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Dynamic Theater

VIEWS: 20 PAGES: 12

									                          S TA G E S
The University of Massachusetts Amherst Department of Theater Alumni Newsletter                                                    Spring 2007

                                              Dynamic Theater:
                   The Campaign for Transforming the Rand Theater
                                                                                                  A Big Moment
                                                                                                 This is a big moment for the UMass
                                                                                             Amherst Department of Theater.
                                                                                                 The University has launched its official
                                                                                             fundraising campaign to revitalize our main
                                                                                             stage — the space known as the Rand
                                                                                             Theater, infamous for its vintage-1973
                                                                                             orange carpet and endless rows of dividers.
                                                                                             Most of you know it well.
                                                                                                 As you see in these pages, we have big
                                                                                             plans. They involve remaking the theater
                                                                                             into something far more dynamic, flexible,
                                                                                             sparkling, and inviting.
                                                                                                 We are proud to be part of a long
                                                                                             tradition of outstanding theater students,
                                                                                             staff, and faculty at UMass Amherst. When
                                                                                             these plans are realized, we will finally have
                                                                                             equally outstanding facilities as well. Your
   Above and below: Renderings created by Kuhn Riddle Architects offer a vision of how the
                                                                                             support is vital to our reaching this goal.
   Rand could look once renovations are complete.
                                                                                                      Best,
                                                                                                      Harley Erdman
                                                                                                      Chair
                                                                                                      Department of Theater

                                                                                                      The Campaign
                                                                                                         Begins
                                                                                                   Our People
                                                                                                        Inspiring Faculty. Gifted Students.
                                                                                                   Award Winning Alumni. Those are the
                                                                                                   pillars of strength in the Department
                                                                                                   of Theater at the University of
                                                                                                   Massachusetts Amherst. Our faculty
                                                                                                   transform lives with their dedication to
                                                                                                   mentoring undergraduate and graduate
                                                                                                   students and by their commitment to the
                                                                                                   highest professional standards. Faculty
                                                                                                                                continued on page 2


                                                                         1
 Dynamic Theater: The Campaign for Transforming the Rand Theater
                The Campaign Begins
continued from page 1
include a Pulitzer-Prize nominee, award-winning authors and
playwrights, and nationally recognized actors, directors, and
designers whose work is produced at major theaters around the
country. Our students enrich the campus with their creative
ideas and energy. Undergraduates and graduates pursue multi-
faceted studies. They graduate to become well-rounded artists
who are able to find work in highly competitive fields. Our
alumni work in theater, film and television. They are actors,
designers, stage managers, production managers, technical
directors, scriptwriters, directors, and theater teachers. All use
their UMass Amherst experience to influence culture around
the world.

Our Place
     From Shakespeare to Sam Shepard. From Euripides
to Emerging Playwrights. Live stage performances that
provide hands-on learning experiences are the hallmarks
of the Department of Theater. For more than 30 years,
the Department has been in residence at the Fine Arts
Center, occupying two theaters, backstage support facilities,
classrooms, and offices. Every year, between four and six
major productions are mounted in either the black box
Curtain Theater or the proscenium Rand Theater, along with
dozens of smaller, more experimental shows driven by student
initiative. This production work is central to our mission,                One of the biggest
which links learning to real-life experience.                              changes planned
                                                                           to our space is the
Our Performance                                                            repurposing of the
                                                                           Upper Rand Lobby
     Sold-out shows. Strong Educational Experience. Extensive              and the upper
Community Outreach. This proven record of achievement is                   reaches of the
at the core of the Department of Theater and its future.                   house. That space
Each year, our productions are selected for the season                     will be consoli-
from proposals from faculty, guest artists, and students, in               dated to create a
a process that focuses on the needs of students and serves                 new multipurpose
                                                                           theater space that
as an extension of the classroom. Reviewers praise these
                                                                           will function as a
productions. Student-initiated experimental projects are also              light lab and an ex-
part of the department’s repertoire and have received critical             perimental theater.
acclaim.                                                                   Above and at right
     Each year productions attract some 6,500 campus                       are renderings of
members as well as the general public. A dynamic outreach                  how that space
effort enables the department to serve the larger community.               might look, as
Thousands of high school students have been exposed to the                 imagined by Kuhn
world of theater via affordable student matinees, study guides,            Riddle Architects.
special workshops, and back stage tours. The caliber of our
guest artists is another measurement of achievement. We have
welcomed Tony-nominated choreographers, up-and-coming
                                                     continued on page 5



                                                                           2
            Alumni, students, faculty, and staff updates
I think I'll let Rachel Reinheimer Iarossi    to the entertainment of children (and       this fall, and I’m directing the kids’ play
'93 lead off this one, since she sums         adults) at Six Flags New England. She       there as well."
up what I was going to say so nicely:         is part of the Batman and Robin show        ■ Traci Klainer received a Drama Desk
"I just thought I’d send a note to say        and reports that they added Wonder          Award nomination for her design for
hello, since I love reading the other         Woman, Aquaman, the Flash and Green         The Asphalt Kiss.
posts from alumni. It’s really great to       Lantern to the mix this year. She also      ■ Linda McInerney '97G directed
read all the wonderful news about what        initiated and coordinated a new Parade      Women in Arms for Old Deerfield
everyone is doing in the theater world        for six flags this year. "When I wasn’t     Productions, the group's first production
and beyond."                                  blowing things up, parading around and      at Northampton Academy of Music,
If you weren't in this latest batch to send   helping with the Looney Tunes, I also       where it was in residence this fall.
us your news, put it on your calendar to      directed a Pirate gameshow and a comic      ■ Jennie Mead '04 writes that she
get us an update for the spring issue.        showdown show," she added. On an            finished a long run of Assassins at the
Here's the latest:                            educational front, she has taken a job as   Signature Theatre in DC as a production
                                              Production Manager at Foodplay, which       assistant. After a little time off, she'll be
Alumni                                        is a touring theatre troupe that teaches    assistant stage managing A Midsummer
                                              children good nutrition habits.             Nights Dream at the Folger Shakespeare
■ Courtney Berne '01 did a shortened          ■ Chris Darland '87 sent in news            Library. Then, she will be assistant
version of her one-woman show Choice          about a classmate, Mark Ellmore '87.        stage managing for Signature on Crave,
for the Stockyards Theatre Arts Project       Mark lives in Brooklyn, and has been        by Sarah Kane. "All the while still
Play for Keeps reading series this fall.      acting in NYC for many years. He            planning a wedding for next October,"
She was also involved with the Seventh        landed a role on an episode of ABC’s Six    she noted.
Annual Women’s Performance Art                Degrees this fall.                          ■ Sean Middlebrook '06 sent us a kind
Festival in late October, doing a short       ■ Melissa Fendell '03 won Best Play at      message thanking us for his experiences
reading of her piece. In January she          New York City's 5th Annual Downtown         in the department and letting us know
will be doing a full run of the show in       Urban Theater Festival at the Cherry        he had settled in and was working
Chicago, this time in preparation for         Lane Theatre in June 2006 for her full-     for Walt Disney World Resort in the
touring next spring within the local and      length play When Santo Domingo Isn’t        Transportation department.
suburban school systems.                      Enough.                                     ■ Robin Reed '04 writes that she has
■ Margo Caddell '06G got a job as             ■ Erin Greene '02 started her own           been enjoying Rome, where she has
Lighting Designer at Tufts University.        Western Massachusetts theater and           lived for the past half year. She had lunch
■ Megan Cannon '96 has been seeing            educational outreach company, Greene        with Melissa Fendell '03 in Florence
                                              Room Productions, in Monson.                while she was doing a workshop in
 If you have an update for us, please         ■ Maura Henry '02 made a big career         Spoleto. Before she left New York, she
 e-mail us at umasstheater@theater.           and life changes: She left the American     wrote reviews for nytheatre.com and the
 umass.edu or amgoossens@verizon.net.         Repertory Theatre where she was the         Brooklyn-based L Magazine, did some
 You can also call 413.545-3490 or            assistant to the Executive and Artistic     voiceover work at CNN and was part of
 413.545.6808.                                Directors to live in Poland, teaching       the musical adaptation of the Caveman
                                              English.                                    Robot comic book. "Yeah, normally I
 If that doesn’t work for you, send your      ■ Joan Jubett '91 played Rosalind this      don’t do musicals, but I got to wear all
 carrier pigeon to:                           summer at the Stonington Opera House        kinds of crazy costumes and be a super-
 Stages                                       on Deer Isle, Maine.                        villain, so I thought it was a fair trade."
 Fine Arts Center 112                         ■ Tanya Kane-Parry '01G conceived           ■ Rachel Reinheimer Iarossi '93
 151 Presidents Drive                         and directed Tosca Jumps! a new piece       resurfaced to send us a newsy email: "I
 UMass Amherst                                inspired by Tosca, this November at the     am living in the Merrimack Valley (north
 Amherst, MA 01003                            Luckman Intimate Theatre at Cal State       of Boston), working in the accounting
                                              Los Angeles.                                field (www.fortunabookkeeping.com),
 Please include contact information and       ■ Jennifer Keating ‘99 writes that          and spending time with family and
 the year you graduated.                      her son: "Daegan Michael Roca was           friends (some of whom graduated from
                                              born on Feb. 18th, 2006. ... Most of        the Theater Dept. in the early nineties,
 We'll post your news online at www.          my theater endeavors are on hold for        too). I have a very dramatic three-year
 umass.edu/theater/deptnews.html or           a season, but I did write a musical for     old little boy (I have NO idea where he
 run it in the next issue of Stages.          my church which is being performed                                      continued on page 3


                                                                  3
                                                  More theater updates
continued from page 2                              Cambridge." He's doing part-time              ■ Michael Marceline worked with
gets that dramatic streak from...), and            work as Production Electrician for the        several UMass Amherst students on a
he is one of the funniest people I know."          American Repertory Theatre at Harvard         project this past summer. He wrote a
Her daughter arrived in November.                  University, now with two theaters — a         full length play, Cowboys (Straight, Queer,
■ Joe Salvatore '97G wrote us with                 black box was added in 2004. He's             Quixotic, and Otherwise Allegorical)
sad news: his partner Craig passed away            also been involved with installing and        for fellow students Joél Avilés, Eliza
this fall after a long battle with colon           operating a brand new theater at the          Greene-Smith, and Alec Nelson who
cancer.                                            Institute of Contemporary Art on the          worked with him over the summer to
■ Lauryn Sasso '06 was hired as the                Boston Waterfront.                            produce a workshop performance of the
Literary Associate and Assistant to                ■ Lian Amaris Sifuentes '02                   play at the Hallie Flanagan Theater at
the Producing Director for the Asolo               graduated with her second New York            Smith College. It was the first project of
Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida.            University Master’s degree,in Interactive     a theater company that Joél and Michael
The director of the FSU conservatory               Telecommunications, last May. She             are starting, The Actors Project.
associated with the Asolo is UMass                 focused on performance installation           ■ Anna Norcross worked as an
Amherst alum, Greg Leaming '83G,                   and multimedia performance. Her first         assistant stage manager at The Theater
and Dolph Paulsen '06 will be a MFA                was in Performance Studies in 2004.           At Monmouth (located in Monmouth,
student in their conservatory this fall,           In June, Lian presented a media theory        ME) for eleven weeks over the summer.
so there’ll be a couple of familiar faces          paper on online gaming at the Media           She was an assistant stage manager for
around.                                            Ecology Association Conference. It            three productions and the lead stage
■ Jeremy Schwartz '03 has had a                    was published in their journal last fall.     manager for two others.
busy year. A recap, culled from his                This summer, she relocated to Colorado        ■ This summer, Kyle Pasciutti was
newsy email: "[Last] spring I had a brief          Springs, CO, to accept her position as        Set Designer, Stage Manager, Assistant
but exciting journey with the Holland              a tenure-track Assistant Professor of         Technical Director, and Set Build
America Line working as the Stage                  Performance Studies and Digital Media,        Coordinator for the Comedy l0l ("LOL
Manager and Lighting Tech aboard the               in the Drama and Dance Department, at         or 101 depending on your point of view,"
ms Statendam. My itinerary took me                 Colorado College. She will be teaching        he notes) Production of Rick Abbot’s
to China, Japan, South Korea, Eastern              five classes over the year, over-seeing two   Dracula: The Musical? in Cheshire, CT.
Russia and Alaska. Now I’m back in                 senior projects, and will be directing her
                                                   first mainstage show for the department       Faculty
                  STAGES                           next season.
    The University of Massachusetts Amherst        ■ Charlotte Williams '05 joined the           ■ Professor Emeritus Doris Abramson
           Department of Theater                   UMass-Chicago outpost this summer.            '49 has a new book out, entitled Time
             Alumni Newsletter                                                                   Will Tell: Poems and Profiles.
              2006-2007 Issue                      Students                                      ■ The Captivation of Eunice Williams
                                                                                                 continues to appear before new
                                                   ■ Kristi Barron was in the apprentice         audiences. The opera, with music by
                Stages Editor
                                                   program at the Berkshire Theatre              Paula M. Kimper and words by faculty
             Anna-Maria Goossens
                                                   Festival all summer and was in the            member Harley Erdman, and directed
                 Contributors
                                                   ensemble of their production of Terence       by Linda McInerney '97G, was
                Harley Erdman
                                                   McNally’s Where Has Tommy Flowers             performed for two nights in October at
                 Nick Keenan
                                                   Gone? (which, she was pleased to report,      the Rasmussen Theater at the National
                Catharine Porter
                                                   Terence himself came up to see!)              Museum of the American Indian in
                                                   ■ This past summer graduate directing         Washington DC.
               Department Editor                   student Shawn LaCount acted in                ■ Julie Nelson was the dialect coach on
                Patricia Warner                    and produced the Boston premiere of           Merrimack Rep’s Aunt Dan and Lemon.
                                                   Stephen Adly Guirgis’ The Last Days           ■ Paul Walsh participated as Lead
  Stages welcomes articles from students,          of Judas Iscariot. He played Satan to         Dramaturg in the 20th annual
  alumni, faculty and staff. If you have an        flattering reviews. Shawn is the Artistic     New Harmony Project, a new play
  interesting experience or exciting news you’d    Director of Company One, which was            development workshop centered
  like to write about or a story you’d like        named The Best Fringe Theater in              in New Harmony, Indiana, and
  to suggest, call (413) 545-6808 or e-mail        Boston in The Improper Bostonian’s            dedicated to “serving writers and
  <amgoossens@verizon.net>.                        Best of Boston Issue this summer.                                        continued on page 4



                                                                        4
                                           More theater updates
continued from page 4                          opening of the new Guthrie Theater             he was a member of the adjudication
celebrating the human spirit” (www.            in Minneapolis and moderated a panel           and selection committee for LMDA
newharmonyproject.org). In addition,           entitled “Hooked on Classics: Old and          Summer Play Festivals Travel Grants (to
he revised his translation of Ibsen’s A        New,” at the Annual Conference of              allow early career dramaturgs to travel to
Doll’s House for production in October         Literary Managers of Dramaturgs of the         selected summer new play festivals).
2006 by the fourth-year students in            Americas (LMDA) that was convened in
the Drama Division at the Juilliard            Minneapolis to help celebrate the opening      Staff
School. He had also begun revising his         of the new $90 million Guthrie. He
translation of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler for        served on the adjudication and selection       ■ John Iverson was Caldwell B. Cladwell
production in February 2007 by the             committee for “The 10th Annual Best of         in a production of Urinetown in August
American Conservatory Theater in San           PlayGround Festival of 10-Minute Plays”        and a dancer in a production of Guys
Francisco (which is also remounting            and the “June Ann Baker Prize” awarded         And Dolls in July. Both shows were at the
his adaptation of A Christmas Carol this       annually by the San Francisco-based new        Shea theater in Shelburne.
season. In July, he attended the gala          play organization, PlayGround. Finally,                          —Anna-Maria Goossens

  Dynamic Theater: The Campaign for Transforming the Rand Theater
continued from page 2                               Specifically, they recommend:             for Transforming the Rand Theater seeks
directors, and award-winning designers.        • Transform the Rand Theater into              to raise $12 million to expand programs
                                               a smaller, 350-seat theater, thereby           and create conditions that will maintain
Our Needs                                      creating more intimate, dynamic, and           the excellence of the Department of
                                               engaging performance space.                    Theater well into the 21st century. The
     The process of making theater on          • Improve the seating in the Rand by           campaign’s centerpiece is the remodeling
a college campus requires appropriate          removing the balcony and loge and              of the Rand Theater and the creation of a
facilities and support. The Department’s       creating semi-circular seating pattern, as     new multi-purpose theater space. Funds
spaces, notably the Rand Theater, are          well as removing the isolating barriers        also are needed to update equipment
fundamentally unchanged since their            placed between the rows of seats.              as well as improve accessibility and
inauguration in 1974. They suffer              • Create wheelchair seating and offer          incorporate new building standards.
from obsolescence, design problems,            assisted listening technology.
inflexibility, and general wear-and-tear.      • Build a multi-faceted all new studio
Furthermore, the number of theater             theater suitable for special class projects,
majors has nearly doubled between              rehearsals, and laboratory performances.       If you would like to contribute to the
1993 and 2005, bringing more pressure                                                         campaign, please return the card enclosed
to overhaul our spaces.                        Our Vision                                     with this issue of Stages or visit the online
     We believe our students deserve                                                          giving page at:
facilities that match their excellence and          The Department of Theater is              https://www.umass.edu/development/
provide them with conditions similar           dedicated to offering a comprehensive          give/
to what they will encounter in real-life       study of theater. Implicit in those studies    To allocate your gift to theater, select
work. We believe our audiences deserve         are learning skills in creative problem-       College of Humanities and Fine Arts in
to be welcomed into theaters that are          solving, effective teamwork, and               the pulldown menu, then "theatre."
inviting, dynamic, and state-of-the-art.       interpersonal communications. Students
We believe our program will flourish in        leave our classrooms, laboratories, and        For more information on
facilities that are flexible, multi-purpose,   stages as polished professionals and           The Campaign for Transforming
and allow for future growth.                   as men and women ready to navigate             the Rand Theater,
     To this end, the Department of            life in and out of the theater world.          please contact:
Theater and the College of Humanities          These skills and values, perhaps more          Harley Erdman, department chair,
and Fine Arts commissioned Kuhn-               important today than ever, change lives        413-545-3490 or
Riddle Architects and Artec Consultants        and are essential to developing rewarding      harley@theater.umass.edu
to create a feasibility study for the          careers.                                       or
rebuilding of the theaters at the Fine                                                        Carey Royce, office of development,
Arts Center. Their study focused on            Our Campaign                                   413-577-4421 or
reconfiguring the Rand Theater and                                                            croyce@hfa.umass.edu
constructing a new laboratory theater.             Dynamic Theater: The Campaign
                                                                5
                                    We'll take New York:
        UMass Amherst lighting and technical alumni make their mark
by ANNA-MARIA GOOSSENS                              Her value as a mentor, though, goes      told Jahoda to follow her, led him through
                                              beyond the technical or the artistic.          the bowels of the Fine Arts Center to
     If all of the UMass Amherst lighting           "What I learned from her, without        the electrics shop, and introduced him
and technical theater alumni went on          really realizing it, is professionalism,"      to house master electrician Michael
vacation, would New York City's theaters      said Kevin Barry, speaking for many            Dubin, Remsen's right-hand man in the
have to go dark? It's not an unreasonable     of his fellow alumni. "It's all about          electrics shop. Several intense semesters
question, given the numbers who count         collaboration. It's not about ego, but it's    and master electrician gigs later, Jahoda
themselves among Penny Remsen/UMass           about the production."                         broached the subject of assisting on or
Lighting Design Mafia.                               "The biggest thing I learned from        designing a season show. In response,
     To cite a few examples: Kevin Barry      Penny was how to talk about light. I           Remsen handed him the script for Curse
is the associate production electrician for   still get comments and compliments all         of the Starving Class and told him to read
Broadway's Mary Poppins. Ben Stanton          the time. People say, 'I’ve never heard        it. It was hard — "She pushed me quite a
received rave reviews for his designs for     anyone talk about light or lighting like       lot," he said, but she was also unstinting
Godspell at the Paper Mill Playhouse          that before,' and I think to myself, if they   in her praise when he proved himself.
in New Jersey. Traci Klainer—a Smith          ever met Penny, they would have," wrote              He credits her with his current
alumna but a Remsen devotee nonetheless       Ben Stanton in an email.                       success.
—has received nominations for Lortel                 The end result, said Sarah Jakubasz,          "For a year out, I have a national
and Drama Desk Awards. Annmarie               is that UMass Amherst gets respect in          tour and I get a design credit and a fee. I
Duggan is freelance designing and             the lighting design world. "It starts with     am very content with where I am now,"
lectures at the University of Pittsburgh.     Penny, but also the people she chooses to      Jahoda said.
Sarah Jakubasz swung a wrench for a           guide," she explained.                               Jakubasz thinks that the trajectory
couple of years and now makes a living              "Penny taught me the idea of being       Jahoda described is part of a larger vision
assisting and designing. Jarrod Jahoda,       able to appreciate other people's talents.     on Remsen's part.
not two years out of school, was just on      She taught me passion, that the really               "She has a plan for you. You've got
tour with The Three Redneck Tenors. And       important thing is to want to be in            to prove yourself through your career
Michael Salvas didn't have much time          theater," said Barry.                          in college, from class to working with
to talk because he was about to head to                                                      Michael Dubin to summer work to
Hawaii to be associate lighting designer      Recruitment                                    eventually designing stuff in the Rand.
for a Norwegian Cruise Lines show.                                                           It's all in her head all the time," Jakubasz
     Though each has taken a different             Everyone has a different story of         theorized. "She just knows she wants to
career path, they credit Remsen with          how they first met Penny Remsen, but in         help you."
helping them get where they are.              some ways, the elements are the same. As             Remsen knows to push students
     "As I tell students I have had along     Jarrod Jahoda spoke of his first encounter      outside their comfort zone when
the way, Penny was my foundation.             with Remsen, Jakubasz and Barry nodded         necessary. "She's doing it for your
The skills that she gave me gave me a         (and laughed) in recognition.                  own good — even if it hurts!" laughed
foundation in both lighting and theater,           "I was the quiet scary kid who            Jakubasz, who added that she sometimes
and I was able to build my career on this     freaked people out," he said. He came to       has moments when she finds herself
very sturdy foundation," wrote Annmarie       UMass Amherst intending to major in            saying, "Yeah, now I get it."
Duggan in an email.                           physics. Though he was an actor in high              That help takes the form of teaching
     Michael Salvas sees Remsen's talents     school, he did no theater the first year        and advising, but it doesn't stop there.
as two-fold: In addition to being able to     of his college career. Physics didn't pan      One after another, Remsen's former
teach just about anyone to be technically     out, and, casting about for a new major,       students described introductions to
proficient, Remsen is a good judge of          he decided to check out theater and got        leaders in the field that became valuable
talent. "She can identify people who have     Penny as an advisor.                           networking contacts, alerts about summer
potential," Salvas said, and he should             "I sent this respectful email: 'Dr.       positions that led to other jobs.
know—he came to UMass Amherst                 Remsen'," he recalled, and when he                   "She opened doors," said Jakubasz,
interested in physics and art history, took   showed up for his meeting, he was greeted      who benefited from Remsen's pushing
a Theater 110 class that put him behind       with: "Boy, I ain't got no doctorate!          her toward an internship at Williamstown
the lightboard, and was recruited from        What's wrong with you?"                        Theater Festival. When the possibility
there into lighting design.                        At the end of his meeting, she got up,                             continued on page 7
                        Lighting and technical alumni take on NYC
continued from page 6                          said. He parlayed his work on various        example of the way Remsen can connect
was first raised, Jakubasz worried about        Disney-related projects into a gig at the    promising students with established
making ends meet, but Remsen was               New Amsterdam theater, working as part       professionals.
so committed to helping her have this          of a team on the new production of Mary           "She opened doors. She knows
experience that she tracked down an            Poppins.                                     the New York Community very well,"
obscure internship scholarship. It was              Some, like Traci Klainer, go for an     Jakubasz said.
a great move for Jakubasz's career. The        advanced degree. Klainer actually went            It's also an example of the way
people she met over several summers            to Smith College and only signed up          Remsen's alumni look out for each other
at Williamstown, she said, provided an         for Remsen's class because there was no      once they hit the ground in New York.
entry into the New York tech and design        lighting professor at Smith during her       All the alumni regularly dropped names,
network that has enabled her to focus on       senior year. The courses she took her put    not only of classmates who'd made the
assisting and designing exclusively.           her in classes together with Remsen's        trip to New York City with them, but of
     "Had I not gone to Williamstown..."       grad students, one of whom she assisted      people a few years older who'd extended
she mused.                                     on a mainstage production.                   job leads, and people a few years younger
                                                    "I have my MFA in lighting design       to whom they'd extended a helping hand
Making one's way                               from NYU," Klainer emailed. "Penny           in turn.
                                               changed my thinking about lighting                Salvas got one of those M. Butterfly
     The UMass Amherst connection to           design. She took my education to the         jobs thanks to Ben Stanton. They'd
Williamstown has helped a number of            next level in both drafting and artistic     met at Williamstown, and when Salvas
students transition from school to the         thinking. It is because of her that I        moved to New York he assisted Stanton
professional world.                            decided to go to graduate school and am      on several productions. When Stanton,
     "After I graduated, I was a lighting      now a lighting designer."                    who had an existing relationship with the
intern at the Williamstown Theater                  Klainer works freelance in theater      opera company, couldn't take the job, he
Festival," emailed Ben Stanton, who            and also has her own architectural and       recommended Salvas for the job.
counts himself among the group. "I spent       exhibit design company, Luce Group.               He is now able to do the same.
the next few years assisting off Broadway,          Well-established in the field now,       "When I have something I can't do, I
designing off Broadway, and I was hired        Klainer has been able to extend a            pass it along," he said adding that when
as the associate lighting supervisor at        helping hand to up-and-coming Remsen         it comes to Remsen's former students,
Williamstown for my summer job."               acolytes.                                    he can feel confident that person will
     That position put him in line for                                                      do good work and the recommendation
better design jobs at companies including      Connections                                  will reflect well on him — and UMass
the New York Theater Workshop in the                                                        Amherst.
city, the Intiman theater in Seattle, and           One of these is Michael Salvas.              All the alumni stories are a little
Hartford Stage. It also connected him          Remsen brought Klainer back into her         different, but Ben Stanton put his finger
to better assisting jobs on Broadway           classes as a guest lecturer, and through     on the common thread that runs through
musicals—including Wicked and The              the class she met Salvas, whom she           all these tales of success:
Frogs. His career has now progressed to        subsequently recommended to the Boston            "Penny gave me both a strong
the point where he has stopped assisting       Lyric Opera. Salvas now has a flourishing     grasp of the trade craft skills that are so
and works full time as a lighting designer     career designing lights for operas and       important for a young lighting designer
for theater, with sidelines in dance, opera,   musicals — he was slated to assist on, and   as they go out into the profession and
concert lighting, cruise ship lighting, and    then design, back-to-back productions        try to be an assistant designer, and an
corporate event lighting.                      of M. Butterfly for two companies. In         essential foundation for the artistry of
     Kevin Barry headed not to                 addition, he is the lighting director for    the discipline; she taught me how to read
Williamstown but to Huntington                 the New York Musical Theatre Festival, a     and understand a play. How to talk about
Stage. He knew early on that his talent        rapidly growing festival familiar to some    light to someone who may not have a
and interest lay in the technical side of      as the first venue for the popular show       vocabulary for that kind of discussion.
theater, and he built a career beginning       Altar Boys. Though he laments that he        How to walk into a first meeting with
with a tour of Disney on Ice. That job         doesn't have enough time to do plays,        a director you’ve never met before and
led to a position with a lighting shop.        Salvas find opera and musicals to be a        discuss design ideas."
Now, with a toddler son at home, "I'm          good fit, since he has a strong interest in        "I would not be half as successful now
not going out of town anymore," Barry          music.                                       if I hadn't been to college and learned to
                                                    This Klainer-Salvas connection is an    do the work," said Barry.
  Nick Keenan builds a career in sound design
Nick Keenan '00 is part of what we here        NK: It all came from seeing other shows
like to refer to as our UMass-Chicago          in the Curtain and being enraptured
outpost. Since moving there several years      with the sound choices and how they
ago, Nick has made a name and a career         were used to set a specific and rich tone
for himself working in theater, and he's       in each piece. I didn’t learn about the
found his sound design skills are especially   field until I started designing on a regular
in demand. In his opinion, it's a growing      basis, which started when I came back as
field, particularly in Chicago. With the       an alum the year after I graduated and
Department of Theater mid-search for a         designed most of the 2000-2001 Season.
5-College Sound Design faculty member,         There was one show in particular, Dr.
who will start in 2007 and be based at         Faustus, where the director, Tanya Kane-
UMass-Amherst, I wanted to find out            Parry '01G, gave me free reign to come
more about Nick's experiences in the field,    in to blocking rehearsals and experiment
so we conducted an interview by email,         with a constant underscore. We ended up
excerpted below.                               stuffing the show with layers upon layers
                                               of sound, and through that process I got
Question: What drew you to sound               my first lesson in configuring sound for
design?                                        operation. The sound operator, a genius,
Nick Keenan: I helped produce an               had to run four minidisc players and had
undergraduate show with alum Justin            so many pan changes and level shifts his
McClintock '01, The Revenger’s Tragedy, a      hands were a blur for the entire show.
lesser-produced work from the Jacobean                                                        developing artists. Most of us freely share
era. Harley had encouraged us to adapt         Q: How have you continued to develop           contacts, available jobs, equipment, and
the script, which involved analyzing each      your skills in sound design?                   time. Once I worked as an assistant to a
word and line for meaning, subtext, and        NK: Most of it is just focusing on             couple of the more established designers,
rhythm. The process was grueling, but          listening — to the needs of the work,          I suddenly started getting phone calls
as we got deeper into the text I started       to the needs of collaborators, to the          from every theater in town. Too many
seeing each word as a note, and I started      work and process of my peers, and to           phone calls, actually.
hearing music in my head as we went            the limitations of my own time and                 The hardest part is staying passionate
through each scene. I put together music       energy. I refine the process each time,        about the work after 25 shows a year.
selections for that show, and as it was all    and try to both learn from my mistakes         That’s where Cherubs comes in for me.
found music, I started to nip and tuck         and take just a few more risks with each
the found music to fit the musicality          show. Most of it is just staying calm and      Q: Tell me a little more about your work
of the language and the rhythm of              reliable and still approaching the work        with the Cherub program (also known
the performances, and, Pop! We had             passionately and honestly.                     as the National High School Institute
something exciting. Sound design for                I also like to learn voraciously.         at Northwestern University, a summer
me has always been closely associated          I have pack-ratted my way into an              program that allows high school students
with dramaturgy and text, and it’s less of     encyclopedic music collection that I           to explore possible careers).
just creating a soundtrack for a show. It’s    draw research from; I test and use and         NK: I teach sound and design the ten
one of the most powerful and expressive        play with new technology as often as           shows we produce with the students
mediums to design in, and I’ve found           possible and I keep a close eye on what        each year, but it is definitely more than
that many directors use music as a first       works for theater and what doesn’t. You        that. Our students are between their
and last step to inform their work, so it’s    never know what’s going to come in             junior and senior year of high school, so
also been an occupation where I get to         handy, so the more skills and knowledge        they’re about to apply for colleges (and
work very closely with the folks choosing      you have, the better off you are when          of course they’re all trying to figure out
the plays. That’s a plus.                      you are presented with a challenge.            what they want to do in life), and each of
                                                                                              them comes with an amazing passion for
Q: When you were here, I don’t believe         Q: How did you work your way into the          theater, but a different understanding of
we were offering sound design classes          Chicago sound design community?                what theater can be and can accomplish.
— how did you learn about your field?          NK: There is a community of sound              In many ways the faculty are counselors,
Are there particular experiences or people     designers and designers in general in          and we’re giving personalized training
that stand out?                                Chicago that are very supportive to                                    continued on page 9


                                                                     8
                Building a career in sound design
continued from page 8                           love to do, and also do the projects that       the new space has allowed them to
and encouragement to each student. It’s         will pay your bills.                            ramp up their schedule. There are 14
incredibly rewarding — life-changing for                                                        productions in one space this year, plus
me — and frankly has kept me excited            Q: You work with theaters all over the          monthly readings, plus 8 productions
year after year about the possibilities of      city, but you are especially closely involved   and rehearsals in the old space.
theater for — gasp — actually improving         with New Leaf and Side Project. What                 New Leaf is a ensemble of production
society and people’s lives.                     draws you to those companies?                   artists, dedicated to producing theater
     I’m hoping, actually, to get a few         NK: There’s a peculiar life cycle to            that renews artist and audience. Where
UMass Amherst folks into Cherubs as             theaters in Chicago. They ALL begin             The Side Project is a busy theater
Faculty Associates. It’s a great way to         with a group of about a dozen college           developing works, New Leaf is a venue
build a crazy amount of strong contacts         friends who move to town and want               where developing artists are brought
in a short period of time — the Cherub          to take over the theatrical world. So           together and whipped into a collaborative
program has been around for 75                  they put up a show, do so with some             frenzy. We have one of the strongest
years, and you can find Cherub alums            success, and then get caught up in the          resident design teams for a theater of our
everywhere. Do I sound like a recruiter         unexpected complications of running             size, and we also are the resident theater
yet? Good. We need more UMass                   a business with friends as the company          at a park district space. Rent is so low for
Amherst blood over here.                        expands its audience. There’s a lot of          us that we can really produce risky shows
                                                burnout, and young theater companies            with strong design without too much
Q: You say the field is full of opportunities   are very lucky or smart to live past            fear of bankruptcy. This January, we’ll
— can you talk a little about what you’ve       2-5 seasons. Both New Leaf and the              be doing a show I’m particularly excited
observed from your vantage point?               Side Project are actively working to            about, the U.S. premiere of David Hare’s
NK: The biggest opportunity comes               improve that situation by helping to            The Permanent Way.
from the fact that the field currently          develop individual talents, careers, and
doesn’t have enough people to do all            providing space and opportunities. The          Q: As you look at where you are now — is
the jobs. In Chicago, there are probably        collaborative atmosphere in Chicago is          this where you expected to be when you
10 to 12 full-time and another 10               dear to my heart, and I hope I can do my        contemplated your career?
hobbyist freelance sound designers, half        part to preserve and expand it.                 NK: It’s certainly where I hoped to be
of whom work only at the 10 largest (not              I think that decision to help others      five, ten years ago, to the extend that
including the road houses) theaters in          move forward rather than focusing on a          I thought about it. I wanted to make
town, whose show budgets typically pay          solo vision has also greatly accelerated        a reasonable living doing what I love,
the equivalent of a month’s salary. The         my career. I’ve been able to work on            and I think I’m doing that. I’m buying
30 or so mid-sized theaters, which all do       more projects and am involved in the            a condo in a couple weeks and getting
three to five shows a year and can pay          play selection process in both theaters.        married this year, and I have several very
a reasonably healthy fee for each show,         I’ve also had an opportunity to develop         fun jobs that make ends meet.
are being served by about only seven            my own audio play, Lexicon, which has                As for the next five years, I’m getting
sound designers. Then there are around          performed in several venues across town         to that point where making a difference in
70 storefront and itinerant theaters that       (and is available on my website, http://        the community is important to me, and
produce two to five shows a year.               nikku.net).                                     I’m grappling with how to do that in the
     The other opportunity is the sheer               For both New Leaf and The Side            context of theater. The biggest challenge
number of projects and artists that you         Project I’m functioning as a resident           for theater as a cultural institution is that
can work with in a year as a freelance          sound designer and increasingly,                it continues to need to prove its vitality
designer. I’ve just described an annual         production manager. I feel at home in           and value to society. I think it does prove
season of 500 shows in Chicagoland,             both those roles thanks to all that UMass       that to the people that get to experience
and that’s an extremely conservative            Amherst experience, of course.                  it, but it’s becoming harder to show
estimate. Most sound designers I know                 For the Side Project (one of Chicago's    the value of theatrical experiences to a
can design a maximum of 40 shows a              most intimate spaces — 50 seats no more         television culture. Having a community
year, around one a week. That’s a lot of        than 15’ from center stage) I’ve helped         that cares about the creation of a
under-designed productions.                     them build a second space, grid, booth          communal art is important to me, and I
     If you can shape a process for             and lobby, and create all their marketing       think my next five years will be focused
yourself that allows you to overlap shows       materials, from ads to postcards to their       on how to make storefront theater a
without compromising your sanity or             new website, http://thesideproject.net.         more visible and vital part of Chicago,
the work, you can do the projects you           They’re a real playwrights' theater, and        and, hopefully, beyond.

                                                                     9
              Patricia Warner bids teaching goodbye
by ANNA-MARIA GOOSSENS                       to her accidentally. As Warner tells the     only the province of men — and how
                                             story, she was working on her doctorate      the fashionable clothing gradually
     Almost a decade ago, the University     and got involved with a traveling            adapted to women's needs. Meanwhile,
of Massachusetts Amherst dissolved its       exhibition mounted by the University of      in girls’ schools and women’s colleges
Consumer Studies department.                 Minnesota Art Museum, America at Play        — the private sphere — serious strides
     “Go and find someplace else to           1860-1940.                                   were made in exercise for women alone.
be,” was the directive given to Patricia          The museum asked her to travel          Eventually, these two strands merged
Warner, the costume historian who was        with the exhibit and give a talk about       to make clothing that allowed greater
that department’s only full professor. The   clothing of the period. Warner agreed, but   freedom of movement the standard in
Department of Theater turned out to be       thought it might be more interesting if      the public as well as the private sphere.
the place. After being at UMass AMherst      she focused on clothing for sports. When          “It’s interesting to read about the
since 1988, she joined us in 2002, and       she headed to the library, however, she      struggles women have had, how long it’s
she retires at the end of this school year   discovered to her amazement, “Nobody         taken to achieve equality," she said. And
after five productive years with us.          had done anything on this!”                  though it took her two decades to write
     “June Gaeke and I have traded                The only thing she found in the         the book, Warner has no regrets. “It’s a
students forever,” Warner said, explaining   stacks were 19th-century magazines. “I       far better book than it would have been
how the initial contact was made, “and       started looking for anything to do with      20 years ago.”
when she heard this was going on, she        women in sports and outdoor activity,”
said ‘Come to theater’.”                     she said. She tracked down what they         Next up
     Initially, Warner demurred. “I don’t    wore for social activities like tennis and
know anything about theater!” Gaeke          croquet, and for the more private (and            Warner is not coasting on her
kept pushing, pointing out that she loves    away from the eyes of men) exercise.         accomplishment. She spoke about her
the theater. Additionally, there was the     In articles, advertisements, prints and      book in Boston at the Old South Meeting
fact that one of Warner’s classes studied    photos, she found enough for her talk.       House in February as part of their series
20th century fashion by examining film             Her talk included a mention of          this year on fashion. In May, she will
costumes, not far removed from theater       gymsuits, and as she traveled around, she    speak at the 2007 Massachusetts History
costume design.                              found this section, in particular, struck    Conference about museums’ collecting
     Warner made the leap and, she said,     a nerve. “Women not only remembered          and interpreting dress for the Twentieth
“I love my colleagues. They welcomed me      the gymsuits, but they wanted to talk        Century. She has also been invited to
and made me a part of the department         about them,” she said.                       chair a session on moving from abstracts
without hesitation.” Warner kept on               Warner remembers wearing one of         to talks to journal articles for publication
teaching the costume history courses, and    these suits. “God, I really hated mine!      at Costume Society of America’s national
she designed other courses that meshed       But it’s part of our common history,”        symposium in San Diego in June.
tightly with her new home. “When I’ve        she said. Many women had this mixed               Less concretely mapped out but also
taught theater students, I hope I’ve given   reaction to the suits. “They laugh at it,    on the docket are two more books. For
them an awareness of costume. It’s been      but it’s a very warm, reminiscent laugh.”    the first, about clothing in the movies,
fun to make up new courses that do what           Meanwhile, Warner's proposed            Warner has already written a published
I do yet fit into theater.”                   dissertation — about Bakelite jewelry        chapter — the book to come will be an
     “It never ever would have crossed       — had stalled. Her advisor pointed out       expansion upon her popular course on
my mind that I would end up where I          that she’d been doing a lot of original      20th-century dress. She also wants to
am now,” Warner said, “but I absolutely      research on the clothing for sports and      write a book about clothing in the 1950s,
love it.”                                    suggested she switch topics. “That was       which she sees as a sort of corrective to
                                             20 years ago, and I’ve been thinking         the conventional wisdom that 1950s
Gym Suits                                                                                 clothing was tight and unyielding.
                                             about it ever since,” said Warner, joking
    Warner came to the department            that in some circles she’s known as “the          “I loved my clothes,” she said. She
with a project in the works, and it has      gymsuit lady.”                               hopes to make that a joint project with
reached its conclusion this year with the         In her research, she traced two         some friends in the field — several have
publication of her book, When the Girls      separate strands that played a part          tentatively signed on already.
Came Out to Play: The Birth of American      in the clothing that evolved into                 It’s safe to assume, in other words,
Sportswear.                                  American sportswear. The first was the        that she was joking when she said that
    It’s a subject that has occupied her     participation by women, with men,            her upcoming plans were to “read novels
time for a good 20 years now, but it came    in sports like croquet and tennis, once      and eat bonbons.”
                   Patricia Warner: Friend and colleague
     Chance and circumstance are glorious           delving into those material expressions of
things. We owe many of the best aspects             everyday life that somehow manage to
of our lives to them.                               be both beautiful and practical. Most
     But we academics normally don’t                especially, she is a figure our students have
trust in them much. Take faculty searches.          turned to over and over again for support,
These are elaborate rituals extending               encouragement, wisdom, and advice.
over many months, even years. They                        Taking over Theater and Society, a
involve the meticulous crafting of job              core course in our graduate curriculum,
descriptions, the sifting through of                Pat has taught young theater practitioners
hundreds of applications, and interviews            the value of rigorous research and the
that can extend into the better part of             power of history. Creating new courses
a week, with a gauntlet of wining and               in our undergraduate curriculum, Pat has
dining and meetings and protocols to be             explored the intersection of theater, film,
negotiated. All in search of that perfect           and fashion with originality and flair. As
match.                                              for her famous costume history classes,
     And every now then, without all                Pat has shown over and over again why
this strategic hoopla, things happen                she is internationally renowned in her             warm shallow water as far as they could
fortuitously, and for the best.                     field. In all her teaching and service,            wade, and acres of rocky coastline to
     This was the case with Pat Warner.             Pat has proved that she is (dare I say             explore. As for the adults—well, we had
     The elimination of the Consumer                it?!) at heart a darn good dramaturg as            all of the above plus wine, laughter,
Studies Program in 2001 resulted in                 well—somebody who mixes scholarship                great stories, and Pat’s impeccable
a number of tenured UMass Amherst                   and creativity, who yearns to connect              hospitality. Somehow, improbably, it
faculty suddenly without a department.              her work to a larger audience, and who             also worked out the following summer
Among these was Pat, an expert in the               provides critical context for, asks tough          that Pat’s family (including the French
history of dress and a teacher admired by a         questions about, and ultimately celebrates         wing of the Campbell-Warners) and my
generation of our students who had taken            and enriches the collaborations at the             family (including the French wing of the
her outstanding costume history courses.            center of our enterprise.                          Erdmans) shared a picnic together on the
With the help of June Gaeke, Pat came to                  I should also mention that Pat is an         banks of the Seine at twilight, and then,
us in search of an academic home.                   extraordinary scholar. Her book When               as the sun set (around eleven p.m. or so)
     It has been a perfect match for us.            the Girls Came Out To Pay is as lively,            went for ice cream on the Ile St. Louis.
     Into this group of often temperamental         readable, and informative a piece of                    To me, Pat represents the best in
artists doing this “theater” thing in the           “academic” cultural history as you’re liable       academics: a passion for one’s subject
curious hothouse environment of our                 to find. Her professional expertise is in          matter; the highest standards in teaching
black boxes (both literal and figurative),          frequent demand, and she keeps up as               and research; a sense of humor and sense
Pat came as a breath of fresh Canadian              active a public speaking and consulting            of balance; wisdom without egotism;
air. She has been that essential “outside           schedule as any member of our faculty.             a wit that prods gently at times but
eye” that helps puts things in perspective,               More personally, I’m lucky to have           never scathes; and an empathic, humane
keeps things in balance, and reminds us             become Pat’s friend. A few summers ago,            concern for students and colleagues alike.
of the world around us. She is funny and            we visited her at her family cottage on            I guess you could call her my role model.
unpretentious, astute and grounded. She             Cawaja Beach on the shores of Georgian                  Pat, thank you for being the perfect
appreciates language, understands theater,          Bay. My children were in heaven: a private         match these past five years.
is thrilled by the world of design, and loves       beach fifty paces from their doorstep,                                 —Harley Erdman, Chair

     It must be very nice being Patricia Warner. If you were Patricia          any other UMass Amherst course.
you would be ever so intelligent, artistic, inquisitive, witty and wise. You         Of course, being Patricia Warner, you would have more jewelry than
would be an artist as well as a musician. You would love and know the          a queen and wear it just as regally, even better! You would exude style
theater and fine music. You would be an entertaining and witty dinner          in your dress and always have a “retro” thing or two to add that special
companion. There would never be an unflattering photograph taken of            touch.
you and your smile would stun the viewer. New and clever ideas would                 If one can not be Patricia Warner, (and how would that be possible,
constantly appear as the possible next paper or better yet, book on some       given that the original mold has been lost!) the next best thing is to be
yet to be explored, aspect of costume (clothes to the rest of us).             her friend and colleague and enjoy with her, the many special things she
     Teaching would be your passion and you would never find a student         brings to that friendship and professional relationship.
paper that did not deserve a slight edit. Students would find you a very                                             — Catharine Porter, ombudsperson
tough teacher but admit that they learned more in your class than virtually                                                             UMass Amherst
            Dynamic Theater: The Campaign for Transforming the Rand Theater




         A vision of the future: Above, a rendering by Kuhn Riddle Architects imagines a renovated and reoriented box office for the Department of Theater.
         Please look inside to learn more about the campaign we are launching this year to renovate the Rand Theater and its adjoining facilities.


           Also in this issue: Pat Warner retires, the New York City lighting
           and tech mafia, Nick Keenan and sound design in Chicago, updates


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