in the world?

My living room at Christmas, surrounded by my wife and kids.

The Garvin Theatre in the middle of a working rehearsal with great actors.

Any pub in London, talking with Joe White after just having seen a new play by Tom Stoppard.

What is your motto?

If you're on your bike at night, wear white.