Theater student spotlight: Autumn Tatnall


Photo courtesy of Autumn Tatnall.

Brianna Arias, Reporter

Autumn Tatnall remembers the very first theater production she ever participated in. She was in the fifth grade and was playing the role of Papa Smurf in her elementary school’s production of “The Smurfs.” That performance and the cheers from the audience excited her and it was the first moment that called her to the stage.

“These are my earliest memories of being on stage, and I recall it always feeling like home to me,” Tatnall said.

Tatnall fell in love with acting at an early age. Her first real performances were for her family when she’d put on concerts, pretending a hairbrush was her microphone.

She began learning her craft at the Amazing Grace Conservatory, where she studied acting, singing and dancing every Saturday from 11-18 years old. She attended the Academy of Music and Performing Arts at Hamilton High School, a highly-regarded LAUSD arts magnet, where she gained even more experience in the arts.

Tatnall explained that her family inspires her. She learned how to be intelligent and observant from her parents, how to be forgiving from her grandmother, and how to be spontaneous from her sister.

“I owe a little bit of myself to each family member. I love them dearly,” she said.

Now in her final semester of college, Tatnall is making her directing debut with a campus production of “Lysistrata” – Aristophanes’ comedy about women denying men sexual activity in an effort to end the Peloponnesian War. “Lysistrata” is one of the few plays produced by the CSUN theater department that students will direct this year.

Directing a theater department play is an opportunity that only some students get. The department produces roughly six plays per school year, and Tatnall was allowed to participate in the student-directed show.

She boasted of the artistic director on the play, Larry Biederman.

“To say the least, Larry is an absolute legend, and I am so grateful that he saw the ability in me to be able to lead my fellow students through an entire production process,” Tatnall said.

She plans to direct “Lysistrata” a little differently from the standard production people are used to seeing. Instead of ancient Greece, her version will focus on the Y2K era, the early 2000s, when women, according to Tatnall, seized the narrative and decided to sexualize themselves.

“We chose this period because this is an era where we see the rise of the bimbo and when the hypersexualization of women was higher than ever,” Tatnall said.

Tatnall hopes to take everything she has learned at CSUN and put it into her craft after graduation. She will audition for roles – and be happy to land small parts – while also making music. She hopes to attend graduate school sometime soon.

The CSUN student said she is comforted by the fact that in a world where technology is becoming an aid to creativity, there’s something so human about theater that technology – not even artificial intelligence – will ever be able to replace it.

“Seeing humans access real human emotions live right in front of an audience is what makes theater, theater,” she said.

One of Tatnall’s first mentors, Wendy Raquel Robinson from the Amazing Grace Conservatory, gave her a piece of advice that she has never forgotten.

“She would always say an iconic Shakespeare expression that I still utilize today. That was, ‘To thine own self be true.’ Ultimately, this translates to, ‘Be yourself’ or, ‘Stay true to your own nature,’” she said.

Tatnall has taken that advice to heart and has implemented it throughout her craft. From the moment she stepped onto the stage as Papa Smurf, she had found her calling and would always be true to it.