Volume LX Number 2 • Spring 2019 • $8.00
WHAT DRIVES SUCCESS? Muriel Miguel: Tell Stories That Are Important to You Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder: Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Work Levi Kreis: Embrace What Makes You Different Betsey Horth: Tap Your Creativity as a Leader
™] is a blessing to me. I now do not [SkyDeck™ have to worry about the risk factors for myself or my students of hanging lights from a ladder or walking an open catwalk. Thanks for the great job.
– Timothy Barrington Technical Director / Instructor of Theatre Department of Visual & Theatre Arts University of Tennessee Martin
IASTAGE.COM Photo Courtesy of Nathan Howard
STELLAADLER.COM 212-689-0087 31 W 27TH ST, FL 3 NEW YORK, NY 10001 CLASSES@STELLAADLER.COM
ARTOFACTINGSTUDIO.COM 323-601-5310 1017 N ORANGE DR LOS ANGELES, CA 90038 INFO@ARTOFACTINGSTUDIO.COM
䘀伀刀 吀䠀䔀 䘀䤀刀匀吀 吀䤀䴀䔀 䤀一 䘀伀刀䔀嘀䔀刀⸀⸀⸀
㈀㈀ⴀ㔀㐀ⴀ㐀㘀㠀㐀 簀 洀琀椀猀栀漀眀猀⸀挀漀洀
Volume LX Number 2 l Spring 2019 l Southern Theatre – Quarterly Magazine of the Southeastern Theatre Conference
Departments 4 Hot off the Press
Plays About Human Connections by Zackary Ross
6 Outside the Box: Design/Tech Solutions
Reusable Cast: Create the Look of a Broken Ankle Without Breaking the Bank by Edith Carnley
8 Betsey Horth
Managing an Organization at the Intersection of Creativity and Leadership by Kim Doty
16 Muriel Miguel
Tell Stories That Are Important to You
20 Celebrating SETC’s 70th in Knoxville Photos by Caitie McMekin
24 Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder
Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Work
Cover Stanton Nash (left) and David Bowen appear in Triad Stage’s 2019 production of White Lightning, a play by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder that explores moonshining’s role in the development of NASCAR. (See story on Wilder, Page 24.) Director Sarah Hankins says the theatre in Greensboro, NC, wanted to focus on what the car represented – freedom and speed – rather than presenting a realistic image. Inspired by sculpture and red dirt, scenic designer Natalie Taylor Hart created the car from pencil rod steel covered in compressed Styrofoam plastic, while the road behind the car in the photo is a combination of Masonite and foam covered with fabric and jaxsan. (Photo by VanderVeen Photographers; Photoshop work by Garland Gooden; cover design by Deanna Thompson)
by Gaye Jeffers
by Amy Cuomo
30 Levi Kreis
Embrace What Makes You Different
by Tom DeTitta
35 Esthere Strom Receives SETC’s 2019 Suzanne M. Davis Memorial Award Presentation by Betsey Horth
36 Hop on the Cart
Making Theatre the Oily Cart Way
by W. Riley Braem
40 2019 SETC Young Scholars Award Winners Abstracts by Alex Ates and Kenya Gadsden Spring 2019 x Southern Theatre x 3
Plays About Human Connections by Zackary Ross
s social beings, we define our lives largely by the relationships we develop. On our journey through life, we grow and change through the interactions we have. We meet new people along the way, yearn to reconnect with others who have left us behind, and seek to
escape the orbit of others whose influence does us harm. What follows is a collection of newly published plays from major play publishers that explore themes of human connection and the joy, pain, laughter and sadness that result from it. Following each description, you’ll find the cast breakdown and a referral to the publisher who holds the rights.
Fireflies, by Matthew Barber
Lake artfully stages the conflict between
makes a profound statement about love,
A self-assured drifter has come to town and
big-city dreams and small-town realities.
loss and our tragic inability to form
up-ended Eleanor Bannister’s life. Content
The result is emotionally rich, grounded
meaningful connections with the people
in her retirement, Eleanor was happy to let
and refreshingly honest.
life continue on around her without taking
Cast breakdown: 2 females; 3 males
Cast breakdown: 5 females; 2 males
part, but the attentions of Abel Brown have
Publisher: Samuel French
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service, Inc.
set her world spinning and now all the
town is talking about it. However, when unknown truths come to light, this late-in-
High, by Matthew Lombardo
life romance threatens to close Eleanor off
Pressured to intervene in the case of a
permanently. Based on the novel Eleanor
19-year-old drug addict, the hard-swearing
and Abel by Annette Sanford, Fireflies is the
and blunt Sister Jamison Connolly counsels
quiet story of two people finding each other
the embittered Cody during his mandated
long after they had both stopped looking
rehab, and the pair begin to see they are
more alike than either realized. The play
Cast breakdown: 2 females; 2 males
explores the role faith plays on the path of
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service, Inc.
self-destruction and the surprising places
we find understanding. Cast breakdown: 1 female; 2 males
Five Mile Lake, by Rachel Bonds
Publisher: Broadway Play Publishing, Inc.
Jamie and Mary are living quiet lives,
working at a bakery in the small town in which they grew up. Both feel a bit
This Random World, by Steven Dietz
trapped by the choices they have made and
How often do we walk through the world
the family circumstances they have been
unaware of all the connections we fail to
dealt. When Jamie’s brother Rufus and
make on our journey? Following a set of
his girlfriend Peta show up unannounced,
seven intersecting lives, the play explores
the foursome must confront their past
the elusive nature – the myth, even – of
failures, forgotten dreams and the hard
serendipity. Bittersweet, heartbreaking
realities that define their lives. Five Mile
and riotously funny, This Random World
4 x Southern Theatre x Spring 2019
The Roommate, by Jen Silverman
In an effort to kick-start her life after divorce, Sharon has opened up her home to new roommate Robyn. As the women grow closer and Robyn’s mysterious criminal past comes to light, Sharon finds her own deep-seated desire to break bad too hard to ignore. Unfortunately, Robyn has moved to Iowa to start over with a clean slate and escape her past behaviors. This darkly humorous play investigates the complicated way we influence and are influenced by the people in our lives. Cast breakdown: 2 females Publisher: Samuel French www.samuelfrench.com Zackary Ross, an assistant professor of theatre at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY, also works regularly as a director and a dramaturg.
Theatre s o u t h e r n
From the SETC President
SETC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Susie Prueter EDITOR Deanna Thompson
Clay Thornton, email@example.com BUSINESS & ADVERTISING OFFICE
Southeastern Theatre Conference 1175 Revolution Mill Drive, Studio 14 Greensboro, NC 27405 336-272-3645 PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE
J.K. Curry, Chair, Wake Forest University (NC) Becky Becker, Clemson University (SC) Gaye Jeffers, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Laura King, Gordon State College (GA) EDITORIAL BOARD
Tom Alsip, Oklahoma State University Lamont Clegg, Osceola County School for the Arts (FL) Larry Cook, University of North Georgia Amy Cuomo, University of West Georgia F. Randy deCelle, University of Alabama Kristopher Geddie, Venice Theatre (FL) Bill Gelber, Texas Tech University Scott Hayes, Liberty University (VA) Edward Journey, Alabama A&M University Stefanie Maiya Lehmann, Lincoln Center (NY) Brooke Morgan, University of Montevallo (AL) Tiffany Dupont Novak, Lexington Children's Theatre (KY) Richard St. Peter, Northwestern State University (LA) Jonathon Taylor, East Tennessee State University PROOFREADERS
Kim Doty, SETC Communications Specialist Denise Halbach, Independent Theatre Artist (MS) Philip G. Hill, Furman University (SC) PRINTING
Clinton Press, Greensboro, NC NOTE ON SUBMISSIONS
Southern Theatre welcomes submissions of articles pertaining to all aspects of theatre. Preference will be given to subject matter closely linked to theatre activity in the Southeastern United States. Articles are evaluated by the editor and members of the Editorial Board. Criteria for evaluation include: suitability, clarity, significance, depth of treatment and accuracy. Please query the editor via email before sending articles. Submissions are accepted on disk or via email. Stories should not exceed 3,000 words. Color photos (300 dpi in jpeg or tiff format) and a brief identification of the author should accompany all articles. Please note any photos, disks and other materials to be returned and include SASE. Send stories to: Editor, Southern Theatre, 1175 Revolution Mill Drive, Studio 14, Greensboro, NC 27405. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Southern Theatre (ISSNL: 0584-4738) is published quarterly by the Southeastern Theatre Conference, Inc., a nonprofit organization, for its membership and others interested in theatre in the Southeast. Copyright © 2019 by Southeastern Theatre Conference, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without permission is prohibited. Subscription rates: $24.50 per year, U.S.; $30.50 per year, Canada; $47 per year, International. Single copies: $8, plus shipping.
In this issue of Southern Theatre, we spotlight the 2019 SETC Convention keynote speakers who inspired us with their stories, providing guidance to all of us who aspire to achieve success in our lives and our careers. We also focus on what success looks like in a nonprofit organization – SETC – and the principles that helped drive the organization’s major growth over the last 20 years. We start with our look inside SETC, which has seen its operating budget burgeon by 400 percent – with increases in services and geographic reach – since Betsey Horth became executive director in 1999. As she prepared to step down from that role this spring, she shared key tenets and real-world examples of her creative leadership principles with writer Kim Doty – with the hope that other nonprofit organizations might find success using the techniques. Not many people can boast of a nearly 70-year career in the arts, but Muriel Miguel, the 2019 winner of SETC’s Distinguished Career Award, has been founding organizations and telling stories since she and a friend started a Native American group called the Little Eagles when she was 12. Gaye Jeffers shares Miguel’s story. If you’ve ever doubted your own success – even as it was happening – you’ll relate to playwright Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder’s message in her Friday keynote. Amy Cuomo provides highlights from Wilder’s presentation and outlines the conclusion she has reached: it’s vital to “keep your eyes on your own work.” In his Thursday keynote, actor-singer Levi Kreis urged audience members to accept and embrace who they are as a person and as a performer. It’s a lesson that Kreis has learned well, as Tom DeTitta recounts in our story. The Teachers Institute this year was about creating success as well – in this case, with children who have complex disabilities or Autism Spectrum Disorder. Riley Braem takes us inside the strategies that presenter Tim Webb, founder of Oily Cart, uses to involve these children in interactive theatre. Rounding out this issue are some shorter stories. We celebrate the 2019 winner of the Suzanne M. Davis Memorial Award, Esthere Strom. We provide some new play options in our regular “Hot Off the Press” column. And we outline a cost-effective way to create a cast to simulate a broken ankle onstage in our regular “Outside the Box” column. Finally, we share the abstracts submitted by the graduate and undergraduate winners of SETC’s Young Scholars Award. The variety of perspectives and knowledge shared in these pages illuminates the SETC experience in Knoxville and beyond. I am confident you will find them valuable and stimulating. Enjoy!
Jeff Gibson, SETC President Spring 2019 x Southern Theatre x 5
the box DESIGN/ TECH SOLUTIONS
Create the Look of a Broken Ankle Without ‘Breaking the Bank’
by Edith Carnley
hen Florida A&M University’s Essential Theatre chose Cat on a
Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams as the classic offering in our 2016-17 season, it seemed a bit of relief after the stresses of the show before it. As a costume designer, I was glad to see that the action of this play took place during a matter of hours on the same day and in one room. That meant one costume per performer. Easy breezy! Except, one of the main characters needed a little extra something to wear. Evelyn Tyler
That character, Brick, has broken his ankle the night before, so the actor playing him must wear a cast throughout the performance – never leaving the stage. withstand several falls by the actor, and
The cast created for Chris Beckford Jr. lasted throughout his performance as Brick in Florida A&M University's production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Sarah Lubin (right) portrayed Maggie.
it needed to come off easily after the
Discovering this wide variety of styles
Creating the Basic Interior Layer
actually turned out to be helpful, because
it gave us creative license to build the cast
into strips 2 inches wide and rolling
and not worry about it having to look like
them (below). The actor put on two old,
or order online, so I went to the Internet in
an exact copy of a cast from the 1950s.
dispensable socks to act as a barrier
search of ideas for how others had handled
between his skin and the plaster wrap. We
this problem. I found a few solutions, but
After a few failed attempts, we came
filled a bowl or tub with water so we could
I was not satisfied with the look or the
up with a cast that was reusable and
dip (not soak) the plaster wrap strips in
stability of the pieces. Another issue: Cat
could withstand the performance test. We
water and then wrap the wet strips around
on a Hot Tin Roof is set in the 1950s, so the
were short on time, so we had to work
the actor’s leg over the sock, making sure
cast had to look true to that era.
with supplies we could acquire locally.
to overlap ends of strips. We continued
In my research, I found numerous photos
For example, instead of ordering special
of people in the 1950s with broken ankles,
supplies such as plaster bandage tape, we
including some celebrities. However, there
used plaster wrap (the stuff they use to
were inconsistencies in how the casts were
make volcano projects for school) that we
applied. For example, Marilyn Monroe’s
found at a local craft/hobby store and then
cast for an ankle break was a sexy, thin
cut it into strips like bandages.
version, while others wore thick and heavy-
looking versions. The casts varied not just
stop, which we used as a foot rest on the
in thickness, but also in shape and size,
bottom of the cast. Using other items found
with some coming up over the calf, some
around the shop and the on-hand shop
covering more of the foot than others and
tools, we were able to create a cast that
some sporting footrests in varying styles.
didn’t “break the bank.”
Casts are not something you can borrow
6 x Southern Theatre x Spring 2019
Another find was a cheap rubber door
We started by cutting the plaster wrap
Process photos by Edith Carnley
The cast needed to be strong enough to
wrapping until we had three layers. We
Shaping the Cast
Wearing the Cast
wanted this layer to be thick enough to hold
Next, we layered more plaster wrap
its shape, but not so thick that it couldn’t
strips to seal the opening that was made
part of the cast. Then the back part was
be easily cut.
to get the actor’s leg out. We glued the
pushed into place and held with a couple
The actor slipped his foot into the front
Next, we waited – about 20 to 30 minutes
doorstop in place in the hole on the wooden
of pieces of medical tape. The cast was
– until the plaster hardened. (My actor took
footprint, and placed the footprint at the
wrapped with gauze bandage strips to
a nap.) Then we used scissors to carefully
bottom of the hardened cast, filling any
hide the opening (below). At the end of each
and cleanly cut the cast along the back of
spaces between the cast and the footprint
show, we saved and rolled the gauze so
the leg, taking care to tilt the scissors up-
with plaster of paris mixed with water.
it could be reused. The medical tape was
ward, away from the actor's skin. This al-
Once the bottom support was in place, we
removed and discarded. And the actor’s
lowed us to pull the opening apart enough
wrapped the cast with more plaster wrap
leg was once again free.
for the actor to get his leg out (below). After
strips until we were satisfied with the
this is done, the actor can leave.
shape. Then we let all this dry.
Two things we would do differently in
the future: We would seal the inside of the cast, and we would line it with felt or baby flannel to prevent moisture from softening the inside of the cast. n Edith Carnley is an associate professor of costume design at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. Preparing the Bottom Support
Making the Cast Wearable
While waiting for the cast to harden, we
We used a utility knife to cut away the
prepared the bottom foot support and foot
back part of the cast, from the top of the
rest. A small piece of thin plywood was cut
calf to just above the ankle, giving the actor
to resemble a footprint without the toes.
an opening where he could insert his foot.
In the middle of the footprint, a hole was
Cutting this in a curved pattern, rather
cut to allow the doorstop to be inserted
than straight down, made the two parts fit
without passing completely through the
together snugly, like puzzle pieces (below).
hole (below). The ridge on the bottom of the doorstop rested on the inside edge of the footprint hole. The hollow center of the doorstop was filled with plaster of paris mixed with water to make it solid.
Materials Plaster wrap, cut into 2” strips $18.00 Plaster of paris 3.00 Rubber doorstop or something similar (optional) 2.00 Medical tape 3.00 Gauze bandage 2.00 Small piece of thin wood 0.00 Old, dispensable socks 0.00 Scissors, utility knife, etc. 0.00 Paper, pencil, markers 0.00 Tub or bowl for water 0.00 Total $28.00
Do you have a design/tech solution that would make a great Outside the Box column?
Send a brief summary of your idea to Outside the Box Editor F. Randy deCelle at email@example.com. Spring 2019 x Southern Theatre x 7
BETSEY HORTH Managing an Organization at the Intersection of Creativity and Leadership Caitie McMekin
Tap Your Creativity
as a Leader
by Kim Doty
Creative leadership – the process of turning creative
1999-2019: Betsey Horth’s Impact on SETC
fine-tuning. And then you repeat all of the above!”
he 70th annual SETC Convention in Knoxville, TN, marked the 20th and final year of Betsey Horth’s leadership of SETC. For the last two years, Horth and SETC board and staff members have worked – with Horth leading the process – to plan a smooth transition into a future that will be shaped Susie Prueter (left) and Betsey Horth under new management. As they welcome SETC’s new leader, Susie Prueter, board members also are looking back and reflecting on the impact of Horth’s tenure as executive director. At the 69th annual SETC Convention in Mobile, AL, SETC Past President Jack Benjamin surprised Horth by announcing her as the recipient of the 2018 Suzanne Davis Memorial Award, established to honor distinguished
Horth’s emphasis on imaginative problem-solving
service to SETC over a number of years. Benjamin took the opportunity to
is a direct product of her own longtime interest in the
describe Horth’s influence: “Not only has our honoree impacted many facets
field of creativity. While teaching costuming in the
of SETC, they have impacted every facet. Our honoree has been a driving force for the prominence of SETC in the Southeast and beyond. During their service, SETC has grown in numbers physically as well as financially. They have been the cornerstone for the national distinction SETC has gained due to our convention, publications and relationships with many other theatre organizations across the country.” Specifically, SETC has grown from one full-time and two part-time workers in 1999 to a staff of eight full-time and three part-time workers in 2019. From 1999 to 2018, SETC’s operating budget grew by more than 400 percent, from $343,000 to $1.43 million. SETC’s defining successes under Horth’s leadership include: • Fostering and embracing SETC’s evolution from a regional to a national theatre organization, while ensuring that the organization stayed true to its Southeastern roots. In 2019, SETC’s membership and attendance at its annual convention and other events included individuals from 49 states. • Maintaining a strong, self-sustained financial base while steering the organization through a period of major growth. SETC remained in the black as it added new services, dramatically increased existing ones and expanded to year-round operation. At her final convention as executive director, Horth was named Executive Director Emeritus by SETC’s Executive Committee and learned that longtime member John Spiegel would spearhead a new SETC arts management scholarship in her name. In addition, she was honored as a 2019 inductee to the SETC Hall of Fame – nominated by SETC President Jeff Gibson. “Her accomplishments are too exhaustive to list, but I don’t think it would be an overstatement to say that she has been one of the most impactful, if not the most impactful leader in SETC’s history,” he said. - Kim Doty
thinking and exploration into tactical, tangible results – defines the last 20 years at SETC. As Betsey Horth leaves the organization, she shares insights on this concept that has been the driving force in her work and outlines some of the problem-solving principles she used to guide SETC’s transformation during her two decades as executive director. “Creative leadership begins with providing an open environment that encourages the engagement of many, having a flexible mind-set, and welcoming original thinking,” Horth says. “Then you build on that to deliver results. You start with the “What If?” that inspires, move on to the “What Now?” of making it happen, and continue with the “What Next?” for
early 1990s, she was so drawn to the concept that she returned to school at Buffalo State College in New York to pursue a master’s degree in creativity. “While most people were going to graduate school for arts administration, business or other terminal degrees, in 1992 I went off in search of a degree that would help me understand the creative process,” says Horth.
When SETC hired her as its executive director in
1999, Horth approached the new role with a keen interest in building an organizational culture that fostered ingenuity. Her specialization in creativity – combined with a background in acting, costuming, teaching, writing and marketing – provided a powerful confluence of expertise. She could offer a diversity of perspectives to match the diversity of theatre constituencies SETC aims to serve – and she was able to navigate the fluidity of roles required to lead a small staff in the production of one of the nation’s largest theatre conventions.
SETC naturally became her testing ground as she
worked to advance her own entrepreneurial thinking, leadership principles, business practices and creative problem-solving concepts. Over the past two decades, Horth’s methods and values not only have blossomed but also have taken root within the Central Office staff and in the organization as a whole. The practices she fostered have become integral to how SETC conducts its business and fulfills its mission.
Her creativity-focused approach differs so much
Opposite page: Betsey Horth discusses SETC business with President Jeff Gibson. Spring 2019 x Southern Theatre x 9
'I search for beneficial reciprocity especially when working in new locations.'
from the traditional arts management track that Horth
for beneficial reciprocity especially when working in
believes she could write a book that might be helpful
new locations,” Horth says.
to others in the arts, detailing the techniques and tools
3 Example: Beneficial Reciprocity in Action
she’s put into practice at SETC. The following general
with a Community
concepts offer a glimpse into the methods Horth used
to grow SETC into the major theatre organization that
Mobile, SETC staff members were touring the parking
it is today.
area of the Mobile Convention Center when Brandt
Wilhelm, the director of operations for the convention
SETC is composed of an intricate and sprawling
center, offhandedly asked if the organization would
web of communities. It’s a membership organization
be interested in painting one of the main walls by the
that serves all levels of theatre practitioners within all
elevator. Within moments, the idea for a Scenic Paint-
theatre disciplines, one that welcomes participants
ing Masterclass was being floated – and details soon
from across the nation, and one that hosts its events in
were being worked out. SETC tapped several scenic
a variety of cities around the Southeast. Accordingly,
design experts to lead the class, and when convention
one of Horth’s primary directives has been to create
time arrived, students worked under their direction
and maintain meaningful relationships wherever she
to paint a mural depicting the Azalea Trail Maids of
can. “Relationships are paramount – up and down the
Mobile, with the convention center covering the costs
spectrum,” Horth says.
of materials, including paint supplied by Sculptural
Those relationships build the networks that keep
Arts Coating, a convention exhibitor. Bottom line:
day-to-day office operations running smoothly, allow
The convention center received a great face-lift for its
SETC to hit the ground running at disparate host cit-
parking area, and participants in the workshop got
ies and event venues, and expand opportunities for
tangible training in the art of mural painting.
others in innovative ways.
3 Example: Beneficial Reciprocity in Action
with a Festival Host
One of SETC’s guiding practices in building com-
A few months before the 2018 SETC Convention in
munity stems from Horth’s master’s thesis, “Theory
A second example of reciprocity repeats itself
and Applications of Networking in the Field of
annually as part of the annual convention. SETC
Creativity” (1994). Horth’s research stressed the
produces two competitive theatre performance fes-
importance of “reciprocal exchange,” a process that
tivals: the Community Theatre Festival and the High
occurs when two or more individuals or organiza-
School Theatre Festival. Each competition requires its
tions uncover a common interest, which leads to each
own theatre venue which, of course, requires money
providing something beneficial to the other.
to operate. However, neither competition generates
SETC often employs this principle in forging part-
the funds to cover those costs. So, Horth applies the
nerships for events at the SETC Convention. “I search
principle of reciprocity in her search for host venues. “The first question I ask myself when entering into a potential site review is, ‘What other value does SETC bring to a potential host theatre?’” Horth explains. “By examining what we have to offer other than money, SETC has been fortunate to have host theatres over the years provide us the theatre space for mutual benefits and reduced costs.”
For college hosts, SETC has been able to provide
a variety of benefits. The college's theatre students Porfirio Solorzano
get an opportunity to run the competition, garnering valuable on-the job experience. SETC also may provide students with convention registrations in exchange for access to the school's theatre facilities. Colleges and universities also benefit from attracting Scott Bradley (front) was the scenic designer for SETC’s mural project in the Mobile Convention Center parking garage. He taught students and supervised work on the mural along with other designers. 10 x Southern Theatre x Spring 2019
participating High School Theatre Festival groups (composed of potential college students) onto their campuses. High school hosts, meanwhile, have re-
ceived convention registrations for students and had
Creative Leadership Principles
workshops brought to their campuses at no charge. Horth finds the initial networking efforts in a
from Betsey Horth
community can have long-term effects. “When we are invited to return to these venues, it confirms the reciprocity concept of networking theory,“ Horth
1. Pay attention
Listen, listen, listen.
For example, at the 2020 SETC Convention in
Look, look and look again.
Louisville, KY, the Community Theatre Festival will
Take a 360-degree view.
be held for a second time at Youth Performing Arts
Embrace diverse points of view.
School (YPAS), a magnet school open to students by
2. Define the market for your organization or service
audition only. In 2013, the last time the convention
Who does it serve?
was in Louisville, the school hosted the festival – and
How is your product unique in this market?
SETC provided convention registrations to 15 of their
Are you exploring mission-driven products and services?
students at no charge. SUSTAINABLE FINANCING
3. Embrace data
When it comes to most financial decisions, Horth
Outside the field: What’s happening in the world?
has made a point of running SETC, a 501(c)3 nonprofit
Inside the field: What's happening in the field but outside work boundaries?
organization, more like a for-profit corporation. She
Qualitative and quantitative: Perform internal/external reviews.
believes it is vital that all funding for a service, an
Debrief: Do a thorough examination of current practices.
event or an office expansion be accounted for before embarking on the new endeavor.
4. Create synergy
Strive for inclusion of ideas, people and processes.
In addition, Horth is adamant that SETC’s fiscal
health should not depend on grants or other outside
Value collaboration and teamwork.
funding. “We rely on our products and services to
Encourage new ideas.
generate our income,” Horth says. Simply put: “Make
it before you spend it.”
5. Get out of the way
New projects are accompanied by mini business
Results are about the product, not you.
plans. Each project must have its own blueprint that
Create the space for others to excel.
takes into account the costs associated with it.
Give credit and celebrate others' work.
3 Example: Business Plan, Masterclasses
In 2009, SETC introduced masterclasses – more
6. It’s okay not to know
intensive programs offered in addition to the
Call on expert resources.
traditional workshops at the SETC Convention. As
Become a lifelong learner.
the concept developed, Horth identified a number of associated costs, including location, talent, logistics, travel, food and beverage. Next, she added a figure
3 Example: Tailor-Made Sponsorships
that she calls “and then some.” This, she says, is “a
highly untechnical term that is vital for covering
another example of using ingenuity to bring benefits
hidden costs and developing sustainability.” Once the
to those attending the SETC Convention. SETC often
cost of the masterclasses was calculated, Horth turned
turns to other companies and organizations to help
her attention to the revenue stream. Masterclasses
fund events and products that enhance programming.
were a new event – an added value for those attend-
Horth’s operative philosophy has been that SETC
ing the annual convention – so participants were
does not have to make money on these added values,
asked to pay a nominal fee. This fee was developed
but that the costs do need to be covered. Developing
using a 60/40 model, with 60 percent of the income
the right sponsorship opportunity comes down to
going to cover SETC’s expenses and the remaining 40
identifying what audience would be served, who
percent going to the presenter. This allows SETC to
could benefit from reaching that audience, and what
cover its costs – and attract presenters at the top of
unique connections could be made.
Horth’s approach to developing sponsorships is
For example, receptions at SETC events add an imSpring 2019 x Southern Theatre x 11
SETC attendees receive added value, and the schools receive targeted publicity. RESOURCEFULNESS
Much of SETC’s growth has been rooted in an almost stubborn insistence on making great things happen out of limited resources. Horth credits her family as the source of her resourceful nature. Her childhood was spent in the Pennsylvania country, where her parents bought a 150-year-old stone farmhouse. In what Horth calls “a labor of love and ingenuity,” her family worked to restore their home Porfirio Solorzano
and land by themselves. “Rube Goldberg had nothing on my parents,” says Horth. “Their resourcefulness had them always looking for multiple ways to solve a problem.” That same creative problem-solving process has helped spawn a number of new programs designed to serve SETC’s membership. A sponsor tosses T-shirts into the crowd at the 2018 SETC Convention Design/ Tech Mixer. By offering sponsorships of events such as the DesignTech Mixer, SETC offers companies a chance to connect with their SETC audiences and provides enhanced networking opportunities to convention attendees.
portant dimension to the networking already taking
3 Example: Ready to… Programs
place. However, the cost for food and beverage isn’t
covered by event registrations. Some of the questions
Technology Committee at the time, approached Horth
that frame sponsorship solutions are: Who would
with a concern about the declining number of gradu-
possibly garner increased exposure from hosting a
ate-level entrants in the annual Design Competition.
particular reception? What can we make sure they
“I actually think I channeled my father overnight,”
get in return? How would it benefit them?
Horth says. She regrouped with Snyder and other key
“Sponsorships add ambience to SETC through
leaders the next day, and Horth pitched an idea for a
connecting the targeted constituency to the sponsor’s
“Ready to Work” (now, “Ready to Design”) program,
interest,” says Horth.
offering professional work opportunities to select
In what’s become an opening night standard at
graduate entrants in the Design Competition.
SETC’s annual convention, Disney Theatrical Group
sponsors a cocktail reception in honor of workshop
might want from entering the competition,” Horth
presenters and professional company representatives.
says. “The recognition or cash prizes weren’t enough,
Through this outreach effort, Disney representatives
and the critiques of their work by leading designers
have the opportunity to connect with their audience
no longer meant much to students about to embark
– the segment of SETC’s constituency that would
on their professional careers. And with that, ‘work’
be interested in and capable of producing their
entered the solution.”
In 2008, Troy Snyder, chair of SETC’s Design and
“I got there by asking myself what a grad student
Flash forward 11 years, and SETC now partners
For 15 years, a rotating selection of tech companies
with four professional theatres in offering annual
– such as Barbizon Lighting, 4Wall Entertainment,
Ready to Design awards. Each sponsoring theatre
Robe Lighting, InterAmerica Stage, 1st Street Music &
selects one graduate entrant from the Design Compe-
Sound Co. and Point Source Audio – have sponsored
tition as its winner. That winner is offered professional
the annual SETC Convention Design/Tech Mixer,
work as a designer on a production in the company’s
where they provide entertainment and throw swag
upcoming season. A number of these designers have
to the 400 designers and technicians in attendance.
been invited to return to work on other productions at
Frequently, companies or organizations reach out
their sponsor theatres. One winner, Josafath Reynoso,
to SETC seeking sponsorship opportunities. Two
went on to win the Gold Award for Emerging De-
universities wanted to reach the High School Theatre
signer at the 2017 World Stage Design exhibition in
Festival attendees. One now sponsors an Opening
Taipei for the scenic design he created for Cat on a Hot
Night Masterclass and Pizza Party; the other, a printed
Tin Roof while working at sponsor theatre Triad Stage.
festival program that is handed to every attendee.
The concept of building direct pathways to im-
Once again, this is beneficial reciprocity in action:
mersive and rewarding professional experiences has
12 x Southern Theatre x Spring 2019
since expanded to two more “Ready to” initiatives. Early and mid-career directors have the Ready to Direct competition, and playwrights now have the Ready to Publish award sponsored by SETC and play publisher Stage Rights. ORGANIC GROWTH
While some challenges spark solutions overnight,
others take patience. Horth advocates for being nonhasty whenever you have the luxury. “Nonprofit organizations can sustain themselves if they take their time, pay attention from all directions, and move
together,” Horth says. When she started at SETC, Horth was methodical
in learning the ins and outs of the organization. “Perhaps it was my initial insecurity in taking the position or the challenge of understanding the dynamics of the organization, but I started slowly,” she says. “As I grew, I learned how to grow the organization.”
ing. “Why don’t we add ‘nationwide’ to our mission
Patience helped Horth become the leader she
statement?” Richardson asked.
is today, and it’s also been a key in keeping SETC
“We audibly gasped and then embraced the
on steady financial footing as it’s bulked up in staff
elegant solution,” Horth says. “Instead of paying
members, expanded its offerings and reckoned with
$20,000 to a PR firm to help us adjust our branding
the implications of its own growth. Another important
language, we looked within our collective community
component has been Horth’s insistence on making the
and found this one word that captured the essence of
effort to listen, look full circle, work cooperatively and
who we are today.”
seek out diverse points of view. “By paying attention
and working collectively, we have been able to build
opted the revised SETC mission statement: “Connec-
a strong SETC foundation,” Horth says. “We haven’t
ting You to Opportunities in Theatre Nationwide.”
run into a wall yet that we can’t figure out how to
ANALYSIS MEETS MIND-SET
manage through, over or around.”
3 Example: Branding a Changing SETC
key to improvement. For Horth, that doesn’t mean
The origins of the Southeastern Theatre Confer-
just any analysis. How the analysis is presented and
ence date to 1949, when 55 Southerners convened for
couched is critical: “I believe in mind-set,” Horth says.
a meeting. Seventy years later, roughly 26 percent of
SETC’s members do not reside in the Southeast. Those
nity use the term “post-mortem” to analyze a project
who do often pursue careers and schooling outside the
or production upon completion, but Horth avoids the
region, and many non-Southerners choose to live, work
term with a passion. “I refuse to use a label that in
and study in the South. Thus, one of the more confus-
the medical world means ‘after death,’ ” Horth says.
ing challenges Horth dealt with was how to maintain
“The term frames the event examination as picking
SETC’s Southeastern heritage while acknowledging a
apart the dead.” Horth warns that inherent in this
national – even international – audience.
terminology is an attitude of “It’s over. Let’s wallow
Three months later, SETC’s Board of Directors ad-
Most business leaders will agree that analysis is
Many businesses and much of the theatre commu-
“Boiled down, our regional name and the reality
in sadness over what went wrong.”
of our reach had become a branding contradiction,”
Horth says. “We grappled with this dilemma for
process she learned during her graduate school study
several years in the office, with board members and
of creativity. “The purpose of the exercise is to expand
anyone who wanted to explore the issue.”
thinking versus closing it down, to look at continuous
The Ready to Design initiative provides talented designers with a work opportunity and valuable exposure. The scenic design that Josafath Reynoso created for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (above) as a 2015 award winner working at Triad Stage in Greensboro, NC, went on to win the 2017 Gold Award for Emerging Designer at the World Stage Design Exhibition in Taipei. Reynoso now works internationally as a freelance scenic designer and is an assistant professor of scenic design at the University of Richmond.
Horth prefers the word “debriefing,” a term and a
After all those years of conversation, Julie A. Rich-
improvement rather than move on from a completed
ardson – a professional director and stage manager
project. The tools are useful for completed projects,
who has been involved with SETC for decades –
programs and just about anything that requires or
offered a simple solution one day at a strategy meet-
benefits from a qualitative review.” Spring 2019 x Southern Theatre x 13
3 Example: The SETC Debrief
breakfast and continue through a delivered
SETC’s team was able to solve multiple
After every major event, the SETC
lunch well into the afternoon.
challenges from multiple perspectives.”
Central Office team gathers to celebrate the
CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT =
completion of the project and to examine
methods of analysis she was introduced to
TRANSITIONAL CHANGE = GROWTH
“what worked” and “what didn’t.” Process
at Buffalo State College during her master’s
templates are also sent to anyone outside
program: PPCO (Pluses, Potentials, Con-
tinuous improvement. Instead of “growth,”
the office who contributed major energy to
cerns, Overcomes) and ALU (Advantages,
her focus is on the process itself.
the leadership or management of the event.
Limitations, Unique connections). Both
The emphasis in Horth’s approach is
tools are built on the same basic structure:
individuals willing to ‘roll up their sleeves
to create a safe environment in which all
Focus first on positive observations.
and dig in,’ in addition to maintaining an
members on the team are motivated and
Celebrating the “pluses” – successes, both
openness to explore ideas and methodically
invested in continually improving the
big and small, collective and individual –
build them into tangible outcomes, created
work they do on behalf of the organization.
creates a celebratory environment while
an environment in which change occurred
Daylong debriefs start with a continental
sharing and tracking details of what
in steps, which ultimately resulted in the
worked to the group.
growth of SETC,” she says.
Next, jump into the challenges. Chal-
New ideas haven’t originated just
lenges are framed in a problem-solving ter-
with individuals. Organizations also have
Event, Program or Process
minology rather than stated as a “problem”
found SETC an open and accepting place
or a negative verdict on a piece of action.
to explore innovative ideas and programs.
For example, Horth notes, “Instead of say-
For the last five years, SETC has partnered
ing, ‘There wasn’t enough time between
with USITT (United States Institute for
workshop sessions,’ we would frame it
Theatre Technology) on LiNK, a graduate
as a question: ‘How might we create more
school recruitment event. And, in 2017, the
time for our attendees to get from one
Institute of Outdoor Theatre merged with
workshop to another?’ ”
SETC. In both instances, SETC’s services in-
Finish with opportunities. These often
creased and the organization grew in new,
stem directly from the positive and chal-
unexpected directions while continuing to
lenging observations already discussed.
serve its mission.
After the debrief, notes are formatted
Horth believes the process of creative
and exchanged among participants. Now
leadership can be applied anywhere, tak-
the problem-solving can begin. Often
ing different forms in each organization
problem-solving of the challenges is in-
in response to the objectives and needs of
stantaneous because the challenge has been
that entity and its leaders. However, the
framed as a question.
benefits of using a creative process are the
same across all types of businesses and
Template for a Debrief: Note Positive Observations and Experiences (Pluses) Don’t rush this first step. It cements and celebrates what worked. • Stay in this zone – hold all challenges to the next step. • Verbalize successes, large and small – anything and everything that comes to mind, one’s own observations as well as things that were heard.
Express Concerns/ Challenges These should all begin with the phrase “How to” (H2) or “How Might We” (HMW) in front of them. This technique immediately takes you to seeking solutions – but don’t stop to problem-solve now. Frame the question to be deliberated upon in a different session. You want to address: • What were the challenges/ concerns/issues? • What didn’t work so well? • What didn’t work at all?
Find the Opportunities Based on the first two steps, what are some future possibilities? • Do you see any new ideas or connections? • What pluses or challenges require time to generate ideas? • What unique connections can be taken forward in new ways?
14 x Southern Theatre x Spring 2019
Horth’s process has developed from two
Continuing with the real-world example
A final key tenet in Horth’s work is con-
“The conscious practice of including all
mentioned above, a challenge with conven-
organizations, she says.
tion workshops was solved through this
“The value of creative leadership is in
process: Workshops were scheduled too
integrating theory into ‘practice,’ which
soon after each other. As a result, programs
demands a continual process of openness,
started late and even later as the day pro-
commitment from others, and a willingness
gressed. Presenters’ challenge: How to have
to explore what can happen,” Horth says.
more time to set up? Attendees’ challenge:
“When you balance that with the concrete
How might I get to a session that is in an-
principles of running a business, anything
other building? The solution, Horth notes,
is possible.” n
was threefold: “Increase time between sessions from 10 minutes to 15 minutes; keep similar programming in a designated area of meeting rooms; and consistently schedule presenters who need audio-visual aids in the same room, lessening set-up time.
Kim Doty, the communications specialist in the SETC Central Office, earned an undergraduate degree from Indiana University Bloomington, where she studied English, journalism and studio art.
MURIEL MIGUEL Tell Stories That Are Important to You
by Gaye Jeffers
Native families had left their homelands and the reservations and come to New York City. Some had
Standing before a keynote audience at the SETC
found work performing in Wild West shows and were
Convention in Knoxville, Muriel Miguel played her
left stranded, with no way to return to their homes.
favorite role: storyteller. Starting from her childhood
They carried their history with them, the power of
days as an outcast “city Indian,” she recounted the
the past informing much of life in the present. The
twists and turns that led her to become part of the avant-garde theatre movement of the 1960s and later to found Spiderwoman Theater, the longest-running
Muriel Miguel: Bio and Career Highlights
feminist Native American theatre company in North America. Miguel made it clear that, at 81, she remains passionate about making theatre – and weaving tales that make a difference. Throughout her life, she has been drawn most strongly to two causes that remain her focus today: feminism and the marginalization of Native Americans, especially women. Her latest work, Misdemeanor Dream, explores the Native tricksters and spirits that exist in the stories and daily lives of indigenous people. In September, Miguel will travel to Ottawa, Canada, to direct The Unnatural and Accidental Women, a play by Marie Clements, at the National Arts Centre.
“The play is about the disappearance and murder
of indigenous women in Vancouver,” she said. “It’s based on real events and reminds us that everyone has to watch over everyone else.”
Her lifetime of work as a trail-blazing storyteller,
director, choreographer, playwright, actor, dancer and educator who worked with some of the major figures in theatre – and became one herself – earned her recognition as SETC’s 2019 Distinguished Career Award winner. In her Saturday keynote address and in an interview with Southern Theatre, she described the path she followed, which started in her native Brooklyn, NY. Embracing Native Culture
A driving force in all of Miguel’s work is her heri-
tage. Born in 1937, she is the youngest of three sisters in a Native American family that was committed to place and community. She grew up curious and remains a studious and vocal observer of a changing world. Her father was a Kuna from islands called Kuna Yala, off the coast of Panama, and her mother was a member of the Rappahannock tribe of Virginia. A self-described “city Indian," Muriel was raised in a family rich in tradition, with a heritage based in storytelling, Native American dance and song.
Miguel grew up in a time when the government
forbade ceremonial rights for Native people. Many
THEATRE CREDITS: Founding Member/Artistic Director, Spiderwoman Theater Original member, Joseph Chaikin’s Open Theater SELECTED PLAYWRITING CREDITS: Sun, Moon, and Feather; Power Pipes; Winnetous Snake Oil Show from Wigwam City; Reverb-ber-ber-rations; Trail of the Otter; Red Mother
Muriel Miguel with SETC’s Distinguished Career Award.
SELECTED DIRECTING/ CHOREOGRAPHY CREDITS: Fear of Oatmeal, Spiderwoman Theater Throw Away Kids, Aboriginal Dance Program, Banff Centre She Knew She Was She, Aboriginal Dance Program, Banff Centre Material Witness, Spiderwoman Theater and Aanmitaagzi Evening in Paris, Raven Spirit Dance Company Women in Violence, Spiderwoman Theater Misdemeanor Dream, Abrons Art Center SELECTED ACTING CREDITS: Spirit Woman, BONES: An Aboriginal Dance Opera, Banff Centre Red Mother, One-Woman Show, Museum of the American Indian Terminal, Open Theater Viet Rock, Open Theater
TEACHING CREDITS: Assistant Professor of Drama, Bard College; Centre for Indigenous Theatre, Toronto; Aboriginal Arts Program, Banff Center for the Arts SELECTED HONORS: 2018 Doris Duke Artist 2016 John S. Guggenheim Foundation Fellow 2015 Rauschenberg Residency Honorary Doctorate, Fine Arts, Miami University, Oxford, OH Lifetime Achievement Award, Women’s Caucus for Art Otto Rene Castillo Award for Political Theatre Member, National Theatre Conference Honoring the Spirit Award for Arts and Entertainment, American Indian Community House More info: spiderwomantheater.org
Spring 2019 x Southern Theatre x 17
refused to accept the notion that their culture was dead, the children were chastised by their teachers. “We all got in trouble for speaking out,” she recalled.
The children met in a church basement and per-
formed the songs and dances of their culture. With The Advertiser/Sunday Mail, Adelaide
the support of their families, the Little Eagles visited schools, performing songs and dances, proving that Native culture was decidedly not dead, but was in fact flourishing in the middle of Brooklyn. The Little Eagles transformed over a period of years into the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers, a troupe that continues to perform nationally and internationally.
While Miguel connected to the past through the
Little Eagles, her older sisters, Gloria and Lisa, encouraged her to be more “cultured.” To Miguel, this meant embracing more “white” culture. She listened to her sisters, who often served as second mothers, and suffered through a series of piano and dance lessons, including ballet. Drawn to modern dance instead of ballet, Miguel studied and performed throughout her teenage years. After being turned down to study at Juilliard in 1960, she found her way to the Henry Street Playhouse, a performing arts center on the Lower East Side of Manhattan (now the Abrons Arts Center).
Miguel’s dance training at the Henry Street Play-
house placed her in the middle of the avant-garde performance scene of the 1960s. She studied with Alwin Nikolais, known for his abstract style of dance Top: Sisters Lisa Mayo, Gloria Miguel and Muriel Miguel appear in Reverb-ber-ber-rations, a play about growing up in Native American culture, in 1994 at the International Women`s Playwrights Festival in Adelaide, Australia. Bottom: Pam Verge, Lisa Mayo and Lois Weaver appear in Women in Violence in Amsterdam, Holland, in 1977. At right is a poster for the show’s performance that year in Brussels, Belgium.
Native Americans who came together as a community
as motion, and Lynn Laredo, who focused on the theo-
in Brooklyn shared their histories and taught each
ries and techniques of Rudolf von Laban. She kept her
other stories from their pasts. As Miguel noted in her
Native dance separate from the modern dance that
keynote address, “And that’s how we began.”
she was learning, not quite free to allow the forms to
“Most of our families came from what we always
mix. For Miguel, there was still something missing.
referred to as ‘Indian Showbiz,’ which meant that
“I always felt like I was swimming upstream while
you and your family did the advertisements for the
everybody else was going downstream,” she said. “I
cowboy and Indian shows, for the Pontiac car, for
found myself still searching.”
anything that sounded Indian,” Miguel said.
Finding a Home with Open Theater
Her father often performed the ballyhooing in
front of movie theatres, encouraging passersby to
forming called the Open Theater. It was spearheaded
purchase tickets. Watching her father perform ignited
by Joseph Chaikin, who had recently left the Living
a passion for history and dance in Miguel.
Theatre. Building on his interest in improvisation,
Her Performance Career Begins at 12
imagination and the theories of Jerzy Grotowski,
In elementary school in Brooklyn, Native Ameri-
Chaikin wanted the actors to be able to move and
can children were taught that their culture was dead.
work with their bodies in ways that current train-
After hearing this from her teachers, Miguel felt called
ing was not providing. He met Lynn Laredo, who
to challenge this assumption and prove them wrong.
offered to bring some of her Laban-trained dancers
In 1949, 12-year-old Muriel and her friend Louis
to his group to demonstrate. Miguel was one of those
Mofsie formed the Little Eagles, a group of children
who met to embrace Native traditions. Because they
“When I got to the Open Theater, I was like,
18 x Southern Theatre x Spring 2019
In 1962, a new experimental theatre ensemble was
‘Whew, I understand this,’ ” Miguel said.
She was invited to join the Open Theater and
became one of its original members, along with Sam Shepard, Megan Terry, Peter Feldman and Chaikin. Miguel worked with the Open Theater throughout the 1960s, taking her young child with her as the company toured Europe. The type of storytelling that Chaikin was exploring was the type of storytelling that Miguel had been exposed to all of her life. She recognized how to mix her Native roots and her current perforCarey Lovelace
mance techniques. She appeared in groundbreaking productions of Megan Terry’s Viet Rock, Jean-Claude van Itallie’s The Serpent and Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi. Creating Her Own Feminist Work
In the early 1970s, Miguel decided to strike out on her own in order to grow and explore her own approach to theatre and tackle issues that she felt
from two sides of matriarchs. Women were doing all
of the work, and men were taking all of the credit. I
“When I left Open Theater, a number of things
decided I wanted to work with women.”
were happening,” she said. “It was the beginning of
Miguel gathered women of all ages and back-
feminism in the United States. Gloria Steinem was
grounds. “I was only thinking of women – I wasn’t
working like mad. I really felt that I had to say some-
thinking of Native women at this time – only women.
thing. I had to do something. I was getting angrier and
All women. So I did workshops around Manhattan.” (Continued on Page 22)
angrier because of how women were treated. I come
Muriel Miguel portrays Belle in Red Mother, a show she wrote that weaves Brechtian themes with demon tales, at La MaMa Theater in New York in 2010.
CELEBRATING 91 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE IN ACTOR TRAINING
APPLY NOW at NEIGHBORHOODPLAYHOUSE.ORG or Call 212-688-3770
Spring 2019 x Southern Theatre x 19
Celebrating SETCâ€™s This was the final SETC Convention for outgoing Executive Director Betsey Horth, shown above after President Jeff Gibson inducted her into the SETC Hall of Fame at Saturdayâ€™s business meeting. On these pages, we revisit scenes from the 70th annual convention in Knoxville, TN, which was attended managers, teachers, students and volunteers. The convention provided members with an opportunity to audition, find a job, perform, hear keynote speakers, learn new techniques, network, view exhibits, hire employees, watch top-notch theatre and much more.
Photos by Caitie McMekin 20 x Southern Theatre x Spring 2019
by 5,056 theatre artists,
70th in Knoxville
Spring 2019 x Southern Theatre x 21
(Continued from Page 19)
really the beginning of how I looked at story weav-
Story Weaving: Three Become One
Working with women from diverse backgrounds
Story weaving – the process of crafting several
and experiences, Miguel began to think about story-
stories into one unified performance – soon became
telling in terms of sound and movement, moments
the hallmark of Miguel’s style.
“I had listened to stories all my life,” she said. “I
Miguel’s collaborations with women marked the
realized that there’s no beginning and no end for a
beginning of Spiderwoman Theater. Miguel founded
lot of our stories. That you can start in the middle,
the company in 1975 with Lois Weaver, Pam Verge,
you can start at the end. But it all somehow comes
and Miguel’s two sisters, Lisa Mayo and Gloria
around to the same thing – an understanding.”
Miguel. Spiderwoman’s first production, Women in
Violence, premiered at New York City’s Washington
Miguel asked two women, Lois Weaver (later of
Split Britches) and Josephine Mofsie Tarrant, Hopi/
Street Methodist Church in 1976.
Hochunk storyteller, for personal stories. Each
woman had a different story: Weaver’s story involved
of El Teatro Camposino Theatre, Spiderwoman was
a dream she had of making love to Jesus. Miguel’s
invited to perform Women in Violence at Le Festival
story was inspired by the Sun Dance ceremony and a
Mondiale du Theatre in Nancy, France, in 1977. This
conversation she had with a butterfly. Tarrant’s story
world theatre festival welcomed avant-garde artists
was about the Spider Woman, a figure in the Hopi
from around the world. Spiderwoman held a benefit
tradition that teaches people how to weave.
at The Public Theater and with the backing and sup-
On the recommendation of Luis Valdez, founder
port of Ellen Stewart, founder and director of Café La MaMa, raised money to make the trip to France. “Ellen was really like a mother,” Miguel said. “I met her when I was like 18 or 19. She was part of my world.” The expression of violence in Women in Violence polarized the festival attendees, with some women denying there was a problem while others embraced Spiderwoman’s message. The performance opened a floodgate for women to experience theatre that was about them. Women approached Miguel and shared stories of workplace harassment and being ignored by local police when reporting abuse.
“A woman came up to me after the show one night
and said that she was beaten up,” Miguel recalled. Spurred on by Women in Violence, women at the festival and all around Nancy, along with Spiderwoman, demonstrated at the police department to demand that reports about abuse and harassment SETC’s 2019 KEAP Award winners (back, left to right) Mary Fran Healey, Damian Bowden, Naomi Kapusinski and Diane Snoddy have the opportunity to meet and pose for a photo with Miguel after her SETC keynote presentation.
Realizing that all three stories centered on the idea
be addressed and acknowledged. The demonstration
of creation, Miguel experimented with how the stories
was covered in newspapers in France and America.
Women in Violence connected with women in different
“And then we started to talk about things like
countries who spoke different languages. A seed was
breath, and then we started talking about the weight
planted in Miguel.
– the weight of a word and where does the weight
“I realized how important it was to talk, how
come from and what is the word,” Miguel said.
important it was to listen,” she said.
“So, we worked with that, and at times all three
Miguel continued to work on issues affecting
of us would say the same word. Now, these are
women. Thinking back to her own family, she remem-
three different stories, but they’re all the same.
bered secrets kept by her parents and sisters and how
They all have the same core. Creation. And that was
detrimental they were to the idea of healing.
22 x Southern Theatre x Spring 2019
“If we can only get past secrets and realize that to
just say, ‘Yes, that happened,’ can bring about some kind of resolution,” she said. “The whole idea of shining the light on a secret. I mean, where does the poison start? Let’s take the flashlight, let’s take the light, and let’s shine it and expose it.” At a time when issues regarding the care, support
Photos by Walesca Ambroise
and education of children were making headlines around the country, Miguel focused on the plight of Native children: children being killed, children being “thrown away.” Native American history includes stories of children in the U.S. being taken from their parents and sent to boarding schools to be indoctrinated into American culture. Native women shared personal stories of being separated from their parents. Mothers told stories about the feelings of emptiness
Fear of Oatmeal, a play written by Muriel Miguel which premiered in June 2018 at Theatre for the New City in New York, features (above, left to right) Soni Moreno, Joe Cross, Gloria Miguel (seated) and Sheldon Raymore. At left, Soni Moreno portrays Nita Matariki in Fear of Oatmeal.
after giving birth. Spiderwoman developed a play called Throw Away Kids that addressed the ties between mothers and children in all derivations. From Miguel’s point of view, processing the pain of the past through plays such as this helps clear the way for progress. As theatre and performance groups around the world recognized the need for the marginalized voices of indigenous people to be heard, Miguel became a leader in the movement, convinced that creating and listening to stories is a way to have a conversation about issues. She was invited to the Aboriginal Brecht Project at the Aboriginal Arts Program at the Banff Centre in Canada. The project, Justice, looked
same obstacles that others endured 40 years ago. “We
at using Brecht to explore the subject of justice from
were in the same place,” she said. “Women were still
an indigenous point of view. Working with original
being raped. Women were disappearing and being
Berliner Ensemble member Uta Birnbaum, Miguel
murdered. Nothing has changed for Native women.”
was inspired to create a piece based on Bertolt Brecht’s
Mother Courage and Her Children. The piece that she
that reaches out on a personal level, addressing the
developed, Red Mother, was workshopped in 2007
wounds that need to be healed in a society or com-
and was presented by many organizations, including
munity – and inspiring women to tell the stories that
the Museum of the American Indian in Washington,
are important to them.
DC, as part of its Native Expressions Series in 2008.
“More women are talking, and that’s what’s
Miguel remains committed to producing theatre
“I wanted to dedicate it to all Native mothers that
important,” Miguel says. “That’s what’s important to
people said failed: the whores, the drug addicts, the
me. It’s important to tell your stories. It’s important to
women who ran away and left the children with the
tell your stories to everyone. It’s important to look in
grandmother,” Miguel said.
yourself – inside yourself. And it’s important to sing
Continuing to Tell Stories
those songs or dance those dances.” n
More than 40 years after the theatre began, Spiderwoman’s first performance piece, Women in Violence, continues to develop and shift in response to current affairs. The latest incarnation, called Material Witness, is a response to Miguel’s realization that today’s Native American women face many of the
Gaye Jeffers is a professor of directing, theatre history and playwriting at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She has worked with the Goodman Theatre, Chicago Dramatists and Victory Gardens Theatre.
Spring 2019 x Southern Theatre x 23
ELYZABETH GREGORY WILDER
Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Work
by Amy Cuomo
As a storyteller, playwright, teacher and full-time mom, Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder lives by a credo a teacher shared decades ago.
“I was in geometry class, paralyzed by fear that I was going to fail a test I had worked hard to prepare for,
and desperately trying to catch a glimpse of the test beside me,” Wilder told her Friday keynote audience at the 2019 SETC Convention. “The teacher walked by and, without anger or judgment, simply whispered in my ear, ‘Keep your eyes on your own work.’ I turned in the finished test. My teacher placed her hand on mine and said, ‘Trust your own work.’ ”
Above: Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder speaks to a large crowd at her Friday SETC Convention keynote.
Like most excellent advice, it immediately rings true, but is not necessarily easy to follow in real life. Years
later, Wilder recalled, she found herself at a high point in her career. She had graduated from New York University (NYU) with an MFA in dramatic writing, had scored a major production of one of her plays, Fresh Kills, at London’s Royal Court Theatre, and was working as a writer for a television show in Los Angeles. From the outside, it looked like she was living the dream. However, on the inside, she was comparing herself to others and worrying about a lack of external recognition. And that, Wilder said, “robbed me of the opportunity to
24 x Southern Theatre x Spring 2019
SETC Friday Keynote Speaker
celebrate my own success.” It was then that she heard
theatre. It far surpassed all our expectations at the box
it again: “ ’Keep your eyes on your own work.’ This
office. And the thing that I loved most is it brought
time,” Wilder said, “it came from my mother. I didn’t
people who had never been to the theatre before,
realize it then, but I would hear that gentle reminder
and they were blown away by the story, and some of
time and time again, and it applies to every aspect of
them bought tickets to come back.” He highlighted
our life: to parenting, to relationships, to our work.”
Wilder’s ability to “create essential Southern stories”
For Wilder, keeping “your eyes on your own
and said, “I celebrate her work because it reconfirms
work” has led to success in writing plays such as Gee’s
that the characters of our region are more than
Bend, Furniture Home, The Flagmaker of Market Street,
stereotypes, and their stories deserve to be told and
Everything That’s Beautiful, The Bone Orchard and White
seen on stages across America and throughout the
Lightning, with characters and stories that carry her
own unique stamp as a playwright.
From the South to New York
In introducing Wilder at her SETC Convention
While many of her stories are set in the South,
keynote, Preston Lane, artistic director of Triad Stage
Wilder’s work transcends borders, taking its place
in Greensboro, NC, noted the success of his theatre’s
in a larger, national narrative. She creates characters,
recent production of Wilder’s play White Lightning,
both Southern and not, who are compelling and touch
about moonshining and the evolution of NASCAR,
our hearts – an accomplishment that no doubt derives
which he said “brought brand-new audiences to my
in part from her roots in Mobile, AL.
Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder: Bio and Career Highlights EDUCATION: BA, Women’s Studies, Purchase College, Purchase, NY MFA, Dramatic Writing, New York University (Tisch Dramatic Writing Fellow) COMMISSIONS: Looks Like Pretty, Sloan Foundation/Geva Theatre That I Know Is True, Baltimore Center Stage White Lightning, Alabama Shakespeare Festival The Bone Orchard, Denver Center Theatre Gee’s Bend, Alabama Shakespeare Festival The Furniture of Home, Alabama Shakespeare Festival The Flag Maker of Market Street, Alabama Shakespeare Festival SELECTED PRODUCTIONS: Santa Doesn’t Come to the Holiday Inn, Ensemble Studio Theatre Everything That’s Beautiful, New Conservatory Theatre Provenance, B Street Theatre The Flag Maker of Market Street, Alabama Shakespeare Festival Gee’s Bend (partial list), Hartford Stage, Denver Center Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Arden Theatre Fresh Kills, Royal Court Theatre, London
When Wilder was a young aspiring writer, she approached playwright Wendy Wasserstein for advice. Wasserstein advised her to ‘go home and write a play.’ Wilder did just that. ‘Sometimes that’s all it takes, just one person telling you that you have the ability to do something,’ she said.
TEACHING POSITIONS: Alabama Shakespeare Festival Playwright-in-Residence Tennessee Williams Playwright-in-Residence, Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, TN Visiting Assistant Professor, Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, TN HONORS: Osborn Award, American Theatre Critics Association More information: www.wilderwriting.net
Spring 2019 x Southern Theatre x 25
City. Her career as a writer had yet to begin. “I knew that people wrote plays, but as far as I could tell, you had to be an old white guy,” she told her keynote audience. “But then I saw Madeleine George’s play The Most Massive Woman Wins, a play written by a young woman my age.” After the show, she spied playwright Wendy Wasserstein in the lobby, and, according to Wilder, “held her hostage while I spewed forth my entire life’s story.” Wasserstein’s response changed her life. She told Wilder to “go home and write a play.” Wilder did just that. “Sometimes that’s all it takes, just one person telling you that you have Stephen Poff
the ability to do something,” she said. She wrote her first play, and then she wrote another. She took a playwriting class at Purchase College. Her first full-length play, Tales of an Adolescent Fruit Fly, received a reading in New York, with a Wilder’s play White Lightning, about the moonshining origins of NASCAR, was commissioned by Alabama Shakespeare Festival, where it premiered in 2016. Above, Becca Ballenger and Matthew Goodrich appear in the ASF production. The play also was presented in February 2019 at Triad Stage (see cover photo) in Greensboro, NC.
“I grew up in the South, and in the South, we tell
Tony Award nominee participating. “When I heard
stories,” she says.
the audience laugh for the first time, I knew I’d found
During her childhood, Wilder learned the art
my place,” she said. “When I graduated from college,
of storytelling by listening to her grandmother.
it was produced by a fledgling theatre company in a
As a child, she came to see the world through a story-
little black box theatre one floor above a strip club on
teller’s eyes – and became interested in theatre. After
42nd Street. And at that moment in my life, I couldn’t
winning a role as a Lost Boy in Alabama Shakespeare
think of anything better.”
Festival’s production of Peter Pan at 15, she worked
Finding Your Tribe
at a frozen yogurt shop to save money to go to New
York. And, one month before she turned 17, the sum-
club, Wilder also found what she needed to move her
mer after high school graduation, Wilder traveled to
career forward: people who would support her and
New York – a trip that changed her life. She stayed at
her work. They were a group of six women who met
the Markle Evangeline Residence for Women, which
monthly to discuss, as Wilder put it, “relationships
provided meals and clean linens, and barred admit-
and auditions and grad school and breakups, and
tance to men under 65 years of age. She recalls that
we arrived en masse to support one another’s artistic
she lived with actors, dancers, law students and “four
endeavors. Smart, talented, funny and kind, these
Russian prostitutes who we only saw at breakfast.”
women taught me what it meant to be a friend.”
In that same little black box theatre above a strip
It was from this home away from home that she
Later, Wilder, who had returned to school to
experienced theatre and the city. She got a job with
earn an MFA in dramatic writing from NYU, again
the Shubert organization, serving as an usher for
found a tribe of artists who valued her work and
productions in New York – work she continued off
would foster her career. She became a member of
and on for the next decade. Wilder described it as “the
Youngblood, Ensemble Studio Theatre’s collective
perfect job because I got to see all of the shows that
for emerging professional writers under 30, which
I otherwise couldn’t afford to see … I also got to see
provides artistic guidance, peer support, feedback
every new production in the fall and the spring – the
and production opportunities. “What I learned in the
rage of Philip Seymour Hoffman in Long Day’s Journey
darkness of those Broadway theatres I refined while I
into Night, Cherry Jones’ seamless descent down the
was in Youngblood,” she said. She credits the program
stairs in The Heiress, Bernadette Peters’ showstopping
– which included playwrights such as Christopher
“Rose’s Turn” in Gypsy, not to mention the new plays
Shinn, Amy Herzog, Qui Nguyen and Leah Nanako
like I Am My Own Wife, Topdog/Underdog and Anna in
Winkler – with sharpening her skills as a theatre artist.
In addition to providing staged readings, Youngblood
A year after moving to New York, Wilder started
reinforced the fact that theatre is collaborative. Wilder
school at Purchase College, just north of New York
and her fellow artists “ushered for shows. We put up
26 x Southern Theatre x Spring 2019
LEARN BY DOING! Full-Time Conservatory Evening Conservatory Summer Intensive Spring Comprehensive Part-Time Classes Summer Teen Ensemble BFA Through NYU Tisch School of the Arts
Website atlanticactingschool.org Email firstname.lastname@example.org Call 212-691-5919
76 Ninth Avenue, Suite 537, New York, NY 10011
Gee’s Bend, featuring Roslyn Ruff and Billy Eugene Jones (above), premiered at Alabama Shakespeare Festival in 2007 and earned Wilder critical acclaim.
posters in coffee shops and asked family
critics. In doing her research for the play,
members to donate money,” she recalled.
Wilder went to Gee’s Bend. She describes
“We swept floors, took tickets, ran lights …
it as another great lesson in her playwriting
We were a motley crew of young writers all
career: “On my first visit to Gee’s Bend, I sat
working multiple jobs while trying to make
in the living room of Mary Lee Bendolph,
theatre and hone our craft.”
listening to the women tell stories and
patiently answering my questions. I knew
In 2004, Wilder received an offer that
that they were trusting me with their story,
would prove pivotal in her life and her
and I had a duty to get it right. As I left that
career. The Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s
night, I thanked the women, and Mary Lee
Southern Writer’s Project commissioned
took my hand, and she said, ‘Just write
her to write Gee’s Bend, a play about a
it honest.’ I wrote that on a slip of paper
group of women who live in the hamlet
and taped it to my computer: ‘Just write it
of Gee’s Bend in Alabama and are known
honest.’ Great advice and words that every
for carrying on a tradition of quilt making
young writer should live by.”
that began in the 19th century. The quilts,
and the women who have made them, have
response from critics, audiences and the-
garnered attention from historians and art
atres. After a staged reading in 2006 and its
Gee’s Bend received a strong positive
The Artist’s Journey
rawing from her own experiences, Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder shared advice for aspiring playwrights and other artists on writing, work and life.
Be an active participant in your story.
She urged her audience to ask essential questions: “What are the stories that you want to tell? What is important to you? What is the reflection of the world that you see around you or the world that you envision?” As a playwriting teacher, Wilder works with students to craft their plays. She tells them that, “in order to tell a good story, something has to happen, and the thing that happens … is your plot.” She reminds writers that obstacles reveal character, both in life and on the stage. She has us ask ourselves, “Do you rise to the occasion or admit defeat? Are you gracious or jealous? Defiant or compliant? It’s through these obstacles that our moral compass is tested and our world view is defined.” For Wilder, the journey a character takes in a play is very much like the journeys we take in our own lives, and it is when we don’t trust the journey that we get into trouble. “We often become passive participants,” she said. “We frame our stories in terms of what was done to us … instead of saying, ‘This is what I’ve done.’ So, I ask you today, how can you be active participants in your own journeys?” v
Advocate for your work.
In addition to learning to write strong plays and get them produced, Wilder says it is essential to know how to advocate for your work. A friend once gifted her a small pocket knife, saying, “Every woman must learn when to be a pocket knife and when to be a butterfly.” Reflecting on the moment, she told the audience, “It’s an important lesson to learn. Inside each of us is a little bit of both: the pocket knife, which is strong and powerful and perhaps at times a little dangerous, and the butterfly, which is beautiful and graceful.” Standing up for your own work isn’t always easy. Wilder notes that a major challenge can be “knowing how to advocate for your own work while also being supportive of our collaborators’ vision and process.” v
If you are a parent, embrace your dual role as a parent and an artist.
Initially, Wilder was reluctant to bring up the fact she had a daughter when she worked with new theatre companies. She didn’t want theatres to believe she would be distracted from the job, so she didn’t want to ask for what she needed. But, she found, “the more we pretend like artists aren’t parents, that we don’t ask for what we need to make it work, then the greater the problem becomes.” When theatres embraced the fact that she is a mother, Wilder said, true collaboration resulted. - Amy Cuomo 28 x Southern Theatre x Spring 2019
premiere in 2007 at Alabama Shakespeare
– which was the start of a long-term rela-
Festival, followed by productions at other
tionship. For the last seven years, she has
theatres, Wilder was selected for a presti-
served as either a visiting assistant profes-
gious honor in 2008 – the Osborn Award,
sor or the university’s Tennessee Williams
given to an emerging playwright by the
Playwright-in-Residence, teaching and
American Theatre Critics Association.
guiding students while also writing plays.
Defining Your Own Success
Meanwhile, Wilder had left Los Angeles
– where she had been living and working as
Wilder acknowledges that “keeping
a writer for CBS – when the two TV shows
your eyes on your own work” is a constant
that she was working on were canceled
challenge. She still worries if her writing is
amid a writer’s strike. She had returned to
“commercial enough or relevant enough,”
Alabama, planning to pursue a playwriting
or if the next opportunity will come at all,
career as she waited for the strike to end.
but she was quick to remind her SETC audi-
Then she fell in love, married and had a
ence that “the most compelling characters
child – and stopped writing.
in the stories we tell are those that are
“Somewhere in all of that, I had lost
flawed and imperfect just like we are.”
myself,” she said. “One day, when my
While she encouraged her SETC audi-
daughter was still an infant, I was wear-
ence to define success on its own terms, she
ing a purple velour tracksuit for what was
also noted that “keeping your eyes on your
probably the third day in a row … when my
own work doesn’t mean that you should
daughter projectile vomited over one foot
ignore the work of others. You still need to
and our aging cat puked on the other. And I
read plays and see plays … Just don’t let
burst into tears, and I cried out, ‘I used to go
their success overshadow your own.”
to really cool parties with famous people.’
But the only ones who were there to hear
what success looks like at this point in her
it were the baby and the cat, and they were
career: “I teach something I love to students
I enjoy. I have a job that celebrates my
Dealing with the realization that her
work as a writer while allowing me to be
marriage was a “disaster,” Wilder couldn’t
the parent I want to be. I have a kid who
turn for advice to the person who had for
is smart, creative, inquisitive and funny. I
years been her confidante and her guide –
have a charming man in my life, and once
her mother, who had died four years earlier.
a week we drive to the Starbucks halfway
But as she struggled to get back on track,
between where we each live and have tea,
Wilder remembered the last days with her
and every night he asks about my day, and
mother. “I was there with her when she
for now that’s enough. There are theatres
died,” Wilder said. “Her last words were,
who believe in my writing enough to invest
quite fittingly, ‘I wanna get off my ass.’ …
their time and their resources into produc-
As I laid in bed with my daughter won-
ing my work. I have a world premiere be-
dering what to do next, I thought of those
ing produced next season and new plays
words, her last piece of motherly advice,
waiting to be written. I own a house and
and I thought, ‘I wanna get off my ass.’ So
a car, and I go on great adventures with
that’s what I did.”
my daughter. And I am here with you, my
Wilder wrote her way out of a tough
fellow travelers, artists, storytellers and
situation. She created The Chat and Chew
creatives – and my heart’s full.” n
Supper Club, an interactive one-woman show that brought the playwright together with an audience interested in hearing her personal story. Shortly after, she was offered a year-long playwriting fellowship at Sewanee: The University of the South
At the end of her keynote, Wilder shared
Amy Cuomo is a professor of theatre at the University of West Georgia. Her short plays have been produced in several states and her play Happy was a finalist for the Heideman Award. Spring 2019 x Southern Theatre x 29
LEVI KREIS Embrace What Makes You Different
b y To m D e T i t t a
Just a stone’s throw from the rural Appalachian town where he grew up, actor-singer Levi Kreis captivated an SETC keynote audience in Knoxville with the story of the long and winding road he has followed, from teenage gospel singer and self-taught child prodigy pianist to Tony Award-winning Broadway actor and widely acclaimed composer. The message he shared at the 2019 SETC Convention articulated the discoveries he made along the way.
Above: Levi Kreis performs “Not While I’m Around” from Sweeney Todd, the song that sparked his love for musical theatre, during his Thursday SETC keynote.
“Own your corner of the world,” he advised his SETC audience. “What makes you different makes you a
commodity.” Choosing the Road
In Oliver Springs, TN, Levi Kreis’ corner of the world when he was a child, Sunday mornings meant load-
ing up the family station wagon and heading off to church. A few too many people piled into the ‘88 Buick Century for his grandmother’s tastes, and she didn’t hesitate to let the others know: “It’s so crowded in here, you can’t cuss a cat without getting hair in your mouth.”
30 x Southern Theatre x Spring 2019
After church, he fondly recalls having three generations of family gather around the kitchen table for Sunday
SETC Thursday Keynote Speaker
lunch, with the gospel songs that would influence his
By the time he was 12, Levi was touring with a
career still in his ears. In his ears, too – making their
Southern gospel band. When he was 14, his parents
way to his head – were the admonitions of the preacher
arranged for him to travel with family friend and
who made life simple enough: there was good and
famous rockabilly music star Brenda Lee. For most
there was evil, the narrow road and the broad road.
of his childhood, he had been composing classical
The only question was, which one were you going to
music. One day, his mother made a call to a university
Life was familiar in the rural Appalachian foothills.
“I was 14, 15 maybe, and she held the phone over
You’d have to drive 30 miles to Knoxville to find a
the piano while a professor at Vanderbilt University
stranger. But one day, five-year-old Levi Kreis came
was on the other line, and she said, ‘You need to hear
home from his kindergarten graduation and began
this kid,’” said Kreis. “Because of that, Vanderbilt
spontaneously playing Edward Elgar’s Pomp and
University offered me a full scholarship for classical
Circumstance on his mother’s old piano, using both
piano as a sophomore in high school.”
hands while his brother pumped the pedals because
Kreis had been admitted to the prestigious pre-
he couldn’t reach them. Just like that, everything
college program at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of
Is it something
Levi Kreis: Bio and Career Highlights
‘What story are you choosing to
your mom said, something your
EDUCATION: Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music BA, Commercial Music, Belmont University Matt Newton Acting Studios, Warner Laughlin Acting Studios, Ellen Novak (on-camera technique)
dad said? Is it
SELECTED BROADWAY/OTHER THEATRE CREDITS: Million Dollar Quartet (Broadway), The Leading Men of Broadway (Broadway), Violet (Broadway revival), Smokey Joe’s Café (Arena Stage), Pump Boys and Dinettes (Village Theater), One Red Flower (North Shore Theatre, Village Theater), Rent (national tour)
you’ve had? . . .
SELECTED FILM CREDITS: Don’t Let Go (starring with Scott Wilson), Frailty (supporting with Matthew McConaughey), The Divide (starring with Perry King), A Very Sordid Wedding (starring with Dale Dickie), A Thousand Words (lead), Silencers (starring)
you and makes
SELECTED TV CREDITS: The Apprentice, The View, Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
can find five
DISCOLOGY: Liberated (2018), Broadway at the Keys (2017), Imagine Paradise (2013), Live at Joe’s Pub (2011), Where I Belong (2009), Bygones (2007), One of the Ones (2006)
life that make
based on the few failures that For every story that defines you small, I guarantee you stories in your you big.’
SELECTED TV SHOWS FEATURING HIS MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS: Sons of Anarchy, So You Think You Can Dance, The Vampire Diaries, Mob Wives, The Apprentice, Days of Our Lives, The Young and the Restless SELECTED AWARDS: 2010 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Million Dollar Quartet 2010 Outer Critics Award for Best Featured Actor, Million Dollar Quartet 2010 Drama League Award nomination, Million Dollar Quartet 2010 Jeff Award nomination, Million Dollar Quartet More Info: www.levikreis.com
Spring 2019 x Southern Theatre x 31
Sell tickets & classes, manage marketing & members, and everything in between.
32 x Southern Theatre x Spring 2019
“My grandmother and grandfather
difference makes me an abomination to
would drive me three hours to Nashville to
God. So, I decided in eighth grade that I
do my classes and be back home to be in bed
would start going to my girlfriend’s church
by midnight, every Monday and Thursday
because they had a program for people like
for three years,” Kreis said.
me. In eighth grade, behind my parents’
The highway miles paid off. By 2010,
back, I checked myself into what they call
Kreis was working on Broadway, where his
conversion therapy, and I had my sessions,
portrayal of Jerry Lee Lewis in the musical
my workbooks, my textbooks, my support
Million Dollar Quartet earned him a Tony
groups all constantly telling me that funda-
Award and high praise from Lewis himself:
mentally I was broken. For six years I did
“He told me, ‘Son, lots of people have tried
this, right up until my first year of college.”
to play me. But you’re the best.’ ”
Over the years since then, Kreis has
tive Southern Baptist university in Nash-
continued to perform while also releasing
ville, he began looking at the scripture
five albums. His songs have been featured
different ways, wondering if a loving God
in The Vampire Diaries, Sons of Anarchy and
really detested him as much as he was
other primetime television shows. He has
made to believe. The articulation of these
appeared on Late Night with David Letter-
questions was seen as evidence of his
man, The View and Late Night with Jimmy
homosexuality and caused an uproar both
Fallon, to name a few. His career has been
in his academic life and in his profes-
one most aspiring actors/musicians/song-
sional career. At the time, he had already
writers could only dream of.
been signed to a lucrative gospel music
But the voices in his head that began
with the Sunday morning preacher – voices
“I was dropped from the record label,
of admonition that morphed into reproba-
released from school, outed to campus,
tion, which in turn instilled self-doubt and
and told that everything that I had worked
even self-loathing – would follow him
for and dreamed about was not going to
throughout his storybook career, each time
happen,” Kreis said. “That’s a really big
assuming a different message but always
‘no.’ Do you realize now how easy it would
with essentially the same critical and un-
be to define myself by that?”
forgiving voice. Each time, it felled him
New World of Musical Theatre
Looking to start over, he went to Los
However, each time, he arose from the
Angeles, bringing with him a heartfelt
largely self-inflicted trials and tribulations
desire to know onstage, and honestly em-
with a new and enlightened perspective
brace, the characters of musical theatre. In a
that allowed him to authentically move
land of skinny jeans and guarded personas,
forward with more passion and with more
he wore cowboy boots, Wrangler jeans and
confidence in who he was as an artist and as
a pearl-snap shirt. With an unapologetic
a person. It was that collective wisdom born
regional accent and a persona exuding East
of struggle that he shared in his convention
Tennessee friendly, once again, he was dif-
ferent from everybody else.
Damnation in Tennessee
The first battle he faced was the most
first audition, he was No. 169 in a cattle
fundamental and set the stage for future
call for the national tour of Rent. After five
struggles. Whatever deity his hometown
callbacks, he somehow managed to land
preacher was representing allegedly saw
one of the lead roles. His unimaginable
homosexuality as a journey down the broad
good fortune didn’t stop there.
road that led to eternal damnation.
“I knew at eight years old that I was
in a rockabilly family drama, Don’t Let Go,
different,” Kreis said. “I was told that that
that won several film festivals,” Kreis said.
As he settled into college at a conserva-
With no resume or headshot, at his very
“At my second audition, I got the lead
Levi Kreis answers a question from an audience member after his keynote presentation.
“In my third audition, I was cast in the role
struggled with his sense of worth – and that
of Fenton Meeks in Bill Paxon’s directorial
unhinged his performance. He was fired a
debut, a movie called Frailty. My fourth
month-and-a-half into the contract for Rent.
audition was my very first musical that
Insecurity continued to dog him through
I workshopped from the ground up, all
his subsequent successes, even through
the way from Village Theatre in Seattle to
winning his Tony Award, which he hid in
the closet because he felt he wasn’t worthy
But then, that same voice in his head,
like the one that had caused him to cast
Secrets to Success
doubt on who he was as a person, called
into question who he was as an artist. He
insecurities again and again, Kreis was
looked around and saw his fellow cast
able to transcend that which attempted to
members in Rent with graduate degrees.
defeat him and learn from the experience.
“They weren’t afraid to display their
He shared “Secret No. 1” with the audience:
elitist attitude toward someone who they
Choose the story you want to define you.
felt honestly didn’t earn or deserve it, and
I remember letting that make me feel so
yourself?” he asked the audience. “Is it
small, and I let it eat away at me, feeling
something your mom said, something your
so incredibly insecure about what was raw
dad said? Is it based on the few failures that
instinct,” he said.
you’ve had? You get to choose what it is,
The key to achieving success in acting
because for every story that defines you and
– his own self-taught MFA program – was
makes you small, I guarantee you can find
simply this: “I understood that if I was
five stories in your life that make you big.”
creating a character, if I didn’t believe it,
The second secret he shared was also
nobody else would. I knew how to find the
based on embracing who you are in a
path to honesty.”
manner that helps you succeed in the
Even as he came to that realization, he
While others can fall victim to their own
“What story are you choosing to define
Spring 2019 x Southern Theatre x 33
Claiming His Corner of the World
though embracing a truer manifestation
a commodity,” he said. “How many times
The next challenging journey in Kreis’
of the love, goodness and charity at the
do we sit on the other side of that table with
life is reestablishing his place at the kitchen
core of the belief system that had been
producers who we think know everything.
table of his youth. In the past, the destruc-
perverted by the imperfect messenger of
We think that the casting directors are
tive voice in his head told him that to suc-
omniscient, omnipresent, that they’re this
ceed as an artist, you have to live in a big
deity that is just waiting for us to be worthy
city and that nothing of merit comes out
believe that when we know better, we do
of that job. That’s so not true. We need to
of rural, out-of-the-way places like Oliver
better,” he said. “This is the hard part: I
spend less time worrying about being what
Springs, TN. But recently, Kreis made the
believe if I am going to believe in diversity,
we think they want us to be and instead
decision to leave New York, realizing that,
then I have to honor their journeys as well,
take the journey inside our own soul
for him, the opposite was true.
and for me it was about the commitment to
and understand our craft from the most
show back up at home; it was about learn-
“What makes you different makes you
“Nowadays, you can live anywhere and
“I believe most people are good, and I
authentic, honest perspective possible. “There was a period of time where I definitely hid who I was, where I’m from,”
‘I find so many people who are prone to addiction have this weird little
he continued, referring to his Eastern
genius, so that if they would turn their power toward themselves rather
Tennessee, Appalachian background.
than against themselves, the things they would accomplish would be
“Also, the big cities have their own judgments about my kind of people, that’s true.
out of this world.’
But it wasn’t until I owned who I was that I proved to other people that, I’m sorry, but
be an artist,” he said. “I might have been
y’all city folk can’t do country characters
home only three months last year, but you
Especially transcendent was the third
like a country actor can.”
can still do what you do anywhere. For me,
and final secret he shared with the audience
Along the way, one of the other pitfalls
coming back home was a personal decision
at his keynote address, the idea of artists let-
he had to navigate was the lure of drugs
because I felt like I wouldn’t like who I was
ting go of their egos and seeing themselves
and alcohol. He is now 10 years sober.
if I spent five more years in New York. I
as a medium.
ing to love when it wasn’t easy.”
felt like I was becoming jaded, guarded,
“Remember, please, that you are a
in the ground,” he said. “I am a firm believ-
cynical – and I valued my culture here.
conduit for something that is greater than
er that substance abuse is – I mean, whether
“I knew that becoming this cynical
yourself,” he said. “There’s truth in what
it’s overeating or drugs – an expression of
transplant from New York was not going
you’re doing, so your job is to find it, to
our lack of self-worth.”
to help me in my craft, especially once I
embody it, and to allow it to flow through
“I let my substance abuse run me deeply
Substance abuse would be tragic enough
realized what makes you different makes
you in that character. And I think as we
were it to only affect “drunks” and “drug-
you a commodity. Looking at a resume
grow, we surrender to that process.
gies” – those who fell through the cracks
for Southern characters and knowing that
“I’ve seen a lot of great performances
of society and whose only solace was the
people come to me for those roles, I don’t
that are very cerebral, very good, but I’ve
bottle, the line, the pill or the needle. But, as
want to lose that. If I stay rooted in that, I’m
only seen actors move a group of people
Kreis pointed out, substance abuse attacks
always going to do it better than the next
when they have gotten out of their own way
those with great talent and great potential,
New Yorker who thinks they can.”
and realized that what they are is a vessel,
completely undermining both.
During the question-and-answer
a conduit for something that is greater than
“I find so many people who are prone to
session following his talk, Kreis was
themselves, because art is not only activism,
addiction have this weird little genius, so
asked questions about his early life that
art is healing, art is love, art is the evolution
that if they would turn their power toward
he could have used as an opportunity
of our soul. If you don’t account for the soul
themselves rather than against themselves,
to speak poorly about, and avenge his
aspect of what you do, you’re not evolving
the things they would accomplish would be
treatment by, the people who had done
to the degree that is your potential.” n
out of this world,” he said.
him harm, whether they be those adhering
This tragedy is furthered by Heming-
to a certain brand of religious doctrine or
way-esque myths of the excesses of the
those who condescendingly mocked his
artistic lifestyle. “You have longevity when
regionalism or lack of academic credentials.
you realize that you do not have to suffer
But again and again, his message was
to make art,” Kreis said.
one of forgiveness and acceptance, as
34 x Southern Theatre x Spring 2019
Playwright and author Tom DeTitta creates human rights and historical theatre worldwide. His work – from Bulgaria to Cambodia, from Uniontown, PA, to Plains, GA – is at www.tomdetitta.com.
Photos by Caitie McMekin
Esthere Strom, the chair of SETC's Exhibits Committee for the past seven years, reacts as she realizes she is this year's winner of the Suzanne Davis Award.
Strom is congratulated by outgoing SETC Executive Director Betsey Horth, who presented the award during SETC's 2019 SETC Convention awards banquet.
Strom, who recently left the job she has held for the last 14 years as sales manager for the Charlotte and Atlanta offices of Barbizon Lighting, poses with her award.
Esthere Strom Honored with SETC’s 2019 Suzanne M. Davis Memorial Award Award presentation by outgoing SETC Executive Director Betsey Horth
he Suzanne Davis Award honors an
When it comes to SETC, this individual
and love the South. This year’s recipient is
individual who has contributed to
bridges both professionals and academics,
one of those people who chose to embrace
theatre throughout the Southeast and, in
organizes in great detail with the Central
particular, to the Southeastern Theatre
Office team, and has masterfully danced
And, if you are still guessing, here is
between management and business during
your final clue: I actually knew her 30 years
the annual convention since 2012.
ago, when she was a tech student at the
we have. Our intent is to tell you about this
And it is the most closely guarded secret
Our awardee this evening has been
college where I taught – but we both had
person without them knowing. Yes – they
instrumental in proposing innovative ideas
to land at SETC to know each other.
are here, and at some point, they will be
– new ways to look at the way we do things
It is my great honor to present the
asking themselves, “Is this me?” And then
– and more importantly, has helped SETC
Suzanne Davis Award to this most extra-
after a few more clues, it’s, “Oh, my good-
implement those ideas. We are also grateful
ordinary volunteer: Esthere Strom. n
ness – it is me!”
for the wide range of sponsorships that this
This year’s recipient works tirelessly
person helped initiate or sustain. These
within our field of theatre in a particular
sponsorships have connected our sponsors
area that is not considered overly glamor-
directly to you by providing networking
ous. This part of our business doesn’t make
opportunities, information and just plain
headlines, but without people like our
recipient, theatre as we know it would not
Almost everyone who attended the
convention this week benefited from
When it comes to representing theatre
this person’s insights and efforts. When
in the Southeast, the individual’s vehicles
you strolled through this area looking at
tell that story: the countless stops across
potential schools and really neat theatrical
the region; the meetings; the advocacy;
equipment, you were impacted by this
the desire to provide current information
and assistance to those who are producing
theatre and events.
South. Others choose to live in, work in
Some people are lucky to be born in the
ABOUT THE AWARD This prestigious award was established following the death in 1964 of SETC member Suzanne Davis, costume designer for Unto These Hills and wife of SETC’s 10th president, Harry Davis. Alvin Cohen, then owner of Paramount Theatrical Supplies in New York, approached the SETC president and said he wanted to sponsor an annual award in Suzanne’s name to honor her, as well as an individual who had given outstanding service to SETC. The board accepted the offer, and the Suzanne Davis Award was born. Spring 2019 x Southern Theatre x 35
HOP ON THE CART Making Theatre the Oily Cart Way Kim Doty
Tim Webb (right) invites participants to explore a variety of sensory items, including bubbles, during the 2019 SETC Teachers Institute.
‘It’s almost like an approach to life. Nowadays we feel like we have no time to stop and stare. Busy, bombardment of the senses really, and I think we should take the time to be still, quiet, and listen.’ - Tim Webb, Founder/Artistic Director, Oily Cart
by W. R i l ey B r a e m
When you think about creating programs for children with autism,
Disorder (ASD) – known as Autism Spectrum Condition in the
you likely have a set idea of what will be needed: a regimented
U.K. On Saturday, additional convention attendees got a chance to
routine that remains constant, a commitment to providing clear
learn the techniques when Webb presented an abbreviated version
and concise instructions, and an environment that is devoid of too
of his presentation in a masterclass.
much sensory input. The last thing you probably would consider
Webb has been working with and creating theatre for young
is a program of multi-sensory interactive theatre. Sending young
people for almost 40 years. In 1981, Webb and fellow artists Claire
people who have sensory sensitivities into an environment that is
de Loon (head of design) and Max Reinhardt (music director)
meant to be interactive and to tap their senses on multiple levels
founded Oily Cart, a company in the United Kingdom that makes,
seems like it would be a horrible idea. But it might be just what
“all sorts of shows for all sorts of kids.” The work that Webb and
the doctor ordered, as British theatre maker Tim Webb and his Oily
the rest of the Oily Cart crew have done has made them highly
Cart theatre have discovered.
sought-after theatre artists. More and more theatre companies are
Participants in SETC’s 14 annual Teachers Institute on Wednes-
exploring work that is designed for people with ASD or other com-
day at the 2019 SETC Convention had the opportunity to learn in a
plex disabilities. When theatre companies research multi-sensory
daylong seminar about Webb’s unique approach to creating theatre
interactive theatre, one company – Oily Cart – seems to come up
for young people with complex disabilities or Autism Spectrum
most often. As a result, Webb and the rest of his team have worked
36 x Southern Theatre x Spring 2019
SETC Teachers Institute
around the world, sharing their unique style of theatre-making with artists who are eager to create work for young people that, in many ways, do not feel welcome in a traditional theatre setting.
Webb has worked with theatre companies in a number of coun-
tries, including Russia, Belgium and Japan. In the United States, he has worked with Trusty Sidekick and the Lincoln Center in New York in addition to the Chicago Children’s Theatre. Oily Cart has also worked in conjunction with TYA/UK and Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance to offer weeklong workshop intensives called “Dream: The Joy of Creating with Oily Cart,” where theatre artists from around the world travel to England to learn the Oily Caitie McMekin
Cart way of making theatre. The Philosophy and Tools of Oily Cart
Webb’s Teachers Institute and masterclass presentations at the
SETC Convention in Knoxville were abbreviated versions of the weeklong residency offered in the United Kingdom, but still packed with information and hands-on learning. His goal for the Teachers Institute, he said, was to open participants’ eyes to the possibilities
Tim Webb leads a masterclass at the 2019 SETC Convention.
Oily Cart’s techniques offer for use in their own theatres.
also explained participant agency, which emphasizes that audience
“I want people to believe that they can do this kind of thing
members can interact as little or as much as they wish during the
themselves,” he said in an interview. “Primarily, I’m interested in
theatrical experience. Social Stories™ and participant agency are
people doing more work for people on the autism spectrum, people
key elements in creating theatre for youth with ASD, he says.
with complex disabilities. I want them to feel that they could deal
with it. But then, secondly, I think I’d like people to think that these,
stand Oily Cart’s guiding principles:
let’s call them multi-sensory techniques, you can use them in other
To create theatre the Oily Cart way, theatres first need to under•
forms of theatre or in other forms of teaching.”
Always start with the audience. Make everything ageand interest-appropriate.
Artists started the daylong Teachers Institute by learning about
Understand multi-sensory theatre. Children need to use all
the history of Oily Cart and its philosophy for creating theatre.
their senses – sight, hearing, touch, smell and kinesthetic
Webb shared several examples of the Cart’s work, including videos
of their productions of Blue: An Installation, Pool Piece (which takes
Work should be up-close and interactive.
place in a hydrotherapy pool), Something in the Air (aerial theatre)
Explore different ways to communicate (singing, music,
and The Bounce (theatre on two trampolines). Webb discussed ideas such as using Social Stories™ to help prepare young people to make
talking, other nonverbal communication). •
their trip to the theatre. Social Stories™ are narratives, often with
for example, using a hand fan to simulate wind or misting scented water into the air.
pictures, that describe social interactions and expectations that are
specific to the situation those with ASD will be experiencing. He “Tim Webb’s workshop was delightful. Not only did we hear about his extensive theatre work, but we also got to experience his devising process in action. Rather than hear a lecture about engaging young people, we constructed and shared cocreated experience with each other. It has changed how I view the devising process.” - Andy Waldron, Assistant Professor, Fresno (CA) State University
Think of ways of touching without physically touching –
Keep it simple.
“Tim said something that really resonated with me: ‘Leave space for kids to have their voice.’ I feel that this is essential, not just in theatre but in education as well. Students should not need permission to react honestly to an educational experience, and I plan to establish that concept in my classroom as I grow as an educator.” - Kelsey Kott, Drama and English teacher, Indian Land High School, Fort Mill, SC
“My work with Tim gave me a fresh new perspective on how to approach theatre.” - J. Mark Rogers, Performing Arts Specialist, Loudoun County Public Schools, VA
Spring 2019 x Southern Theatre x 37
Webb also shared Oily Cart’s Eight
the space, or creating YouTube videos that allow participants to learn what to expect or how the theatrical experience was created.
Multi-sensory. Involve all of the senses. Multi-sensory theatre requires
artists to create a 360-degree theatrical
Role of adults and families. Everyone in the space is significant. How
are parents, family and teachers involved?
experience. Companies also must know
What is the value of the experience for them?
what they want participants to get out of
Role of the performer. Not a teacher.
the theatrical experience.
Interactive. Theatres must stimulate, observe and respond to the reactions
of individual audience members, working one-on-one for sufficient time.
Preparation. Thought must be given
Not a therapist. We don’t have to
make anybody better – we just need to let them feel that the world is a better place.
Structure in performance: Part 1. Combine close-ups (work that is done
close to or one-on-one with participants)
to every aspect of the production.
and long-shots (work that is done from a
Many times multi-sensory interactive the-
distance). Pauses, silences and stillness will
atre events start before audience members
allow processing time. Give space for the
• Easy to assemble & disassemble set components
arrive at the theatre and continue after they
audience to intervene. This is slow theatre
have left. Ways that you can achieve this
in a frantic world.
See for yourself...
young people prior to the event, creating
McFeely’s helps set your stage • Strong & easy to drive screws
are by creating Social Stories™ that assist Air Locks, or entrance activities/environ-
Structure in performance: Part 2. Some moments are planned, while
others are allowed to develop organically.
ments that introduce the audience to ele-
The structure of the show should be a com-
ments of the environment before they enter
bination of arranged moments (like the
The Easiest Way to Find a Theatre Job or Find Qualiﬁed
Candidates > Employers: post jobs, search candidates, and view resumes
> > > theatrejobboard.setc.org
> Job Candidates: ﬁnd and apply to jobs, create and upload resumes, bookmark listings, and search employers
38 x Southern Theatre x Spring 2019
Riley Braem, director of theatre at Northwest High School in Clarksville, TN, also works as a teaching artist in the greater Nashville area. He is chair of SETC's Theatre for Youth Division.
“I enjoyed the chance to play, create and collaborate with fellow theatre teachers at the Institute! We’re so busy in our own ‘silos’ all year long that we rarely get the chance to create with colleagues, and that was such a fun and creative experience!” - Maria Karres-Williams, Theatre Teacher, Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, Atlanta
“So much of theatre is based off of sight, and you don’t realize it fully until you close your eyes and try to perform a piece. Incorporating all of the senses can transform a show from a performance to an immersive experience.” - Adam Messenger, Professional Teaching Artist, West Virginia University Youth Theatre Academy
opening and closing of the show) that are
played to the whole audience, one-on-one
work with individual audience members,
and processing time, commonly referred to
Small magician lights
as wait time in education, to allow partici-
pants to soak in and process the experience.
Adventures in time and space.
Various pieces of cloth material
Consider where a show should take
place, how long it should it last, and why
you are doing it.
Fans (both paper and electric)
After a morning filled with theory, the
Teachers Institute participants were eager
to get on their feet and practice some of
Bowls of various sizes
the techniques that Webb had shared. To
Brushes (various size makeup)
Emergency foil blankets
get them thinking in a sensory way, he had participants pair up and go on a sensory
exploration of the space. Each person took
five or six and asked to devise a short
a turn as the navigator (the person leading
three- to five-minute piece of theatre. Each
their partner through the area) and the
group grabbed items from the table, spread
explorer (the person who had their eyes
out in the room and began to create their
closed). Participants were able to experi-
own experiences using Oily Cart’s guiding
ence the anxiety of the unknown, which
principles and essential elements. Seeing
is something important to consider when
participants’ energy as they rehearsed was
creating theatre for youth with complex
infectious. The energy continued to the
disabilities or ASD.
sharing portion of the day, as each group
Table of Sensory Items
presented its devised piece to the others.
Participants were split into groups of
One of the critical elements of multi-
Teachers felt rejuvenated and energized to
sensory interactive theatre is the use of
take the things that they had learned back
sensory items. As part of his presentation,
to their schools and communities. n
Webb provided a table filled with sensory items for participants to use in an exercise.
Items included: •
W. Riley Braem, director of theatre at Northwest High School in Clarksville, TN, also works as a teaching artist in the greater Nashville area. He is chair of SETC’s Theatre for Youth Division.
Theatre & Dance within the Liberal Arts
Highly Competitive Academically Rigorous Nationally Ranked
10 Reasons to study Theatre & Dance at Wake Forest! 1. Small, individualized classes, integrated with production and performance 2. Beginning to advanced study in all aspects of theatre 3. Opportunities to double major/minor 4. 4 major productions and 2 dance concerts yearly 5. Two well-equipped spaces: proscenium and thrust 6. Faculty and student directed productions; multiple student producing groups 7. Talent-based scholarships for performance and production 8. Both merit and need based financial aid 9. Funding opportunities for student projects, summer study and travel 10. Over 400 approved study abroad programs in 70 countries
For information contact: Department of Theatre and Dance P.O. Box 7264, Reynolda Station Winston-Salem, NC 27109 336-758-5294 ◆ email@example.com college.wfu.edu/theatre Spring 2019 x Southern Theatre x 39
2019 SETC Young Scholars Award Winners GRADUATE WINNER: ALEX ATES Powerful Contradictions on Charged Stages: Theatre Revolutions in the Jim Crow South Alex Ates is a
American rural Southerner which explored
fears, hopes, dreams, failures and ideals of
the South’s inherent political and social
an awakening American dream-and-night-
contradictoriness, the Free Southern Theater
mare in dangerous places – precisely, they’d
(FST) embodied and enlivened American
argue, what the theatre is for. The theatre’s
at the University
moral contradictoriness on stage, in real
deliberate reflectiveness is what gave it
of Alabama who
time, within unglamorous and dangerous
American power – so much so, it would
recently finished a
spaces. Freedom was always a literal and
provoke and intimidate the oppressors in
residency at Emer-
abstract principle for the FST – something
the Jim Crow South. This paper assesses the
son College. He is
logistical and economical but also constricted
FST’s life force through a prismatic consid-
also a member of Actors’ Equity and an
by the relentless stomp of Jim Crow rule. In
eration of political and artistic revolutions in
ensemble member of The NOLA Project.
the space and spirit of America’s deep South-
the global, national and regional theatre in
Abstract: Aiming to incept a definitive
ern gash, at the time of tremendous political
an effort to understand America’s place in
and indigenous theatre of the African
and social upheaval, the FST manifested the
UNDERGRADUATE WINNER: KENYA GADSDEN Color-Blind Casting: The Perpetuation of Black Invisibility in American Theatre Kenya Gadsden is
race change a production. To discuss the
theories presented in Paul Taylor’s book
a junior at the Col-
range of problems associated with color-
Black is Beautiful: A Philosophy of Black
lege of Charleston,
blind casting practices, this essay uses the
where she is majoring in theatre and pursuing a minor in arts management. Her focus is on
Thanks to our Advertisers ADVERTISER
blind casting – the practice of casting actors
Atlantic Acting School
without considering the actors’ race or
Disney Theatrical Group
ethnicity – is problematic and perpetuates
InterAmerica Stage Inc.
the invisibility of African Americans within
Maine State Music Theatre Costumes
stage management. Abstract: This essay argues that color-
American theatre. By denying the presence
2 IFC 33
with that presence. This essay also argues
Point Park University
that color-conscious casting practices
are more effective ways of diversifying
Stella Adler Studio of Acting
American theatre, because these practices
University of Mississippi
recognize actors’ races and how the cultural
University of West Georgia
Wake Forest University
West Virginia University
of a black body onstage, we are denying the sociohistorical baggage that comes
and historical connotations surrounding
MORE INFORMATION: www.setc.org/young-scholars
1 IBC BC
Advertising Info: firstname.lastname@example.org; 336-272-3645 Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
40 x Southern Theatre x Spring 2019
Southeastern Theatre Conference 1175 Revolution Mill Drive, Studio 14 Greensboro, NC 27405 www.setc.org
Non-Profit Org. US Postage Paid Auto Greensboro, NC Permit No. 744
UNIVERSITY OF WEST GEORGIA
2018 2019 SEASON
DARING, DYNAMIC, DEFIANT: your world is our stage.
P L AY
NAST Accredited Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theatre
FOR MORE INFORMATION 678-839-4700 or email@example.com
westga.edu/theatre Theatre College of Arts and Humanities School of the Arts
W E S T
• Access to professional theatre artists
• Access to industry standard software in theatrical sound, lighting, costume, and scenic design • Performance and design opportunities starting in freshman year • Design lab, lighting lab, sound recording studio, large scene shop, and new costume shop • Internship programs (local, national, international) • Practical experience in all facets of theatrical production • Student scripts from playwriting course are produced in regular season • Student-directed and designed theatre productions • Conference participation and travel opportunities • Strong alumni contacts