Urban Theatre Movement strives to change the theater world

Cast of Urban Theatre Movement posing for a photo op.

Courtsey of Urban Theatre Movement

Cast of Urban Theatre Movement posing for a photo op.

Andrea Mora

“It’s crazy and good at the same time, I’m truly happy,” Paul Tully, producing director of Urban Theatre Movement, said when talking about his theater company.

Nine months ago, two Cerritos College theater alumni, Tully and Brenda Banda, artistic director of the company, created the Urban Theatre Movement and it has taken off with success.

Chair of the Cerritos College Theatre Department, Georgia Well, said, “As a unit they made a natural team,” when talking about Tully and Banda.

Tully started acting at a young age when he moved to New York City with his father.

“I started taking acting workshops,” Tully said, “and would perform in little elementary school plays.”

Later on in life, he strayed from acting. It wasn’t until 2005, when he finished serving in the Navy, that he enrolled into Cerritos and was reintroduced to his passion: theatre.

Tully believes that Cerritos College’s Theatre Department is one of the best around for community colleges.

“It has amazing instructors, like Georgia Well and Jim Grollman, to name a few, that really help you craft your art and develop it. It is a very strong department.”

While attending Cerritos, he produced small shows and short films.

It was not until one night that he produced a show at the Panic Room that his life changed.

A group of Cerritos students was in attendance that night, and Tully recalls that Banda approached him after his show and was interested in working with him as a director.

From there, the two had a meeting and ran with the idea that is now known as Urban Theatre Movement.

Well said, “Both Brenda and Paul were very dedicated, serious acting students.

“Paul discovered he had a gift for producing and Brenda is also an astute director who works very well with actors,” she added.

The company started out small doing shows around Long Beach and Redondo Beach with a cast of six people.

Now the company has grown to about 25 cast members and has expanded its horizons to Long Beach, Downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood, with the majority of shows taking place in Hollywood.

The focus of the “movement” is not to do what Tully calls, “fluff theater,” such as musicals, but to introduce a more modern-contemporary style of theatre.

“We want to attract people who never thought of going to a theater and to have them walk out actually enjoying it,” Tully said.   

In the mere 9 months of existence, Urban Theatre Movement has been able to produce one full-length production, eight one-acts, six improvisational shows, and is in the midst of its second full-length production.

Psychology major Samantha Shepherd, who has worked with Tully, said, “Paul is a hard worker and extremely dedicated to what he does.

“He puts in a lot of his time, effort and even his own money to create a production, and that is exactly the kind of attitude the theater industry demands,” she said.

Banda was unable to be reached for a comment.