Teacher & Performance Artist
East Union 1700 North Union Road Manteca, CA 95336
Success Revealed to the Wandering Eye
By Renae Preston
Annette Taser, with weightless and purposeful movements, walks under the light of the solid black, yet not dark, room that has come to be another home to her. What surround her are props, scenery, and memories of stories that were brought to life by creativity and art. She flows and drifts about the theatre room with a thousand and one thoughts and ideas flickering across her mind, but she still keeps the calmness and clarity of resting water.
She was born to be here. She was made to do this.
It's a rarity to see or hear Mrs. Taser without the love of theatre not far behind, her smile only parted to speak with passion of knowledge and insight and drama. One could only wonder how many things had to go right to give someone like Mrs. Taser a chance to be where she loves doing what she loves, but only one with a creative mind could imagine how many things also had to go wrong.
“When I came in 2004, the students in the theatre program were craving strong leadership,” said Mrs. Taser, remembering her first day here, taking over theatre for Janet Jory.
“I was hired on a bright May afternoon, and shortly thereafter I received a warm, enthusiastic and welcoming email from Mrs. Lagier inviting me to meet my new students that very evening at Thespian Initiation night.”
She recalls that she couldn’t find anything to wear because the only clothes she had suited her life as a graduate student and a mom- overalls for gardening and jeans for everything else, but she went anyway, carrying with her the anticipation of meeting her new students.
But what about before East Union?
“I wanted to be a neuroscientist, but I can’t do math and science was baffling.” Mrs. Taser said at first, but she goes on to explain how she got introduced to theatre. She was in elementary school when her church planned to host a play, and she tried out for the lead role. She ended up getting it.
Mrs. Taser was, and still is, as shy as any other person, so one would think she would have difficulties being in an environment where she is watched so intently. No problem. Acting, she says, holds the key to help fool the audience into thinking you’re not shy.
The life of theatre, however, was not always comfortable for Mrs. Taser.
“When I was in high school, I had an agent, and I had the opportunity of showing up for auditions where you had maybe 200 people look just like you because you fit a certain type. And it’s very unnerving when you walk into a room and there are 200 of you, so you have to somehow stick out. That just felt weird to me.”
Her history in acting and theatre played a huge part in steering her to where she is now—here at East Union. She took a big leap from such an intense way of living to the kind of peaceful flow she is now used to.
“Where you are makes a big difference on what you can expect and what is reasonable,” Mrs. Taser had acknowledged. She has learned over the years to be less of a perfectionist because of the context of where she works. “If I was working in LA, and had a main line to the industry, I would have a different set of standards because there would be a different set of expectations.’
There were other things, however, that Mrs. Taser had to tolerate in order to find herself drifting away from the life she once wanted because it wasn’t for her. She didn’t want to keep going in that kind of direction.
“Other things that felt really strange to me were things like being told by my agent, ‘You know, you need to look like the girl next door so, you need to get blue contacts and dye your hair blonde.’” Mrs. Taser said, insulted by the memory. “I felt offended by that, it didn’t square with how I wanted to live my life. I didn’t want to live my life based on some idea of what the girl next door should be or look like. I found that deeply disturbing.”
Hollywood, celebrities, and the life you picture when hearing those things is exactly that, according to Mrs. Taser: “fluffy” and “superficial.”
When she made the decision to come up here for college, she believes she was really making a conscious decision to turn away from that kind of superficial shallowness that people seem to really like in the entertainment industry. She felt that it was just not what she wanted to do.
“For me, to experience the ideas, philosophies, the time periods, the big ideas- that’s where I like to be, not in the fluffy world of Hollywood. And I saw that when I was in high school.”
Seeing her now, a person can plainly tell that she loves her work. She was a perfect addition to East Union because she had a double major in both theatre and English—she admits she didn’t want to settle on minoring since she couldn’t imagine sacrificing the things she enjoys so dearly.
“I have always felt drawn to all of the performing arts- acting, singing and dancing are like breathing to me… It is not about the applause or fame or anything else, it’s about exposing something real and important about what it means to be human.”