This year, the Department of Theater has a new certificate program on the books: the Multicultural Theater Certificate. As the web page explains, 'The Multicultural Theater Certificate blends the teaching of history and theory with the practical aspects of theater-making by offering students throughout the university an opportunity to deepen their studies in this important and growing area of arts and academic study."
The certificate has been a long time in coming, thwarted in its first iteration by the university's decision to shutter New WORLD Theater, which was to play an integral part in the work students did for the certificate. Now revised and up and running under the watchful eye of program administrator Priscilla Page, the certificate will offer non-majors and majors alike an opportunity to study multicultural theater in depth.
Recently, Page sat down with professor Harley Erdman and theater artist Talvin Wilks—who was New WORLD Theater's artistic director when the certificate was conceived—and talked to them about the history of the certificate from idea to program.
Professor Megan Lewis took a class of graduate and undergraduate students from UMass and elsewhere to South Africa to experience the Grahamstown Festival this summer. For Lewis, originally from South Africa, the trip represented the achievement of a long-time dream and she was thrilled with the outcome.
This week, as rehearsals for the first annual UMass New Play Lab began, Paul Adolphsen (dramaturg for And Then They Fell, one of Play Lab’s two offerings) sat down with Play Lab director Jared Culverhouse to talk about his past experience with play development, and why he’s excited to work on new scripts by our two playwrights-in-residence: Liz Duffy Adams and Tira Palmquist.
Earlier this summer, as part of our continuing look at the history of the Department of Theater, we asked Professor June Gaeke and Professor Emerita Virginia Scott to talk to us about their time in the department. Scott was here from 1970 to 1973 when the discussions and then the paperwork to become an independent department were on-going and then returned in 1977 to shape the dramaturgy graduate program, where she remained until her retirement. Gaeke arrived in 1972 and has been here ever since as the Department of Theater’s costume designer; she played an integral part in designing the department’s initial liberal arts curriculum.
Between the two of them, the long-time colleagues and friends know much of the story of the department’s founding and early days, so we asked them to talk about that time.
Below, you can click to listen to their recollections as they spoke to public relations manager Anna-Maria Goossens about the early philosophy of the department, its involvement with professional theater, and some memorable moments from the stage and the classroom.
The conversation begin with Scott and Goossens, and Gaeke joins in.
Many, many thanks to Professor Amy Altadonna, Lecturer in Sound Design and Technology, for editing these clips together from the original 2 hours of recorded material.
Judyie Al-Bilali '01G spent several years in South Africa, which informed the production of Suzan-Lori Parks' Venus she directed for us, and which also strongly shaped the work she does in theater for social change. She's just joined us as a faculty member. These clips are from before her appointment. Read more here: http://www.umass.edu/theater/stagesfeb2013.php#judyie
Meg Bashwiner '08 writes and acts for the New York NeoFuturists, the east coast outpost of the famous Chicago group of the same name and a well-known entity in its own right. The full story's at http://www.umass.edu/theater/stagesfeb2013.php#bashwiner
Maari Suorsa '09, who originated one of the roles in New York Fringe Festival hit Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche, talks about her work in this brief excerpt from an interview. Read the whole story at http://www.umass.edu/theater/stagesfeb2013.php#suorsa
A short excerpt from an interview with scene designer John McDermott, whose recent projects include, among others, Jesse Eisenberg's The Revisionist and Rattlestick Theatre's productions of Lucy Thurber's Hill Town Plays. The full story is at: http://www.umass.edu/theater/stagesfeb2013.php#mcdermott