Getting to Know Director of Theater Nathan Emmons

Nathan Emmons joins Bishop’s as our new director of theater. Nathan comes to us from Nipomo High School in Nipomo, California where he served as the performing arts chair and theater director.  He has also worked as a tour actor and director for the Missoula Children's Theater in Missoula, Montana. Nathan holds a bachelor of arts in literature and theater from Reed College; a master of fine arts in acting from the professional theater training program at the University of Delaware; and a master of theater studies from Southern Oregon University. Nathan holds a certification in secondary education from Humboldt State and is fluent in Spanish.
Q: What was your first impression of the Bishop’s Community?
A: I was most struck by what a dedicated family the community seemed to be. There is a warmth, a generosity and a focus to Bishop’s which encourages trust and cultivates an exploration of knowledge. I felt free and invigorated when engaged with this community.
Q: What do you love most about teaching?
A: I am most thrilled when the electricity of discovery lights up the room, and the new threshold of knowledge has been crossed — this inspiration is incredibly infectious, and makes me eager to learn something new myself. The power of this moment is always matched by the degree to which students have taken the lead, and then are fed by this energy — it’s a glorious feedback system.
Q: What is your greatest accomplishment?
A: To date, one of my greatest accomplishments is the degree to which my love of story feeds my desire to learn more about humanity. I have become so fascinated with people that I cannot get enough of the stories we tell each other as part of our journey through this life together.
Q: Who is your hero/mentor?
A: One of my heroes, unsurprisingly, was a teacher of mine from graduate school - Jewel Walker. He was one of the most driven, disciplined and profound mentors I have ever had; of my many teachers, I strive to channel his level of hunger for excellence when I teach. Among his many truisms which I find so powerful in theater, and in life, was to focus on doing one thing at a time. Keeps the horizon simple, the worry at bay, and the assurance of excellence more achievable.
Q: What’s on your bucket list?
A: Besides the many countries I have yet to see (Turkey, China, New Zealand, Greenland, Congo, Russia, Chile, the list is long), and the ones I want to revisit (Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Greece)? My bucket list mainly centers around journeys: hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or the Continental Divide; sailing from London to San Francisco; crossing Europe on bicycle.
Oh, and to play Hamlet. That’s big on my list.
Q: If you could travel in time, what time period would you visit and why?
A: Welcome to one of my all-time favorite subjects. I would love to have the ability to travel through time (and I have seen most of the time travel movies out there), and while there isn’t necessarily one time period in particular I could center on as the time I’d go to, I would love to see the turn of the 20th century in America, to witness the explosion of people and cultures which set us on so many amazing paths. Old footage of New York or San Francisco always get me curious to see these times - people appear so regal, so thoughtful, so alive and connected.
Q: If you had to sing karaoke, which song would you choose?
A: My default song is usually The Beatles’ “Lady Madonna” or “When I’m 64,” but if Morrissey or The Smiths are on the list I might do one of theirs. But someday I may train my voice up to sing “Nights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues.
Q: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
A: Physical — chewing with your mouth open. There are sounds and sights best left unappreciated in this life.
Psychological — not listening. There is so much to take in every day, from everyone, about so many fascinating, insightful, inspiring subjects.
Q: What’s the last book you read?
A: This one is hard, since most of my reading these days is plays and books about plays. The last novel I read was “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” by Michael Chabon. It is truly an excellent read.
Q: Who was your favorite teacher in school and why?
A: In addition to Jewel, whose place in my heart is as much to do with the strength and lasting nature of his teaching, another favorite teacher of mine was my graduate school voice teacher, Deena. Reaching a grand height of 5’2”, Deena intimidated all of us with how supremely she could command a room both vocally and mentally. We all sought to be as clear in our speaking and as truthful in our presentation of ourselves as she is.
Q: If you could have a super power, what would it be?
A: Apart from the ability to travel through time, I would love to have the power to become invisible.
THE BISHOP’S SCHOOL     7607 La Jolla Boulevard     La Jolla, CA 92037     (858) 459-4021
The Bishop’s School is an independent, coeducational college-preparatory day school for students in grades six through twelve who live throughout San Diego County. Founded in 1909, the School is affiliated with the Episcopal church.