Sonora native Straton Rushing celebrated the debut of his most recent production Some Sunny Day this past November. Rushing has found success as a playwright, lyricist, director and actor while pursuing degrees in Theater and Philosophy at the University of Texas at Arlington. | COURTESY PHOTO
Sonora native Straton Rushing celebrated the debut of his most recent production Some Sunny Day this past November. Rushing has found success as a playwright, lyricist, director and actor while pursuing degrees in Theater and Philosophy at the University of Texas at Arlington. | COURTESY PHOTO

Growing up in Sonora, Straton Rushing always knew his passion for acting and theater would one day lead to fulfilling his dream of becoming a playwright.

All of his life has had creative side and a keen sense of what it takes to capture the attention of a variety of audiences.

He is the son of Trey Rushing and the late Jane Rushing, grandson of Ben and Lenora Pool and Martha Wallace.

He is also a 2016 graduate of Sonora High School and a former SHS Thespian.

Moreover, Rushing is a successful playwright, lyricist, director and actor who is currently pursuing degrees in Theater and Philosophy at the University of Texas at Arlington.

In response to his most recent plays, including Some Sunny Day presented this past November, Rushing said he enjoys his work and has gained valuable knowledge and understanding to take with him to help ensure his success in the future.

“It was a great process. I had an amazing design team, brilliant cast and was lucky enough to have a lot of artists who are way smarter than me helping.” Rushing said. “I like directing, however in general, I really don’t love directing my own plays. It’s fun in a way, but two heads are usually better than one. Theater is collaborative and having a different perspective can make your play way better.”

Rushing’s play, Some Sunny Day was produced for Maverick Theatre Company’s 2018-19 Season and was enjoyed by audiences this past November.

He scripted the production after the lines of Vera Lynn’s song “We’ll Meet Again”. It portrays a year in the life of Will Kolikov, a young man, who lives in the early 2000s and is trying to make a career in radio when things begin to fall apart. The bittersweet show explores how a person picks up the pieces of their life and begins again through music, poetry and the stories that need to be told most.

“This show actually started as a series of one act plays that were meant to catalogue different characters and their relationships with loss and grief,” Rushing said. “After having finished a couple of these I just had to admit, they weren’t very good. In fact they all three kind of sucked. I remember a fellow playwright telling me ‘You made some great characters and put them in an awful story. You’ve got to try something new.’ So in the tradition of many great writers before me I threw it out and made a new show. “

Another play by Rushing titled Ms. Delight was performed at the 2018 Fort Worth Fringe Festival.

While performing as a member of the Sonora High School Theater, Rushing expanded his awareness of each of the parts contributing to the success of a production and listened to the advice of family – especially his father.

“My dad always taught me that if you’re going to be an artist you have to also have business smarts. If you aren’t going to work hard and market your art, your service, your product, whatever it is, why would anybody else want to? If you aren’t afraid, maybe you aren’t pushing yourself enough.”

Rushing’s dad said he is proud of his son and his accomplishments – which are greater than he imagined.

“I’m so proud of Straton. I can talk about his accomplishments for days,” Rushing said. “Straton has already superseded my expectations. One of the greatest pleasures of my life is watching him perform. His text and calls telling me of his new projects, callbacks, rolls he’s landed and even just to say, ‘Hey pops, love ya’, always make my day. The only thing I would change is to still have his mom beside me watching him walk this amazing adventure. She would be so proud of him.”

Likewise, Rushing’s grandmother “Lolo”, as she is fondly referred to by her family, said she too is proud of her grandson and his accomplishments. She said she has always known that he would be successful in life because he is an exceptional individual who strives to do his best in everything.
“Success is no accident,” Pool said. “Straton has perseverance, studies and makes sacrifices to achieve his dreams. Most of all he loves what he does.”

Continuing his studies, Rushing said he is also busy working on future gigs including some writing, acting and directing. He said he has realized that there is more to a profession in Theater than just being on stage. To be successful one has to be the best at everything. And even then, the opportunities are limited.

“I have a few callbacks at professional theaters as a performer that I’m waiting to hear about,” Rushing said. “I have a short play reading confirmed for March. A group I work with a lot called SceneShop produced one of my plays at the Fort Worth Fringe Festival and it looks like we’ll be doing that again next year. I am about half way thru my next big work which is actually a musical, that’s been something new. As a playwright you have to have several irons in the fire if you want to succeed. Even if you’re awesome, 95 percent of what you get is “no thanks”. There are a lot of theaters but there’s a lot of old and new plays and you just aren’t going to be a great fit everywhere. “

Rushing, a member of the Dramatist Guild of America, has worked in professional and educational theatre around Texas throughout his life. As well, he taught with The Muse Theatre Workshop and with Dallas Public Libraries.

He has enjoyed acting with the Pocket Sandwich Theatre, BareBones Shakespeare, TeCo Theatrical, Trinity Music to name a few.

His work has been featured at The Player’s Theatre in New York, Manhattan Repertory Theatre, SceneShop Productions of Fort Worth, The Margo Jones Memorial Theatre in Dallas and Camp Death Productions. His librettos have been performed by Nouveau 47 Productions and the Dallas-Based group The Aviary.

His NYC credits include Countdown at The Player’s Theater and Hal and His Atomic Ray Gun at Manhattan Repertory Theater.

All of his success thus far is just the start of what lies ahead for Sonora’s own creative, hardworking and extraordinary actor, playwright and director Straton Rushing.

With just a little more than a year until graduation he said he plans to keep building his talent and has his sights set on nothing short of doing the best at what he loves best – Theater.

Rushing said his next step is graduate school, specifically a Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting. ‘Most playwrights are also actors, directors and teachers because there’s so much overlap in theater. So, I plan to keep on teaching and doing what I’m doing on a bigger level. I’ve emailed and/or interviewed at three schools already and I graduate in less than a year so, it’s coming quick,” Rushing said.