Shawn Fuller: The Mama of Drama

by Jake Siewert

Horizon Reporter

Theater runs deep in the family of Whatcom Community College’s adjunct faculty in drama, Shawn Fuller. Fuller’s love of theater encompasses her love for her actors and in her time here at Whatcom, she has built a very close-knit family of thespians.

Shawn Fuller was born into theater. Her father, a high school theater teacher, was even pulled away from a performance of one of his productions to make it to her birth.

Fuller grew up loving theater and studied under her father at Kennewick High School where the family aspect of dramatic arts was very prevalent. In the long rehearsal process of a show, cast members can become more like brothers or sisters, says Fuller.

“Everyone [the cast] called him Dad,” she recalled of her director father “All of the cast parties were at our house, we did everything together, and we ran as a pack.”

Her love of theater led her to Eastern Washington University, where she got her undergraduate degree, and then onto Western Washington University where she got her master’s, and later on stayed to teach at Western.

Fuller even married a playwright, and has many stories to tell of her experiences as both an actor and a director all over the Pacific Northwest.  She once had to fill in last minute for an actor who quit a production of “Always Patsy Cline” on the night of the final dress rehearsal. Less than two days later, she found herself on stage, opening night, in front of a packed crowd, truly embodying the phrase “the show must go on.”

She brought the experience and wisdom of her craft to Whatcom after acting for different programs around Seattle and teaching actors as young as 8 years old.

This quarter, she will be directing a modern adaptation of Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” that has a large cast of nearly 25. This comedy deals with the women of a Greek village who withhold sex from the men of their village until they end the Peloponnesian War.

Fuller describes it as a “condensed, streamlined version of Aristophanes’ original piece” and says on opening night the whole Syre auditorium will be transformed into that of a circus, complete with jugglers, tightrope walkers, and madrigals singing popular love songs.

Sandi Coughlin, 23, plays the titular character and believes Fuller’s directing style really fits well to her casts.
            “She’s really dedicated to getting her actors to work on their character,” said Coughlin. “She gives you suggestions but lets you interpret it yourself.”

Megan Sutton, 19, who plays the “Fisher Woman” has been acting since second grade.  Sutton said the rehearsals have been a lot of fun, and that the most difficult part of the show is pronouncing many of the ancient and exotic character names like Myrrhine, Cinesias, and Stratyllis.

Fuller works with so many different types of actors in her productions at Whatcom, and always welcomes new students auditioning to be a part of the “family.” Her advice to anyone thinking of getting into theater is simple and positive.

“Take an acting class,” she said, “it’s five credits, and it’s the best thing you will do all day.”

 “Theater has always existed,” Fuller said “It can be as simple as story telling or as complex as an opera. People have a need to see and hear their stories. You don’t see as many people getting paid to do it, but it is always there”.

“Lysistrata” will perform in the Syre Auditorium, Wednesday, March 14 through Saturday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m.

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