Fall ’23 Newsletters

Week 8

Happy Week Eight Everyone (and it’s a busy one!),

And now, onto the news….

  • Kudos to the opening night team of Playhouse Creatures!  GREAT work.  You can reserve tickets for the play HERE.  You can read our press release HERE.  Remember, tix are free for students, and please, make a reservation (this helps us out tremendously at the box office).  Questions?  Contact Kirsten Kirsten.Sluyter@kzoo.edu
  • Congratulations to the many students who received awards during the Honors Day or Alpha Lambda ceremonies this week.  Wow!  I am continually amazed at the breadth of work of our students – while we see your work here in the “theatre” building – you all are clearly doing amazing things academically and in many areas of campus involvement at the college.  #luckyme to get to work with you!
  • Production Applications are now being accepted for Dutchman and On The Exhale.  That’s right, we have TWO productions next term.  For management and artistic staff, expect to have our first production meeting Thursday, Week 10, in the Seminar Library.  Production applications HERE.
  • I will be sending a “here’s how THEA200 works” email out separately….  I think it may clarify some THEA200 questions.
  • I will be sending a “here’s all you need to know about ACTF” email separately.  If you plan on attending ACTF, we need to know by Wednesday of 10th week.  Details to follow.
  • There is ALWAYS a lot of theatre and arts going on in Kalamazoo – including:
    • Our local improv troupe Crawlspace Eviction has performances this weekend.  HERE
    • It’s Art Hop this weekend!  (we have an incredible and very vibrant arts community in Kalamazoo!!).  Check out Art Hop HERE  Wander around downtown Kalamazoo to catch the vibe on our many local artists.
    • There are 12 active theatres in Kalamazoo.  And, one organization where you can check out all things theatre.  Check out TK! Theatre Kalamazoo! HERE
  • JOBS.  If you are intending to work professionally in the arts, we have an expectation that you will continue to explore that work outside of the department, whether that be an internship, summer stock, jobs, etc.
    • The attachment lists internships available at the Kalamazoo Civic next year (the 2nd largest community theatre in the United States).  
    • Link HERE for jobs at Utah Shakespeare Company  looking for 4 artisans and 2 Prop Apprentices 
    • Remember that we are also partnering with Farmers Alley in July and we will be needing students to work (and get paid for that work).  Contact Lanny immediately.
    • Not sure how to get started?  See Lanny for job search information and resumes.  All job searches in production need to be completed by end of February.  All job searches for performance typically need to be completed by December.
  • It’s family weekend.  If opportunity allows, I would love to meet yours.

TTFN, come see the play, and as always, THANKS FOR ALL YOU DO.



Week 4

Dear Friend of Festival Playhouse,

Welcome to Week Four!  (gasp!  …how did that even happen??)

And, here’s the news….

  • PSAC (Play Selection Advisory Committee) meets today at 4:10pm in the Seminar Library.  Deliciously bad snacks and vibrant discussion guaranteed.
  • If you have not yet had opportunity, please stop by and give a welcome greeting to Kirsten Sluyter.  Our new Company Manager would love to greet you and say hello.  Welcome Kirsten!!!  We are DELIGHTED to have you with us!
  • If you have not had opportunity, please stop by and give a welcome greeting to Ian Whistler!  Ian will be our resident Costume Designer and visiting guest artist for the year.  Welcome Ian!
  • If you have not had opportunity, please stop by and give a welcome greeting to Stacy Bartell!  Stacy began the academic year as our new Director of Technical Theatre.  Welcome Stacy!
  • HOMECOMING for returning THEATRE ALUMS will happen tomorrow (Saturday) from 2p – 3p in the Playhouse Lobby.  ALL CURRENT STUDENTS ARE ENCOURAGED TO STOP BY AND SAY HELLO.  We have 30 returning alumni.  We have lots of nosh.  We have fresh cider.   If you want to understand a little bit more about the DNA of what we do, I encourage you to stop by…..
  • Farmers Alley Theatre is seeking an Assistant Stage Manager for Addy and Uno.  This is a paid position.  Email Lanny.Potts@kzoo.edu if you have interest and I will connect you with FAT.
  • Our very own Milan Levy makes their directorial debut at the Kalamazoo Civic this weekend!  Opening tonight (and playing through next weekend) in the Parish Theatre is the Civic Youth Theatre production of All of Us: A Celebration of BIPOC Voices.  A collection of exciting short plays to celebrate and amplify important, too-often-unheard voices. These plays offer a meaningful theatrical journey for, All of Us.  [All%20of%20Us%20Tickets%20Here]All of Us Tickets Here
  • Intimate Apparel opens at WMU this weekend.  This fantastic story by Lynn Nottage is a must see, directed by none other than the amazing Anthony J Hamilton (who will be directing Dutchman here at K in the Winter).  [Tickets%20Here]Tickets Here
  • Queer Theatre Kalamazoo and Face Off Theatre have productions opening soon…. Watch for details in a future Festival announcement.

Since we have added about 100 new students to our Festival Newsletter, I thought I might take a bit of extra time to share what we do, and why we do it……. (don’t worry, most newsletters are NOT THIS LONG).

This academic year we are celebrating our 60th anniversary season of Festival Playhouse in the only way we know:  selecting a significant season theme built upon culturally relevant plays that speak to our K community, integrates with our greater community, embedded within the academic traditions of the liberal arts.

Our 60th Anniversary Season reflects this tradition:  Systems as Old as Time, exploring the harmful and oppressive systems that have held us back and how we fight against them.  Exploring racism, sexism, misogyny, social shaming, conformism, and chauvinism, we seek to highlight ways our work can overcome, exist, and persist in spite of these oppressive systems.

Sixty years ago during the season of 1963-64, the generous and visionary support of the Dorothy U. Dalton Foundation along with Professor Nelda K. Balch created the inaugural year of Festival Playhouse with a season of ground-breaking modern dramas. A first for its time. And, from its beginning, Festival Playhouse has sought to produce provocative and thoughtful theatre for both our campus and the greater Kalamazoo community, combining talents from students, faculty, alumni, and professional guest artists.   And,  we continue to celebrate these goals and the innovative spirit of our Festival Playhouse founders.

The kinds of plays that we do and the way we do them has much to do with our cultural DNA.  Our season themes are relevant, our plays connecting historical, artistic, and socially relevant themes to contextualize and deepen our work for our students and greater community.

We open the season with Playhouse Creatures by April De Angelis, directed by Ren Pruis. Set in 1669, it focuses on five women who were some of the first English actresses to appear on stage after Puritan suppression. It explores the lives of these trailblazers and their fight for power and agency in a patriarchal society.

Winter sees us producing On the Exhale by Martin Zimmerman, a culminating SIP project by our DSA Brooklyn Moore in 5th week.  And, Dutchman by Amiri Baraka, directted by Anthony J Hamilton.  This historically relevant and challenging work invokes historical allegory of Dutch ships that crossed the Atlantic, the myth of The Flying Dutchman, and triggering language that seems dated and yet prevalent today.

In Spring we will be the first college or university in the nation to produce the West End version (and production) of Be More Chill, written by K alum Joe Tracz (who also wrote Percy and the Lightning Thief, et. al.) and a strong vocal supporter of PSAC!  

At the very end of Spring term and heading into summer we are partnering with Farmers Alley Theatre (the only regional equity theatre in SW Michigan) and co-producing Spelling Bee and School of Rock.  Students will have opportunity to work alongside professional Equity actors to produce this work.

Of course, the department itself has a number of projects and initiatives as well (ACTF is happening Week One in January, e.g.).

So, that’s WAY more than anyone really wants to read, and, for those of you who are joining Kalamazoo College, this is a snapshot of the work we do.  Of the work that YOU do.

Remember, our program is successful because of the investment of our students.  And, most of the students doing theatre at Kalamazoo College are not theatre majors.  Which is how, and why, we are able to do the fabulous work that we do.  Because of you.  Thank you for it.

What a fantastic year we are going to explore together.

I can’t wait to get to it….



Week 2

Dear Creative,

Welcome to Week Two Festival Playhouse newsletter!!

We PROMISE they are not all this long.

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 Lanny.Potts@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 Lanny and we will add the name to the list.  Note:  we have to ask the list to be updated (we can’t do it ourselves), so, it does take some time.
  2. Let’s reflect on 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.  Our season theme this year explores oppressive systems of race, gender, misogyny, and social shaming.  I look forward to sharing our work with our greater community, as well as learning from, and growing with, the work myself.  
  3. Speaking of play productions – congrats to the cast and crew of Playhouse Creatures!  It’s a terrific team.  Thank you to all who applied for production positions and auditioned.
  4. Here’s a bit about the theatre arts department:
    1. Ren Pruis.  (All Performance classes and Chair of the Dept). 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 and is brilliant in her work with performers.
    2. Lanny Potts. (All Design classes and Artistic Director of Theatre). See Lanny about all production issues such as budget or production policies. Lanny serves on the board at Farmers Alley Theatre, is a national award winning artist, and enjoys outdoor activities.   
    3. Dr. Quincy Thomas.  (Directing/Theatre History/Playwrighting, department SIP coordinator, and Play Selection Advisory).  See Dr. Thomas about dramaturgy, participating on our Play Selection Advisory Committee, and how you can be involved as a playwright in the community.  Dr. Thomas is the regional playwrighting co-chair for ACTF and an award winning playwright.
    4. Stacy Bartell.  (Director of Technical Theatre for Festival Playhouse, Stagecraft).  See Stacy about all crews and technical theatre issues as well as student work in our sound, lighting, props, scenic shops and staffing.  Stacy teaches stagecraft and is a technical wizard.
    5. Kirsten Sluyter (Company Manager and Theatre Administrator).  Kirsten begins work for the program October 2nd.  Be sure to say hello to her in a couple of weeks.  See Kirsten about Work Study administration, booking spaces in the dept, and basically running the show. Kirsten has a degree in Arts Administration and has a vast array of both administrative theatre experience and technical design and marketing skills. 
    6. Ian Whistler.  (Guest Artist, Costume Designer, and Costume Shop Manager).  See Ian about all things costume, wig, hair, makeup, and costume shop.  Ian is a fantastic artist and designer/scholar who creates, or works with students to create, our visual costumes for our productions.  
  5. 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.

Lanny and the entire Theatre Arts Team

Week 1

Dear friend of the Festival Playhouse, 

Welcome back!

Congratulations on surviving the first week of the new academic year! We are so happy to see so many new faces and old friends. 

A message from DSA Brooklyn Moore… “I love all of you and the first week isn’t going to kill all of us!”

We have some great news and important reminders to kick off the year!

Playhouse Creatures:

  1. Thank you to everyone who applied to and auditioned for our fall production, Playhouse Creatures! As of today, the show has been cast, and rehearsals will be underway soon. We have also received a massive amount of production applications (yay!), so if you have not been informed of your position yet, please know that you will have a position and we are still sorting through those now. Production applications are still open, and you can find the online form here
  2. This leads us to our second announcement: the company meeting. The all-company meeting will be THIS MONDAY at 6:30pm. If you have a position on this production or have applied for one, this meeting is mandatory. We will be going over THEA-200 credits and how to apply for them, emergency contact forms, company contracts, and clarifying questions about positions and their responsibilities. If you are absolutely unable to attend this meeting, please contact stage manager Helen Stoy at helen.stoy22@kzoo.edu.

What’s coming up next week?

  1. PSAC!!! Join the Play Selection Advisory Committee this upcoming Friday (Sept 22) in the seminar library (located in the lower FAB). PSAC meets every EVEN week (week 2, week 4, and so on…) to discuss potential plays for the next season. AND you can get .25 of a credit to do it! 
  2. K Fest! On Wednesday (Sept 20) from 4:00-7:00 pm on the Quad. This is a great way to get some free food and check out some of K’s clubs and organizations! Make sure you stop by the theatre department’s table to say hi! 
  3. GLCA virtual fair! The GLCA, or the Great Lakes College Association, is a collection of private colleges around the Great Lakes which provide opportunities to connect their students to educational study away programs around the country. One of these programs is the winter New York City fine arts program. Learn more about this program and more on Tuesday (Sept 26) from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm. Sign up for this opportunity through the CCPD. 
  4. NYAP Applications! For students applying for this year’s winter term with the New York Arts program, this is a reminder that applications are due Thursday (Sept 21). If you have any questions, would like a second set of eyes before you submit, or if you’re a first-year/sophomore wondering how you can take advantage of this opportunity, contact K’s NYAP representative Megan Herbst at megan.herbst21@kzoo.edu. 

One more thing!

We would like to welcome our newly hired Company Manager, Kirsten Sluyter! Kirsten previously worked as the Arts Administrative Assistant over at Western Michigan University and we’re so excited to work with her starting this term. She will be joining us in a few weeks so please come by the Production Office and say hi!

That’s all we have for this week! We’re off to a great start to a great season! Best of luck to everyone with the rest of their term. We hope to see all of you around the theater!

Best Regards, 

Helen and Megan

SM and ASM – Playhouse Creatures