International City Theatre has been entertaining Long Beach audiences since 1985 and throughout their 34 years, ICT has also had a strong commitment to the growth and development of youth and artists. Over the years, ICT has given more than 20 young people their union cards and hired them back as professionals. One of the first young people benefiting from this opportunity is a very deserving Long Beach local; Stage Manager and current Stage Technician for Poly High School, Victoria Gathe.
Victoria, or Tori for short, grew up in a “theatre family,” meaning both her parents were involved in the industry at one point or another. Her father worked at Lakewood High School’s Theatre Department for most of his career and her mother would eventually work there as well. Tori first learned about ICT while pursuing theatre at Long Beach City College. ICT started on LBCC’s campus while ICT founder, Shashin Desai was Chair of the Department of Theatre, Film and Dance. In 1990, Tori was asked to assistant stage manage one of ICT’s plays, Queen of the Soaps which she accepted. This led to a strong relationship between Tori and ICT, and by 1994, she was stage managing entire seasons for them. With ICT’s success and growth and with the belief that artists should be paid, they moved downtown to the Performing Arts Center and became a union theatre providing jobs and opportunities for professional artists.
With the new location and the greater responsibility and opportunity with Actor’s Equity Association (the professional theatrical union of Actors and Stage Managers), ICT was able to offer Tori her union card and continue her growth as a professional stage manager. This is a very large step in any artist’s career and offers them a world of new possibilities and the security of fair, livable wages in the performing arts community. Tori stage managed ICT’s first show in Downtown Long Beach, D.L. Coburns’ The Gin Game, and continued to work for ICT periodically before exploring opportunities in Santa Rosa and elsewhere.
In 2008, Tori’s father announced his retirement from Lakewood High School, and Tori moved home and was hired to replace her dad as the Stage Technician. During the next few years, LBUSD moved Tori from Lakewood High School to Cabrillo High School before eventually placing her at her alma mater, Poly High School. In 2015, Tori was hired as Poly High School’s stage technician. The same year Tori also received a call from an old friend, ICT Artistic Director caryn desai, looking for a stage manager for their upcoming production of August Wilson’s Fences.
Since 2015, Tori has stage managed one show in every ICT season and it is one of the highlights of her year. She gets to keep herself busy during the summer time with a professional gig where she sometimes involves her students. Tori’s main focus these days is training the next generation of theatre goers and doers, and she takes every possible opportunity to introduce her students to the professional world. ICT is grateful to have been part of Tori’s growth as an artist and as a teacher and is proud and thrilled to see her dedication and investment in the next generation.