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Alumni and Friends


Read articles, view photos and watch films about alumni, friends, and members of the Department of Theater here.

March 2016: Contents

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Remarks from the Chair

Dear everyone—

First things first, I have an invitation to extend to you all: I hope that you can clear your schedules on April 4 at 4 p.m. to join us for the Rand Lecture with Talvin Wilks and Ping Chong!

Some of you probably remember Talvin from his time as New WORLD Theater artistic director, or his visits to our campus as a guest instructor or guest artist. We’re thrilled to be welcoming him back as one of the artists for the sure-to-be-incredible production of Collidescope 2.0 (read on for a short interview in this issue with Talvin). He co-created that show with the spectacular Ping Chong, and we are excited that they are doing a new version that incorporates elements of the racial history and social justice movements of this area. We are thrilled to be working with both Talvin and Ping. I am really looking forward to their Rand Lecture presentation — which is actually going to be less of a lecture and more of a moderated Q&A with our very own Priscilla Page. Bring your questions for these two great artists!

The Rand Lecture is free and open to everyone, and I’d love to see some of you alumni and theater friends there. If you can make it, please let me know — send me an email and I’ll make sure to say hello!

On a somewhat related note, I want to bring you up to date on an idea Talvin  helped put into motion many years ago and which has come to fruition in the past two years — our Multicultural Theater Certificate (Click here to listen to an oral history podcast on the MTC). MTC coordinator Priscilla Page recently sent me a status report on how that certificate is going, and the short answer is: Great!

We have 9 students pursuing the certificate, seven of them theater majors. An important component of the certificate is interning with a multicultural arts organization, and five of the nine are out in the field, putting their learning to the test in a variety of settings. Priscilla’s goal is to eventually have 12-15 students enrolled in the MTC program; for being two years in, 9 students is right on target. Even students who aren’t pursuing the certificate are benefitting, taking courses that focus on theater artists of color. I am so pleased this important new addition to the Department of Theater is going so well!

Still kinda-sorta related: One of the courses that qualifies as part of the MTC is Professor Megan Lewis’s Grahamstown Festival Course, and another cohort is planning to head over in this third year of the course’s existence. Traveling to South Africa this summer are 11 students who’ve put together a stunning production of Jackie Sibblies Drury's We are proud to present… that was so good, they’ve been invited to perform it as part of the Grahamstown Festival. And here’s where I ask you to think about giving us money — these students need some help to afford to bring their production to the festival, and they’ve got a MinuteFund (UMass’ version of an IndieGogo) set up to help defray expenses. If you’re considering a donation to the Department of Theater, we’d love your support in getting these students to South Africa. You can make a tax-deductible donation on the MinuteFund page. We will be grateful for any donation — please help us represent UMass on an international stage!

What else? Please check out the stories in this issue of Stages to find out about a woman who supports us, an alumna in the inner circles of Hollywood power, and students and faculty participating in a really cool outreach initiative in New York. And, of course, our updates!

And with that, I’m out — I hope to see you on April 4!




Donor Profile: Lisa Kornetsky '86 teaches what she learned

Graduating Year: ‘86G

Degree: MFA in directing

A favorite UMass Theater memory: Kornetsky has many memories of pulling end-of-semester all-nighters in the Department of Theater. She fondly remembers being in the directing and dramaturgy graduate student office with her compatriots. “It was probably horrible at the time, but (I loved) the connection with students as we did our best to end the semester and get things done with no sleep!”

Why do you donate to the Department of Theater? I feel like I found myself at UMass. I found what I wanted to do and I learned who I was in a bunch of different ways.  I could be my best and I could be my worst, and it was all OK because it was a learning experience. It was a great program… and it’s my responsibility to support it when I can and how I can.

Lisa Kornetsky

Finding her focus

Lisa Kornetsky was a theater kid from an early age, but it took her a while to figure out where this interest would take her career. Kornetsky's earliest theater memories include putting on shows for her parents. Her interest in performance remained throughout high school and at Hampshire College in the 1970s, and it took her to New York after graduating to be part of a new theater company a friend of a friend had started up. A year as a New York City actor convinced her that wasn't the life for her, though.

"I took the opportunity to assess my own talent and realized I was never going to be successful as an actor," she said.

She moved to Boston, where she worked for the housing department at Harvard University. There, students putting on performances were looking for a director, and Kornetsky decided to step into the vacancy. She realized she'd found what she was looking for.

"Directing was a better fit for my personality. It was what I wanted to do," she said.

She has made her career out of teaching directing and theater education at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and her time at UMass is constantly present in her thoughts. "I'm trying to be the kind of mentor Ed (Golden) and Dick (Trousdell) were for me," Kornetsky said. Reading each issue of Stages, she said, "brings back a lot of good memories."

UMass Theater's graduate program was "a perfect program." She wanted a place where she'd have close interaction and mentorship from the faculty, and she got it. She appreciated, in particular, the directing studio, where students brought in a variety of work, sometimes rough and unfinished, other times polished, for what she remembered as "really constructive feedback."

"I kind of lived for that class," Kornetsky said, noting that while she was inspired to do her best, "at UMass it felt like I could fail splendidly and I wasn't shamed for it."

Teaching the craft

She also got an introduction to the other passion she's pursued for years now — teaching. Kornetsky had always been drawn to educational settings — witness the Harvard experience that set her on her directing path. "I have a compulsion to be involved in education," she said.

She recalls the sink-or-swim feeling of teaching her first Theater 140 course, and how much she loved it. "So much of UMass was about the faculty," she said, noting that there are elements of their instruction that show up in her own teaching, even 3 decades later.

As Kornetsky approached graduation, she began looking for a place to work. "I went to UMass very much with the idea of wanting to work in an undergraduate institution," she explained, envisioning someplace like Hampshire. Still, she said, "I pretty much applied to every job I thought I was qualified for."

When she got the call to come interview in Wisconsin, she had never even been to the Midwest and told Ed Golden she wasn't sure if she wanted to go. She was hired as a sabbatical replacement, and then found her way into a tenure-track position from there. Although she initially hung on to the idea that she'd make her way back east, that hasn't been the goal for some time now.

"I made my life here. It's a troubled institution, but this is home now," she said. She has spent most of her career in the theater department, although she did spend 10 years as the director for the Office of Professional and Instructional Development, a faculty development resource for the University of Wisconsin system. "I loved that job but I missed my discipline," she said, and when the opportunity came up to return to theater, she took it. She has also served a stint as chair and is recently returned from a sabbatical.

Kornetsky spoke frankly of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside's struggles. It's a small state institution, she said, that had a high commuter population when she began, although now there are more students living on campus. A high percentage are students of color, the first in their family to attend college, and/or low-income. Many come from failing school systems, and while some are ready for college, some are still mastering basic academic skills. Meanwhile, the university has been hit hard by her governor's moves to defund education, so that students don't always get the additional resources they need to succeed.

Still, the members of her department are a resourceful bunch who manage to put on high-quality productions regardlss of the state of the budget. For example, she said, the university's theater department builds sets for a local dinner theater — which in turn helps fund their own technical director and scene builds. They've got a slate of donors who help fund productions and good connections for internships for their students. Many end up employed in theater and related fields.

"We have clever faculty who are able to deal with a small budget," she said, and they've built a program that's especially strong in tech and design students. "The quality of the work itself is high."

"I love it," she said.

UMass students take over a new space to present a new work

By Megan Lewis, with additional material by Gaven Trinidad and Ifa Bayeza

UMass made a big splash in New York this weekend with graduate MFA dramaturg and director Ifa Bayeza '18G's staged reading of her new play Benevolence. A packed house of about 60 people gathered in the NYPOP studio space on W. 26th street in Chelsea for the two-night inaugural event at this Umass performance space, co-sponsored by the Departments of Theater and Afro Am.

nypop Q&A

Megan Lewis, Ifa Bayeza, Christine Hicks, Ryan Jacobucci, and Judyie Al-Bilali participate in a post-show Q&A at the Feb. 28 performance of Benevolence. Photo by Priscilla Page.

Bayeza's powerful play is the second in her trilogy about Emmett Till, the 14-year old African-American boy who was brutally murdered for allegedly whistling at a white woman in 1955. Focused on the white woman (Carolyn Bryant), her husband (Roy, who lynched Till) and his twin brother (Ray, with whom she finds the love missing in her life), Bayeza creates "an imagined story evoked from a real one" that asks audiences to engage with our country's racial history and simultaneously reflect on contemporary race relations. Benevolence explores the psychology of whiteness and racism in America, creating complex characters who are at once fully human and depraved. Through the triangle of the bored would-be southern belle, Carolyn (played by the smoldering Christine Hicks, a sophomore); her controlling, violent husband Roy; and his sensitive brother Ray (both expertly performed by senior Ryan Jacobucci), Bayeza explores the intersections of sex, gender, power and race.

“When I introduced myself last semester to the Afro-Am Studies Department, I didn't expect such a fruitful and meaningful relationship to blossom so quickly,” said Bayeza. “This was a win-win for everyone. I was able to achieve all of the goals for my directing project, to really explore and stretch, blending direction, writing and design.”

For 25 years, UMass Amherst’s New York Professional Outreach Program (NYPOP) has served UMass visual art students, facilitating travel to New York city and hosting intensive, two-day encounters with arts professionals. In 2016, NYPOP’s reach was expanded to include all departments in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, providing the invaluable service of helping humanities and arts students understand their limitless opportunities and bridge the divide between academia and the professional world.

"From the moment of contact," says Bayeza, "NYPOP coordinator Amanda Tiller was supportive every step of the way."

Bayeza’s creative team included an impressive roster of her fellow students. “We had a fabulous team of both graduates and undergraduates, bringing superb creativity to every element of the production. Graduate student Gaven Trinidad's dramaturgy was vital not only for research, but also for insight and commentary on polishing the text. Glenn Proud 15G's fight choreography was simply amazing. Undergraduate Brenda Bauer's eclectic haunting sound design mixed African heavy metal bands with ambient sounds of trains and breath, Abbey Lincoln and an Appalachian shape note hymn. Kaylie Kvoriak's elemental costumes were simultaneously period specific and contemporary and Q-mars Haeri's media design was just fierce! All of that and we get to inaugurate a space in New York?!”

nypop 2

Writer-director Ifa Bayeza and actors Ryan Jacobucci and
Christine Hicks in rehearsal. Courtesy of Gaven D. Trinidad.

After the reading, the audience stayed for a post-show response session with UMass Theater Professors Judyie Al-Bilali and Megan Lewis. Al-Bilali praised Bayeza's play for opening a space, through theatre, for the difficult conversations we need to be having at this moment in our country's history. "This is theatre for social transformation," she said. Professor Lewis commented that Benevolence examines how white femininity was placed at the center of racist ideology and used to justify atrocious acts of brutality against black men and boys. "This is a black play about white people," she said, that offers an alternate perspective on the rehearsed narrative of the American South.

Professor John Bracey and poet and playwright Sonia Sanchez were the respondents on the second evening. “[Ifa] brought the reality of ordinary white people [in the 1950s],” Bracey said in reaction to the show. “That's the reality that hit me with the play. It's an achievement that Ifa has done ... An honest discussion of race.”

Sanchez was equally laudatory. “I watched the very good acting by the two young people and listened to [Ifa's] words... What does this play say to us about America? Which I think is the key to this beautiful writing. What does it say about us? As a people? As a people who still look at each other with fear? ... We're coming full circle to Emmett Till; coming full circle to a country that... requires this writing again because [these racial issues] have never been resolved.”


Megan Lewis, Ifa Bayeza, and Judyie Al-Bilali with dramaturg Gaven D. Trinidad.
Photo by Priscilla Page

The audience response was decidedly positive as well, with rounds of applause for the team of intrepid, talented collaborators who brought the piece to New York. Jacobucci and Hicks both said this was an incredible learning experience, as young actors tackling risky, difficult characters from our collective history and having to find the humanity and psychological truth within people considered to be "monsters."

“I didn't know anything about the story, but when Ifa said she was doing a project in New York, I said, 'Oh yeah!' Then I read the play! What can you do to prepare for this? I spoke with my parents, and I didn't know how they would feel about it. My mother said it was really jarring to hear me to say [some of the words] in the play, but they loved it,” said Hicks.

Jacobucci praised Ifa. Ifa's direction made it easy for us, made us comfortable, and Gaven's dramaturgical packets gave us a lot of the background. Plays like this are extremely relevant... tackling racial injustice. This is the time. It's our responsibility to take part in this discussion.”

Responding to a question from the audience, Bayeza said she was "called" to write Till's story and to give voice to the story of a boy whose life was "short...but not uneventful." Having told his story in her Edgar Award-winning play The Ballad of Emmett Till (2008), she turned to exploring the saga from the perspective of the people of the Mississippi Delta. She wrote Benevolence for "young people," black as well as white, as a way of engaging our culture's fraught history. She also shared that Act Two is in development and will tell the story of Clinton and Beulah (Bee) Melton, the black couple who were murdered shortly after Till.

“I am so grateful to Professor Bracey for the invitation to present something for Black History Month and to Chair Penny Remsen and the entire Department of Theater for supporting the effort,” Bayeza said. “This maiden voyage suggested the tremendous opportunity NYPOP offers theater majors. Theater faculty, my cohorts and I are already planning future ventures. Stay tuned!”

Curious to see Benevolence but missed your chance in New York? The Department of Theater will offer an encore presentation in 204 on April 7, 8, and 15 at 8 p.m., and April 9 and 16 at 2 p.m.

Leanne (Fader) Coronel '84 manages the stars

Although Leanne (Fader) Coronel ‘84 loved theater and film and counted the late Harry Mahnken among her mentors, she wasn’t a theater major during her time at UMass. Instead, she put together a BDIC in advertising.

Her career in that field was short-lived. “I worked all of two days in advertising and got out,” she said, recalling her boss as a hard case who ripped up 12 pages she’s typed for him because he found a single typo. Reconsidering her options, she thought, “I didn’t necessarily want to be an actor, but I loved to be around actors.”

Coronel translated that insight into a successful career, and now has over two decades’ worth of experience supporting actors in their careers, first as an agent, and for seven years now as the head of her own management company, The Coronel Group. She views her work as a creative puzzle, trying to fit the right person into the right project.

leanne coronel and aidan gillen

Leanne Coronel '84 and Aidan Gillen (Games of Thrones), whom she manages, at the SAG Awards earlier this winter. Photo courtesy of Leanne Coronel

Roots at UMass

Coronel thinks back fondly on UMass, where she split her time between the Department of Theater and the School of Management.

“It was a small department with really creative, fun people,” she said, recalling the Department of Theater. She remembered taking classes in avant garde theater that sparked her imagination.

Even over in the School of Management, she had theater, movies, and TV on the brain. Responsible for booking speakers at a business career event, she signed up representatives from Disney, Paramount, and others. “We need the Big 8!” business students told her (referring to the eight powerful accounting firms of the 70s and 80s), “but I was really proud of myself!” Coronel said, laughing, of the line-up of entertainment firms who came to campus that day.

Aside from business savvy, she walked out of UMass “understanding how to break down a role,” she said, a skill she attributed to her time in theater and which has proven indispensable in her field.

She found her field when she moved to LA, got a job as an assistant in an agency, and quickly realized that it was an environment she could thrive in. For twelve and a half years, Coronel worked at what was then Endeavor Talent Agency for one of the biggest agents of them all, Ari Emmanuel—who inspired Jeremy Piven's Entourage character, Ari Gold.

"I never watched it because I lived it!" she said of the show.

An agent usually has a slate of actors to take care of, although Coronel noted that it's something like 20 percent of the actors who make 80 percent of the money. Along the way, she picked up a lot of wisdom on the business.

She can tell how much experience an actor has, for example, by how long they take to respond to an email request for an appointment to come in and read for a role. Inexperienced actors will send a response within 30 seconds; experienced actors usually take longer because they're reading the materials and assessing whether the role's the right fit for them.

She's also seen plenty of illustrations of the fact that "heat" does not mean talent — actors who disappear after a brief time in the spotlight often don't have the talent to sustain a career, while someone like Matt Damon, she said, has the talent and the sustained career to prove it.

One of the things she's proudest of is the reputation she developed as a "tastemaker."

"I was noted for having an eye," she said, for new talent. A favorite client of hers during her time as an agent was Amy Adams. She was a relative of another Endeavor client, new in town, when Coronel agreed to take her on. Adams ended up booking a TV pilot almost right away. Although the show went nowhere, it was an indication of things to come, Coronel said, because it's very rare that this happens. Adams first big-budget movie was Catch Me If You Can, which didn't generate much heat, but Coronel was there when a small indie movie Adams had made, Junebug, started getting buzz at Sundance.

"I held on to my (ticket) stub, and the day she got her Academy Award nomination, I messengered her the stub and said 'That's when I knew!'" recalled Coronel. "I'm crazy proud of her and of our work together."

On her own

Seven years ago, she decided to strike out on her own as a manager. Some actors have an agent and a manager, while others may only have one or the other. What combination they choose may depend on the actor, the phase of their career, and how much attention they need.

Coronel's company has three staffers, and manages about 25 actors including Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones), Eric McCormack (Will and Grace) and Alan Tudyk (Serenity), among others. She pitches actors for roles and sets up appointments with casting directors. "Casting directors are among my closest friends," she said of the warm working relationships she's developed with some in that field. "I get people seen."

Coronel isalso often on hand for public events. At awards shows, for example, she frequently helps her clients move through the press line, photos, and interviews. At parties or premieres, she will scope the room and make sure her clients network with people they need to see. Someone who's playing a lead will often require more intensive support at an event that someone with a smaller role.

Asked to offer advice to recent graduates, Coronel said, "read books, see old movies, watch great actors, and go see theater!" She also counseled students to come into the field with a strong work ethic. Some actors tell her they don't want to audition on their birthdays, she said, for example.

"Wouldn't it be great if you got yourself a birthday present by getting a job?" she said.

Meeting one of the minds behind Collidescope: Co-Creator Talvin Wilks

Editor’s note:

In April we present Collidescope 2.0, the culminating event of our season, as well as the capper to the two-year Art, Legacy, and Community project master-minded by Judyie Al-Bilali ‘00G. As you may know from past stories, this project investigates the past and current state of racial history and activism in our community. This production boasts an impressive array of spectacularly talented artists; it is an amazing opportunity for our students to interact with the best in the field. Priscilla Page '01G, who is the dramaturg for the project, has been writing about various aspects of the work for the past two years, and in this issue, she profiles one of the primary players of the piece, Talvin Wilks, pictured below with Ping Chong. To meet other creators of the piece, follow our facebook page, where we’ll post mini-features as Collidescope’s opening night draws closer!

talvin and ping

By Priscilla Page 

Talvin Wilks is an acclaimed director, dramaturg and playwright who took time out of his busy schedule to talk with me by phone about our upcoming production of Collidescope 2.0: Adventures in Pre- and Post-Racial America, which he has co-written (and will co-direct) with Ping Chong. The performances will take place at the Rand Theater, April 14, 16, and 20-23. He is currently in residence at Penumbra Theater in Minneapolis wrestling with Adrienne Kennedy’s The Owl Answers, an imagistic and hauntingly imaginative meditation on colonialism, race, and identity. From there, he will return to UMass to dive into Collidescope 2.0.  He is a masterful theater artist who deftly moves from the troubling interiority of Kennedy’s play to the far reaches of outer space with his upcoming project at UMass. 

Wilks has a long-standing professional relationship with our department. He served on our faculty from 2002—2004, during which time he taught playwriting and dramaturgy courses for undergraduates and graduate students. More importantly, he ushered in a new era of collaboration between New WORLD Theater (where he served as Artistic Director during that same period) and the Department of Theater.  New WORLD Theater (NWT) was a thirty-year old multicultural theater organization in residence at the University through the Fine Arts Center. At that time, he conceived of the Multicultural Theater Certificate with Professor Harley Erdman, then chair of the theater department. This unique certificate, now in its second year, focuses on our robust offerings of multicultural theater courses and requires students to interact with artists of color through workshops, residencies and internships. While at the helm of NWT, he developed and produced exciting new work by artists such as Ping Chong, Laurie Carlos, Rha Goddess, Magdalena Gomez, Lenelle Moise, Sekou Sundiata and Marlies Yearby. These collaborations had a tremendous effect on our students and the larger Pioneer Valley community.  He and Chong co-created Undesirable Elements: Pioneer Valley on our campus in 2004.

I asked Talvin to reflect on his return to UMASS bringing Collidescope 2.0 to our department. He and Chong created and produced the first iteration of this play at the University of Maryland in 2014. He is very excited about the continuation of the work. 

Talvin: In the classic tradition of new play development, UMASS is giving us a second opportunity to understand the way the world of the play works. Our understanding will develop with the professional designers who are really building on what Ping and I started in Maryland. We are excited to work with Mimi Lien, Jess Ford, Kate Freer, Amy Altadonna, and Webster Marsh. They are a great team and they are starting from what was done (in terms of design) before. Their efforts will strengthen the concept of how the play works. Their work will strengthen the dramaturgy of this play. We get to continue discovering how the aliens in the play live, explore, and conduct their investigation of our world.

Priscilla: In terms of new play development, can you talk about the text and the notion of the “present tense” of this play.

Talvin: It is important that we keep this piece up to date. We are collecting stories and creating an archive of events since 2014 right up to today. This is very important in terms of the work and our vision of this project.  In this way, we are living up to the idea that this is a process and not a play. We are collecting up to the moment, history in the making and we are weaving that into what Collidescope is really meant to be: an understanding of time and history, a blending of now and then.

Priscilla: How does UMASS Amherst and the Pioneer Valley factor into the dramaturgy of Collidescope 2.0?

Talvin: Ping and I have learned that this piece is as much about place as it is about history. By focusing on place, we have a whole new investigation. I started conversations with theater department students in Judyie Al-Bilali’s classes last year. We began to look for stories that relate to the idea of citizenship and race history across time. We have done the research and will include material on Black student activism at UMASS as well as the story of Angeline Palmer, a young, free Black girl whose freedom was protected by her half-brother and many Amherst town residents.

Priscilla: What else are you looking forward to with this production?

Talvin: We expanded the size of the cast for the UMass production. And, the casting is completely different. With this larger cast, we have new opportunities to think about the characters and how we tell the story.  We have also added another historical character. We depict Mary Turner and the story of her lynching in 1918. Collidescope 2.0 really is its own new production and we are looking forward to the discoveries we will make in Amherst.

Imani Denson Pitman '06: In the room where the Grammys happened

This year’s Grammy Awards presentation featured a first-ever live broadcast from a Broadway theater— specifically, the Richard Rodgers Theater, where Hamilton is enjoying its blockbuster run. Even though the company only performed its opening number, the theater was packed with audience members. As we found out via facebook, one of our own, Imani Denson Pitman ’06, was in that crowd. Imani is currently working as assistant merchandise manager at another musical, School of Rock, and we asked him to give us a sense of the celebratory scene inside. Here's his account:

The energy at the Richard Rodgers on the night of the 58th Grammy Awards was palpable. Outside of the theater it was cold and wet. A long line had formed. The anticipation of what was to occur a few hours later could be seen on everyone's faces. Friends and family gathered to support and witness our loved ones perform in front of millions of people the opening number from the history making Hamilton.

Hamilton chronicles the life of the first US Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. The story is told through various musical mediums, but mostly hip hop/rap. What makes this show unique is that about 95% of the cast are people of color, which makes for a very interesting storytelling perspective.

Now, I have NOT seen the full production yet, but that didn't stop me from being in the audience for the Grammy performance. I was there because a very dear friend and old bowling teammate works at Hamilton and asked me last week if I would like to attend. While we waited in the Rodgers, so many familiar faces attached to the show filed in. There was Oskar Eustis, the now artistic director of the Public Theater, where Hamilton had its first run; Thomas Kail, its director, who also directed FOX's extremely successful Grease Live!; and then a few rows back, the whole family of Lin-Manuel Miranda, beaming with joy and excitement.

A voice came over the crowd and a hush fell to figure out who it belonged to. All eyes were on the stage as Stephen Colbert walked out to finally introduce the number we had all been waiting for. After the introduction, the lights dimmed and the first chords began.

That loud applause you hear as Hamilton's creator, Lin-Manuel, steps into the light was so loud in the theater it briefly paused the number. As the song came to an end the applause was even more deafening. Then the waiting came. Who was going to win the award? Was Fun Home going to cause another upset as it did at the Tonys last year? Or was American In Paris going to finally get a big award they were denied last summer? Then it was time. Seth MacFarlan read the name of the winner and everyone went a bit nuts to say the least. Lin had been working on Hamilton for almost 10 years before it became what it is today.

That win, among many coming in the near future, is a testament to his hard work and dedication to his craft and artistry. So for those who might think something is taking too long or things aren't happening the way they want, take note. Things take time to become great things. “Art isn't easy.”

Imani Denson-Pittman Hamilton photo

(Photo courtesy Imani Denson-Pittman)


Alright everyone, where are your updates? Don’t be shy, send them in. We love to hear about cool projects, interesting new jobs, and exciting landmarks like weddings, babies, and pets — and we know your fellow theater folk do too! Send Us Updates!

Now, onto the news for this issue:

Sound design professor Amy Altadonna designed a new play called The Hampton Years at Virginia Stage Company. "I composed an original score and collaborated with playwright Jacqueline Lawton, playwright and writer on issues of diversity and social justice, as well as Blair Meilnik who was the lead scenic designer for Punchdrunk's Sleep No More.  Working with these passionate, insightful artists was invigorating, and the themes of the play resonated with the efforts for diversity and social justice that we are undertaking in our own department.

Lisa Channer '89 sent us news about her Theatre Nove Most's production of The Seagull, now on-going. Minneapolis folks looking for something to do, learn more here.

Undergrad Ben Finn is staging an independent production of The Glass Menagerie in the Curtain Theater, going up on April 19, 20, and 21st. He is serving as a performer and sound designer on the project, and recent alumna Kathryn McNall ‘15 is directing.

Lucinda Kidder ‘03G sent us an email notification about her theater company’s upcoming season. Check out the Silverthorne Theater Company’s season.

Alumnus Aaron Lyons ’99, company member with Antaeus Theatre Company’s A2 company, let us know about their entertaining insult challenge fundraiser, which features some familiar faces:

Everyone’s two favorite fictional presidents, including our own Bill Pullman ‘80G, teamed up for an amusing pair of car commercials:


Emily Taradash '14G has been working as the resident Costume Designer and Costume Shop Supervisor at Ocean State Theatre in Warwick, RI since September. This Season, she has had the pleasure of designing It's a Wonderful Life, Breaking Legs, and 1776 which opened on February 26th. She is currently in the design process for The Miracle Worker, opening April 1st, and will be managing the build process for the final show of the season: Anything Goes.

Alumnus and UMass honorary degree recipient Peter Tolan is an executive producers on The Outsiders TV series on WGN America.

See the trailer here:


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