An Interview with Playwright Rachel Bublitz and Director Alexandra Harbold of THE NIGHT WITCHES

Published in Blog

"Bob Week" is a weeklong celebration in honor of Bob Nelson, on the occasion of his retirement. "Bob Week" runs from 10/2/2020 to 10/9/2020.

Published in Blog
October 03, 2020

Day 4: Julie Jensen

"Bob Week" is a weeklong celebration in honor of Bob Nelson, on the occasion of his retirement. "Bob Week" runs from 10/2/2020 to 10/9/2020.

Published in Blog

"Bob Week" is a weeklong celebration in honor of Bob Nelson, on the occasion of his retirement. "Bob Week" runs from 10/2/2020 to 10/9/2020.

Published in Blog

 "Bob Week" is a weeklong celebration in honor of Bob Nelson, on the occasion of his retirement. "Bob Week" runs from 10/2/2020 to 10/9/2020.

Published in Blog

This fall, Professor and former Chair of the Department of Theatre, Robert A. Nelson, is retiring from the University of Utah after more than fifteen years.

Following a BA in Dramatic Theory (Arizona), Bob first came to the University of Utah to earn his PhD in Theatre. He remained in Utah, teaching theatre at BYU for many years--including a stint as Department Chair from 1998 to 2004--before he returned to the University of Utah. He served as Chair of the Department from 2005 to 2009, staying on afterward as Professor and Head of the Theatre Studies Program. His varied interests and depth of knowledge about the history, theory, and practice of theatre allowed him to teach a wide variety of subjects; however, as he states in his bio, "he particularly enjoys theatre history, dramatic literature, new-play development, acting, directing, and Shakespeare." This last affinity led him not only to teach and act the plays of the Bard, but also to publish his own writing about teaching Shakespeare.

Bob's unflagging passion and enthusiasm, coupled with his innate generosity, have led to widespread involvement in every aspect of theatre. Over the years, Bob has presented at and participated in a wide array of organizations and associations, including ASTR (American Society for Theatre Research), ATA (American Theatre Association), ATHE (Association for Theatre in Higher Education), Comparative Drama Conference, RMTA (Rocky Mountain Theatre Association), UTA (Utah Theatre Association), and KCACTF (Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival).

In addition to the time and resources he has contributed as an educator, Bob has also maintained a notable and diverse career as a theatre actor and director throughout Utah, as well as in film and television. As stated in his bio, "he and the former Char Pomeroy are the proud parents of four, and grandparents of seven."

During our weeklong celebration of Bob Nelson, we will be updating our blog daily with interviews from members of our department and community, each remembering and celebrating Bob as an educator, an administrator, an actor, a director, and friend. Don’t forget to visit our Wall of Thanks to post your own memories, stories, pictures, videos, and wishes for Bob.

“Bob Week” runs from October 2 to October 9, 2020.

Published in Blog

Grant from National Endowment for the Arts fuels research where theatre meets patient communication

A group of interdisciplinary researchers from the arts and medicine at the University of Utah is among a select group to receive federal grant money from the National Endowment for the Arts for their work investigating the value and impact of the arts, either as individual components of the U.S. arts ecology or as they interact with each other and with other domains of American life. “I believe that a public university exists to improve the lives of the community it serves,” says Michael L. Good, MD, Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, CEO of University of Utah Health, and Dean of the School of Medicine. “Fostering a campus culture of collaboration between the arts and health is essential to our success.

This generous support from the NEA validates and supports our efforts to expand interdisciplinary research, teaching, clinical care, and community engagement on the important role the arts play in healing, recovery, and wellness.” These researchers, led by Sydney Cheek-O’Donnell, PhD (College of Fine Arts’ Department of Theatre) and Gretchen Case, PhD, MA, (School of Medicine’s Program in Medical Ethics and Humanities), have developed a unique, theatre-based approach to helping health care providers, trainees, and students develop and practice the skills they need to communicate with patients, families, and care teams, especially when approaching difficult conversations, called Coached Rehearsal Techniques for Interpersonal Communication Skills (CRiTICS). “The value of the arts on culture has been long understood,” said John W. Scheib, PhD, Associate Vice President for the Arts at the University of Utah and Dean of the College of Fine Arts. “And explorations like these are helping us to understand how artistic practices and creative thinking can have powerful benefits outside of galleries and theatres and in ways that profoundly shape our healing.”

CRiTICS uses professional coaches trained in theatre and performance to guide learners through the rehearsal of a difficult conversation scenario, offering individualized, constructive feedback not only on what a learner says, but also on how they communicate nonverbally. And the funds from National Endowment of the Arts will allow the research team to assess its effectiveness using objective measures in a large-scale, randomized controlled trial. Results of this trial will offer insights for improved assessment of communication skills, which are notoriously difficult to measure productively.

“No one wants to hear bad news and no one wants to give it, either, but health care professionals have to do it every day,” said Cheek-O’Donnell. “Providers at all levels of training deserve innovative support to communicate effectively and compassionately in challenging medical settings,” said Case. This project was conceived and planned with the support of Jeffrey R. Botkin, MD, MPH and the Utah Center for Excellence in ELSI Research (UCEER), and the enthusiastic backing of the Department of Theatre, College of Fine Arts, Program in Medical Ethics and Humanities, and the Division of General Internal Medicine.

National Endowment for the Arts Acting Chairman, Mary Anne Carter, announced 15 awards totaling $724,000 to support research projects that investigate the value and impact of the arts. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to

Original from the CFA's Finer Points Blog.

Published in Blog

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.

Published in Blog

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

Original article by The Finer Points Blog

Published in Blog

For this episode of MAGNIFYING we spoke with Department of Theatre Assistant Professor of Directing and Co-Founder & Co-Artistic Director of the Flying Bobcat Theatrical LaboratoryAlexandra Harbold.

Our creative community here at the College of Fine Arts is diverse and wide spread. With the goal of gaining a deeper knowledge and awareness of the people within our community, we bring you MAGNIFYING, a series dedicated to showcasing the talent of our students, faculty, and staff.

Tell us about yourself: Name, where you are from, what you do and how you got into in your field of work My name is Alexandra Harbold. I grew up in Williamsburg, Virginia and earned my bachelor’s at Middlebury College in Vermont and my masters at the University of London, Goldsmiths College. My grandparents met playing opposite one another in a production of Noel Coward’s Hay Fever, so theatre always felt encoded in the DNA and lore of our family.

What has surprised you the most in your life? Where we find and make our homes and lives. Having grown up on the East Coast, I always expected to land there. When I was in London for grad school, I felt like I’d found home. Which made coming back to the States challenging in new ways – I found myself looking for that kinship I felt to London and couldn’t really find it. I’ve lived in New York City, Seattle, and Chicago… When we moved to Salt Lake City for my husband’s work, we thought it was a stopgap and that we would only be here for a year or two. That was in 2004.

What do you wish you had known/been told? I wish I’d recognized that the sense of not knowing enough that used to get me tangled in knots was only problematic because I thought I was supposed to ‘get it’ the first time. As if our capacity to understand and create are fixed points, our once and future reality. Now I recognize that creativity and craft grow in direct correspondence to curiosity and resilience/stubbornness. In a SITI Company blog a few years ago, Artistic Director/author Anne Bogart wrote about the necessity of deep practice, referencing neuroscientists’ discovery that ‘only after 10,000 hours of practice is real progress and innovation possible.’ So I keep working towards that 10,000 hours.

Original post by CFA The Finer Points Blog


Published in Blog