Beth Pietrzak, University of La Verne theater manager and alumna, announced her mid-fall semester resignation and accompanying acceptance of a position as technical director at Cal State Los Angeles.
“Beth was the most solid part of the theater,” Patrick Towles, senior liberal studies major, said. “Most things change on a daily basis, but Beth was always ready to help any student who needed her.”
An Oct. 17 reception, held in the Dailey Theatre greenroom and open to the University community, offered a heartfelt farewell to Pietrzak.
“We wish her well in this new career opportunity, while recognizing that her presence and her many skills will be greatly missed by our theater program,” David Flaten, professor of theater arts, said in a press release.
Pietrzak was the theater manager, technical director and resident lighting designer for the ULV department of theater arts.
She oversaw three facilities, supervised work study and student crews, and also taught the Stagecraft, Lighting Design, Stage Management and Desktop Publishing for Theatre classes.
In addition, Pietrzak performed most of the lighting designs and some of the scenic designs for the major productions. She occasionally directed an experimental or traditional theater piece.
“We are losing a really important and irreplaceable asset to our department,” Sean Dillon, assistant professor of theater, said.
Pietrzak has also worked at a number of theaters around the country, including the Barnstormers Theatre in Tamworth, N.H.; the Grove Shakespeare Festival in Garden Grove; Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills; Mabel Shaw Bridges Auditorium at Pomona College; Disneyland; Gardiner W. Spring Auditorium at Chaffey High School in Ontario; Chino’s 7th Street Playhouse; Long Beach City College; Vanguard Theatre; Inland Pacific Ballet in Montclair; Inland Valley Repertory Theater in Claremont; and Mount Washington Valley Repertory Theater in North Conway, N.H.
Pietrzak was born in Southern California and raised in Minnesota.
She returned to Southern California in 1987 for her undergraduate studies at La Verne, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in theater arts in 1991.
She also received her master’s in fine arts in creative writing at Antioch University in Los Angeles.
Pietrzak has been a part of the ULV theater department for more than half her lifetime – 17 years as an employee and four years as a student.
Pietrzak was named the ULV Professional Employee of the Year in 2001.
“Beth didn’t let things like opinions or biased thoughts to come into her teaching; she was only there to help develop the young students,” Towles said.
Pietrzak is also a poet. She wrote her first chapbook, “The Scent of Kisses in the Dark,” which was adapted into a performance by Kirsten Ogden in May 2005.
“I feel that it is not fair that she left,” Towles said.
Flaten said the theater department may hire former students to temporarily take on what used to be Pietrzak’s work load.
“The job she did is irreplaceable,” Dillon said.
Dillon also said the new position will have to be defined differently, as no one can take on as much work as Pietrzak did.
“I feel a deep sense of loss, not just because she is gone, but because the new students won’t get to have her,” Towles said. “I will miss her.”
Pietrzak took on her new position as technical director at Cal State Los Angeles on Oct. 20.
Jaclyn Mittman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.