Lee Minora has been doing theater since before she can remember.
Her passion for it started in Scranton, Pa. With the support of her parents, Minora has been involved with theater since she was young. Throughout high school, she said she was mostly involved in musicals and came to Temple with musical theater in mind for her major. But after only one semester, she changed her mind.
“I felt a little overwhelmed or unsure,” Minora said. “I wanted to explore a little more.”
It didn’t take her long to get back to theater. A hometown friend of hers, now a Temple student, decided to put on a show featuring child actors to raise money for the St. Joseph’s Center. Minora decided to help out and ended up co-directing the production.
It was during that experience that Minora realized theater was what she wanted to do.
During her time at Temple from 2006 to 2010, Minora was in two productions: “Damn Yankees” and “Divine Words.” She said she’s also dabbled in film a bit, mostly student-produced things, but said the stage is “more gratifying” and plans to focus on that.
Since graduating, Minora has been working with Found Theater Company, which she co-founded. The company, formed in 2009, was started by Temple alumni. Although it now employs a few current Temple students, alumni still make up the majority.
The productions are original and unconventional. Minora described them as “highly physical,” “non-linear” and “not text-based.” There’s also a large amount of original music in them.
Minora said she plans to remain in Philadelphia for its desirable scene for arts, music and theater.
“Philadelphia has a beautiful theater community, so generous and warm and close-knit,” Minora said.
Minora said she’s close with everyone in her theater company. She wasn’t initially sure if a company as small as hers could have much success in a big city.
Right now, Minora is busy with more than just Found; she is playing the role of Jane Fairfax in Lantern Theater Company’s production of “Emma.”
“Emma” is the stage adaption, written by Michael Bloom, of the famous Jane Austen novel.
Austen’s work has seen some recent media attention as this year is the 200th year anniversary since “Pride and Prejudice” was published. Minora said she wasn’t a huge Austen fan before landing this role, but since then “things have changed a little.”
“Now that I have more of the dramaturgy and historical background of Jane Austen, I’ve realized a lot of the things she wrote about were very nuanced and smart,” Minora said. “She was really ahead of her time.”
“Emma” is a coming-of-age story that follows a young, well-off girl in the early 1800s, who is described as being too clever for her own good. Minora’s character, Jane, is an acquaintance of Emma who is strangely secretive.
“The lead character, Emma, can’t really get a read on her,” Minora said. Minora said the role is “very fun to play,” and that it could be one of her favorite shows as an actress.
Sept. 25 was opening night for the show, which sold out. The theater was intimate and the action happened not only on the stage, but also among the audience.
After the show, Minora said she felt the show went extremely well and is overjoyed to be a part of it.
Minora said her time at Temple and experiences with her favorite professors played a role in getting her where she is today.
“So many professors have helped me before auditions, still, since having graduated,” Minora said. “[Temple professors] are really alive and active in Philadelphia theater and it’s easier to make the transition into the professional world because of them.”
Minora also plans to someday attend graduate school and praised the Temple graduate program for the well-seasoned actors and actresses taking part in it.
“Emma” runs from Sept. 25 to Oct. 27. It’s one event of many included in the five-day Jane Austen festival the Lantern Theater Company is having from Oct. 11 to 15.
Jamie Schoshinski can be reached at email@example.com