Eatmon applies finishing touches to theater world

Campus Times
November 21, 1997

photo by Alen Zilic

In his senior year as an undergraduate student at the University of La Verne, S. Baker Eatmon, majoring in theater, is taking part in the new ULV musical "Company." Eatmon makes last-minute preparations and adds a touch of makeup just before the preview show Tuesday night.

by Katrina Hall
Staff Writer

"What causes me the greatest stress in the world is boredom and in theater, you are never bored," said S. Baker Eatmon, senior theater major at the University of La Verne.

After doing various theater shows in elementary school in Colorado and being asked to play the leading role of Doctor Keller in the show "The Miracle Worker" in middle school, Eatmon has fallen in love with theater.

"I never left it and as soon as I came to California, I went to the theater department at Dana Hills High School," said Eatmon.

The first play performed in high school by Eatmon was Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." This is where he found theater to be important because it was transitional and he became more dedicated.

"It [Shakespeare] clicked with me in high school, but here at La Verne, people put their hand to the grindstone and do the work of Shakespeare," said Eatmon.

The 21-year-old Eatmon recalled an incident in high school where he was the only character on stage in front of an audience performing "Dames at Sea."

"The plugs were kicked out and the theater went pitch black," said Eatmon. "It (the dark) went with what I was talking about at the time so I kept acting and when the lights finally came on, I received a standing ovation."

Since then, awards have been handed to him including two consecutive Best Supporting Actor for playing Hennessey in the play "Dames at Sea" as an out-of-work New York director, and Colonel Gilweather from the musical "Something's Afoot."

Other awards include the International Thespian Award for first place best improvisation in 1993 where Eatmon was in a competition with 1,500 other competitors.

"They put four people in a group and we do a series of games after given who and where we are," said Eatmon. "The judges see who masterminds the game."

"If I had an analogy, I would say high school theater was a hobby and college theater is a life," said Eatmon. "I thought theater was bright but sometimes it is dark, which is not bad, and I realized that my first year at La Verne."

After dealing with his parent's divorce in 1988, their remarriage this year and residing back to Colorado, Eatmon feels that his family has been closer this past year than ever before.

"My dad is my best friend, my mentor," Eatmon said. "He opened my eyes to things I failed to see."

Eatmon was raised with two older brothers, Lance, residing in Arkansas, and Jamie, residing in Missouri, while his father, J.D. is a plumbing contractor and his mother, Carol is a professional photographer.

"I'm convinced, if you keep your life full of new experience, you'll live infinitely longer," said Eatmon.

His first year at ULV, Eatmon won the Best Supporting Actor Award for his part as Ross the carnival worker in the production of "Elephant Man."

"Eatmon is an important part of the theater community at La Verne," said Dr. David Flaten, professor of theater arts. "There has been maturing commitment on his part."

In the fall of 1996, the program of the play "The Nerd," directed by Sean Dillon, was designed and played by Eatmon.

"That was the funniest show I did," said Eatmon. "I love making people laugh through character."

Making the decision to come to ULV on a theater scholarship was the wisest choice Eatmon feels he has made. He was offered scholarships to major universities but turned them down.

"I was looking for something more raw, but I did not want to be a number in the crowd," he said. "I did not want to look at the mud and imagine how it felt."

Through the four years at ULV and preparing to walk in May 1998, Eatmon feels that Flaten, Steven Kent, adjunct professor and Georgij Paro, director of National Theater of Croatia and adjunct professor has helped him along the way to become successful.

"David, because of his brilliance, a new piece of knowledge or experience comes from him," said Eatmon. "Kent gave me access ability to things I could not find in myself. After taking his interterm class, I came up with new innovations, and Paro showed me brilliance of life on the stage and dignity of being somebody on stage."

As a result, Eatmon was selected to spend this past summer in Split, Croatia competing in Split Theater International Festival interacting with professional Croatian actors.

"That was the most life-learning experience I learned while at La Verne," said Eatmon.

"His experience in Europe was transformative," said Dr. Flaten. "He was changed by the demands of that and working with actors of a different culture."

Working on the current production "Company," Eatmon plays David, who is best friends with the leading character.

"David is an overbearing meathead with a heart of gold," said Eatmon of his character.

"Baker is a talented actor and designer," said Dr. Flaten. "He is working on these multi-image murals for each scene in "Company" using video and computer technology."

Through the busy life at ULV, Eatmon thanks God that his friends support him.

"Every year I seem to make more friends, and they all are precious to me," said Eatmon.

As far as the future, Eatmon plans to resume his improvisational interests before attending graduate school.

"I will probably travel and see what I can find in terms of theatrical experience," he said. "If I come to it, I can always start a company in Colorado. My overall dream is to build by own fortress that I plan to design and build myself, and live in the state of constant and new experience."

Whatever his plans are, Eatmon will stick with theater.

"I couldn't possibly imagine being anywhere else," he said.