Meet the student director of “Almost, Maine”

Emily Delgado faces the tall task of directing Theatre 21’s fall production.


Kayla Santos, Staff Writer

(This story was originally published in print on Nov. 29, 2018)

From early in her life, junior theater major Emily Delgado has always been comfortable on stage. Since kindergarten, Delgado has actively participated in theater alongside classmates and friends, both as an actor and as a backstage crew member. Delgado’s rich experience with the arts has helped her get the opportunity to direct Theatre 21’s upcoming production of “Almost, Maine.”

“I always say I literally came out of the womb tap dancing,” Delgado said.


Delgado says she was drawn to theater because of her natural ability to empathize with others. Channeling her emotions and putting herself in her character’s shoes have broadened her experience as both an actor and a backstage member.

“I’m wildly empathetic, so I feel so deeply for people. One of my favorite things is just to make people feel,” Delgado said.  

With unwavering confidence and a head full of ideas, Delgado, a sophomore at the time, marched into assistant professor of theater Zachary Bortot’s office as soon as she knew that she wanted to direct a play. Admiring the symbolism and heart-wrenching scenes of the production, she chose John Cariani’s “Almost, Maine” to direct. At the beginning of the summer, Bortot contacted Delgado to inform her that he had chosen her play for the fall semester, sparking a season of growth in Delgado’s life.

Although she has previously directed skits and other shorter projects, “Almost, Maine” marks Delgado’s first experience directing a full-length show. The concerns of stitching every single part of the play together, especially on a tight budget, immediately filled her mind. However, among the many challenges she faces as a director, Delgado says she found her greatest challenge to be expressing grace toward the actors and crew members.

“It’s been a real experience for me to learn how to meet someone halfway and grow with them and be open and honest about where I’m coming from,” Delgado said. “Learning grace through Zachary Bortot has been one of the best gifts of all time. I’m learning to be more graceful with my actors.”


Delgado credits Bortot as one of her greatest influences throughout her theater career at Biola. Bortot’s practice of consistently spending time in prayer with his students became a pattern that Delgado made sure to include in her leadership role. At the beginning of each rehearsal, she asks for some prayer requests and praise reports from her cast and crew. Moreover, Delgado receives much influence from women who have empowered her, including her mother, who is a teacher.

“I pray for each people [sic] individually even if they had a prayer request or not,” Delgado said.

With her history in both acting and backstage roles, Delgado definitely understands the differing mindsets of theater in general. As an actor, she says she finds it easier to snap out of her character’s role when rehearsals finish. However, as a director, she is constantly thinking about the play even after rehearsals are done.

“As a director, I have my binder next to me in class. It’s always in the back of my mind. I just have so many random notes on my computer,” Delgado said.  


For Delgado, her favorite part about directing is the opportunity to care for her cast and crew differently than what she is accustomed to. Because she has spent most of her life in secular theater, she appreciates Theatre 21’s space to acknowledge God in the arts. Delgado prizes the gift of genuinely loving her cast and crew and receiving that love in return.

In addition to theater, Delgado is also pursuing a minor in secondary education with aspirations of teaching theater at the high school level. She says she yearns to wield her imaginative ideas on stage while also demonstrating authentic Christ-like love to those who need it most.

“God created us to be creators, and that was one of the most beautiful gifts,” Delgado said. “The creator of all chose us to be creators.”  

“Almost, Maine” opens next Friday, Dec. 7 and runs until Dec. 9. Tickets can be bought online.

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