Meet Dublin High School’s New Drama Director Scott Di Lorenzo
Scott Di Lorenzo’s career in theatre was started by an accident that every high school student can identify with: a scheduling conflict.
Growing up, Dublin High School‘s new drama teacher hated talking in front of anyone: not to his classmates, not to his teachers, and especially not from a stage. A naturally shy person, Mr. Di Lorenzo might have shied away from public speaking of any kind indefinitely, had it not been for a middle school elective mishap.
“I was in 7th grade and I was in my second year of Home Economics, I liked Home Ec. very much – cooking, sewing – I enjoyed it all. But the [counselors] told me that I couldn’t take Home Ec. for a second year.” Instead, 7th grade Mr. Di Lorenzo had to pick another elective. “The only other electives at the middle school were theatre, band and choir. So I thought, which one of these will require me to talk the least? I joined band without knowing how to play an instrument and after about a week the band teacher suggested, ‘maybe you should try something else’. Well I definitely didn’t want to take theatre because then I’d have to get up in front of people which would be really awkward, so I joined choir.”
What Mr. Di Lorenzo didn’t know was that all choir students were required to try out for the school musical, a fatal flaw in his scheme. But that was okay: he had a Plan B. ”At the musical auditions I thought, ‘oh yeah, no problem, I’ll just do the worst audition ever; I’ll sing really badly and they just won’t want me. Fine, done.’ That was when I realized that, if you’re a boy in theatre, you’re going to get a part.” And he did: the mayor. “I had three lines and, ultimately, it was the most fun experience of my life, and I’ve never stopped doing theatre since.”
Now describing himself as an “extroverted introvert”, Mr. Di Lorenzo has clearly overcome his fear of talking in front of others, without losing himself in the process. But he also remembers how daunting speaking in front of others from a stage can be for those starting out; he offers advice to aspiring actors and actresses: writers write, but actors act.
“Acting is not something you can learn from a book. The only way to really learn acting is either going and seeing actors perform, or performing on stage. Take a drama class. Instead of reading a scene, act a scene; use your imagination. Get up, and have fun. I get sad when people sit down and read [a play] because it’s literally in the name ‘play’. Just play it. Don’t be afraid.”
After graduating high school Mr. Di Lorenzo went on to study Dramatic Arts at the University of California, Santa Barbara and earned a M.A. in education at Chapman University before returning to Palm Springs High School, his alma mater. He stayed at Palm Springs for four years before spending a year as an English teacher in South Korea. When he came back to the States, Mr. Di Lorenzo worked at Irvington High School for four years before coming to Dublin. So far, it has been a smooth transition.
“I love Dublin,” he says. “I mean, the school is beautiful and the janitorial staff takes a lot of pride in their work, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a school so pristine every, single day.”
One of Mr. Di Lorenzo’s favorite parts of working at Dublin is using the new theater: “I’ve always wanted a theater like this, with a fly system. That was one of my top reasons for coming to Dublin.” A fly system, for those not in the theatre business, is a two story theater that allows a production to “fly” a set piece, or back drop, across the stage. Not only is it an extremely cool effect to have access to, but, as Mr. Di Lorenzo puts it, “It ultimately makes for better theatre.”
Besides the new theater and beautiful campus, Mr. Di Lorenzo also sees promise for the performing arts. “Building the theater proved to me that this city and this community are really starting to invest in the arts. I feel like being hired here was like an investment; I’m here to build the program. I see how much the community wants the arts and I want to give them art.”
Mr. Di Lorenzo hopes to help foster the humanities by producing plays different from the ones Dublin actors and audience members are used to. For example, this year’s spring musical In the Heights is a rap and hip hop musical, unlike the more traditional productions put on in the past.
When he’s not teaching, Mr. Di Lorenzo enjoys playing softball and watching sports as well as doing a bit of acting himself. His most favorite play so far was Avenue Q at Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre, which he acted in last October, but he also enjoyed performing in Les Miserables, also at Tri Valley Rep, and in The Producers at Woodminster Summer Musical in Oakland.
Mr. Di Lorenzo is currently producing the fall play Neil Simon’s Fools with the Dublin High School Drama Club. Fools, a contemporary comedy, will be Mr. Di Lorenzo’s first production since coming to Dublin. Fools is set in village where everyone is damned: they are destined to be stupid forever unless someone can break the curse.
“I love Neil Simon, and this is one of his best shows. Leon’s a schoolteacher eager about his new job. He meets his pupil, immediately falls in love with her, and learns that if he can’t break the curse in twenty-four hours, he too shall be cursed. Will he run away, or will he stay for love?”
Fools opens this Thursday, November 5 at 7pm and continues Friday and Saturday at 7pm, and closes with a Sunday matinee at 2pm. The opening night cast will perform on Thursday and Saturday night and the closing night cast will perform on Friday night and Sunday afternoon. Admission is $10 for students and $12 for everyone else.
Anyone interested in acting or singing in a Dublin High School Drama Club production should visit the DHS Drama website. Auditions for the upcoming One Acts are from November 16 to 18 and tryouts for the spring musical In the Heights begin on November 30 and continue until December 5.
Alexandra Stassinopoulos is a Dublin High School student, and a writer for the Dublin Shield. She is the president of the Young Writers Club and enjoys writing short stories. In her free time, she is an avid reader and is on the school swim team.