Laura Beeman-Nugent is no stranger to the Shreveport theatre scene! There’s plenty of opportunities to catch her around town… if you can keep up that is. Laura serves as the theatre teacher at Loyola College Prep, movement teacher at BPCC, academy artistic director at SLTA, and summer camp director at Robinson Film Center. In between her full schedule, she took a few minutes to let us know what she’s been up to and what the Shreveport theatre community means to her.
ST.c: How did you get your start in theatre?
Laura Beeman-Nugent: I always participated in theatre at school from elementary in to my senior year of high school but it wasn’t until Bobby Darrow attended the Bossier Youth Leadership monthly meeting (my senior year) in search of a young actress for an upcoming show that I joined the community theatre ranks. I came to SLT that weekend and auditioned for him and was cast as Delightful in Dearly Departed. A short time later, I enrolled in BPCC Theatre’s department under the guidance of Ray Scott Crawford and the late Stephen Slaughter and truly fell in love with theatre. During that time, I worked with both BPCC and SLT. I still work with both companies and love it.
ST.c: What are some of your favorite accomplishments?
LB: I would say that helping found the Academy at SLT in 2007 has been one of my most cherished accomplishments. After touring the nation with Missoula Children’s Theatre, I knew that my passion was in children’s theatre. Watching the vast array of walks of life come through the doors at SLT Academy and find a common ground at the theatre truly builds a bond like no other. Not only do these student find the opportunity to build a community while rehearsing, they also understand that building a team and accomplishing a goal is far greater than being the “star”! Another accomplishment I am proud if would be my directorial debut at SLT, Little Shop of Horrors. The show was also my Master Thesis Project centered around the topic of Ancient Greek Theatrical Techniques and their Influence in the Modern Musical. Being able to dive into not only directing the show but also researching in depth the links out current musical theatre pieces have to the past was quite an experience.
ST.c: What has the Shreveport theatre community given to you that you don’t believe another profession could?
A sense of truly building something that will outlast you. While I am certain some people may feel that way about their work, it is evident that the community of Shreveport supports the arts. We have many theatre opportunities and all are producing supported works! On the flip side, we, as artist, get to see how our passions are carried out in others. I recently had the opportunity to work with an individual who started the Academy at twelve years old and participated in every show until she gradated high school. She came back to serve as a camp counselor and it brought tears to my eyes to see that impact. I feel like we are rarely given that opportunity to see where passions are ingrained in students. While she didn’t major in theatre in college, this former student wanted nothing more than to help out and give back to a theatre who had given so much to her during her formative years.
ST.c: Why are you passionate about theatre?
LB: Having been involved in the Shreveport theatre scene for 20 years, I have been afforded the opportunity to see how theatre itself can truly change an individual, children’s theatre in particular. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing a child come out if their shell and become a confident individual or find a place and passion for theatre. Our vitality as a theatre community rests in the hands of those younger than us. They will be the ones who will keep the arts alive when we have moved on to greener pasture so my own personal philosophy is to ensure that all children involved have a positive experience in theatre and can reflect back on their involvement with a smile. I have seen the positive impact it can have on individuals and I live for that. It make sme smile to know that someone has such fond memories connected to the theatre.
ST.c: What’s next for you?
LB: I have three shows I am currently working on! The high school where I teach and direct will be performing Godpsell this semester. I will also be directing SLTA’s Alice in Wonderland Jr and will choreograph the musical Working at BPCC. That’s my projects until December. I know there will be more to follow!
ST.c: What advice would you have for others seeking to follow in your foot steps?
LB: Know that sometimes it is a not an easy path choosing such an artistic avenue. My parents would not let me major in theatre my first year of college and it was not easy to not have theatre in my life. I luckily had some wonderful mentors (Julie Edwards, Ray Scott Crawford, and Cherrie Scrio) who rejuvenated my passion for theatre over and over again with their own outlooks on theatre. Find a mentor who you connect with and soak up everything you can from them. So many people have different methods of doing the same thing. Don’t close yourself off to those methods. Figure out how you can use the best of various methods and combine that with your own passion and be unapologetically you! Understand that even at the toughest of times, if you are doing what you love, it will all be worth it in the end.