Vanessa Beltrán puts the risk in risqué and anti-traditional

Ernesto Leon, Editor-in Chief

Photo Provided by Vanessa Beltrán

A student who enjoys the macabre, and isn’t afraid for her plays to touch the risque or be anti-traditional, Vanessa Beltrán has won the Outstanding Undergraduate award in theatre at Cal State University, Bakersfield.  

She describes her time obtaining her degree as hard but satisfying. She’s learned and experienced a lot of opportunities she feels wouldn’t have existed if she went to a larger university. When asked why she chose theatre to study she answered,  

 “I didn’t get into it (theatre) until I was older, but I always liked reading books and writing. When I discovered you can make that into a real-life thing being on a stage I knew that’s what I would want to be doing for the rest of my life.” 

 Professor Mendy McMasters describes Beltrán as one of the hardest-working students she’s ever had. 

 “Vanessa was my actor in our Spring 2022 production of Shakespeare Unmasked, she was my student in an Auditioning for the Theatre class, and I was her mentor for the Student Research Scholarship Creative Activity. During each of those projects, I have found her to be one of the most hardworking, and driven students I have ever had.” 

 Beltrán doesn’t consider herself an actor, but rather a playwright and arts manager. She’s currently a student research scholar which has given her the opportunity to write a full-length play that granted her an award in the campus-wide competition, and will now be competing in the CSU state-wide competition where she will present her play titled, “When I was your age”.  

 “It’s a love letter to my community focused on breaking the generational trauma cycle in first-generation families. We’re all passing down some form of generational trauma, and this story, in particular, does deal with a first-generation family in a household where there is the children, parents, and grandparents and how each group deals with issues like machismo, mental illness, and substance abuse,” said Beltrán.  

 She feels extremely grateful for being chosen as the recipient of this award, and describes the feeling as ‘surreal’, as for what comes next for Beltrán?  

 She plans to continue her education and obtain her master’s in playwriting, and even eventually her Ph.D. in theatre so that she can be an educator at the collegiate level, as well as a playwright in any space she is able to enter to continue to bring the anticonventional in a society that she explains is commercialized.