University of Minnesota
Department of Theatre Arts & Dance
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    • Uncle Vanya
    • 10/08/2015 7:30 PM
    • Rarig Center, Stoll Thrust Theatre <p> <em><strong>Uncle Vanya </strong></em>portrays the visit of an elderly professor and his glamorous, much younger second wife, Yeléna, to the rural estate that supports their urban lifestyle.</p> <p> Directed by Michelle OâNeill, with a new translation by Libby Appel, <em><strong>Uncle Vanya</strong></em> will be performed in repertory with another Chekhov classic, <em><strong>The Cherry Orchard</strong></em>, by the Senior Class of U of M/Guthrie Theater BFA students in the Stoll Thrust Theatre at Rarig Center October 6-11.<br /> <br /> The 21st Avenue Ramp is the nearest parking structure to Rarig. Some metered, on street parking is also available.<br /> <br /> To request disability accommodations; please contact Dennis Behl at<br /> <br /> Admission is free, but ticket reservation is recommended due to limited seating.</p>
    • The Cherry Orchard
    • 10/09/2015 7:30 PM
    • Rarig Center, Stoll Thrust Theatre <em><strong>The Cherry Orchard</strong></em> is the last play written by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. The play follows an aristocratic Russian woman and her family as they return to their estate, which includes a large cherry orchard, just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage. The story presents themes of cultural futility.<br /> <br /> Directed by Risa Brainin, with a new translation by Libby Appel,&nbsp;<em><strong>The Cherry Orchard</strong></em> will be performed in repertory with another Chekhov classic, <em><strong>Uncle Vanya</strong></em>, by the Senior Class of U of M/Guthrie Theater BFA students in the Stoll Thrust Theatre at Rarig Center, October 6-11.<br /> <br /> The 21st Avenue Ramp is the nearest parking structure to Rarig. Some metered, on street parking is also available.<br /> <br /> To request disability accommodations; please contact Dennis Behl at<br /> <br /> Admission is free, but ticket reservation is recommended due to limited seating.
    • The Cherry Orchard
    • 10/10/2015 7:30 PM
    • Rarig Center, Stoll Thrust Theatre <strong><em>The Cherry Orchard</em></strong> is the last play written by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. The play follows an aristocratic Russian woman and her family as they return to their estate, which includes a large cherry orchard, just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage. The story presents themes of cultural futility.<br /> <br /> Directed by Risa Brainin, with a new translation by Libby Appel,&nbsp;<strong><em>The Cherry Orchard</em></strong> will be performed in repertory with another Chekhov classic, <strong><em>Uncle Vanya</em></strong>, by the Senior Class of U of M/Guthrie Theater BFA students in the Stoll Thrust Theatre at Rarig Center, October 6-11.<br /> <br /> The 21st Avenue Ramp is the nearest parking structure to Rarig. Some metered, on street parking is also available.<br /> <br /> To request disability accommodations; please contact Dennis Behl at<br /> <br /> Admission is free, but ticket reservation is recommended due to limited seating.
    • Uncle Vanya
    • 10/10/2015 2:00 PM
    • Rarig Center, Stoll Thrust Theatre <em><strong>Uncle Vanya</strong></em> portrays the visit of an elderly professor and his glamorous, much younger second wife, Yeléna, to the rural estate that supports their urban lifestyle.<br /> <br /> Directed by Michelle OâNeill, with a new translation by Libby Appel,&nbsp;<em><strong>Uncle Vanya</strong></em> will be performed in repertory with another Chekhov classic, <em><strong>The Cherry Orchard</strong></em>, by the Senior Class of U of M/Guthrie Theater BFA students in the Stoll Thrust Theatre at Rarig Center October 6-11.<br /> <br /> The 21st Avenue Ramp is the nearest parking structure to Rarig. Some metered, on street parking is also available.<br /> <br /> To request disability accommodations; please contact Dennis Behl at<br /> <br /> Admission is free, but ticket reservation is recommended due to limited seating.
    • Uncle Vanya
    • 10/11/2015 2:00 PM
    • Rarig Center, Stoll Thrust Theatre <em><strong>Uncle Vanya</strong></em> portrays the visit of an elderly professor and his glamorous, much younger second wife, Yeléna, to the rural estate that supports their urban lifestyle.<br /> <br /> Directed by Michelle OâNeill, with a new translation by Libby Appel,&nbsp;<em><strong>Uncle Vanya</strong></em> will be performed in repertory with another Chekhov classic, <em><strong>The Cherry Orchard</strong></em>, by the Senior Class of U of M/Guthrie Theater BFA students in the Stoll Thrust Theatre at Rarig Center October 6-11.<br /> <br /> The 21st Avenue Ramp is the nearest parking structure to Rarig. Some metered, on street parking is also available.<br /> <br /> To request disability accommodations; please contact Dennis Behl at<br /> <br /> Admission is free, but ticket reservation is recommended due to limited seating.
    • Heartless
    • 10/27/2015 7:30 PM
    • Rarig Center- Kilburn Theatre /Liu Stage Heartless centers on Sally, who lives with her mysterious family in a cavernous home overlooking Los Angeles. When a visitor arrives, Sally's dark secrets - and the secrets of those around her - threaten to come to light.<br /> <br /> Directed by Ellen Fenster, Heartless will be performed in repertory with other Sam Shepard works, A Lie of the Mind and Buried Child by the sophomore class of U of M/Guthrie Theater BFA students in the Liu/Kilburn Stage at Rarig Center October 27 â November 3.<br /> <br /> The 21st Avenue Ramp is the nearest parking structure to Rarig. Some metered, on street parking is also available.<br /> <br /> To request disability accommodations; please contact Dennis Behl at<br /> <br /> Admission is free, but ticket reservation is recommended due to limited seating.

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Minnesota Centennial Showboat

Features an interactive style of theatre based upon old-time vaudeville traditions and offers great music, wit, charm, and lots of laughter to thousands of patrons per year.


  • October 2015 APPLAUSE


    Rarig Center, West Bank Twin Cites Campus, University of Minnesota
    "Welcome to the Rarig Center...The show is about to begin.”

    October marks the start of The University of Minnesota’s Department of Theatre Arts & Dance UMTAD) fall showings. With an emphasis on classical text, rather than full productions, these studio showings are open to the public.

    Reserve your FREE general admission seats by linking to the Calendar of Events at:                                                    

    BFA Studio Series 2015-16, performed by The University of Minnesota / Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program students, begins as the Senior Company brings to life Chekhov’s classic works The Cherry Orchard in repertory with Uncle Vanya  newly translated by Libby Appel and performed on the Stoll Thrust stage. 

    Cherry Orchard directed by Risa Brainin  October 6  and 9 at 7:30pm, and October 10 at 2:00 pm

    Uncle Vanya directed by Michelle O’Neill
    October 8 and 10 at 7:30pm,October 11 at 2:00 pm

    Later in October, the Sophomore Company plays three works by contemporary American playwright Sam Shepard known for realism of language and challenging performance style.  These showings will be performed in rotating repertory on the Larry Liu Stage/ Kilburn Theatre.  

    Heartless directed by Ellen Fenster  
    October 27 at 7:30pm, October 31 at 2:00pm,
    November 1 at 7:30pm.

    Buried Child directed by David Colacci
    October 29 at 7:30 pm,October 31 at 7:30 pm,
    November 2 at 7:30 pm  

    A Lie of the Mind directed by Bruce Roach
    October 30 at 7:30 pm, November 1 at 2:00 pm,
    November 3 at 7:30pm

    Creative Collaboration+BA=ValleySCARE  

    It’s official! ValleySCARE is now in full swing bringing to life a bizarre animal menagerie bound to have you screaming with terror! UMTAD has been working in partnership with Shakopee Valley Fair as part of a creative collaboration project with 19 B.A. students who are getting real-life performing experience. Adorned in full gruesome makeup and costume, the students operate the attraction themselves by leading groups through the maze where visitors get to experience the elaborate set-up of horrific sights.  

                                                                      credit : Liz Miller

    Together these creative collaborators learning basic skills required of designers, stage managers, make-up artists and mask- makers, will conjure this truly creepy creation for ValleySCARE spectators.  Not only are our B.A. students getting quality performance experience, but they are simultaneously entertaining the local community as well. The creative collaboration is overseen by faculty member Luverne Seifert and guest theatre artist Jim Lichtscheidl. The attraction is operating now through October 31. Ticket price is included in the general park admission. Come on over to ValleySCARE to support our current students—its bound to be a night that you won’t soon forget! For more information on this event, contact or visit for details.

    Mark Your Calendar NOW…

    “Performing Arts as/and Cultural Diplomacy”
    October 22, 4:00 pm
    Best Buy Theater, 4th Floor of Northrop
    Free and open to the public

    Northrop’s visiting artist Sean Curran (Artistic Director, Sean Curran Company) will be in conversations with Sonja Kuftinec (UMN Theater Arts and Dance) about how artists understand cultural diplomacy and ways of translating cultural encounters into performed events. Curran’s new work, Dream’d in a Dream, was a result of a journey his company took to the far reaches of Central Asia as cultural ambassadors of the U.S. State Department—and was inspired by the haunting and exquisite beauty of traditional Kyrgyz music, created in collaboration with Ustat Shakirt, the ensemble that will play live for this full-evening work on October 24 at 8:00pm.

    "Theater Amidst European Migrant Crisis”
    November 2, 2015, Noon Free
    Rarig Center 550B  
    Brown Bag Lunch Conversation with
    Cypriot Theater artist Dr. Ellada Evangelou

    Europe and the Mediterranean have seen a complete restructuring of the map over the last century many times-- revolutions, uprisings, wars, financial crises, and so much more that were not anticipated. Who would have thought that the balance of the Cold War would have been disrupted? Who could have seen the regimes in the Middle East falling? Who could have predicted riots in London and Paris? As we try to understand why these events have taken place, we refer to cultural production, and more specifically theatre. That the arts and politics are connected is not news. They feed off each other, on the individual level, in communities and nations. In the Euro-Mediterranean, it’s like they have been holding a mirror up to each other for thousands of years...just ask Lysistrata!

    “We think about how ideology has played a role in these changes, and especially the development of nationalism,” Dr. Ellada Evangelou says “Take my homeland of Cyprus as an example, and other interesting places, such as Egypt, Spain, Turkey and Greece. The conversation will be based on examples from these places, examples that come from contemporary theatre practice: theatre companies, performances, festivals and others.”


    Spotlight on SAGE Award Nominees: TAD Students, Alumni and Faculty

    The 2015 list of nominees for SAGE Awards is alive with connections to the University of Minnesota’s Dance Program – represented by 20 individuals: current students, alumni and faculty. The Minnesota SAGE Awards for Dance are given annually for outstanding achievement in six categories: Outstanding Performance, Performer, Ensemble, Design, Dance Educator, and Special Citation to work presented in the past year. Named in honor of Sage Cowles, a choreographer, performer and philanthropist who is recognized nationally for her dance leadership, these awards are presented annually. Ms. Cowles passed away in 2014, and it is with heartfelt  appreciation for her contributions that the community continues to celebrate Minnesota dance artists through the Sage Awards.  

    The University of Minnesota’s Theatre Arts and Dance  Professor Ananya Chatterjea, has been nominated for Outstanding Dance Educator, and alums Renee Copeland, Katie Haynes, Brittany Radke, James Galtney, along with current students Alexandra Eady, Kealoha Ferreira,Magnolia Yang-Sao-Yia and Leila Awadallah have been put forward in the category of Outstanding Dance Ensemble for Ananya Dance Theatre ‘s ​Neel: Blutopias of Radical Dreaming​ and ​Aahvaan: Invoking the Cities​.  Outstanding Dance Ensemble category includes nominees in Contempo Physical Dance’s ​Motirô​ performers ​– Marciano Silva dos Santos affiliate faculty member, and alums James Galtney, Timothy Herian, Gemma Isaacson, Mirabal Miller, Alexander Pham, and Elander Rosser.
    Karla Grotting, affiliate faculty member, is nominated for a Special Citation for her research and dance project Lost Voices in Jazz.  

    Angharad Davies and Dustin Maxwell, both affiliate faculty are nominated as an Outstanding  Performers as is alum Timothy Herian.

    Penelope Freeh, affiliate faculty member, is nominated for Outstanding Design of Test Pilot and Andrea Reynolds was also nominated for 'Every Other' for Outstanding Performance.

    This year marks the eleventh annual Minnesota SAGE Awards for Dance, will be held in The Goodale Theater at The Cowles Center for Dance & The Performing Arts on Tuesday, October 13, 2015
    at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are currently on sale through The Cowles Center 612.206.3600 or

    Transitions in Theatre Arts & Dance Department

    Department chair Marcus Dilliard welcomed three new colleagues to the Theatre Arts & Dance Department, Rhianne Jones, Jason Allyn-Schwerin, and Michael Cobb at September’s faculty/staff meeting. Rhianne is the Theatre Arts Program Assistant, Jason joins our faculty as Technical Director, and Michael Cobb serves as one of our Voice and Dialect coaches.  Here, in their own words, are their very brief bios:

    Rhianne - "I moved to Minneapolis from Wales (UK) in February this year. My background includes a variety of voluntary sector positions, and 8 years at Durham University where I worked to provide opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. I also spent two years as a photographer in Paris."

    Jason - "I am a former TAD student with an MFA from University of Texas at Austin. For the past 12 years I was Penumbra Theatre's Techincal Director and managed Penumbra's Scenic Studio where we built shows seen at the Guthrie, the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Theater Latte Da, Opera Omaha, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the International Forum in Tokyo, among others."

    Michael – “I spent the last three years as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Prior to that I served in the same capacity for one year in the B.F.A. Acting program at the University of Utah and seven years as Head of Voice, Speech, and Text/Resident Vocal Coach at the National Theatre Conservatory/Denver Center Theatre Company until the conservatory’s closing.  I have an M.F.A. from the A.R.T./Moscow Art Theatre Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard, an M.A. from Brown University, and am a graduate of the conservatory at Trinity Rep, afterward serving as a member of the acting company there.”  

    STUDENTS: Center Stage

    Eric Larson (B.A.’16) and Joe Kellen (B.A.’15) created PROPER BABY: "Work In and Out of Progress" which played at the Southern Theater the last Monday in September.  The evening-length split bill shared a presentation of Kellen’s play, Bad Electricity, and Larson’s four short performance pieces. Participating performers: McKinnley Aitchison, Neva Dalager, Ed Euclid (B.A.’15), Joni Griffith, Brian Grossman, Mauricio Jordan, Joe Kellen, Julia Kindall, Jacob Mobley (B.A.’15), Haley Mosley (B.A.’15) , Eric Norton, Evan O'Brien, Kevin Springer, and Audrey Rice (BA’15).

    April Bailey (B.A.'17) will play the role of Emma Carrew in the musical Jekyll & Hyde, in Lakeville Minnesota’s Community Center. Ms. Bailey blends her theater work at the U of M with vocal training. This summer she studied abroad in Verona Italy with Opera Viva!,a program specially designed for young performers. “It was a wonderful experience. I learned so much about voice and opera that I can use in on stage.” She performs in the Lakeville October 23 through November 1.

    Dan Piering  as Roggeriero  with Lizz Windnagel as Morgana  
    Dan Piering (B.F.A.'16) spent this summer as a company member of Mixed Precipitation Theatre (yep! they play in all sorts of Minnesota weather, not to mention all over Minnesota!). Mr. Piering had a starring role in Escape from Alcina’s Island, A Picnic Operetta playing tenor role of Ruggeriero outdoors in 15 different venues, from farms, community gardens, and orchards to vineyards from August through September. The show, billed as a guitar-swinging retelling of the 1735 Handel opera, Alcina, combines the notion of picnic and a tasting menu with operetta  to celebrate with a unique blend of music, food sampling, and storytelling.

    "It was definitely one of the most creative things I've ever been a part of, combining aspects of classical operatic music with trucker songs from the late 20th century"  Italian baroque opera met the truck-driving country anthems of the 1960s and ’70s. Think Handel’s arias plus country tunes with songs like “Six Days on the Road,” “Heartaches by the Number," and “Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves”.  Dan reports between the melodramatic dialogue, and organic cooking "performing it was a ton of fun, but what really made the experience for me was the strong, accepting community of that cast and creative team."

    Interesting tidbit: Roughly half the cast and creative team were all graduates from the University of Minnesota!

    Now the Plymouth, Minnesota native is appearing in Uncle Vanya with his B.F.A.Senior Company.  "After graduation, I really want to hit the ground running and get as much work under my belt as possible. I just want to act, anyway and anyhow, and am really looking forward to trying to cannonball into the wonderful artistic community that is the Twin Cities."

    Acclaimed Performer Tim Miller Leads B.A.Workshop   

    Uncovering Your Truth, Discovering Your Body

    “My goal is to share with you strategies of how to create original performances from the tremendous energies, images and narratives that are present in our lives,” explained Tim Miller to the 20 students standing in a circle before him in the Nolte Xperimental space last weekend.

    Miller, an acclaimed solo performer, knows of which he speaks. He is the author of the books SHIRTS & SKIN, BODY BLOWS and 1001 BEDS, which won the 2007 literary prize for best Drama-Theater book from Lambda Literary Foundation, and has taught performance in the theater departments at UCLA and at Cal State L.A.  Miller's solo theater works have been presented all over North America, Australia, and Europe at such prestigious venues as Yale Repertory Theatre, London’s Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Walker Art Center.

    With humor and passion Miller connected with each individual. “Using your own memories and myths as a jumping off point, we will see where a deep sense of personal history creates performance that jumps out from our bodies onto the stage or the page,” said Miller. Guiding participants in his interdisciplinary approach to create their original performance work, he asked them to begin by examining their own “dreams, obsessions, peeves, memories and desires.” In the first portion of the six hour intensive, students isolated a personal “moment of truth,”from their own lives, then added movement, gesture, and eventually words as a rich foundation to evolve their own performance art piece.

    The session’s second part explored “the charged border between our bodies and society,our narratives, our politics, ourselves and one another,”according to Miller. First, he asked the group to identify metaphors used daily in speech that reference different body parts. “Pain in the butt… Adams apple… butterflies in my stomach… heart on your sleeve.” Next each person was asked to examine her/his own body to find a scar. “Let it reacquaint you with the meaning it holds in your life story.”  Using drawings or body mapping as research, students were encouraged to eventually developing a story of “your own outcry, spiritual development, personal growth, maybe sexual awareness,” associated with that section of your body.

    The workshop session yielded strong affirming response to Miller’s approach, “I found out that performance can be based on the time I told the truth. It’s really and powerful,” said one person.  Another said, “This session said to me these truth moments were and still are important moments from my own life….so important that I can make art from them. I always thought of them being way too personal to share. But now…now I don’t feel that way.” Some else confided, “I never talked about this before, I never thought about making art about it before. It seemed, well, not universal enough…This training is extremely cathartic, by that I mean, it shows me that it CAN be channeled into my art.”

    Tim Miller brought forward “our hearts and brains” said one student as well as hopes and fears, to this workshop experience and found a unexpected fresh way of devising their own performance narratives. September’s workshop was arranged through B.A. Program head Lisa Channer and TAD associate chair Sonja Kuftinec.


    Sam Bardwell (BFA ’08) and Hope Cervantes (BFA ‘06) earn high praise for their performances in the three character play Things of Dry Hours  by Naomi Wallace, directed by Wendy Knox, now playing at Frank Theatre through October  4.

    "Cervantes…perform[s] with earthy honesty…a fierce exterior…[yet]…guards a heart of gold. Bardwell…has a feral, manic energy leaking out of his hungry soul…” (Star Tribune) “ … Hope Cervantes and Sam Bardwell showed the full breadth…[of ] the ever-shifting dynamics between these two…a passion that is mixed with sorrow and hesitation.” (City Pages) “ Cervantes and Bardwell make this relationship an intricate dance -- sometimes charged with erotic possibility, other times fraught with racial, cultural and political conflict …” (St. Paul Pioneer Press).

    Jennifer Blagen (B.A.), Ashley Rose Montondo (B.F.A. ’11), Dustin Bronson (B.F.A.’10) and Shae Palic (B.F.A.’16) appear in the Guthrie production of To Kill A Mockingbird.  Ms. Blagen plays the part of Miss Stephanie Crawford, Ms.Montondo plays Mayella Ewell, and Mr. Bronson is in the role of Mr. Walter Cunningham.  Shae Palic (B.F.A.’16)  is an understudy in the show, which has been extended until October 25.


    In the News

    Sarah Bellamy credit: MPR

    Affiliate faculty members Sarah Bellamy, co-artistic director of award-winning Penumbra Theatre and Randy Reyes, artistic director of MU Performing Arts were recently interviewed  about their transitions to new leadership roles guiding their respective theatre companies in an New York Times article titled "Minnesota Theaters Embrace New Leaders; Others May Follow." See complete article Ms. Bellamy teaches a course titled “Performance and Social Change” at the graduate level. Mr. Reyes teaches in the University of Minnesota BFA/ Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program.  

    Randy Reyes                                 credit: Lia Chang

    “The arrival of younger principals to replace  the 60- and 70-something men who have  steered the local scene for a generation could bring with it an opportunity to refashion, even  re-purpose theater-making here and beyond...Sarah Bellamy is a few months into her new job as co-artistic director of Penumbra Theater Company, part of a multi-year transition under which she will gradually take the reins from her father, Lou Bellamy….“The aesthetic that was created here at Penumbra is so intimately tied to his vision and his character and his style, and I want to continue that,” said Ms. Bellamy, nodding to her 71-year old father seated across the table in the theater’s conference room. But in her vision, Penumbra will be a space as much about community dialogue as it is about producing plays that reflect the African-American experience....Ms. Bellamy, who is working toward her doctorate in comparative studies in discourse and society at the University of Minnesota, wants to “activate Penumbra’s mission more deeply and more fully.”

    “Randy Reyes is also succeeding a founder, having assumed the artistic helm of Mu Performing Arts in 2013 after Rick Shiomi’s 21-year tenure. … Mr. Reyes, a beloved Twin Cities actor now running Mu Performing Arts, which focuses on the Asian-American experience. Asked if he felt any pressure to preserve a company built painstakingly over two decades by the quietly charismatic Mr. Shiomi, Mr. Reyes responded with a wry chuckle. “Every day,” he said. “I don’t wa nt to wreck this thing.”There seems to be little danger of that. Since assuming the helm of Mu, Mr. Reyes, 42, has steered a deft course — directing a production of “Twelfth Night” that played with both gender and race, and starring in a production of the Stephen Sondheim musical “A Little Night Music” with an all-Asian cast. He’s currently pondering how, and if, the small company should grow beyond its current $600,000 budget and itinerant performing schedule.”

    Practicing the Craft: Directing, Designing, Choreographing  

    One of the hallmarks of the Theatre Arts and Dance faculty is the fact that those who are “makers” of theatre, that is to say, practitioners of what they teach, work as professional theatre artists across the Twin Cities, as well as the nation.  Here is a partial list of theatre arts and dance faculty members whose work that can be seen on stages this October:

    The Guthrie Theatre’s To Kill a Mockingbird, while set in 1935 Maycomb, Alabama, can trace its look, sound and feel to the creative imaginations of four distinguished artists teaching a few blocks away at the University’s Rarig Center: lighting designer Marcus Dilliard (department chair), costume designer Mathew Le Febvre, B.F.A. Actor Training Program’s voice and dialect coach Lucinda Holshue, and B.F.A. acting and movement artist Randy Reyes.    

    Michael Sommers, faculty member, directs and designs A Thin Veil, by master storyteller Kevin Kling.  This spine-chilling ode to the unexplained at Open Eye Figure Theatre, plays October 22- November 1.  Sommers is co-founder and artistic director of the award-winning Open Eye Figure Theatre.    

    Joel Sass, associate TAD faculty member, directs and designs a powerful production of Sharr White’s play Annapurna at the Jungle Theater, playing through October 18. Mr. Sass stages a new play by Conor McPherson The Night Alive November 6- December 20 also at the Jungle Theater. As a visiting guest artist this semester, Mr. Sass teaches a directing class.

    Bob Rosen, associate TAD faculty member directs Elliot, A Soldiers Fugue by Quiara Alegria Hudes at Park Square Theatre now through October 4 in St. Paul. A director, performer and educator, Mr. Rosen co-founded the internationally acclaimed Theatre de la Jeune Lune company in Paris and Minneapolis in 1979, and served as co-Artistic Director from 1985 through 2005.

    Randy Reyes, associate TAD faulty member directs Murder for Two with book, music, and lyrics by Joe Kinsoian and Kellen Blair also at Park Square through November 1. As previously noted Mr. Reyes, Artistic Director of Mu Performing Arts, teaches in the University of Minnesota BFA/ Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program.

    Carl Flink , TAD faculty member choreographs Sweeny Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street directed by Peter Rothstein for Theatre Latte Da now playing through October 25 at the Minneapolis’ Ritz Theatre. Mr. Fink, cofounder and artistic director of the dance company Black Label Movement, is currently collaborating on The Moving Cell Project with biomedical engineer David Odde, which took him to India this summer.  

  • September 2015 APPLAUSE



    Welcome to Theatre Arts and Dance (TAD)!
    If you are new to campus, here’s your chance to meet and greet faculty/staff. If you are returning, it’s time to get reconnected. Get the buzz on the new Season at Frameworks, September 11 at 4:00pm in the Stoll Thrust.

    Department Chair Marcus Dilliard kicks-off the gathering with greetings and Associate Chair Sonja Kuftinec guides us in exploring those foundational ideas sparking this season’s creative work. “Hear about the values that inform each of the department’s core programs,” explains Professor Kuftinec, “and how these values work their way through our season.” It’s exciting and adventurous season that includes Cowles choreographers’ Tony and Olivier Award winner Garth Fagan (Lion King) and Natalie Rogers-Cropper, Polish visionary Tadeusz Kantor, contemporary American playwright Sam Shepard, and the twentieth century’s dynamic duo of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. “Each of these artists has pushed aesthetic boundaries to explore events from the dark dynamics of intimate relationships, to the cultural politics of memory, to the seductive lure of thievery,” she concluded. B.A. and B.F.A. directors, graduate designers, dramaturgs and program heads will share inspirations and thoughts on what it means for us to connect with these artists today.

    To top off the afternoon,celebrity ice cream dippers – likely your favorite instructor -- will be serving your favorite flavor immediately following the event in the Pit. Don’t miss the scoop.    

    UDT: Dance Revolutions, Threepenny Opera, Earthquakes in London, Henry VI plus free Creative Collaborations, Informal Dance Showings and BFA Studio Series  

    The University of Minnesota’s Theatre Arts & Dance Department is pleased to announce its 2015-16 performance season. As University classes begin, so does producing at the Rarig Center and Barbara Baker Center for Dance. Auditions, rehearsals, design plans, shop activities and creative work leading to the following public productions of the fall, winter, and spring are underway.

     University Dance Theatre: Dance Revolutions opens Rarig’s Center main stage season with a dazzling collection of innovative pieces December 10-13 in the Whiting Proscenium Theatre.  This program includes new work by Wynn Fricke, McKnight Fellow and artist/educator, Joanie Smith, faculty artist and director of Shapiro & Smith Dance choreographs a revival of her “Pat A Cake,” Gerald Casel’s acclaimed “Proxima’’, and Natalie Rogers-Cropper, director of Garth Fagan Dance School will stage Mr. Fagan’s piece “Two out of One: Green.”  The Tony and Olivier Award winning choreographer for Lion King,  Garth Fagan will also be on campus for Artist- in- Residence Dialogue (details to be announced).  Dance Revolutionsis directed by Toni Pierce-Sands, artistic director of TU Dance and a member of the Dance Program faculty.

    Threepenny Opera  A startling piece of musical theatre featuring some of the 20th century’s greatest songs – including “Mack the Knife” and “Pirate Jenny” – Three Penny Opera is a wickedly funny story of betrayal upon betrayal, climaxing in one of the most unusual and hilarious finales in modern theatre. Composed by Kurt Weill with book and lyrics by Bertolt Brecht, and translator Elizabeth Hauptmann, Threepenny Opera takes the stage February 25- March 6 under the direction of faculty member Kym Longhi and conducted by School of Music faculty member Jerry Luckhardt.

    Earthquakes in London by Mike Bartlett is driven by “an all-pervasive fear of the future and a guilty pleasure in the excesses of the present …in an epic roller-coaster of a play from 1968 to 2525 and back again. Earthquakes in London includes burlesque strip shows, bad dreams, social breakdown, population explosion, and worldwide paranoia.  It is a fast and furious metropolitan crash of people, scenes and decades, as three sisters attempt to navigate their dislocated lives and loves, while their dysfunctional father, a brilliant scientist, predicts global catastrophe. “-- Methuen Publications. “Questions fizz and soar like fireworks….not to be missed.” --Time Out. Directed by Bruce Roach, Earthquakes in London will be presented in the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio April 14-23 and performed by the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program senior class of 2016.  Note: University Theatre ticket pricing applies.

    Tickets for these main stage performances are available by visiting or by calling 612-624-2345. Admission prices include ticket fees: $6 for all students; $11 U of M faculty/staff; $16 general public.

    Celebrating of Shakespeare’s rich 400 year legacy, the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theatre Actor Training Sophomore Company performs an adaptation of Shakespeare’s trilogy Henry VI  directed by guest artist Doug Scholz-Carlson (Artistic Director, Great River Shakespeare) and faculty member Steve Cardamone. 
    Always cleverly staged with an emphasis on mastery of text, these works will be performed March 31 – April 4, 2016  in the Stoll Thrust Theatre.Note: All Henry VI tickets are priced $6 and may be purchased online at or by phone at 612-624-2345.  King Henry VI in its entirety? Buy tickets for both parts when  purchased barch 31 to receive a discount.  Note:  Reduced prices for groups of 15 or more.  
    In addition to the main stage productions,Theatre Arts & Dance department presents a wide variety of studio and informal showings that are free and open to the public.  Register for your general admission seating with University Events Calendar 
    Print out your free ticket and present at the door for admission. Any unclaimed seats will be available on a “first come, first served” basis ten minutes before the curtain time.

    The University of Minnesota/ Guthrie Theatre BFA Studio Series 2015-16opens with Chekhov’s classic The Cherry Orchard directed by Risa Brainin playing in repertory with Uncle Vanya staged by Michelle O’Neill.  Performed alternately the plays will offered October 6-11 in Rarig’s Liu Stage/ Kilburn Theatre. Later in October 27-November 3, the Sophomore Company will play three Sam Shepard works in rotating repertory with showings of A Lie of the Mind directed by Bruce Roach, Buried Child directed by David Colacci, and Heartless directed by Ellen Fenster. In the spring, the Junior Company presents Euripides’ Hippolytus staged by Dario Tangelson February 25- 28, on the Liu Stage /Kilburn Theatre.  Next, a trio of one act comedies by Christopher Durang takes the spotlight April 14-18 on the Liu Stage/Kilburn Theatre. To conclude the Series, the Freshman Company makes its formal debut with Fresh Scenes playing April 30 - May 2 which will be directed by Lucinda Holshue and Joe Price.

    In addition, B.A. Creative Collaborations present informal showings after a series of intense rehearsal weeks focused on ensemble theater creation. Production elements are usually light, creativity and artistic risk are always high. This fall's line-up includes two different works: 

    ValleySCARE, acreative collaboration with 19 B.A. students this fall, is led by faculty member Luverne Seifert and guest theatre artist Jim Lichtscheidl.  In a unique partnership with Shakopee’s Valley Fair, they hope to frighten the dickens out of visitors.  Each student explores a darker side, contributing to an original macabre tale of animal transformation, and then collectively they will bring to life in a full-scale environment housing these grotesque mash-up experiments.   Acting as performers and /or guides, costumed students will lead groups through a bizarre collection of misshapen creatures. Together these creative collaborators learning basic skills required of designers, stage managers, make-up artists and mask- makers, will conjure this truly creepy creation for ValleySCARE spectators on selected weekend nights September 18 - October 31. For more information on this event, contact or visit for details. 

    A Penny for Brecht, a performance piece generated by students through in-depth explorations into the life and times of writer, poet, lyricist, adaptor, theorist, 20th century theatrical revolutionary Bertolt Brecht. Student collaborators stage a montage of scenes, music and stories about the artistic collaboration between Brecht, his lover and translator Elizabeth Hauptmann and composer Kurt Weill that led to the Threepenny Opera.  Framed as an open “rehearsal” with Brecht actively imagining his work with his actors, “A Penny for Brecht” offers an entertaining and critically engaging look into Brecht’s attempts to stage capitalism.  The showing will include brief excerpts and songs from Threepenny Opera juxtaposed with Brecht’s revisionist Threepenny Novel, and his Messingkauf Dialogues.  Presented December 5-7 , (with  two performances December 6) in Rarig Center’s Nolte Xperimental Theatre,  A Penny for Brecht directed by theatre artist and faculty member Kym Longhi, weaves together student work with the interdepartmental resources of the U of M German scholars, music and theatre history experts. This workshop prepares audiences for the upcoming Weill & Brecht Festival productions of Threepenny Opera and Lady in the Darkpresented in the spring of 2016. Admission is free to this Creative Collaboration; tickets will be available through University Events calendar reservation system at no charge. 

    In the spring B.A. Creative Collaborations  will be Autobiography of Red: Adapting Anne Carson’s “Novel in Verse” for Live Performance showing May 6. This a universal coming-of-age story about the search for self-expression and identity, guided by guest artist Jeremy Wilhelm,  will push aesthetic boundaries. The novel is raw and unsettling, just like the teenage years for pretty much everyone. It is not a morality tale or feel-good journey of empowerment, but a love story. Geryon is an Everyman Freak for anyone who has felt like an “other”, and learns about love for others, love for his art, and love for himself. For the students it will serve as a great performance text for devising and problem-solving without having to start devising from scratch.

    The second showing My Name is Anton Chekhov, is guided by Acting Instructor Shirley Venard and will be presented April 1. This investigation will take two of Chekov’s short stories, have students research Chekov’s life, and engage in a performance of the intersection of the life and the work.This project will look at the conversation between 
    recorded and life performance.

    Guided by theatre artist Rick Shiomi, Ronin  will have a staged reading. Watch for details on this project. 

    Informal Dance Showingsmark the end of the residencies of each of this year’s Cowles Visiting Artists. These informal showings, performed by dance students, take place in the Barker Dance Center—Studio 100. Note: Seating is limited, based on first come basis and is free. Each showing is followed by Question/Answer/Discussion with the artists. The Fall 2015 informal showings are scheduled as follows:

    Friday, September 25, 4:30 pm.   Excerpt from Garth Fagan’s Two Pieces of One: Green restaged by Garth Fagan and Natalie Rogers-Cropper, Cowles Visiting Artists.   
    Friday, October 16, 4:30 pm. Newly Commissioned Work, by Wynn Fricke, Cowles Visiting Artist.
    October 30, 4:30 pm. Proxima by Gerald Casel, Cowles Visiting Artist Friday.

    OUR STUDENTS in the Spotlight 

    CATCHING UP on the PQ 

    Graduate Students Sarah Bahr and Phillip O’Toole

    In June, Sarah Bahr and Phillip O’Toole attended the 13th Annual Prague Quadrennial (PQ) of Performance Design and Space in the Czech Republic. This international professional gathering convening every four years receives support from the United States Institute of Theatre Technology (USITT); the U of M Theatre Arts and Dance department is an affiliated member through the organization’s Minnesota chapter.  Recently two MFA graduate students Sarah Bahr, in Design/ Tech, (emphasis in Costume & Scenic Design) and Phillip O'Toole graduate student in (Sound Design & Technology) sat down with Applause to discuss their time in Prague.

    Q : How would you describe the Prague Quadrennial?  

    Sarah: “The PQ is a global theatre festival focused on design. This year over 64 countries and regions participated by sharing their work through exhibitions, installations, and performances. It was a gathering space where people from literally across the world could connect with each other and support a common goal of exploring and using theatre as more than just entertainment. Theatre work was displayed in rooms that ranged from video of live productions, interactive sculptures, to performance art. There was a constant stream of daily events including costume parades called ‘Tribes’ where costumed groups walked through the city streets and interacted with the environment and people. Another event was called ‘Makers’ where artists were asked to explore a past production through a four hour long process of making food.”

                                    Tribes: costume performance of 'Bahian' a Brazilian culture figure, Brazil

    Phillip: “Professor Torry Bend introduced me to the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space. It was the perfect culmination to her TH5520 Scene Design course that I took in the   spring. There were scores of exhibits of traditional theater models, live theatrical performances, video and audio installations and other elements of performance design.”

                                                 Sections of Countries & Regions: 'Post-Apocalypsis' 
                                                        sound installation and sculpture, Poland

    Q: How would you describe the time you shared with these artists and architects, performers and designers?  

    Sarah: “My experience was eye-opening; the PQ challenged my theatre making process and the way I interact with performance as a designer.  A common theme of ‘trust your audience’ occurred though the work I viewed and interacted with.  Audiences were asked to physically, vocally, and mentally participate with performances and exhibitions of work.  Sitting silently was not a concept.”  

                                                Sections of Countries & Regions: 'The Submission' 
                                    an interactive performance based on the set design for 'Miss Julie', Latvia

    Phillip: “I had many aha-moments when experiencing the Quadrennial connecting what was taught in Torry’s class to live art. I took this picture of some actors on break from a piece calledBlue Tired Heroes created by Swiss artist Massimo Furlan. I really liked watching the actors on break as much as the performance.”

                                            Actors take a break from performing Blue Tired Heroes 
                                                    created by Swiss artist Massimo Furlan.

    Q: Looking back on the Prague experience, how will it affect you?

    Sarah: “I look forward to this coming year where I’ll have the opportunity to apply my broadened perspective and deepened understanding of what it means to be a theatre artist and designer in my class work and design projects. I would like to thank the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, College of Graduate Studies, and the Dubceck Fund for their financial support in making this extraordinary experience possible.”

    Phillip:  “I was fortunate enough to benefit from Research Travel Funding and … the funding made it possible for me to experience the PQ. I saw a lot of examples of performance design there that I think will inform my future projects. It was great to be in a forum of world-class performers and designers who were really experimenting with the latest technologies, artistic tools and methods. It's an experience I won't forget, and I'm grateful for the funds and support that made it happen.”


    NaThan Barlow plays in CTC premiere

                                                          Nathan Barlow (left) as Big Brothe

                                                           with the cast of Akeelah and the Bee

    Nathan  Barlow  BFA alum plays Reggie, big brother to Akeelah in the upcoming premiere of Akeelah and the Bee opening September 1 at Children's Theatre Company . At the conclusion of its Minneapolis run, the show moves to the Arena Theatre in Washington DC. 

    Justin Reiter (BFA '13) is featured in the national publication Dance Magazine (September issue) as a performer "On the Rise."  Described as " a monster onstage with his exaggerated moves and outrageous riffs, the Whim W'Him dancer is barely manageable, hardly classifiable, but oh so stunning. His powerfully emotive torso conveys an urgency in the arc of each story he tells.  Artistic director Olivier Weavers calls him "a beautiful creature'" 

    Sarah Brandner (MFA'14 ) is designing Park Square's Murder for Two, opening Sept 18 and playing through November 1 .  The show is directed by Randy Reyes, one of performing teaching/ artists in the BFA / Guthrie faculty.  

    Ashley Rose Montondo (BFA ’11) Dustin Bronson (BFA ’10) and Shae Palic (BFA’16)
    appear in the Guthrie production of To Kill A Mockingbird. Ms. Montondo is playing the character Mayella Ewell, and Mr. Bronson is playing Mr. Walter Cunningham.  Shae Palic (BFA’16) is an understudy in the show.

    U of M's Got Talent:  Meet ALUM DErek HUgHEs (BA'95) 

    Alums have sprouted up on stages on Broadway, in Hollywood productions, and even on your favorite TV show—and we bet you didn’t even realize it. Derek Hughes (B.A. 1995) has sparked astonishment on the hit TV show America’s Got Talent with his impressive, bold magic acts. May 26th, 2015 marked the premiere of Season 10 of the show bringing a scope of new contestants with fresh ideas.

    Derek showed up on America’s Got Talent during the second week of the show where he performed a thrilling card trick that excited the judges enough to send him to the next round of Judge Cuts. For his second act, Derek performed the magic act of telepathy, which was nothing short of mind-blowing. With exhilarated cheers from the crowd and amazed expressions of the judges, Derek was sent to the Quarterfinals round.

    “So far, the experience on America’s Got Talent has been exhilarating, unexpected, surprising, and a bit of a rollercoaster,” Derek Hughes said. “I auditioned for America’s Got Talent because I wanted to see what new material I could bring to show, brand my voice as a performer, and reach a wide audience.”

    As nerve-wracking as it might seem to perform in front of a large audience on national television, Derek appears to maintain his focus and seems like a natural in front of the camera. Perhaps that’s because it’s most definitely not Derek’s first time in front of a camera. Derek has made appearance on shows such as the VH1 reality series Celebracadabra and Comedy Central’s Gong Show. In addition, Derek has also had roles as an actor in works such as Grown Ups, As If, Angel and Kikki, as well as CSI: NY. Derek has also had plenty of practice of being on stage from his time in the Rarig Center in productions such as Two Gentleman of Verona.

    “The University of Minnesota instilled in me the discipline to rehearse, which gives me the confidence to perform. The rehearsal process is very important to me.” Derek Hughes said. “An idea is an idea, but doesn’t come reality until you put that idea into action which is what happens when you rehearse.”

    As a department, we are always amazed at the brilliant achievements of our alums. We hope that stories such as these inspire our current students to take risks and truly reach for the stars with their respective careers. Congratulations to Derek Hughes and best of luck as he advances on to the next round of the competition. Look at the video below for a clip of one of Derek’s incredible performance that advanced him on to the quarter-finals. Who knows, perhaps we might have more alumni on the stage of America’s Got Talent in the future.

    “My advice to current theatre students to reach their goals is to create. The most important thing an artist can do is create their own work. Being proactive has a ripple effect that will get you noticed and help you get to where you want to be in your career. It’s a lesson I’ve learned throughout my own career.”

    Still interested to learn more about Derek? 
    Visit his website at…he might be performing at a location near you! 



                       Experts helping prepare high school talent for competitive college auditions

    The ArtsBridge program aims to prepare and enrich high school students on track to study theatre at the collegiate level through specialized, two-week long intensives. Both the Musical Theater and Dramatic Acting intensives were hosted at the University of Minnesota Theatre Arts and Dance Department this year. Through conservatory style training, students were able to engage with different techniques of acting and develop the skills necessary for a career in theatre and admission into a university’s theatre program.

    Students traveled from numerous different states across the nation to attend this competitive program. However, not only students hailed from near and far to contribute to the program. The faculty that educates these students on the ins and outs of theatre come from other top theatre programs at universities across the country. The program is comprised of an elite faculty renowned for their accomplishments in both theatre and academia. Included among this impressive group is our Theatre Arts and Dance program’s very own Joe Price, who serves as the BFA Program Director for the University of Minnesota and as the Artistic Director for the ArtsBridge program. 

    “For the ArtsBridge program, I audition students by reviewing audition views, I help plan the schedule for classes, and I work closely with the faculty,” Price said. “We want our students to have a deep experience with process while completing the program.”

    The students’ days were filled with early morning breakfasts, long workshops, specialized training, and audition prep in the Rarig Center. With all of this extensive training, students are surely more prepared to tackle those seemingly daunting college auditions in the near future. After learning more about the University of Minnesota’s BFA and BA programs and all that the city of Minneapolis has to offer, some students expressed serious interest in pursuing the University of Minnesota for college upon graduation.

    Isabella Lampton,  a student from New York, said “I’ve learned a lot about acting, technique, and how to live in the moment from this program. I really wanted to improve the stuff I’ve worked on previous to the program and I also wanted to get new materials to work on.”

    Claire Hill, a student from Arkansas saw great value in not only in the ArtsBridge summer intensives, but in the University of Minnesota’s Theatre Arts and Dance Program as well. 

    “I’ve been really impressed with the program and have learned a lot, so I hope to set up an audition time with the University of Minnesota.” Claire said. Perhaps we will be seeing familiar faces in the Rarig Center next year as they begin their college careers and pursue their goals of theatre.  


    Playing September 18-19 at O’Shaugnessy

    Prepare to be inspired by faculty member Dr. Ananya Chatterjea’s lastest work through Ananya Dance Theatre, Roktim: Nurture Incarnadine which will debut at The O’Shaugnessy at St. Catherine University on September 18th-19th. This latest work is actually the second piece of a quintet created by Dr. Chatterjea entitled, “What Women Do.” Dr. Chatterjea is known for her works that use the art of the dance to understand and express important social issues. Roktim: Nurture Incarnadine creates a narrative focusing on female labor in the agricultural sector of global societies and how it influences the food system. With a specialized focus on women of color, Dr. Chatterjea has choreographed a production that not only seeks to educate people on the practices of female migrant labor, but more importantly, seeks to honor the women who invested their love, labor, and lives into the cultivation of the land for the utilitarian sake of sustaining a community of people. 

    How does one even prepare to communicate this monumental social issue through the art of dance? One of the most important steps of this process happened in late May and mid-July when the dancers who will be performing in Roktim: Nurture Incarnadine took field trips to different farming locations in Minnesota to conduct research for the dance. The dancers visited Frogtown Farms, Dream of Wild Health, and MN Food Association/Big River Farms in order to connect with the land, the farmers, and build relationships that would ultimately influence the production.

    “At one of the farms we got to participate in a little bit of actual fieldwork with them, so some of us planted seeds alongside the farmers, and some of us pulled weeds and tilled soil.” second year dancer of Ananya Dance Theatre Kealoha Ferreira said. “There are parts of the show that have a literal translation of acts such as planting seeds, but the stories shared by the farmers are what really helped us connect the research to the choreography.”

    Dr. Ananya Chatterjea is a professor in the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance. Additionally, she is also the Artistic Director of Ananya Dance Theatre a dance company of women artists of color who believe in the powerful intersection of artistic excellence and social justice.            

    “I tell stories through dance and try to share these issues with audiences through personal stories—which are partly remembered, partly researched, and partly imagined,” Dr. Chatterjea said. The dance not only seeks to influence audiences, but the artists cast in the piece as well.  Dr. Chatterjea aspires for her dancers to “gain a broader enjoyment of women's stories of work and resistance, and the way in which we are all implicated in issues of seed and food justice and a sustainable eco-system.”

    Note: Roktim will be traveling to Ethiopia and will be performed as the keynote performance at the International Crossing Boundaries Festival this September. 


    Audiences often speak of seeing a play, but may be unaware how much they depend on the skill of the vocal coach fine tuning dialects with actors in hearing a play. 

    Theater professional Lucinda Holshue, who also teaches voice and dialect is a faculty member in Theatre Arts and Dance.  She graciously agreed to speak about her research, vocal work with the cast, and her joy in bringing  to life To Kill a Mockingbird 
    on the Guthrie ‘s stage. 

    Q: As a dialect/vocal coach, what is the process of working with a cast and director? What did this process look like for this production specifically?

    A: The challenges of To Kill a Mockingbird are, first of all, the two sets of children, and the children are really one of the main focuses in the play. So that’s been really interesting to work with them.  They’ve been rehearsed separately, so they’re really being able to create their own performances.

    In terms of research for the dialect, some of the dialect is written. I re-read the novel first of all, so I could understand the world of the play, and there are kind of different dialects within that world, according to the economic status, really, and the social status. And then within that, there’s great variation according to the characters. For example, there’s Miss Maudie, Atticus, and the Judge, and they have a dialect that is Alabama, but it’s more educated, and it still has some of the qualities of an older Southern dialect. And then there’s people like the Sheriff, who’s written to have not so heightened of a dialect sound. And there’s the African-American [characters]. [Harper Lee] really wrote [in the script what character] Tom Robinson sound is like, as well as [the character] Calpurnia. And then the poor white trash and how that [dialect] sounded different. They’re actually very different sounds.

    I did a lot of research on how Alabama is the Deep South but it’s different than Mississippi. It has more of a kick to it in many ways. [I watched] a lot of documentaries; some are with Harper Lee, and you can hear her sister talk, and some of the citizens of Monroeville talk. I also have friends who are coaches from the South, so I always consult with them to see what their thoughts are. I also have some films that I have the actors watch where the [film] actors are doing really good dialect work, so they can just hear it, feel the rhythm and the music of it.

    Q: What kinds of films?
    A: Some are documentaries and some are feature films […] Forest Gump has really good Alabama dialect work from Sally Field and Tom Hanks. Honeydripper, by John Sayles, set in Alabama has really fine work by Charles S. Dutton, Danny Glover, Lisa Gay Hamilton and Mary Steenburgen.

    Q: So what is the next step?

    A: I talk to the director and then I consult with the actors … Many of them have experience with southern dialects, so then they tell me where they want to go with their characters. I had a couple people listen to George Wallace on YouTube because he’s an Alabama boy and he was trained as a lawyer. ..his speech patterns  are very interesting. I also suggested some interviews with writers from Alabama, like Rick Bragg and Mark Childress. […]
    With the kids, I did not record their lines, because I feel that it would have sent them into line-reading, so we physicalized it. We worked a lot with the possibilities of where the drawl could open up, when it extends, when the music is extending. It’s slower [than using recorded tapes], but I think in the end it’s much more interesting.

    Next we talk about the placement in the mouth. For Mississippi we always say “butter would melt in my mouth,” cause it’s kind of in the middle of the tongue, but for Alabama, I usually say “butter won’t melt in my mouth” because it has more of a harder sound. For example, some of the characters have harder ‘r’ sounds than the more educated characters might. You just find where the shifts are, and then within that, you find where each person’s character is. Like one of the women has a very smooth, beautiful rhythm and one of them has a sharper rhythm, the gossipy one, she has a sharper edge to her.It’s just like Minnesota dialect, or any dialect. Different people articulate it in different ways, but there has to be this feeling on stage that there’s a common community.

    Q: Do you provide one-on-one sessions or dialect tapes for the performers? How do you decide what to provide as a tool for individual performers? 

    A: A lot of these actors I’ve worked with before, so I know how they work, so that’s really helpful. Some of them really like recordings to listen to, others really like to work with feeling out the dialect in their mouth, where it’s placed, some work more imaginatively. You’ll give them a metaphor for a color of the dialect, or something like that. You just kind of figure out how each actor likes to work. I do have sessions with them, and then as they begin to put the play together, I begin to take notes, not just on the sound changes, but just on how the flow of the dialect is going. You’re always checking in, but the actor has to feel ownership of it. Your job is to help with that, however that is, but it’s a really skillful task.

    And then I take them out on the Guthrie’s thrust stage, which has its own set of challenges, to really open their voices out into that space. The kids are probably going to be supported with mics, but the thing that we’re really trying to do is have as little support as possible for them, so they’re really keeping physically energized and not laying back. I’ve had a lot of fun sessions with them onstage. 

    It’s been really joyful to see these two young women who are playing the character of Scout. One is 12, and one is almost 12, and they’re very articulate in the room, very gung- ho, very strong, very empowered and that’s really great. I think Harper Lee wrote Scout like that so it’s really fun to see that. Each have differences in their work but they’re really capturing the essence of Scout, so that’s been really good.

    Q: How does working professionally (for theaters like the Guthrie) inform what you do and how you teach in the classroom? Inversely, how does working with student actors inform how you work in professional theater environments?

    A: Working professionally informs what I do in the classroom because I’ve been in a lot of rehearsal halls with a lot of different types of directors, so you can kind of begin to teach the actors what they need to do to work with different energies, different types of directors.  [I can also teach students] what the process will be like and how much of the responsibility, really, is on them. With both voice and dialect,  when they’re working in the Twin Cities, certainly in the beginning, they’re not always going to have a coach so they really need to know how to go about researching and working on a dialect.

    It’s a great balance, working in the professional and student world because they’re both very renewing processes. I think the only difference with the students is that they’re learning the skills, and many of the people I work with already have a lot of the skills, so you’re just refining them. But with the students you’re teaching them new skills, so there’s a lot of repetition, and the process of discovery is really fun to be a part of.

    I think dialects are great because they inform your physical life too. It’s not just about the neck up. It’s really about: how does that inform how your body moves in space? What kind of environment is that dialect coming out of? Some people learn a lot by hearing, some people learn visually, and I think part of what students learn is ways of noting the text. I think all actors can note the text, but if you do know IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) it can be helpful because you can do it really quickly. The students are the next generation coming up in theater, so that’s very exciting, to see them acquiring  skills, and then to see where they will go with them. That’s an honor to be a part of that process.

    Two former BFA students are in this production, actually.  Ashley Rose Montondo plays Mayella Ewell, and Dustin Bronson is playing Mr. Walter Cunningham. That is incredibly thrilling to see how they’ve matured (they’ve both been out of school for quite a while), and it just makes you feel really good to see them doing work, and they’ve both worked a lot around the Twin Cities. 

    Q: Lastly, what's your favorite part of the job, both as a working professional and as a professor?

    A: Collaborating, and then seeing an outcome that you’ve helped to influence-- that it’s been a mix, but that you’ve helped the actor do that. Also, to see some really interesting, exciting work. You see that in the classroom all the time, really amazing  work. To see people growing in their skills, and, with the professionals, to see how they’re evolving a role, I always find that really interesting.

    KANTOR @100 with Kobialka and guest artist Ludmila Ryba  

    UNESCO declared 2015 the Year of Tadeusz Kantor to mark the 100thanniversary of his birth, reports the arts website Culture Pl. “An extensive program will promote knowledge about Kantor around the globe….A wide variety of events are being held from a cross-sectional retrospective by Kantor in Sao Paulo, an exhibition by works by Kantor and other contemporary Polish artists in Japan, through the creation and presentation of new performances inspired by his work in the United States to cooperation with prestigious academic institutions around the world…”

    One of those experts celebrating and contributing to The Year of Kantor is Professor Michal Kobialka, Professor of Theatre History and former chair of the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance. Author of two definitive books on this twentieth century avant-garde Polish theatre director, painter and set designer, Kobialka traveled to Poland this early summer to complete work on a project for the Sao Paulo, Brazil’s international Kantor exhibition. In conjunction with the exhibition’s opening, he presented a series of lectures and commentaries August 20-22 in San Paulo. 

    This month U of M students can join in the celebration as well by enrolling in a special course taught by Kobialka himself.  He will present lectures, discussions and actual screenings of Kantor’s acting company performing.   Each screening will be followed by a commentary provided by theatre artist Ludmila Ryba, an original member of Kantor’s “CRICOT 2” company from 1979 until 1992, performing and touring the world with Wielopole, Wielopole, The Machine of Love and Death, I Shall Never Return, and Today is my Birthday

     This unique topic course (TH1950) meets September 14-18, 2015, 7-10 PM in Rarig’s Kilburn/Liu Stage.  Space is currently available.  No registration restrictions.  The following lectures/screenings are scheduled
     9/14: Why Kantor?
     9/15: Memory and History—The Dead Class (1975)
     9/16: Memory and History—Wielopole, Wielopole (1980)
     9/17: The Self and the Others—I Shall Never Return (1988)
     9/18: Notes on the Late Style— Today is My Birthday (1990)

    On Saturday, September 19, Ms. Ryba will conduct a day-long workshop (10AM- 7PM) for course participants and other students, space permitting, which will explore and elaborate on some of Kantor’s ideas about objects, actor, and space presented in his productions.   Workshop observers are welcome, space permitting.

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