Playing lion: Volunteer acting teacher Jacinta Marasco and 4-year-old Max warm up at the Edgemar Center for the Arts. (Photo courtesy Edgemar Center for the Arts)

Playing lion: Volunteer acting teacher Jacinta Marasco and 4-year-old Max warm up at the Edgemar Center for the Arts. (Photo courtesy Edgemar Center for the Arts)

The other day, while stuck in traffic on Fourth Street, I found myself wondering what if William Shakespeare had been born in Santa Monica. (It’s a weird thought, but it beats road rage.) It’s likely the titles of Shakespeare’s legendary works would have changed, except possibly for one, “The Merchant of Venice.” (I can hear groans as I type.)

I wonder if the Bard of Avon (or, in this case, the Bard of the Bay?) would have written about our horrific traffic in one of his comedies, although I personally don’t find the subject terribly amusing. For example, when I first moved to Ocean Park in 1975 a drive to the Main Library on Sixth Street took approximately seven minutes, five if you made the lights. These days it’s a good idea to pack a lunch.

As a bus casually spewed its fumes into my car, I had an epiphany right in front of the Santa Monica Playhouse. Yes, because of development we have more traffic, noise and pollution, but there’s no question that culturally our city has grown, especially in the theatre world. (Who knows what I would have thought had I been stuck in traffic in front of a Taco Bell.)

In addition to the Santa Monica Playhouse, there’s the magnificent Broad Stage on 11th Street, the Morgan Wixson on Pico Boulevard, the Ruskin Theatre by the Santa Monica Airport, the Promenade Playhouse, the Miles Playhouse (designed in 1929), the Powerhouse Theatre in Ocean Park and the Edgemar Center for the Arts on Main Street.

I’m partial to the Edgemar because it’s within walking distance and also because my father, as a teenager, worked there as an egg candler back when it was actually Edgemar Dairy. I even wrote a column about it, “Which came first, the theatre or the egg?”

It was at Edgemar where I first crossed paths with Jacinta Marasco. She was a volunteer working with seniors for “Defining Moments,” an evening featuring story telling and songs by talented seniors, including one by my 90-year-old friend Jerry Rosenblum, whose rendition of “My Way” was the finale of the show.

Born in Australia, Jacinta received her bachelor’s degree in acting from the prestigious Rose Bruford College, one of the top three drama schools in London and also has a graduate degree in film and TV production. Among her numerous academic honors, she was presented with the Lilian Baylis Award from Academy Award-winner Kevin Spacey at a ceremony held at The Old Vic Theatre in London.

Jacinta’s love of acting brought her to her third continent (Australia, Europe and now North America) when she applied to study at the Acting Studio at Edgemar in their one-year acting program. Just last month, Jacinta completed an exhilarating year of acting studies at Edgemar under Artistic Director Michelle Danner. A Santa Monica resident, she also trains at the renowned Margie Haber Studio in West Hollywood and receives private coaching from the celebrated Broadway, film and television actress Christine Dunford.

While at Edgemar, Jacinta generously helped out as a volunteer to the Senior Outreach Program and for the children’s acting classes, bringing acting and theatre to people of all ages. The seniors ranged in ages from their 70s into their late 90s, while the kids were ages 4 to 6 in classes such as “Fairy Tales and Superheroes.” (Where can I sign up?)

Jacinta recently finished playing the lead role of Diana in the sold-out run of “Luigi” at the VS. Theater in Los Angeles. The play was written by playwright Louise Munson and was performed as a professional reading. Due to the citywide acclaim “Luigi” received, a full-scale production is in the works for the near future.

In the meantime, Jacinta continues to live in Santa Monica, following her passion for the art of acting and the world of theatre. She’s fascinated with a trend on Broadway where kids with autism are exposed to theatre with exciting results. It’s the type of gratifying vocation, helping and inspiring others through theatre, that she hopes to one day pursue for a living.

My passion, on the other hand, seems to be avoiding traffic (and bus fumes) whenever possible. With apologizes to Shakespeare, some readers e-mail saying that my criticisms of overdevelopment is making “much ado about nothing.” On the other hand, with Metro rail coming to Santa Monica in the near future, I’m hoping that all’s well that ends well.

 

Jacinta Marasco, who’s represented by About Entertainment-Commercial in Hollywood, can be reached at jacintamarasco@gmail.com. Jack is at jnsmdp@aol.com.