Department News 06-17-19

Our dear friend and colleague Marion Bentley passed away on Saturday, June 8. His obituary can be found on the Nelson Family Mortuary website. At BYU, he helped shape the General Education Program and the Honors Colloquium. His nephew Jeffrey R. Holland, when serving as BYU’s president, said “Marion is a student’s teacher. He loves them, he inspires them, and his service at BYU is principally for them.” We are grateful for Marion’s contributions to the university and send our love to his family.

Services will be on Saturday, June 22nd at 11a.m. with a viewing from 9:00a.m. to 10:45a.m. in the Oak Hills Stake Center, 925 E. North Temple, Provo. The department will be sending flowers; if you’d like to contribute to the Faculty Remembrance Fund for these flowers, please give your check or cash to Elizabeth Funk.


Marion Jeter Bentley; photo courtesy of Nelson Family Mortuary.

BYU’s Museum of Art’s June 14th Family Festival got a little extra “ooomph” from Teresa Love‘s Spring ’19 Storytelling class. The students partnered with MOA’s museum educator Kitsa Behringer, responding to the Becoming America exhibit. Students chose art pieces, crafted related tales, and then performed in the gallery throughout the day. Stories ranged from actress Fay Bainter’s love story, to an astonishing profile of a nine-year old civil war nurse, to a highly dramatic pioneer rescue story. Some told stories from ancestors’ lives. Some stories were fiction, some were truth and some were fictional truth. Storytellers demonstrated their abilities to engage spontaneous audiences, toddler to adult. Theatre education students Rebecca Christiansen and Emily Trejo were joined by Bruce Whitesides (Animation), Cameron Jones (Business), Elizabeth Baird (Art) and Karaleigh Garrison (Family Studies) interpreting paintings from Norman Rockwell, John Singer Sargent, Maynard Dixon, and Minerva Tiechert, among others.  Over two hundred audience members enjoyed the fusion of visual and storytelling art.

The London Theatre Study Abroad (LSA) didn’t waste a second on their penultimate week in London. Four of the seven days they saw shows! From dressing up to attend a Romeo and Juliet ballet to relaxing as they watched the classic Fiddler on the Roof, LSA has seen quite the range of theatre in the last week alone. The other two shows, The Lehman Trilogy and Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs), pushed them outside their comfort zones in the best ways! When not cramming for their finals, the LSA students have been cramming in last minute adventures. Whether it’s seeing shows, hiking the Cliffs of Dover, or enjoying the incredible parks and museums London has to offer, they’ve definitely been making the most of their time.

Many thanks to Brittany Vance for writing this article, and we hope the students enjoy the final days of LSA.


Audition 2019: Hale Center Theater Orem – Thoroughly Modern Millie

Auditions for Thoroughly Modern Millie will be held, by appointment only, June 22nd, 2019 at Hale Studios (537 N. 1200 W. in Orem).

Audition appointments may be made by calling the box office at 801-226-8600. Arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment to fill out the appropriate paperwork before your audition time. 

Please prepare 16 bars of a song in the style of the show. An accompanist will be provided. Headshots and resumes are encouraged. Bring sheet your sheet music. No minus tracks may be used.

Thoroughly Modern Millie will be directed by Lisa Hall, with choreography by Ashley Gardner Carlson, and music direction by Justin Bills.

Callbacks, by invitation only, will be on Saturday, June 29th, 2019.

Anyone who is unable to attend the initial audition may submit an audition form and video. Please send your video along with a headshot, resume, and your audition form to no later than June 20th to be considered for callbacks. You may download the audition form HERE.

Department News 06-10-19

In early 2020, an original scripted, comedy podcast entitled, Escape From Planet Death will be ready for broadcast. The script of ten episodes was developed by twelve students in a writers’ room in winter semester 2019, with the final series re-write completed by faculty creative advisor, Tom Russell. As part of the special projects course, six student producers, supervised and mentored by adjunct faculty member Courtney Russell, helped break down the scripts, manage the schedule and budget, and organize various aspects of the production. The student producing team consisted of Connor Dean, Sam Matheson, John Newton, Karina Orton, Jenna Rasmussen, and Gillian Walch. The series follows a group of incompetent bureaucrats as they attempt to save what’s left of mankind on the distant planet Genesis. The series deals with questions surrounding utilitarianism, the soul, and the uniquely human capacity for repentance and change. By telling the story solely through the medium of sound, Tom hopes to provide an experiential learning environment for students as they develop their writing, sound design, producing, and directing skills. This past week, without time for recuperation from the Writers’ Conference, Tom and Courtney jumped right into major recording for the podcast at June Audio in Provo; they captured performances from voice actors including Saturday Night Live’s Kyle MooneyLouie Anderson of BasketsJoe EstevezStephanie Breinholt, and past and current BYU students, Will RubioWhitney CallMallory EvertonKatie JarvisMorgan Gunter, and Dylan WrightJerusha Hess was brought in to direct the series. Editing and foley will begin during the summer term, continue during the fall semester, with and conclude in January 2020 – with final episodes released on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon.

What do demons, an Elizabethan doctor, and 80s rock music all have in common? BYU’s production of Doctor Faustus that will be performed September 19-21, 2019! Written by Christopher Marlowe and directed by grad student Hannah Gunson-McComb, this classic Elizabethan play explores themes of the fronts we put up around our fellow man and the lies we tell to others and ourselves. About the play, Hannah said that “it’s such a poetic look into what Hell is really like. To me, Hell is all about lying.” She chose The Who’s 1982 song “Eminence Front” as the play’s concept and integrated 80s rock into the entire play. “As for why the whole show is 80s rock?” Hannah asks. “Why not?” With homages to several 80s rock legends–like Freddie Mercury, Elton John, and Ozzy Osbourne–the show will certainly be unforgettable.

Cast members include Caleb Andrus as Faustus, Ian Buckley as Mephistopheles, and Elizabeth‘s new assistant, Braxton Church, as Gluttony and the Emperor. Cameron Cox will serve as stage manager, with Emma Petersen-Porter as costume designer, and Rachel Bennet as hair & makeup designer. Rehearsals began a month ago, and already the cast is ecstatic for the production in September and would love to see you there.

Doctor Faustus

In this meme Hannah created to advertise the show, she states another reason she chose to direct “Doctor Faustus:” it’s an Elizabethan play not by Shakespeare!

London Theatre Study Abroad (LSA) is still going strong in London; last week they ramped up their theatre consumption! This week’s plays: All My SonsMerry Wives of WindsorKnight of the Burning Pestle and White Pearl. LSA also took time to explore the vast expanse of Hampton Court! They wandered through England’s first hedge maze, watched actors cook meat over a spit and played ancient board games. With only a week and a half left on the study abroad, they’re showing no sign of slowing down!

We’d like to thank Brittany Vance for writing this LSA article, and hope everyone on LSA can enjoy their last week in London!


Dr. Frances Anne Smeath, who completed her undergraduate degree from BYU theatre in 1969 and received a graduate degree in 1979, has written a play on the life of Christopher Marlowe, Shaking the Earth, which will play on June 14, 15, 17, 21, and 22, all at 7:30 pm at the 3rd Space Studios, 247 W. Center Street in Provo. More information about the play can be found here: Ticketing information can be found here:


Audition 2019: Renaissance Now – Wolves of Sherwood

Renaissance Now Announces Auditions for their Fall Production: Wolves of Sherwood, written my local playwright Chelsea Frandsen and Directed by Sarah Re.

Cassian, son of infamous outlaw Robin Hood, is intent on making his own legacy with the help of the spy Friar Tuck and his cousin Jean-Luc. Matters are complicated when Sir Guy of Gisbourne returns with his daughter, Ravenna, intent on a marriage of alliance with Sheriff Josselin DeClaire, and the Assassin hired to annihilate the outlaws in Sherwood once and for all.

Auditions: Wednesday June 26th, 2019 6pm-9pm at the Harris Fine Arts Center, Brigham Young University

Callbacks: Saturday June 29th, 2019 12pm-2pm, at the Harris Fine Arts Center, Brigham Young University

Prepare 1 minute contemporary monologue, headshots, resume

Follow our Facebook Event and check out our website for more details

Department News 06-03-19

Last week’s Writers’ Conference was a huge success! This is the fourth biennial Writers’ Conference, which many thought was the best so far. The food was amazing and the guests and discussions were stimulating and inspiring. We are especially grateful for all the time and effort Tom and Courtney Russell put into conceptualizing and organizing these conferences. Things started off the evening of Wednesday, May 29, with registration at the Timpanogos Lodge. Sixty-seven participants attended, including eight media arts alums and other guests, in addition to most of our media arts faculty. The evening began with Wade Hollingshaus interviewing special guest Adam Miller, a professor of philosophy at Collin College in McKinney, Texas. He is the author of eight books and directs the Mormon Theology Seminar. Afterwards, the group screened Train to Busan and participated in a discussion moderated by Darl Larsen and Tom Russell.

Thursday morning, May 30, had two hours of “Table Reads,” where a group of actors present a concert reading of short screenplays written by media arts students or alums. Conference participants then gave feedback and asked questions. After lunch, the group screened the first and second episodes of America To Me, followed by an interview and Q&A session with Steve James, moderated by Dean Duncan. One of the premier current documentarians, James’ Starz docuseries, America to Me, premiered at Sundance and is one of the most acclaimed TV shows of 2018. After dinner, the group screened Fail State, after which, a women’s panel composed of Virginia Pearce, Julia Glausi Woods, Caitlin Walton, and Whitney Call, presented. The panel was moderated by Kimball Maw Jensen and Courtney Russell.

Friday, May 31, also started off with Table Reads, again using short scripts written by media arts students or alums. Early afternoon included a presentation of a student podcast project, Radioland, given by Elena Bender and Sam Burton. After the podcast episode, there was a Q&A, moderated by Benjamin Thevenin. Late afternoon included a screening of A Quiet Place. After dinner, Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, who wrote A Quiet Place, were interviewed by Jeff Parkin. After dinner, participants screened The Mosquito Coast, written by guest Paul Schrader.

Saturday, June 1, had students practicing their skills by pitching film ideas. After the pitches, legendary writer, Paul Schrader, spoke about his writing process. After Paul spoke and the group had lunch, First Reformed was screened, which was written and directed by Paul Schrader. After the screening, Dean Duncan moderated the interview. Much appreciation to Kyle Stapley and Grant Gomm who provided technical and logistical support for the conference, as well as our TMA front desk secretariesKaitlyn Powell, Becca Mcleod , and Brooklyn Parkinson, who assembled all the binders and name badges.

This past February, our own Benjamin Thevenin visited the Topaz War Relocation Site with his Space, Place & Media Arts Course (TMA 477). The class was accompanied by photographer Alyssa Lyman from the CFAC external relations office, who shared her experiences visiting the site on the CFAC website. Alyssa said she “was both amazed and shocked by what I saw,” but also “grateful that we have documentation of it to remind us of these events and prevent things like this from happening in the future.” In fact, we know so much about the Topaz Camp because prisoner Dave Tatsuno smuggled a camera into the camp, eventually making a documentary that the Library of Congress views as “culturally significant.” You can find more photos that Alyssa took of the Topaz War Relocation Site here. In addition to Topaz, TMA 477 went to the Salt Flats, Arches, and Monument Valley to study media and art in relation to place. This June, Benjamin, along with three students from the class, Sam Burton, Cristin Lunt, and Elias Gold, are attending the NAMLE Conference in Washington DC and presenting a workshop based on their experience in class.

Two weeks ago was the most anticipated part of the London Theatre Study Abroad (LSA): travel week! They spent Monday together exploring the Tower of London, then scattered across Europe. LSA had groups in Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Poland, Italy, France, Spain and England! Highlights of the various trips: staying on a farm, visiting Holocaust memorials, climbing the Eiffel tower and eating delicious food. Now that they’re back together, they can’t wait to dive back into all the theatre that London has to offer!

Once again, we would like to thank Brittany Vance, the LSA Theatre TA and our coordinator, for writing this article.

More news from the LSA, courtesy of Brittany Vance. This week was green, green, green! LSA started their adventures in London’s sprawling Kew Gardens before venturing out on our second excursion to the countryside. Between marveling at Stonehenge, wandering the ancient streets of Bath, and exploring Stourhead, they enjoyed the great weather and clear country air. If you think they were too busy to enjoy theatre, fear not! LSA enjoyed three plays together last week–In the Willows, Henry V and Class–and they can’t wait to watch more!


Audition 2019: Utah Children’s Theater – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The Utah Children’s Theater is proud to announce auditions for our 2019 Shakespeare Festival for Children and Adults with Short Attention Spans. They will be performing the magical comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Please see all audition information below!

WHERE: Utah Children’s Theatre STUDIOS: 3601 S State Street SLC, UT 84115 (Building to the north of the main theatre)
WHEN: Saturday, June 22nd from 9:30am to 12:30pm (please sign up for an audition time at

WHAT to BRING: Please make sure to bring a headshot and resume to the audition
PREPARE: Please memorize one side found at (
WHO: Men & Women age 11 & up; one role for young boy age 9-13
CALLBACKS: Will be held by invitation the following week in the evening.

Please fill out this form. This electronic form will be used by the Director and Stage Manger when you arrive for your reserved audition timeframe.

Any questions, email

Department News 05-27-19

Writers’ Conference is next week at Timp Lodge near Sundance resort. Organized by Tom and Courtney Russell, this year’s conference will feature the following speakers: Paul Shrader, Steve James, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, Whitney Call, Julia Glausi Woods, Virginia Pearce, Caitlin Stratton Waltonand Adam Miller. Click on each name to see a bio and pic. Over 90 students and faculty will attend. Special appreciation to Kyle Stapley and Grant Gomm who will provide technical support and our media arts faculty who will be participating. You can find the schedule here.

Writer's Conference

This past weekend, BYU’s “China Spectacular” opened in Beijing, and will conclude this week by performing in Xi’an, then ending in Shanghai. Not only will they perform, but those touring will connect with universities, government entities, and charities to further establish the bond the university and China have created over the past 40 years. John Lewis, head of operations for the “China Spectacular,” has said, “This tour is not BYU bringing Western entertainment to the East, but BYU showing gratitude for the growth and understanding both sides have worked toward.” One result of this long friendship is BYU’s Chinese Flagship Program, where students immerse themselves in a Chinese language program, even studying-abroad at Nanjing University in China.

This week we’re showing the promo video of the Cougarettes, BYU’s own dance and pom team, with music from BYU’s Chamber Orchestra. The video was produced by Jeff Parkin, Jared Cardon, and Jared Cook. Parkin and Cardon worked as directors for the promo, with media arts alumnus Byron Kirkland as director of photography. We wish all the performing groups the best in this year’s tour!

The TMA department would like to welcome Professor Tony Gunn, who will be joining our faculty this July. Recently, Tony’s play, Volition, was performed as a part of Odyssey Theatre’s most recent 10-minute play festival from May 9 – 12 in Sarasota, FL. There were over 80 plays submitted and nine were chosen for production.  You can find details and the names of the plays at Odyssey Theatre’s website. We congratulate Tony and this tremendous accomplishment and look forward to having him be part of the TMA faculty!

Tony Gunn Pic

Aurelia “Raye” Berryhill reports that she completed her recent APE (Advanced Project Exercises) project. She observed that, “It took a lot longer than I thought it would, (as post production always does), but here it is. I could write a whole paper on what I learned, but in short, I want to thank the Mary Lou Fulton Grant and the BYU Media Arts department … [for their support].”  Raye’s project was to film a choreographed dance, titled “Chronophobia.”

Adam Miller


Adam S. Miller is a professor of philosophy at Collin College in McKinney, Texas. He earned a BA in comparative literature from Brigham Young University and an MA and PhD in philosophy from Villanova University. He is the author of eight books. The New York Times described his The Gospel According to David Foster Wallace as “incantatory and gorgeous.” Recent publications with Deseret Book include Letters to a Young Mormon and An Early ResurrectionHe also directs the Mormon Theology Seminar. He and his wife Gwen have three children.

Caitlin Stratton Walton


Caitlin Stratton Walton graduated from BYU’s Media Arts program with emphases in producing and post production sound. While earning her degree she moved to LA to complete internships at Endgame Entertainment, Smart Post Sound, and DreamWorks Animation. Upon graduating she joined DreamWorks Animation Television to work on shows for Netflix and Amazon Prime. As a member of The Whitaker Society administration, Caitlin assists students in their transition to Los Angeles, as well as coordinating alumni outreach. Caitlin is currently a post production coordinator with DreamWorks Animation Television. Her credits include Voltron: Legendary DefenderAll Hail King JulienKung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny, and the upcoming Where’s Waldo on Universal Kids.

Virginia Pearce


A Utah native, Virginia loved to ski and attend Sundance Film Festival. After getting a journalism degree and working all over the country, she became the managing director of Sundance Institute, where she worked for 13 years before taking over as director of the Utah Film Commission.