We had the good fortune of connecting with Katrina DeRoche & Heather LaForge and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katrina & Heather, what do you attribute your success to?
We love doing the work; this is our brand. Having Covid hit when our theatre studio was only 9 months old was a huge challenge. But we are grateful to be coming out more firmly rooted in our belief that our students are the change makers, and our job is to encourage them to challenge themselves. We have both worked in theatre for several years in administrative, educational, and artistic roles. So, lots of productions and classes under our belts! There is nothing like the incredible shared experience a production provides, however, we found many of our students want more than a chance to perform. They crave more time to dig deep and develop their skills, and they also have a huge desire to explore more diverse narratives. Thus, we are not a production company, which means we do not exist to produce theatre. We exist to produce smart creators. We see this generation’s desire to create more meaningful content, and we want to build them up and give them the tools. We believe fervently that stories connect people and promote understanding. It is our goal for our students to use these skills to find their own voice so they may impact their communities in whatever medium they pursue. And you can only do that by doing the work on and off the stage. Art is a great teacher, so we choose plays and curate classes to stretch our students and get them thinking outside of what they know. We believe stories connect us all.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Heather and Katrina began collaborating in 2012 after both having full and extensive careers as creatives and artists. After working together for seven years, they decided to start Groundworks Theatre Arts where their individual talents and combined passion would shine. Our Artistic Director, Heather LaForge received her Ph.D. in Theatre from UC San Diego, where she taught theatre history, theory, performance, film, and writing courses and won an Excellence in Teaching Award for her outstanding work. Additionally, she has published in the theatre field and has presented at conferences both in the US and Ireland. Heather has worked with multiple theatre organizations throughout her career as a National Director, Director, Dramaturg, Education Director, Teacher, and more. She also works in the Education Department for Broadway Licensing, writing curriculum and educational materials for licensed musicals and plays. She is passionate about challenging students to grow in their craft as they aim to become strong theatre artists and creative thinkers. Our Director of Programming, Katrina DeRoche uses her experience in both the business and education sectors to create a space for artists to sharpen their skills and connect with the world around them through storytelling. In addition to being named an Industry Expert by the Del Mar Unified School District for her work extending learning beyond the classroom walls, Katrina spent over 8 years coordinating and curating theatre arts classes in San Diego while producing over 25 musical productions with cast sizes ranging from 35-85 cast members. Katrina loves encouraging their students to become lifelong learners and to expand their world view. She is also known for her work as a Costume Designer.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We would start our days with yoga on the beach with Yoga Del Mar, working out at Forward Fitness in Poway, or hiking the Torrey Pines! Obviously, this would make us hungry, so we’d head out to one of our favorite breakfast spots such as Naked Cafe in Solana Beach, Stratford Court Cafe in Del Mar or The Great Maple in Hillcrest. We love tooling around Balboa Park with the perk of stumbling into live music or just strolling through Little Italy. That’s were the Gelato happens! Afternoons can be spent in any of the beautiful parks and beach towns San Diego has to offer. Sunsets at Viewpoint Brewery are delightful, And as San Diego is a GREAT theatre town, evenings we love to take in shows at The Old Globe, Cygnet Theatre and Moxie Theatre just to name a few. A glass of wine and pizza at Buona Forchetta never let us down, either.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We have both had wonderful teachers and mentors, but honestly, we have our families and students to thank for actually taking this leap! We call our students The Original Ground Crew because it was they who encouraged us to think outside of the production box and create our brand of classes. They voiced the same feelings we had of wanting more time/space to explore the craft and the texts we were charged with bringing to life. We also have the fierce support and love of our families. Our husbands and children are all in and value what we do. Finally, our friends in the industry rallied around us, supported us professionally and personally, and cheered us on.
PC @Scottitaylorheadshots for the pic of Heather & Katrina, the pic of the 2 students sitting on the floor facing each other, and Heather giving feedback during a scene.