On Friday, April 26, seven senior Musical Theatre Program students participated in a vocal workshop taught by Vocal Performer and Instructor CJ Greer. CJ has been on Broadway and in National Tours for Sister Act, Les Mis, Ragtime, I Love a Piano, The Producers, and The Buddy Holly Story, in addition to her work Off-Broadway and in regional houses. She's now an Assistant Professor of Voice at the University of Nevada, Reno.

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Pan Asian Repertory Theatre's 42nd Milestone Season invites you to their 150th Golden Spike Anniversary Celebrations Free Staged Reading Presentations of Citizen Wong, a new play by Richard Chang, directed by Ernest Abuba and Chongren Fan, May 7-9.

May 7 | 6:30 pm Ogden Union Station May 8 | 7 pm Noorda Center for the Performing Arts, Orem May 9 | 7 pm Salt Lake City Public Library Free Admission. *All performances will be followed by a Q&A with playwright, actors & co-director. Pan Asian Repertory Theatre ( https://www.panasianrep.org/ ) of New York, the largest and oldest Asian American theatre company on the East Coast, is delighted to work with three leading northern Utah institutions to present staged reading presentations of Citizen Wong ( www.citizenwong.com ) as part of the state’s celebration of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869.

The powerful new play is inspired by the life and times of Wong Chin Foo (王清福, 1847–1898), a celebrity speaker-writer-social rights activist in the American Gilded Age, who mysteriously disappeared from history and is being rediscovered as the First Chinese American and “Asian-American Martin Luther King, Jr.” The play dramatically captures the essence of an era when Wong campaigned against calls for an “anti-Chinese wall,” the Chinese Exclusion Act, and federal government efforts to deny birthright citizenship. The fictional drama is based on 15 years of research by veteran Reuters journalist and actor Richard Chang.

Wong ( www.firstchineseamerican.com ), who was naturalized in 1874, had visited Ogden and probably elsewhere in Utah on his nationwide lecture tours about the Chinese. Californian-born Wong Kim Ark, who won in the landmark 1898 U.S. Supreme Court case on birthright citizenship, is also a character in the play. The free public presentations celebrate the joining of east-west as symbolized by the transcontinental railroad and interracial romance at the heart of “Citizen Wong,” and described in the U.S. Constitution as our quest for “a more perfect union.”

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For the past few months at the UNP Hartland Partnership Center, four University of Utah Theatre Teaching students lead by Kelby McIntyre-Martinez worked with the Hartland Youth Center to put together a social action theatre piece, “We are Hartland!” The goal of the performance was to share youth hopes and dreams with the broader community.

On Tuesday evenings, we met with the youth at Hartland to teach them theatre skills such as projection (using a loud and clear voice), being in control of their voices and bodies while on stage, facing toward the audience, smiling and always giving 100% effort. We had fun dancing and playing theatre games with the youth while adding a different piece of the performance every week.

In small groups, the youth shared with us the dreams they have for their futures, the dreams they have for their families, and the dreams they have for their world. Some examples were to play professional soccer, to go to college, to buy houses for their moms, to be kind, to give back to the community, and to help others. The youth used Tableaux, which is a frozen picture that represents a story, to express their dreams in the performance. The Youth studied the words of Dr. Martin Luther King in his famous speech “I Have a Dream” and recited phrases from it with movement during the performance.

On the day of the performance you could feel the excitement and jitters in the room as we practiced our piece at the Sorenson Unity Center before the show. Once the youth came out on stage in their bright matching Hartland t-shirts, you could feel the energy and the love as they recited, “We are Hartland bright and fun, watch out world ‘cuz here we come!” The audience participated in our dance routines by clapping with us and even shared their hopes and dreams after the performance! The Hartland Youth had so much fun performing in front of their fellow students and the community. They really shined! Hopefully they will be able to take the skills they learned and use them to shine in all aspects of their life.

Content provided by Carly Taylor, University of Utah Theatre Teaching student.

Story originally published by partners.utah.edu.
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Department of Theatre Performing Arts Design Program alumna, Iris Salazar premiered her play, American Pride as one of four short plays that comprised “…Of Color” at Plan-B Theatre Company in March, 2019. Story below retrieved from planbtheatre.org

Mexican playwright Iris Salazar on creating “American Pride” for …OF COLOR

Nov 27, 2018


Playwright Iris Salazar was born in Gomez, Palacios, Durango, Mexico. She has lived in Salt Lake City since she was eight months old and became a citizen in 2000. A member of Plan-B’s Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop, she makes her playwriting debut this season with a very, very dark comedy about making America great again: “American Pride” is one of four short plays that comprise …OF COLOR, premiering in March of 2019.

I knew when I signed up for the Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop that I wanted to write a piece that reflected my political thoughts. I am not a politician, and I have never been able to articulate or debate politics in any way. I went through a torrent of emotions as I watched Donald Trump attack groups of people and brag about his sexual predatory behavior during his campaign but I naively believed that we would never allow this man to preside over our country. My disappointment, anger, and sadness were far too large to measure and simply get over as some would suggest. I found myself posting everything anti-Trump that I could post on social media. In the process, I discovered that people who I knew, went to church with and even admired were supportive and defensive of this individual.

One day I saw a picture of an acquaintance on social media standing next to Mike Pence. She is an educated, well-to-do and respected Christian Lady. She studied politics, is in-the-know when it comes to political policies and she is persuasive. That picture was the beginning of my short play. As a person of color, I didn’t think I could write a play about white racists, but white people write about people of color all the time, and not always in a good light. So I took what I saw and created “American Pride.” This was not only a fantastic writing workshop for artists of color but, on a personal level, it was a way for me to work through my emotions surrounding our current political state.

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The Play is Anna Deavere Smith’s Let Me Down Easy.

The Location is the Salt Lake Acting Company chapel (168 West, 500 North) at 7 p.m., Monday, April 15.

The Purpose is to raise funds for The Inn Between (1216 East, 1300 South), a hospice for the homeless

The Mission of the Inn Between is to end the tragic history of vulnerable people dying on the streets of our community by providing a supportive and safe haven for individuals who have nowhere else to go in time of medical crisis.

The Mission of the Salt Lake Acting Company is to engage and enrich our community through brave contemporary theatre, to bring about in our audience a deeper understanding of and the issues and ideas of our plays, and a connection of the onstage stories to contemporary life.

The Mission of Anna Deavere Smith is to become “the Voice of America.” An extremely successful actress in her own right, Smith is the creator of “verbatim theatre,” in which she interviews hundreds of people who have experienced a particular event, or have special knowledge of a particular subject and shapes those interviews into a dramatic and insightful analysis of that subject, embodying the words of the interviewees exactly as they were spoken, verbal tics and all.

The Mission of Let Me Down Easy is simple: We all have to face death. Eventually it is our own, but before that we will face it in many forms. It may be someone or something which we love, or it may be someone or something for which we are responsible in our various roles as religious advisor, medical professional, caretaker, or teacher/historian/philosopher. We will all meet it differently, as do the people interviewed in Let Me Down Easy, with humor, insight, resignation, bitterness, or denial—but it will be met! Do not ask for whom the bell tolls.

Your Mission (should you choose to accept it) is to come to the Salt Lake Acting Company at 7 p.m., Monday, April 15, for an evening of memorable theatre—and if you find the quality of that theatre suitable, and the cause for which it has been performed worthy, please make a donation to The Inn Between. --Richard Scharine, Director of Let Me Down Easy

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Lynn Nottage's 2017 Pulitzer Prize winning play, Sweat starring Actor Training Program Head Chris DuVal is now playing at Pioneer Theatre through Saturday, April 13. The poignant and powerful play examines race, economics, personal and collective identity, and what it means to be human. Dramaturg and Theatre Studies Professor Alexandra Harbold asks the question, “Is the “American Dream” still alive? And if so, who gets to pursue it?”

Set during divisive economic conditions in a small manufacturing town in Pennsylvania, Sweat takes us on the journey of nine people—friends, co-workers, mothers and sons, former spouses and lovers. —as their lives intersect as they try to hold onto, or reach for, the American Dream in the face of the increasingly precarious and divisive economic conditions of America at the dawn of the new millennium.

SWEAT Now-April 13 | tickets available here.

Contains strong language.

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by guest bloggers Michaela Funtanilla and April Goddard

Imagination is the only limitation for Department of Theatre set and prop design students, thanks to the department’s acquisition of a state-of-the-art Shopbot CNC machine. It was purchased by an anonymous donor in summer 2018.

“Our production capabilities have in the past been greatly limited in time and budget. By having CNC technology available in our small shop, we can now think and create with fewer constraints,” said Department of Theatre’s Technical Director, Kyle Becker. Similar to a 3D printer, the Shopbot CNC uses computer drawings (CAD) to operate. But instead of additive manufacturing, the Shopbot cuts out shapes from materials like wood, plastic, foam soft metal, and composites. The machine can print up to an 8x4 ft sheet of material—larger 3D designs require cutting out multiple pieces to then assemble into a sculpture.

Prior to owning this CNC tool, limited projects were outsourced, but this was too expensive to do regularly. Now that the Department of Theatre owns its own CNC tool, the possibilities are endless, and projects that took days to build can be completed in minutes. “We can ask the machine to 3D carve and 2D cut without these tasks consuming time and money that can go to other areas like assembly and painting,” said Becker.

CNC machines are standard technology in the performance art design industry. Students can receive training on the CNC tool though the department's Computer Modeling and Design course, and become more competitive for set design jobs in theatre, film, and theme parks. Becker said he would eventually like to partner with local high school theatre programs to increase CNC machine education.

The Rivals opens 4/5 and will be the first set to highlight the Shopbot’s capabilities as the set requires intricate architectural facades. Buy your tickets at ticket.utah.edu.

Original article by The Finer Points Blog

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by Director Sarah Shippobotham

When asked to direct this show I initially didn’t see what all the fuss was about. So what that ten men were being played by ten women? We’ve turned male roles into female ones many times before—we did a female-forward Julius Caesar last semester—because we have always had such strong women in our program, often outnumbering the men, and we have tried hard to give them the opportunities they deserve. I have always been aware of the gender disparity in theatre and I have always decried it; and yet I still didn’t think the gender make up of this play was anything noteworthy. How wrong I was!

Being in a rehearsal room with fourteen young minds, including ten actors, three stage managers and one assistant director/movement director—of whom only two are male identifying—has actually been an eye-opening experience for me. I have learned so much about myself and what it is to be true to my own strength as a woman; about how privileged I was to have a mostly single-sex education; about how fearless many of these young women in the show are in their exploration of their roles in this world; about how we can listen to a lone male voice without it coming off as mansplaining (even though I was worried it may), and about how much work there still is to be done to give women the space they deserve as a matter of course without needing to talk about it because it is still an issue.

Jacklyn Backhaus said that she wrote this play because she wanted to write an adventure play. While writing it she realized she couldn’t be in it, as it was an all-male adventure. To change that, she wrote it for women to play the roles of John Wesley Powell and his crew. She has been asked why she didn’t write a story about women and did she discover women’s stories as she wrote it. She wanted to tell the Powell story. And she did encounter females’ stories along the way, but they had to be looked for as most of our historical documentation puts men’s—and mostly white men’s—stories on show, hiding or overlooking those of the “others” who helped to shape the world.

I love seeing the women of our theatre department taking up male-sized spaces, having fun with each other as they embark on Powell’s epic journey. And I hope you too will value the experience of seeing so many women on stage together at one time.

MEN ON BOATS MARCH 1-10 in Studio 115 Tickets: tickets.utah.edu/events/men-on-boats/ 801-581-7100

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The Edward Lewis Legacy

When Edward Lewis was a student at San Jose State University, he discovered that their theatre department had never done a black play. In 1971 he created People Productions, a theatre company designed to bring together underserved youth with community artists which donated all of it's profits to the Glaucoma Foundation, to fight a disease from which both his mother and his grandmother suffered. He later revived People Productions in Los Angeles, where he directed and acted in plays by Eugene O'Neill, Lonne Elder (of the original Raisin in the Sun cast), and Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Gordone. After his son Edward Lewis Jr. graduated from the University of Utah, Edward Sr. moved to Salt Lake City. By that time Department of Theatre Professor Dr. Richard Scharine had been teaching African-American theatre at the U for nearly 20 years, and a former student of his, Karen Alexander (who graduated from the Department of Theatre in the late 80's) connected the two. Together, Lewis and Scharine revived People Productions in the summer of 2000 with James Baldwin's The Amen Corner, performed in the Department of Theatre's Studio 115. People Productions continued creating diverse theatrical experiences for the next 17 years, ending in April 2017 with August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. During that time Edward played leading roles in such plays as Lonne Elder's Ceremonies in Dark Old Men, Charles Fuller's A Soldier's Play, August Wilson's Jitney, Richard Wesley's The Mighty Gents for People Productions, and Rita Dove's The Darker Face of the Earth. Edward Lewis died of pancreatic cancer in 2009, and that winter (with several plays featuring black actors being performed) Jerry Rapier had the idea of marketing them all under the title "The Edward Lewis Black Theatre Festival." The Festival has continued yearly in the month of February, usually in the Salt Lake City Public Library auditorium, with several different local theaters contributing short plays or scenes from their current productions.

The 10th Annual Edward Lewis Theatre Festival Performances include:

University of Utah Adjunct Assistant Professor Dr. Lynn DeBoeck’s The Lynchpin Life which brings together Civil Rights pioneer Ida B. Wells with a Black Rights Matter woman of today. GUISE by Chris Curlett and DoLs by Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin (Plan-B Theatre) · Script-In-Hand readings of two short plays-in-progress from Plan-B's Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop. Me Too Monologues (Wasatch Theatre Company) Let Me Down Easy (Canary Down the Mine) · Written by Anna Deavere Smith, founding director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at New York University.

The 10th Annual Edward Lewis Theatre Festival Sunday, February 10 2 to 5 p.m. Salt Lake City Public Library FREE admission

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The Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company presents, 'the live creature and ethereal things'
Feb. 1-2 at 7:30 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre
This production is in collaboration with Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory, founded by University of Utah Assistant Professors, Robert Scott Smith and Alexandra Harbold.

the live creature and ethereal things' draws inspiration from the Red Fred Project which collaborates with children living in extraordinary circumstances (rare diseases, critical illnesses, life-limiting situations) and asks them the question: If you could write a book for the entire world to read, what would it be about? Their stories are full of colorful characters both humorous and wise. Guest performer Robert Scott Smith joins the company on this curious, shapeshifting, and theatrical quest. Flying Bobcat’s adaptation with storytelling with both English and Spanish, explores the power of storytelling and forming connections in a magical theatrical quest to prove that every voice matters. Choreography by Artistic Director Daniel Charon, storyline in collaboration with Alexandra Harbold and Robert Scott Smith of Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory, and original score created by John Paul Hayward. Additional support provided by Mary Jane O'Connor, the Price Family Foundation, and Zions Bank. Music commissioned by the Charles and Joan Gross Family Foundation. Tickets: $35 ($40 day of)

Purchase Tickets: ArtTix.org 

All photos by Tori Duhaime

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