ARC theater professor brings passion and hard work to everything she does

Tracy Shearer teaches at ARC and a performance art studio, directs plays and musicals, and even helped raise money to save a piece of land


ARC professor Tracy Shearer directs plays and musicals, teaches multiple classes at multiple schools and performance studios, and even helped raise money to save the Fair Oaks Bluffs. (Photo Courtesy of Tracy Shearer)

Heather Amberson, Arts&Culture/Sports Co-Editor

“Back when my kids were little, I started an organization, Citizens to Save the Bluffs, to save the Fair Oaks Bluffs. We raised $1.2 million and bought it from developers and turned it over to the parks.”

This is just one example of the hard work and passion that Tracy Shearer puts into everything that she does.

Not only did Shearer, a theater professor at American River College, raise money to save the Fair Oaks Bluffs, she also teaches students of different ages at multiple schools and performance studios.

Shearer says her favorite part of teaching is passing on knowledge and introducing students to new things. She teaches students of different ages, at both ARC and performance studios.

“[I like] interacting with students and teaching them new knowledge. [It’s] exciting to introduce students to films by people of color, women, and trans and gay artists,” Shearer said. “I had to learn to teach four new dialects for ‘Fires in the Mirror’.”

“Fires in the Mirror,” a play written and originally performed by Anna Deavere Smith, was adapted by the ARC theater department in October.

Brooke Mullenix, one of Shearer’s former students, says she has learned a lot from Shearer.

“I’ve learned like seven different dialects from her and how to act really,” Mullenix said. “She’s always patient and positive.”

According to Shearer, she has directed over 50 plays and loves the process that goes into each one.

“I direct or vocal direct on average four to six plays a year, for around 30 years. I’ve done more vocal directing than directing. I’ve vocal directed around 50 plays and directed around 25,” Shearer said. “I love the creative process of directing and working with the production team.”

Shearer also loves working with the students and the designers.

“I love the energy and creativity of the actors. They bring a vision to the show that I couldn’t even imagine,” Shearer said. “We have great design work with costume designer Gail Russell and set designer Kathy Burleson. [It’s] a very humbling and gratifying place to produce theatre. We have amazing students who are super skilled and fun to work with.”

Sam Williams, a theater professor at ARC, says Shearer is always working hard.

“She is very kind and nurturing to the students. She researches everything and is very thorough and professional,” Williams said. “She just goes and goes; I don’t know how she does it.”

Shearer’s hard work led to her winning the Ken Deibert Adjunct Professor of the Year Award in 2013, which she says was one of her proudest moments at ARC.

Now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shearer is trying to adapt to everything being online, and says she is grateful for the other professors around ARC.

“This is an unbelievably challenging time. I give a shout-out to [all of] the creative professors. I’m very grateful to work with the people I do at ARC,” Shearer said. “It takes three to five times the amount of time to make these classes successful.”

Shearer is also the publicity manager for the theatre department, and finds many ways to promote each show.

“I write press releases for each show. [I would] set up a photo shoot, which is usually a big part of my job. [I work on] finding images and getting the word art,” Shearer said. “I would make posters and postcards, which I’m trying to do online [because of the pandemic]. I also reach out to media outlets and gather all information and make programs and lobby displays for the plays.”

In addition to her work at ARC, Shearer also teaches students of all ages at other schools.

“I teach stage vocals and acting classes for kids [between the ages of] 7 to 18. [I do that] three nights a week and every other Saturday,” Shearer said.

Shearer is currently working on a COVID inspired adaptation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” along with playwright Terry Haley, which is scheduled to come out in April. To see upcoming play information and other things going on within the theatre department, visit the ARC theatre website.