Remembering Ken Washington; BFA senior Bear Brummel on Acting in Guthrie's A Christmas Carol
Ken Washington, the Guthrie Theater's Director of Company Development and a key figure in our BFA Actor Training Program, passed away November 26. "Ken was a friend, colleague and mentor to many of us in Theatre Arts and Dance. His quiet strength and passion for the education of young theater artists will be greatly missed," said Marcus Dilliard, UMTAD Chair.
A memorial service for Ken Washington was held on Thursday, December 11 at the Guthrie Theater and many of his BFA students and former students from around the country participated in this gathering with musical performances and personal remembrances. Over the span of his career, more than 500 young actors have studied and flourished under Ken's careful and caring mentorship. You can read about Ken and his impact on theater across the nation in this thoughtful piece written by Rohan Preston -http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/stageandarts/284112951.html
UMTAD colleagues, BFA students, alumni, and staff have come together to create The Kenneth Washington Memorial Scholarship fund. For more information or to make a gift, please contact Joe Sullivan at email@example.com or 612-624-8573. Donations can also be sent directly to the U of M Foundation, PO Box 860266, Minneapolis MN 55486-0266.
Bear Brummel on Acting in Guthrie's A Christmas Carol
While Bear Brummel (BFA'15) plays Fred, Scrooge's nephew and Daniel, a Fezziwig suitor, eight times a week, he is earning his "professional chops" in this year's cast of A Christmas Carol, the perennial holiday favorite at the Guthrie Theater. He is just one of many actors representing U of M in the production. The acting ensemble also includes Katie Kleiger (Belle, BFA'15) and alums J.C. Cutler, (Scrooge), Eleonore Dendy (Dora Fezziwig /Jane), Stuart Gates (Mr. Wimple / David / Belle's Husband ), Zach Keenan (Young Scrooge), Elizabeth Reese (Deirdre Fezziwig / Sally) and Arusi Santesteban (Ali Baba / Donald / Ghost of Christmas Future). Together the company of 47 performers brings to life Dickens' tale of Scrooge's transformation from miser to benefactor, now through December 28th. Between performances, Bear Brummel took a moment talk about his role in A Christmas Carol.
Q: What is it like to have the mean and miserly Ebenezer Scrooge as an uncle?
"Fred, Scrooge's infinitely chipper nephew, is the one man in London whom Scrooge has no effect on. Others pass by Scrooge in the street and feel chilled to the core whereas Fred tries to counteract his uncle's tendencies with a fiery sense of unbridled Christmas spirit."
Q: Is this your first time acting professionally at the Guthrie?
"Yes, this is my first Guthrie gig and I couldn't be more thrilled to be on that stage working with some of Minneapolis' most experienced as well as a bevy of new faces, young and old."
Q: Was the Guthrie audition process different from other shows you've auditioned for?
"The audition process was a tad different than others .... Initially, the BFA senior class was called in for individual audition slots. After that the Guthrie released a list of people they wanted to "call back," which included students from my class and UMTAD alumni that had auditioned separately. During the actual callback we read various scenes from the show with each other and then were taught a short dance by the director/choreographer Joe Chvala. A few weeks later I got a call offering me a role in the show. Even though they weren't able to tell me at that time what characters I would be playing, I accepted and found out this October that I'd be playing Fred as well as Daniel, one of the Fezziwig suitors."
Q: How has your training in the BFA program at the University of Minnesota helped you in securing and creating your character?
"The training we receive in the BFA program has proven invaluable while working on such a massive stage as the Wuertle Thrust at the Guthrie. The nuances of the character's actions and movements seem to be what has come the easiest while working. The technical and physical demands of a space as large as this one forced me to re-explore the basics. I've worked on projection, clarity, and the physical orientation of a body on stage in order to be most effectively understood by every set of ears and eyes in the audience."
Q: And the rehearsals --what was going through your head as the show came together?
"A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie is a pretty special beast in the world of theater. Every year people come out to see this massive event and it's up to the new actors, myself included, to respect the work that has been done in years prior while also bringing our own flair to the characters we are playing. .. This show is a giant machine and each new actor is a gear that has to adjust to fit into the machine while the machine is being calibrated to work smoothly around all the new and unique parts that are added with each new run at it. I think everyone in the room noticed that we've got a really marvelous thing to share this Christmas season."
Marcus Dilliard creates the lighting design for All is Calm, produced by Cantus & Theatre Latte Da at the Pantages Theatre,playing through December 21. Written and directed by Peter Rothstein, All is Calm brings to life, with song and soldiers' words excerpted from their letters home, the 24 hour Christmas truce of World War I.
Carl Flink will be choreographing for Gainesville Georgia's Theatre Alliance a production of Antigone January 5-18, 2015.