November 26, 2014

Four World Premieres take stage in UDT's Dance Revolutions, Dec. 4-7

Four world premieres will take center stage in University Dance Theatre's Dance Revolutions at the Rarig Center December 4 through 7. This dazzling collection of innovative work by guest choreographers Greg Dolbashian, Justin Jones, Maurya Kerr, and Scott Rink, all Cowles Visiting Artists, will be performed by the university's dance program students. Dance Revolutions is directed by Toni Pierce-Sands, co-founder of St. Paul's award-winning TU Dance and adjunct professor at the university's Theatre Arts & Dance Department. Dance Revolutions plays December 4, 5, 6 at 7:30pm and December 7 at 2:00pm. Tickets are available by visiting dance.umn.edu or by calling (612) 624-2345.

The program of premieres begins with LOOP, LOOP with choreography and sound design by Justin Jones. The piece looks at the ways in which a simple rule sets can generate complexity: three dancers independently learn a floor pattern in a small space, then three dancers learn how to walk the same floor pattern while holding hands without disconnecting while the piece evolves further. "The simple becomes complex and the process of learning the material becomes relational," says Jones. His work has been presented in New York City at The Thalia, LaMama Etc., Sarah Lawrence, EMPAC and in Minneapolis at Bryant Lake Bowl, Red Eye, The Southern Theater and the Walker Art Center. Mr. Jones is the recipient of the 2007 McKnight Fellowship for Choreography and was awarded a 2003 NYFA Fellowship for Performance Art and Multidisciplinary Work.

Maurya Kerr's new work FLANK, she describes as a punk/folk piece exploring war, and its subtext of rage. " I am interested in freeing young people, young women in particular, from the bondage of prettiness and conformity, and giving them, in the words of one of my dancers, the 'agency to be loud'," noted Kerr. FLANK completes the first segment of the program. Kerr is the director and choreographer of tinypistol, a San Francisco and project-based dance company she founded in 2010 after a twelve-year career with Alonzo King LINES Ballet. Her dance company has been honored by a Hubbard Street National Choreographic Competition award. Her work has been commissioned and presented by Ballet Nouveau Colorado (now Wonderbound), the Aspen Fringe Festival,WestWave Dance Festival, and REVERBdance Festival/APAP.

INSIST by Greg Dobashian opens the second half of the program. According to the choreographer, "the work offers a view into the leadership identity of an individual and was built through a very collaborative process." INSIST displays "the will within a person to affect their surroundings and to influence the outcomes of their own ambitions and pursuits." Dobashian has created his first international work for Springboard Montreal and is winner of several international choreographic competitions. He has received commissions from Atlanta Ballet, TU Dance in Minnesota, and CityDance Ensemble in D.C. Five years ago he founded his own company, The DASH Ensemble which has presented works at the Skirball Center, DTW, The Gershwin Hotel, Riverside Theater, Summer Stage, and The JOYCE Theater. Dolbashian was honored at NYC's DanceNOW challenge for his company's work. Recently his company premiered a film at New York's Tribeca Cinemas in collaboration with fashion film director Charlie Wan.

PAST (PRESENT) TENSE with choreography by Scott Rink completes the quartet of premieres. "In a world where oppression exists in differing societal forms with regard to sexual identity, race and gender," observes Rink, "we as human beings have two potentialities: the magical, where the individual is celebrated in all their unique glory and power and the pedestrian, where the individual is erased and becomes part of a faceless group. Do we see each other as divine creatures or do our judgments diminish the other? When we become bystanders are we complicit through our inaction?" Mr. Rink's choreographic work has been commissioned by recognized companies such as Ailey II, American Ballet Theatre II, Minnesota Dance Theatre, Oakland Ballet, RDT and others. Rink choreographed for and directed his own company danceRINK based in New York City for 15 years, and has choreographed award winning Off-Broadway new musicals and revivals as the resident choreographer for NYC- based Transport Group. Additionally, he has worked as choreographer on other independent film projects, regional musical theatre and commercial Sage Cowles Land Grant Chair

For the academic year 2014/2015 Cowles Visiting Artists and Scholars are Gregory Dolbashian, Justin Jones, Maurya Kerr, Susan Kikuchi, Since 1987, through the generosity of Sage and John Cowles, the University of Minnesota Dance Program has annually hosted four to six dance professionals of international renown in residencies ranging from one to ten weeks. The guests teach, choreograph new dance work, rehearse repertory, and lecture in the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance, and the Twin Cities' community at large. The Cowles Land Grant Chair connects nationally and internationally recognized artists and scholars with dance students, exposing them to contemporary artistry,masterwork and new thinking in dance studies.

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November 12, 2014

Two NEW Freshman Seminars set for Spring '15 now enrolling; BFA Studio Series performs New Plays

With spring registration deadlines quickly approaching, plenty of new and exciting opportunities for freshmen are presented across the university. Consider registering for one of these seminars offered through the Theatre Arts & Dance department. Each fulfills essential requirements.

Live Theatre: Creating and Expressing Community
This seminar seeks to utilize the immensely rich culture and resources in the Twin Cities such as Penumbra, Mixed Blood, and Ten Thousand Things supplemented with in class discussions and conversations with professionals to "develop a critical language with which to look at, think, discuss, and write about live performance - particularly its relationship to who we are to ourselves and each other." Many classes will occur at the theaters mentioned above!
Taught by Professor Sonja Kuftinec Thursdays 6:30-9:30pm
Fulfills Intensive Writing requirement

Backstage Pass to London: From the Guthrie to the Globe
London, theatre capital of of the English-speaking world, once prohibited public plays within its city gates. Why? How did a rained-out Hamlet performance at castle Elsinore become "game-changer" for 20th century stage design that actually effected Minneapolis and Rarig Center? What does A Midsummer Night's Dream share with Romeo and Juliet? See the shows and explore for with us! No photo of 1598 original exists, so how accurate is that reconstruction of the Globe Theatre anyway? You'll check out evidence, and decide. Meet today's Cardboard Citizen Theatre that empowers the homeless in London through performance.

Raise the curtain on London's world famous theatre scene and get a backstage view of what makes a great performance. Research performance practices, take actor-led tours on the Globe Theatre and the National Theatre. You'll visit Hampton Court Palace, where Shakespeare performed for his queen. Plans include experiencing plays, the famous Old Vic, and the West End. You will be debating and writing about them.

Taught by Dennis Behl, PhD Thursdays from 6:30 - 9:30pm. Class will study in London over spring break, March 13-22,
Fulfills Globe Perspectives liberal education requirement

NOTE Register before Dec 5. A few spaces are still available.
For more information visit: UMabroad.umn.edu/programs/fsa or contact Lindsey
at lahr 0039@umn.edu or 612 625-8827. Financial aid and $1000 FSA scholarships are available.

Coming Soon in November BFA STUDIO SERIES: NEW PLAYS

The BFA Class of '15 performs two new plays from opposite ends of the genre spectrum: an intense crime thriller and a thought-provoking and entertaining mythical mash-up.

BACK BAY by Christina Ham directed by Hayley Finn is set in the 1950s. In the grips of the Cold War the violent unsolved murder of a young African-American woman in Boston's affluent Back Bay neighborhood has the community on edge. When a fresh-off-the-farm Violet comes to stay in the illustrious mansion belonging to her older brother, Lowell, and his socialite wife, Elsie, she meets their best friend Alton who enlists her help to collaborate on a true crime novel investigating the unsolved homicide. As Violet closes in on the killer by following the trail of lies, the truth that she uncovers may destroy the lives of those around her. Inspired by such Post-War female crime fiction luminaries as Patricia Highsmith, Mary Roberts Rinehart, and Zenith Brown, this psychological thriller is a riveting and revealing portrait of how the other half lives.

WORLD WITHOUT END by Dominic Orlando is directed by Joseph W. Stodola. In The Beginning There Was . . what, exactly? An Old Dude in The Sky with a beard? Adam and Eve? Adam and Steve? Talking Snakes and glowing Angels? All God and no Goddess? WORLD WITHOUT END asks more questions than it answers, in a freewheeling mash-up of cultural myths where only one thing is certain: In The Beginning . . . There Was a Story.

See both of these plays, performed in the Kilburn Theater on the Liu stage, November 20 - 22. Admission is free.

Alumni Spotlight: BFA Grad cast in Disenchanted!

Stephanie Bertumen,(BFA '14) stars as Mulan, Pocahontas, and Jasmine in DISENCHANTED! at Minneapolis' Illusion Theater. These original fairytale princesses team up with others to "storm the castle" as they stand up against the exploitation they've suffered in today's modern portrayals of their stories.. See Bertumen in Disenchanted! at the Illusion Theater, running now through November 23.
Visit http://www.illusiontheater.org for more information.

Faculty/Staff Professional Activities

University of Minnesota Theatre Arts & Dance chair Marcus Dilliard provides lighting design for the Guthrie play RELICS. The year is 2314 and archaeologists have discovered remains from a 300-year-old colony in what was North America. As an audience member, you are invited to the opening night gala exhibition of the artifacts they uncovered. The Guthrie promises a "mind-bending interactive theatrical event [that] allows you to see today through the cracked lens of tomorrow." Among the cast is BA Theatre Program Head Luverne Seifert. Experience this theatrical museum event at the Guthrie Theater November 13 through November 23. For more information, visit http://www.guthrietheater.org

"To Embrace Failure? A Multi-Disciplinary Re-Thinking," moderated by Associate Professor Lisa Channer, explores the "productive" failure of single authorship and of representation in Bertolt Brecht's theatre, which ultimately led to new forms of collectivity. Featuring MA/PhD Associate Professor Margaret Werry, the panel will ask: what constitutes failure? What does failure mean for our academic work? Can failure be disentangled from success? This discussion will takes place on November 13 at 4 pm at the Crosby Seminar Room - 240 Northrop. Visit http://www.northrop.umn.edu for more

Associate professor Michael Sommers directs and designs THE JUNIPFER TREE at the Open Eye Figure Theatre playing now through Dec. 6. Recommended for ages 8 and up. Visit OpenEyeThreatre.org for details and ticket information.

Associate professor Carl Flink, presently on sabbatical leave, conducts an artist-in-residency program and stages his Lost Lullabies at Orem's Utah Valley University running November 17 - 22.

November 3, 2014

Working - Musical now on stage 'til Nov.9 / Cracks in the Wall: 25 Years after Berlin Symposium

UMTAD's current production of Working, now on stage through Nov. 9 at Rarig Center, has been dubbed as a Pick of the Week by Minn Post, enjoyed positive press reactions by Workday, Minnesota and Minnesota Daily. Working's dramaturg Rye Gentleman shares his observations about Studs Terkel (1912-2008) American author, historian, actor, broadcaster whose celebrated book served as the foundation for this musical stage adaptation:

In his introduction to Working: People Talk About what They Do All Day and How They Feel About It, Terkel wrote: "This book, being about work, is, by its very nature, about violence- to the spirit as well as to the body...It is, above all (or beneath all) about daily humiliations. To survive the day is triumph enough for the walking wounded among the great many of us. The scars, psychic as well as physical, brought home to the supper table and the TV set, may have touched, malignantly, the soul of our society."

Terkel's 1974 book, the basis for this production, is a compilation of his hundreds of interviews with working persons: a waitress, a fire fighter, a hedge fund manager. Despite wildly divergent occupations, socioeconomic statuses, racial identities, and geographic regions, the subjects of Terkel's book joined to form an unlikely chorus, again and again drawing our attention to the quiet desperation and indignity suffered by workers in the United States.

The steel worker who believes he is merely a beast of burden. The mechanized welder. The caged bank teller. The monkey in the office cubicle.

Forty years later, the roles have altered but the rules haven't. The fundamental dehumanization of the American worker remains and, in some respects, reaches its inevitable crescendo.
When was the last time you went to work and were treated like a human being?

During his career, Terkel interviewed Bob Dylan, Marlon Brando, and Dorothy Parker, and wrote several oral histories, including Race: What Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession (1992). He graduated from University of Chicago's law school in 1934; immediately shunning the legal profession, he took a job in radio broadcasting through the WPA's Federal Writers Project. He was a victim of McCarthyism and a National Humanities Medal winner. He held well over a dozen jobs over the course of his life. On his first date with his wife, Ida, he borrowed twenty bucks from her that he never repaid.

For tickets and information about Working visit theatre.umn.edu or call 612 624-2345.

Cracks in the Wall: 25 Years after Berlin Symposium
Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, this symposium asks how performance can animate representational ruptures in three walled (or previously walled) sites: Berlin, Israel/Palestine, and along the US/Mexico border. Organized by Sonja Kuftinec, participants will include members of the IAS Collaborative on Brecht, the Department of Theater Arts, and Combatants for Peace. Admission is free. November 6 at 4:00 PM, Crosby Seminar Room, Northrop
Further information: Theater Arts Professor Sonja Kuftinec kufti001@umn.edu

Alumni Spotlight: SAGE Award-winning Dancers, BFA Grad cast in Utah Shakespeare Festival
UM's Dance Program was well represented at this month's Sage Awards at the Cowles Center. The season's Outstanding Ensemble Award recognized members of Black Label Movement's Wreck. Cheng Xiong, Ashley Akpaka, Jessica Ehlert, Lauren Baker, Jose Bueno, Miriam Castro, Natalie (Braun) Carr and Margaret Johnson -- 8 of the 13 artists in the ensemble are graduates of the department's program.
Dance Program Alumus Duncan Shultz received one of the two Outstanding Dance Performance Awards.
Dance Program Alumna Rosy Simas piece "We Wait In the Darkness" received one of the two Outstanding Design Awards.
Visit http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/stageandarts/279218162.html

Fresh from crossing Northrop's stage for his diploma in May,Eric Weiman('14 BFA ), walked right into his first professional role at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Weiman, recently interviewed for the Festival's website was asked what or who inspired him to pursue his dream of acting. Eric answered, "My parents, first and foremost, are the biggest supporters and inspirations for following acting..., they have always been supportive and accepting of the path I wish to follow. I also cannot think of where I would be today without Jon Ferguson and Ken Washington, two teachers and mentors of mine in Minneapolis (at the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater Actor Training program) who took chances on me early in my life as an actor and taught me that acting is a craft, an art, and not just a hobby."
For the full interview visit http://utahshakespearefestival.blogspot.com/2014/10/utah-shakespeare-guet-blog-eric-weiman.html

Faculty/Staff Professional Activities
Theatre Arts professor Michael Sommers directs and designs The Juniper Tree at the Open Eye Figure Theatre slated to open Nov. 6 and play through Dec. 6. In this production with original music composed by Michael Koerner, Sommers brings to the stage this classic Brothers Grimm tale brimming with singing birds, dancing bones, and barking trunks. A live band blasts the brutish stepmother and soothes the sobbing sister. Sommers predicts a not -to -be- missed whirl of fairytale fun "where everyone (who's supposed to) lives happily ever after." Recommended for ages 8 and up. Visit OpenEyeThreatre.org for details and ticket information.

Dance professor Carl Flink, presently on sabbatical leave, conducts an artist-in-residency program and stages his Lost Lullabies at Orem's Utah Valley University. Dance program's Linda Talcott Lee performs in the Ordway Center's A Christmas Story opening November 29.

UMTAD department chair Marcus Dilliard designs lighting for a string of productions in the coming weeks : Pittsburgh Opera's Otello opening Nov 8; Guthrie Theater's Relics, Nov. 14, Moving Company at The Lab: Love's Labour's Lost, Nov. 21, and finally for Cantus/ Latte Da Theatre at Pantages, All is Calm, Dec. 18.

October 20, 2014

WORKING opens UMTAD's mainstage season Oct.30 - Nov.9

Minneapolis, MN - "So what do you do?" asked Studs Terkel to create his celebrated book Working, which tells the stories of real individuals and investigates the work they do, why they do it, and for whom they do it. These highly personal, powerful, engaging interviews leap from the page and come alive as characters in Working, adapted by award- winning Stephen Schwartz (Pippin, Godspell, Wicked) and Nina Faso. Working reveals the hopes, dreams, joys, and concerns of average working Americans by following them through one 24-hour workday. Critics hailed it as "spirited, life-affirming" (Chicago Sun-Times),"warm, inspiring and celebratory..."(Chicago Tribune). Its eclectic folk/rock score, performed by a cast of 25, features songs by James Taylor, Stephen Schwartz, Mary Rodgers, Susan Birkenhead, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Craig Carnelia, and Micki Grant. Directors Professor Lisa Channer (co-founder of Theatre Novi Most) and alumna Samantha Johns stage this University Theatre production with musical direction provided by Marya Hart. Working opens October 30 and plays through November 9 in the Stoll Thrust Theatre, in Rarig Center on the Twin Cities campus at the University of Minnesota. Note: Recommended for ages 13 and up. Performances will be presented Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:00pm.

Director Samantha Johns said, "We are both very veracious makers," referring to her colleague and co-director Lisa Channer. "We like to hug the audience and kinda slap em' in the face at the same time...we tend to be darker and more rambunctious in tone." For this production of Working, "...we are cooking with contemporary life, and therefore are finding ways to excuse passé tropes while highlighting others that could use some sprinkles." Johns explained, "We are building a thing so that you can leave the theatre both hungry and fed." Lisa Channer added, "With this project we are colliding/combining several forms: musical theatre, documentary theatre, contemporary performance - and seeing what happens." Results will be shaped by "taking a good hard look at the state of America's soul right now. Along with the cast and crew, we are interrogating all notions of what 'work' is, has meant to us, or should be, and trying to be very honest. Our motto for this project has been 'no lying."

Both co-directors are accomplished theatre artists working in the Twin Cities community, and nationally. Channer is a founding director of Theatre Novi Most with whom she makes new works for the stage that combine and cross pollinate American and Eastern European aesthetics and a faculty member in the department of Theatre Arts & Dance. Besides Working, another current project is Rehearsing Failure about Bertolt Brecht and three of his women collaborators / lovers during their time in L.A. in 1947. For more information visit www.theatrenovimost.org Samantha Johns makes work based on her ability to understand what is needed in a given situation. "I come from theatre and marching band and love." With other humans, she builds work that is often in response to "theatre and marching band and love." Her tendencies lean toward rowdiness and saccharine meditations. samanthajohns.carbonmade.com

America's workplace has changed dramatically since Terkel first used his reel-to-reel recorder to capture what he described as "the extraordinary dreams of ordinary people," for Working published forty years ago. Stephen Schwartz, one of the creators of the original 1977 musical conducted new interviews for the recently revised version. "It is an entirely different world because of computers and cubicles and the Internet, so the show required new material," Schwartz says. "Some of the characters ... have become composites of several folks originally interviewed by Terkel and some roles have been updated... the operator has been outsourced to India. There are some new characters, including a hedge fund manager...The more things change, the more they stay the same," Schwartz says. "We have the same issues with the invisibility of our workforce, and it's coming to the fore, with the attention on inequality and lack of social mobility." (excerpted Boston Globe, Jan 2, 2014)

Post- play discussions featuring representatives of the ensemble and guest speakers from the university community will follow performances Saturday, November 1, Friday, November 7 and Saturday, November 8. All discussions are free and open to the public.
The Working ensemble includes the following performers who play multiple roles:
Milo Bunting, Anne Cameron, Brandon Cayetano, Elizabeth Cooper, Neva Dalager,
Emma Foster, Hayley Hansen, Gaosong Heu, Jamila Joiner, Eric Larson,
Berit Martinson, Molly McElroy, Jacob Mobley, William Olson, Cole Remmen,
Daniel Luka Rovinsky, Cody Borah Saurdiff, Daniel Sbriglio, Tate Sheppard,
Ashley-Rose Steinhauser, Emily Sullivan, Chrissy Taylor, Laura Torgeson,
Lindsey Wente, and Joseph Wurm.

The production's creative team creative team includes the following:
Austin Ruh (Assistant Director), Rye Gentleman (Dramaturg), Kathleen McCarron (Costume Coordinator), Kevin Springer (Sound Designer), Kathy Maxwell (Lighting Designer), Audrey Rice (Stage Manager), and Hailey Colwell (Assistant Stage Manager).
Musicians for the production are Nicholas White (Guitar), Karl Jones (Piano), Jack Pirner (Percussion), and Elise Beckel Santa (Rehearsal Pianist).

For tickets and information call: U of M Arts /Events Ticket Office at 612 624-2345 or visit theatre.umn.edu Customer parking is available the 21st Ave. Parking Ramp, located across from the Rarig Center, on the University of Minnesota West Bank Campus.

Quick Facts
What: Working
Who: University of Minnesota Theatre Arts & Dance
When: October 30 - November 9, 2014.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday evenings at 7:30pm; Sundays at 2:00pm.
Where: Rarig Center's Stoll Thrust Theatre, West Bank Arts Quarter.
330 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis
Tickets: $6 Students; $11 U of M faculty and staff; $16 General Public.
U of M Ticket Office (612) 624-2345 or online at theatre.umn.edu
Tickets are also available at the door two hours prior to performance.

University Theatre Arts & Dance is a laboratory for performance and practice of content taught in the Department's academic programs. In keeping with the University of Minnesota's three public purposes - research, and discovery; teaching and learning; outreach and public service - the mission of the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance is to educate students and audiences about the performing arts, and about the social issues and human emotions the arts speak to so powerfully. We are committed to realizing this mission by creating, producing, and studying works of theatre and dance, and performing them publicly for diverse audiences drawn both from the University and the community at large. Patrons should expect to see performances that challenge the mind and are produced with the highest possible quality.

October 13, 2014

Tracy Letts Repertory in BFA Studio Series to open; Act II of Mayakovksy's Mystery Bouffe directed by guest Polish artist Ludmilla Ryba Oct. 24; Faculty "Out West"; Alums Spotlight


Killer Joe... Bug... August: Osage County. You will not want to miss this amazing opportunity to see Tracy Letts' contemporary realistic plays in rotating repertory , which plays Oct 21 -28. Offered as part of the BFA studio series, performed by the University of Minnesota/ Guthrie Theatre 2017 BFA company, each show will unfold on the intimate Liu Stage of the Kilburn Theatre. Killer Joe directed by Joe Price opens Oct. 21, 7:30pm, followed by Bug directed by Ellen Fenster on Thursday, Oct. 23 at 7:30pm, and completing the rep will be August: Osage County , directed by Bruce Roach Friday, Oct 24 at 7:30pm. NOTE: These performances will contain strong language, nudity and stage violence which some may find offensive.
Performances are free and open to the public. Seating is limited and based on first come first serve basis. The Letts trio continues so each play will be presented three times. Check the department upcoming events at theatre.umn.edu

Creative Collaborations present informal showings after a series of intense rehearsal weeks focused on ensemble theater creation. The first showing, performing Oct. 24, is Act II of Mayakovksy's Mystery Bouffe, directed by guest Polish artist Ludmila Ryba with input from Michal Kobialka. Presented in the
Nolte Xperimental Theatre, Mayakovsky's play, grounded in the proletarian causes of the Russian revolution, directs performers to "change the content, making it contemporary, immediate, up-to-the-minute." Ryba, an original member of Tadeusz Kantor's theatre company, will utilize Kantor's theories and methods in creating the piece. This piece anticipates the 100th anniversary of Kantor's birth in April
2015. Note:Creative Collaboration production elements are usually light, creativity and artistic risk are always high. Admission is free to Creative Collaborations; seating is based on first come first served basis.

Faculty "Out West" Onstage & Backstage
When lighting designer (and department chair) Marcus Dilliard partners up with light technician extraordinaire Bill Healey you've struck gold -- just ask the folks at the Minnesota Opera. Earlier this month, the two UMTAD faculty members collaborated on the Opera's recent production of La Fanciulla del West, (Girl of the Golden West) dazzling audiences and critics alike. The Pioneer Press raved about "a production as engaging to the eyes as to the ears." Puccini's blazing orchestral colors got an extra boast from these two theatre artists. Later this fall, Mr. Healey designs lights for the Ordway's Christmas Story . At the Cowles Center, Mr. Dilliard will light the stage for The Steeles LIVE and in concert coming soon.

Out West, too, dance faculty member and alum Carl Flink, is on tour with his Black Label Movement company presenting Whack- A- Mole at University of Northern Texas. With a cast of 17 performers, Whack-A Mole examines the frenetic, creative and exhilarating physical world of communities responding to the aftermath of natural or man-made disaster and the cycle of rebirth. While at UNT, he is teaching master classes.

Alums Spotlight
Secret Lives of Coats, a new play with music at Red Eye Theater, features alums Nike Kadri, Charlotte Calvert, and Anna Hickey plays through Oct. 26. For tickets and info visit www.redeyetheater.org or call 612 870-0309.

Recent UMTAD grads Michael Fell, Pegeen Lamb, Chelsie Newhard and Sam Pearson play in The Marriage of Bette and Boo, Durang's dark comedy at Theatre in the Round Players on stage now through Nov. 2.

Aeysha Kinnuen recently concluded performances of Nature, the mythic telling of Emerson and Thoreau's mutual love affair with the natural world. Nature was performed outdoors as a "walking play" in a lush green outdoor setting at U of M's Landscape Arboretum in Chaska.

Nathan Barlow played the lead in Marcus,or the Secret of Sweet by Tarell Alvin McCraney at the Guthrie's Dowling Studio in a co-production of the award winning play by Pillsbury House theatre helmed by MFA alum Faye Price and Noel Raymond, and The Mount Curve Company.

September 26, 2014

Minnesota Centennial Showboat Scholarships; UMTAD Faculty at Work; Alumni: Onstage & Off


Showboat Scholarships

Today the 2014 Minnesota Centennial Showboat Scholarships committee announced a record number of nine students will receive scholarship support in recognition of exceptional contributions to this summer's production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde both on stage and backstage.
Theatre Arts & Dance Department Chair Marcus Dilliard stated, "Each of these recipients has demonstrated professionalism in rehearsal, in performance, backstage, and in the community. Faced with the flooding of the Mississippi and cancellation of 16 performances, they kept the Centennial Showboat before the public -- canvasing streets of St. Paul, creating and posting social media messages including a video, appearing at public events, singing in lobbies and restaurant patios, even a Minnesota Orchestra Hall reception. Clearly, they rose to the occasion demonstrating personal and professional leadership." Showboat scholarships are also awarded at the intersection of artistic merit and financial need, according to Dilliard, who concluded, "I want to extend thanks on behalf of our department to the thousands of generous Showboat audience members who gave contributions this summer. Your gifts directly funded scholarships for these talented young people-- we applaud you."
Actors Christian Boomgaarden, Bear Brummel, Katherine Fried, Kevin Gotch, and Victoria Smith were presented with the C. Lance Brockman Scholarships. Actors Kathleen Kleiger and Daniel Piering were granted the Vern Sutton Scholarships. Stage managers Jane Heer and Audrey Rice were honored with the Jean Montgomery Scholarships
.
UMTAD Faculty at Work

Michael Sommer, Open Eye Figure Theatre co-founding and co- artistic director, hosts a full spectrum of performances, seminars, and workshops September 25-28, all part of the Handmade Worlds: A Festival of Puppet Theatre. In the Heart of the Beast Mask and Puppet Theatre (HOBT), Open Eye Figure Theatre (OEFT) and the Great Plains Region of The Puppeteers of America (POA) are partnering to offer a dynamic line-up of puppetry from around the country. This three-day festival will present the works of ten companies/artists, bringing over 55 performers to the festival.
HOBT and OEFT, both known for their expertise in puppetry, are partnering with the POA to put Minneapolis' thriving puppetry scene on the national map. The Festival has been scheduled so that Festival Pass Holders are able to see every performance (14) as well as take 2-4 workshops and enjoy all the events of the festival. Performances will happen at three venues - HOBT, OEFT and the Open Eye Studio (for some of the more intimate offerings). In addition to the 12 productions presented, there will be twelve workshops offered, a panel discussion featuring nationally recognized artists, and two puppetry cabarets. The Festival features prominent works by artists such as Julian Crouch and David Commander (New York), Manuel Cinema and Michael Montenegro (Chicago), Masque Theatre (Connecticut), Paul Mesner (Missouri), Toy Box and Cripps Puppets (North Carolina), Monica Leo (Iowa), Tony Fuemmeler (Oregon) as well as several Minneapolis artists. For more information and tickets/ passes visit http://www.openeyetheatre.org/stage/handmade-worlds-a-festival-of-puppet-theatre

Karla Grotting, associate director of the Flying Foot Forum performs in Alice in Wonderland with the Flying Foot Company Sept 25 - Oct 12 in the Lehr Theatre located in Lowry Building, downtown St. Paul. Grotting, a U of M dance alumna, has served as a dance faculty member since 1998.
Alice in Wonderland is a multi-faceted Twin Cities community event that will bring together community members, students, audiences, puppets, and 16 dancers, singers, actors, and musicians in a joyous participatory, promenade style, musical theater trip down the rabbit hole at the Lehr Theater in St Paul. Alice in Wonderland will be a combination dance party, bedtime story, and rock concert all in one fantastical retelling of Lewis Carroll's tale, reminding us all that life can be an adventure worth taking and that sometimes things you don't understand can make life more wondrous and mysterious.
Alice in Wonderland was adapted, composed, choreographed, and directed by Joe Chvala, also cast as the Mad Hatter.Tickets: General Admission Adults $26, Students $20, All Previews $20 Reservations: The Ordway Box Office, 651-224-4222, www.ordway.org

If theatre faculty member Lisa Channer seems a bit hurried these days it's no wonder. She is directing two productions, a celebration of the life of the legendary American folksinger Pete Seeger staged in Oneonta, New York, and co-directing with Sam Johns the department's first mainstage fall production, Working - a Musical. Based on the book by Studs Turkel, adapted by Stephen Schwartz and Nin Faso, Working - A Musical with a cast of 24 students, is slated to open October 30.

Dance faculty Linda Talcott Lee is splitting her time with Mankato State University choreographing Beauty and the Beast and Bloomington Civic Theatre choreographing Next to Normal. Next she is looking forward to performing in the Ordway's "A Christmas Story" during November and December.

Alumni News: Onstage and Off

Alumni connections with the Flying Foot Forum's Alice in Wonderland company include: Colleen Bertsch, a Ph.D. candidate in Ethnomusicology, Natalie Nowytski ( '99 BA ) who composed some of the music for the Oil! and The Jungle (2011), and Scott Keever ('09 BA). Billy Mullaney ('11 BA Theatre) most recently appeared in the world premiere of Something About a Bear. Charles Robison, a longtime student in UMTAD dance program, also appears in the production.

The University of Minnesota / Guthrie Theatre B.F.A. program has been singled out as one of Joe Dowling's notable achievements, according to the theatre's Heidi Chronicles program /magazine. The article identifies Heidi Chronicles' cast members Sam Bardwell (BFA '08) and Eleonore Dendy (BFA '13) as graduates of this unique educational partnership. The show plays through October 26, 2014 on the Guthrie's Wurtele Thrust Stage.

September 4, 2014

Theatre Arts & Dance Department Announces 2014-15 Season

The University of Minnesota's Theatre Arts & Dance Department is pleased to announce its 2014-15 performance season. As University classes begin this September, so does producing at the Rarig Center and Barbara Baker Center for Dance. Auditions, rehearsals, design plans, shop activities and creative work leading to the following public productions of the fall, winter, and spring are underway.

Working, a Musical based on Studs Terkel's book adapted by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso opens the Rarig Center Mainstage season October 30 and plays through November 9 on the Stoll Thrust Stage. Under the direction of faculty member Lisa Channer (co-founder and co-artistic director of Theatre Novi Most) teamed with visiting artist Samantha Johns, Working explores the working lives of real people with a folk music-inspired score. With a talented cast of 22, the musical examines what, why, and for whom we work.

University Dance Theatre's Dance Revolutions takes center stage of the Whiting Proscenium Theatre December 4 -7. This dazzling collection of innovative new works by Cowles Visiting Artists Greg Dolbashian, Justin Jones, Maurya Kerr, and faculty member Scott Rink will be performed by students. Dance Revolutions is directed by Toni Pierce-Sands, co-artistic director of TU Dance and a member of the Dance Program faculty.

7 Dwarfs presents a unique twist on the classic Snow White story. This fairy tale for adults considers the familiar plot from an entirely different perspective. The quirky comedy playing February 26-March 8 in the Whiting Proscenium Theatre was created by Minnesota playwright/ NPR commentator/author Kevin Kling. His long time artistic collaborator, faculty member Michael Sommers (artistic director of Open Eye Figure Theatre) directs the production.

Blue Stockings, a new play by Jessica Swale, makes its American premiere in April directed by Joel Sass and performed by University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program's Senior Company. Set in 1896, the year Girton College became the first college in Britain to admit women, Tess Moffat and her fellow "first years" fight for the right to graduate and end up changing the future of education. Blue Stockings will be performed in the Guthrie's Dowling Studio.

Tickets for Mainstage performances are available by visiting theatre.umn.edu or by calling 612-624-2345. Admission prices include ticket fees: $6 for all students; $11 U of M faculty/staff; $16 general public
.
From April 2-6, the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theatre Actor Training Sophomore Company performs its annual pair of Shakespeare plays. This spring's repertory features the comedies The Taming of the Shrew and The Comedy of Errors. Always cleverly staged with an emphasis on mastery of text, these pieces will be performed in the Stoll Thrust Theatre. All tickets for the Shakespeare rep are $6 and can be purchased online at theatre.umn.edu or by phone at 612-624-2345.

In addition to the Mainstage productions, Theatre Arts & Dance presents a wide variety of studio and informal showings that are free and open to the public with seating on a first come, first served basis.

The University of Minnesota/ Guthrie Theatre BFA Studio Series 2014-15 opens with Gorky's classic Summerfolk, October 2 -5 in Rarig's Kilburn Theatre. Later in October, the Sophomore Company will play three Tracy Letts works in repertory, Killer Joe, Bug, August: Osage County October 21- 28. In the spring, the Junior Company presents Medea February 26 - March 1 and later, two classic Moliere comedies, Lovers' Quarrels playing in repertory with Learned Ladies from April 16- 19. To conclude the Series, the Freshman Company makes its formal debut with Fresh Scenes playing April 30 - May 2.

In addition, Creative Collaborations present informal showings after a series of intense rehearsal weeks focused on ensemble theater creation. Production elements are usually light, creativity and artistic risk are always high. Admission is free to Creative Collaborations; seating is based on first come first served basis.

Mystery Bouffe, directed by guest Polish artist Ludmila Ryba with input from Michal Kobialka, performs October 20 and 21 in the Nolte Xperimental Theatre. Mayakovsky's play, grounded in the proletarian causes of the Russian revolution, directs performers to "change the content, making it contemporary, immediate, up-to-the-minute." Ryba, an original member of Tadeusz Kantor's theatre company, will utilize Kantor's theories and methods in creating the piece.

Theatre artist Dario Tangelson creates Saint Evita, an original devised piece inspired by passages from Saint Evita a novel by Tomás Eloy Martínez and from the short story That Woman by Rodolfo Walsh. The result of this collaboration will be performed on December 8 and 9 in the Xperimental Theatre. These works follow the journey surrounding Evita ́s dead embalmed body and the wax copies made of it. Part historical, mostly fiction, this story will present a whole new side of the Eva Peron story.

In the spring, Maren Ward teams with dramaturg Nathan Tylutki to lead a project titled D'workin! based on the work of Andrea Dworkin, a pioneer in the anti-pornography movement. As an ensemble, student performers will conduct their own debates and reactions to the views and tactics of Dworkin. The final product, performed on March 2 and 3, will include historical events, characters and students' contemporary reflections.

Hidden Cities led by Gulgun Kayim is inspired by Italio Calvino's book and performs April 27 and 28. Like Invisible Cities, this project will explore and draw from the experiences of the city and the imagination of each student to create short devised performances based on and scattered around various sites in Minneapolis.

Informal dance showings mark the end of the residencies of each of this year's Cowles Visiting Artists. These informal showings, performed by dance students, take place in the Barker Dance Center and are free and open to the public. Works by Gregory Dolbashian and Justin Jones will be performed on September 26 at 4:30 PM, work by Maurya Kerr will be performed on October 17 at 4:30 PM, and Scott Rink's new piece performs November 7 at 4:30 PM.

The Department of Theatre Arts & Dance serves 400 major students every year offering four undergraduate and two graduate programs through the University of Minnesota's College of Liberal Arts. Academic achievement is supported by over 100 distinguished faculty and staff members at the Rarig Center and Barbara Barker Center for Dance. For information on our curriculum and programs visit theatre.umn.edu or dance.umn.edu or call 612 625-6699 (Theatre Arts) or 612 624-5060 (Dance).

July 29, 2014

"Jekyll & Hyde" Mississippi Can't Stop the Showboat: Theatre Season Extended for Additional Week

Minneapolis/St. Paul (July 24, 2014)--After a summer when the Mississippi River was more Mr. Hyde than Dr. Jekyll, the University of Minnesota Centennial Showboat announced today that the current production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde will be extended for additional performances August 19, 20, 21 at 8:00 p.m., with a special closing night event on August 22.

June and July flooding along the Mississippi River led to the closing of Harriet Island and the cancellation of 16 performances on the Showboat between June 20 and July 3. "The irony is not lost on us," said managing director Peg Guilfoyle. "The Showboat is a boat, after all. But this flooding was so serious, even the Showboat had to shut down."

A special closing performance on Friday, August 22 ($100 per ticket, $75 tax-deductible) will allow fans to celebrate the end of a challenging, wet summer. The evening's highlights will include special material developed by the Showboat's talented student cast, along with a champagne toast to close the season.

The 16 performances of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde washed from the schedule resulted in heightened demand for tickets to the summer theatre operated by the University of Minnesota's Department of Theatre Arts & Dance. The resumption of University classes on September 2, along with previous commitments on the Showboat, mean that these additional four performances are the only ones that can be added. "This great production started with sold-out previews, an enthusiastic response from our opening night audience and strong word of mouth," said director Peter Moore. "Now that the waters have receded, we are excited that we can add these four dates for our audiences."

Showboat productions, known for their trademark thrilling melodrama plus vintage vaudeville song and dance, have become a Minnesota summer tradition.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde performs 2:30 p.m. matinees every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday; evenings at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Thursday nights feature post-show informal Q & A sessions with cast members. Family Fun special rates are available for Friday nights and Saturday matinees. Discounts for students with valid ID, seniors 62+ and group rates for 15 or more are available. Tickets for all performances except August 22 are $20-$25. Call 651.227.1100 or visit showboat.umn.edu.

FAST FACTS
What: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Musical Olios aboard Minnesota Centennial Showboat
When: now through August 22, 2014
Where: Harriet Island, downtown St. Paul, Minnesota
Tickets: $20-$25 showboat.umn.edu or call direct 651-227-1100; ask about rates for students, seniors, groups 15+ and Family Fun specials.
Tickets for the "Closing with a Splash" special finale on August 22 are $100.

July 15, 2014

Carl Flink's WRECK with Black Label Movement at Guthrie wins critical praise

Choreographer Carl Flink, outgoing chair of Theatre Arts & Dance Department, earns high praise from Star Tribune's dance reviewer Caroline Palmer (July 15,2014) commenting on WRECK now at the Guthrie through July 20. See following excerpt....

"Many artists have taken up the challenge of portraying what it might be like to face death without any hope of reversing the outcome.
It's a tough journey to take but Carl Flink, artistic director and choreographer for Black Label Movement, proves he and his dancers are up to the task in a polished revival of the elegiac "Wreck" (2008), now performing in the Dowling Studio at the Guthrie Theater.
"Wreck" depicts a harrowing scene inside the last airtight compartment of a sunken ore boat on the bottom of Lake Superior.
When the audience first enters the theater, the wall that separates the auditorium from the lobby has been raised. Daylight streams in and the space feels open.
But then the wall descends, sealing the dark in the theater, and there is an immediate sense of being shut in with the performers and their ordeal. Vintage films show intact ships traversing the great water.
The 13 dancers move anxiously but Flink's perspective is broader than fear and hopelessness. They fight for survival, as remote as it seems. They struggle with one another, and themselves, as anyone would in such a dire situation.
Flink's choreographic approach is rugged, athletic and gutsy but also beautiful and intimate as it depicts the final throes of lives cut short. Because the work is performed in the round, audience members see the movement from different angles...
The score for "Wreck" was composed by Mary Ellen Childs and is performed live by the top-notch ensemble...Childs received a Sage Award for this project in 2008 and the music is central to the work's success. Its texture inspires a rippling underwater mystery -- the composition pounds and crashes like a storm or delicately echoes as if recorded in the depths.
Together Flink and Childs lead us through an emotionally harrowing but artistically rewarding experience."

July 8, 2014

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Re-Opens on Centennial Showboat Harriet Island, St Paul


(July 7, St. Paul, MN) Today the Showboat Players return for their first full week of performances on the University of Minnesota's Centennial Showboat. "We are thrilled to announce we are open and welcoming folks aboard to see our summer thriller Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," said the production's director Peter Moore. "After sold out previews and a great response from our opening night audiences (on June 19) flood waters rose above 17 feet. You can't tangle with that mighty Mississippi,--she's a show-stopper - but now we are back with this talented cast that's poised for eight shows a week and rarin' to go." Tickets for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are available for performances by calling 651-227-1100 or visiting showboat.umn.edu online.

Seventeen performances of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde between June 20 and July 3 were postponed due to high water on the Mississippi. Flooding forced electrical power, gas, and sanitary, and waters services to be suspended on Harriet Island Regional Park, where the Showboat is permanently moored.

Showboat's managing director Peg Guilfoyle explained, "Our partner Padelford Riverboats Company has contacted over 1,565 ticket holders to offer alternate performance dates. The City of St. Paul has been very responsive helping us to get back onstage to raise the curtain on this summer's Showboat fun. All those interrupted services are now restored and our adjacent free parking lot is now open and dry. We are also indebted to our neighbors History Theatre and Park Square Theatre for getting the word out to the community that we are back."

To re-book previously purchased tickets, customers are asked to email info@riverrides.com for more information. Tickets for the performances June 20 - July 3 will be honored.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde performs 2:30 pm matinees every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday; evenings at 8:00pm Wednesday now through August 16, 2014. Thursday nights feature post-show Talk-backs, informal Q & A sessions with cast members. Ask about Family Fun Special rates for Friday nights and Saturday matinees. Discounts for students with valid ID, seniors 62+ and groups rates for 15 or more are available. Reserve tickets ($20-$25) by calling 651.227.1100 or by visiting www.showboat.umn.edu. for more information.

FAST FACTS
What: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Musical Olios aboard Minnesota Centennial Showboat
When: now through August 16, 2014
Where: Harriet Island, downtown St. Paul, Minnesota
Tickets: $20.00-$25.00 showboat.umn.edu or call direct 651-227-1100; ask about
rates for students, seniors, groups 15+ and Family Fun specials.
# # #

June 20, 2014

Centennial Showboat's Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde Postponed One Week Due to Flooding

St. Paul, Minn. - The University of Minnesota announced today that Minnesota Centennial Showboat performances of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde have been postponed, June 20 to 28 due to high water on the Mississippi River. Tickets purchased to those performances will be honored for future dates and re-scheduling is preferred by email to info@riverrides.com. The box office phone number, 651 227 1100, can also be used, although call volume is expected to be very high.

"We are making every effort to accommodate our valued Showboat customers during this postponement," said Peg Guilfoyle, Managing Director. "We have reached out by phone or email to individuals, groups, and businesses - everyone who bought a ticket - to let them know about this flooding, and how to re-book reservations. We apologize for this inconvenience. Folks have been very understanding. The Showboat players have never had to postpone due to high water on Harriet Island."

Peter Moore, stage director of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, said "Of course our Showboat Players are waiting in the wings eager to put on this classic melodrama, but you just can't argue with the Mighty Mississippi."

Guilfoyle explained, "We hope the river falls as quickly as it has risen, and plan to resume performances on July 1. We will play through August 16 as previously planned." The Showboat is undamaged by high water, but the flooding threatens essential services on Harriet Island, and access to the Showboat will not be possible. "The safety of our patrons is our primary concern," she said, "but we'll be back!"

June 12, 2014

"Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" with Musical Olios opens June 19 aboard Minnesota Centennial Showboat

St. Paul, Minn. - The University of Minnesota Centennial Showboat presents Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the thrilling tale of a brilliant physician who struggles with dark forces while a series of crimes grip London with fear. The Showboat Players perform June 19 through August 16 on the Minnesota Centennial Showboat, on downtown St. Paul's Harriet Island. Adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson's classic story, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde presents a cast of memorable characters driven by a quest to find the monster terrorizing their city, only to discover an unbelievable truth.

Directors Peter Moore and Vern Sutton return to stage the production and musical routines; this same dynamic duo created Showboat's three most recent hits Sweet Revenge!(or No Mother to Guide Her), attracting nearly 13,000 visitors last summer alone, The Vampire! and The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

When asked what audiences can expect stage director Moore quipped, "Secrets, potions, chills, thrills, and a twisted tale of good versus evil- the usual Showboat fun. Where else can you cheer on the hero and hiss the bad guy?"

In addition to melodrama, the Showboat also prides itself as home to olios, vintage musical interludes featuring song and dance. Spiced with fun gimmicks, striking costumes and surprises, these tuneful crowd pleasers are straight from the golden days of vaudeville. The Minnesota Opera veteran, maestro Vern Sutton returns to direct "with a sharp eye these musical vignettes...some poignant, some naughty" (St. Paul Pioneer Press) underscoring the evening's fun.

The Centennial Showboat - a floating palace with a fully air-conditioned 200 seat theater is styled after a vaudeville house, complete with painted scenery, footlights and nineteenth-century stage magic. Docked on the banks of the mighty Mississippi at Harriet Island in downtown St. Paul, the Showboat offers welcoming public spaces, bars and a beautiful upper deck lounge with spectacular views of the city's skyline. Visitors stroll along embankments with wide green lawns shaded by towering cottonwoods as they step aboard.

Owned by the University of Minnesota since 1958, the Minnesota Centennial Showboat proudly presents Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for this 56th summer of fun and laughter. Thousands of guests found "a perfect summer evening" for a first date or family outing. Unsolicited comments by one audience member sums up the response of many. "A talented cast of singers and actors kept me laughing and entertained the whole night...I'm going again and taking others with me." Convenient FREE parking for cars and busses is available. Arrive by bike on the Lilydale Trail or by boat and dock for FREE on the island. The University of Minnesota Centennial Showboat is completely accessible.

The cast includes Christian Boomgaarden (Dr. Jekyll), Bear Brummel (Lanyon), Katherine Fried (Agnes Carew), Kevin Gotch (Newcomen), Nike Kadri (Mrs. Higgins), Katie Kleiger (Mrs. Poole), Zach Margolis (Utterson), Kelsey Peterjohn (Lady Diana), Daniel Piering (James/Constable Wilson), Tori Smith (Marie/Billie). Production set design by Rick Polenek, costumes by Mathew J. LeFebvre, lighting by Kelli Hauangzhen, props by Jennifer Johnson, sound by Montanta Johnson, and stage management by Jane Heer, assisted by Audrey Rice.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde performs 2:30 pm matinees every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday; evenings at 8:00pm Wednesday through Saturday June 19- August 16, 2014. Thursday nights feature post-show Talk-backs, informal Q & A sessions with cast members. Ask about Family Fun Special rates for Friday nights and Saturday matinees. Discounts for students with valid ID, seniors 62+ and groups rates for 15 or more are available. Reserve tickets ($20-$25) by calling 651.227.1100 or by visiting www.showboat.umn.edu. for more information.

FAST FACTS
What: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Musical Olios aboard Minnesota Centennial Showboat
When: June 19- August 16, 2014
Where: Harriet Island, downtown St. Paul, Minnesota
Tickets: $20.00-$25.00 showboat.umn.edu or call direct 651-227-1100; ask about
rates for students, seniors, groups 15+ and Family Fun specials.

May 28, 2014

Santino Fontana (UofM '04) Stars in Tony Award winning "Act One"on Broadway

Santino Fontana, BFA Alum '04, stars in Broadway's Tony Award winning Act One based on theater producer-director Moss Hart's book of the same name and adapted by James Lapine. Nominated for five Tony Awards including Best Play, this critically acclaimed new biographic work brings to life Hart's hilarious and heart- warming rags-to-riches tale of his early life and his astounding collaboration with George S. Kauffman on his first Broadway success, Once in a Lifetime, which would skyrocket these kings of American comedy on the Great White Way. "To watch Mr. Fontana's Hart... [and] Mr. Tony Shalhoub's Kaufman," raves Ben Brantley of The New York Times, "is to witness this season's most electric onstage chemistry."
Fontana is no stranger to important leading roles, critical acclaim, or to Broadway's Tony Awards. In 2006 he became the youngest actor to portray Hamlet on the Guthrie Theater stage. Last year he was recognized at the Tony Awards as a Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical nominee for his portrayal of Prince Topher in Cinderella. Earlier this spring he voiced the antagonist character Hans in Disney's hit animated musical Frozen.
Fontana was actually a member of the first-ever graduating class of the Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program in 2004. "[At the University of Minnesota], they stressed that we're artists first, not just actors," he told Broadway.com. "Our job is to create and also at the same time not limit ourselves. The world is going to limit you. I don't want to limit me." His career is indeed limitless, as he continues to embrace diverse roles as an actor, and to simultaneously pursue directing and composing.

April 30, 2014

University Dance Theatre Honored at National and Regional American College Dance Festivals; Elander Rosser's Earth Song earns special recognition

Earth Song, choreographed by current undergraduate student Elander Rosser, has been chosen as a first alternate for the National American College Dance Festival. Dance students will get the chance to learn, perform, and network with national peers in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center this June 5 - 7.

Director of Dance Ananya Chatterjea and eighteen of her students participated in research presentations, performances, and master classes with regional peers at the North Central conference this March. "We quickly established a supportive community, even though we were all from completely different backgrounds," says Rosser. "That's why I think Earth Song was chosen to close the Gala: it was kind of a visual representation of what we had all just went through. [It's] about people coming together to achieve a goal."

Earth Song earned glowing praise from the conference judges. They described the piece as "deeply emotional" and marveled that the dancers were "in their bodies, not their brains." Rosser says he is "deeply humbled by the attention" his work is already receiving. He insists that the piece "would be nothing without" his dancers, mentors and the entire production team. "In this process, I became aware of the scope of the community that came together," he reflects. "Earth Song was as much their piece as it was mine, and I'm truly grateful to all of them."

April 11, 2014

Barbra Berlovitz directs HAMLET, opens April 17 in Rarig's Stoll Thrust

Minneapolis, MN--"Who's there? Stand and unfold yourself." With that opening demand, Shakespeare's Hamlet signals an evening of probing questions and revealing truths. Under the direction of associate faculty member Barbra Berlovitiz (co-founder and co-artistic director of Theatre de la Jeune Lune) this production uses a lean, athletic approach to the text, as the action unfolds in a devastated world within an abandoned, crumbling playhouse. Hamlet will be performed April 17 through 27 on the Stoll Thrust stage, and marks the 450th anniversary of the playwright's birth. For tickets call visit theatre.umn.edu or call (612) 624-2345.

While Hamlet was first performed over 400 years ago, it is a play that stays forever in the present. It asks human questions: What do we do when faced with what seems inevitable? How do we avoid what looks like an inescapable path towards destruction?

"In this production, we have set our play in the near, or is it distant, future," explained director Berlovitz. "Much of what this cast of characters knew of the world is gone--only the bones remain. 'What have we done to the world?' they wonder." A group of actors, the few survivors seeking refuge in what was once a theatre, "take on the task of re-telling the story of Hamlet--the story of revenge, love, hate, murder, death. Maybe this time we will learn something," she paused. "Let's hope so."

Barbra Berlovitz co-founded the 2005 Tony Award-winning Theatre de la Jeune Lune and served as co-artistic director of the company for 25 years. She is a graduate of Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris, France, where she also studied at the National Circus School. In recent years she has studied with Patsy Rodenburg and Philippe Gaulier. For Jeune Lune, Berlovitz wrote, directed, acted, and taught. She staged the first American production of a major work by Pavel Kohout, August, August, August and a critically acclaimed production of Thomas Bernhard's The Force of Habit. She also directed a new adaptation of Emile Zola's Germinal, co-written with Paul Walsh. Her acting credits with TJL include Lulu, Arkadina, Medea, Gertrude, Milady, and Antigone. Half of her work at TJL involved creations. In 2009 she wrote and starred in Stories As Told in a Bed. She most recently performed the role of Mother Courage with Chicago's innovative Bricklayer Company.

Ms. Berlovitz has directed and taught at Carleton College, Augsburg College, University of California San Diego, Fairfield University, and the Eugene O'Neill National Theater Institute. As a member of the associate faculty in the Theatre Arts & Dance Department of the University of Minnesota, Berlovitz has directed Romeo and Juliet, The Oresteia, King Lear, Cabaret, and The Suitors. Honored with a Minnesota State Arts Board grant, she has also received a McKnight Fellowship, a Theatre Communications Group/ITI grant, and a Fox Fellowship for Distinguished Actors.

On April 25, English Department Professors Katherine Scheil and Tom Clayton will join director Barbra Berlovitz for a lively informative post-performance panel discussion, which is free and open to the public.

The Hamlet cast includes the following performers: Edward Euclide (Hamlet), Glen Geppert (Polonius), Max Giles (Bernardo/ Priest), John Graves (Player), Sylvia Hill (Ophelia), Alec Lambert (Gertrude), Alec Lambert( Player), Rick Miller (Laertes), Jacob Mobley (Player King), Evan O'Brien (Marcellus/ Osric), Austin Ruh (Francsico/Gravedigger), Bree Schmidt (Horatio), Ashton Schneider (Player Queen), Nico Swenson (Claudius/Ghost), and Jordyn Wick (Player).

The production's creative team creative team includes the following: Elias Arkham (Assistant Director), Carra Martinez (Assistant Director /Dramaturg), Cole Bylander (Costume Designer), Anne Henly (Set Designer), Aaron Preusse (Fight Choregrapher), Elizabeth Nash (Vocal Coach), Devin Nee (Lighting Designer), Kevin Springer (Sound Designer). The production's stage management team includes Katie Henely (Stage Manager), with Andrew Buckholtz (Assistant Stage Manager) and Aviva Gellman (Assistant Stage Manager).
For tickets and information call: U of M Arts/Events Ticket Office at 612 624-2345 or visit theatre.umn.edu Customer parking is available the 21st Ave. Parking Ramp, located across from the Rarig Center, on the University of Minnesota West Bank Campus.

Quick Facts
What: HAMLET by William Shakespeare
Who: University of Minnesota Theatre Arts & Dance
When: April 17-27, 2014
Where: Rarig Center's Stoll Thrust Theatre, West Bank Arts Quarter.
330 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis
Tickets: $6 Students; $11 U of M faculty and staff; $16 General Public.
U of M Ticket Office (612) 624-2345 or online at theatre.umn.edu
Tickets are also available at the door one hour prior to performance.

HAMLET Performance Schedule April 17-27, 2014:
7:30 pm April 17 Opening night
7:30 pm April 18
2:00 pm April 19
7:30 pm April 19

7:30 pm April 24
7:30 pm April 25 Post play discussion
2:00 pm April 26
7:30 pm April 26
2:30 pm April 27

University Theatre Arts & Dance is a laboratory for performance and practice of content taught in the Department's academic programs. In keeping with the University of Minnesota's three public purposes - research, and discovery; teaching and learning; outreach and public service - the mission of the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance is to educate students and audiences about the performing arts, and about the social issues and human emotions the arts speak to so powerfully. We are committed to realizing this mission by creating, producing, and studying works of theatre and dance, and performing them publicly for diverse audiences drawn both from the University and the community at large. Patrons should expect to see performances that challenge the mind and are produced with the highest possible quality.


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