In the spotlight: JoAnn Amos

JoAnn Amos, or “Dot Di Prima” from the Sonoma State University production “Blur,” is a thriving thespian who is on her way to pursuing big dreams on the stage. 

This 20-year-old starlet is originally from Quincy, a small town in Northern California, and is starting her third year as a theatre major with an acting concentration. 

This semester, Amos is not only starring in “Blur” but viewers can also experience her brilliant wardrobe work in this season’s production of “The Ghost Sonata.” 

Amos offers a stellar performance as “Dot Di Prima” (or Dot), a young girl who is suffering from Leber’s Optic Atrophy, a genetic disease that causes her to lose her eyesight slowly over time.

“It’s basically about the friends she makes through that, and how the relationship between her and her mom changes because of it,” said Amos when describing her character’s journey with the disease. “She grows up and learns how to have hope and love in her life through her friends and mother even though she is going blind.”

To aid the understating of her character, Amos visited an eye doctor who helped explain the severity of Dot’s specific condition, allowing her to gage her character more clearly. 

“The glasses we use on stage actually do make things blurrier and blurrier for me,” said Amos. “They’re not as severe as they would be in reality for Dot but it’s been really helpful and interesting not to be able to see things clearly.”

Amos, who is full of life and at times very comedic, does not mirror her shy, fragile character perfectly, but she was able to draw some similarities.  

“I have a genetic disease (she opted not to disclose) that I got passed on from my mom,” said Amos. “Even though it’s not eyesight connected, I have totally felt some of the things Dot is feeling.”

In her other production, “The Ghost Sonata,” Amos has been responsible for designing and creating wardrobe for some of the characters in the cast. 

As a part of the wardrobe crew, she not only creates and designs them but also helps with costume changes, repairs any wardrobe malfunctions, and helps wash costumes after the show. 

In her text and scene study class with theatre arts professor Paul Draper, she is working on scenes from “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams. In the scene Amos plays a timid crippled girl named Laura living with her poor mother and brother. 

Amos stays very busy with her rehearsals and performance schedules and is determined to become a professional actress after she graduates. 

Last spring she did a college internship with Disney and became a cast member for four months performing at Walt Disney World. 

While she is open to cinematic productions, she is mostly hoping to pursue a career in live theatre. Amos believes that comedic roles are her forte.  

“I want to become an actress somewhere,” said Amos. “I was hoping to try to get into the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It’s difficult and a lofty goal, but that’d be what I’d love to do.”

During her pre-performance rituals, one might find her taking a moment for herself to breathe away all the jitters and singing “badly” to warm up her voice. 

While she does enjoy making people laugh on stage, she hopes to play some more dramatic parts in the future. 

“It would be really cool to play Stella from ‘A Street Car Named Desire’ by Tennessee Williams,” said Amos about her dream role. “She’s not the lead but she is just really interesting to me, because she basically chooses to stay and love a man who abuses her.”

Amos said that the most difficult and most rewarding part of acting is being able to make yourself vulnerable in front of other actors and an audience.

“Whenever you get to the point of opening yourself up within your character, it always has a piece of you personally in it,” said Amos. “Even though you’re portraying someone completely different from yourself, I think there is a little bit of you in every character no matter how farfetched they are.” 

Amos has been acting since she was in elementary school and was even the Advance Drama President for three years at her high school. 

While her heart belongs to the theatre, she was also on her hometown swim team from 6-years-old until she was 17. 

In her spare time she enjoys knitting headbands, scarves and hats. 

When she isn’t busy studying her lines, Amos enjoys curling up with a good book. Her favorite book is “Till We Have Faces” by C.S. Lewis. 

For those interested in seeing this vivacious thespian in her element, she will be working back stage for “The Ghost Sonata” which opens on Halloween night and runs until Nov. 9 at the Persons Theatre.

Tickets are $10-$17, and free to Sonoma State students with a valid student ID. 

For more ticket and showtime information visit the Sonoma State University Dept. of Theatre Arts and Dance webpage at www.sonoma.edu/theatreanddance.