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Theatre Grad Caroline Spitzer ’12 Featured in Prestigious Theatre Design & Technology Magazine

Caroline Spitzer ’12 has been featured in winter 2015 edition of the prestigious Theatre Design & Technology (TD&T) magazine, the journal for design, production and technology professionals in the performing arts and entertainment industry. Caroline was the costume designer for the Theatre Department’s 2011 production of The House of the Spirits; in 2012, she presented her designs at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) and was awarded the Kennedy Center Award for Excellent in Costume Design. To read the entire TD&T article, please click here.

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Department of Theatre Audition Workshop Premiere at Coral Reef High School

BFA Performance seniors Chachi Colon, Danny Leonard, and Zack Myers just finished hosting an inaugural three-day audition workshop at Coral Reef High School. The primary aim of this workshop was to prepare the class of juniors and seniors for college and professional auditions/interviews. The students were given advice on picking quality material, acting techniques, and understanding university theatre curricula. The idea for the workshop was born in an Acting 7 class taken by the three in the fall 2014 semester. The trio felt that others could benefit from the useful information they received and wanted to share their knowledge with upcoming theatre students. Day 1 was an information session spent discussing the basics of auditions, different university theatre programs, and answering audience questions. On day 2 and 3, students were invited to perform in front of Danny, Chachi, and Zack, along with their classmates, to have their work critiqued. Out of a group of 60, about 12 students took the opportunity to participate. Overall, the workshop was well received and our BFA Performance seniors are looking forward to doing it again at other high schools in the not too distant future. Chachi shared her views on the workshop, saying “it was a great experience for all of us. If I had to change anything I think I would probably work on making it a little more structured so that we can make optimum use of the time we have. I am definitely excited to bring this knowledge to another school.” According to Danny, “having the students express their appreciation to us for taking the time to share our knowledge was very rewarding.” Zack added, “inquiries about private coaching after the first day was a testament to the fact that our words had an impact on the kids. It was beneficial to us because this is the first time we did this workshop outside of FIU and from the reception we received we are all definitely looking forward to doing it again.”

The Department of Theatre is proud of the students for taking this initiative and showing such interest in their community.

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FIU Theatre Presents Neil Simon’s “Rumors,” Directed by Matthew Glass

FIU Theatre’s Production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors,” directed by Matthew Glass, opens on Friday, February 27.  The play revolves around a dinner party with no food, a missing cook, and an attempted suicide, which makes for an evening of calamity and comedy. The Department of Theatre invites you to sit back and follow the trail of red-herrings, amusing twists and turns, and farcial comedy that Rumors will offer.

Performance Dates

February 27 – March 8 | Wednesday – Saturday 8PM, Sunday 2PM

Location

Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center | Main Stage Theatre

10910 SW 17th St., Miami, Fl 33199

Tickets

$10 FIU Students

$12 Seniors and FIU Faculty + Staff (with ID)

$15 General Admission

Available at wpac.fiu.edu or call 305-348-0496

 

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Fully Engaged CARTA Board Meeting Took Place at Gus Berenblum’s Office in Wynwood

Gus Berenblum, principal of Berenblum Busch Architecture (BBA), generously hosted the CARTA Advisory Board meeting at his office in the Wynwood district at noon on February 9th, 2015.

During this very productive meeting, Dean Brian Schriner discussed CARTA 2020, the Miami Creative City Initiative with the direction of Dr. Richard Florida, and the Bauhaus Miami with the collaboration of Dr. Claudia Perren, Director of the Bauhaus Dessau.

Larry Kline from Perkins & Will presented the new partnership with CARTA for the creation of a new Healthcare Design track in the School of Architecture.

Bernardo Fort-Brescia, founding principal of Arquitectonica, was recognized for having the winning bid for the redesign of the Coconut Grove Playhouse.

Alfred Karram Jr, Chairman of the Urban Studios Advisory Board, made a presentation on their involvement with the City of Miami Beach Centennial.

Rick Tonkinson, Chairman of the CARTA Advisory Board, discussed Josh Oberhausen speaking to the Communication Arts students, the status of hiring a Career Development Officer, and the grand opening of the RCCL building at the FIU Modesto A. Maidique Campus on March 20, 2015. Dean Schriner is making arrangements for the board members to attend the grand opening and to receive a private tour.

Rick also discussed the Martin and Connie Silver Award, which is a scholarship for students to explore how to assimilate artwork and collections of art into their architecture designs.

Rick announced the School of Architecture Career Fair on March 25th and Jason Chandler, Chair and Associate Professor, provided the details at the board meeting.

Rick let the board know that the Department of Interior Architecture is ranked in the top 10 in the nation by Design Intelligence and Janine King, Chair and Associate Professor, stated that 1,108 professional practice organizations participated in the ranking.

Bernardo Fort-Brescia and Julian Kreeger, President of Friends of Chamber Music of Miami for 25 years, had a very insightful conversation that started with Bernardo asking “What is the ideal size of a venue in order to be able to create the right amount of buzz (sizzle) for a theatre or music production?” A discussion ensued over this fundamental and critical question, which that is often never addressed. “Buildings are overbuilt and there is too much capacity so when it is half full, it still looks empty,” said Bernardo. Julian thought that 300 seats is small enough to create a demand for attendance. “This conversation was in essence why the College of Architecture + The Arts are combined at FIU because it brings the two points of view together. At most universities, this conversation would not take place. With most cultural arts centers, they are built over capacity because the decision makers want something grandiose. It is their way or the highway so when it is built, presenters have to deal with trying to fill up the room. Chamber Music does not need a 2,600 seat auditorium,” said Rick Tonkinson. “We just witnessed in a conversation the unique philosophy of CARTA,” added Rick.

Rick was pleased to announce that David Harper, President and CEO of HADP Architecture, is joining the board. He named the atrium of the Green Library at FIU and is a major donor.

The next meeting will be at hosted by Daniel de la Vega in April. Daniel is president of ONE Sotheby’s International Realty.

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Sizzling Jazz Trombone Concert by John Fedchock was Stellar

On Saturday, February 7th, the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center Concert Hall had a stellar performance of John Fedchock, a Grammy Award nominated arranger and world class trombone soloist.

John played with the FIU Faculty Jazz Ensemble, which included Gary Campbell (its Director), Cisco Dimas, Hal Roland, Jaime Ousley, Osvaldo Vargas, and Tom Lippincott for the first half of the performance.

For the second half, the sizzling sound of the FIU Studio Big Band under the direction of Jim Hacker played with John on seven of his tunes.

“We have enjoyed very special jazz concerts in New York City where John has played for over 20 years and this FIU concert was of a Carnegie Hall quality,” said Rick and Margarita Tonkinson who sponsored the event.

Earlier in the day, John taught a master class to seven high school jazz bands.

John Fedchock enjoyed playing with the faculty and students. “We all had a real great time,” said John.

Header image is of John Fedchock.

John Fedchock and FIU trombonist Tom Savage

John Fedchock and FIU trombonist Tom Savage

John Fedchock and the FIU Studio Jazz Big Band

John Fedchock and the FIU Studio Jazz Big Band

Group Photo

Left to right: Rick Tonkinson – Sponsor, Jim Hacker – Director of the FIU Studio Jazz Big Band, Bob Dundas – Chair of FIU School of Music, Bill Hipp – Past Chair of FIU School of Music, and John Fedchock – World class trombonist

 

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FIU Theatre Grad Joseph Haj ’84 Named Guthrie Theater’s Newest Artistic Director

The following article was written by Graydon Royce and is available by clicking here.

From one Joe to another. Joseph Haj will succeed Joe Dowling as artistic director of the Guthrie Theater.

Haj, 51, is the eighth artistic director since legendary Broadway director Tyrone Guthrie founded the company — one of the nation’s largest regional theaters — in 1963. He will assume the job July 1, when Dowling steps down after 20 years — by far the longest tenure of any of the theater’s leaders.

In an interview Monday night, Haj said he’s not only nervous about succeeding a man who has been the face of the Guthrie for 20 years. Pointing to a string of portraits of past leaders, he said, “I’m nervous about succeeding him, and him, and him, and him and all of them.

“It is genuinely humbling in the extreme to come to this line of astonishing artistic directors, each in their own way.”

Haj, selected after a year-long search, is producing artistic director of PlayMakers Repertory Company at the University of North Carolina. The Chapel Hill-based troupe operates on a similar model as American Repertory Theatre at Harvard or the McCarter Center at Princeton, residing within the university’s Center for Dramatic Art.

When he took the helm in 2006, PlayMakers had posted deficits in 16 of the 18 previous years and proposed cutting back to four productions a year, from five. Haj boosted the annual budget to $2.8 million, from $1.6 million by producing about 10 productions a year. He operates two stages — a 500-seat thrust and a 265-seat flexible space.

“PlayMakers was invisible nationally and audience was falling off,” he said. “We were able to galvanize people in the organization and lift the artistic bar.”

Haj is one of a handful of Arab-American artistic directors working in American theater. His parents were Palestinian immigrants.

A New Jersey native, he grew up in Miami and after earning an MFA at North Carolina pursued an acting career that brought him to the Guthrie in 1989 and 1990. His first role was in director JoAnne Akalaitas’ production of “The Screens.”

He, Akalaitas, and directors Anne Bogart and Robert Woodruff went to the West Bank and Gaza to do theater workshops with young Palestinians and Israelis during the second intifadah.

“Theater makes community,” he said.

At the Guthrie, Haj assumes a company that is 10 times larger by annual budget than PlayMakers — and about twice as large in terms of number of productions each season.

Dowling has been the single leader since former managing director Thomas Proehl left the company in 2006. Much speculation has centered on whether the theater needs a strong second in command. Haj assumed a structure at PlayMakers that is similar to the current Guthrie leadership model. Within a few years, he had hired a managing director to report to him. He would not say Monday whether he plans to make a similar change here.

 “There’s a senior staff that is good at their jobs and it would be silly to tinker under the hood before I get a chance to see how things work,” he said. “I’ll leave it like it is in the near term.”

Haj’s theatrical tastes are eclectic of necessity. The company is the only major regional theater between Atlanta and Washington.D.C. so it must be many things to audiences.

“I love Shakespeare, I love a Lisa Kron play, I love a great musical, I love work of traditional theater makers and I love devised work [built by ensemble], work we don’t understand,” he said. “How we champion artists on the edge is important.”

Haj, who currently is directing “Pericles” at Oregon Shakespeare Company, will work with Dowling over the next several months on planning the 2015-16 season. Several pieces of the puzzle are in place, or have been in the pipeline for a long time. Still, he expects that when the season is announced, “It will reflect a lot of my contribution.”

Haj spoke of the need for a theater to be nimble, which could be a stumbling block with a large organization such as the Guthrie.

“Large institutions are like ocean liners,” he said, frankly. “We have trouble being responsive. The Guthrie can be more responsive to what’s going on in the world.”

The Guthrie has one of the largest annual budgets among regional playhouses and attendance last year was just under 360,000. Since moving into a three-stage complex in 2006, the company has faced pressure associated with the costs of running a huge building, which has provoked some programming that cause observers to wonder if economics, rather than art, is driving decisions.

Haj demurred when asked what he sees as the theater’s greatest challenges.

“For me to come in flailing my arms and saying, ‘This is what the Guthrie needs’ doesn’t make sense. I simply don’t know enough yet.”

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Theatre Department Students and Faculty Receive Accolades at KCACTF 2015

A hearty “welcome back” to all our Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) participants! A full and enervating experience was enjoyed by everyone involved. The thirty-five member group representing FIU’s College of Architecture + The Arts and the Department of Theatre came away with significant awards and commendations.

KCACTF is a nationwide organization designed to foster and honor college and university theatre of the finest quality. Region 4 covers the Southeastern United States and the annual regional festival features competitions, exhibitions, workshops, and other educational opportunities. This year’s 47th KCACTF Region 4, was hosted by Darton State College and Albany State University in Albany Georgia from February 3-7, 2015.

The Department of Theatre wishes to congratulate the talented students who were recognized for their contributions to the festival.

Samantha Llanes (BFA Scenic Design) – Honorable Mention, National Scenic Design
Mario Alonso (BFA Lighting Design) – Honorable Mention, National Sound Design
Lisset Riera (BA) – 2nd Place Regional, David Weiss/SETC Crafts & Technology
Johanna Gonzalez (BFA Costume Design) – 1st Place Regional, Crafts & technology
Luisa Rodriguez (BA) – Stage Manager, top eight Fellowship finalists/2nd round
Liana Sierra (BA) – Stage Manager, SDC Fellowship
Allyn Moriyon (BFA Performance) & David Neale (BFA Performance) – Finalists, Irene Ryan Performance
Juan Alfonso (BA) – Performance, 10 Minute Plays

The following students are to be commended for their hard work, dedication, and commitment to the festival.

 

Gonzalo Garcia-Castro (BFA Performance)
Zack Myers (BFA Performance)
Amanda Iglesias (BA)
Chachi Colon (BFA Performance)
Krystal Aleman (BFA Performance)
Chantal Denoun (BA)
Danielle Rollins (BFA Performance)
Shelley Miller (BFA Performance)
Pia Vicioso-Vila (BA)
Sofia Sassone (BFA Performance)
Steven Lopez (BFA Scenic Design)
Jordan Vera (BFA Lighting Design)
Rommel Arellan-Marinas (BA)
Paul Steinsland (BA)
Danny Leonard (BFA Performance)
Erik Rodriguez (BFA Performance)
Lena Rodriguez (BFA Costume Design)
Ashley Joseph (BA)
Ainex Carmona (BFA Scenic Design)

We are extremely proud of our faculty members for the accolades they received.

Marina Pareja, Excellence in Costume Design, “An Ideal Husband”
Michael Yawney, Meritorious Excellence in Directing, “Juanita’s Statue”
Phillip M. Church, Meritorious Excellence In Directing, “An Ideal Husband”

Additionally, congratulations to Theatre Department faculty members Rebecca Covey, Marina Pareja, Jesse Dreikosen, and Tony Galaska for four truly insightful and memorable festival workshops, which left in the minds of many participants an indelible example of what FIU Theatre has to offer.

Our acknowledgement must go out to those individuals whose professional acumen and leadership skills helped make the festival succeed, namely, Jesse Dreikosen, KCACTF Chair, Design, Technology & management, Region 4 (soon to be national Vice Chair of DTM!), and Tony Galaska, KCACTF Head of Stage Management, the Design and Stage Management competitions ran flawlessly. Under the stewardship of Chris Goslin, KCACTF Technical Liaison, eight fully staged productions in Albany’s Performing Arts Center KCACTF gave audiences consistently seamless and trouble-free presentations. Thanks are also due to Marina Pareja and Wayne Robinson for their support of costume and performance students. Having five representative FIU faculty members in this prestigious festival offered the institution untold kudos within the world of college theatre training. We appreciate your contribution, not only during the festival but for all of the preplanning and labor that was required months in advance.

Now, we begin looking ahead to KCACTF 2016!

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Love*, a Web Series by FIU Theatre Alumnas, to Premiere on Valentine’s Day

Love* is a web series created by FIU Theatre graduates Victoria Collado ’12 and Bertha Leal ’09. The series consists of 10 episodes, ranging in length from 5 to 10 minutes, and will be available beginning February 14 on the 3tO5 website and YouTube. Love* is based on Victoria and Bertha’s personal experiences in New York City. It is the story of two roommates, Robyn and Daniela, who are struggling 20-somethings living in New York City, working entry-level jobs, and are trying to have it all. Their evolving friendship, combined with the actresses’ chemistry and unmistakable comedic timing, unfolds through a series of growing pains, weird sex, professional hang-ups, and bad Tinder dates.

Bertha Leal graduated in 2009 with a BFA Performance degree. She is a producer, blogger, writer, and actor who made her Off-Broadway debut in the title role of INTAR Theatre’s production Lucy Loves Me. During her time at FIU, she starred in various productions, including the solo performance Katharine Hepburn: The Best Man for the Job, which she also wrote and directed. Upon graduation, she was cast in Pinecrest Repertory’s Oleanna (2009) and the Alliance Theatre Lab’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago (2009), which received critical acclaim from local newspapers. Along with short-films Danny Boy (2008) and Hard-Bitten (2014), Leal has also written Detours (2010), a full-length play.

Victoria Collado graduated in 2012 with a BFA Performance degree. After graduating, she chose to stay in Miami where she wrote, directed, and performed for Micro Theater Miami, JQ Studio, and ArtSpoken Performing Arts Center. In 2013, Victoria decided to enter the New York International Fringe Festival, in the hopes that her show on famous Cuban singer, La Lupe, would be selected. It wasn’t but she did receive a job offer to be a Venue Manager for the festival. This job brought her to New York for two months, after which she got an internship with the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which exposed her to many companies and opportunities. Taking the advice of her former professor Michael Yawney, she applied to the Repertorio Español, for the prestigious Van Lier Young Director’s Fellowship, which she was awarded.

Victoria and Bertha have been friends since their days together at FIU. Now they are roommates and business partners, as part owners of 3tO5, a collaborative cohort set on creating, developing, and showcasing the work of talented artists. Be it through film, theater, or web based platforms, 3tO5 strives to produce original work; the kind that artists themselves want to see. The two talented young ladies took the time to answer a few questions about their upcoming web series, Love*.

What inspired this web series?

It is based on our personal experiences. We bonded at a time when we were both going through heart breaks and sharing the difficulties of being young professionals in competitive New York City. We started off talking about what we were going through and how funny it would be to have a camera capturing what was happening to us, and that conversation developed into this series.

What does the title, Love* mean?

Victoria – That is actually my personal story. I received a text from my ex saying, ‘I lobe you,’ which I didn’t understand. I spent a long time agonizing over it, analyzing and discussing it with Bertha. Later, he sent another text saying, ‘love*’ and I understood it was just a typo. We thought it would be a catchy name and one episode in the series actually deals with this greater issue of digital dating and how much of our relationship is spent texting, on social media, and having to decipher the meaning behind texts in the absence of tone and body language.

What challenges did you encounter putting the series together and what would you do differently if you had to do it over?

Bertha – Scheduling was a mission since we had a cast of 16-20 people and everyone had full-time jobs. Creating a series with no budget was certainly a major hurdle, but it also forced us to be creative and innovative. Getting permission from local businesses to shoot in their space was often difficult. Because we had to wear so many different hats, one personal challenge was letting go and knowing when to be the director or writer or actor.
Victoria – With or without a budget, there needs to be a script supervisor to handle the technical aspects of filming. If we had to do it over, we would find a way to get a script supervisor. It is incredible difficult to play that role and be a director/actor simultaneously.

Why do you think viewers will enjoy Love*?

It is a relatable series. Anybody can watch this and learn so much about women and how precarious the female friendship can be. It is honest and a lot of heart went into it.  Love* explores so many themes that young people experience such as heart break, love, camaraderie and the complexities of dating in the 21st century. I hope viewers will enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it.

 

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Alumni Spotlight: Ozzie and Nicole Quintana

CARTA grads Ozzie and Nicole Quintana have been married for the past fourteen years.  They have two sons, both of whom are aspiring performers.  Twelve year old Nicholas is interested in writing and has performed improv alongside his dad, while nine year old Anthony is a budding tap dancer.  Both parents are pleased about this shared family passion, as Nicole and Ozzie are successful drama teachers. The couple is deeply connected to the local theatre scene; Nicole has discovered that her passion is directing and is in the process of establishing her own theatre company, Art On, while Ozzie has been the backbone of a local improvisation troupe, IMPROMEDY, which was started right here at FIU in 1997.

Nicole Quintana graduated from FIU in 2001 with a BFA in Scenic Design.  The trajectory of her career changed from Performance to Scenic Design in the blink of an eye, according to her; “I never knew I could paint or draw or had any talent for scenic design until I took an introductory design class and my professor encouraged me to follow that path.”  This change allowed her the flexibility of being able to perform on stage while pursuing a technical degree.

Upon graduation, Nicole worked at The Juggerknot Theatre Company as their resident Set Designer for two years before applying for a job as a high school drama teacher; “I became a teacher because the opportunity presented itself, then I found that I was good at it.  It makes me happy and is a continuously rewarding experience.” Currently, she is a drama teacher at Coral Reef Senior High School’s Magnet Program. In addition to teaching for the last fourteen years, she has been working professionally as a set designer, director and performer. Some of her scenic design credits include The Taming of the Shrew, Equus, The Mission, Raised in Captivity, A Streetcar Named Desire, Winter (Set Designer and the role of Sophie) and Not Ready for Prime Time (written by former FIU Alum Charles Sothers and current FIU Theatre Student Eric Rodriguez). Her most recent design for New Theatre is 12 Angry Men, opening at the South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center this February 2015. Her performance credits include the dual roles of Magdalena and Amelia in the 2013 World Premier of My First, My Fist, My Bleeding Seeded Spirit by Megan Breen for NEW Theatre 2013-2014 Season. She was also cast as Susan Blackwell in the hit musical Title of Show, at the Roxy Theatre (2010 & 2013). She has been performing for IMPROMEDY since its inception and continues to appear in shows at Artistic Vibes and Roxy Performing Arts Center.

 

ozzie bio headshot.doc

Ozzie Quintana graduated from FIU in 2000 with a BFA Performance degree. Shortly after graduation Ozzie went to work full time for Actor’s Playhouse as their resident Sound Engineer. In 2002 he became the High School Drama Teacher at Southridge Senior High. He has continued to work in sound and performance in the Miami theatre scene and has many credits to his name, some of which are Blind Date, Barrio Hollywood, Into the Mist and  A Streetcar Named Desire. Most of his energy and talent has been poured into IMPROMEDY. The troupe began as sketch comedy and has since spread out to short form and long form improvisation. Ozzie has traveled all over North America participating in such Improv festivals as the Miami Improv Fest, the Gainesville Improv Fest, New York’s Del Close Festival, the Rhode Island Improv Fest, and the Toronto Improv Festival. While he enjoyed the last eighteen years working in improv, Ozzie recently decided to dissolve the troup due to the time commitment, and has been delving into podcasts, guest star roles in other improv troupes, and writing. Ozzie currently works as a drama teacher at Felix Varela Senior High, where he shapes future theatre professionals.

The Department of Theatre is very proud of the Quintana family and wishes them continued success.

 

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FIU Theatre Alumnae Nominated for Prestigious Carbonell Award

Department of Theatre alumnae Stefanie Howard (Class of ’12) has been nominated for a Carbonell Award in the category of Best Lighting Design for Stephen Dolginoff’s two-man musical Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story, produced by Outre Theatre. Stefanie began her career with Outre Theatre over two years ago as a Light Board Operator and was later offered the position of Resident Lighting Designer. She also works at Guitar Center as a Lighting Specialist, where she has the flexibility and platform to do freelance jobs related to her area of interest.

The Carbonell Awards is a not-for-profit charitable corporation. It is considered a volunteer organization that does not compensate board members or panelists. Carbonell Awards Inc. is governed by a board of directors. To be considered eligible for a nomination, performances and producing theatres must meet the organizations’ requirements. These awards are looked upon as the most prestigious in South Florida. The Carbonell nomination, although a great honor, did not come as a major surprise to Stefanie since she won a BroadwayWorld Miami Award for Best Lighting Design, for the same show, in January 2014. “I am very excited and grateful to be considered for this award and I always said that I would only leave Florida after I won a Carbonell.”

Since earning her BFA in Lighting Design almost three years ago, Stefanie has worked on over thirty shows for various theatres in South Florida such as Thinking Cap Theatre, The Plaza Theatre and Empire Stage. She has established a solid reputation for herself in her field and attributes much of her success to taking advantage of all the opportunities she has been given. She hopes to relocate to LA in the future. Stefanie is thankful to her design professors Jesse Dreikosen and Tony Galaska for giving her the strong foundation she needed and to Michael Yawney for his on-going encouragement and support.

It is also noteworthy that Margaret M. Ledford, the guest director of the Theatre Department’s 2013 production of Sleeping Beauty, has been nominated in the categories of Best Director for a play and Best Director for a musical.

The 39th annual Carbonell Awards Ceremony will be held on March 30, 2015 and we are keeping our fingers crossed for Stefanie! Congratulations, we are proud of you and your accomplishments.

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FIU Theatre Faculty, Alumni, and Students Take One-Minute Play Festival by Storm

The South Florida theatre community converged on the Deering Estate at Cutler for the third South Florida One-Minute Play Festival (1MPF), held on January 17 and 18, 2015. 1MPF is considered the largest and longest running short-form theatre company in the country. Dominic D’Andrea is the festival’s Producing Artistic Director and Founder. 1MPF showcases the talent of local playwrights, actors and directors by inviting these local artists to submit original works about their world as it is here and now. About 70 plays are selected from the submissions received and 8 directors are chosen. It is the directors’ responsibility to put ‘clumps’ of 8 one-minute plays together and do the casting for said plays. As Artistic Director, Mr. D’Andrea is an integral part of the collaborative process, giving guidance to the writers and directors before the finished plays are presented to local audiences. D’Andrea attributes a lot of 1MPF’s growth to their unique methodology; ‘there’s really nothing like 1MPF. We are half play festival, half community-engaged convening.’”

This year, FIU Theatre Department Adjunct Professor and alumnus, Ivan Lopez, submitted two plays, Just Hit Send and Our Own Magic and was honored to have both submissions selected for the festival. Ivan directed Our Own Magic with a cast of all FIU alumni and current students: Melissa Ann Hubicsak (Class of ’09), Michelle L. Antelo (Class of ’12), Melissa Almaguer (Class of ’06), Danny Leonard (BFA Performance in progress) and Zack Myers (BFA Performance in progress). He had a great time collaborating with his FIU family. “It was fun working with this group.  We really are like a family sharing the same terminology, familiarity and sense of spirit.  I appreciate the effort they put in and the talent they brought to the play.” Ivan’s play focused around the the Miami Heat’s loss of Lebron James and the Heat fans realizing that Dwyane Wade is a superstar player!

Everyone in Ivan’s ‘clump’ had a superb experience and some shared their positive feedback.

Melissa Almaguar said “my experience with the One-Minute Play Festival was so positive! It was so nice to work with such a friendly and talented group of artists, in such a beautiful and cultural location. There were so many FIU students and alumni, I felt like I was part of this bigger FIU family that went beyond my time there and one that continues to grow. I loved it.”

Michelle L. Antelo concurred with her teammate’s views. “Since I graduated from FIU’s Theatre Department, I have had the pleasure of being embraced by Miami’s artistic community. Thankfully, students that graduated before me have made major contributions to the city’s talent and have created a wonderful reputation for those of us who’ve followed. I love having the opportunity to work alongside alumni as well as students currently in the department. It reminds me of the wonderful time I spent learning at FIU. I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve done and are continuing to do. I must say, it felt great to have so many panthers in the group!”

It is also noteworthy that other FIU Theatre alums and students participated in this year’s One-Minute Play Festival.

As usual, the Department of Theatre is thrilled to see our students participating in community initiatives. Keep up the hard work!

1mpf

 

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BFA Students Participate In Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration

BFA Performance students Danielle Rollins and Madeleine Escarne were honored to be included in this year’s Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration, a twenty-four year old tradition here at FIU that pays homage to one of the world’s greatest leaders. Danielle was given the opportunity to write and perform a short skit under the guidance of School of Music’s Dr. Mary Kauffman for the Commemorative Breakfast, which is considered the premiere event of the celebration. The breakfast was held in the Graham Center Ballroom on Friday, January 16.

Madeleine Escarne performed the skit, entitled Wake Up, alongside Danielle and two other SOM students. She was very moved by her classmate’s ability to bring awareness to the fact that people can become apathetic to profound periods in history. “I feel privileged to be a part of this celebration for the second year in a row. It was wonderful to see everyone come together in remembrance the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

According to Danielle, “I tried to portray the ideas that non-violence does not mean passive and non-violent and revolution can indeed go hand in hand. The skit included music from Marvin Gaye and some of Dr. King’s quotes that I believe are underutilized, quotes about materialism, quotes that talk about this very powerful movement he represented.”

The Department of Theatre is proud of our students involvement in the FIU community.  Keep up the good work ladies!

For more information about The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration, please click here.

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Six Characters in Search of an Author

Welcome back and Happy New Year to all FIU faculty, staff, and students, both new and returning. The Department of Theatre is looking forward to a year filled with fun events and thought-provoking productions.

Rehearsals are currently in full swing for the first production of the spring 2015 semester, Six Characters in Search of an Author, adapted by Steve Moulds from the play by Luigi Pirandello. Six Characters in Search of an Author is the story of six characters coming to life, in search of an author to complete their unfinished story. The play opens on Friday, January 23 and runs until Sunday, February 1, 2015.

Six Characters in Search of an Author is the play that brought Pirandello world-wide fame. The original version of the play was appropriate for the place and time in which it was written and the ideas he was trying to explore. Steve Moulds’ adaption is an apt way of approaching the original play. Audiences can expect to walk away thinking about, discussing, and questioning what is real. This play raises many introspective questions, such as: What is acting? What is fate? How are stories told? Do fictional characters exist in the mind of the actor or the audience? Audiences are definitely in for an intriguing night, complete with all the twists and turns a good psychological drama can offer.

According to the director, Wayne E. Robinson Jr., “this play is to be considered ‘an inside scoop event’, with the audience being part of the reality of the story. It is a very unique production, with many surprises and, of course, the magic of the theatre will bring everything together.”

Six Characters in Search of an Author incorporates two acting styles, improvisation and scripted acting, which means that the actors have to constantly be in the moment and listen carefully in order to avoid missing cues.

Actress Shelly Miller is looking forward to opening night with a mixture of nervousness and excitement, “we are all having a blast with this play. Because we get to do a certain amount of improv acting, no two rehearsals are ever the same, which always makes for a fun time. I hope that everyone will have a good time and go along it.”

We look forward to seeing you on opening night!

For more information about Six Characters in Search of an Author, please click here

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Department of Theatre Announces Summer Abroad 2015 Program

SUMMER 2015!
SHAKESPEARE IN STRATFORD
England Study Abroad Program

The Department of Theatre is pleased to announce its annual Shakespeare in Stratford/London: Text & Performance Study Abroad Program.

ABOUT THE PROGRAM
“Shakespeare-in-Stratford & London: Performance & Beyond” explores the summer repertoire of the Royal Shakespeare Company. The RSC has set the gold standard for productions of Shakespeare’s plays for more than one hundred years. All plays will be studied at FIU prior to departure. Participants attend productions at the Rose Theatre and Swan Theatre in Stratford and the famed Globe Theatre on London’s South Bank. The 2015 season includes Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Merchant of Venice, and Volpone, written by Shakespeare contemporary, Ben Jonson. Each production provides afternoon pre-show lectures conducted by eminent scholars from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in conjunction with the University of Birmingham. Featured RSC actors join participants for a morning-after post-production discussion in which they share personal perspectives on such production elements as rehearsal process, character development, and play’s themes and issues. An RSC Associate Director will lead the group in a directing workshop.

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION: January 30, 2015

DURATION: (Summer B Semester June 22 – July 31.)

COST: $3,300, which includes:
Three undergraduate credits, MIA-Heathrow return airfare, bed & breakfast accommodations in Stratford-Upon-Thames and London, attendance at five plays by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), Globe Theater, visits Shakespeare’s birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s cottage, Arden Farm, Warwick Castle, and Kenilworth Castle, a day trip to the city of Oxford, directing workshop, pre-show lectures and next-day discussions with RSC actors.
Experience education through a thrilling and unforgettable cultural immersion!

INSTRUCTOR
Phillip M. Church, Interim Department Chair, Associate Chair for Engagement, FIU Theatre | Email: churchp@fiu.edu; Phone: 305-348-3358

For information about financial aid, visit or call:
FIU Office of Study Abroad, PC 113
Phone: 305.348.1913 | Email: edabroad@fiu.edu

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Alumni Spotlight: Evelyn Perez

Evelyn Perez has been working in her field since she graduated from FIU in 1987 with a BFA Performance degree. In addition to being an actress and teacher, Evelyn has helped bring numerous productions to life for theatres such as The Coconut Grove Playhouse, GableStage, Hollywood Playhouse, New Theatre, and many others. Currently, she is the Assistant Director and Acting Coach at Miami Children’s Theater, and loves working with children. Some of Evelyn’s theatre credits include roles in The Rooster and the Egg (Nati Rafferty), The Cuban Spring (Olga), The Clearing (Roberta), and Property Line (Bianca). Evelyn drew on almost 27 years of experience to share her thoughts and wisdom with our students.

Many aspiring actors think they need to move to cities like New York, Chicago, or LA to find work in this field, so what made you decide to stay in Florida?

First of all, I love Florida, the diversity, the beaches, the culture, everything. This is my home. I often thought about leaving but I saw how difficult it was for people to make that move and how much they struggled. I decided that if I was going to struggle, I would prefer to do it at home. I have always wanted to work in my field, but I was never in it for fame and I learned that I didn’t have to leave Florida to do what I love. There are opportunities for actors right here, I have been able to find some of them and some of them have found me. I am very happy for the people who have left and achieved great success and fame, but it was never my calling to leave Florida.

What would you say to students who are thinking of leaving Florida in search of fame and great acting careers?

Information is at your disposal, use it. Students are always welcome venues such as Mad Cat Theatre Company, Artistic Vibesand Micro Theater. At these places, they can get experience in writing, directing, and acting. The Florida theatre scene is a tiny community and we all know each and try to support each other, so reach out. There are agents right here in Florida, more studios are opening, and local theatres are doing great things, so get informed before making that decision to leave.

What challenges have you faced in your career?

Early in my career, I auditioned for many roles and was turned down because I “didn’t have the right look.” Truthfully, that felt like a glass of cold water in my face.  Luckily, actresses like Sofia Vergara, Eva Mendes, and Salma Hayek are paving the way and breaking down barriers for women and women of color in this field. It is a fact that there are less leading roles written for women and minorities, but that cannot stop you. If you are the only woman, the only Latina, the only African American, in an audition, be the very best you can be and trust that someone will recognize your passion and your talent, and cast you. If you are passionate about what you do, you will get ahead.

What do you think is lacking in the local theatre scene?

I think there should be more workshops and more opportunities for actors to get to know each other and network. Maybe people would be less eager to leave if they knew where to find work and and whom to contact. I live in a place where talent is abundant and new venues are popping up, but I would like to see greater community involvement. In my opinion, the issue is not lack of interest, but often lack of awareness. Somehow, we have to to find a way to engage this great community.

Do you have any advice for our theatre students?

Try to focus on solutions. We all know that there are obstacles in this field, just as there are in all fields, but concentrate on finding the solution instead of pouring too much energy into pointing out that the problem exists. We live in a technologically advanced world, so it is quite simple to create your own work and put yourself out there. Be your own PR person and remember that if you are passionate and persistent, you will get ahead.

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Andy Senor, FIU Theatre Alumus, Directing RENT in Cuba

Andy Senor describes his initial thoughts about RENT before he became a cast member; “During my final year as a student in 1997, RENT was fresh on Broadway and I was obsessed. Never before had a show spoken to me in such a way! I sang song after song, everyday, with the hope that I would someday be in RENT.”

The FIU Theatre alumnus and artistic director of District Stage Company, along with School of Music’s Carbonell Award winner Emmanuel Schvartzman (class of ’09), are currently in Havana working with local Cuban actors on a Spanish production of Jonathon Larson’s musical RENT. This is the second time the two will be teaming up as director (Andy) and musical director (Emmanuel) of the Tony Award-winning, ninth longest running show in Broadway history. After being involved with the show for many years and performing for millions of people all over the world, the two colleagues had the honor of directing the production right here at FIU in 2010. More recently, they have worked together on a musical production titled On Your Feet, about the life of Miami’s own Gloria and Emilio Estefan.

Senor has portrayed the role of Angel on tour nationally and internationally. Additionally, he worked as assistant director with the original director, Michael Greif, when RENT was revived off-Broadway. The show in Cuba will open on December 24 and run for three months at Havana’s Bertolt Brecht Theatre. This will be Cuba’s first fully produced Broadway show since the revolution, with a cast of all Cuban actors.

Since graduating from FIU in 1997 Andy has worked on numerous projects. He has appeared in commercials and music videos, presented on the Latin Billboard Music Awards. Some of his film and television credits include You Can’t Stop the Beat, Dummy, Ed and Lola.

The Department of Theatre is proud our alumni and wish them both great success in Cuba!

 

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FIU Theatre Students to Perform at Artistic Vibes

FIU Theatre students are bringing their talent to Artistic Vibes for two nights of solo performances! Recent graduates Amanda Ortega will portray the role of Sarah Jo Pender in 110 and Kayla Martinez will be playing Heidi Montag in There Will Be No Talent Displayed on Friday, December 12, at 8:00PM. Current students Lucas Hood and Caitlin Wiggins will perform Tonight is the Night to Drink and X’d on Sunday December 14, at 7:00PM.

Artistic Vibes is a creative collective whose aim is to grow South Florida’s local artistic community by producing a variety of performing arts productions, showcasing local talent, and providing a space for artists to exhibit their skills.

Location: Artistic Vibes 12986 SW 89th Ave, Miami, Fl 33176

Performance Dates: Friday December 12, 8:00PM and Sunday, December 14, 7:00PM

Tickets available at the door | Cash Only | General Admission $15, Seniors $12, Students (With ID) $10

For more information, click here.

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FIU Theatre’s Husband and Wife Team Aaron Alpern and Rebecca Covey to Perform at California Performing Arts Centre’s Fremont Centre Theatre

Department of Theatre faculty member Rebecca Covey and husband Aaron Alpern, Department of Theatre adjunct, will be producing and performing The Heart of Winter on Sunday December 21, at 3:00PM at the historical California Performing Arts Centre’s Fremont Centre Theatre (FCT) in South Pasadena, CA. Their performance will feature a lively collection of classic and contemporary stories based around Christmas, winter, and Hanukkah by Dorothy Parker, David Sedaris, O Henry, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and others. The Heart of Winter revolves around the theme of yearning to connect with others and to find meaning during the holidays.

Actor and producer Lissa Reynolds is the Artistic Director at the Fremont Centre Theatre and a long-time associate of Professor Covey. The two have often spoken about collaborating on a project, but the opportunity never presented itself until now. After a recent conversation about Rebecca’s desire to do a show in California, Lissa extended an invitation to perform their project at FCT over the holidays, as she wanted to provide a holiday offering for her patrons. Rebecca immediately accepted and, having been given creative leeway over the direction of the show, chose literary stories she and Aaron would find meaningful and would both enjoy performing.

The Fremont Centre Theatre is a non-profit professional theatre. Their mission is “to discover and rediscover plays of value to produce in an artistic atmosphere that nurtures creativity, originality and excellence. In addition, FCT is committed to producing theatre that promotes diversity and attracts diverse audiences.” FCT is known for working with artists like Pulitzer Prize-winning author and playwright Ray Bradbury and producing award winning, original adaptations such as A Woman of Independent Means by Elizabeth Forsythe. They have been recognized by the NAACP, Women in Theatre, and many other organizations. It is an honor for Rebecca to perform at this prominent theatre, which has worked with artists of such high caliber.

Rebecca is very excited about this endeavor with the Fremont Centre Theatre. When asked about her expectations for the show and her future relationship with FCT, she responded, “I hope to establish a long-lasting relationship with the theatre. This could be a wonderful place for FIU Theatre to incubate new shows, especially new adaptations. I can envision larger scaled projects evolving over time, perhaps even on an annual basis. Aaron and I are looking forward to collaborating with Lissa to make next month’s performance a success.” It is also noteworthy that Rebecca is already in talks about bringing the show to different locations.

The Department of Theatre wishes Rebecca and Aaron great success in California on December 21. For more information about The Heart of Winter, please click here.

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Introducing Alpha Psi Omega, Department of Theatre Honors Society

Alpha Psi Omega National Theatre Honor Society is a collegiate society which encourages academic and professional success amongst college theatre students. The Theatre Department at FIU is pleased to announce that we have established a chapter of Alpha Psi Omega, with the first group of 28 members inducted on Monday, November 24, 2014. In following the tradition of using theatre-related terminology to describe the chapter officers, current BA student, Luisa Rodriguez is the Director (President) of the FIU chapter and she is very proud to be part of the induction ceremony. This idea has been in the works for quite some time and Luisa has spent countless hours doing research on starting the chapter and brainstorming with both her fellow classmates and their faculty sponsor, Theatre Chair Phillip Church. It is very satisfying to see all her hard work come to fruition. When asked why she wanted to start this chapter, she responded, “I am a member of another fraternity on campus and I really love that idea of brotherhood/sisterhood that these societies teach us and the fact that we all have similar aspirations and interests. I thought it would be great for my peers to be part of a group where we can feel comfortable enough to share with each other and learn from one another. So far, everyone has been incredible supportive and interested, so I hope that APO will continue to grow and be a success.”

Madeleine Escarne, Alpha Psi Omega’s Business Manager and BFA Performance student, describes the chapter as, “a bridge between the theatre community and the outside community. Alpha Psi Omega aims to raise awareness about FIU’s Theatre Department, encourage our students to be part of the camaraderie that is a fraternity and to serve as an honorary big brother/big sister to surrounding schools, especially the ones that have suffered loss of funding to their arts programs. Being a part of this society is an opportunity to give back and live up to APO’s motto-Seek a Life Useful. We want to prepare high school students for college life, teach them about the culture of the theatre and most importantly, to let everyone know how great FIU’s theatre program is. It is a wonderful feeling to be part of a group with common interests and goals.”

Alpha Psi Omega has numerous fun-filled and fund-raising events planned. On December 1, they will be having a bake sale in Graham Center lobby 11AM-1PM. They are also planning a holiday party (date TBD) and will be offering holiday song-o-grams. Please continue to visit our webpage for further details.

Requirements to become a member of Alpha Psi Omega
All prospective members must:
-Be a declared Theatre major for at least 2 consecutive semesters.
-Maintain a cumulative gpa of 2.5 or higher, be in good academic standing with the university and have no pending disciplinary actions.
-Meet the participation requirement. (Please contact Luisa for details about the participation requirement at lulusings@bellsouth.net)

To learn more about Alpha Psi Omega, please click here.

For more information about the FIU Department of Theatre Chapter of Alpha Psi Omega or officers, please contact Luisa Rodriguez at lulusings@bellsouth or visit the Department of Theatre Main Office.

Other Alpha Psi Omega officers include:

Juanita Olivo

Chachi Colon

Amanda Iglesias

Pia Isabelle Vicioso-Vila

Matthew Pastor

Erik Rodriguez

Sarah Perez

Melissa Lopez

Roselyn Moreno

Liana Sierra

 

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Interview with Cedric Liqueur

Despite being on the road for most of the year, Cedric Liqueur always returns to his hometown, Dade City, Florida, for the holidays. Occasionally, he has the opportunity to share his art with other Shakespeare and theatre enthusiasts on those trips home. Through his personal research he became interested in performing at FIU and contacted the Chair of the English Department, Dr. James Sutton, with his request. Dr. Sutton liked his proposal so he decided to partner with the Department of Theatre to bring Mr. Liqueur to FIU to meet with the faculty and students for a Q & A session and to present his fifty five minute performance of The Middle of King Lear. In anticipation of his visit, Mr. Liqueur has taken the time to answer a few questions about himself and his career.

Why did you write The Middle of King Lear? Do you have any expectations for the performance?

“I began my career in the theatre, reading the works of the greatest poet the world has produced, William Shakespeare. I’d thought about Lear for several years, but I knew that most of the actors who have played the part in the full plays often spoke of how difficult it is to carry the ‘weight’ of Lear. Some actors feel you have to do almost all Shakespeare plays to do Lear. When I made up my mind to do Lear, I hadn’t done all the plays, but I felt, and still feel, I can bring all I have to this complex, compelling, tragic character. My intent in this solo production is to explore what Shakespeare wrote about Lear without any other players. Call it ‘research.’ Research that I do each time I walk onto the stage.”

There are many colleges and universities in Florida, why did you approach FIU?

“The name ‘International’ caught my attention when I looked at the colleges and universities in Florida. I read on the website that it is classified as a research university and I spend far more time now doing research than I ever did as an undergraduate or graduate student. Also, I believe if any artist has the opportunity to go back inside a classroom and talk with students and educators, they should, as I think they will become better artists.”

Why are you so passionate about Shakespeare?

“Shakespeare put the English language and the magic and mystery of theatre together. To me, his 37 plays and 154 sonnets captured the 14th through 17th centuries-like a digital camera today snaps the perfect color of a butterfly’s wings in flight! How did he manage to capture almost all these colors, in human beings? Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets are about relationships during the Renaissance era. The Tragedy of King Lear, particularly, and in this work, is about the relationship between fathers and daughters. He understood that history repeats itself and brought this to the stage. His stage brought to life ‘human’ characters with complex yet recognizable personalities, something never seen on stage in the Renaissance era so dramatically and with such popularity. He knew about the Renaissance because he was a product of it. For me to present The Middle of King Lear, on stage, I have ‘become’ a product of that era as well.

Do you have any advice for aspiring performers or writers, particularly those interested in the Renaissance era?

“Be patient. It is the advice I first received as an actor from Sir Patrick Stuart at the Royal Shakespeare Company: ‘Cedric, after about twenty-five years, if you are still in the business . . . you should then be a pretty good actor.’”

For more information on Cedric Liqueur’s visit, please click here.

 

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