Setting the Stage for Success
Sometimes finding a place to belong can make all the difference for a student, whether that place is a computer club, science lab, or classroom.
For the students of Eric Bishop, they belong in the theater.
As chair of MiraCosta College’s Theatre and Film Department,
Bishop fosters an ensemble approach in his students where the actors and production team look out for one another, anticipate each other’s needs, and encourage each other to grow.
“The best part of teaching is seeing students develop their craft, right before your eyes,” said Bishop. “They become better storytellers and discover things about themselves. In the process they develop confidence and a new way of looking at the world.”
Bishop who earned his Master of Fine Arts from California State University, Fullerton, has been acting, competing in theater competitions, and teaching on the college level since 1992. When he came to MiraCosta College, Bishop saw an opportunity to build a program that prepared students for all aspects of the real world, whether the student chose a career in the theatre or another path.
Bishop leads a robust program where students take on a variety of responsibilities in front and behind the curtain as they stage a wide variety of theatre productions. In addition to stage productions at the college’s new Black Box theatre in Oceanside, the college offers The Actor’s Academy, an intensive actor’s conservatory approach over the summer, where students explore acting techniques, vocal training, movement, and Shakespeare.
From the time he was a student to his leadership role in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, Bishop’s passion for the theatre extends well beyond MiraCosta College. With more than two decades of involvement in the festival, Bishop became the chair of the 2020 regional competition, set to bring together 1,400 theatre students from Hawaii, California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and Guam in categories ranging from one-act productions to original script writing.
“The festival is really a celebration of college theatre,” said Bishop. “While there is a competitive aspect of it with winning scholarships, the emphasis on it should be bringing students together to honor their work on a regional and national scale.”
Not only do his students sharpen their skills, they raise MiraCosta College’s profile on a national scale.
While not all his students go on with a career in theatre and film, his students have found success in television and film productions and live theatre. Even when they graduate, his students know they can always come back and find a welcome place on campus.
“A mentor of mine once told me there is a place for everyone in the theatre. He couldn’t have been more right,” Bishop explains.