Being a full-time student is not an easy job, especially during the current pandemic. But what if you were a student while also being a professor? Nineteen-year-old Dionysus Raquel Jr., a Las Vegas native and Sophomore at Nebraska Wesleyan, is doing just that. While pursuing his B.F.A. in Musical Theatre with an emphasis in Directing, he also taught a class every Friday at midnight to one student across the world.
This all started during quarantine, when a theatre company based in Hong Kong, called KrisP Productions, reached out to Raquel asking him to work as a part of their team and instruct a course. “I asked if they had anything in musical theatre and they said “no, but would you like to?”, which then gave him the liberty of designing his own curriculum. Once September rolled around, he was introduced to his student.
The course started out at an intermediate level, but it progressed as Raquel learned more about his student, and it started to shape the content around him. “We started with vocal technique and the analysis of sheet music and the anatomy of the voice… but then we looked into his passion, which is songwriting, and I slowly made him branch out into different creative styles.”
The course was originally designed to only be a month long, but after the progress that was made between the two, it was extended to the end of October. “What I originally had planned was the basics,” Raquel mentioned about the class curriculum, “but what we ended up with was better than anything I could have made.” They first started out in pop, something his student was familiar with, “then he started to share that he made DJ beats, which then ties into Hip-Hop music along with rapping.” For the final project, Raquel had him compose an entire song and perform it, which he comments that he did well.
While he does not have any future teaching opportunities planned, Raquel says that he would love to do it in the future. “It helps me become better as a performer,” Raquel remarks, “better as an influencer, and a person in society.” Raquel’s main goal when it comes to theatre is to impact the world, and teaching is one of the ways that he can work to achieve that.
But you can imagine anyone taking on this kind of workload would be under pressure. “It was a lot,” Raquel stated, “no one said it was going to be easy. School is school, being a part of multiple projects is a lot, and it was a struggle… no, not a struggle, a challenge.” Raquel said that this experience has helped him learn his limits as a student, performer, and individual. When he finally reached it, he laughed that it, “is so far that it is kind of scary, but what helped me though, as cheesy as it sounds, was the art itself.”
With his time a KrisP Production, Raquel was also asked to write a blog. “They asked about the process was like to be a performer in America, and what I had to go through in order to be the individual that I am today.” When writing the blog, Raquel really focused on his unique story. When asked what it was about, he said, “Life. What happened to me due to my traveling from place to place to live, then moving to Las Vegas and getting a culture shock when I was the only person of color in the room and in a completely racist environment, and the only things that wasn’t was the theatre department.” Later, Raquel ended up transferring to a performing arts high school where he could hone his craft and develop as an actor. “What got me through it was all the different theatre opportunities that I could be a part of.” He also touched on different areas of professionalism, connections, and social media when it came to the career world.
At the end of the interview, when Raquel was asked if there was any advice he wanted to give he reflected, “Yeah, do it… there is no real limit on when you can start producing art. It’s all about you, your mind is very powerful, you have to understand that life doesn’t wait for you, you have to go for it.”
More information is available at krispproductions.com, and on Instagram @krisp.production and @dioraqueljr.