Department News (6-22-15)

TMA’s new faculty member Scott Christopherson got the very sad news last week while at AFI DOCS in Washington DC with Brad Barber that his father, Denny Christopherson, passed away unexpectedly. He flew back to get his family in CA and are in Utah now.  Brad mentioned that Scott would appreciate your thoughts and prayers.   Faculty may remember that Scott’s father was the subject of a documentary Scott made his senior year at BYU, “Only the Pizza Man Knows.” We will send details of the services when they are available.

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London Study Abroad:  George Nelson and 33 students (13 theatre students) recently returned from an outstanding London Study Abroad trip during Spring term.  Frank Christensen from the English department was the other faculty advisor.  Students saw over 17 live plays together.  They would see the plays and then discuss them together the next day in class.  Some of the highlights included an amazing production of Peter Pan,  and George felt that the Globe Theatre’s productions of Shakespeare’s King John andRomeo and Juliet in the Globe were the best ones he’d ever seen.  “We could hear every word, and the actors made the characters so believable.”  Students and faculty were also able to visit historic sites such as the Tower of London, Bath,  the Cliffs of Dover, Stonehenge, Shakespeare’s birthplace at Stratford on Avon, etc.  George feels that giving students the opportunity to go on London Study Abroad is life changing.  He states, “I’m broken hearted that I don’t to go next year.  This group of students were highly motivated and deeply engaged.  They had a delightful time and a powerful exchange of ideas in our daily discussions.  Every theatre student should have this opportunity.”  George appreciates the resources the department makes available for students and faculty members for this amazing experience.

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Greg Whiteley, TMA alum and documentary film maker was recently interviewed in theDeseret News about his upcoming film, Most Likely to Succeed. The article talks about the premise of the film: “Why has our education system stayed the same while our economy has drastically shifted with technology? The film kicks off with a brief history lesson of the U.S. education system, which was largely geared toward producing factory workers for the industrial revolution. Classrooms haven’t changed much since then, the film argues, though the world is changing at break-neck speed.”    Read more about Greg’s process at http://national.deseretnews.com/article/4571/are-schools-preparing-students-for-the-new-workforce.html  Greg’s work is also  featured on the CFAC homepage[click here] and Facebook page.

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Off Broadway production, Single Wide:  George Nelson and Jordon Kamalu‘s award winning play Single Wide will be performing off-Broadway at the Pearl Theatre (555 West 42nd St) in New York this summer on July 17, 21, 24, 25, 26.  The play is being produced for the New York Musical Festival, a top-tier competition that develops musical theatre.  Jeff Whiting, BYU alumnus, directs the show.  Jordon Kamalu has been in New York this past week, where the production directors have been tweaking the script.  Jordan has written four new songs and commented that, “I have learned more in the last week here with these professionals than I have in the last three years about musical theatre!”  George is now in New York where rehearsals start on Tuesday.  He says,”The prep these people are putting into this show has been incredible.  They have gone through the entire play line by line, and all the major directors have given input and revisions.  I am so excited to see this production!”  All of the actors are professionals in NY, with one fortuitous exception.  The actor who played “Bodie” had to bow out at the last minute, and George’s son Maclain Nelson was able to fill in.  Broadway Worldrecently highlighted the play and ran the following story:  http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Jeff-Whiting-to-Direct-SINGLE-WIDE-at-NYMF-717-25-20150617  Under the tagline, “A love story that isn’t spoiled by the trailer,” the play is “an uplifting and inspiring musical about one woman’s determination to escape her tiny trailer park for a larger life.”  If you are in the NY area at the end of July, you won’t want to miss this!  For tickets, or for more information, go to http://www.singlewidemusical.com/About-The-Show.html or www.nymf.org/singlewide

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Today is the first day of BYU’s two week Theatre Workshop for high school age students. This year, the workshop features three tracks, musical theatre, sketch comedy, and design/tech.  David Morgan,Ben and Sue Cummings, Michael Kraczek, Jennifer Reed, and Divine Comedy members,Kenneth Balwin, Bryson Frehner, Tori Pence,and McKay Jacobsen will be working with seventy participants over the next two weeks.  Theatre track participants, the largest track, will perform scenes from Once on This Island for their final showcase.  Sketch comedy participants will write and perform their own sketches as a pre show for the showcase, and the design/tech students will get individualized mentoring from faculty and staff instructors in support of the showcase.  The group will also receive masterclasses in circus skills, puppetry, and a special appearance from Studio C cast members.  Scott Eckern will speak to the students during their devotional.

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