Department News 05-21-18

We congratulate Stephanie Breinholt and Mike Kraczek who were recently granted Continuing Faculty Status and advanced to the rank of Associate Professor. As you know, these are significant distinctions that are the result of rigorous levels of commitment and labor. We feel very fortunate to have Michael and Stephanie in TMA!

Kris Jennings has been invited and has accepted the offer to become TMA’s newest full-time faculty member. Kris will begin 25 June, the beginning of summer term. Her primary assignment will be in the Theatre Education program but will also serve the theatre directing area of the department.  Thanks to those who participated in the hiring process, and especially to our search committee: Tim Threlfall (chair), Julia Ashworth, Scott Christopherson, Megan Sanborn Jones, Amy Jensen, and Elizabeth Funk.

Kris is an award-winning actor/director/educator. She completed an internship with the Tony-Award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival and has completed acting and directing coursework at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, where she studied under Philip Bird, Glynn Macdonald, and Yvonne Morley.  Her recent credits include:  Kill Room (Ripley), All American Cannibal Cookoff (Monica), Hamlet (Gertrude), King Lear, (Lear), Dancing at Lughnasa (Maggie), A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (Sheila), Macbeth (Director), and Romeo and Juliet (Romeo). She is the co-founder of Happy Accidents Theatre Company and Dark Lady Shakespeare Company.  Kris received her BA in TMA Education from BYU in 2002 and her MFA in Theatre Practice: Staging Shakespeare, from the University of Exeter in 2014.

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Theatre London Study Abroad as reported by Hannah Gunson-McComb:  This has probably been the most jam-packed week yet! As a group, we boarded a coach, bound for Stratford-Upon-Avon— but just being there wasn’t enough! We made many a stop along the way to Shakespeare’s home town, including Blenheim Palace and the ruins of Kenilworth Castle. Once in Stratford, we continued to pack our days with shows— Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth (with Christopher Eccleston, for all those Dr. Who fans!) and historical sites— Shakespeare’s birthplace, Ann Hathaway’s cottage and the site of his home. And of course, no BYU study abroad trip to Stratford is complete now without High tea at the Ann Hathaway tea room. On our way back, we stopped by Tintern Abbey (ruins of an Abbey that was picked apart when King Henry 8th dissolved all the Catholic churches) to perform the Shakespeare monologues the students had memorized and Bourton-on-the-Water (a small idyllic town in the Cotswolds) for lunch.  After two days to rest, we hopped on a train out of town again, this time to visit Oxford. This gorgeous city is home to more than just a very prestigious university, it’s also a holy site for self-proclaimed “nerds.” Harry Potter has filmed on several different sites, and C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein and Lewis Carrol wrote their most famous works there. Oxford boasts the largest library in all the UK, the Bodleian Library, and a bookstore (Blackwell’s) that has a basement reading room stocked with 7 miles’ worth of shelving. Many students visited the pub where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein would meet up and chat— The Eagle and Child. We capped off the day with a rousing, riotous, and extremely unorthodox production of Midsummer Night’s Dream that left us howling with laughter– the most imaginative re-imagining of the comedy we’ve ever seen.

On Sunday, we were privileged to hold a fireside and listen to BYU graduate, Ph.D Student and writer of the LDS British pageant, Alexandra Mackenzie Johns (MA, 2006). She shared her testimony of what it means to share our talents and gifts to “love our audiences.” She explored how to infuse our creations and performances with Christlike intent, so that our performing would never be self-aggrandizing. How important to be considering such a principle as we are so inundated in theatre here!

Student News

Several students who participated in the NY Showcase were contacted by agencies, including Madison Dennis (BFA Acting), who was contacted by three agencies and invited for a callback for Oregon Shakespeare Festival, a great opportunity at a prestigious festival. Maddie Hall (MDT) was contacted by nine agencies and interviewed with four of them.  Caleb Jensen (MDT) was contacted by seven agencies.   Maddie Hall (MDT) and Caleb Jensen (MDT) have both committed to sign with KMR Talent in New York.  (KMR Talent [Kazerian, Measures, Ruskin & Associates] is one of the nation’s leading TV/Film/voiceover talent agencies.)  Peter Lambert (MDT) met with two agencies and was contacted by two other agencies.  Libby Lloyd (MDT) was contacted by seven agencies and is working with an established director in NY on a voiceover project.  Stephen Moore (BFA Acting) heard from three agencies and auditioned for a Broadway play.  Now the students just need to decide who they will sign with!  Thanks to the faculty mentors who worked with this talented group of BFA Acting and MDT seniors: Nathan Balser, Stephanie Breinholt, Gayle Lockwood, and Tim Threlfall. Their showcase performances got our graduates a lot of attention!

TMA senior Richelle Sutton is one of only 16 participants invited to attend the New Play Dramaturgy Intensive at the Kennedy Center, July 28 – Aug. 5, 2018.  Richelle received an Oscarson Discovery Grant to cover her expenses to the Intensive, which is one of the premier dramaturg training experiences in the country.  She will work with Mark Bly, one of the first production dramaturgs on Broadway and a legend in the field.  Congratulations, Richelle!

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