“I hope they become better artists, more comprehensive artists. I hope they go on to do bigger and better things.”
Involved in theatre since age four, it's appropriate that Victoria Sanders plays many roles at Thomas Nelson Community College. Not only is she the manager of the Dr. Mary T. Christian Theater, a performing arts instructor, and the production designer for the three annual shows at the theater, but she will also have directed eight consecutive major productions by fall 2016. Sanders, who has been at Thomas Nelson since 2006, wouldn't have it any other way. She grew up in the theatre and couldn't imagine a career in anything else.
After achieving an Associate of Arts degree, Sanders bounced around working for multiple theaters and Walt Disney World. She pursued a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Set Design, which enabled her to secure a job as the theater manager at a performing arts high school. While at the school, Sanders was asked to teach theatre courses in addition to her manager duties. When the Navy moved Sanders and her husband to Hampton Roads, she brought that teaching experience to Thomas Nelson.
In her theatre courses, Sanders takes the practical approach. In Costume and Make-up for Theatre she prefers not to lecture. Instead she has students construct real costumes from scratch. Every student is required to sew a skirt, even if they have never sewn before. She has high hopes for her students.
"I hope they become better artists, more comprehensive artists," Sanders says. "I hope they go on to do bigger and better things."
Throughout her 10 years at Thomas Nelson, she has been instrumental in growing the performing arts department and is often surprised by the amount of support she receives from the administration and school community when the performing arts faculty take risks. Sanders was amazed when the greenlight was granted to the school's first production of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, and was delighted when a recent, particularly gory staging of Macbeth was so well-received. Fourteen characters were killed on stage in the production "with blood-packs and all," notes Sanders. She still has a severed head prop in her costume shop, and while recalling the fog machines, strobe lights and audience warnings, she adds, "It was fun."