Department News (2-16-15)

This past week, over forty TMA theatre students and fourteen faculty, staff, and administrators participated in the Region VIII Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, which took place at SUU in St. George.

Festival Highlights
  • Workshops were presented and attended by the many fine TMA students and their mentors who went to Festival.
  • The TMA faculty and Arts Production mentors were strong supporters of our many students and their efforts.
  • We’ll post the names of the Irene Ryan competition semi-finalist and finalists next week.
  • Congratulations to the cast and crew of Out Town for their brilliant performance at the Region VIII Festival on Thursday, February 12.  This was the largest production BYU has ever taken to the festival, and involved the herculean efforts of Arts Production, cast, and crew to pull off.  The audience loved the show and gave it a spontaneous standing ovation!
  • Rodger Sorensen joined Judith Royer (Loyola Marymount University) and Char Nelson (Freelance Writer and KCACTF Region VIII Respondent Coordinator) in teaching the week-long Respondents Workshop. They trained fifteen new respondents for the region.
Congratulations to BYU’s 2015 KCACTF Award Winners and their many faculty mentors.
  • Crysta Powell earned first place in the Stage Management competition.
  • Haley Flaners earned first place in the Dramaturgy competition.
  • Amy Castro earned first place in the Directing competition.
  • Morgan Gunter and Joseph Skousen and their partners earned places in the finals.
  • Billy Hagee earned best partner recognition.
  • Joseph Skousen earned first place in the Irene Ryan competition and will be traveling to Washington D.C. In April.
  • Stephanie Breinholt received the ATHE/KCACTF Innovative Teaching Award. Notice that it is awarded on behalf of both the Association for Theatre in Higher Education and the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival, making it both a regional and national award. The description of the award on the Region VIII website reads “Each year, the eight KCACTF regions honor individuals or organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to the teaching and producing of theatre and who have significantly dedicated their time, artistry and enthusiasm to the development of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Most importantly, recipients have demonstrated a strong commitment to the values and goals of KCACTF and to excellence in educational theatre. It is the most prestigious regional award given by KCACTF and is considered one of the great honors in theatre education.” For additional information please see:
  • Actors in the semi-finals:
    Joseph Skousen (partner Billy Hagee)
    Morgan Gunter (partner McKenzie Foster)
    Mackenzie Larsen (partner Collette Astle)
    Jordan Nichols (partner Collette Astle)
    Lizzie Mickelson (partner Clayton Cranford)
    Actors in the finals:
    Joseph Skousen (partner Billy Hagee)
    Morgan Gunter (partner McKenzie Foster)


Last Thursday through Saturday (Feb. 12 –14), the TMA department hosted a Video Game Studies Symposium, the brainchild of our own Benjamin Thevenin.  More than ten different academic departments were represented at the symposium, with over forty presenters including many undergraduate media arts students.  Presentations were well attended.  Over sixty students volunteered their services the days of the symposium to help things run smoothly, and over a hundred people attended the symposium opening social on Thursday evening.  You may have noticed all the living room sofas from different decades assembled around video game consoles from the same time-period in the BF Larsen gallery last week.  Attendees of the symposium had a great time experiencing what it was like in the 1970s, 80s, or 90s to play the games of that era.  Saturday morning, Jason Anthony, an Associate Editor with Time, Inc.who is also a game designer and scholar,  gave the keynote address of the symposium following a delicious breakfast.  Benjamin met Jason when he was in graduate school, studying the intersection of religion and gaming.  Jason’s presentation was titled, “ImMortal Kombat: Conflict, Chaos and Redemption through  (Better) Gaming,” which explored some of those intersections. Benjamin observed, “It was great to see our media arts students present along side professors.”  The symposium, thanks to the contributions of so many people, including the conference committee, Bronte Campbell, Seth Holladay, Kelyn Ikegami, Hunter Philips, Jennessa Smith and Sharon Swenson, was a huge success!



Media arts alums Greg Barnes (writer/director) and Nate Stebbing (producer) just received word that their film,  “Shooting Ducks”,  was selected for the 2015 Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner.  Brad Barber and Scott Christopherson’s film, Peace Officer, was chosen as the Indie Project of the Day on Indiewire.  They’ve raised almost half their goal on kickstarter (, which describes the film as follows:  Peace Officer is a feature documentary about the increasingly militarized state of American police as told through the story of William “Dub” Lawrence, a former sheriff who established and trained his rural state’s first SWAT team only to see that same unit kill his son-in-law in a controversial standoff 30 years later.  Driven by an obsessed sense of mission, Dub uses his own investigative skills to uncover the truth in this and other recent officer-involved shootings in his community while tackling larger questions about the changing face of peace officers nationwide.  Disturbing trends grown out of the war on drugs and the federal program that supplies military surplus to police in cities and small towns alike ultimately lead Peace Officer to ask the question: what force is necessary to protect the lives of both officers and citizens?


David Morgan is directing Les Miserables by Boublil, Schoenberg, and Kretzmer, at the Orem Hale Center Theatre.  The show will run Feb. 19 – April 25.  For tickets, go to   Barta Heiner is directing Mary, Mary by Jean Kerr in the Brinton Black Box at the Covey Center.  The show will run from Feb. 26 to March 21.  For tickets, go to



Blast from the Past:  Can you recognize the people in the photos below?  Hint:  They all performed with the Young Company sometime in the past 40 years.  To see the whole slideshow that celebrates the past 40 years of Young Company performances, go to  Thanks to Haley Flanders for putting together the slideshow.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 3.00.25 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-13 at 3.06.11 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-13 at 3.01.55 PM

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