Festival Playhouse Newsletter- WI’22 Week 8

Happy Friday everyone,

BLACKS & PHATS, by Kevin Renn, and directed by Janai Lashon, opened last night and runs through Sunday.  Spread the word!  If you are not working on this show, then you want to come see it.  And everyone, spread the word, the company is doing fabulous work in this entertaining and thought provoking play.  Be sure to reserve your (free) ticket and arrive early!  And, to the Company: keep breaking legs!!  www.festivalplayhouse.kzoo.edu


We will be announcing our 2022-2023 season on Thursday (March 3rd), at a special SPILL THE TEA with NELDA at 4:15 in our Playhouse Lobby.

This is our first “Tea With Nelda” event since the onset of the pandemic, therefore some of you have not yet experienced this department tradition.  I’ll catch you up on the story behind this event on Thursday, after the big announcement, of course.  We are going about this “season reveal” a new way this year, so do plan to attend this in-person, snacks-and-tea-provided, event.  And special thanks to Dr. Thomas and all of PSAC for all their time and efforts over fall quarter2021!!

Last reminder for GLCA NYarts deadline: March 1stinfo@nyartsprogram.org.

The Piano Lesson, by August Wilson, and directed by Anthony Hamilton (who directs our spring show!) opens tonight and runs through March 6, at Kalamazoo Civic Theatre. Contact them about student tix. 

And speaking of Anthony Hamilton directing our show next quarter, information about auditions is here

See you at the show this weekend.

And see you Thursday for Spill the Tea with Nelda. 


Festival Playhouse Newsletter- WI’22 Week 7

Doesn’t Week 7 always feel like that “hump week” of the term? It’s past the midpoint but still so. far. from. the end? Well fear not my chickadees because I have some news to put into your Daytimer (does anyone use one of those still?) that’s going to fill up your Week 8. Earlier today Festival Playhouse sent a flyer highlighting our Theatre Guest Artists: Playwright Kevin Renn and Director Janai Lashon of our show Blacks + Phats. All these events are coming up this next week. Refer to the flyer for more specific details, but here are the quick dates for your Daytimer:

  • Monday, Feb. 21, 5:30–discussion and dinner (to go) at the Intercultural Center on Campus (for K -students only)
  • Tuesday, Feb. 22, 7:30–community discussion with Renn about his journey as a Black playwright at Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership on Campus (open to the public; free)
  • Thursday, Feb. 24, 7:30pm–opening night followed by talkback with audience, Renn, Lashon, cast, crew

Blacks + Phats is our Mainstage Winter Production in our 58th season of “Black is Beautiful: An Ode to Black Life, Love and Strength “. This quick-witted comedy tackles black life and beauty stereotypes and runs from February 24-27. Tickets are required to be pre-ordered and are free to all K students and faculty.  Reserve tickets here.

Get involved! We need ushers for the upcoming performances of Blacks + Phats. Students are encouraged to contact Arman Khan (Arman.Khan20@kzoo.edu), House Manager for details.

If you are still living in the early 2000’s and your Daytimer is still out let’s look forward just a bit to Week 9 when we do our (Trumpets Blaring!) Season Announcement for 2022-2023!  Join us in the Playhouse lobby March 3 at 4:15pm for some “Spillin’ The Tea With Nelda” and takeaway snacks.

Yes, it’s in Week 1 of Spring term, but I don’t want it lost in the shuffle so dig out the Daytimer again (ok, it’s me, I’m the one with a Daytimer still) and pencil in March 29 or 30 at 7pm to audition for Marcus or The Secret of Sweet in the Festival Playhouse. This is a powerfully beautiful play about marginalized people in Louisiana. But we need YOU to tell this tell this tale. Looking for 10 people of Color, info here

There is still time to apply for the internships that were in last week’s newsletter, but deadlines are approaching quickly. Looking for a theatre internship? Go here

Wow you’re at the end! You did great! Now pack up your Daytimer and Gel pens, hop on your Razor scooter and zoom on out of here.

Lori Sands
Resident Artist and Instructor
Costuming and Stage Makeup

Festival Playhouse Newsletter- WI’22 Week 6


It’s your friendly neighborhood Dr. Quincy Thomas, here to spill that tea on all the goings on in the Theatre Arts Department and the Festival Playhouse. Hey y’all, want to be a vital part of the Playhouse process? There’s still time to fill an ushering spot for the upcoming performances of Blacks + Phats. Students are encouraged to contact Arman Khan (Arman.Khan20@kzoo.edu), House Manager for details.

BIG NEWS! AUDITIONS for Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet will be held Week 1, March 29-30 AT 7pm in the Playhouse. The performance of this powerful story is a fantastic opportunity to be a part of the Playhouse’s 58th season: “Black is Beautiful: An Ode to Black Life, Love, and Strength.” Needed: 5 Men of Color, and 5 Women of Color. No previous acting experience is required to audition. More information here.

If you have even the smallest appreciation for the works of William Shakespeare yet find his plays challenging, you’ll want to attend Matthew Swarthout’s ’22 self-written play titled Acting Shakespeare, adapted from Sir Ian McKellen’s production of the same name, this Friday–Sunday. Learn more about the play and find out how you can reserve your tickets, which are free for K students, faculty and staff.


1. There is a fantastic Summer 2022 theatre internship opportunity with the Chester Theatre Company. Here are some wildly fun facts: 

*Dates: Monday, May 30, 2022 – Wednesday, August 24, 2022

*Applicants must be able to receive academic credit for their internship at Chester Theatre Company. 

*CTC will cover any expense associated with that academic credit. 

*Applicants must be able to provide proof of vaccination. 

*CTC provides housing and a weekly living stipend of $200 to all interns. Travel scholarships may also be available for those based further from CTC. 

*Interns participate in the life of CTC, coming to know artists, staff, and audiences. 

*Educational experiences include classes with the Director of Education, as well as with resident and visiting artists. Interns also have the opportunity to see other performances at the many cultural institutions in the area. 

With Stage Management, Production, and Artistic/Administrative internships available, there are plenty of explorable avenues for eligible applicants. If this is the kind of thing that has your interest piqued, head over to the Chester Theatre website and apply.

2. Dunes Arts Foundation is looking for actors for their Summer 2022 season. Submit audition tape by February 25 for consideration. Want info?

3. Arts Midwest is hiring TWO Program Managers to oversee initiatives that center creativity, equity, capacity building, and community building. These positions will work as part of a collaborative and adaptive team. They are committed to maintaining a workforce that is diverse across many lines of difference. Deadline to apply is February 24.

Phew! Now that you’ve made it to the end of this missive, let’s continue to find successes and bolster each other as we move towards the end of the quarter! 


Quincy Thomas

And if that wasn’t enough to think about, this news just came in!

Exhibit Opening Night

Friday February 11 @ 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm Black Arts & Cultural Center, 359 S Kalamazoo Mall Ste 102
Kalamazoo, MI 49007 United States Google Map

Join us as we pay tribute to our trailblazers with live performances, an artist talk, film viewings, and our interactive exhibit next Friday, February 11th from 5pm to 8pm, here at the BACC! Find out more »

Tribute To Our Trailblazers Exhibit

TODAY @ 10:00 am – Tuesday March 1 @ 3:00 pm Black Arts & Cultural Center, 359 S Kalamazoo Mall Ste 102
Kalamazoo, MI 49007 United States Google Map

Visit our Gail Sydnor gallery all month long to experience our interactive Black History exhibit featuring artist Paul Marquardt. This exhibit highlights Black people who have paved the way for generations to come through their accomplishments, inventions, and perseverance. Find out more »

Time to get out, shake off the gray skies blanketing us this winter, and be part of the community! After all, you are part of the community…

Laura Livingstone-McNelis ’89, MA
(she, her)
Company Manager
Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College

Festival Playhouse Newsletter- WI’22 Week 5

Heavy snowfall just in time for Winter Break? Sounds about right. What are you planning to do with your snowy weekend? Do y’all still sled down the quad on caf trays?

Well, the Theatre Department never rests. We are gearing up for tech week and the performance for Acting Shakespeare in the Dungeon Theatre February 9-12 at 7:30pm and Sunday February 13 at 2pm. There will be an Opening Night Talk Back after the performance on February 10. Masks and proof of vaccination required, seating is limited and tickets can be purchased in advance here: Ludus – Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College

Matthew Swarthout ‘22 will be undertaking Sir Ian McKellen’s one-person show, Acting Shakespeare.This show will encompass both Matthew’s and McKellen’s insight into Shakespeare’s plays, featuring monologues and scenes from Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Macbeth, and more. This production is produced by Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College and is part of the Senior Performance Series.

Did everyone see the copy from the New York Arts Program that Ren Pruis sent out last week? Lots of good stuff happening in New York deadlines to apply are approaching: Round 1 is February 15 and Round 2 is March 1. Go straight to the application here.

Text: New York Arts Program

This is not only a great experience but opens many doors in the future. Two Alumni, Alysia Homminga and Kate Kreiss, are both working at Lee Strasberg Theatre &  Film Institute.

Audition Opportunity: Kalamazoo College Department of Theatre- Auditions for Marcus, or the Secret of Sweet are Week 1, Tues.-Wed., March 29-30. Needed: 5 Men of Color, and 5 Women of Color. For more information: https://theatre.kzoo.edu/opportunities/auditions/

Summer acting work at Dunes Arts Foundation submit audition tape by February 25. Link for more info: https://www.dunesarts.org/theatre

Employment Opportunity: Arts Midwest is hiring 2 Program Managers for virtual positions. Deadline to apply is February 24. https://www.artsmidwest.org/about/employment/2022-program-managersProgram Managers | Arts Midwest

Arts Midwest is hiring TWO Program Managers to oversee initiatives that center creativity, equity, capacity building, and community building. These positions will work as part of a collaborative and adaptive team. We are committed to maintaining a workforce that is diverse across many lines of difference. Wow! You made it to the end! Now go outside and have a sled for me.

Professor Lori Sands

Festival Playhouse Newsletter- WI’22 Week 4

Good evening everyone here and at sea, first the news…
Actually it’s been a quiet week and not quite the middle of the term so I have very little to say…
The two shows seem to be doing well as far as the rehearsal reports tell me, more information on them will come next week I suspect.
Although cold, the sun is out and it seems pleasant! We call that a win in Michigan…
Below is some info that you will find interesting.

Don’t you just love our Playhouse? Isn’t the Dungeon a cool space? Share your stories and perspectives as a tour guide for the LFAB! We need people to talk about all the artistic possibilities here. When Admissions has their next Visit the Zoo, we’d like to offer opportunities for those h.s. seniors who want to know more about us. Please contact Meaghan Kelly ’23 to help us out! Thank you in advance!

So even though this was short, I am happy you read it all! Go reward yourself with a treat of some kind, ice cream, a cookie or two, maybe a nice dinner at Roca, I don’t know but something! 
Be well!

Festival Playhouse Newsletter- WI’22 Week 3

Hello everyone!

THURSDAY, this week, January 27:  SOPHOMORES who are considering Theatre as a major or minor, please come to an information session with Ren (and possibly other theatre faculty who are able to make it, and possibly DSA Rebecca Chan) at 4:10 in Balch Playhouse Lobby. Sadly, I cannot feed you outright, but hopefully a take-away snack of some sort can still be arranged.  Last year we couldn’t do this at all, so the no-food option is a step in the happier direction.  Get your questions answered, or just let me know of your interest and intent!  DOM Day is week 5 Wednesday, online again this year, for Sophomores.  

Speaking Theatre majors, we heard from Kyle Lampar ’17, and he is now working as Asst. Box Office Treasurer for The Westside Theatre in NYC!  

Festival Playhouse is still (at the time of this writing at least) in need one actor.  The details have been sent through this alias more than once already, so I will not repeat it all again here BUT if you know anyone, or you yourself are now interested and available, please contact either Janai Lashon (director) or Lanny Potts (Director of Festival Playhouse). Or even me, I can get you connected to the appropriate personnel!

That is all for now.  Stay warm.  Stay safe.  


Festival Playhouse Newsletter- WI’22 Week 2

Week 2—Jan. 14 Newsletter 

1.     The Conviction of Lady Lorraine opens tonight! Reserve your (free) ticket here: https://festivalplayhouse.kzoo.edu/  

And check out this story about our special guest artists Dwandra Lampkin and Dee Dee Batteast

2.     Congratulations to the cast of Blacks + PhatsAshani Jewell ’23, Milan Levy ’23, and McKenna Wasmer ’25. We are still looking for two Black actors to complete the cast. Please contact either Stage Manager John Luke Tuck or Director Janai Lashon. 

3.     Can you sing? Want to have some fun? Join the cabaret at K! Hicks Atrium, Week 4, Fri., Jan. 27, 7:30pm. Contact Chris Ludwa in the Music Dept. for more information. 

4.     The Croswell Opera House is hiring interns for summer’22! 

5.     Professor Emeritus Ed Menta’s band, Blueback, is playing downtown! Sun., Jan. 31, 6-7pm at the Old Dog Tavern in downtown Kalamazoo (402 E. Kalamazoo Ave, 49007)  

6.     Ellie Hughes ’21 is now part of the Seattle Repertory Theatre! She is working as their Production Management Apprentice this year. 

7.     Booster shots are available on campus! Take advantage of this important and extremely convenient opportunity. More info. here. 


That’s it for now! Have a great time at the theatre this weekend (!!), stay well, and thank you for being part of this wonderful tradition at K! 


Best wishes, 


Festival Playhouse Newsletter- WI’22 Week 1

Welcome back to campus, and thank you for being part of the Festival Playhouse family! Here’s the news this week: 

  1. Auditions and callbacks continue for Blacks + Phats tonight, 6:30, Playhouse! Enter through the Playhouse Lobby (near Dow). No experience is necessary. Just show up for 20-30 minutes, meet our Guest Artist Director Janai Lashon, and have fun! More information on Blacks + Phats here. 
  2. For those of you interested in playwriting (see Quincy!…AND…) check this out: Auditions for National Playwriting Program 10-Minute Plays. 
  3. Reminder: please be sure doors close completely behind you each and every time. Some offices and other spaces and even exterior doors have been found ajar or fully open recently. Thank you in advance for taking care of our shared spaces. 
  4. Make your reservations for The Conviction of Lady Lorraine! The show runs only two nights during Week 2: Fri. & Sat., Jan. 14 -15, 7:30pm, in the Playhouse.  
  5. The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) is drawing to a close this weekend. Thanks to those who represented our program: Angela Mammel ’22Meaghan Kelly ’23, Arman Khan ’24, and Claire DeVries ’25. Claire made it to semi-finals in the Irene Ryan competition! Kudos to you, Claire! Thanks to Aiden Morgan ’25 for jumping in as Claire’s scene partner for that round. 
  6. Booster shots are available on campus! Take advantage of this important and extremely convenient opportunity. More info. here. 
  7. Just in case you haven’t seen it, here is the recent New Yorker article on Steven Yeun (courtesy of Andy Mozina and Ed Menta).   
  8. ArtHop will resume next month, so save the date: Fri., Feb. 4, 5:30-8:30. 


    That’s it for now! Enjoy the snow, maybe go sledding on the Quad, build a snowman…embrace the natural world as it is! 



Festival Playhouse Newsletter- FA’21 Week 6

Good afternoon Mr and Ms America and all her ships at sea, important announcements to follow…yes I know it’s not Friday…
So it’s 6 week and you all are still here! Great to have you all around and hear actors, musicians and technicians making a joyful noise in the building! 
This will be short so read it all!
The Dungeon show opens tonight! It is a must see production! Seating is limited so get your tickets! Info to follow.

SPS: Unzipped by Rebecca Chan ’22

Oct. 21-24

Unzipped, an original show of alternating music and monologues, explores the perception of East Asians in the dominant United States’ culture and Rebecca’s own coming-of-age as a queer Chinese-American. The production will also feature set and projection design from Angela Mammel ’22.

Order tickets now!

Content Warning: Racial violence and language
Tickets: https://festivalplayhouse.kzoo.edu/

And keep in mind we have a show in the Festival Playhouse 8th week! More information to follow next week I’m sure.
As always study hard, but find little moments for yourself and others!
Look at you! You read all the way to the end! I told you it would be short! You should go have a cookie or some ice cream!

Festival Playhouse Newsletter- Week 5

So much going on in Week 5, Let’s just dive right in…

Happening Tonight! Monkapult is BACK ON! Whether you’ve never seen the improv troupe or you’re a longtime fan catch their comedic stylings TONIGHT 10pm in the Recital Hall.

Helpful Masks: In need of a mask? The Department of Theatre is distributing FREE MASKS​​ made courtesy of Costume Shop students. Pick up by the call board.

Homecoming News: Students! Come as you are able and meet some of the alumni visiting for Homecoming! This is an informal event from 1-2:30pm in the Playhouse Lobby. Alumni will enter there, go into the Playhouse to see the set of Well-Intentioned White People, then some will drift down to the Green Room, the gallery, production office, and Seminar Library. (Unless there is a scheduled break during this period, they will not go into the Dungeon since tech for Unzipped will be in progress.) There is no official tour–this is just how this works organically. Alumni are always excited to see their old haunts (!) and also sneak a peek at what you as current students are doing. Come over and say hello! Stop them in the hallway and introduce yourself! Who knows: one of these professional theatre artists might become a mentor, so don’t be shy!

Speaking of Alums…We are always excited to share the many great things that our alums are up to… Kate Kreiss will begin working at the Strasberg Institute in NYC at the beginning of the year as Program Coordinator for the Young Actors Studio program.  If you are participating in the GLCA NY Arts Program in Winter term, be sure to say hello to Kate!

If you are an alum of Kalamazoo College, we want to hear what you are up to! Drop us a line and let us know.

Plan ahead for UNZIPPED: Unzipped, a play written and acted by Senior Rebecca Chan and directed by Senior Milan Levy opens in Week 6. There will be a talkback on opening night, Thursday October 21. Show runs, Thurs, Fri, Sat 7:30pm, Sun 2:00pm in the Dungeon Theatre. Small audience with social distancing, proof of vax and masks worn at all times while in the theatre. Get your tickets early: https://festivalplayhouse.ludus.com/index.phpLudus – Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College We are committed to providing an unforgettable experience for all guests, staff and artists in a safe and healthy environment. To ensure the highest standards of cleanliness and safety, we have developed a COVID-19 Safety Plan, which follows the most current guidelines of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Michigan State Department of Health and Federal Occupational …festivalplayhouse.ludus.com.

Even MORE theatre happening….
Would you like to see a professional equity theatre production?  Right here in Kalamazoo?  As a special “welcome back” opportunity, Artistic Director Jeremy Koch is offering a discount to Friends of Festival Playhouse to see Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World – the talent is amazing!  Tickets are normally $40.  But for you?  Details here:  *Use promo code online of SONGS to get $10 tix on Fri/Sat/Sun or $5 tix on Thursday.  Go to:  www.farmersalleytheatre.com for LUDUS link. COVID PROTOCOLS: FAT requires proof of vax and all audience members to wear a Mask in the theatre.

ACTF for 2021/2022: Here’s a note from Lanny on ACTF and Kalamazoo College for the 2021-2022 Season…  Dear friends of Festival Playhouse, while we will be participating as an “associate entry” for our mainstage productions this season, we have made a decision to not attend the conference in person as a department.  While there is tremendous benefit to our department and our students to attend the conference (jobs, internships, polishing up your professional work and portfolio, preparation for auditions, networking, seeing theatre, etc.); there is also risk.  As the artistic director for Festival Playhouse, here is my thinking:  if my #1 priority is to provide a “live” production experience for our students, then, if I take a bundle of students to an ACTF conference with 3,000 attendees, who may or may not be masked, who may or may not be vaccinated, who may or may not practice social distancing, who may or may not be practicing safe COVID practices….. THEN, I am placing our ENTIRE COMPANY at risk.  Would something happen?  I don’t know.  MIGHT something happen.  Quite possibly.  While it’s also true that with all we are doing internally here may still mean that one of our own company members becomes COVID positive, we’re doing much to minimize our risk.  I will work with ANY student who is seeking an “outside” professional experience, and, it is my hope that we will return to attending the conference next academic year.