We could not have been happier for Cristina’s approval—because Cristina should know. She has built a successful career on stage as an actor, behind the scenes as a scenic designer and artist, and is now on the frontline of branding the future as a middle and high school theatre coach and educator.
Her extensive credits include roles in Parking Ticket, Sorrows and Three Sisters, for which she received critical accolades. In her various roles she has been described as entrancing, soulful, and riveting. “Anselmo is expert, combining wit with a stark and moving display,” the LA Weekly wrote of her performance in Three Sisters.
In her real-life credits, Cristina said she is grateful for the forward-thinking, progressive and excellent education she received at Mayfield.
“The learning was really progressive, especially for the time...Discussion was incredibly open and we were really encouraged to be forward thinking,” she said. “I absolutely loved all my teachers and I always enjoyed my classes. In terms of fostering curiosity in girls, the curriculum was really great!”
Cristina’s family has a long history with Mayfield that started with her mother, Margaret Prietto ’60, and extended to her mom’s five sisters (Cristina ’64, Josefita ’65, Barbara ’72, Betty ’78 and Patricia ’79)! Her interest in theatre took root at Santa Clara University, where she studied acting and technical theatre and also directed. In her first job out of college she worked as a scenic design assistant for the San Jose Civic Light Opera, hired by her mentor at the university.
“Those days were insane, but I loved it,” she said, adding that she worked on textures, prop making and painting. “I was working 80 hours a week and made about $1,100 a month. I really should have negotiated higher! It was a hard lesson to learn, but a great experience.”
Currently, this busy Bay Area artist said she’s juggling “WAY too many jobs right now, but it’s great.”
“In addition to auditioning and rehearsing for companies I work with on my own, I teach classes and do coaching with American Conservatory Theater,” she said, adding that she is performing in a show for a company in Redwood City.
She encouraged our young theatre and technical theatre students to “find the people who inspire you and grab onto their pant leg until he/she is forced to hire you...Seriously, try everything.” She also finds it encouraging that more women are entering arts leadership positions.
Her favorite Mayfield memory? Term Plays, of course. Although the tradition of taking a full week off from academic classes to produce a play with a group of friends ended in the 1990s, our Conservatory for the Arts programs provide similar fun and educative times.
“I remember we put on ‘The King and I’ and then I remember being the Evil Stepmother in ‘Cinderella,’ ” she said. “We worked incredibly hard, but we just had so much fun and it was a great experience.”
We’re proud to say that Cristina, as a successful working artist, follows another sage piece of advice she offered to our current students:
“Never stop practicing your craft every day,” she said. “When you do something 40 hours a week, you will get good at it...so practice!”