City College festival brings dream to life for student playwright

8th annual event showcasing student productions returns to City College March 17-25


Jesus Sandoval, right, directs actors during rehearsals of “The First Date” for the 8th annual Festival of New Plays. Photo courtesy of Jesus Sandoval

Joel Nevarez, Sports Editor

For Jesus Sandoval, a film major at San Diego City College, the opportunity to have his original play “We Were Men” produced was a dream come true.

“It was definitely surreal to see that email and to see my name as one of the people who was chosen,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval describes his play as a comedy that tackles sensitive issues such as PTSD and the negative effects that come from war. 

“I studied World War I a lot,” Sandoval said. “I saw ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ and it was one of my favorite movies.”

Sandoval’s play is one of eight featured in the 8th Annual Festival of New Plays, which showcases works from City College students. 

Sandoval is also directing a play – “The First Date” written by Victoria Garcia.

“I wanted to know what it felt like to be a director and a playwright,” said Sandoval, who is the only City student playwright who is also directing one of the festival plays. “I wanted to see two sides of the coin … to see what my vision looks like in someone else’s eyes.”

Jesus Sandoval performing during showing of Imogen Says Nothing.
Jesus Sandoval performing during a showing of “Imogen Says Nothing.” Photo Courtesy of City College Theatre

Sandoval previously acted in last fall’s production of “Imogen Says Nothing.”

Making the transition from actor to director was a difficult one for Sandoval, taking him some time to adjust. 

“It’s been a challenging but rewarding situation where I find some things to come intuitively but other things I really have to ask help for,” Sandoval said. “Everybody’s been really helpful and making sure that I get production up and running and get the vision to where the playwright and I want it to be.”

From the moment Sandoval found out he was directing, he made sure to shape the play in his vision from the ground up.

The production process has been fast-paced and Sandoval has been there from the beginning. 

“I imagine it’s the same thing that, like parents feel, when they see their toddler walk,” Sandoval said. “The play evolves from just a script to a whole production. … The whole process has honestly just been eye-opening.” 

Earlier this semester Sandoval, along with other students in the City College dramatic arts department, traveled to The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region 8 in Las Vegas. 

The KCACTF is a national theater festival program for college students. The goal, according to its website, is to showcase student work and improve college theater.

“It was actually really interesting to be producing my own play, and actually get to go to workshops where we get to talk with playwrights,” Sandoval said. “It’s not so much like tips that you get, but it’s just the dialogue that happens.”

While the festival was exhausting for Sandoval, the sharing of ideas and experiences was something he took and applied to his directing style. 

“I felt rejuvenated with being able to come up with new approaches to the way that I am directing,” Sandoval said. 

Tickets for the New Play Festival are still available. To purchase tickets, click here.

For more information about City College arts and culture, click here