Desert Ensemble Theatre Company provides scholarships to rising stars


Photo courtesy of Desert Ensemble Theatre Company. From left to right; Jerome Elliott (Artistic Director Board Vice-President), Keith Cornell (Director), Shawn Abramowitz (Executive Director and Board President).

Shawn Abramowitz is leading Desert Ensemble Theatre Company into its 11th season. Abramowitz is a member of the board of directors at DETC and serves as both the executive director and board president. “I had this itch that I needed to scratch and I wasn’t scratching it doing what I was doing,” Abramowitz said, explaining why he joined the DETC board back in 2013.

As well as providing entertainment to the community, Shawn and his fellow board members at the theater also provide mentorship and scholarships for Coachella Valley students who have an interest in theater production. Students who participate in the mentorship program gain hands-on experience working in a theatre environment building sets, operating a soundboard, designing, running lights and stage managing a production. Students that complete the program are eligible for scholarships that have allowed recipients to excel in theatre programs at universities such as UCLA, UC Davis, Chapman and other universities. In the 11 years that the program has been running, DETC has mentored over thirty students and provided over $18,000 in scholarships with more scholarships expected to be awarded this season.

The scholarship program is open to all high school students and the DETC board of directors is hoping to expand the program to college students as well. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the students will not be able to take part in the traditional way and will need to participate through a virtual program designed to teach the students.

Abramowitz attended Cal State San Bernardino and graduated with a bachelor’s in theater arts, but his passion for theater began when he attended Rancho Verde High School. He credits his interest in theater to his teacher Terri Neve who encouraged him to audition for the school play at the beginning of his senior year. Since then he has had a passion for theater.

As well as being a board member of the Desert Ensemble Theatre Company, Abramowitz is an award-winning actor, writer and director. He won a Desert League award for his performance on Election Day and won awards for Outstanding Original Writing and Outstanding Direction for his play Expressions. He admits that joining DETC helped him scratch the itch, “When you’re a live performance artist, you yearn to be on stage. You yearn to practice your craft.” Abramowitz adds, “When you’re not practicing your craft, you end up running into this weird depression.”

The theater is not only therapeutic for Abramowitz, but it also benefits the Coachella Valley as a whole. Scholarships aside, he said “Art in general, and culture, are so important to every community,” because he believes it “breeds morality” and “brings people together.”

As for the future of DETC and Shawn’s participation with the theatre, he says he hopes to expand the program and make it accessible to more schools while creating a residency program for artists. He also says he wants to grow the base in terms of supporters and then leave, “I don’t want to do it forever.” Abramowitz feels that being on the board and handling the business side of theatre is preventing him from doing what he truly loves. Acting.

Abramowitz hopes that the community continues to support theater and learns to respect the hard work that goes into each production, not just at DETC, but at every theater because as he puts it, “If one theatre company does well, we all do well.”  He also wants to stress the importance of everyone contributing, “If we don’t put the time into working in our community, volunteering, supporting one another, then are we part of a community or are we just visiting?”

For more information about Desert Ensemble Theatre Company and its scholarship program or upcoming performances, visit