Department News (8-29-16)

This past month, six of TMA’s theatre faculty attended the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Conference in Chicago, IL:  Stephanie Breinholt, Wade Hollingshaus, Megan Sanborn Jones, Lindsay Livingston, David Morgan, and Rodger Sorensen.    ATHE’s mission is  to support and advance the study and practice of theatre and performance in higher education.  This year’s conference theme, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the organization, was Bodies at Work: Performance, Labor, and ATHE@30. Three TMA students participated, including grad students Katie Jarvis and Rick Curtis and undergraduate Kristin Perkins. Wade participated in the Leadership Institute and also participated in panel where he spoke about assessing spirituality at a religious university. Lindsay participated in a militarized performance panel which went very well. Megan was most pleased to host the Religion and Theatre Debut Panel, featuring a paper from Katie Jarvis and a paper from BYU alum Andrea Gunoe.  The panel was curated by Allan Davis, a third BYU Alum.  Andrea Gunoe won the outstanding paper of the panel with a $100 award. Stephanie was a part of the new play development workshop and performance of Shylock’s Beard (ATHE award winner) wherein she performed 7 roles ranging from play director, to exuberant grad student, tentative department chair, and German lit professor. Rodger is the focus group representative of the Playwrights and Creative Team which staged readings of eight new 10-minute plays that had won a national 10-minute play competition. The focus group also presented a staged reading of Shylock’s Beard, which won the ATHE award for excellence in playwriting, a national award, for a full-length play. David also participated in the Shylock’s Beard staged reading, as well as a directing workshop. Stephanie organized a round table presentation assisted by Katie Jarvis on theatre training and experiences that prepare students to use performing arts strategies for communication and success in a variety of careers, including education.  Some of her favorite moments included reconnecting with former BYU students at a BYU alum get-together, being introduced to Chicago-style pizza with Katie Jarvis and Kristin Perkins and walking the streets of Chicago with Lindsay Livingston after seeing the new production Thaddeus and Slocum at the Looking Glass Theater.

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Brad Barber’s documentary series project, States of America, was selected for  Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) Film Week next month in New York City.  Brad mentored many students on the project, which is a series of documentary shorts featuring one person in each of our 50 states, exploring the connection they feel with the place they call home. The documentary will be included in the Project Forum “Spotlight on Documentaries” section, which IFP describes as “supporting the future of storytelling by providing both creative and business opportunities to original and provocative narrative and documentary filmmakers, as well as web, episodic and transmedia storytellers.” The program nurtures both emerging and established artists, helping them to connect with financiers, executives, influencers and decision-makers in film, TV, new media and cross-platform storytelling who can help them complete their latest works, connect with audiences, and sustain long-term careers.” Click here to see the press release.
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Congratulations to Kelly Loosli who won the Karl G. Maeser Professional Faculty Excellence Award announced by President Worthen at this year’s University Conference. This award recognizes outstanding achievement in fulfilling professional faculty responsibilities and is made possible by the generosity of the Karl G. Maesar Scholarship Society. Kelly has worked in animation and live-action media production for 23 years – 15 of which he has managed and taught in BYU’s nationally recognized animation program. He is currently working with students to complete several large computer-animated group projects, two live-action and animated mixed films, and one traditionally animated film.

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In addition to The Last of the Red Hot Lovers at the Cape Cod Playhouse, Tim Threlfall also directed The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Tuacahn this summer.  From Tuacahn’s website, we read that the production is “based on the Victor Hugo novel and songs from the Disney animated feature.  The Hunchback of Notre Dame showcases the film’s Oscar®-nominated score as well as new songs by Mencken and Schwartz. Peter Parnell’s new book embraces story theatre and features verbatim passages from Hugo’s gothic novel.” This production isn’t disneyfied, though.  It carries a parental guidance warning, and explores some of the darker themes of Hugo’s novel.   Though Tim counts this experience of directing a huge cast on a Disney Premiere of the theatrical version of the story as one of the most challenging  he’s ever experienced, he was very pleased with the outcome.  Quasimodo actually “falls” 30 feet off Notre Dame (thanks to “Flying by Foy”) and Tim can’t say enough about Janet Swenson’s superb designs.  Summer Naomi, an MDT alum plays Esmerelda and Julian Decker, who left a Broadway production of Les Mis to join the cast, plays Quasimodo.   To read reviews of the play, click here.  The production will be performed until Oct. 15.  For tickets, go to www.tuacahn.org.
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