Mark Roberts

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Mark Roberts graduated from Lamar University in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in theatrical performance. The Voice of the PrairieWhile Mark was at Lamar, he was an active and avid participant in the theatre department. Working on stage as a performer, and offstage as a technician, like most theatre students, most of his time out of class was spent working on productions. In his first couple of years, Mark worked in the shop on the scenic crew and quickly moved into the crew chief position. Wanting to expand his skills after some time, he switched over to electrics, and likewise, headed that crew. On stage Mark performed in seven productions in his time at Lamar: Black Angel; The Voice of the Prairie; Lend Me A Tenor; Seascape; The Normal Heart; Shakespeare’s Lovers; and Into the Woods. In the fall of 1990 when Mark arrived at Lamar, that chapter of Alpha Psi Omega was defunct, but thanks to the leadership of Dr. Adonia Placette, with whom Mark studied under at Lamar, the chapter was reinstated as active, and Roberts went on to lead the chapter as its first president.

After graduation Mark returned to Houston where he grew up, and from contact with fellow Lamar alums thatThe Cherry Orchard had moved to town, landed his first role on stage as a professional in Theatre LaB Houston’s production of Unidentified Human Remains and The True Nature of Love. Due to this first professional experience he made many of the connections that enabled him to build his career on and off stage. One of those contacts led him to Main Street Theater where he auditioned for their youth theater production of Robin Hood and was cast in multiple roles. During the run of Robin Hood he found out that Main Street needed help behind the scenes, too, and began working in their scene shop as a carpenter, eventually moving into the master carpenter’s position. Mark continued to audition and be cast at theaters around Houston and sought representation at Pastorini Bosby Talent Agency, signed with them in 1994, and began working in commercials, industrial films and the occasional independent film project. Mark is represented by Pastorini Bosby to this day.

Another important connection that came from that first professional experience was also very personal. Mark met a talented and beautiful actress named Celeste Cheramie in that production at Theatre LaB. They were married in 1997, and this year, celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary. Celeste and Mark have two children, Rachel and Joshua. Shortly after Rachel was born in 1998, Mark resigned from Main Street THenry V at Pragueheater to stay at home and care for his daughter. Not long after Josh was born in 2000, circumstances changed again, and Celeste, who had been working, taking only short breaks to give birth, found herself out of a job. Mark and Celeste took this opportunity to swap roles and Mark began looking for work. Before the year was up, Main Street Theater was looking for a technical director. Mark applied for the job, and has served as Main Street’s technical director since February of 2002.

Over the last eighteen years Mark has overseen all technical aspects of plays at Main Street for more than 200 productions. In 2014, Main Street began demolition on the space they have occupied since 1981. A storefront that had been converted to a theater upon their move-in, the space was long overdue for renovation. Mark was involved in shaping what the new space would be through meetings with architects, designers and contractors. An arduous process at times, the new space was finally completed in October of 2015, and the company moved into its new home.

Lars the Emo KidMark continues to work onstage around Houston and in front of the camera when he can. His talents have taken him from Houston stages to Scotland, Norway and Prague in the Czech Republic.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments (both personally and professionally)?
Personally, my family is my greatest accomplishment. They make me proud every day. Professionally, it is two-fold. Building a production department from the time I was the sole faultier employee to one which employs 4 faultier staff members and countless contract designers, technicians and carpenters. The second part is shepherding the theater through its renovation starting in 2015 through completion and helping the theater advance to its next level professionally. 

In what way(s) did your time at Lamar University impact your career or who you are today? 
Wow, so many. I’ll be concise, though, or this will run too long. The dynamism of the Lamar ThScenic Creweater program that allowed me to become a fully formed artist/craftsman is immeasurable in its value. I was always interested in both acting and tech theater. Some programs force a focus on one discipline or the other. Knowing that I planned to return to Houston and what was then a young, tiny theater community would require both skills on and off stage to build a lasting and successful career, so I sought a program that would allow me to hone both acting and technical theater. While I was at Lamar, if I wasn’t on stage, I was in the shop, in the grid or in the catwalks. The faculty at the time was headed by Dr. Adonia Placette, director of theater, and included Thomas Gale, technical director, and Kelly Draper, associate professor/costume and stage makeup design. Each brought a wealth of academic and professional knowledge which they enjoyed passing onto a new generation of potential theater professionals. We had the opportunity to work from time to time with professionals that were brought in as guest artists, and I found that experience invaluable in my education.

What is your most fond memory or favorite story of your time at Lamar University? 
While I was at LU, we hosted ACTF, which I think is now called KCACTF. While this was fun on its own, I will never forget one school, (I’ll withhold the name) that was smaller and did not have facilities which were as advanced as ours. I was assigned as their host stage manager/lighting tech. I think at the time Mark Robertseach school was given about an hour to set up. They had a lot of light cues. I was a little nervous, but I knew our equipment and had been well instructed in its use. Setup time was nearing its end, and we had not yet programmed a single cue for the second act and might have been a little short for the first. They were freaking out. I told them don’t worry about it. We’ll start the show and finish programming in blind while we run. They were dubious, but my calm, confident insistence that it was possible and my faith in our equipment calmed their fears. It went off without a hitch. There was once or twice when an actor was in darkness, but I snuck the lights up and no one knew any difference. They were so appreciative at the end of the show and thanked me profusely. I was so happy that I’d been able to help them have a successful performance. That memory gave me, and continues to give me so much confidence when I encounter challenges to this day.

What advice would you give current students and young alumni in your field? 
Honestly, I’ve talked a lot about my tech experience, but I’ll say this in regard to acting. Learn how to market yourself now while you have the opportunity. I do okay, but if I had a chance to repeat my time at LU, I’d find time to fit in a marketing class, even if it postponed my graduation. Also, stay in touch with your classmates and fellow alumni. I am pleased to have worked professionally with some of my former Lamar classmates over the years. 

1) The cast, director and some of the crew of The Voice of the Prairie at LU, circa 1990
2) The Cherry Orchard rehearsal at Classical Theatre Company with Mark's wife, Celeste Roberts
3) Henry V at Prague Shakespear Company in collaboration with Main Street Theater
4) Lars The Emo Kid Film
5) The scenic crew on Peace In Our Time at Main Street Theater
6) Mark Roberts head shot