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Rick and Margarita Tonkinson Theatre Lobby Dedication

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” Dean Brian Schriner ended his speech with this poignant quote from Calvin Coolidge on Friday, September 26, before inviting everyone gathered in the rotunda of the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center to raise their glasses in honor of Rick and Margarita Tonkinson. The Tonkinsons have graciously donated $50,000 to FIU’s College of Architecture + The Arts (CARTA), which will provide scholarships for CARTA students. In recognition of their munificence, The Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center Mainstage Theatre lobby has been dedicated to them. FIU is fortunate to be included in Rick and Margarita’s philanthropic vision, which supports many South Florida organizations. Also present at the dedication ceremony was FIU’s newly appointed Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Kenneth G. Furton. Dr. Furton also expressed his sincere appreciation to the Tonkinsons for their generosity.

During his speech, Mr. Tonkinson shared his desire to make the community a better place. He acknowledged the philanthropy of Herbert and Nicole Wertheim, who brought the Wertheim Performing Arts Center to life with their altruism and emphasized his own passion for education and theatre, sharing his belief that “theatre allows a full expression of thought. We encourage theatre students to live to their fullest potential and have their passion develop into skills.”

Rick Tonkinson is the President of Tonkinson Financial and has recently been appointed Chair of the Dean’s Leadership Advisory Board for CARTA. He studied at night to earn an MBA and a Master’s degree in public administration from the University of Miami. He specializes in helping his clients achieve financial security through strategic, personalized financial planning. Rick is a man who enjoys challenges, and for his 50th birthday celebration, he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, with his son! He is a devoted father and husband, who has been married to Margarita for 34 years. Moreover, he has a long history of volunteering, dating back to the Peace Corps.

Margarita Tonkinson is an integral part of the family business. She has worked alongside Rick for 20 years, relying on her expertise in administration, office restructuring and reorganization to help build the business into the success it is today. Like her husband, she is also a graduate of the University of Miami and holds a Master’s degree in public administration. A Fulbright scholar herself, Margarita was appointed by President George Bush to serve on the J William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, and she did so from 1990-1995.

This investment in our community, in the future of our students’ means a great deal to CARTA and we are indebted to the Tonkinson.s for their leadership and commitment in achieving CARTA’s World’s Ahead vision.

To view pictures from the dedication, please click here.

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Dean Brian Schriner Appoints 2014-15 Distinguished Fellows: Bruce Carter, Alastair Gordon, and Robert Zuckerman

Dean Brian Schriner of the FIU College of Architecture + The Arts has selected Bruce Carter, Alastair Gordon, and Robert Zuckerman as the Dean’s Distinguished Fellows for 2014-2015.

Dean Schriner said, “the Dean’s Distinguished Fellows are charged with visibly promoting the College’s strategic initiatives by engaging with students, faculty, alumni, and the community through lectures, publications, master classes, academic scholarship, and creative activities.”



Dean’s Distinguished Fellows, 2014-2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABruce Allen Carter is an arts educator and researcher, whose work focuses on issues of creativity and the intersections of social justice and arts participation. His research has been published in the Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, the Journal of Research in Music Education, and the Music Educators Journal, in addition to numerous invited chapters by Oxford Press. Recently, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, School of Education designated the Bruce Carter Qualitative Research Center as a place for graduate students to pursue meaningful qualitative research agendas. Carter received a B.M. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, a M.M. from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, and a Ph.D. in Music Education from Northwestern University. In 2013, he was appointed by President Obama to serve a six-year position as Council Member on the National Council on the Arts.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to participate in the dynamic work occurring at FIU, specifically CARTA,” said Mr. Carter. “I hope to engage faculty, students, and community members in ways that foster interdisciplinary approaches to artistic process and research. I am enamored with the vision of the College of Architecture + The Arts | Miami Beach Urban Studios, and the way it seeks to utilize community engagement and expertise afforded by its facilities and location, to be at the forefront of teaching, research, and service in art, design, performance, and communication. I hope to spotlight the amazing faculty at FIU and add my voice to a vision that is forward-thinking and beneficial to Miami.”

During his nine-month appointment, Mr. Carter will produce an online publication consisting of a series of short essays, videos, and images that document multiple exchanges with the College of Architecture + The Arts. The publication will be included in new and current online courses. He will also conduct a series of lectures and panel discussions to be held both at the FIU School of Music and the Miami Beach Urban Studios throughout the academic year. The first panel discussion will take place on Wednesday, November 12th at 7:00pm in the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center Recital Hall and will cover the topic “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Understanding the Creative Mind.”

Alastair Gordon- head shot 2 copy 3Alastair Gordon is an author, curator, critic, filmmaker, publisher, and public speaker. He is the Co-Founder and Editorial Director of Gordon de Vries Studio, Multimedia Publishing Imprint, a contributing editor for the Architecture/Design section of The Wall Street Journal Magazine, the Founder and Director of “Wall to Wall” – an interactive website and blog about the built environment – and the Presidential Counselor of the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. He has also worked as a contributing editor for The New York Times, House & Garden, and Atelier Magazine.

Mr. Gordon has exhibited his own artwork at institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, The Aidekman Arts Center at Tufts University, and the Wolfsonian-FIU, and has curated exhibitions at the SCAD Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, Princeton University, and the National AIA Museum in Washington, D.C. He is known for his highly-praised literature, such as Spaced Out: Radical Environments of the Psychedelic Sixties and Naked Airport: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Revolutionary Structure. Mr. Gordon has lectured about architecture/design and the arts at Columbia University, the AIA Convention, the Museum of Modern Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Throughout the 2014-2015 academic year at FIU, Mr. Gordon will host six master classes, all of which will involve special guest lecturers.

“I am thrilled to be joining the CARTA community and working with students and faculty over the coming year as a Dean’s Distinguished Fellow,” said Mr. Gordon. “The process of discovery is at the very heart of any authentic learning experience and I plan to share my own experiences and moments of discovery in a forthright and personal way . . . Miami continues to emerge as a fascinating urban laboratory/cultural melting pot, and FIU is playing a crucial role in the city’s transformation. I look forward to taking part in such an exciting experiment!”

RZ Self Portrait Miami May 29 2013 lpsRobert Zuckerman is a photographer in the motion picture industry and a public speaker. He is called “Picasso” by Will Smith, “The Master” by Jerry Bruckheimer, and “the best photographer I have ever worked with” by Arnold Schwarzenegger. His images have been used for the promotional campaigns of films such as Training Day, Terminator 3, and Transformers and television series such as The Shield, Rescue Me, Nip/Tuck, and American Horror Story. He has done album cover and movie poster photography for Will Smith and was invited to be the personal photographer for the family of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz. Mr. Zuckerman has also photographed campaigns for United Way and City of Hope, was a co-producer for the award-winning documentary Video From Russia: The People Speak (1984, directed by Dimitri Devyatkin), and was the director and producer of the New York City portion of the official “Hands Across America” video (1986).

Mr. Zuckerman is also known for his book Kindsight® (Kindsight Press, LLC), which is a collection of photographs and accompanying texts recording the richness of everyday experiences, showing “the extraordinary within the ordinary.” The book includes laudatory texts by, among others, Will Smith, Debra Winger, poet Michael Lally, and novelist Elaine Kagan. It is currently on the PEN American Center’s “Best Book Read This Year” list. Since the publication of Kindsight®, Mr. Zuckerman has spoken to student and youth groups across the country, teaching them how to integrate photography with writing to show the extraordinary in everyday life.  He has spoken at Authors@Google, been featured in a PBS story about him, and was a panelist at the KidsRisk Symposium at the Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, speaking on empowering youth through positive media modalities.

“For me, [doing] photography as much as possible has become an integration of life and craft,” said Mr. Zuckerman. “Through it, I am able to give value to people’s lives and derive value in my own life, beyond making a living.” In regards to his appointment as a Dean’s Distinguished Fellow at CARTA, he said, “One of my primary goals is to inspire and empower students, and connecting them with leaders in relevant professional fields creates bridges of possibility and accessibility.”

Throughout the 2014-2015 academic year at FIU, Robert Zuckerman will participate in a virtual exhibition, which will be an online publication of images with short essays that document his experience at CARTA. He will also host ten master classes, some of which will involve special guest lecturers.

This article was written with the help of Michelle Vires, Marketing Coordinator of the FIU School of Music.

Follow the FIU College of Architecture + The Arts on Facebook and Twitter.

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FIU Theatre Faculty Designs Set for Off-Broadway Production

It was an eventful summer for the Theatre Department’s Head of Design and Production, Jesse Dreikosen. He co-authored a two-part article, entitled “Feng Shui Me: Free Yourself from Clutter-Part 1,” which was published in the September issue of Sightlines, the monthly newsletter for United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) members (Jesse is the Vice Commissioner for Education at USITT’s Scene Design & Technologies Commission). The article explores the rewards of incorporating feng shui into one’s workspace and/or life, and suggests techniques on how to do so. This was a topic of much discussion at the USITT 2014 Annual Conference and Stage Expo, held earlier this year in Fort Worth, Texas. Look out for part 2 in next month’s edition of Sightlines.
Additionally, Jesse was tapped by Peggy McKowen, Associate Producing Director of the Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF), to design the set for their world premiere show Uncanny Valley, written by Thomas Gibbons and directed by Tom Dugdale. The show originally opened in West Virginia and is currently transferring to New York City Off-Broadway and opening at 59E59 Theaters this October. This was Jesse’s first major project for CATF and the opportunity came as a result of having his past work at the Texas Shakespeare Festival noticed by McKowen. The set took him approximately six months to design and complete, and he was required to work closely with a technical director and the different teams/crews responsible for building the scene.  The project involved the gradual unveiling a robot (first appearing as a talking head, then a torso, followed by limbs), all within the constraints of a desk, while on-stage.  Working for CATF proved to be a challenging yet rewarding learning experience, and the ability to create such an illusion in a small space, while being close to the audience, required a great deal of imagination and talent from Jesse. Luckily, he has an abundance of those qualities!

For Jesse’s article, “Feng Shui Me: Free Yourself from Clutter-Part 1,” click here

To learn more about the Contemporary American Theater Festival, click here

For more information about Uncanny Valley, click here


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FIU Theatre Presents Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband,” Directed by Phillip M. Church

FIU Theatre’s production of Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband,” directed by Phillip M. Church, opens on Friday, September 26.  The play revolves around a high ranking politician with a checkered past, whose secrets are exposed by an ambitious woman seeking personal gain and status.  This psychological thriller, set in Victorian London, encompasses dance, music, comedy and drama.

A a man who lived a dualistic life, married with children while besotted by the angelic innocence of the young Lord Alfred Douglas, Oscar Wilde harbored his share of secrets, and as is common with many of his works, personal threads of Wilde’s life are liberally woven into the play.  The Department of Theatre invites you to come out and enjoy this psychological, literary commentary on late 19th century British social behavior while supporting the arts.

Performance Dates: September 26-28 & October 1-5

Location: Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center | Main Stage Theatre
10910 SW 17th St., Miami, Fl 33199

$10 FIU Students
$12 Seniors + FIU Faculty and Staff (with ID)
$15 General Admission
Available at wpac.fiu.edu or call 305-348-0496

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Meet & Greet Session for the Leadership Staff of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Department of Theatre, and School of Music Continues Dynamic CARTA Public/Private Partnership

On September 12, 2014, Brian Schriner, Dean, College of Architecture + The Arts, hosted a Meet and Greet session for the leadership staff of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) to meet the faculty and staff of FIU’s Department of Theatre and School of Music. It was a fortuitous opportunity for everyone who will be involved in the state-of-the-art production, rehearsal and performance facility, currently under construction at the picturesque Biscayne Bay Campus, to meet and learn more about what this endeavor means to both institutions.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has a fleet of 21 cruise ships, housing approximately 30 million passengers each year. To keep everyone happy and entertained, they offer Tony Award winning, fully licensed Broadway productions, Las Vegas style performances, and ice and aqua spectaculars. Live auditions are held in over 60 locations worldwide where only the best performers are handpicked for their guests’ pleasure. Currently, rehearsals are being held at a 35,000 square foot building in Hollywood, Florida, but there has been a need for a greater space to accommodate the training for some time. The completion of this $20 million dollar, 130,000 square foot facility on the Biscayne Bay Campus will certainly resolve that issue.  There will be 14 vocal rehearsal studios, a 20,000 square foot costume storage and production workspace and a 300-seat Black Box Theatre, where auditions will be held. Additionally, there are plans to renovate the Bay Vista Residence Hall on campus to provide housing while performers are in rehearsals.

FIU is particularly thrilled about this venture because  it is a vital part of CARTA 2020 to establish partnerships that include of training, research and internship opportunities. It will also provide students with unparalleled experience and value to the community. Both parties intend to collaborate on a custom curriculum that will be beneficial to students and performers alike, with ship tours planned for select students, master classes in design, and mock-auditions for students to get feedback from working professionals in preparation for job readiness and career placement. In addition, faculty members will be able to participate in enrichment lectures if they choose to do so.

According to Dean Brian Schriner, “as part of our CARTA 2020 vision, we will continue to create dynamic public/private partnerships like this that are multifaceted and mutually beneficial.”

Overall, the session was well attended and most informative. We are all looking forward to January 12, 2015, which is the expected first day of rehearsal in the new facility, and to a successful, continuing partnership.

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Theatre Student Participates in Goodspeed’s Musical Theatre Dance Intensive

Undergraduate theatre major Pia Vicioso-Vila always dreamed of doing musical theatre, so she was thrilled when she found a flyer for the Goodspeed Musical Institute posted on a bulletin board in the Theatre Department. After doing some research and careful consideration, Pia decided to register for their week-long Musical Theatre Dance Intensive being offered in East Haddam, Connecticut, a program “designed as a musical theatre boot camp for college age performers and young professionals.”  She was one of ten students from the entire United States to attend this prestigious workshop. Their days were spent mastering different styles of dance (such as ballet, jazz, swing, and waltz), acting, doing voice work, and attending Q & A sessions with renowned industry professionals, where they networked with aspiring actors, dancers and singers. The workshop culminated with a mock audition in front of actual New York casting directors, producers and choreographers.

Pia was honored to have met and worked with Broadway director, choreographer and performer Randy Skinner, probably most well-known for his choreography of 42 Street, which received a Tony nomination.  Additionally, Mr. Skinner choreographed the opening number for the 2001 Tony Awards. Pia also worked with Kelli Barclay, who, coincidentally, was mentored by Randy Skinner and has performed in works such as Singin’ in the Rain with Peter Gennaro, Cabaret with George Chakris, and many more.  Pia was deeply grateful for the constructive advice she received from the talented professionals she was fortuitous enough to meet.

It is Pia’s hope to work on a cruise ship after she graduates in spring 2015 in order to gain some experience in the field, and we wish her the best in her endeavors.

For more information about Goodspeed Musical Theatre Institute, click here.

To find out about the Musical Theatre Dance Intensive and other workshops offered by the Institute, click here.

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Alumni Spotlight Victoria Collado

Victoria Collado (Class of ’12) never imagined that she would be in New York City directing for a theatre house like Repertorio Español, but that is exactly what this BFA performance alumna is currently doing. When Victoria graduated two years ago, she chose to stay in Miami where she wrote, directed and performed for Micro Theatre Miami, collaborated with fellow graduates Melissa Ann Hubicsak and Michelle Antelo at The JQ Studio and worked for ArtSpoken Performing Arts Center in Little Havana.  Then, in 2013, Victoria decided to enter the New York International Fringe Festival (described as “the largest multi-arts festival in North America, with more than 200 companies from all over the world performing for 16 days in more than 20 venues”).  She hoped that her show about famous Cuban singer La Lupe would be selected. While it unfortunately was not, she was offered a job as venue manager for the festival!  The employment brought her to New York for two months, after which she received an internship with the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where she had the advantage of being exposed to many companies and opportunities.  Taking the advice of her former professor Michael Yawney, she applied to the Repertorio Español, an Hispanic-based company founded in 1968 whose mission is to use distinctive, quality productions to introduce the best of Latin American, Spanish and Hispanic-American theatre to broad audiences in New York City and across the country, most especially to seniors and students of all ethnic backgrounds.

For all her hard work and perseverance Vicky was recently awarded a prestigious Van Lier Young Director’s Fellowship. The Van Lier Young Director’s Fellowship was designed with the intention of nurturing the talent of emerging Hispanic directors in New York City.  Winners direct two performances, one contemporary and one from Spain’s “golden age,” over two summers.  The Fellowship is a fortuitous opportunity for individuals to gain experience, network with working professionals in the field and develop a palate for the diversity which makes up the Latin community on the east coast.  She just finished directing her first show, El Cruce Sobre el Niagara, a contemporary piece, which received generous reviews in the Spanish community, and is about to begin doing research for the second show, which will open in 2015. Through the winning of this award Vicky has proved that perseverance and determination really do get rewarded.

Like many of our students, Victoria attributes a great deal of her success to the foundation she was given at FIU, saying that “the job that brought me to New York was not the job I was looking for, but when the opportunity presented itself, I realized that FIU taught me more than simply how to be an actor.  I took design classes, I learned how to operate the light board, I worked as a stage hand and a stage manager AND I was taught how to be a performer at FIU.  I got a complete education, which prepared me for a future in theater.”  She is particularly thankful to faculty member Michael Yawney for his continued advice and encouragement.

Victoria has also connected with a group FIU Theatre alumni residing in New York, and together they have formed a multimedia production company called 3TO5.  “The company is 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.”  When she is not working at her regular job, she is busy collaborating with her former classmates on a variety of projects such as short films and web series.

When asked if she had any advice for current theatre students, she had this to say, “Another person’s journey is not your destiny, so go at your own pace and don’t give up, even when you feel discouraged.  Try to make your own work whenever possible.”

The Theatre Department wishes Victoria continued success as she pursues her dreams.

To learn more about the Repertorio Español, click here

To learn more about 3TO5, click here

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Farewell to our Department Chairperson, Marilyn Skow

In today’s workforce, it is extremely unusual for someone to work in the same place for as long as 32 years, but that is just what our departing Chairperson has done.  The Theatre Department wishes our rare gem, Marilyn, a very Happy Retirement.  Her contributions to the Department have been great, and everyone is sad to see her leave after her 32 year tenure.

Upon receiving her BA from the University of Northern Iowa (Class of ’67), Marilyn taught high school in a special pilot program in McHenry, Illinois for five years, after which, she left to work on a Master’s degree at Schiller College in Berlin, Germany, where she earned an MA (Class of ’74) in Theatre Arts.  Upon her return to the States she spent a year as the resident costume designer at the Regent Theatre in Syracuse, NY, before accepting a position at Vassar College where she worked for five years as a professional staff designer and costumer in the Theatre Department.  She continued her education at Columbia University, earning an M.Ph. (Class of ’80).  During her time in New York City she taught classes at Columbia College, Barnard College and the University of Pennsylvania.  She also worked as a freelance designer, creating costumes for two professional dance companies in the city, the Omega Company (Carla DeSola, Artistic Director) and the New York Baroque Dance Company (Catherine Turocy, Artistic Director).  She also worked as a draper in the costume shop of the New York Shakespeare Festival, working with world class designers such as Rubin Teratunion and Santo LoQuasto and dressing such stars as Meryl Streep and Sam Waterston.  In 1982, Marilyn joined the FIU family as a visiting Assistant Professor.  After receiving tenure and promotion to Associate Professor she served as the Department of Theatre and Dance Chairperson (1989 to 1991).  This is her second term as Chairperson to the department (2010 – present).  Among her many other accomplishments at FIU, she served as the Chairperson of the College of Arts & Sciences Curriculum for several years.

During her time at FIU Marilyn has continued to design professionally, earning a Carbonell nomination for her costumes for the South Florida Shakespeare Festival’s productions of Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, as well as designing costumes for Momentum Dance Company (Delma Iles, Artistic Director) since 1986, and Dance Now! Miami (Hannah Baumgarten and Diego Salterini, Artistic Directors) since 2008, along with several other organizations over the years.

Marilyn is well respected by her colleagues and staff and loved by her students.  It is common knowledge that she expects and demands a lot from staff and students alike.  She accepts nothing but the best from those around her.  As a result of these expectations, everyone puts tremendous effort into their work and strives to perfect their productions, assignments, costumes etc.

Brian Schriner, Dean of the College of Architecture + The Arts, appreciates his dear friend’s tireless devotion to FIU and the Department of Theatre’s students and faculty.  He has great respect for her vision, leadership and management.  He notes that Marilyn was instrumental in the creation of partnerships with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Gables Stage and Coconut Grove Playhouse.

Ivan Lopez (Class of ’04) admits that he knew nothing about theatre when he decided to take a Modern Dramatic Literature class with Marilyn.  Not only did that class make him fall in love with theatre, but he is currently teaching said class as an adjunct professor in the Theatre Department.  He was particularly inspired by her dialogical pedagoge, which portrayed her own love for the theatre, and accredits his career choice to her. “I have a great relationship with her and will always consider her more than my boss.  I am grateful to her for giving me this opportunity and I feel very blessed and fortunate that she has trusted me to teach this particular class.”

Charles Sothers, Theatre Arts and Program Director of the Roxy Theatre Group, has known Marilyn since 1996.  As her student, he recalls she always expected the best quality work from her students.  “Marilyn instills fear in her students.  We are not as afraid of her personality as we are of disappointing her, because she is like a mother figure.”  At the Roxy Theatre, he finds himself referencing her when he has to make a decision, “Is this Marilyn Approved?”  Both Charlie and his wife Ana credit the structure and standards they have at the Roxy to the foundation they got from FIU, and Marilyn.

Marina Pareja (Class of ’98) has known Marilyn for almost 18 years.  Marilyn was her professor, mentor, boss and friend.  They have a great working relationship because Marina can almost anticipate what Marilyn needs before she asks.  This ‘telepathic’ connection allows her to always be prepared.  She views Marilyn’s departure as bittersweet, “Knowing that she was always close by if I needed help or advice has always been comforting, but she has paid her dues and deserves this.  Although I am sad to see her leave, Marilyn has worked very hard to help the department evolve into what it is today and I wish her the best.”

Paulette Rivera, the department’s Fiscal Assistant and Marianna Murray, the Office Manager both work closely with Marilyn on a daily basis.  They consider her to be a fair and compassionate supervisor.  Paulette will miss driving Marilyn around in the golf cart.  On those short drives around campus, they got to know each other on a personal level.  Marianna will miss their ‘special lunches,’ where they got away from the office and had the opportunity to talk about things unrelated to work.

There is no doubt that Marilyn has touched many lives and her presence will be missed.  “Farewell Marilyn. We all wish you a stress-free retirement, full of happiness.”

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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.

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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:




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

Alex Machado (BFA Performance)







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

Patricia Morales (BA)




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

Samantha Llanes (BFA Scenic Design)








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

David Neale (BA)






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

Amber Benson (BFA Performance)








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).


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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.


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



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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