Department News 05-14-18

Scott Christopherson recently finished making The Insufferable Grooa feature length documentary about a local oddball filmmaker, and BYU Grad, Stephen Groo. The film looks at Steve’s life after 20 years of filmmaking and 205 films, as he tries to make it big. He attempts to re-make his next big hit, an elf/human love story film titled The Unexpected Race.  Groo is a true American Do-it-Yourself film auteur. His eccentric style has gained him a loyal Hollywood fan base including Jared Hess (director, Napoleon Dynamite & Nacho Libre), Jack Black, Jemaine Clement, and Mike White.  Because of his obsession with making films, Groo and his wife, Sherry, and their four children rely solely on his wife’s income, and he has never made a profit. The film follows Groo as he tries to woo and cast Jack Black as the sheriff in his film. With no permits, little money, and volunteer actors, Groo’s yearlong production encounters problems that threaten to shut it down daily. But finally, in a surreal moment, Jack Black agrees to be in Groo’s movie. Groo drives to Los Angeles to film and direct Jack as he plays a small-town sheriff trying to take down the rogue elf in The Unexpected Race. But since the finish of his masterpiece, Groo finds himself still seeking for distribution and a chance to make it big.  On a broader level, the film explores the role of artist and the cost of pursuing one’s dream.  The Insufferable Groo was recently selected to the 2018 Sheffield Documentary Film Festival, in Sheffield, England. Indiewire calls Sheffield “one of the top dozen doc festivals in the world.” It is considered the UK’s biggest non-fiction film festival and the third largest international festival in the world. PBS lists Sheffield as one of 20 “top tier” film festivals in the world. Out of thousands of submissions, only 180 films are selected each year, and only a portion of those are feature length films. Of those thousands of films entered, only 35 are selected as world premieres. The Insufferable Groo was honored to be selected as a world premiere.  In 2017, a record total of 72,146 people attended, including 3,397 industry delegates who travelled from 54 countries and included 36,008 public audiences. It’s a huge honor for Scott to premiere The Insufferable Groo at Sheffield this June.  To access their kickstarter page, click here; to access the film’s webpage, click here.

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Shawnda Moss was honored in the AATE Incite/Insight magazine.  Justin Charles, who currently teaches high school, attended and liked the workshop she gave last fall so much that he wrote an article about his experience. Shawnda is glad someone found it immediately practical and useful, which is what she tries to do.  Shawnda has been approached by the editing team and asked to write a companion article to the piece.  The article is pages 16-17 of the winter 2018 edition of Incite/Insight, available here. The article reflects well on TMA’s Theatre Education program and philosophy of teaching.

Incite:Insight Article

London Film Study Abroad, as reported by Brad Barber:  Things are off to a great start with week 1 in the books here in London.  The students all arrived safely, acclimated, and have jumped in completely to the various bewildering cultural offerings in this city.  One of them has even passed a kidney stone!  Dean and Brad have enjoyed teaching in the historic Hyde Park building and have accompanied the students on several outings.  Brad’s wife Susan and boys Andrew and Sammy are enjoying these outings with the students too, with Andrew (age 13) attending classes regularly.  Everyone in the program is thrilled and tremendously grateful to be here.

Theatre London Study Abroad, as reported by Hannah Gunson-McComb:  The students have really taken their theatrical freedom in stride— most spend their days doing “double features,” booking matinees in addition to our planned evening shows. What’s especially cool is that each student has enough theatre to supply their needs! We have students interested in fringe theatre, musicals, and everything in between. London has no shortage!  We had the pleasure of seeing Strictly Ballroom (based off the movie), Red (a play about Mark Rothko and the Seagram murals) and Way of the World (a French farce). The class was enthusiastically in favor of Red, being very inspired by the artist’s onstage struggle.  We’re off to Stratford Upon Avon bright and early today!

London Theatre Study Abroad Week 2.png

Here are some fun photos of the Divine Comedy workshop trip to London! Photos include Divine Comedy advisor, George Nelson, and his wife, Leslie, as well as the following cast members:  Julianne Cook, Aaron Fielding, Alena Helzer, Becca Hurley, Addison Jenkins, Dalton Johnson, and Parker Kelly.

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Department News 05-07-18

Be sure to check out BYU Magazine with a fun article on the making of cult-classic Napoleon Dynamite.  The article includes memories of the project from alums Jared and Jerusha Hess, Jon Heder, Jeremy Coon, Emily Kennard Dunn, Cory Lorenzen, Munn Powell, Christopher Wyatt, and famed principal, Tom Lefler.  Here’s a link to the online version of the article:   And here’s a link to an article on how that fantastic cover art was made from 25 pounds of tater-tots:

Napolean Dynamite

Michael Kraczek recently returned from his most recent collaboration with the Theatre Engine project.  Each time the production team builds off of their previous productions, applying what they have learned about audience interactive performance in new ways and developing new methods of facilitating audience/ performer interaction.  This time around, the development group, which includes Michael, Kori Wakamatsu (Dance, BYU), Alison Dobbins (Theatre, Michigan State University), Dr. Charles Owens (Computer Science. Michigan State University), and Bradley Branam (Theatre, University of Oregon) joined with Dr. Shondrika Moss-Bouldin (visiting artist at Georgia State University) and her students, plus playwright Kristin Idaszak, and composer Dr. Alexis Bacon to devise Shark: An Interactive Musical.  Now, the audience determines what happens in the tale:  Who dies? Who escapes?  The interactive workshop performance took place at Georgia State University on April 21 & 22, 2018.  Audience members interacted with the performers through music tempo, choosing plot twists through polling, controlling lighting, and even joined the performers on stage!  In feedback sessions after the performance, audience members reported that the best part was being able to control the plot.  Future development of Shark: An Interactive Musical will take place at Michigan State University in 2019.  Here is a link to a website with conceptual ideas for the production. (The current script version departs somewhat from the initial ideas.)

Shark - The Interactive Musical

Theatre London Study Abroad report from Hannah Gunson-McComb: BYU students, including many TMA and English students, Megan Sanborn Jones & family, and Lance Larsen (English), successfully completed a week in London!  Students have really taken to heart the professors’ urging to “get out and explore”— since day one, they’ve been running around (in good taste) and visiting museums, galleries, historical sites, anything they can get their eyes on.

As a class, we’ve seen two shows and been on a tour of the National Theatre. On the tour, our guide showed us each of the three theatres housed in the large, brutalist building. The guides also showed us several work rooms for carpentry, painting, and welding as well as a rehearsal room.  We’ve seen The Encounter— a one-man performance of an anthropologist who explores the Amazon. The single performer used sound (self-made, live mixed, pre-recorded), and the audience all wore headphones so as to feel an intimate proximity to the story and the actor. Most of the students were awed by the technical prowess and complexity of the show. A few, admittedly, were struggling with jet lag and may have dozed off for a moment… but we won’t fault them.  We saw Macbeth at the National on Saturday. This performance was met with some criticism on the students’ end. The general consensus was one of disappointment, feeling as though many choices that could have, maybe should have, been made were neglected, and many more choices didn’t work. Initially there was a lot of hope and some high expectations, but they fell rather flat.

London Study Abroad - Week 1

The 17th annual Brigham Young University BFA Senior Showcase took place in New York City on May 1st and 2nd.  The ‘open’ showcase performances at the June Havoc Theatre in mid-town Manhattan on Tuesday, May 1st were very well-attended by both industry professionals and BYU alumni.  The annual Showcase has become a terrific Alumni Reunion each year and the result has been an ever-strengthening network of alumni in the New York City area. And the number of agents, casting directors and producers attending was higher this year than ever before. Faculty members Tim Threlfall, Gayle Lockwood, and Stephanie Breinholt all attended the Showcase in New York City this year; Lindsi Neilson also attended as a producer.  This year’s Showcase was unique in that for the first time, there were MORE BFA Acting graduates in the Showcase than MDT students. Seven BFA actors and six BFA MDT students participated in the Showcase. (To see bios and head shots of all those who attended, go to )  Several BFA Actors performed songs in the Showcase and a number of MDT student did one song and an acting scene.  Tim Threlfall, director of the Showcase commented: “The monologues and scenes this year were really the best we’ve had.  Sometimes it is hard for the scenes and monologues to compete with the energy created by the musical selections. But this year they really did. I think we hit a new standard this year for the scenes and monologues.  It was great!”  Four of our male students (two BFA actors and two MDT) were immediately called-back after the first Showcase performance to audition for BOOK OF MORMON, the musical, and Tierney Bent, an MDT student was called-back to audition for Glinda in WICKED…all from the first performance that day.

The Showcase was also presented in a ‘private’ session at famed Telsey Casting on Wednesday, May 2nd.  This session was arranged by Casting Director Rachel Hoffman, who has been working with the BYU group for four years now.  Rachel comes to Utah each winter term and works with the Senior Showcase and then promotes the BYU presentation in New York.  Most recently, Rachel is the lead Casting Director for Broadway’s FROZEN and ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE. In the ‘private’ session at Telsey Casting (the largest casting company in NYC that casts many Broadway shows as well as respected film and television productions such as THIS IS US and THE GREATEST SHOWMAN), Rachel arranges for four agents to watch the Showcase and then speak with the students in a question and answer session following the performance.

In addition, the BYU group also participated in another BROADWAY SESSIONS this year.  BROADWAY SESSIONS is a fun, late-night cabaret performance that highlights casts from different Broadway musicals performing show tune favorites.  Select musical theatre training programs and their Broadway alumni are also featured.  Four BYU Music Dance Theatre alum with recent Broadway credits performed and virtually all of the BFA graduating class of 2018 also performed.  The host of Broadway Sessions is from Orem, Utah…go figure. So many LDS Primary songs were sung by the group as well.  It is quite prestigious for BYU to be asked to participate in Broadway Sessions.

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Department News 04-30-18

Big Surprise! Sunday morning, April 29, Kyle and Laura Stapley, and their sons, Daken and Benson, welcomed baby boy #3, Holden Alta Stapley, 7 lbs. 2 oz., 19 inches long.  He wasn’t expected for a few more weeks, but Mom and baby Holden are doing very well!  Daken and Benson are so excited, and Kyle is thrilled. Congratulations to the whole Stapley family!

stapley family

George Nelson, his wife Leslie, and seven members of the Divine Comedy cast will be traveling to London this week to attend and conduct comedy workshops from April 28 – May 5. They will be attending the Tabard Theatre, a well-known comedy theatre in London, As You Like it at the Globe, The School of Rock on the West End, as well as clown and physical comedy workshops with Orlando Seale (who starred in the Utah version of Pride and Prejudice).  Cast members who will be attending include Julianne Cook, Aaron Fielding, Alena Helzer, Becca Hurley, Addison Jenkins, Dalton Johnson, and Parker Kelly.

Benjamin Thevenin presented at the Play2Learn conference (focused on educational games) and the International Media Literacy Research Symposium, both in Lisbon, Portugal on April 19 & 20. Both presentations were about a media literacy-themed, conversation-based card and mobile game that he has been developing with a group of Media Arts students this year. Both conferences provided great opportunities to connect with scholars and game designers from around the world and hear about their efforts to promote media literacy and use games to inform and enlighten. Also, Lisbon was beautiful.

Benjamin Thevenin - Lisbon

Becky Wallin, BYU Young Company’s manager, reports that the cast of Romeo y Julieta finished their tour last week.  They took their bilingual English/Spanish production to 20 locations – elementary schools, junior highs, libraries – and performed for about 7,000 children!  The Young Company serves as a training ground for both BYU actors and teaching artists wanting to work in theatre for young audiences.  Below is the awesome cast of Romeo y Julieta with their faithful van “Rhonda,” as well as one of the many thank you notes the group received for their performances.

Student & Alumni News

Jordan Peterson (media arts, 2011) and his wife Karli Hall (BFA Acting 2014) welcomed a baby boy on Friday, April 27, 2018.  Jordon and Karli live in Los Angeles. Congratulations!

Jenna Rasmussen, a current student in media arts, recently received an internship with Dreamworks for the summer.

Jenna Rasmussen.jpg





Department News 04-23-18

Last week, Wade Hollingshaus announced that Kyle Stapley was offered and accepted the Media Arts Administrator position. Kyle will begin the new position on May 1. Kyle has made wonderful contributions to TMA, and we are confident that he will continue to add much more. Wade thanks those who served on the search committee: Brad Barber, Jeff Parkin, Kelly Bready, Mark Ammons (School of Music), and Darl Larsen (committee chair), with Lindsi Neilson providing administrative assistance. This was not an easy decision, since there were some very qualified candidates. We are appreciative of the committee members’ thought and care throughout the search, and thank all those who participated in the process, whose questions and feedback were helpful as the committee moved forward with this decision.

Kyle Stapley

Kyle Stapley

Kelly Loosli and three students are on the Portuguese island of Madeira working on Kelly’s film this week. They got up early one morning to film the sunrise. Noah Allen and Paige Caldwell are animation students, and Brooklyn Walker is an illustration student.

Tom Lefler, who is retiring from BYU after 35 years, was honored at the Media Arts Student Celebration by all the media arts faculty, staff and students.  Associate Dean Amy Jensen voiced heartfelt appreciation for Tom’s service.  Media arts students and faculty all revealed T-shirts and big buttons with a cartoon of Tom’s likeness on them as they stood and applauded him.  In addition, he was presented with a book of thank you notes and a quilt made of department T-shirts from many past years.  Tom’s wife, Laura, and his two oldest sons, Adrian and Brian were also in attendance.  Thanks to Kyle Stapley for organizing Tom’s thank you as well as the student celebration.  During the celebration, media arts faculty gave away over $19,000 in scholarship awards, and afterwards, everyone enjoyed lunch in the Margetts.

Vera Hinckley Mayhew Screenwriting Contest
Television Spec Script Category
1st  Place – Kaden WatsonMorty Alone
2nd  Place – Tabitha Brower ~What Fresh Hell?

Feature Length Script Category
1st  Place – Barrett BurginTabula Rasa
2nd  Place – Nicole Wilson ~ Untitled

Short Film Script Category
1st  Place – Eleanor Biggs Don’t
2nd  Place – Weber Griffiths ~ Our Enemy

Aperture Media Journal Awards
New Media Category: Elena Bender ~ Open Up Your Ribs and Let Them In
Essay Category: Kaily Goodro ~ Movement in Paprika and Baudry’s Apparatus Theory
Screenplay:  Taylor Davis ~ Dr. Shrink Meets Bigfoot

Excellence in Media Arts Fiction: Aurelia Berryhill, Howie Burbidge, Brendan Decicio, Jeff Hein, Jose Luis Callejas Manzo (Pepé), Cody Mondale, Juan Rodriguez,  Jordan Saltmarsh, Abbie Vance

Excellence in Media Arts Non-Fiction: Sydney Flora, Emma Meurs, Erik Naumann, Taylor Tiave

Excellence in Media Arts Critical Studies: Kaily Goodro, Rachel Lewyer, Celene Anderson Mitchell, Matt Taggart, Grace Taylor

Excellence in Media Arts Writing: Tabitha Brower, Max Dearden, Grant Gomm, Daniel Schindler

TAs: Jaye Abhau, Colton Elzey, Cassidy Featherstone, Kaily Goodro, Weber Griffiths, Sam Haskin, Liam Isaack, Oscar Jimenez, Mariah Johnson, Max Johnson, Marely Lee, Emma Lynn, Jose Luis Callejas Manzo (Pepé), Zach Miller, Grace Taylor, Kyler Sommner, Kaden Watson

MAL: Stephanie Bogdan, Aurelia Collins, Taylor Davis, Mitchell Dunn, Oscar Jimenez, Mariah Johnson, Dallin Penrod, Jenna Rassmusen, Jared Richardson, Jordan Saltmarsh, Nathan Tanner, Christena Taylor

Outstanding TMA Office Employees: Kristen Dahl and Maddie Jones
Nominees: Emma Lynn, Catherine Pearce, Taylor Tiave

Media Arts Outstanding Student Award ($1250 each): Emma Lynn, Michelle Gioglio, Peter Totten, Kaden Watson

Later in the afternoon, the Theatre Student Celebration took place in the Nelke. Theatre faculty gave these students over $12,000 in awards. The awards are listed below. After the student awards, we  honored retiring faculty member Rodger SorensenHaley Flanders Anderson, adjunct faculty, and recent graduate of TMA’s Masters’ program, researched and presented a PowerPoint that spanned the decades of Rodger’s amazing career (to view the PowerPoint created by Haley in honor of Rodger, click here).  Chair Wade Hollingshaus presented Rodger with a crystal clock and a book of over 100 thank you notes from alumni and current students.  Rodger then got up and gave his wife, Claudia, all the credit for his success!  (forever modest, Rodger!) After the tribute, the group of over 100 moved into the Margetts for a Nicoitalia pizza feast with a soda bar.  Many thanks to Lindsi Neilson and Maddie Jones for organizing the awards celebration!

Outstanding Theatre Critical Studies Students: Greta Gebhard and Amelia Johnson

Outstanding Stage Management Students: Jake Fullmer, Christina Hernandez, MK Park

Outstanding Dramaturgy Student: Greta Gebhard

Outstanding Dramaturgy Student Lobby Display Award: Pollyanna Eyler

Outstanding Dramaturgy Student Study Guide Award: Amelia Johnson

Outstanding Dramaturgical Research Award: Richelle Sutton

Vera Hinckley Mayhew Playwriting Award
Outstanding Full-length Play: Teagan Clark
Best Premise for a One Act Play: Mari Molen
Outstanding 10 Minute Play: Susanna BeZooyen, Mariah Eames, Katelyn Naegle, Mandarin Wilcox

Outstanding Playwriting Student Award: Teagan Clark

Outstanding Working Playwright: Amelia Johnson and Lauren Young

Oustanding Student in Costume Design: Hanna Cutler Christensen

Oustanding Student in Makeup and Hair Design: Sarah Bult

Outstanding Student in Lighting Design: Susan Kupferer

Outstanding Student in Sound Design: Matthew Kupferer

O. Lee Walker Awards
Outstanding Costume and Properties Crafts Technician: Timo Elliott
Outstanding Makeup and Hair Technician: Arianna Krenk

Outstanding Directing Student Award – Fall: Meredith Campbell ~ The Little Prince, Rebecca McDonnell ~ Corpse Bride, Taylor Stroupe ~ One Dark Night

Outstanding Directing Student Award – Winter: Mariah Eames ~ Nell Gwynn, Daniel Fifield ~ William Shakespeare Star Wars, Verily a New Hope, Andrew Smith ~ The Last Firefly

Outstanding Theatre Education Student: Jana Wilhite

Outstanding Acting Student Award: Madison Haws

Outstanding Student: Amelia Johnson

Outstanding Student Finalists: Jacob Baird, Soren Barker, Andrew Justvig, Madison Hall, Jana Wilhite

Student News

Media arts graduate Cameron Babcock (2017) was accepted to USC’s master’s program.  Bronté Campbell Babcock (2016) was accepted to American Film Institute’s (AFI) graduate program. Congratulations to this husband and wife team who will continue their education careers in southern California.
cameron babcock

About 80 theatre students gathered in the Nelke theatre on Reading Day, to solve the “Murder in the HFAC,” and ate a delicious brunch.  Sponsored by the Student Theatre Association (STA), the students gave their own tributes to Rodger Sorensen (scores of selfies they had taken with him over this past year) and figured out that the “brother,” Soren Barker had murdered the bride (Lindsi Neilson).  Dennis Wright is the faculty advisor of the STA.  Officers of the club include Cameron Cox, Melissa Longhurst, Jacob Pierce, and Arianna Krenk.

Murder at the HFAC wedding invite

The Student Film Association hosted a “Student Screening Soiree” the evening of Wednesday, April 18 in F-201. It was a chance for Media Arts students to display their talents to their classmates and ask for feedback in a fun, friendly, non-judgmental, last-day-of-school, celebratory kind of way. To submit, films were required to be 20 minutes or less and meet the standards of the TMA Creation and Viewing Policy as well as the BYU Honor Code. About 25 students, friends, and spouses were able to kick back and relax with their film buddies before finals began. It was also the last chance to spend time together before some students graduate and head to other film meccas (LA, NY, ATL, etc.). After the evening started off with a prayer and a dinner of JDawgs, a total of 24 films (ranging from three to ten minutes) were screened.  Many students submitted their creative sample from their Media Arts application or work from TMA classes, although there were a few which were personal projects made outside of school. The finale was three collaborative films made by the TMA 384R classes of Producing for a Script (taught by Jennie Brown), Shooting for a Script (taught by Katie Hill), and Sound Acquisition (taught by Bryan Densley; formerly taught by Travis Allen). From Winter 2018, La Horchata No Es Vegana; Winter 2017, Safe & Sound; and Winter 2016, Spit Take. These films each involved a large number of students, many of who were in attendance, and viewing them gave these students the opportunity to share their positive experiences in these classes with the other, newer, students. All in all, the evening lasted about two hours and was enjoyed by those in attendance.  Thanks to Michelle Gioglio who spear-headed this event.

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Department News 04-16-18

Three TMA students participated in the KCACTF National Festival last week.  Bradley Mackay (BFA Acting) and his partner and wife Malia Mackay (MDT) participated in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship national audition and the Acting Fellowship.  Susan Kupferer participated in the Lighting Design Fellowship. The week was busy for the students and they spent full days with their cohorts in workshops, round tables, and sharing in collaborations brought to the Kennedy Center from all over the country.  Friday night, Bradley and Malia performed in the Terrace Theater at the Kennedy Center as part of the national Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Audition.  Our students represented TMA and BYU well! At the end of the evening, Bradley was awarded the alternate (2nd place) award for the National Partners for the American Theatre National Classical Acting Award, 2nd place for the Society of American Fight Directors award (and a scholarship to attend their summer fellowship), and he won the Margolis Fellowship––a full scholarship to the 3-week New York voice and movement, and collaboration with directors, actors, and other theatre makers.  Both Stephanie Brienholt and Adam Houghton accompanied the students to the national festival.  Stephanie met with members of the national committee to prepare for her upcoming appointment as KCACTF Region VIII Co-Vice Chair (beginning in February 2019).

Tom Russell and Kyle Stapley both attended the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Conference in Las Vegas earlier this week to research new technologies and software.  While Tom approached the conference as a film maker, Kyle was looking for new equipment, technologies, and software for the Media Arts Lab.  Last year’s conference seemed to highlight Virtual Reality technologies, this year’s conference seemed to focus on HDR, not necessarily any new technologies, but refinements of existing ones. Tom appreciated that there are now more options for certain kinds of high quality film making at affordable prices, film making systems that are becoming more integrated and can even bypass laptops, and better camera stabilization systems.  Kyle and Tom met with groups from Panasonic, Avid, Canon, Tilta, Boling, and Quasar Laboratories. They also attended presentations from some of our media arts alums. Jacob Schwarz and Sam Bilodeau both presented with Panasonic about their new Lumix Gh5s camera and HDR technologies. Ryan Little and Adam Anderegg also presented with LaCie Tech about the use of Drones for episodic TV.  Alum Devin Graham was working with Glidecam.  In fact, we were pleased to see that Glidecam now offers a stabilization system called “The Devin Graham Signature Series,” because of his well-known Supertramp Youtube channel with over 4 million subscribers.   Both Tom and Kyle felt the highlight of the conference was reconnecting with media arts alums.


Student and Alumni News

Recent media arts graduate Dhane Taylor (Dec. 2017) was just accepted into Columbia University’s Creative Producing MFA Program, one of the top graduate film programs in the world.  While at BYU, Dhane helped produce media for Divine Comedy and was the producer for the capstone project Maggie.  From Columbia’s website: “The Film MFA Program in Creative Producing is a three-year program that takes advantage of Columbia’s unique geography at the center of the independent film world, with the mission of creating the next generation of producers. …Students share a common first year with students in the Screenwriting/Directing MFA program, reflecting the faculty’s belief that the best training for producers includes work in all of these disciplines.” ( )

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Department News 04-09-18

Adam Houghton and the company of The Legend for Witkacy: Theatrical Research in Pure Form presented the devised piece on Saturday evening in the Nelke.  Three actors, Ann Lopez (Melissa), Stephen Moore (James), and graduate student Rick Curtiss (Andrew) performed the hour-long research/performance inspired by the ideas of Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (aka Witkacy), a Polish playwright, painter and philosopher active in first half of the twentieth century.  A version of the project was performed in December 2017 in Austria at the International University Global Theatre Experience (IUGTE) Conference in Leibnitz, Austria, and will be performed in August at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2018.  The performance explored Witkacy’s ideas of “Pure Form,” which the company interpreted “to mean  the elemental concepts of space, time, and energy. The performance [was] made of a physical score based on ten baroque paintings which were manipulated in a wide variety of ways in order to emphasize the story.”  (Legend for Witkacy program)  The actors explored the themes of mortality, love, and identity with a text they devised over Winter Semester.  The result was an intensely fascinating and compelling work that was quite stunning.  Kudos to all involved.  Stage manager Jake Fullmer was able to record the work and will supply a link to the video for any faculty members interested in accessing it.

Thursday, April 12 performances include:

11 am                          Lindsay Livingston’s TMA 321 class

Thunder & Lighting is an outdoor, immersive performance                                                        that explores how we experience, and explain, the weather.                                                      Created by the Contemporary Performance Practices class,                                                        this devised performance uses physical theatre, puppetry, and                                                  endurance art to tell the stories that we tell ourselves about                                                      the natural world and our place in it.

Time: 11:00am; Date: Thursday, April 12; Location: The Duck Pond

Dress for the weather. This performance will take place outdoors, regardless of weather conditions.

1 pm                            Nat Reed’s Puppetry Class

4 pm                            StorySlam! Sponsored by Teresa Love’s Winter ’18 Storytelling Class (TMA 257)

  • Theme:  “Wow! Who would have thought…!”
  • 4 p.m. Thursday, April 12, Nelke Experimental Theatre, HFAC
  • All invited! Newbies, experienced tellers, and anyone in between
  • Place your name in a hat. Who knows who will tell?!
  • Those names pulled tell a 5 min (strict time limit!) story based on the theme
  • First, second and third place competitors as well as Audience Favorite win prizes of incalculable value!
  • Bring friends and loved ones to applaud, laugh, cheer or jeer you!
  • Cookies!

Friday, April 13

5pm & 8pm                   Stranger Things – A Parody Musical

Student News

Nate Snow (BA, BYU, 2011; MA, Bristol, 2013) successfully defended his doctoral dissertation at University of Central Florida (UCF). His topic was the reality/unreality of contemporary 3D animation.

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The eighth annual Utah Film Festival Awards were announced this weekend.  Several media arts capstone films were recognized, including the following.  Congratulations to our amazing students who garnered these nominations and awards. A complete list of awards is available at

  • Nominated for Actress Under 18, Mia Bagley in Maggie
  • Nominated for Editing, Aaron Hinton for Thorn, Thank you for Coming
  • Nominated for Lead Actor, Oscar Sanchez in Socorro (Marshall Davis)
  • Nominated for Lead Actor, J.R. Cox in Thorn, Thank you for Coming (Matt Siemers)
  • Nominated for Lead Actress, Shiloh Nyce in Maggie, (Lindsay Kampenhout)
  • Nominated for Made in Utah, Maggie (Lindsay Kampenhout)
  • Nominated for Made in Utah, Thorn, Thank you for Coming (Matthew Siemers)
  • Nominated for Short Film, English Speaking, I Love My Robot Boyfriend 
  • Nominated for Short Film, Thorn, Thank you for Coming, (Matthew Siemers)
  • Nominated for Supporting Actress, Whitney Palmer in Thorn, Thank you for Coming
  • Winner of the Short Film English Speaking, Maggie (Lindsay Kampenhout)
  • Winner of the Short Film, Non-English Speaking, Socorro (Marshall Davis)
  • Winner of Short Screenplay, Thorn, Thank you for Coming, by Matthew Siemers





Department News 04-02-18

This is the last week to catch Single Wide, written by George Nelson and directed and choreographed by Megan Sanborn Jones.  The original musical played in the New York Musical Festival in 2015 and was recognized by as one of the 10 best new shows on Broadway.  The script was also awarded the Blanche and Irving Laurie Musical Theatre Award from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. earlier that year.  Kudos to Travis Coyne for the set design, lighting designer Kalea Crapo, music director Mark Johnson and the live combo, vocal director Amanda Crabb (who also plays “Amanda,” Katy’s mom) and the amazing voices of the cast.  And, of course, “Sam,” played endearingly by Luke Belnap, is sure to capture your heart.

If you missed Romeo y Julieta (directed by Julia Ashworth) during its run on BYU campus in February, you can still catch one last performance a week from today, on Monday, April 9, at 7 pm in the Storytelling wing of the Orem Public Library.  Admission is free. For more details, please click here.

Be sure to catch the following upcoming end of semester performances! All are free!

April 7 at 7:30 pm    Nelke Theatre          The Legend for Witkacy          Adam Houghton

April 12 at 1 pm    Nelke Theatre          Puppetry Class                         Nat Reed

April 12 at 2 pm    Nelke Theatre          TMA 301 Class                          Lindsay Livingston

April 12 at 4 pm    Nelke Theatre          Storytelling Class                     Teresa Love

April 17 at 2 pm    D-341 HFAC              Neutral Mask Part 2                David Morgan

Student & Alumni News

Media Arts students Jessica Runyan and Abby Woods were among those selected to present their proposals for the Center for Animation’s annual capstone video game. Both students did exceptionally well in their presentations for the pitch session, which was attended by BYU students, faculty and designers from local game studio Chair. Jessica’s pitch for “Avast Ye” was selected as the Center’s next project. “Avast Ye” is a real-time strategy game in which players control a swarm of pirate ants who explore an abandoned playground after a rainstorm in search of treasure. Previous to this project, Jessica has worked as the producer of the 2017-18 capstone game, called “Beat Boxers,” which was selected as one of the top student-produced video games at this year’s Game Developers Conference. ​

Congratulations to media arts alum Greg Barnes (2014), who contributed to the film Clean Blood, which played in Slamdance earlier this year.  Greg has been accepted into graduate school at NYU Tisch this fall.

We are pleased to announce the 2018-19 BYU Theatre Season!

The World’s Strongest Librarian – Young Company
By Jeff Gottesfeld and Elizabeth Wong from the book by Josh Hanagarne
Recently winning the American Alliance for Theatre & Education’s Distinguished Play Award, this play is based on the real life of Salt lake City’s most famous librarian, Josh Hanagarne. Perfect for all ages, this story shows how the superpowers of learning and human kindness are as important as physical strength.

The Mousetrap – Mystery
By Agatha Christie
Trapped in a local bed and breakfast by a snowstorm, a group of strangers is horrified to learn there is a murderer in their midst. Join us for the longest-running play of the modern era, a tale of suspense and terror that ends as shockingly today as it did in 1952.

Radium Girls – Drama
By D.W. Gregory
Grace and her coworkers-factory works who paint the faces of the radium-fluorescent watches-fight for their day in court when they all begin to fall ill with a mysterious disease. With nine actors playing 38 roles, Radium Girls is a fast-paced snapshot of the true story of what happens when the American dream bumps up against the realities of health, wealth, and big business.

Wonderland – Musical
Music by Frank Wildhorn
From the team that brought you the BYU smash hit The Count of Monte Cristo, this new musical takes Lewis Carrol’s classic story and sets it in present day New York. Jump down the rabbit hole to discover this inspirational story of love, redemption, and the power of imagination.

Comedy of Errors – Young Company
By William Shakespeare
Bring your whole family to this zany adaption of one of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies! Featuring two sets of twins, all separated at birth, two rival cities, one happy ending, and plenty of confusion along the way, this production will explore what it really means to be family while keeping you laughing from beginning to end.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead – Comedy
By Tom Stoppard
This Tony Award-winning modern masterpiece follows the classic story of Hamlet as seen through the eyes of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor characters in Shakespeare’s play. Sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, and always philosophical, Stoppard’s most popular work forces us to confront the power of life and the meaning of death.

Contemporary Voices: Play Readings from Award-winning Scripts
Join us for an evening of script-in-hand readings of award-winning plays that intrigue, provoke, and enlighten. These performances are part of BYU Theatre’s mission to develop the best art and artists. The readings will be from largely unedited scripts that allow the audience to engage with the work of master playwrights whose important voices might otherwise not be heard in our university community. Every performance will be followed by a lively discussion with audience and performers.

Department News 03-26-18

Not many seats left!  Get your tickets to Single Wide here!  Written by George and McLean Nelson and directed by Megan Sanborn Jones, the award-winning musical opened this past weekend.  To read a promotional article about the production in The Daily Herald, go here.

Last Friday, Tim Threlfall’s “The Business” class (TMA 421) invited a panel of BYU alums to talk about how their undergrad education at BYU has shaped and influenced their careers.  Panelists included MDT graduates Susie Balser (MDT 2002, dancer and actor, owner and artistic director for Dance), Ben Cummings (Casting Specialist at the LDS MPS), Andra Johnson Duke (MDT 1998, BYUB Director of Content), Kevin Goertzen (BFA Acting 2008, Assistant Dean of Development at UVU’s School of the Arts), and Wade Hollingshaus (TMA 1998, Chair of TMA).  Each panelist spoke briefly about the path they took to where they currently are and then students asked questions.  Part of the purpose of the class is to expand students’ options once they graduate.  Broadway is a wonderful goal, but there are many more options and opportunities for students to find fulfilling careers in the arts!

Last week, we sent a link to a short trailer the CFAC External Relations team made, “Sacred Sounds: Can Music Heal the Religious Divide” that erroneously gave credit for the trailer to media arts student Peter Totten. Peter actually made six different short docs for the interdisciplinary project.  Three of those docs can be accessed here:

The CFAC trailer, entitled Sacred Sounds: A Compassionate Listening Guide to Musical Worship was part of an interdisciplinary exhibition curated by undergraduate Maddie Blonquist. The project investigated the musical sounds used in worship in the three Abrahamic religions — Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Visitors listened to an audio guide, watched a documentary, marveled at art installations and read examples of prayers, all with the intent of improving interfaith relations on campus and in the community.

Director: Melinda Semadeni Production Manager: Emily Webb Producer: Russ Richins Videography: Brian Wilcox, Colby Barrios & Scott Baylon Editor: Mark Goodman with DreamChaser Entertainment, Inc. Writer: Amanda Shrum Music: Original music by Lorenzo Giusti, “Ahavah Rabbah” by Elana Arian and Noah Aronson (TinaTunaMusic – BMI) from “A Spark of Light” with text from Morning Liturgy Additional footage: Lee Groberg and Groberg Films, Peter Totten, Jaye Abhau, Pond5, Shutterstock Interviews: Maddie Blonquist, Peter Totten, Brandon Boulton, Dr. Jeremy Grimshaw Special thanks to: Lucas Jones, Julie Walker, Cantor Wendy Bat-Sarah, Imam Muhammed Mehtar, Debra Bonner and the Unity Gospel Choir, Lux Singers, Garon Brett (Studio Y), BYU

Student and Alumni News

  • Andrew Justvig is a semi-finalist in the Gary Marshall Theater New Works Festival! Eventually, the festival will select 8 plays for concert readings in L.A. with professional actors and directors. With 8 plays as finalists, Andrew feels like he has a shot!

andrew justvig

  • Two current media arts students were finalists for 2018 Association of Mormon Arts and Letters Awards in the film and video category. They are Marshal Davis for “Socorro”(a 2017 capstone film) and Barrett Burgin for “Out of the Ground.” BYU theatre alums Davey and Bianca Morrison Dillard were also finalists in the film and video category, with a TV pilot, A Pug and Wolf Christmas.  Congratulations to Marshal Davis’s  “Socorro” for being recognized as the winning entry in this category.


  • Two BYU theatre alums are finalists in the drama category of the Association of Mormon Arts and Letters Awards: Virtue by Tim Slover, Plan-B Theatre Company, Cathedral Church of St. Mark, Salt Lake City and Not One Drop by Morag Shepherd, Plan-B Theatre Company, Rose Wager Center, Salt Lake City. Tim’s play Virtue was the winning entry.
  • To read about all awards, including winners and finalists, go to the Association of Mormon Letters website at

Department News 03-19-18

BYU’s production of the new musical Single Wide has its debut performance this Friday, March 23. Based on the book by George D. and Maclain Nelson, this musical follows the story of Katy, a girl with lofty dreams living in tiny trailer park; but she won’t let that get her down! Filled with inspiring determination, challenges, grit, and hope, this musical features a country/pop score produced by Jordan Kamalu with additional lyrics provided by the author, George D. Nelson. Directed and choreographed by Megan Sanborn Jones, with music direction by Amanda Crabb, Single Wide is a new iteration of the award winning version of the play that performed off-Broadway in New York! For additional information and easy access to purchasing tickets for the show, click here.

Michael Kraczek, Rory Scanlon, Jessica Cowden, Travis Coyne, and Ward Wright all attended the USITT Conference last week.  In addition, TMA design students Kayla Doyle and Timo Elliot also participated.  Rory Scanlon participated on a panel discussion entitled “Artist Turned Administrator,” addressing the pros and cons of being a theatre designer who is now in university administration.  Rory shared the stage with Randy Mugleston (TMA alum and Dept Chair of Theatre and Dance at Montclair State University), Brian Jones (Chair, Dept of Theatre and Dance at Indiana University of Pennsylvania), Dennis Hassan (Artistic Director of The Lyric Repertory Company) and Catherine Zublin (past Associate Dean at Weber State University).  Rory ran into former students who are now just finishing up graduate school work, Graham Whipple and Melanie Lamb, as well as former students now working professionally around the United States. Catching up with former students is one of Rory’s favorite things about the conference.  Another highlight for Rory was the opportunity to meet Wiliam Ivey Long, a well-known professional costume designer the organization was honoring who signed his new book just published by USITT press.  Michael Kraczek is the chair of a working group within USITT that is documenting lighting and digital media networks.  This group coordinated a feedback session to look at the latest draft.  Eventually, their work will be published by USITT as part of their recommended practices for different design areas, including scenic, sound and lighting.  Michael also presented a session on lighting safely in an outdoor setting.  In addition, he was the co-chair for the lighting portfolio review sessions.

USITT 2018

Jessica Cowden was able to take this photo of design students Kayla Doyle and Timo Elliot at USITT last week.

Student News

Media arts student Peter Totten helped with an interdisciplinary project called Sacred Sounds:  Can Music Heal the Religious Divide? The six-minute video he created about the project is posted here:

The college has also created a page that highlights the students who worked on this project, which can be accessed here. Peter was one of five students who worked on the project, under the direction of music student, Maddie Blonquist, whose research spearheaded the project.

Peter Totten

Peter Totten


Department News 03-12-18

The CFAC Dean’s office has announced the reappointment of Wade Hollingshaus as chair of the Department of Theatre and Media Arts for three more years. We have been blessed by Wade’s dedication, sacrifice and thoughtful leadership. Congratulations to Wade and the TMA department!


BYU Department of Theatre and Media Arts presents: MARY STUART. In a new version by Peter Oswald and directed by Stephanie Breinholt, the relationship between two formidable, yet fragile women is laid bare in this modern version of one of the greatest historical dramas ever written. Loosely based upon the events surrounding Queen Mary Stuart of Scotland’s claim to Queen Elizabeth’s throne, the heart of the play is an imagined meeting between the two rulers that surprises with its contemporary insights into the nature of power, femininity, and kinship.Front Row Reviewers Utah posted a stunning review of the production. Click here for access to that review. Click here for a link to the program. Click here for the Facebook event page.

mary stuart.jpg

A regional magazine in the midwest called Inspire(d) just published a feature article about Brad Barber’s States of America series. The magazine interviewed Brad’s wife Susan and him about the three states they directed together in the area their magazine serves (Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa). Here’s the link to the article, which starts on page 20. The media arts students that worked on these episodes were Stephanie Cook, Shelly Rose, and Jared Jakins.

BYU Vocal Point’s “Beauty and the Beast A Cappella Medley” ft. Lexi Walker won two of the major awards in the 2018 Contemporary A Cappella Society Video Awards: Outstanding Collaborative Video and Best Show Tunes / Soundtrack / Theme Song. Nominated in five categories, the video was also runner-up in two other categories: Outstanding Choreography / Staging and Outstanding Costume / Makeup. The CASA Awards are widely considered the Oscars of the A Cappella world.  The video currently has over 4.5 million views. Filmed at Wadley Farms Castle in Lindon, Utah, many media arts, TMA design students, and alums also participated behind the scenes. The video was directed by Jeff Parkin, and co-produced by Jeff and Jared Cardon. See the video below:

Winner – Outstanding Collaborative Video
Winner – Best Show Tunes / Soundtrack / Theme Song
Runner-up – Outstanding Choreography / Staging
Runner-up – Outstanding Costume / Makeup

Outstanding Choreography / Staging
Outstanding Collaborative Video
Outstanding Costume / Makeup
Outstanding Video Editing
Best Show Tunes / Soundtrack / Theme Song

CREW (A complete list of credits is available in the information dropdown.)
Directed and produced by Jeff Parkin
Produced and edited by Jared Cardon
Associate producer/1stAD: Babetta Kelly
2nd AC:  Colton Elzey
Camera PAs: Aaron Hinton, Ben Haskin
Gaffer:  Spencer Scanlon
MoVI Operator:  Sean Slobodan
Jib Operator:  Matt Siemers
Grips: Pepé Callejas, Jeffrey Hein
2nd 2nd AD: William Knowles
Production Designer: Kayla Doyle
Art Assistant: Isaac Wright
Wardrobe Assistant: Abbie Vance
Key Hair & Makeup: Michaela Fordham
Hair & Makeup Assistants: Sarah Bult, Marnee Porter
Assistant to the Director: Barrett Burgin
Production Assistants: Tabitha Brower, Elizabeth Elieson, Keith Grover
VP Stage Manager: Caitlin Black

For the second year in a row, Nick Mendoza has won a Gold Award and a Grand Gold Award for his designs at the District 7 CASE Awards. Both years, the awards were given for his work on the Theatre Season posters.

Congratulations to all those who participated in the LDS Film Festival which took place in Orem February 26 to March 3, 2018.  The following films were recognized during the festival.  All the feature films were made by media arts alums; all the short films and animation were made by (then) current media arts students.


◊ Best Feature Film – Not Cinderella’s Type, directed by Brian Brough
◊ 2nd Place – Instrument of War, directed by Adam Anderegg
◊ Audience Choice – Instrument of War, directed by Adam Anderegg
◊ 2nd Place – Not Cinderella’s Type, directed by Brian Brough


◊ 2nd Place – “Maggie”, written and directed by Lindsay Kampenhaut, produced by Dhane Taylor
◊ 3rd Place – “I Love My Robot Boyfriend!,” written and directed by Sariah May, produced by Elise Moulton
◊ Audience Choice – “Hey Brooklyn,” written and directed by Cameron Babock and produced by Garrett Helgesen
◊ 2nd Place – “I Love My Robot Boyfriend!,” written and directed by Sariah May, produced by Elise Moulton


◊ 3rd Place – “What Am I Doing” by Taylor Davis
◊ Audience Choice:  3rd Place – “What Am I Doing” by Taylor Davis