Theatre director sets goals, encourages participation

Zavaleta brings college drama experience to department


Will Browning

After school on Aug. 5, performing arts teacher Mr. Tristan Zavaleta, in green on the left, listens to students read their lines from the upcoming children’s play.

Whitley Walton, Reporter

Mr. Tristan Zavaleta’s first time on the big stage was in junior high, where he portrayed an albatross. Translation: a big bird. 

“The first play I was in was in the seventh grade and it was called the ‘Fearsome Pirate Frank,’” Zavaleta said. “I think it was one of those royalty free plays,” he said. 

His costume was typical of a middle school play. “It was sweatpants and a sweatshirt and they hot-glued feathers to it. They only glued feathers to the front, so I couldn’t turn around at all. I had to fly sideways and my big line was, ‘Woah is me!’” 

Zavaleta is now taking his new role as the theatre director. Zavaleta is a recent graduate from Ball State University in Muncie, where he majored in theatre education. “This is exactly what I went to school for, to be a theatre teacher.” 

Zavaleta was involved in theatre starting in middle school and throughout all of high school at Guerin Catholic High School in Noblesville. He went as far as directing a show he wrote his senior year. “That’s when I realized I really enjoyed directing, not just acting. I just wanted to keep doing it since it was a major part of my life in high school.” 

After high school, Zavaleta also directed three shows while attending Ball State and at a local high school in Muncie. “I’ve directed a musical, a full-length play, a one-act play and a 10-minute play,” Zavaleta said. “I did my student teaching at Fishers High School,” he said. “This is my first official teaching job, but I’ve had a pretty full teaching experience.” 

When it came to choosing Cathedral, Zavaleta originally heard about the opening from a friend whose children attended here. “It was kind of the exact school I wanted to be in: a smaller, Catholic school similar from my experiences at Guerin Catholic. I heard and I was like ‘I’ve gotta get this job.’” 

Zavaleta commented on how he would’ve been more nervous if he had not done his previous student teaching over the summer, but now he is more eager than ever. “My fear was replaced with excitement,” he said. “I just feel very ready.” 

Regarding his plans for the theatre department, he’s taking control of the new improv team to start. “I have a lot of new ideas to have a stronger Drama Club that can meet regularly and do workshops. I really want to bring in some professionals to talk about doing short workshops on stage makeup and stage combat. A clown workshop!” Zavaleta said. “It’s a big deal.” 

With his independent study class, Zavaleta is planning to put together what he called a “gender-bender cabaret.” He said, “We pick different songs from Broadway musicals and the guys sing the girls’ songs and the girls sing the guys’ songs. It’s just a ton of fun.” They plan to perform in November or December. 

“My favorite musical is ‘Into the Woods’ by Stephen Sondheim. It is absolutely perfect,” Zavaleta said. “Honorable mentions, because I’d be killed if I didn’t say ‘Hamilton,’ ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ and ‘Hairspray.’” “Hairspray” is the upcoming spring musical. 

“I want the theatre to be a welcoming place and a safe environment. If anybody’s interested in any kind of theatrical production or being a part of cast or crew, come talk to me or (performing arts teacher) Mr. (Michael) Moffatt,” Zavaleta said. “I want more people to be involved and to be part of this Cathedral theatre family.”