Festival Playhouse Newsletter- Week 1 FA’21

Dear Most Wonderful, Intrepid, Creative Explorer and Friend of Festival Playhouse..

Welcome to Week One Festival Playhouse newsletter!!eland

We PROMISE they are not all this long, and, we “share the wealth” amongst our department colleagues during the term so that you have an opportunity to hear each of our “voices.”   Meaning – while we don’t always send a “weekly” email every week – when we do, various members of the department will be creating.

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

And, onto the news:

  1. 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.
  2. We are so thankful to have been able to successfully produce a full season of “in-person” and “livestream” theatre this past academic year.  And, we are thrilled to be able to do so again this year.  Of our many challenges, one will be to not only reengage with theatre and with one another, but to also understand what it means to do theatre AT “K.”  We have a very long history of doing “theatre which is always thoughtful, theatre which is always provocative” and also doing that work in a thoughtful, relational way.  Remember, it isn’t just the work that we do, but most importantly, it is the way in which we do that work.  I’m excited for the opportunity to reconnect with our students in the classroom and production environment, and to relearn how to be a great theatre arts family.
  3. 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, enthralling productions – there is nothing more important than sharing content through a story.  Remember that during the first Spring of COVID we wrote and devised a play, and last fall, we produced it.  That play, “K” and our play production of Kokoro, were magic to my heart.  And guess what, this fall, we are PRODUCING TWO PLAYS.  We have once again partnered with Cody Colvin k’18, of Colvin Theatrical in Grand Rapids (more on Cody here) to be our producing partner this year and assist with our online streaming content.  We will be requiring all in-person audience members to have proof of vaccine, wear a mask, and we will once again implement all Actors Equity COVID Safety Compliance procedures.
  4. With regards to our two play productions:  Kudos and Congrats! to company members of Unzipped and Well Intentioned White People.  We will notify production crew and staff of their participation roles Monday via email, and please note there will be an ALL COMPANY meeting for all members of both productions Wednesdsay, September 22, at 6:30pm.   If you submitted a production application, YOU ARE ON THE TEAM.  We look forward to producing some great work this fall term.
  5. We still have need of production staff!!  If you have turned in a production application – please assume that YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING for the theatre department this fall.  And, if you are NOT involved in working on one of our productions – WE NEED YOU.  It’s still not too late to participate by either 1) completing a paper production application (found by the mailbox area by the main theatre office (all the way to the end of the ramped hallway); or, 2) completing an electronic application, found here:  Production Application
  6. And, here’s a bit about the theatre arts department:
    • A bit of background on Festival Playhouse:  https://festivalplayhouse.kzoo.edu/about-us/
    • A bit of background on the 12 active producing theatres in Kalamazoo!  https://www.theatrekalamazoo.com
    • Ren Pruis.  (All Performance classes and Chair of the Dept). As department chair, see Ren 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, is currently Senior Class Dean, and is brilliant in her work with performers.
    • Lanny Potts. (All Design classes, Senior Seminar, and Artistic Director of Festival Playhouse Theatre). See Lanny about all production issues such as budget, production opportunities, or independent studies in technology, production, and design. Lanny serves on the board at Farmers Alley Theatre, have received numerous awards for his design work, and enjoys outdoor activities like Ultimate Frisbee and triathlons, and indoor activities like cooking and reading.
    • Dr. Quincy Thomas.  (Directing/Theatre History/Playwrighting).  See Dr. Thomas about dramaturgy, participating on our Play Selection Advisory Committee (PSAC), and how you can be involved as a playwright in the community.  Dr. Thomas has multiple professional credits, some super cool research interests, and is a new colleague!  Make sure you stop by and say hello!  Welcome Quincy!!
    • 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 operates a blacksmith studio in the Park Trades building teaching Damascus steel knife making (a “billet” knife) as well as many team-building classes (including multiple Stryker executives) and has offered more the 500 clients classes since January.  He is a master of many things.  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.  (Resident 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.
    • Katherine Harte-Decoux.  Katherine is an adjunct Theatre professor and has been a Teaching Artist, and worked in NYC for fifteen years as actor, director, educator, stage combatant, playwright, producer, and monologue coach; she also founded her own company, Mortal Folly Theatre, and earned her MFA in Directing Theater from Brooklyn College. Since returning to Kzoo, she has worked with Bare Backstage Productions and Great Escape Stage Company, appeared as the infamous dread queen in Macbeth and is a new colleague to the department.  Stop by and say “hi.”  Welcome Kate!
    • Rebecca Chan.  Currently writing, performing, and producing Unzipped as part of our SPS series, Rebecca is our Departmental Student Advisor (DSA) and knows just about everything about the theatre department!
  7. PSAC.  A reminder that we NEED student volunteers for PSAC – our Play Selection Advisory Committee.  Interested?  Please contact Dr. Thomas Quincy.Thomas@kzoo.edu.  PSAC will meet on even weeks (2, 4, 6, 8, 10) at 4:30pm, in the Dalton Seminar Library.  Expect amazingly bad snacks and brilliantly engaging conversation.
  8. 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.
  9. And another something cool – are you a creative?  Then, this might be for you:  https://airtable.com/shriWbqbkZOFyXSTn

So,  I PROMISE they are not all this long.  

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.

From Lanny and the entire Theatre Arts Team…

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