Department News (6-9-14)

BYU animators Dan Clark and Wesley Tippets won first place at the Student Academy Awards on June 7 for their animation project, Owned. Media arts alum Christian Jensen, who has also received his MFA from Stanford, took second in Documentary Film for his project, White Earth. Dan is the on the top row in the middle in front of the statue, Wesley is on the bottom row fourth from the left, right in front of Dan, and Christian is to the left of Wesley with the beard.



Three former TMA graduate students have recently been offered academic positions.
  • Lara Beene (MFA 2004) has accepted a visiting faculty position in the Theatre Department at UVU as the costume/makeup area head (after a very successful national search where she was offered three tenure-track positions at major universities around the country!).  la
  • Billy Gunn (MA 2008) has accepted a tenure-track position at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, CA.  He will be developing a new film critical studies program.  39B87A43-3BE5-4E21-9ED9-E1FBCB04D328
  • Finally, Haleh Risdana (MFA 2010) is starting a tenure track position at Moorpark College this fall.  She will be teaching costume/makeup design as well as general theatre classes. You can visit her website at


Mary Farahnakian attended the Costume Society of America’s annual conference from May 27-31, 2014,  in Baltimore, Maryland.  Mary serves on the CSA board and one of her duties is mentoring new members of the organization.  She also serves on the general awards committee for the organization.  She was actively involved this year on two major award adjudications, the CSA Professional Costume Designer Award and the CSA Fellow Awards.  This year, Deborah Landis, who was a visiting scholar in our department a few years ago and served as the president of the Hollywood Costume Designers Guild, won the first place award in the nation, the prestigious CSA Costume Design Award.  Mary enjoys working with these professionals.  She was very impressed with the conference and enjoyed the many presentations.  Her experience at the conference will affect the teaching outcomes for her classes for the coming year.


George Nelson is very grateful to the department for making this experience available to him and every faculty member.  He believes everyone needs this opportunity to refresh and see 40 or so plays/performances as well as some of the greatest art in the world in an intense 7-week period. He feels the things he’s been able to absorb and ponder about people, relationships, acting, directing, writing, his testimony, and life in general over these weeks have been soul enriching.
The whole group of 26 students, which includes 10 theatre majors, has seen the following plays:  King Lear, Richard III, Warhorse, Much Ado About Nothing , The Silver Tassie, A Small Family Business, Waiting For Godot, A Trick To Catch the Old One, Romeo and Juliet, Blithe Spirit, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Antony and Cleopatra, Henry IV part 1, and Arden of Faversham. Along with these, most of the group sees an additional 2-3 plays a week.

The educational highlight for George happened just last week. As George reports, “Before coming to London, most of these students had only seen plays that were light and fun. We wanted them to gain an appreciation for plays of all kinds and genres, which is why we booked a broad variety. In the beginning of the program, many fussed about seeing the heavier pieces, especially those that were staged in nonconventional ways. They rebelled at having to attend theatre that required anything of them in return. Yesterday we deconstructed our Charlie and the Chocolate Factory experience. It generated the most discussion we’d had on any other play. Though they thought it was fun to watch, they amazed me with their deep analysis and thoughtful comparison of it to the other shows we’d seen. There was a fire in their bellies as they defended ideas and principles of performance, technical spectacle, writing, comedy, the treatment of character, and the use of theme. They thought and talked like directors and play makers and showed a level of theatrical understanding that only comes from this kind of rich immersion. My buttons were popping off as I listened to their insights and rode the wave of their enthusiastic interplay and thoughtful consideration of the artistic choices of others. This is why every faculty member should do this! This is why every theatre student should be required to spend a term in London! This is why we, as an entire faculty and staff should come to London together and see a string of shows that we can discuss, analyze, debate, savor, bond over, and use as fodder to focus our vision on what kind of work we should be doing at BYU.  The Lord needs our work and the work of our students to be the leaven in this field. We can make a difference.”


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