3 Q’s with Rick Mokler

by Elizabeth Schwyzer

Every Santa Barbara theatergoer knows the Garvin Theatre’s
steeply raked stage and the quality productions that tread its
boards each season, but fewer realize the S.B. City College Theatre
Group is the longest-running theater company in town. Founded in
1978, it’s been under the direction of well-loved SBCC faculty
member Rick Mokler since 1990. With a new season about to open,
Mokler, who once claimed to have “one of the best jobs in the
country,” shared his thoughts on what makes for good comedy.

Why did you choose The Foreigner to open your new
When you put together a season you try to find
some sort of balance  we wanted a big, traditional comedy, and
they’re hard to find. We actually did this play in ’92 with
success — around the same time it had been done off-Broadway with
Matthew Broderick. In 2006 it’s particularly timely, given the
current debate around immigration and foreigners. It’s also a
really funny play … and it’s a charming story, not just a goofy
comedy. There’s quite a bit of heart to it.

What’s the key to making comedic theater actually
The casting. It’s all about casting. It’s also
helpful if the play is well-written, but you have to put the right
people in the right spot. Good actors can make mediocre jokes work
well, but bad actors can’t make good jokes work at all.

So do you have good actors? Oh yeah — in fact,
Devin Scott, who did a breakthrough performance in the role of
Ellard when he was a student here in ’92, has returned to play the
role again. He looks exactly the same as he did 14 years ago and he
provides a level of comedic work that everybody else strives


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