Department News 07-02-18

We welcome Kris Jennings, who is now an official CFS-track faculty member in the Theater Education Area of the TMA Department.  This summer, Kris is working with the Theatre Education area and preparing for her fall class load.  In fall, she will be teaching several classes, including TMA 276, a class that helps Theatre Education students explore the demands and opportunities of teaching theatre to secondary students; TMA 436, affectionately known as Mask Club; TMA 476, supervising student teaching; and TMA 496, in which she will supervise one or more internships. Kris is an award-winning actor/director/educator. She received a BA from BYU’s TMA department (2002) and an MFA from the University of Exeter (2014) in Theatre Practice: Staging Shakespeare.  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 a wide range of acting and directing experiences:  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.  We are excited for our students and faculty to work with Kris!

Kris Jennings

Amy Jensen just finished leading two professional learning intensives for the College Board (the people responsible for AP and SAT Tests).  The College Board is in the process of launching a pre-AP program for the arts, which is geared towards students in 9th and 10th grades, to help prepare them for AP classes their junior and senior years.  Amy has been writing professional learning materials for this program for several years, including curriculum modules for the pre-AP program. The 2018-19 school year is the beta test for the materials, where 100 top high schools from across the nation will teach the pre-AP materials in their curriculum.  Then in 2019-20, the materials will be revised once more, and more schools will launch the program.  Finally, in 2020, the pre-AP program will be officially launched, and the materials will be available nationally.  For the intensives that she recently taught, Amy was working with teachers from 100 high schools in the nation who will be using the curriculum next year in their schools.  She taught one week of intensives (4 days a week, 6 hours a day!) at Georgia Tech, Atlanta, for schools in that area and one week of intensives in Los Angeles for schools in the western U.S. who will be beta-testing the materials in their schools next year.   She taught secondary school teachers in Art, Dance, Theatre, and Music.  We feel especially grateful for the opportunity Amy has to influence the secondary arts curriculum nationally.

Amy Jensen

George Nelson’s Single Wide has been chosen for the New Musical Discovery Series, which is sponsored by the Florida Theatrical Association.  The festival will take place August 16-20 in Orlando, Florida.  From the festival’s website, “Aspiring writers from around the country are encouraged to submit their new works, which will be reviewed by a panel of theatre professionals, including renowned directors, writers, producers and performers.  The panel will select a few works that will each receive a staged reading and one final winner will receive a workshop presentation of their piece featuring local directors and talent. The Discovery Series will also include talkbacks for students and audiences with the playwrights and directors.”  George is working with the festival and the director who will be staging the performance in August, which he plans to attend.  Congratulations, George!

George Nelson

Brad Barber generously reports on the London Film Study Abroad, Spring 2018 edition, which just ended and which he felt was a deeply meaningful experience for all involved.  The group stayed busy getting acquainted with as much as possible from London’s countless cultural offerings, tracing many of the paths that each would wind towards the foundations and contemporary practices of cinematic storytelling.  The British Film Institute, the Institut Français, and several other cinemas dedicated to international, classic, documentary, and independent film as well as other film education efforts, further provided several valuable venues for discovery and study that are not available in Utah nor most of the U.S.  We were blessed by the structure that Dean Duncan, Tom Russell, and Jeff Parkin established and built upon over the years, as well as the support from the BYU International Studies Program, the TMA Executive Committee, and TMA Department overall.  Outside of class and group activities, students stayed busy doing their own research, exploration, and introspection in a place that invites a person to step back and think about what they’re doing (or will yet do) with their lives.  We encouraged students to take time outside of class to ponder their experiences, to write about them in journals and above all, implement them in their daily lives back in Utah.  We encouraged them to try new things.  We encouraged them to strive for improvement in their everyday lives and to be better disciples.

There were several newly admitted TMA students in our program that most of us haven’t had in Provo TMA classes yet.  There were more or less equal numbers of boys and girls.  There were two students from other majors (Theatre and Economics), and one film student from UVU.  There were many new friendships formed, a lifetime’s worth of encounters with some of the greatest works of creative expression on earth, and 3 kidney stones passed (surprisingly, not from Dean or even Brad’s kidneys but one of the student’s!).  A little more than half the students were enrolled in a class to make documentaries about a Londoner they would meet there.  In that process, most of the students reported meaningful experiences getting to know their subjects on a sort of surprisingly profound level, while understanding something larger about what it means to live in this unique world capital.  These insights were compounded by the fact that most of their documentary subjects came to London from other lands and other circumstances.  It was a privilege for us to hear the students’ reports on these new relationships and insights in class, and Dean and Brad agreed it would be nice to incorporate this class/experience again in future study abroads, perhaps even as a requirement for all the students, if there is a practical way to do that.  It was also exciting and rewarding to hear about the substantial discoveries students were making about the British literature (and themselves) they were assigned to read while in London—another example of how studying and working in an international place yields unique results that can’t be replicated from Provo.  We believe the experience will hold an important place in their lives, worldviews, and testimonies for years to come—blessing not only themselves and their work, but their future families.

London Film Study Abroad - Barbican Centre.jpg

Students on the Film London Study Abroad at the Barbican Centre where they heard the London Symphony Orchestra and Choir perform Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. 


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