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The University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre and Dance Newsletter Fall 2011

In this issue Admired Professor Named Professor Emeritus Alumnus Takes Center Stage at The Camille Playhouse Director’s Council Established Alumna Playwright a 2011 Pulitzer Finalist Alumni Accolades On Stage: The 2011 – 2012 Season

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Physical Language, 2011.


Greetings from the Department of Theatre and Dance! As a new academic year begins, I reflect on the generations of Longhorns that have performed on our stages and studied with our faculty. It is thrilling to see a new generation of future actors, dancers, designers, technicians, and scholars begin their training at UT. The Department of Drama (now the Department of Theatre and Dance) was founded in 1938 with the formation of the UT College of Fine Arts. Led by chairman James H. Parke, the department offered nine courses taught by a cadre of four instructors. It was the first department devoted solely to theatre in any Texas college or university. Seventy-three years later, the department has over 50 faculty who provide rigorous training to 400 undergraduate and graduate students. In our renewed commitment to our undergraduate mission, we are proactively recruiting the best and the brightest students to train at The University of Texas at Austin. Like Eric Vera, Lisa D’Amour and the other alumni you’ll read about in this newsletter, our students are destined for great success. Please continue to stay in touch and send us your updates and news. We look forward to hearing from you. Hook ‘em Horns!

Dean, College of Fine Arts Douglas Dempster, PhD Chair, Department of Theatre and Dance Brant Pope, PhD Senior Associate Chair, Department of Theatre and Dance Lucien Douglas, PhD To make a gift to the Department of Theatre and Dance Michele Baylor, Director of Development 512.475.6291 mbaylor@austin.utexas.edu To share your alumni news Cassie Gholston, Director of Marketing 512.232.5301 gholston@austin.utexas.edu The University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre and Dance I University Station D3900 Austin, Texas 78712 Phone: 512.471.5793 finearts.utexas.edu/tad

Brant Pope Chair, Department of Theatre and Dance Z.T. Scott Family Chair in Drama

The ENCORE logo is the genius of Harvey Schmidt, artist and composer, BFA 1952. Photo: David Bjurstrom, Michael Brosilow, J Elissa Marshall, Trent Lesikar, Lesley Nowlin, Mark Rutkowski, Corey Torpie.

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Admired Professor Retires Robert Schmidt Professor of Scenic Design named Professor Emeritus Few who have passed through the Winship Drama Building have served the Department of Theatre and Dance in as many capacities as scenic designer, Robert Schmidt. Arriving at the university in 1982 as a lecturer, Schmidt joined the faculty full time later that decade. He was named senior associate chair in 1996 before leading the department as interim chair and then chair from 2006-2009. As holder of the Frank C. Erwin Centennial Professorship in Drama, Schmidt stepped down as chair to dedicate one more year to sharing his gifts in education and design with his students. “I have loved watching our students grow, mature and redefine what it means to be a director, an actor, a dancer, a choreographer, a designer, a critic, a playwright, and an artist working in the theatre. What more could anyone ask?” Schmidt describes of his passion for teaching.

Retired as of January 2011, Schmidt has been granted professor emeritus status, but couldn’t officially depart without making one more notable contribution. Upon retiring, Schmidt and his wife Penny created the Robert N. Schmidt Performance Design Endowment, further investing in the students to whom he devoted his career. Schmidt fondly recalls, “The Department of Theatre and Dance at UT has been my artistic and intellectual home for almost 30 years. It has been an honor to be a part of its growth and rise to national prominence during that time. I also deeply appreciate the way the university has nurtured my growth as an artist, implementer, and theatre advocate. My students and colleagues have been a joy to work with. I’ll miss them all.”

Robert Schmidt and Rowan Doyle MFA in Theatrical Design Candidate.

To make a donation to the Robert N. Schmidt Performance Design Endowment, or to leave your lasting investment in our Texas Talent, contact Michele Baylor, Director of Development at 512.475.6291 or mbaylor@austin.utexas.edu.

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Alumnus Takes Center Stage at The Camille Playhouse Eric Vera Named Executive Artistic Director

Eric Vera’s career is on a fast upward trajectory. After graduating in 2008 with a bachelor of fine arts degree, Vera served as the head theatre teacher at West Mesquite High School in Mesquite, Texas, where he received a First Class Teacher Award for his outstanding achievements. This June, Vera was named the Executive Artistic Director of The Camille Playhouse in Brownsville, Texas. His mission remains constant: make theatre accessible and relevant to the community.

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Vera explains, “Upon my hiring at The Camille, I made my goals very clear, and the Board of Directors agreed with them full heartedly. I want to continue to provide our community with quality theatre but move us forward in 2011. We are branching out, and getting anybody and everybody who is interested in any aspect of theatre in these doors. I want to make sure that every young person in our community knows that this is a place where they can explore life through the best fine art out there, the mother of all of them - Theatre.” Vera’s return to The Camille Playhouse is a homecoming. Raised in Brownsville, Vera participated in the theatre’s programming as a youth. In his high school senior year, he attended a performance and was immediately, as he describes it, “dazzled by the theatre”. He enrolled in The University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre and Dance and immersed himself in his studies. Vera reflects, “I always wanted to

teach. There was no question about that. My UT advisors described to me the curriculum set in place for BFA Theatre Studies students and it was perfect for me. I realized it would be rigorous, but knew that it would make me a better teachingartist and performer because of it.” When asked about the university’s influence on his success, Vera relates his experiences with great affection. “Joan Lazarus’s Directing the Young Performer class really helped me to develop a lot of the directing strategies and pedagogy I use in the classroom and stage today. Joan was able to help me bring out the best of who I am as an actor, director, and teaching–artist and blend it with her visions of what makes good theatre and theatre education.

Eric Vera (BFA 2008).

I also learned so much about directing from Stephen Gerald. Stephen has the perfect mind–set when it comes to teaching his BFA students. He

I was fortunate enough to stage manage the production Aisle 7 under the supervision of Denise Martel. Denise taught me the ropes of stage

allowed me to direct a scene from Gypsy that really confirmed my decision that I was on the right path to what I wanted for my future.


management and I use those tools to this day any time I am in a production as a stage manager, director, and actor. I am a better EVERYTHING because of the experiences I had while learning side by side with Denise. Production management is something else we delved into. THANK GOD! Now that I am directing an entire theatre, those skills have come into play more than one could ever imagine.” As the Executive Artistic Director of The Camille Playhouse, Vera has a full plate. The theatre produces six mainstage performances, a Youtheatre production and a Summer Workshop for Kids that mounts four musical productions involving over 200 young people. In addition, he was recently accepted into the University of Northern Colorado where he is pursuing a master’s degree in theatre education. His goal, he explains, is to always better himself, and by doing so, continue to make a positive impact on the community.

Director’s Council Established Introducing Volunteer Advocates for the Arts Established in the spring of 2011, the Director’s Council is a premier volunteer group similar to a board of directors designed to foster strong and collaborative connections between The University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre and Dance and the local community by supporting initiatives in marketing, public relations, student recruitment and development. As advocates for the department, this group of alumni, parents, and fine arts supporters will play a key role in continuing to build a professional theatre and dance training program serving thousands of talented Texans for generations. As part of the Theatre and Dance ‘family,’ Director’s Council members will have special opportunities to interact with faculty, students, scholars and guest artists. 2011-2012 Director’s Council Members: Camille Abbott

Gary Farmer

Marc Seriff

Carol Smith Adams

Virginia Lahourcade

Leah Stolar

Francesca Brockett and Jim Pedicano

Pam and Edmund McIlhenny

Sharon Watkins

Jean Cheever

Miriam Relyea

Joanne and Jack Crosby

Rupert and JoAnn Reyes

For more information, contact Amanda Flores at 512.232.5337 or amflores@austin.utexas.edu.

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Alumna Playwright a 2011 Pulitzer Finalist Lisa D’Amour’s Detroit Earns Prestigious Citation Lisa D’Amour (MFA 1996) was one of three Pulitzer Prize in Drama finalists for her play Detroit. Premiered at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre in September 2010, Detroit is described by the Pulitzer jury as “a contemporary tragicomic play that depicts a slice of desperate life in a declining inner-ring suburb where hope is in foreclosure.” Detroit will be produced on Broadway in the coming year under the direction of Austin Pendleton. This marks D’Amour’s Broadway debut. An Obie Award winner, D’Amour’s plays include Hide Town, Anna Bella Eema, Nita and Zita, Night Sky, Red Death, Tale of the West Texas Marsupial Girl, 16 Spells to Charm the Beast, and The Cataract. D’Amour holds a master of fine arts from The University of Texas at Austin. Her former faculty

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Suzan Zeder, professor of playwriting, shares “Lisa is one of the most original and innovative theatre artists working today. Her voice is lyrical, her theatrical imagination unbounded. She is one of those rare artists able to walk between the worlds of experimental and more mainstream performance because she finds a core of truth and beauty in both.” D’Amour also creates interdisciplinary work with close collaborator, Katie Pearl. Most recently, they premiered How to Build a Forest, in which they assembled and disassembled a simulated forest on stage over the course of an eight-hour work day. D’Amour’s and Pearl’s work has been commissioned by The Whitney Museum of Art, The Mitchell Center for the Arts (Houston) and Brookfield Properties (NYC) and has been presented by HERE Arts Center, The Walker Arts Center (Minneapolis), ArtSpot Productions (New Orleans) and the Fuse Box Festival (Austin). Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris was awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. John Guare’s A Free Man of Color was also a finalist for the prestigious award.

Above: (counterclockwise from upper left) Ensemble members Kate Arrington, Ian Barford, Kevin Anderson and Laurie Metcalf in Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of Detroit by Lisa D’Amour, directed by ensemble member Austin Pendleton. Left: (left to right) Ensemble members Laurie Metcalf, Kate Arrington and Kevin Anderson in Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of Detroit by Lisa D’Amour, directed by ensemble member Austin Pendleton. Opposite page: Lisa D’Amour (MFA 1996).

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Alumni Accolades Please share your story with us!

SYDNEY ANDREWS (MFA 2010) performed in Becky’s New Car at ZACH Theatre. The play won the 2011 Austin Critics’ Table Award for Best Comedy.

Submit a brief summary of your life and career, related photos and information to share with your former classmates.

JEN ASH (BA 2011) is attending The Juilliard School Professional Intern Program for Stage Management. With approximately 500 applicants, she is one of only nine candidates selected for this prestigious program.

Submit updates online at uttadalumniupdates.org or by mail at:

WENDY BABLE (MFA 2009) is highlighted in the TYA Today article “Finding the Right Fit: Three PostGraduates Hunt for a Career in TYA”.

The University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre and Dance ATTN: Alumni News 1 University Station D3900 Austin, Texas 78712-0340

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KIM ADAMS (BA 2009) starred in the Zilker Hillside Theater’s production of Love’s Labour’s Lost.

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MARLANE BARNES (MFA 2010) stars as “Maggie” in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 and “Tina” in Nickelodeon’s iCarly. JAMES BELCHER (BFA 1990) is an Alley Theatre company artist.

Guests gather for a Cohen New Works Festival performance, 2011.

YVONNE BOUDREAUX (MFA 2007) recently finished work on the new film Paranorman. ANSLEY BRADLEY (BFA 2011) is the drama teacher at Rutledge Elementary School in Leander, Texas.


VERITY BRANCO (MFA 2010) received a 2011 Austin Critics’ Table Award nomination for Acting in a Lead Role for her performances in re: Psyche and RENT.

for Theatre in Higher Education. He is an Assistant Professor at Auburn University and the new book editor for Theatre Journal.

LIBBA BRAY (BA 1988), a New York Times bestselling author, has released a new novel, Beauty Queens.

DREW CHAPPELL (MFA 2001) edited the critical essay compilation on plays as curriculum, Children Under Construction.

CHASE BRINGARDNER (PhD 2007) is the Vice President-Elect of the Conference for the Association

Camille Chen (BA, Attended) has appeared on Royal Pains, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, CSI: Crime Scene

Investigation, Californication, Grey’s Anatomy, Numb3rs and Private Practice. JENNY CONNELL’s (MFA 2009) play re: Psyche received an Austin Critics’ Table nomination for the 2011 David Mark Cohen New Play Award. ANASTASIA COON (MFA 2007) starred in My Kid Ate What? on The Learning Channel. TORI COSTANTINO (BFA 2011) is a high school theatre teacher for Boerne Independent School District. I’ve Never Been So Happy by the Rude Mechs won the 2011 Austin Critics’ Table Award for Best Musical. Co-producing Artistic Directors of the Rude Mechs include MADGE DARLINGTON (MFA 2004), THOMAS GRAVES (MFA 2008) and KIRK LYNN (MFA 2004). I’ve Never Been So Happy was also recognized with the David Mark Cohen New Play Award.

Jenny Connell (MFA 2009).

KATE DEBUYS (MFA 2010) received a 2011 Austin Critics’ Table Award nomination for Acting in a Lead Role for her performance in Bug. SUSAN DICKES (MFA 1988) is a co-executive producer and writer for the television series Harry’s Law. MICHELLE DVOSKIN (PhD 2010) is an Assistant Professor at Western Kentucky University.

Fefu and Her Friends, 2007.

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Students in dance studio.

CHRISTIN ESSIN (PhD 2006) is on faculty at Vanderbilt University. Her article “An Aesthetic of Backstage Labor” was recently published in Theatre Journal. She received a contract for a book based on her dissertation, Landscapes of American Modernity: A Cultural History of Theatrical Design, 1912-1951. LYNNE FREDRICHSEN (BFA 1987) serves as wardrobe and

hair supervisor for Ann: An Affectionate Portrait of Ann Richards starring Taylor Holland.

THERESA HARDY (BFA 1997) won the 2011 Austin Critics’ Table Award for Best Dancer for her performance in One.

PAM FRIDAY (BFA 1979) received a 2011 Austin Critics’ Table Award nomination for Costume Design for MilkMilkLemonade.

MARK HARELIK (BFA, Attended) starred in The Normal Heart on Broadway. The Normal Heart won the 2011 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.

Yesenia Garcia (MFA 2007) stars in a commercial for the Texas Department of Transportation’s “Drive Clean Across Texas” campaign.

WILLIAM HAUPTMAN (BFA 1966) wrote the book for The Great Unknown, a musical performed at the 2010 New York Musical Theatre Festival. He won two Tony awards for Big River, a musical based on Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

PERI GILPIN (BFA, Attended) stars as “Kim Keeler” on ABC Family’s Make it or Break It. Best known for her role as “Roz Doyle” on the Emmy award-winning series Frasier, Gilpin’s other television credits include guest starring roles on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Desperate Housewives, Medium and Awakenings. BLAKE HAMMOND (BFA, Attended) will star as “Uncle Fester” in the national tour of the Broadway musical The Addams Family.

COLEMAN A. JENNINGS (BA 1958, MFA 1961) was honored by the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America with the Orlin Corey Medallion. The prestigious award honors individuals and institutions for their significant achievements in theatre that have contributed to the cultural enrichment of children and youth in the United States and Canada.

REBECCA HEWETT (MA 2004, PhD 2010) has been awarded a 2011 American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Public Fellow at the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) as a Cultural Programs Specialist. ALISON HERYER (MFA 2010) is an instructor at the Kansas City Art Institute. Dr. Coleman A. Jennings (BA 1958, MFA 1961).

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THOMAS “FRED” JONES (BA 2008) was featured by the Wall Street Journal for his innovative street performances. He works with Paul Marino to enact famous scenes from Shakespeare’s plays in the New York City subway system. KATIE KOERNER (MFA 1998) is the Director of Education at Lincoln Center Theater in New York City. SHANNON KOGER (BA 1985) is a wardrobe producer for the Lincoln Center Theater’s production of War Horse in New York City. ADAM KULBERSH (BFA 1996) has guest starred on Lie To Me, Modern Family, Make It Or Break It and The Mentalist. LISA LARATTA (MFA 2008) received a 2011 Austin Critics’ Table Award nomination for Scenic Design for Machinal, Baal and Heddatron. KIMBER LEE’s (MFA 2011) play FIGHT received an Austin Critics’

Table nomination for the 2011 David Mark Cohen New Play Award. LUKE LEONARD (MFA 2010) assistant directed a new opera, The Secret Agent at the Center for Contemporary Opera in New York City. Luke also received a Swing Space artist residency to develop Gay Rodeo By-Laws, which premiered in May 2011. Other recent and upcoming works include Here I Go and Blackout. JOEY LEPAGE (BA 2010) starred in Here I Go at New York’s Dixon Place. LePage is Associate Director of Monk Parrots, a performing arts organization in New York City. Amber Loftis (BFA 2010) is a teacher at Hernandez Middle School in Round Rock, Texas. During the past year she taught in Austin for AmeriCorps. JULIA LORENZ-OLSEN (BA 2008) received a 2011 Austin Critics’ Table Award nomination

Here I Go, Dixon Place, New York, NY, director Luke Leonard (MFA 2010).

for Acting in a Supporting Role for her performance in Hamlet. JEN J. MADISON (MFA 2009) received a 2011 Austin Critics’ Table Award nomination for Costume Design for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.

DONALD MCCUNN (BS 1968) founded an online patternmaking school, reaching students of costume design in over 100 countries. He is also the author of How to Make Sewing Patterns, which has been continuously in print since 1973.

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serves as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Grand Valley State University. JULIE NATHANIELSZ (MFA 2009) won the 2011 Austin Critics’ Table Award for Best Short Dance for Working the Line. ASHLEE OLEJNICZAK (BFA 2011) is a theatre teacher for King Middle School in Houston, Texas. MICHAEL RAIFORD (MFA 1990) received a 2011 Austin Critics’ Table Award nomination for Scenic Design for The Drowsy Chaperone, Metamorphosis, RENT and August: Osage County.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2009.

BRUCE MCGILL (BFA 1973) stars as “Detective Vince Korsak” on the television series Rizzoli & Isles. SOHAM MEHTA’s (BA 2000) film Fatakra (Fireworks) was screened

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at the South by Southwest Festival and the Longhorn Film Showcase. ALLISON MANVILLE METZ (MFA 2002) is the co-author of Integrating Fine Arts into Elementary Education. She

MEGAN M. REILLY (MFA 2007) received a 2011 Austin Critics’ Table Award nomination for Lighting Design for Machinal. POLLY ALLEN ROBBINS (MFA 1990) is a set designer on the upcoming stop motion animation feature film Paranorman.

XOCHITL ROMERO (MFA 2010) received a 2011 Austin Critics’ Table Award nomination for Acting in a Supporting Role for her performance in Circle Mirror Transformation. MARK SCHEIBMEIR (MFA 2010) starred in the Zilker Hillside Theater’s production of Love’s Labour’s Lost. ARIANA SCHWARTZ (MFA 2010) was the costume designer for Becky’s New Car, produced by ZACH Theatre. The play won the 2011 Austin Critics’ Table Award for Best Comedy. ROZANNE SEELEN (BFA 1956) is the owner of The Drama Book Store. The independent New York City bookstore was recognized this year with the Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre. AMY STEIGER’s (PhD 2006) article “Re-Membering Our Selves: Acting, Critical Pedagogy, and the Plays of Naomi Wallace” was published in Theatre Journal. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of Louisville.


LORY BRASSFIELD STEWART (BFA 1993) published a teen fiction series entitled Sydney’s Vampire Diary and speaks publicly about teen dating violence. Stewart coached the 2011 Texas Forensic Association Prose Champion and the UIL 5A LD Debate Champion at Garland High School.

Meg Sullivan (MFA 2007) is the incoming Artistic Director of the Manton Avenue Project in Providence, Rhode Island.

RIP TORN (BS 1953) was honored by the Austin Film Festival for his television and film career that has spanned seven decades.

BRIDGID THOMAS (Post Baccalaureate study, 2011) is a teacher for the Del Valle Independent School District Opportunity School.

JASON TREMBLAY’s (MFA 2007) play The Virgin of 10,000 Arrows received an Austin Critics’ Table nomination for the 2011 David Mark Cohen New Play Award. TOM TRUSS (MFA 2010) starred in Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story in Austin. ELI WALLACH (BA 1936) received the 2010 Honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The Fictional Life of Historical Oddities presented at the Cohen New Works Festival, 2011.

TIFFANY WEEKS (BFA 2011) is a theatre teacher for West Mesquite High School.

Supporting Role for her performance in August: Osage County.

IRENE WHITE (BFA 1992) received a 2011 Austin Critics’ Table Award nomination for Acting in a

DAVID YEAKLE (MFA 1995) starred in the Zilker Hillside Theater’s production of Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Lory Brassfield Stewart (BFA 1993).

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On Stage: The 2011 – 2012 Season The B. Iden Payne Theatre Season presents full-scale, dynamic productions by renowned artists, combining professional actors with Department of Theatre and Dance students:

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher from the novella Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson October 28 – November 6, 2011 Catalyst Presented by Dance Repertory Theatre Artistic Directors David Justin and Yacov Sharir March 23 – 25, 2012 Love’s Labour’s Lost By William Shakespeare Directed by John Langs April 13 – 22, 2012

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All titles, dates, venues and directors subject to change. For more information, visit us online at finearts.utexas.edu/tad

The Oscar G. Brockett Theatre Season offers an intimate setting, showcasing the student talent from the Department of Theatre and Dance: The Cherry Orchard By Anton Chekhov September 16 – 25, 2011 360 (round dance) By Steven Dietz Based on the 1900 play Reigen by Arthur Schnitzler November 11 – 20, 2011 The Transition of Doodle Pequeño By Gabriel Jason Dean November 30 – December 3, 2011

New Work On Stage: Fall For Dance Presented by Dance Repertory Theatre Artistic Directors David Justin and Yacov Sharir B. Iden Payne Theatre December 2 - 3, 2011

UT New Theatre (UTNT) Curated by Steven Dietz The Chronicles of Bad Ass Women By Holli Gipson Oscar G. Brockett Theatre February 17 – 19, 2012 Static By Tom Horan Lab Theatre February 17 – 19, 2012 Bacha Bazi (Boy Play) By Gabriel Jason Dean Oscar G. Brockett Theatre February 24 – 26, 2012 River City By Diana Grisanti Lab Theatre February 24 – 26, 2012 Ears, Eyes + Feet Collaborative works by student and faculty composers, choreographers, and video artists from the Department of Theatre and Dance, the Department of Art and Art History, and the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music. B. Iden Payne Theatre May 4 – 5, 2012


Stay connected with the Department of Theatre and Dance! The Spring 2012 publication of ENCORE will be sent to you electronically. Please send us your current email address and your latest news. You may submit this material online at uttadalumniupdates.org. And, you can follow the department news on Facebook and Twitter!

Get Involved Your support of the Department of Theatre and Dance is appreciated! You can make a difference by making a donation to the department’s Texas Talent campaign. To learn more, visit www.finearts.utexas.edu/tad/get_involved or call Michele Baylor, Director of Development at 512.475.6291.

And Then Came Tango presented at the Cohen New Works Festival, 2011.

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