Tuesday, December 8, 2020
By Claudia Zequeira
She has spent her life acting, performing and directing, but Rebekah Lane also has an eye for “the big picture” within Valencia College’s School of Arts and Entertainment (SAE). As SAE professor and director, Rebekah has played a pivotal role as connector of multiple departments spanning 10 academic disciplines.
“Essentially, I feel like I’m assisting in the creation of a vision … but the goal is to create that vision collaboratively,” said Rebekah. “We are figuring out how we come together, and each campus is different, but we are trying to foster that conversation.”
In her role, which she assumed last year, she is most proud of having grown Spring Arts Week, a collegewide arts festival featuring workshops, performances and exhibits by students, faculty and staff that seeks to celebrate all the arts being produced at the College.
“We have gone from a 33 events in 2019 to active collaboration from eight campuses with 58 events in 2020,” said Rebekah.
“The infrastructure is being created. We’ve created a website and measurable outcomes … My hope is that once we have that established, that we can grow it. The next step is how do we bring the community in, how do we bring larger artists in…all with the potential to work as a recruitment tool. But first, we have to celebrate us.”
During her time at Valencia, Rebekah has contributed in both artistic and practical ways. This year, for example, she directed a play titled “She Dreams of Heroes,” a piece created by the Valencia ensemble which was broadcast online due to the pandemic. Rebekah also served as liaison to the digital media department to ensure the event was streamed successfully and worked with Valencia’s legal team to navigate copyright issues prior to sharing the work online.
She has diligently communicated with Marketing and Organizational Communication to publicize all events produced during the SAE’s art season. She is also currently in the process of developing an artist-in-residency program.
Her supervisor, Rob McCaffrey, interim dean, SAE, agrees Rebekah has been a force for good and a welcome addition to the College.
“What’s special about Rebekah is her high level of engagement,” said Rob. “No matter what project she’s had to take on this year, she’s been thoughtful, thorough and active in moving the work forward.”
At Valencia, where she began teaching as an adjunct in 2011, Rebekah said she is inspired by co-workers who are invested in the community because they themselves are artists who regularly contribute to it.
She is also inspired by the students themselves.
“I have worked at a lot of different colleges … but I feel like the Valencia students are here because they have a sincere interest in bettering their lives,” she said. “And it feels good to help them; to help them make their lives better.”
The care and service Valencia continually offers the community is also important to her.
“Valencia is invested in improving the Orlando area; in making Orlando a little bit better. I certainly feel that is true,” she said. “What I think Valencia signifies to the community is possibility.”
And she also appreciates the College’s leadership culture.
“I feel the leadership culture at Valencia; it’s very much that service leadership,” she said. “They are striving to empower the students, striving to empower the staff, striving to empower the faculty. I know that I feel like people are striving to empower me. And that’s just a wonderful place to be. That just feels good and that culture isn’t everywhere.”
Before joining Valencia, where Rebekah also teaches theater and acting, she worked as a theater instructor at St. Leo University. She has also taught public speaking at Full Sail University and Towson University, in Maryland.
A Central Florida native who expresses great pride in the Orlando arts, Rebekah holds a bachelor’s degree in theater performance as well as a masters’ degree in communication from the University of Central Florida (UCF). She also holds a Master of Fine Arts in theater arts from Towson University.
Rebekah has a long history of involvement in the Central Florida theater community, having had ties with the Orlando International Fringe Festival and the Creative City Project where she has directed several plays; MicheLee Puppets, where she served as both an actor writer and project manager; and Opera Orlando, where she worked as a stage director.
In addition, she has worked as director of puppetry for Phantasmagoria, a unique theater group created by John DiDonna, professor, artistic director and Valencia Theatre Department chair. It is known for bringing steampunk/Victorian-era ghost stories to life. Rebekah, who has also worked with Mad Cow Theater is currently collaborating with the group on a performance tied to the Orlando Science Center’s Pompeii Exhibit.
When she is not busy honing her craft, which is rare, Rebekah enjoys practicing yoga. More recently, she has taken up gardening.
Ultimately, however, theater and the ability to see a creative vision through, always win out for her.
“I love creating. I’m really a person who loves the process,” said Rebekah. “For me, it is not about that final performance; for me it is about generating something new and going through the process of generating something that really encapsulates a vision.”
“I just believe in making work, and I believe in creating space for work to be made,” she added. “And I believe in teaching people how to support each other in that risk.”
Know of someone doing great work at the College, who has been an employee for one year or more? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.