Stages: May 2016
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Click on the title to go directly to the story
- Remarks from the Chair
- Remembering Doug Kraner '79G
- Collidescope 2.0: Students share their perspectives
- Chris Baker reenvisions Lincoln's world
Dear everyone —
Every year, as we make it to the finish line, I’m amazed by all we have accomplished over the previous school year, and this year is no exception.
I am so proud of everyone who is part of our department, whether they are faculty, staff, student — or with us only for a short time as a guest artist. Everyone brought their A game this year, and we have a lot to show for it.
We mounted a full season that included a brand-new musical, Donny Johns, created by our faculty and performed by a stunning cast; a Play Lab with two new plays including one by playwright-in-residence Kim Euell; and a re-vamped version of Collidescope that brought local history into the work’s discussion of race and activism. Meanwhile, Marie Antoinette brought history to life irreverently, and Love and Information’s design team collaborated with artists all the way in Iran.
Collidescope’s student matinee brought 350 students into our space; paired with a pilot outreach program to local schools, this was a year when we took important steps to reach out to local students of color. In related news, Multicultural Theater Certificate administrator Priscilla Page proudly handed out certificates to the first two UMass students to complete the program at our year-end ceremony, Kiara Wynn and Annabeth Kelly (see below/all ceremony photos by Carolyn Brown).
In other news, we raised money to bring theater professionals to campus for career talks and to send our students all the way to South Africa to perform.
We are preparing to send a trio of students to England for a summer at the British American Drama Academy, including the second-ever Driscoll scholarship winner, Alison Kerr. (Mallory Kassoy and Sevan Dulgarian were the other two students accepted to the program.) Gina Kaufmann recognized Alison at our year-end ceremony (see below), along with the recipients of the Rand Scholarship (for producers, directors, and dramaturgs).
For the first time, that year-end ceremony was also graced with the presence of Larry Benedict, who personally awarded the Benedict Scholarship he and his wife Susan founded to four technical and design students. He not only honored this year's recipients, he had a chance to meet some of the students who received the scholarship in past years.
Also back in our midst at this year’s ceremony was Denise Wagner, who personally congratulated the winners of the Denise Wagner Community Spirit Award.
A loss in our midst
Unfortunately, the end of the year also brought with it sad news. Doug Kraner ‘79G passed away in April. Doug studied design while he was here, and he had a long and successful career as a production designer in television and film.
He worked on projects from Dominick and Eugene to Sleeping With the Enemy to Mr. Wrong (that film featured fellow UMass graduate program alumnus and friend Bill Pullman '80G). He is best known recently for his work on Gotham, the Batman prequel series which netted him an Emmy nomination for his work on the pilot. (We interviewed him in 2014 as he prepared for the premiere of Gotham; you can read it here.)
What distinguished Doug in a competitive field wasn’t just his talent for the work, it was his kindness and professionalism, as alumnus Tim Joliat ’87 attests in his tribute below. No matter how busy he was and how successful he became, Doug always stayed in touch with his mentors and friends here, including June Gaeke (who also wrote a remembrance of Doug for this issue).
He was a generous supporter of the department. When we undertook the renovation of our lobby he graciously donated his talents to design the box office, the fixtures, ticket boxes, and benches that grace our lobby.
It was a project he completed for us at no charge and the final product, constructed by Michael Cottom and Brandon Hall, was stunning and a testament to Doug's design skills.
Doug left a mark on the department as an artist, a friend, and a supporter, and we will miss him.
As we prepared to publish this latest issue of Stages, we learned that recently-retired faculty member Miguel Romero's beloved husband, Paul Sheren, passed away unexpectedly. He was a good friend to us an I plan to honor him in our next issue.
This sad news about first Doug, then Paul, has me reflecting on how precious life is, and how much I value the art of theater and the opportunity it gives us to forge meaning and connections in our lives.
Much love to you all.