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Alumni Spotlight Kim Ostrenko

People often ask, “What do FIU Theatre students do after they graduate?”  Kim Ostrenko (Class of ’85) has been in the film and theatre industry since earning her BFA in Performance almost three decades ago.  Her heart will always be in theatre, according to her.  She fondly remembers being introduced to her first theatre company, South of Broadway, by Theatre Department faculty member, Phillip Church.  After working briefly as a theatre hand, she was cast in two of their productions and continued auditioning locally for films, commercials, theatre and TV.

Some of Kim’s TV and film credits include roles in Graceland, Burn Notice, Magic City, Dolphin Tale, Dolphin Tale 2, A Change of Heart (As a side note, FIU Theatre alumnus Marlene Marcos also had a role in this movie), Loving the Bad Man, Boynton Beach Club and many others.  She has had roles in films with celebrities like Morgan Freeman, Seth Green, Ashley Judd, James Belushi and Aimee Teegarden.  And, yes, she does get star struck when she has the opportunity to work with famous celebrities!

She has won 5 Carbonell Awards, (Best Supporting Actress in Blue Window, Best Supporting Actress in Sam Shepard’s Simpatico, Best Ensemble in Lend me a Tenor and two different seasons of Summer Shorts).  In 2004, she was named Best Supporting Actress by Miami New Times for her role in The Gulf of Westchester at Florida Stage and in the last month for her role as Bonnie in The Last Schwartz.
It has been a long road paved with success, challenges, disappointment and periods of uncertainty for Kim.  “In this field there is more disappointment than success.  Sometimes it can be hard and, like everyone, I experience moments of self-doubt where I question my career choices.  Although it is tough to keep my spirits up all the time, I have no choice but to keep going”.  Working in the film industry requires flexibility.  She has to be ready to work with very short rehearsal times, actors must become accustomed to scenes being shot in random order, co-actors are frequently introduced to each other on the day of shooting and they need to know how to be facially subtle for film.  Fortunately, Kim has overcome many of these obstacles and is versatile and talented enough to work in both theatre and film.

When asked if she had any advice for FIU Theatre Department students, Kim had this to say, “Create your own work.  Actors, writers and musicians are publishing themselves online and it is a great opportunity for you to write some of your own material, to get your name and face out there.  Don’t rush off to LA or New York as soon as you finish school because it is incredibly competitive and if you are not unionized, you will be wasting your time.  Florida is a great place to get your SAG card.  If you are interested in film or TV, keep in mind that many shows are currently being shot in Atlanta, Louisiana, North and South Carolina.  Always remember that you have to have a thick skin in this business.  Finally, try to learn about ‘the business of acting’: writing proper resumes, getting professional head-shots etc.”

The Theatre Department is very proud to call Kim one of our own and we wish her continued success.

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FIU Theatre Students Keeping busy with Micro Theater’s First English Season

3 4 1 52This summer FIU Theatre’s alumni and students have been keeping themselves very busy by participating in Micro Theater Miami’s first English Season.  When you see seven shipping containers, adorned with graffiti, you have arrived at Micro Theater, just outside Centro Cultural Español, on Biscayne Blvd.  Each container is considered a theatre space which seats about 15 people.  It is an intimate setting which attracts a young, artistic type crowd.  Until now, performances were mainly in Spanish.
The lineup of English shows include Frank Quintana’s Oh, Shoot featuring the Department’s own senior Nelly Torres (BA in progress) as Peggy and Rafael Martinez (Class of ’14) as her boyfriend, George.  Nelly, who has been doing some networking recently, had the fortuitous opportunity to meet Frank Quintana and was later asked to read for the show.  She is thoroughly enjoying her experience with this project, “The shows are great and it is wonderful working with so many people from FIU.  I encourage everyone to come out and see the performances; they are short, inexpensive and really showcase the talent of our students.”  Alumnus Jair Bula (Class of ’13), was unable to participate in the show, but recommended Rafael Martinez whom he worked with before and considers a talented, responsible actor.
Voyeurs and Women by Fernando Bellver, directed by recent graduate Amanda Ortega, who is also playing the part of Joy, is another performance with appearances from our talented students.  After learning about the first English season at Micro Theater, Amanda expressed her interest in directing one of the shows and was given the chance to direct and perform.  “Working with my classmates is fun and interesting.  The stand-ins, Juanita Castro (Class of ’14) and Juanita Olivo (BA in progress), are also from FIU and I am lucky to be working with these talented ladies.  It has been very challenging learning how to work in such a confined space.  The stage is 4ft x 4ft, so we each have 2ft of moving space and have had to learn how to use our spaces creatively and effectively”.  Jannelys Santos (Class of ’14) got involved in this project through Amanda, and is playing the part of Cristina, a foul-mouthed sex worker.  Jannelys has had to adjust to the audience being so close to the stage, “I thought it would be easier to perform for a smaller audience, but it was intimidating at first, because they were so close.  It took a minute to get used to it, but I am enjoying my work here.”
Pesto Pasta by Nacho Redondo seems to be the star of the season, with alumnus Carolina Pozo, playing the part of Luisa, an unhappily married woman.  Carolina has been looking forward to working in this type of intimate setting, “I realize that theatre is not solely about big venues with famous actors and actresses. It is about art and talent.  The concept of Micro Theater is urban and innovative.  I love it.” The small cast Pesto Pasta has been invited to return for an encore performance as part of Best of Micro, August 8 – 10, which includes a mix of English and Spanish shows.
The other English performances are Kill It by Nancho Novo, directed by Liz Gonzalez and Own Goal by David Trueba, directed by Issam Villamil.

The Micro Theater English season runs until July 17, every Wednesday and Thursday 8:00pm – 11:00pm.
Cost: $5.00 per play or $25.00 for all performances

For more information on Micro Theater, Miami, click here

To view article from the Miami Herald, click here

 

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Alumni Spotlight Damian Charkiewicz

After earning a BFA in Scenic and Lighting Design at FIU in 2011, Damian Charkiewicz continued his education at Penn State University, where he is pursuing his MFA in Scenic Design with an emphasis on Production Design.  He expects to graduate at the end of this summer.  Damian attributes much of his success in grad school to a sound foundation established at FIU, “I can’t even begin to try to explain how much both Jesse and Tony are responsible for my success in grad school.  They were never scared to put me on a project. Jesse’s scenic design classes were extremely helpful in preparing me for the future.  Tony’s 2D and 3D computer drafting class put me ahead of most people applying to Masters Programs.  Many BFA and BA programs around the country do not offer as much hands on experience as FIU did”.
As an FIU student, Damian did a ten week summer internship at the Texas Shakespeare Festival.  As a Props Intern there he was part of the team responsible for designing all set and properties elements for the show.  The Theatre Department at Penn State sent him to participate in the James Thomas Rigging Experience in Knoxville, Tennessee.  This is a weeklong training program that covers truss, rigging and roof system training.  Participants are taught the math behind rigging and load data, as well as proper assembly and loading of truss.  At the end of the program, participants are rewarded with a certificate to document their accomplishment.
One of the reasons Damian chose Penn State University is because of their Summer Study Abroad Program, which is geared towards broadening the students’ understanding of theatre and culture.  His first summer was spent in London, where he saw numerous shows, visited the major museums and completed a research paper on a famous historical artist.  His second summer was spent in Eastern Europe, where the class visited Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Krakow, Poland, Damien’s birth city.  As a side note, the trip to Krakow was added because of Damien’s ability to translate Polish and navigate the city.  Damian’s final summer has been spent visiting the cities of Rome, Florence, Venice Pompeii and Sienna in Italy.
Damian intends to move to LA soon to pursue a career in his field.  We are very proud of this hard working alumnus and wish him continued success.

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Juan C. Sanchez, author of Catherine’s Wheel and this year’s New Play Development Project winner

The author of Catherine’s Wheel, this year’s New Play Development Project Winner, Juan C. Sanchez, is thrilled to be working alongside the faculty and students of FIU Theatre Department.  As a playwright, he thinks that collaborating with a talented team is helpful and useful.  “Writing is a lonely process.  Once the writing is done, you have to recognize that the director, actors and design team all bring new dimensions to your work.  If you are able to allow the process to unfold, the finished product may not be what you started with or envisioned, but can be better”.  The team is currently getting ready for opening night by editing the script and working out any production issues that arise.

The idea for this play was conceived about three years ago but never completed.  When Juan was approached by Michael Yawney, who will be directing Catherine’s Wheel, he decided to bring the plot to fruition.  A great deal of quantum physics research went into this slightly supernatural work, a genre new to Juan, who tends to produce more realistic, grounded pieces.  He liked the idea of someone working with light every day, yet having no light in their life, it creates interesting juxtaposition in the story.

Juan Sanchez is a Cuban American playwright who has been living in Florida since age six.  He is a graduate of New World School of the Arts (Class of ’92), where he studied Theatre, and Florida State University (Class of ’89), where he majored in Theatre and English.  He is currently pursuing a certificate in Radio and Television Production from Miami Dade College.  Juan has been writing for the past ten years and has had plays produced in Miami, New York, Minneapolis and Los Angeles.  Some of his theatre credits include: Paradise Motel, commissioned by Miami Theatre Center as part of The Sandbox Series and developed by The Mangrove Creative Collective; Buck Fever (Terranova Collective, The Promethean Theatre, Carbonell nominee for Best New Work; and Red Tide, The Promethean Theatre, The Minnesota Fringe Festival, also nominated for a Carbonell in the category of Best New Work.  Additionally, he is a 2013 State of Florida Individual Artist Fellowship winner and a Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Council Playwright’s Development Program grant award

The Theatre Department is honored to be collaborating with a talented, hard-working playwright like Juan and we hope that you will be equally as happy on opening night.

For more information on Alternative Theatre Festival 2014, please click here

 

 

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Workshop at Coral Reef High School

On May 19, FIU Theatre Department faculty member Phillip M. Church, along with theatre majors Danny Leonard (BFA Performance) and Zack Myers (BFA Performance) and Spring 2014 graduate, Charles Sothers, did an acting workshop for Nicole Quintana’s production class of juniors and seniors at Coral Reef High School.  The workshop involved performing two scenes from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey, which Phillip is currently directing for his What If Works Theatre Company.  The scenes were performed by the three actors, then Phillip gave his acting notes and they redid the scenes using Phillip’s suggestions.  The students had the opportunity to see part of the process that goes into perfecting a performance before opening night.  They were interested in learning about how actors get into character, what it feels like to be a performer on stage and the different careers available to someone with a degree in theatre.

According to Nicole, one of the things that engaged her students was the “theatre-in-the-round” seating, where the audience surrounds the stage.  The seating structure facilitated great interaction and dialogue between the two groups and they discussed the different types of theatre, seating arrangements and configuration of stages.

Another topic they explored was the idea of community theatre and reaching out to others interested in the arts and culture.  This topic is particularly dear to Charles Sothers, Theatre Arts & Programs Director of the Roxy Theatre Group.  “One of our goals at Roxy is to expand our programs and have a greater influence over the theatre community in Miami.  Although theatre has a presence in Miami, we want to encourage more people to bring their talent home and to see that opportunities do exist to use their skills in Miami.”  As someone who has been working in the field since 2001, Nicole feels very strongly about this topic as well.  In addition to being a drama teacher since 2001, she has a BFA Design degree from FIU and has worked as a paint charge, a set designer, a performer and even teaches Improv.  “People think that big theatres only exist in New York and Chicago and LA, and it is wonderful if you have the opportunity to go to those places to see and work in theatre, but we have to remember to come home and nourish our own community with our talent and experience, because that is the way to establish a greater theatre presence.”

Overall, the workshop was well received. The students were engaged, entertained and interested.

For more information on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, click here

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FIU Theatre Alumnus Writes an Award Winning Play

Juan Espinosa (Class of ’08) is a teacher at South Dade Senior High School. He recently wrote an original, award winning one act play entitled, Amygdala, which has been selected to represent the state of Florida at the Education Theatre Association’s Thespians Festival, this coming June, in Lincoln, Nebraska.  The play was first performed at a district competition, held at Hialeah High School, along with thirty other participating schools.  South Dade Senior High and five other schools were then selected to continue on to the Florida State Thespian Festival in Tampa.  This state competition was attended by over seven thousand students and is considered the largest theatre festival in Florida.  Amygdala received numerous accolades from the judges and was the only play chosen from about 50 productions screened at the festival.  At the conference in Nebraska, attendees will have the opportunity to experience other high school performances, attend workshops/master classes, have their work reviewed by working professionals, participate in student leadership programs, and attend auditions for college admission and Thespian scholarships.

After graduating from FIU Theatre in 2008, Juan began his career as a substitute teacher.  In 2009, he joined North Miami Senior High School as a full time faculty member and remained there until he accepted another faculty position at South Dade Senior High School in 2013.  When he wrote this one act play, based on an idea he conceived in a play writing course he took at FIU, he had no idea that it would receive such great reviews.  Juan is extremely proud of his work, his students’ achievements and the cast, which he chose based on acting ability and the talent they brought to auditions.  So far, Amygdala has won an award for Best Play in Florida and a Best Actor Award at the district theatre competition.  Two students, Marco Guerra and Mary Maturana, received superior ratings for their monologues and will have the opportunity to perform them and get feedback from experts in the field at the national conference.

As a side note, this is the second FIU Theatre alumnus to have received the distinction of having their production selected to represent Florida at the national Educational Theatre Association’s Thespian Festival in recent years.  Two years ago Paul Lobeck (Class of ’97) and his Miami Southridge High Spartan Players Troupe 1641, with their production of The Serpent, in the category of one-act plays, was selected for this honor.  Juan’s accomplishment is just further evidence of how our graduates are making a difference in the community.

Despite the stellar reviews and praise the play received, there is a possibility that the students of South Dade Senior High School Theatre Magnet Program will not attend the national conference in Nebraska.  All the schools funds and resources were invested into getting them to the state competition in Tampa, leaving the program with insufficient funds to go to Nebraska.  For the entire cast of 36 to attend, they must raise $31, 000 in a short space of time.  This event is a fortuitous opportunity for these hard working students, and it would be most unfortunate if they could not attend due to a lack of funds.  If you would like help this very deserving group of students and wish to make a donation, click here or send a check payable to South Dade Senior High School Theatre Program, in a sealed envelope, to the attention of Juan Espinosa.

For more on this story click here

 

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FIU Theatre Department Annual Award Ceremony

On Sunday, April 27, The Theatre Department held its Annual Award Ceremony.  This annual event is held in honor of the Graduating Seniors, to pay tribute to them for scholastic achievement and to recognize their dedicated service to the Department.  Awards were presented in various categories (see below), each of the members of the graduating senior class was recognized, and the annual “Year in Review”, created by Alex Machado, was screened, to everyone’s enjoyment.  Amber Benson was the star of the afternoon, taking home two awards in the categories of Outstanding Performance and Academic Achievement.  The ceremony ended with a tribute in song from some of the students and Assistant Professor Rebecca Covey to Marilyn Skow, the Department of Theatre Chair, who is retiring in July.

The Theatre Department wishes to congratulate all the 2014 Spring Graduates.

The following awards were presented:

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Service Award presented in recognition of outstanding service to the Theatre Department.

Alex Machado (BFA Performance)

 

 

 

 

leadership

 

Leadership Award presented in recognition of outstanding leadership within the Theatre Department.

Patricia Morales (BA)

 

 

technical

Technical Merit Award presented in recognition of outstanding accomplishment, service and leadership in the area of technical design.

Samantha Llanes (BFA Scenic Design)

 

 

 

 

improvement

 

 

Development Award presented in recognition of exceptional growth and improvement in the Department.

David Neale (BA)

 

 

 

performance

 

Performance Award presented in recognition of outstanding accomplishment, service and leadership in the area of performance.

Amber Benson (BFA Performance)

 

 

 

 

academics

 

 

Academic Achievement Award presented in recognition of outstanding academic achievement.

Amber Benson (BFA Performance)

 

 

 

therald todd

Yarelis Chavez (BFA Performance)

The Therald Todd Award honors the second Theatre Department Head, Therald Todd, an actor and director, known to FIU for his magnificent performance as King Lear.  He was instrumental in developing the Theatre Program at FIU and this award is presented to a student who portrays outstanding achievement in the area of theatre and service.

 

 

 

Also graduating this semester:

Carry Antenor – BA
Alexis Crowley – BA
Katiana Davila – BA
Michael Engelmann – BA
Gabriella Lopez – BA
Nakeyta Moore – BA
Kevin Preval – BA
Rachael Rodriguez – BA
Jannelys Santos – BA
Yonettsy Santos – BA
Charles Sothers – BA
Chaille Stovall – BA
Vania Vieta – BA
Florencia Ancewicz BFA Scenic Design
William Cadena – BFA Performance
Kayla Martinez – BFA Performance
Rafael Martinez – BFA Performance
Amanda Ortega – BFA Performance
Patrick Rodriguez – BFA Performance
Dung Truong – BFA Design

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Alternative Theatre Festival’s New Play Development Project

The annual Alternative Theatre Festival’s New Play Developmental Project is designed to give playwrights, who have already had some success, a place to get a first production for a new play they have been working on.  Getting the kind of production assistance FIU Theatre can offer for a new play is a difficult thing to achieve, so the opportunity is very valuable.  Once the production qualities for the play and the production issues are worked out here at FIU, the play is ready to go out to other venues.  The value to FIU is that FIU Theatre’s name will always be attached to the play as having given it its original production.  We want FIU Theatre to become known as a place that fosters new play development, which, as anyone involved in theatre knows, is the life-blood of the future of the art of theatre.  Additionally, the New Play Development Project increases visibility for the Department of Theatre’s programs as well as encouraging play writing.

 

We are only beginning our third year of sponsoring the New Play Development Project and can already claim some success.  The first play which we sponsored through ATF in summer 2012, As the Globe Warms, premiered at the Vortex Repertory in Austin, Texas later that fall and was subsequently performed at the Disney Concert Hall in LA, after the design and technology aspects were perfected at FIU.  The second play, A Thousand Years, did not seem producible initially.  The play featured dozens of short scenes with tsunamis, plane crashes, mountain climbing and other difficult to stage actions.  However, FIU actors, designers and Michael Yawney’s inspired directing proved that the play could succeed on the stage.  It is currently being published so that other theatres can produce it.  FIU Theatre’s name is now attached to those two productions.  We are about to start working on this year’s New Play Development Project winner, Catherine’s Wheel, by Miami’s own Juan C. Sanchez.  The playwright will be at the rehearsals, editing and rewriting based on the work we do here.

 

The idea for the New Play Development Project came from the Department Chair, Marilyn Skow.  In her opinion the importance of the New Play Development project goes beyond getting FIU Theatre’s name attached to new works.  It’s also about the opportunity for theatre students to help develop a brand new work, which is a wonderful learning experience.  The Department Dramaturg, Michael Yawney, is responsible for selecting the development projects.  According to Michael, “In science, lab experiments are conducted for research and development purposes.  In theatre, developmental productions serve as our research and development.  We experiment with them and adjust them to create something stage worthy.”

 

The Alternative Theatre Festival itself traditionally includes, in addition to the New Play Development Project, two other productions, a student directed show, and a faculty directed show.  This year, we have three wonderful productions lined up.  The season begins with Gizmo Love by John Kolvenbach, directed by Wilfredo Cabrera (June 19, 20, 21 & 26, 27, 28), followed by Catherine’s Wheel, (New Play Developmental Project winner), written by Juan C. Sanchez and directed by Michael Yawney (July 10, 11, 12 &17, 18, 19). The season ends with a riotous comedy titled Play On, by Rick Abbot, directed by Marina Pareja (July 24, 25, 26 & July 31, August 1, 2).

 

Please visit our website for more information click here

 

 

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FIU Theatre Department faculty and students participate in The United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) 2014 Conference and Stage Expo

Department Chair & Artistic Director Marilyn Skow, along with faculty members Jesse Dreikosen and Tony Galaska and 2 BFA Scenic Design students, Samantha Llanes and Ainex Carmona, participated in the recent USITT Conference and Stage Expo held in Fort Worth, Texas.  Over 225 national and international companies attend this event to display their work and share innovative ideas and services.

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At the Stage Expo, Marilyn displayed posters she designed, for past productions such as Julius Caesar, Sleeping Beauty, June Moon and many others.  She participated in the portfolio reviews and attended many workshops/sessions.

IMG_2575Assistant Professor; Tony Galaska presented a poster he created for his new board game, Opening Night, in the “Poster Session: I Made it Myself.”  The game is designed to teach time and people management skills and he intends to implement it into the classroom.  Tony’s poster was one of 7 presented in the Education Commission and it did prompt some discussion on how to integrate gaming into teaching.

Jesse Dreikosen, Associate Professor & Head of Design and Production in the Theatre Department, had many roles at this year’s conference.  He is Vice Commissioner for Education – Scene Design & Technology, at USITT. “The Scene Design commission furthers interest in scene design, scenic painting, and properties; provides easily accessible information about the latest innovations and trends within the field, and encourages improvement and evolution of teaching design.”  He also did portfolio reviews along with Tony and he chaired a session called “Feng Shui Me, Creating an Efficient Studio Space”.  In this session, the panelists discussed how feng shui techniques can be integrated into offices and classrooms.  There may also be the possibility of a scholarly publication for Jesse on this topic.  As the Regional Production and Design Chair for KCACTF, one of Jesse’s responsibilities was to set up the booth for KCACTF’s Allied Design and Technology Exhibit.image

Samantha’s trip was a prize for winning 1st place in the Design, Technology and Management category at the KCACTF Regional Festival earlier this year.  She was one of eight students who won the national competition and was invited to display her prop design from the fall production of Cardenio to working professionals from all around the country.  The trip was a fortuitous opportunity for both Samantha and Ainex to get their portfolios reviewed as well as attend interviews and workshops.

Overall, this annual conference is an excellent occasion for professionals like Marilyn, Jesse and Tony to meet and network with others in the entertainment industry, theatre production and design education fields so that they can get an introduction to the newest products, services and technology available or being launched. It gives them the chance to share and learn fresh pedagogical techniques.  Students are provided with invaluable services such as the chance to meet prospective employers/mentors, research internship/volunteer opportunities and get their portfolios evaluated on a national level which is a requirement for FIU BFA – Production and Design majors before they graduate.

 

 

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Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Entertainment Production Studio Tilt-Up Celebration

Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Entertainment Production Studio held a Tilt-Up Celebration on April 16, 2014, which allowed attendees to witness a wall of the 130,000 square foot state of the art production, rehearsal and performance facility being erected.  Present at the ceremony were FIU’s President, Dr. Mark B. Rosenberg, FIU’s Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President, Finance and Administration, Kenneth Jessell, President and Chief Operating Officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. Adam Goldstein, and Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, the Executive Vice President of Royal Caribbean International, along with teams and personnel from both RCCL and FIU who have been involved in developing and implementing the partnership.  Coincidentally for the Theatre Department, the first wall section of the facility under construction that has gone up happens to be the outside wall of the section that will house the 20,000 square foot costume shop and storage areas.

In his remarks, President Rosenberg expressed his appreciation to the visionaries at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and FIU who were committed to finding a way to create incredible opportunities for students while adding value to the community.  He added that this venture will award our students training, research and internship opportunities.

RCCL President, Adam Goldstein spoke enthusiastically about how he is looking forward to the completion of the state-of-the-art facility on the picturesque Biscayne Bay Campus.  He spoke of the need for a greater space to train the performers for RCCL’s expanding fleet of cruise ships.  The 10 rehearsal studios, 300 seat Black Box Theatre and 20, 000 square foot costume shop and office spaces will certainly fulfill that need.  He also noted that the partnership with FIU will be instrumental in preparing the cruise line performers.

RCI Executive Vice President, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo stated that she is thrilled that the new facility will be inaugurated in January 2015.  She also mentioned the two newest Royal Caribbean cruise ships that will be coming on line in the near future, that new shows will be needed for them and that castings are already going on for them.  Those new shows will be first to be rehearsed in the new studio being built here.  She shared her pleasure about the fact that the two institutions of FIU and RCCL have been able to blur the lines between public-private sector and corporate-education to create a new, mutually beneficial education model.

Once the speeches were over, all attending raised their glasses of champagne and toasted the first raising of the wall as workmen and machinery gently guided it into place.  Guests were then invited to sign their names on another section of wall that will be installed at a later date, during which time refreshments were served and musical entertainment was provided by FIU’s School of Music.

Everyone is excited about this endeavor and the possibilities it holds.  This production/rehearsal/performance facility will enable RCCL to continue to offer the sophisticated world class entertainment that passengers want to see, and FIU’s College of Architecture + The Arts, in conjunction with the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, will be an integral part of the process.

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Alumni Spotlight – Jair Bula

Jair Bula (Class of ’13) has been selected to perform his one man show, “I Am“ at The United Solo Festival in New York on November 1, 2014.  Jair put a year of research into creating this production for his BFA Performance Senior Project last year.  The show is based on the story of Jesus spending forty days and forty nights in the desert.  It is about a man and his struggles to find himself while he is learning to accept his mission in life.

After being told about the United Solo Festival by his wife, Vanessa, who also holds a BFA Performance degree from New World School of the Arts, the couple decided to submit their applications.  At the time, they were hopeful but not overly optimistic.  Learning that both applications had been accepted came as a tremendous surprise.  They are currently working hard on perfecting their performances, in the hopes that both shows will sell out and they will be invited to return to the festival to perform on additional nights.

Jair and Vanessa are in the process of establishing their theatre company (Be)2 Productions. They are hoping that the Company will be open and fully functional by the end of this year.  We always take great pleasure in hearing the wonderful success stories of our FIU Theatre graduates.

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Michelle Fraioli – Alumni Spotlight

new-world-stages

 

Michelle Fraioli (Class of ’10), is currently the Theatre Manager at New World Stages in New York.  She is proof that perseverance and tenacity do pay off and should be an inspiration to our students.  After earning her BFA in Acting, she returned to her hometown New York and got a job working in the Box Office for Shakespeare in the Park with The Public theatre, where she interned as a high school student.  Within a year, Michelle began working as an Usher at New World Stages. That job was a stepping stone to becoming Assistant House Manager, where she provided administrative support to the Main House Manager.  She left New World Stages briefly to work with their sister company Stage Entertainment, but returned to New World as Theatre Manager and has been in this position for over six months.

“New World Stages is a state of the art theatrical complex just off Times Square, which has served as the home of Tony award winning, Guinness Record setting and Pulitzer Prize earning shows.”  There are five theatres within NWS, (with a seating capacity of up to four hundred and ninety nine), two bars and the Time Out New York Lounge which hosts karaoke nights, holds auditions and is a hot spot for cabarets and one man/woman shows to be performed.

As Theatre Manager, her responsibilities include coordinating with Producers, Company Managers and Stage Managers of each show to ensure all requests are met, hiring and overseeing the house and bar staff, managing the five theatres within New World Stages, selecting late night programming for the lounge, responding to any complaints or issues that arise during performances, producing performance reports, attending weekly status meetings and many other administrative roles.

As a young girl, Michelle dreamt of running The Public theatre.  While she enjoys acting and performance, she was always interested in the administrative aspect of the entertainment business.  She attributes a great deal of her knowledge to Phillip Church and Marilyn Skow, both of whom provided her with a wealth of information about theatre management, especially through The Alternative Theatre Festival.

When asked if she had any advice for our current students, Michelle responded, “It is a wonderful, tough, sometimes frustrating business, but don’t give up.  Try to get your name out there and take advantage of any opportunities you are given in this business.  There is a growing FIU Theatre community in New York. I am a part of it and you can be too.  It took me three years to get this job that I love, so believe me it’s possible.”

We are very proud of Michelle and wish her continued success.

 

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ALTERNATIVE THEATRE FESTIVAL 2014 AUDITIONS ANNOUNCED

Alternative Theatre Festival 2014 Auditions Announced

 

Auditions for the Alternative Theatre Festival 2014 productions – Gizmo Love, Catherine’s Wheel and The Coleman Family Omission – are being held on Monday April 28, 2014 at 7:00pm in the Black Box Theatre.

 Audition Requirements

Gizmo Love – 1 minute contemporary, comedic monologue and 30 seconds – 1 minute pitch of an original Hollywood idea.

Catherine’s Wheel – 1 minute contemporary monologue.

Play On – 1 minute comedic monologue and a joke.

Directors are also looking for Stage Managers and Design Assistants.

Please sign up for an audition spot in the Theatre Main Office with Marianna Murray – WPAC 131. For more information about audition requirements, visit WPAC 131 or call 305-348-2895.

Callback dates will be announced shortly.

 

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FIU Theatre’s Alternative Theatre Festival 2014 Plays Announced

FIU Theatre is pleased to announce the plays to be included in this year’s edition of its summer

 Alternative Theatre Festival.

The first show will be Gizmo Love, written by John Kolvenbach and directed by Wilfredo Cabrera.

This is a dark comedy about the vicious world of Hollywood.  It encompasses the guileless, the ruthless and the reckless.

 

The second show is this year’s New Play Development Project winner, titled Catherine’s Wheel, written by Juan C. Sanchez

and will be directed by Michael Yawney.

What the living don’t know, the dead can teach.

Show Dates: July 10, 11, 12 & July 17,18, 19

 

The final show of the festival is  Play On. It was written by Rick Abbot and will be directed by Marina Pareja.

The hilarious story of a theater group trying desperately to put on a play in spite of maddening interference from an arrogant author who keeps revising the script.

Show Dates: July 24, 25, 26 & July 31, August 1, 2

 

Location:  Herbert & Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center, Black Box Theatre – Modesto A. Maidique Campus – 10910 SW 17 Street, Miami, Fl 33199

All shows begin at 8:00pm

Tickets available at the door – $10, cash or check only (no advance sales, no credit cards)

Performances may contain adult language and situations not recommended for children

 

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FIU THEATRE FALL 2014 AUDITIONS

Fall auditions for the first two productions of the 2014-2015 Season – An Ideal Husband and Juanita’s Statue – will take place Monday, April 14 at 6:30 pm in the WPAC Black Box Theatre.

Also, pre-auditions for The Wild Party will be held on Wednesday, April 16 at 6:30pm

Audition Requirements

An Ideal Husband – 1 Minute Monologue from another Wilde play.

Juanita’s Statue – 10 second monologue in Spanish and a one minute comedic monologue.

The Wild Party – 16 upbeat bars from a jazz musical (‘70’s – 2014).

Please sign up for an audition spot in the Theatre Main Office with Marianna Murray – WPAC 131.  For more information about audition requirements, visit WPAC 131 or call 305-348-2895.

Callbacks for An Ideal Husband will take place Tuesday, April 15.

Callbacks for Juanita’s Statue will take place on Wednesday, April 16.

 

FALL 2014 SHOWS

An Ideal Husband, by Oscar Wilde, directed by Phillip M. Church. A delightful commentary on late 19th century British social behavior, spiced up by Wilde’s wry wit.

Juanita’s Statue, by Anne Garcia-Romero, directed by Michael Yawney. This play is a modern female take on the classical Don Juan story and the age old yearning to find true love.

 https://calendar.fiu.edu/events/view/198870

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Lauren Kistner

Lauren Kistner, one of FIU Theatre’s BFA-Performance majors, recently had the experience of a lifetime when she, along with six other good will ambassadors and entertainers representing the Miami Marlins were invited to travel overseas as part of the Armed Forces Entertainment Tour to Southwest Asia.  Initially she was a bit apprehensive about making the trip, for safety reasons and because it took a while for her mother to come to grips with the idea, but, ultimately, she knew it was an opportunity she just could not turn down.

The group spent two days each of four American bases where they did Meet & Greets, toured the bases and performed for the troops.  During the tours they saw the machinery used in combat, met the pilots, the mechanics and soldiers on the front-lines and basically got a small taste of what life on an army base is like.  According to Lauren, “It seemed like a village where everyone knew their job and just did what they had to do.”  She humbly remembers the soldiers being happy and appreciative of the team’s visit and thinking, “We should be thanking you.  It is such an honor to be here.  You risk your lives so that we can be safe and here you are thanking us.”

Lauren emotionally recounts soldiers’ experiences that sound like they were taken straight out of a movie.  Soldiers seeing missiles pass over their heads while walking on base, having their water supply cut off for over a month because the water was being poisoned or having no contact with family or loved ones for months at a time because their base was attacked.  Even though she heard many sobering stories, the resilience of the men and women she met really amazed her.  At one base, she recalls, they would have line dancing at night and somehow managed to maintain normalcy and even have fun.  When asked if she would go on such a trip again, she responded without hesitation, “Absolutely!”

Lauren imagereceived the invitation to go on the good will trip due to her job for the Miami Marlins, which she does  in addition to being a full time student at FIU.  Being a cheerleader and a student is extremely time consuming but she enjoys keeping herself busy and feels that cheering has helped her to grow as an artist.  Her cheerleading team is called The Marlins Energy Team and consists of cheerleaders, break dancers, dancers, and gymnasts.  They attend all home games, perform on the field, on top of the dug outs and interact with the crowds.  Recently, they performed at the opening ceremony for the Special Olympics in Miami.  She has also been training tirelessly for the Marlins Home Opener on March 31.

Once she gets her degree, Lauren hopes to gain some acting experience.  We are proud to call her one of our own and wish her continued success in her studies and her career.

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Faculty Spotlight on Jesse Dreikosen

Jesse Dreikosen, Associate Professor and Head of Design & Production in the FIU Department of Theatre, has been nominated for a Best Set Design award by The San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC), for his work on the play, Red, by John Logan.  The winners will be announced at a gala in California, on May 5th 2014.  “The SFBATCC is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and serving theatres of all types and sizes in the greater region by recognizing excellence and outstanding achievement in the field.”  Red, directed by Craig A. Miller and presented by 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa California, in May 2013, is about the famous American abstract painter, Mark Rothko, who tries to resolve his inner-turmoil over a thirst for ambition and the burden of his own vulnerability.  We are wishing Professor Dreikosen the best of luck!

Additionally, Jesse was invited to work as the Scenic Designer for a production of The Taming of the Shrew, by William Shakespeare, at The Alabama Shakespeare Festival, which opened earlier this month.  This will be his third time designing a set for The Taming of the Shrew, but the use of different themes continues to make his work interesting and challenging.  He has been participating in the Texas Shakespeare Festival for the past five seasons which was where his work was recognized by the Artistic Director of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival who approached him to work on this project.  Jesse is very excited about the opportunities this could bring to his students and the connections for the University.  More importantly, The Alabama Shakespeare Festival is a member of The League of Resident Theatres (LORT), which is the largest professional theatre association of its kind in the United States.  This project will lead to greater exposure for his work.

 

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In Memory of Phillip Giberson July 9, 1942 – March 5, 2014.

The Department of Theatre notes with sadness the passing of Mr. Phillip Giberson, who was the founding Director and Chairperson of FIU’s Department of Theatre.  Upon his arrival at FIU in 1972 Mr. Giberson, or simply Phil as he was more commonly known, took on the responsibility for the total development and administration of production oriented programs, which led to the establishment of the University’s first BFA degree in Theatre.  He worked at FIU for seven years, receiving tenure and promotion to Associate Professor and earning the respect and love of his colleagues and students.  From FIU, Phil went on to explore other creative ventures, but he returned to the University in 2004 as an Adjunct Professor to teach Directing for the spring semester.  In 2010 he very generously donated most of his personal theatre library to the Department of Theatre.

Phil earned his B.A. in Speech & Drama, with a concentration in Acting, from the University of Florida, (Class of ’64).  He went on to earn an M.A. in Speech and Drama, with a concentration in Directing/Theatre Management, from Memphis State University, (Class of ’70). After graduating he joined the faculty of Memphis State University as an Instructor until summer 1972.

In addition to his significant contributions to the Department of Theatre here at FIU, Phil worked at The Players Repertory Theatre in Miami as its Interim Artistic Director, he founded, developed and administered a professional conservatory at the Players State Theatre Conservatory in Miami, and worked on over seventy productions as a free-lance Stage Director and was an Adjunct Professor at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.

Phil was a talented artist and innovator who took advantage of opportunities to demonstrate his skills both regionally and nationally.  He received many accolades for his work in the press, including such newspapers as the Miami Herald, the Memphis Press Scimitar and The Commercial Appeal.

Phillip Giberson touched the lives of many and will be greatly missed.

For those interested in celebrating Phillip’s life, there will be an Open House on Sunday, March 30, from 3:00pm – 6:00pm, reminiscing to begin at 4:30pm, at:

The Curtiss Mansion

500 Deer Run

Miami Springs, Fl 33166

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his memory to:

The Curtiss Mansion

PO Box 661494

Miami Springs, Fl 33166

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Not Ready for Primetime

not_ready_for_primetime_posterIf anyone needs further proof of how talented our FIU Theatre students and graduates are you should definitely take in a performance of New Theatre’s production of Not Ready for Primetime, due to open on March 28 in the Lab Theatre at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center.  The play was written by FIU graduate and Theatre Arts Director of The Roxy Group Charles Sothers, and FIU theatre major Erik Rodriguez (BA in progress).  The cast and crew include Ivan Lopez (Class of 04), an adjunct professor in the Theatre Department who will be playing Dan Aykroyd, FIU theatre major Danny Leonard (BFA Performance in progress) as Chevy Chase, Nicole Quintana (Class of ’01) as the Set Designer, and theatre major Paul Steinsland (BA in progress) as the Sound Designer.  Other cast members include Melissa Hubicsak (Class of ‘09), Zack Myers (BFA Performance in progress) and Luis Ettorre (BA in progress).  President of the Miami Marlins and Survivor contestant David Sampson will be playing Lorne Michaels, creator of Saturday Night Live.

Not Ready for Primetime is about the first five tumultuous years of America’s funniest TV show, Saturday Night Live.  At least five months of research went into the play so that the writers could portray how the original cast interacted with each other on and off the set and could stick as closely as possible to actual events and storylines.  There was also the research the cast members had to do to capture the essence of the characters they are playing.  Ivan Lopez found the friendship between his character, Dan Aykroyd, and John Belushi to be deep and fascinating.  Years after Belushi’s death, Aykroyd would still be asked about their friendship in interviews.  In the process of his research Danny Leonard became more interested and curious about his character and the first cast member to leave the show, Chevy Chase.

 Not Ready for Primetime is told in the first person perspective and promises to take viewers on a trip down memory lane.  Saturday Night Live is an interesting part of pop culture that appeals to people of different generations.  The writers are hoping for a turnout that will reflect this. Older generations will come out to see those characters that drew them into the show back in the ‘70s and young people will come out of curiosity to learn about the seven iconic characters that made the show what it is today. 

The show is being directed by New Theatre Artistic Director, Ricky J. Martinez and produced by New Theatre.  As a champion of new works and a playwright himself, Ricky fell in love with the script from its inception.  He is not just a director and producer of the play, but he has been a mentor to the writers and shares their joy and pride in the finished product.  When asked about his expectations for the play, Ricky responded, “It is an incredible script and I am so proud of Erik and Charlie.  They are both very talented.  I feel that this play has future legs, on a local, national, and perhaps even international level.  It is a comedy loaded with tragedy and drama”.

Not Ready for Primetime begins on March 28 and will run through April 20 at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center.  Please go out and support the arts and enjoy an evening with some of the funniest comedians of our time.    

For tickets, showtimes, dates or more information please visit http://www.new-theatre.org/play_primetime.php

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NEW PLAYS FESTIVAL 2014

FIU Theatre welconw plays festivalmes everyone to our 2014 installment of our annual New Plays Festival.  The Festival offers the FIU Community the chance to see the newest creative works by student playwrights before anyone else.  The new plays will be presented in the form of stage readings, which offers the playwrights the chance to see and hear their work on stage.  It is a way to help young playwrights understand how what they have written will hold up in performance.  The plays selected were chosen by members of the faculty after an open call for entries. 

This year’s program of staged readings runs Friday, March 21 and Saturday, March 22, at 8:00pm in Deuxieme Maison (DM) 150, Modesto A. Madique Campus.  

This is not a ticketed event and is free to all.

NEW PLAYS 2014

Bus Stop

by Patricia Morales

directed by Amanda Ortega

Dos Quartos

by Julio Liverpool

directed by Chachi Colon

The Lesson

by Madeline Escarne

directed by Caitlyn Lincoln

September

by Ashley McGuire

directed by Missy Franciscus

Quack Means No

by Patrick Rodriguez

directed by Nelly Torres

La Vecchia Religione

By Nelly Torres

directed by Nakeyta Moore

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