Thank you Dr. “C”!

After working here for three years, Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Dr. “C” Heaps will be leaving Kalamazoo College. Thank you “C” for all you’ve taught us and contributed to our community!

In addition to teaching the only directing course and the only playwriting course at K, “C” developed a new sophomore seminar called Live Media Virtual Performance and taught many theatre history courses including Asian Theatre, Theatre of Illusionism, and Theatre of Revolt.

I’ve really appreciated “C”‘s passion during lectures, and willingness to let students take projects wherever they desire. I especially am indebted to them for pushing me out of my comfort range at the end of last year during Theatre of Revolt, and of course for their guidance on my SIP.​ Their deep well of knowledge will be missed!

Lukia Artemakis ’21

During their three years at K, “C” not only taught several courses, but also directed two productions, The Spitfire Grill and The Compass, and advised the Play Selection Advisory Council. “C” encouraged students to use resources like New Play Exchange, which allowed students to learn about lesser-known plays and support working playwrights.

I had the pleasure of being taught by “C” three times within the past two years. They played a huge part in my transition to college. They have always been helpful, fun and insightful. What I loved about “C” was that they taught things beyond the generic. My mind has expanded more and my perspective have grown because of what “C” had encouraged in the classroom and outside of the class.  And I wanna thank them for being the faculty that have been the voice of the students, especially in PSAC. I always felt comfortable and heard in the presence of Dr. ‘C’ Heaps. They will be truly missed.

Milan Levy ’23

“C” received a PhD in Theatre History, Theory, and Literature from Indiana University. Their thorough and interdisciplinary knowledge of theatre history, translation, dramaturgy, and esports brought a new and enriching perspective to the classroom.

“C” taught me a lot about non-Western theatre, which is a subject that maybe one other theatre educator in my life has ever taught me about. I enjoyed learning about their work in Brazil translating and directing plays, and have always appreciated their support in my pursuit of theatre work that decenters Whiteness and Western-ness.

Ynika Yuag ’21

Thank you for everything “C”! We appreciate all you gave to this community, and we hope we were able to give back to you. Good luck as you continue your career. We’ll be cheering you on from the wings!

“C”, it was really fantastic being a part of your classes as well as having the privilege of being directed by you during your time at K. I learned a lot and really felt my confidence grow – thanks for being such a great professor!

Sedona Coleman ’23

Festival Playhouse Newsletter- Week 10 SP’21

It’s Week 10 and our last week of the school year, if I can get a little sappy over here about 2 things:

First, Congratulations Theatre Seniors! Of course every senior class is special, but I was hired in 2017 so this is the first class I’ve watched go from little wide-eyed freshman to full fledged adults ready to take on the world. I personally am SO PROUD of each and every one of you and on behalf of the department we wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

Second, we have an amazing Prof that we need to lift up with the biggest “Thank YOU!” I’m talking about C Heaps. Not only did they take the daunting task to step into some of the biggest shoes left empty after the retirement of Ed Menta, but they did it in such a warm, thoughtful and collaborative way. C has dedicated much time and commitment to the department and this is their last quarter here. If you have taken a class, served on a committee, or been directed by C at some point in the last 3 years, please send them an email or note of thanks and wish them well. THANK YOU C!

Whoa….déjà vu? Yes, you heard this in week 9, it’s a repeat- so nice it needs to be heard twice. Put down the finals flash cards and soak up a little sun and art.​
On Friday (that’s tonight!), June 4 6-8pm Art Hop happening in downtown Kalamazoo. There’s so much to see and do during Art Hop they developed an app. Download the Kalamazoo Art Hop app on your smartphone to get the full schedule or go to:​. May I recommend a stop by our own, Jon Reeves at the Parks Trades Center to see his blacksmith talents in person?June 4 and 5 is also Art on the Mall in downtown Kalamazoo, over 35 local and regional artistic booths to wander and shop and live performances as well. For more details go here:

Well, that’s the last of 2020-2021 year’s newsletters. You are probably already thinking Summer thoughts. This is a reminder from your Prof to read over the break. May I recommend the entire Brother/Sister triptych of plays by Terrell Alvin McCraney? We will be producing Marcus, Or the Secret of Sweet next Spring and it would be great to have all that background info sitting in your head in time for auditions. I’ve got the McCraney plays on my list for sure but first, I think I’m going to finally get to a book I’ve had that’s just utter fluff. Seriously, I don’t remember the title, but it’s about…idk, romance on the Oregon Trail. All I know is some locked legs are sticking out of a covered wagon on the cover, and that feels about right for a beach read.

P.S. You also have my permission to read some utter fluff just for the fun of it.

Have a wonderful Summer everyone, see you next Fall!

Professor Lori Sands

Festival Playhouse Newsletter- Week 9 SP’21

Are you thinking about the end of the school year yet? Wrap up those papers and finish up those projects- you’re in the home stretch because it’s the end of WEEK 9 y’all!

Before we get down to all the amazing things happening this weekend and upcoming week, I want to give a big warm hearty CONGRATULATIONS to the cast and crew of Water by the Spoonful led by guest director, Bianca Washington who wrapped up their beautiful and emotionally powerful show this past weekend. It was a delight to see this Pulitzer Prize winning work brought to life onstage.

Graphic Design team met this week to work on poster designs for next seasons shows and I can’t wait to see the new artwork by our talented team: Chris Diaz ’21, Angela Mammel ’22, and Jorence Quiambao ’21!

Upcoming Events: 

Thursday, June 3 at 12:10pm, the Directing class is showcasing their work. Performances will be in the courtyard in front of the Playhouse. In the case of inclement weather, it will move into the Dungeon.

​More theatre going on, just down the road. Western Michigan University is doing outdoor performances of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee this weekend and A Midsummer Night’s Dream next weekend at the Richmond Center for Visual Arts Miller Fountain Plaza. More info here:

So much local art happening, set your calendars for June 4 &5! 

On Friday, June 4 6-8pm Art Hop happening in downtown Kalamazoo. There’s so much to see and do during Art Hop they developed an app. Download the Kalamazoo Art Hop app on your smartphone to get the full schedule or go to:​. May I recommend a stop by our own, Jon Reeves at the Parks Trades Center to see his blacksmith talents in person?

June 4 and 5 is also Art on the Mall in downtown Kalamazoo, over 35 local and regional artistic booths to wander and shop and live performances as well. For more details go here:

Everyone enjoy this last (upcoming week) week of classes before finals and the end of the school year!

Professor Lori Sands

Festival Playhouse Newsletter- Week 7 SP’21

Hello everybody and welcome to the end of Week 7!

We’re so excited for Water By the Spoonful coming up next week and speaking of Water By the Spoonful we still need ushers for this production; please contact Daniel Whitcomb, House Manager, at

As we’re thinking about our next show, we’d like to mention our ACTF nominees from last quarter’s The Compass. Emma Fergusson ‘22 and Matthew Swarthout ‘22 both received the Irene Ryan nomination for their lawyerly performances. In addition, Sam Ewald ‘24 was nominated for a Certificate in Stage Management and Angela Mammel ‘22 for a Certificate in Scenic Design for her work on the projections. Overall, our respondent thoroughly enjoyed the show and hopes we continue to make great theatre.

This weekend, Saturday, May 15th, at 7pm, K’s Monkapult and the Jazz Band will be performing as the opening acts for comedian Josh Johnson on the Quad. Only students can watch in-person, but streaming is available to faculty and staff. Registration is available here.

The Graphic Design Team for next season’s shows met this week! Thanks to Angela Mammel ’22 Chris Diaz ’21, and Jorence Quiambao ’21 for continuing this wonderful work for our department!

Rebecca Chan ’22 was asked to produce a track for a recording artist named Mt. Etna. No release date yet, but the track is done and we can’t wait to hear it!

The Arts Council is looking for volunteers to assist at Art on the Mall on June 4 & 5! Art on the Mall is a two-day, outdoor Arts Festival in conjunction with Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership’s JumpstART weekend. Volunteers can help with event set-up, clean-up, traffic monitoring, assisting artists, and more. Year after year, returning volunteers say that this is one of their favorite events of the summer! 

They are also looking for volunteers for Art Hop on the first Friday of every month. Volunteer roles for Art Hop include helping with set-up and clean-up, greeting guests, assisting artists, and more. This is a great opportunity to get those volunteer hours in and have some fun! 

That’s all for this week. See you next week at Water By the Spoonful. Get your tickets!

Festival Playhouse Newsletter- Week 6 SP’21

Internships available!
Check out Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, MI: as well as Meadow Brook Theatre, MI.
Stop by and check out the postings on the bulletin boards near the main office for more information and ideas!

Art Hop tonight!-Friday, May 7. Enjoy a walk downtown to the different galleries. Jon’s studio, Combat Ready Art, is in the Park Trades Building.

Monkapult–Sat., May 15—outdoors! Stay tuned for more details!

Water by the Spoonful tickets: There are only a small number/night, so don’t miss the chance to see live theatre in person! Streaming options are also available. Please spread the word to your family and friends—and faculty! Check out our website for more info.

Ushers needed for Water by the Spoonful: To do our play, we need ushers! It’s a fun job with small time commitment! Please contact House Manager Daniel Whitcomb ’21 for more information.

Great music—live with the band, Blueback! Mark the dates for two gigs so far this summer. Please come if you can:
a.     Wednesday July 7, 2021 5:30pm-8:30pm: Beats on Bates in downtown Kalamazoo.

b.     Saturday July 17, 2021 6pm-9pm: Bourbon, BBQ, and Blues in Coloma -Mountain Road Estate Vineyard in Coloma, MI (more info on this as it becomes available)

More info. here.

Video footage needed: If you’ve got short clips you are able to share, we’d love to have some candids on our website! We also have been invited to submit videos to Theatre Kalamazoo (aka, TK!) for inclusion in two different professional videos we’re working on, so don’t miss this chance to celebrate what we do here in theatre at K. Send to with subject line, “VIDEO” by Wed., May 12.

Current students’ plans this summer (PLEASE SEND YOUR UPDATES to the TAO Staff too at, subject line, “UPDATE”):

Angela Mammel ’22: I’ll be working at the Ghostlight Theatre in Benton Harbor as the Scenic Design Intern for their second-ever season! I’ll also be helping with administrative duties during my internship, as well as filling various crew positions as needed throughout the three shows they’re doing that line up with K’s summer break (The Light in the PiazzaGuess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, and Much Ado About Nothing). 

Teyia Artis’21 has been hired to be the production manager for FaceOff Theatre Company (which, by the way, was co-founded by Bianca Washington!) and Ynika Yuag ’21 has also been hired as a director! 

Milan Levy ’23 will return to NYC to continue working for the Lee Strasberg Institute this summer before heading off for study abroad in Australia next winter/spring.​

Congratulations to you all!!!

Green Room and Seminar Library makeovers: Did you know we are updating these two special places? Check them out when you’re in the building…it’s exciting to see what is happening here! Thanks to Teyia, Ellie and Angela for spearheading these efforts!

That’s it for now—have a great weekend!

Festival Playhouse Newsletter- Week 5 SP’21

What a glorious day–and weekend ahead! Get out and enjoy the spring air and bouquets of flowers in gardens! Take a walk to WMU’s campus…the Waldo Pond (just a ¼ mile or so from our athletic center) is a great destination point, complete with benches near the water for reflection, and turtles in the pond to entertain. Swans usually nest near the west end of the pond too. ; )

Now on to the news of the week!

  1. Tickets are now on sale for Water by the Spoonful! Seats for both in-person as well as virtual performances will be available next week. Reserve your spot here.
  2. In case you missed it, our season has been announced! The 58th Season Theme is Black is Beautiful: An Ode to Black Life, Love, and Strength. The mainstage plays will be Well-Intentioned White People by Rachel Lynett (FA’21); Blacks and Phats by Kevin Renn (WI’22); and Marcus, or the Secret of Sweet by Tarell Alvin McCraney (SP’22). Thanks to PSAC for your involvement in this process.
  3. Check out the latest feature from Channel 13 about Steven Yeun (and including some familiar current students’ faces too!).
  4. Send your summer updates—plans, jobs, internships—to me to share in next week’s newsletter.
  5. Chris Ludwa has generously offered to host a one-hour virtual Q & A with a friend of his (the lead in Jagged Little Pill on Broadway) at no charge to the theatre department on May 14, 4pm. Contact Chris to get the link! (Theatre alumni have also been invited! Thanks, Chris!!)
  6. Some of our special spaces in the department are being renovated and updated! The Seminar Library hosts new tables and new (purple!) chairs and the Green Room will be a comfortable, cozy to wait before or during shows. Thanks to Teyia and Ellie for doing the selection and the Scene Shop Crew for assembling!

That’s it for now—thanks for reading, and have a great weekend! Don’t forget to invite friends and faculty to watch Water by the Spoonful! Invite now—watch later!

Best wishes,


Festival Playhouse presents our 2021-22 Season, Black is Beautiful: An Ode to Black Life, Love, and Strength

Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College presents its 58th season, Black is Beautiful: An Ode to Black Life, Love, and Strength. This season will support living Black playwrights by producing their work and support our own community though access to Black narratives that are not tragedy-centric or exploitative of trauma. These upcoming productions use wit, satire and thoughtfully complex storytelling to showcase a variety of intersectional Black experiences.

Our Fall production will be Rachel Lynett’s Well-Intentioned White People, a play that cleverly depicts how the performative activism of predominantly white institutions, like ours, can harm the very community members it attempts to support. In Winter, we will produce Kevin Renn’s BLACKS+PHATS, a vignette-driven satire challenging stereotypes and assumptions about people devalued by society simply because of their bodies. Our season will conclude in Spring with Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Marcus; or the secret of sweet, a Black and queer, heartfelt and humorous, coming-of-age tale.

This season will also include the Senior Performance Series, in which senior Kalamazoo College students write, direct, perform, design, and manage both original and published works. More information coming this June.

Fall 2021

Well-Intentioned White People by Rachel Lynett

November 4-7, 2021

After experiencing an anti-Black hate crime, college professor Cass wants to forget about it and move on with her life. But her white roommate/ex-girlfriend and the dean of the university push her to “do something” about it. Suddenly, Cass is roped into planning an Equality Day/Unity Week while trying to convince her roommate not to plan a sit-in. Well-Intentioned White People explores how liberals attempt to deal with discrimination not directed at them and how sometimes “well intentions” can be just as problematic. The stereotypical white saviors, white liberals, and white allies seem humorously over-exaggerated, but those caricatures aren’t too far, if different at all, from the truth.

Winter 2022

BLACKS+PHATS by Kevin Renn

February 24-27, 2022

Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the Black Panther Party, and Michael Jackson? BLACKS+PHATS is a satirical, vignette play about Black cultural issues, body image, fetishism, and their representation in modern society. This quick-witted comedy is sure to challenge your mind and tickle your comfort zone, touching on various themes like beauty ideals, relationship dynamics, and levels of attraction–all while attempting to find enlightenment in the stereotypes placed on minorities and full-bodied people.

Spring 2022

Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet by Tarell Alvin McCraney

May 12-15, 2022

Marcus is sixteen and “sweet.” Days before Hurricane Katrina strikes the projects of Louisiana, the currents of his life converge, overflowing into his close-knit community and launching the search for his sexual and personal identity in a cultural landscape infused with mysterious family creeds. The provocative, poignant, and fiercely humorous coming-of-age story of a young gay man in the South, Marcus is the stirring conclusion of The Brother/Sister Plays.

Alumnus Spotlight: Hutch Pimentel ’12

This winter, we’re continuing our alumni spotlight series, featuring even more of our favorite Kalamazoo College Theatre Arts Department alumni!

This week, we talked to Hutch Pimentel ’12. While at K, he/they directed two shows: Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis and Yussef El Guindi’s Back of the Throat. He/they also wrote a Theatre Arts SIP titled Growing Pains: Becoming Queerer.

Since graduation, he/they founded a theatre company called First Floor Theater. There, Hutch serves as Artistic Director.

Read more to learn about what Hutch is up to now!

headshot of hutch pimentel
Hutch Pimentel ’12

What was your experience founding First Floor Theatre like? 

I came to be a part of First Floor in a somewhat unorthodox way. The theater was originally founded by a group of folks I met while interning at About Face Theater (which I wrote my SIP about). They were seniors at the University of Chicago and came to see Back of the Throat (the final show I directed at K) and asked me to join them when I moved to Chicago. I started as the producer and became the Artistic Director after our second season. The mission and aesthetic of the company has shifted significantly since then, largely to focus on new work, specifically by queer and POC writers. 

What has being Artistic Director during the pandemic been like?

Running a storefront theater company is everything and nothing you’d think it’d be. I spend a lot more time figuring out where the money is going to come from than what play we should do. During the pandemic my focus has been on keeping the company financially solvent, and beyond that we’ve dedicated most of our time to working on two commissions from playwrights Terry Guest and Ariel Zetina. Since becoming Artistic Director my goal was to found a commissioning program so The Blueprint Commission has really been a dream come true. 

I’m really impressed that First Floor Theatre has an audience base 70% under-40 and 50% BIPOC! How did you achieve that?

This is probably the most common question I get. I think the easy answer is, I program work that I want to see in the world, and Chicago audiences have begun to look to us for cutting-edge, sexy, funny, weird plays about what people our age are going through. In a regular season we typically program two BIPOC writers and one white writer, so that’s helped diverse audiences identify us as somewhere they’ll feel represented on stage. 

What inspires you to do theatre?

The moments that take your breath away, sitting in the dark, surrounded by a hundred other people, watching something magical happen. Whether it’s visual spectacle, great dialogue, or an unorthodox choice by an actor, that’s why I keep making art. Because I want to share those moments of glory with audiences. 

What plays, TV shows, or movies have been bringing you joy lately?

My favorite pandemic theater piece was Circle Jerk Live by Fake Friends (not porn I promise). The play I’m currently obsessed with is Botticelli in the Fire by Jordan Tannahill. The TV show I’m currently binging is It’s a Sin. And the last great movie I watched was Judas and the Black Messiah

How are you taking care of yourself during the pandemic?

I am trying to relax as much as possible. It’s so easy to COVID-spiral and so whenever I feel that about to happen I go for a walk or do some stretches or eat some soup. 

What’s your favorite memory from theatre at K?

It has to be the first play I ever directed, 4.48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane. Directing that play changed my life forever and I’ll never forget it. 

Thank you so much to Hutch Pimentel ’12 for answering our questions! To learn more about First Floor Theater, check out their website. And if you want to know more about our alumni, see our Notable Alumni page.