Friday, January 29, 2016

Christopher Torborg: Honing his craft at the Grossmont College Theatre Arts Department

Christopher Torborg
Christopher Torborg was sold on a career in the theater ever since he was cast as Ed Sullivan in a children’s production of Bye Bye Birdie as a 4-year-old. These days Torborg is a rising star at Grossmont College’s acclaimed Theatre Arts Department with plans on becoming a working actor in San Diego’s thriving theatre scene.


He had a number of options when he came to choosing a school to hone his craft. The decision to attend Grossmont College, though, was a simple one.


“I always heard people tell me, `Don’t go to a community college to study theater. Go to a university,’” he said. “But I have absolutely no regrets. Grossmont College has the best theatrer program in the county, by far.”


Torborg, 19, grew up in Tucson but moved here in 2011 while visiting relatives and touring Valhalla High School’s Theatre Arts Program, which has won a number of honors at the Musical Theatre Competitions of America, the National Youth Art Awards, and the California Center for the Arts.


“My father always told me, ‘No matter what you do in life, we’ll support you 100 percent.’ So he supported me in my decision to come here.”


As a freshman at Valhalla, Torborg attended a theater festival in Sacramento with two other students and lobbied legislators in the state Capitol about the importance of funding arts programs in public schools. The following year he joined the San Diego Theatre Educators Alliance, and for the past two years he has participated in The Old Globe’s Summer Shakespeare Intensive while working as a stagehand at the Joan B. Kroc Theatre in San Diego.


As a senior, his fledgling Upstart Theatre Company produced William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night with actors from three East County high schools. A total of more than 400 people bought tickets to two performances, raising more than $2,500 for the Valhalla High School Theatre Arts Department.


It was through his work with the San Diego Theatre Educators Alliance that Torborg learned about Grossmont College’s program.


“I got to work with a lot of faculty and staff and students, and I was just amazed by what I saw,” Torborg said. “It was clear this is where I wanted to be.”


Since enrolling at Grossmont College last fall, Torborg has performed for Inside the Actor’s Process, an annual touring production that is performed at 15 San Diego County high schools to expose teens to the finer points of stage performance; Romeo and Juliet; Martians!; and A Streetcar Named Desire (which he also served as assistant director). He also worked as the assistant stage manager for both The Piano Lesson and On the Verge.


Neither Torborg nor those who know him doubt that he will succeed in the theatre scene.


“Chris is one of those guys who as a performer, there is no 100 percent, said Kirsten Giard, his former theatre arts teacher at Valhalla High School. “There’s only 100 billion percent. The first time I saw him perform was when he was 14 and I was like, `Wow!’”


Torborg said he has no plans to leave the area and is encouraged by the fact that all of the faculty members in Grossmont College’s Theatre Department are working professionals.


“San Diego has a real phenomenal theatre scene that I don’t think gets the recognition that it should,” he said.