Festival Playhouse Newsletter- Week 1 FA’20

Dear Most Wonderful, Intrepid, and Creative Explorer,

Welcome to Week One Festival Playhouse newsletter!!

We PROMISE they are not all this long, and, we “share the wealth” amongst our theatre colleagues during the term so that you have an opportunity to hear each of our “voices” during the term.

First things first:  WELCOME BACK and WELCOME TO “K”!!!  We REALLY mean that.

And, onto the news:How to get off this list:  Anyone who is reading this and does not want to be on this weekly Festival email, please email Theatre Arts Coordinator and our Company Manager Laura.Livingstone-McNelis@kzoo.edu and we will get you off the list as soon as we can…. Likewise, if you know of student(s) who have interest in the arts and theatre and they are not on the list, encourage them to “sign on” by contacting Laura and adding their name to the list.

While we are sad we can not meet in person in the Playhouse (we WILL have a pizza party and tea with Nelda again!), and we are ALWAYS looking forward to hearing about what everyone has been up to…. That’s a bit more challenging in a distance environment, and, as you are able and have inclination, please share with any theatre staff what has been “going on” with you – we really DO want to know.  We may be a dysfunctional family, but, we DO consider ourselves a great arts family.  Let’s remember that and stay connected.

Remember WHY we do theatre…. I know that it’s different for everyone, and, I can not think of a BETTER and more important time than being able to say we are DOING theatre.  Theatre CAN and DOES make the world a better place – whether that is through disturbing content, enlightening stories, or enthralling productions – there is nothing more important than sharing content through a story.  Remember that last Spring – we WROTE a play.  And, this fall, we are PRODUCING TWO PLAYS.  

Speaking of play productions – congrats to the cast and crew of Kokoro and “K”.  We will be finalizing production assignments for fall productions by next Tuesday, and, we look forward to producing some great work.  We have partnered with Cody Colvin k’18, of Colvin Theatrical in Grand Rapids to be our producing partner this fall and assist with our online streaming content.

Here’s a bit about the theatre arts department:

  • Ren Berthel.  (All Performance classes and Chair of the Dept). See Karen about academic type issues, like theatres arts courses and/or credits.  Co-Founder of the Queens Company in NYC (the all female company devoted to classical theatre, which she co-founded http://queenscompany.org/ ), Ren has served as a Posse Advisor and is brilliant in her work with performers.
  • Lanny Potts. (All Design classes and Director of Theatre). See Lanny about all production issues such as budget or production policies. Lanny serves on the board at Farmers Alley Theatre, has received multiple Wilde awards for “best lighting design” in Michigan, and enjoys outdoor activities.   
  • “C” Heaps.  (Directing/Theatre History/Playwrighting).  See visiting professor “C” about dramaturgy, participating on our Play Selection Advisory Committee, and how you can be involved as a playwright in the community.  “C” has multiple credits as a professional dramaturg internationally.
  • Jon Reeves.  (Director of Technical Theatre for Festival Playhouse and Dalton Theatre).  See Jon about all crews and technical theatre issues as well as student work in our sound, lighting, props, scenic shops and staffing for Dalton Theatre.  Jon was the first design/technical theatre person to ever receive the Kalamazoo Community Medal of Arts Award – the areas’ most prestigious award for regional artists.  (Who was the FIRST recipient?  Nelda K. Balch).
  • Laura Livingstone-McNelis (Company Manager and Theatre Administrator).  See Laura about Work Study administration, booking spaces in the dept, and basically running the entire show. Laura is a writer, a performer, a community activist, author of a master’s thesis, proud alumna of Kalamazoo College, and even prouder mother of two.
  • Lori Sands.  (Guest Artist, Costume Designer, and Costume Shop Manager).  See Lori about all things costume, wig, hair, makeup, and costume shop.  Lori is a fantastic artist and designer/scholar who creates, or works with students to create, our visual costumes for our productions.  She has more “Mickey Mouse” ears that she has created for wardrobe or events, than the Disney store.
  • Emilio Rodriguez.  (Guest Artist, Faculty, and Director).  Emilio is founder and Artistic Director of the Black and Brown Theatre Company in Detroit, Michigan http://www.blackandbrowntheatre.org.  Emilio (along with Jens Rasmussen of The Bechdel Project, and “C” Heaps) worked with students this past spring to develop our devised theatre project we are producing THIS FALL, “K,” which he will be directing.  Lucky you if you are able to catch a theatre class this year with Emilio!
  • Bianca Washington.  (Guest Artist, Director).  Local artist, educator, and a founding member of Face Off Theatre Company https://www.kalamazooarts.org/organization/face-off-theatre/ Bianca will be directing Water by the Spoonful!.  We can’t wait!

PSAC.  A reminder that we NEED student volunteers for PSAC – our Play Selection Advisory Committee.  Interested?  Please contact C.Heaps@kzoo.edu to be added to our Teams site.

Here’s something cool – thanks to Rebecca Chan for sharing: “there is a new scholarship called the Cody Renard Richard Scholarship Program​, and it’s specifically for BIPOC students pursuing degrees in theatre management, theatre design, and other non-acting concentrations.   If you ARE a member of Festival Playhouse, you are “getting” a “degree” in theatre management, theatre design, and “non-acting” areas.  I suspect we have many BIPOC students who would be great candidates.  Check out the materials, and then contact Lanny if interested.

Let me end by simply sharing something which I firmly believe – there is NO ONE better equipped for problem-solving than people who are engaged in the creative arts.  No.  One.  It is what we do, every day, every play, every rehearsal, and every tech.  We problem SOLVE.  So.  Don’t give in, give up, or give away your creative spirit and love for the arts.  

The world needs you.

Welcome back.

Lanny and the entire Theatre Arts Team

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