Page 1

THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN DEPARTMENT OF THEATRE AND DANCE NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2015 IN THIS ISSUE An Interview with Alumnus and Broadway Star, Tommy Tune Longhorn Family: Dina Steele and Damon Jones Alumnus Ja’Michael Darnell Awarded Fulbright Grant Making an Impact: The Oscar G. Brockett Center for Theatre History and Criticism In Memoriam: Remembering Professor Stephen Gerald Alumni Accolades Coming to the Stage

A Streetcar Named Desire, 2014

FROM CHAIR BRANT POPE, Congratulations to our recent graduates! Hook ‘Em! Dean, College of Fine Arts Douglas Dempster, Ph.D. Chair, Department of Theatre and Dance Brant Pope, Ph.D. Senior Associate Chair, Department of Theatre and Dance Susan Mickey Make a gift to the Department of Theatre and Dance Jessi Propst, Director of Development and Alumni Relations 512.475.6291 Share your alumni news Cassie Gholston, Director of Marketing 512.232.5301 The University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre and Dance 300 E. 23rd Street D3900 Austin, Texas 78712 Phone: 512.471.5793 The ENCORE logo is the genius of Harvey Schmidt, artist and composer, B.F.A. 1952. Photo Credits: Brian Awehali, Maria Baranova, Sandy Carson, Daniel Cavazos, J. Demetrie Photography, Franco Lacosta, J Elissa Marshall, Lawrence Peart, Zach Smith, Mark Turek, Scott Ward 1


Alumnus Tommy Tune (B.F.A. 1961), one of the country’s most prolific performing artists, is the recipient of the 2015 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. The Tony Awards ceremony, presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League, was broadcast June 7, 2015 on CBS Television. Over the course of his 50-year career, Tune has received, now, ten Tony Awards, the National Medal of Arts, eight Drama Desk Awards, three Fred and Adele Astaire Awards and multiple lifetime achievement awards including the Society of Directors and Choreographers’ George Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement. He is currently touring the country in his one-man show, Taps, Tunes and Tall Tales. In May, Tune met with Jessi Propst, Department of Theatre and Dance director of development and alumni relations, at his home in New York, where he reflected on his time at the university and his illustrious career. JESSI PROPST: Congratulations on your award. There are many Longhorns cheering for you. TOMMY TUNE: This award is something else…I guess it’s as close to a knighthood that the theatre can give. What are you most excited about for the ceremony?

Tommy Tune Photo: Franco Lacosta

I’m nervous about what I say. I went to the luncheon where all the nominees were introduced and then at the end they introduced me because I’m not technically a nominee…because I know that I’m going to be walking away with a Tony. My tenth Tony! And finally I’m ten-time Tony Award-winner tapping Texan Tommy Tune.

Tapping Texan Tommy Tune. (laughing) All T’s. They said you’ll be given 90 seconds. Well, when you’ve done a performance of a show and want to thank the people you worked with you can get it in 90 seconds. But I’m…this is a 50-year career and I don’t know how to encapsulate that. Once I start thanking people it becomes a list that will wrap around the world. One doesn’t do this alone. The theatre is a collaborative art. It [theatre] is present. It’s of the moment. It’s evaporating as you see it. As you’re hearing it it’s dying at the same time it’s living. And it’s over. So fascinating. The curtain comes down and it’s over. It’s but a memory of people that can move those memories into the apartments of their mind and live with them. I was thinking about my body of work, which I’ve never really done before because I’ve been given lifetime achievement awards through the years but it doesn’t mean the same thing as it does now. And it being a Tony…it’s the epitome of theatre in this country. Each step was the student of the next. Each step was the student of the last step. The Japanese have an expression “Ichi nichi ichi nichi no tsumikasane desu,” meaning “each and every day builds upon itself.” And each piece that I did, although I didn’t know that, was a building block for the next piece. Not to repeat and make that same step again – but to go in a different direction – but you would have never made that step having not taken the initial one. So even the missteps are lessons for making it better the next time. ENCORE SUMMER 2015


At UT I learned from a professor that the purpose of the theatre is to entertain and to enlighten. You need both of those things going, otherwise you just have entertainment, or you can enlighten somebody with a lecture. But the theatre is neither of those things. It’s two things. It’s entertaining and enlightening. It sticks to the ribs and inhabits the recessive parts of your mind long after the curtain has fallen. You have that, and that’s the kind of theatre that I aspire to do. As a child, how were you introduced to dance? My mother said I danced before I was born, and my dad said I danced before I walked. He thought I’d never walk because I crawled everywhere. But when he put the music on, I would get up on my legs and dance. Then the music would go off…and I would get back on all fours and crawl into the den. I hadn’t figured out how to walk but I was already choreographing. I think I was just born to dance.


How did you intersect with Ruth Denney (faculty emeritus, The University of Texas at Austin / founder, Houston High School for the Performing and Visual Arts)? Ruth Denney introduced me to the theatre. On my first day at Lamar High School (Houston, Texas) I went to the registrar and they asked “what do you want to major in?” I said “dancing!;” to which they replied “we don’t offer dancing, but maybe you should go talk to the woman who runs the drama department.” I didn’t know what it was. We didn’t have plays in Houston at that time. The traveling shows would swoop through Dallas and go on from there. So there was a local theatre, the Alley Theatre, and Ruth gave me a ticket to go see The Glass Menagerie. It changed my life. I didn’t know such a thing was possible.

When I was in the first grade, a dance teacher came to the school once a month and taught us a folk dance. She saw that I picked it up quicker than anyone in the class so she called my mom and said, “I have a dance school. Your son has a gift and I think he should pursue it.” I went to a class to see if I liked it and then I had to ask how much it was going to cost. She said it’s gratis. I didn’t know what that meant. I went home, looked it up and it was free. I said, “Oh! We can afford that!” So I was on scholarship. I never paid for a dance lesson.

Then we started doing plays in high school. That’s when my girlfriend took me to see a dress rehearsal of The King and I at another local theatre, a community theatre, and it was just the best thing I ever saw. But I knew it wasn’t The Glass Menagerie. So I asked, “What is this?” Because they talk and then they start to sing and then when they can’t sing anymore they start to dance and it makes you laugh and it makes you cry and it’s colorful and it’s moving and it’s not The Glass Menagerie, what is it? And she said, “Well this is a musical. This is a Broadway musical.”

My first love was ballet. And then I grew so tall that I knew that I needed to change that dream. I discovered Fred Astaire and that was it.

And that was what I had to do.

After you graduated and you moved to New York. Can you tell me about one of your first audition experiences here? My friend Philip drove me up from Houston. He had been to New York before and he said, “It’s time for you to go to New York. Come on.” I needed encouragement. I was shy about New York. Scared. We drove in and it was St. Patrick’s Day and they had painted the green stripe down the middle of 5th Avenue, which I just thought was terrific. That was where the parade was going to be later in the day. He said, “Now go buy magazines. Go to that newsstand and buy a copy of Variety, a copy of Show Business and a copy of Backstage. Now look where it says ‘auditions’.” There was an audition that day for male dancers who sing. He said, “You should go to that.” I went to it; I got the job. My first day in New York. My first audition: I got the job. I never have had any kind of job but in the theatre. I supported myself in the theatre, which I consider to be a success. I’ve never had to be a waiter; I would have been a bad waiter. Why do you think you would have been a bad waiter? I’m so tall! (laughing) And you have to bend over… Bend over and drop…oh no…I would not be able to. You can’t hear them when they order. No, I’m not cut out for it.

You were clearly meant for the stage.

How important have mentors been for you?

I had a seven-year contract with 20th Century Fox and I did a couple of movies and a couple of TV programs and I just said, “Listen, could we just shake hands and let me go back to Broadway? I just don’t really belong here and you’re not doing musical films anymore.”

Oh, so important! Ruth Denney, of course, that was my first. Then, my first Broadway mentor was Michael Bennett. Then, my true eternal teacher was Mike Nichols and I’m still in mourning for him. He just died not that long ago, but I still talk to him. I feel him beaming down on me. We were very close. He was the greatest man I’ve ever known; Wise beyond belief.

The minute that I got back I got a job and I won my first Tony Award, so it was where I was meant to be. What is your most memorable performance of your career? I think it’s the last one I just gave at City Center this past February. We did a production of the Gershwin brother’s first Broadway musical, Lady Be Good. It starred Fred and Adele Astaire and it was a huge success in 1924 and we did it this year and it was a big success. When I came on for my bow at the end it just brought down the house. I think they were applauding a lifetime of seeing me on stage and seeing my productions on stage and still dancing. I’m so grateful at 76 to be able to still dance. I think that that spurred this award in some way. It woke up people…”my God he’s still doing it. He’s been doing it for 50 years.”

Are there lessons you took from the university that have carried through your life? I return to Hamlet’s speech; his advice to the players. ‘Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue: but if you mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently; for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. O, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings…’ I learned that at The University of Texas and it has been with me. I can’t believe I know that speech. It just pours out of me. It’s the only thing you need to know if you’re going to make theatre.

Why do you think students should go to UT instead of somewhere else? We had everything. You have everything there. There’s specialties in other schools but UT has… we have everything. Then if you have an elective you can go to the music department. I took vocal classes. I took art classes. Scene design with Professor Rothgeb was one of my favorite courses. What’s your favorite play? The Skin of Our Teeth. It’s epic; it’s universal; it’s surprising; it’s abstract; it’s moving; it’s about survival; it’s American. It’s so inclusive. You can find your whole life in that play coming back at you. “Yes, yes! I recognize that. Oh, I’ve lived that. Oh, I’ve thought that. Oh, I wish I would have thought of that.” If you were to recommend one book that a student should read what is it? That’s so tough. I can’t answer that. I can say that Hamlet’s advice to the players tells you everything you need to know. I think the whole treat in life is, when you’re young, to take in as much of an education as you can get and then that sets you on the road. And then when you’re not studying something in a classroom you still have the roving eye, the inquisitive eye. It’s an addiction. When I’m at my best I’m open to everything: curiosity. Thank you, Tommy. Hook ‘em Horns!




Steele’s children have inherited her love for the arts. Her son is pursuing a degree in music at SMU and her daughter, a high school student, dances competitively.

For alumni Dina Steele (B.A. 1985) and her brother, Damon Jones (B.A. 1991), a passion for the performing arts is a family affair. Raised in Dallas, Texas, Steele, followed by Jones, were drawn to the opportunities afforded at The University of Texas at Austin. While their careers have followed different paths, their shared foundations reflect the craft they honed as students at the Department of Theatre and Dance.

After completing his master of fine arts degree at Florida State University’s Asolo Conservatory, Jones began working as a professional actor in Los Angeles, landing roles in commercials and television shows (Seinfeld). “The most important thing I ever did in L.A. was to take classes and do shows at the Groundlings,” he explains. “That’s where acting really became fun again and I learned to write – to find my comic voice.” Jones formed relationships with fellow Groundlings artists that led to collaborations of his first show Halfway Home (Comedy Central), starring Octavia Spencer and Oscar Nunez. He has directed several web series, including The Maria Bamford Show, and most recently created Benched (USA Network) with Michaela Watkins.

Following her graduation from UT, Steele worked as a teaching artist for Dallas Theatre Center and a production assistant for the Dallas Ballet. “I chose the B.A. in Drama because I wanted the variety of classes and learning…to take acting and stagecraft and also be able to take dance, drama education and creative drama,” shares Steele. “I felt the B.A. made me more employable in a variety of ways.” She went on to earn a master of arts degree in television/radio from Southern Methodist University (SMU), which propelled her into public broadcasting as a producer and writer.

When asked for his insight for performing arts students, Jones offers: “Study the craft that you’re passionate about, but be sure and get a wellrounded education. Art isn’t just about art—it’s about history, politics, science and psychology. Studying a bit of everything helps you strengthen your point-of-view, which is ultimately what defines you and makes you unique.”

Steele is currently the center operator for BMW of the Permian Basin, a dealership she and husband Rod Steele purchased in 2005. She explains, “When my husband suddenly passed away in 2012, I had to step into his shoes and keep the business ventures going. I believe my skills as being an effective and creative communicator have helped as well as being able to ‘improv’ my way through a ‘crash course’ in business management and finance.” Damon Jones and Dina Steele 5

It was Steele who convinced Jones to study theatre at UT, where he worked alongside Professor Lee Abraham. “Even all these years later, I find myself using the many things he taught me about acting, theatre and expression,” shares Jones.

Ja’Michael Darnell

Darnell (center) in TwentyEight, part of The Cohen New Works Festival presented by Broadway Bank, 2015.


Professor Susan Mickey has described Darnell as being a student that “exhibits an unusually high level of intellectual ability and academic promise...[he] is a model student of the arts and will be able to deepen his experience with this kind of challenge.”

Ja’Michael Darnell (B.A. 2014) is the recipient of a 2015 Fulbright Program grant, a competitive, merit-based award allowing him to study theatre in Torino, Italy. This fall, Darnell will travel to L’Atelier Teatro Fisico to explore the pedagogical method of physical theatre artist Jacques Lecoq and to create cross-cultural performance that draws inspiration from commedia dell’arte and Afrofuturistic aesthetics. During his time at The University of Texas at Austin, Darnell studied abroad in Florence, Italy as a member of the 2013 Theatre in Italy Study Abroad Program where he spent seven weeks studying Italian culture, art and performance as well as performing his way across the country.

His work in Italy will examine the pedagogical method of “autocours,” which focuses on developing “one’s own work” in the creation of theatre that is devised from the performance and collaborative effort of the artists involved at a physical level. Lecoq’s methodology accentuates the body as the primary instrument for creation rather than traditional instructor-based learning. His research seeks to exhibit this form of physicality across cultural and language barriers as performances enrich mutual understanding of art, aesthetics and society in the development of new theatre.

Darnell was previously awarded the Kuhn Intellectual Entrepreneurship Award from the Moody College of Communications and was a member of the Gateway Scholar Program. The Fulbright Program sponsors exchanges with over 155 countries around the world in an effort to increase global understanding and address global issues. This program spans a variety of areas and seeks to transcend borders, develop leaders, share culture and explore new ideas.




Established in 2012 by The University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre and Dance, the Oscar G. Brockett Center for Theatre History and Criticism serves as an international leader in promoting excellence in the study of theatre history by recognizing the highest quality scholarship and pedagogy in the field. The Center is named after University of Texas at Austin professor emeritus and renowned theatre history scholar, Oscar G. Brockett. Considered the world’s foremost theatre historian, Brockett was best known for his 1968 book History of the Theatre, the highest-selling theatre history text to date, now in its 11th edition and translated into several languages. He was a luminary at The University of Texas at Austin where he served as dean of the College of Fine Arts and directed the doctoral program in the Department of Theatre and Dance, which he elevated to the top theatre history program in the nation.

Dr. Oscar G. Brockett 7

Editorial Partners Oscar G. Brockett Center and American Theatre Magazine The Oscar G. Brockett Center for Theatre History and Criticism has partnered with American Theatre magazine to produce the monthly feature “Almanac,” an editorial highlighting historical information and significant anniversaries. “This is a terrific opportunity for students and faculty to extend the national conversation about theatre history. A partnership with American Theatre is exactly the kind of relationship we imagined when the Center was founded,” said Dr. Charlotte Canning, director of the Oscar G. Brockett Center. “This collaboration is a great way for students to make a connection with professional theatre and see how an ongoing conversation about theatre’s past will help strengthen its future. We are very fortunate.” American Theatre, founded in 1984 by Theatre Communications Group, is the nation’s only general-circulation magazine devoted to theatre. With an estimated readership of 50,000, it is a leading publication covering theatrical trends and events, stage artists, and economic and legislative developments affecting the arts. “Almanac,” authored by the Oscar G. Brockett Center, premiered in American Theatre’s April 2015 edition.

WHO SUPPORTED YOU? Giving Back: D. Terry Williams The Oscar G. Brockett Center and its impact are made possible through advocates such as leadership donor Dr. D. Terry Williams. An accomplished educator and director, Williams is chairman emeritus at Western Michigan University (WMU), where he served as chair of the Department of Theatre for 23 years. He is the recipient of an Outstanding Teaching Award from the Association of University Governing Boards of Michigan, the Outstanding Service Award from WMU’s College of Fine Arts and a Community Medal of Arts Award from the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo. Entranced by theatre as a child, Williams took to the stage – his family’s garage – in plays of his own creation during his elementary school years. He went on to receive a bachelor’s degree from Grove City College and a master’s degree in dramatic criticism from Bowling Green State University. Upon deciding he wanted to pursue his doctorate in theatre history, his destination was clear: Indiana University. Led by Dr. Oscar G. Brockett and Professor Hubert Heffner in the late 1960s, Indiana University’s program was the best in the nation.

Williams was accepted into the program and a lifelong connection between he and Brockett was formed. “Brock taught me to think for myself in addition to understanding the value of thorough research and the value of clear writing skills,” shares Williams. “I hope that Brock’s protégés will consider a gift to the Brockett Center so that researchers everywhere can take advantage of the depth and breadth of UT’s incredible theatre library holdings and archives.” For more information on the Oscar G. Brockett Center for Theatre History and Criticism, please visit

Take a moment and reflect on who encouraged you to pursue your dreams. Who made a difference and supported your artistic training – your family, a teacher or professor, a scholarship donor? As a graduate of this program, you understand the importance of supporting emerging artists, scholars and performers who will, in turn, inspire, entertain and educate future generations of arts patrons and students. By making a gift to the TEXAS TALENT campaign, you will help provide scholarship resources for emerging artists to attend UT Austin. You can make a difference - every gift, at every level, directly supports a young artist. Donate online at To learn more, contact Director of Development and Alumni Relations Jessi Propst at 512.475.6291 or

Dr. D. Terry Williams ENCORE SUMMER 2015


DIRECTOR’S COUNCIL Texas Theatre and Dance’s Director’s Council is a premier volunteer group designed to foster strong and collaborative connections between The University of Texas at Austin 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 play a key role in continuing to build a professional theatre and dance training program serving thousands of talented Texans for generations.

2014 – 2015 DIRECTOR’S COUNCIL MEMBERS Carol Smith Adams

Annie McKinnon

Francesca Brockett and Jim Pedicano

Miriam Relyea

Barrett Bruce Jean Cheever Joanne and Jack Crosby Dee Dawson Gary Farmer JoLynn Free Debbie Oliver Pam and Edmund McIlhenny

Chord, part of The Cohen New Works Festival presented by Broadway Bank, 2015 9

Russ Sartain Nancy Scanlan Marc Seriff Laura Sheffield Karen Skolnik Leah Stolar Sharon Watkins

REMEMBERING PROFESSOR STEPHEN GERALD (1950-2015) Professor Stephen Gerald, globalist theatre practitioner and scholar, passed away May 20, 2015 in Austin, Texas, at the age of 65. He joined the faculty of The University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre and Dance in 1986, where he served as associate professor of acting until his death. Gerald’s influence as an educator spanned from the university across the globe, as he taught, directed and performed nationally and internationally. He was an invited guest speaker/artist at 5th Theatre Olympics in Seoul (Republic of Korea); Nihon University in Tokyo (Japan); the Pan African Historical Theatre Festival in Cape Coast (Ghana) and The University of Ghana in Legon. In recent years he took Department of Theatre and Dance students abroad to collaborate with the theatre department at Chung Ang University in Seoul, Republic of Korea. He also served as director for off-campus initiatives for the university’s College of Fine Arts. “When I visit with alumni across the country, it is absolutely clear what an impact Stephen has had on the lives and careers of countless students,” says Dr. Brant Pope, Department of Theatre and Department chair. “He was coveted as a teacher, a mentor and a role model,“ continues Pope, “and the love for him and the great appreciation for his devotion to his students is his enduring legacy.”

Gerald’s credits as an actor, director and writer included Double Image Theatre Lab, La MaMa Experimental Theatre Company, The American Place Theatre, Provincetown Playhouse, Villager Theatre, Austin’s ProArts Collective and the Black and Latino Playwrights Festival as well as independent and commercial films and television. He received the Presidential Medal from Nihon University and a special award from the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Ghana for teaching and directing. Gerald was the recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities award to study at Yale University and the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival. At The University of Texas at Austin, he received the John D. Murchison Fellowship in Fine Arts and the Grace Hill Milam Centennial Fellowship in Fine Arts.

A memorial service celebrating Stephen Gerald’s life is tentatively scheduled for September. Please visit or contact Cassie Gholston at for service details.

Professor Stephen Gerald ENCORE SUMMER 2015





HOPE BENNETT (M.F.A. 2014) and STEPHANIE BUSING (M.F.A. 2014) were chosen by OPERA America as finalists for the 2015 Robert L.B. Tobin DirectorDesigner Showcase and presented their production of Three Decembers (Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer) at Opera Conference 2015 in Washington, D.C.

play Grounded, starring Academy Award-winner Anne Hathaway as directed by Tony Award-winner Julie Taymor, recently concluded it’s run at the Public Theater in New York. Joining Brant as assistant stage manager was alumnus JARED OBERHOLTZER (B.A. 2010).

ELENA ARAOZ (M.F.A. 2004) is the first recipient of the newly established Beatrice Terry Artist in Residence Fellowship. The award, the first of its kind in the nation, will fund the development of a new work by an emerging female writer/director, culminating in a residency and staged reading at The Drama League Theater Center (New York).

MAKI BORDEN (Attended) recently completed a year-long acting fellowship at the Labyrinth Theater Company in New York and now serves there as the volunteer coordinator. 11

Grounded won the National New Play Network’s 2012 Smith Prize, which honors a new play on American politics, leading to well-received productions at the San Francisco Playhouse in August and at Borderlands Theater in Tucson in October. It picked up a Fringe First award at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August and went on to a twice-extended run in September at the Gate Theater in London. The London Evening Standard and The Guardian (which called it “a searing piece of writing”) both listed it as among their top 10 plays of 2013.

JACQUES COLIMAN (B.A. 2013) received the 2015 Austin Critics’ Table Award for Acting in a Leading Role in Bright Now Beyond. The play, written by former faculty member DANIEL ALEXANDER JONES, was directed by alumnus WILL DAVIS (M.F.A. 2013) and included a creative team of numerous fellow Longhorns.

Top: Maki Borden (back row; maroon shirt) Bottom: George Brant; Photo: Mark Turek


WILL DAVIS (M.F.A. 2013) received the


(M.F.A. 2009) play The World of Extreme Happiness had its world premiere at the Manhattan Theatre Club (New York) this spring. She was also a finalist for the 2014–2015 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

2015 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Director of a Play (HAYES Production) for his work on ANDREW HINDERAKER’S (M.F.A. 2013) play Colossal, produced at the Olney Theatre Center (Maryland).

Cowhig’s works, including 410 [Gone] and Lidless, have been produced by the National Theatre, Trafalgar Studios 2 in London’s West End, Crowded Fire, Page 73 Productions, Interact Theatre, Borderlands Theatre and the Contemporary American Theatre Festival. She has received the Wasserstein Prize, the Yale Drama Series Award, an Edinburgh Fringe First Award, the David A. Callichio Emerging American Playwright Award and the Keene Prize for Literature.

CHRISTIN ESSIN (Ph.D. 2006), an

assisting costume designer Catherine Zuber on Broadway where he painted and jeweled the masks for the Tony Awardwinning production of The King and I (2015) at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center (New York).

LISA D’AMOUR’S (M.F.A. 1996) acclaimed play Airline Highway wrapped a successful run at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (New York). She was a finalist for the 2014–2015 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her play Detroit was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in Drama and the 2011 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. She is the recipient of the 2008 Alpert Award for the Arts in theater, the 2011 Steinberg Playwright Award and is a recipient of the 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award.

Top: Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig; Photo: Brian Awehali Bottom: Lisa D’Amour; Photo: Zach Smith

assistant professor at Vanderbilt University, has been awarded the 2015 United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) Golden Pen Book Award for her work entitled Stage Designers in the Early Twentieth Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). Her book began as her dissertation during her time at The University of Texas at Austin under the supervision of Performance as Public Practice Professor, Dr. Charlotte M. Canning. The March 2015 USITT Conference recognized her work as an “outstanding, major, recent publication in the field of design and production for the performing arts.”

ANGELA FALCONE (B.F.A. 2012) is the

GINGER GRACE (B.F.A. 1975) starred in In Flight by Jenny Lyn Bader at the WorkShop Theatre (New York). A new verse play composed in rhyming couplets, In Flight is about a woman with a literary background navigating the corporate world at the offices of an in-flight airline magazine.

YESENIA YADIRA HERRINGTON (M.F.A. 2007) starred in Teatro Vivo’s production of El Nogalar by Tanya Saracho, directed by RUDY RAMIREZ (Ph.D. candidate). Herrington is an assistant professor of drama at Austin Community College. She also serves as the coordinator for Austin Independent School District’s Creative Learning Initiative.

lead dance instructor for Kilgore College’s Dance Department. She began her dance education at Kilgore College where she performed as one of the “World Famous” Rangerettes from 2007 to 2009. She also holds a M.F.A. in Dance from Texas Woman’s University.

Wilberth Gonzalez at work at the Texas Performing Arts Scene Shop ENCORE SUMMER 2015




received The Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding Original New Play or Musical as part of the 2015 Helen Hayes Awards for his play Colossal.

upcoming directing projects include the Houston premiere of Bum Phillips: AllAmerican Opera at The Stafford Centre (September 2015); the Australian premiere of The Difficulty of Crossing a Field at the Nagamble Lakes Opera Festival (October 2015); and the world premiere of Welcome to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a musical play written and directed by Leonard with music by Peter Stopchinski and co-lyrics by Katie Pearl at 59E59 Theaters in New York (October 2015).

LESLIE HOLLINGSWORTH (B.A. 2005) received the 2015 Austin Critics’ Table Award for Acting in a Leading Role in Chicago. The musical was produced by Half & Half Productions, a company founded by M. SCOTT TATUM (B.F.A. 2004) and JULIANNA E. WRIGHT (B.A. 2003).

MICHAEL JOPLIN (B.A. 2004) received the 2015 Austin Critics’ Table Award for Ensemble Performance in Everything is Established (Physical Plant Theatre).

JASON KENDALL (M.F.A. 1996) joined Al Roker and Stephanie Abrams this spring on Wake Up With Al (Weather Channel) to discuss astronomy. An adjunct astronomy faculty member at William Paterson University, Kendall holds a master’s degree in astronomy from New Mexico State University. He leads the Inwood Astronomy Project, which brought over 200 events of stargazing and public astronomy outreach to upper Manhattan.


KAREN MACINTYRE (B.F.A. 1977) is the owner and director of Green Space Arts Collective, a dance studio/ performance space located in Denton, Texas. MacIntyre holds a M.F.A. in Dance from Texas Woman’s University and currently teaches in the Department of Dance and Theatre at the University of North Texas.

Joe Murray (second to the left) with the creative team of The Sound and the Shadow


TAYLOR MCCASLIN (B.A. 2013) spent his time at The University of Texas at Austin studying theatre, digital art, new media, business and computer science. He has since cultivated a career as a user experience designer and front-end developer, working with local startup company WP Engine (Austin, Texas), which specializes in WordPress hosting.

Top: Luke Leonard; Photo: Maria Baranova Bottom: Karen MacIntyre; Photo: Scott Ward

JOE MURRAY (M.F.A. 2001) starred in the SAG feature film The Sound and the Shadow, which was screened at the Austin Film Festival in 2014. Prior credits include Home to Roost and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

served as assistant stage manager for Suzan-Lori Park’s new play Father Comes Home from the Wars (Part 1, 2 & 3) at A.R.T. in Cambridge, Massachusetts and at the Public Theater in New York. He also worked as an assistant stage manager on a 200-person production of The Winter’s Tale featuring Sesame Street (Shakespeare in the Park/The Public Theater), as well as The Patron Saint of Sea Monsters (Playwrights Horizons). Most recently, he was the assistant stage manager for GEORGE BRANT’S Grounded at the Public Theater.

MARC POUHÉ (Attended) received


the 2015 Austin Critics’ Table Award for Acting in a Leading Role in Cyrano de Bergerac, The Mountaintop and The Taming of the Shrew.

inducted this spring into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame. Selected by the Austin Critics’ Table Award committee, the honor recognizes Robertson for his involvement with youth theatre, his dedication as cofounder of The Biscuit Brothers and his work as a director/composer.

MICHAEL RAIFORD (M.F.A. 1990) received the 2015 Austin Critics’ Table Award for Costume Design for Belle Redux/A Tale of Beauty and the Beast and Kiss Me, Kate.

MEGAN REILLY (M.F.A. 2007) has accepted a position at Macalester College (Saint Paul, Minnesota) and will begin this fall as an assistant professor of theatre with a focus on teaching design.

RUPERT REYES (B.F.A. 1976) received Fame The Musical, 2014

JAMES OGDEN (M.F.A. 2014) is a visiting


instructor and production manager at the University of Illinois Chicago. He is a company member at Oracle Productions, one of the up and coming theaters in Chicago. He continues to be a freelance scenic designer in the Chicago area. Recent and upcoming projects include: Full Circle by Charles Mee (Oracle Productions), The Piano Lesson by August Wilson (UIC Mainstage), Quiz Show by Rob Drummond (Strawdog Theatre Company) and The America Play by Suzan-Lori Parks (Oracle Productions).

recently awarded the Chapter Excellence Award and earned a nomination for the Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship, available to members entering the first year of graduate or professional study.

CHARLIE POLLOCK (B.F.A. 1997) stars in the Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party as part of the Encores! Off-Center season at New York City Center. He previously starred in the ensemble of the Tony Award-nominated musical Violet, as well as Broadway’s Urinetown, Love’s Labour’s Lost, and 9 to 5.

the 2015 David Mark Cohen New Play Award from of the Austin Critics’ Table in recognition for his work Cenicienta.

RODNEY RICHARDSON (B.A. 2010) has been cast in the role of “Ferdinand” in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest for the summer season of Shakespeare in the Park in New York. After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin, Richardson moved to New York and was accepted into the NYU Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Acting program. This is his first professional performance after graduating from the program in May 2015.

JELISA JAY ROBINSON‘S (B.A. 2014) play The Stories of Us was presented at Teatro Vivo’s Austin Latino New Play Festival. The play is a collection of stories that delve into the intercultural conflict between African Americans and Latinos, African diaspora identity and Afrolatinidad.

GREG ROMERO’S (M.F.A. 2006) play Delaware Mudtub and the Mighty Wampum was published by YouthPLAYS in 2014. The play explores environmentalism through acro-yoga and puppetry in order to teach young audiences about the wildlife of the local area, including the great blue heron, the red fox and the box turtle. It also focuses on the history of the LenniLenape, an indigenous culture of the Delaware River, who passed down tales of their environment and the animals amongst them.



ROBERT SCHENKKAN (B.A. 1975) received the 2015 Texas Medal of Arts Award for Theatre, the distinguished honor from the Texas Cultural Trust. This spring, the Denver Center for Performing Arts concluded their 2014/2015 season with the world premiere of Schenkkan’s rock musical The 12. His Tony Award-winning play All The Way was also staged at Austin’s own ZACH Theatre earlier this year.

JUDITH SEBESTA (Ph.D. 1997) is now the Director of Innovation for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), based in Austin, Texas. In her new role, she engages in research and policy analysis, particularly related to online learning and college completion in Texas and beyond. Prior to her work with THECB, Sebesta served as chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Amanda Salazar; Photo: J. Demetrie Photography

AMANDA SALAZAR (M.F.A. 2013) kicked off 2015 by playing “Rosalita” in the National Theatre for Young Audiences tour of Skippyjon Jones. Now based in New York, Salazar is a proud new member of Actors’ Equity. She has been continuously mentored by Melissa Maxwell, former guest director of the Department of Theatre and Dance.


EVA SUTER (M.F.A. 2015) was awarded the 2015 Visionary Playwright Award from Theater Masters. She is an alumna of Great Plains Theatre Conference and received the Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship in Drama in 2012. This summer, Suter will be a guest artist at the WildWind performance lab in Lubbock, Texas, and will attend the Aspen Big Ideas Conference as a Theatre Masters Visionary Playwright.

Operation Istanbul, part of The Cohen New Works Festival presented by Broadway Bank, 2015

TRAVIS TATE’S (B.A. 2012) play Whipped is a finalist in Fade to Black, a national African-American play festival in Houston, Texas.

LIH-HWA YU (M.F.A. 2010) will join the University of New Hampshire in the fall as a professor of lighting design.

IN MEMORIAM Patricia Apstein, B.F.A. 1945 Sue Brooks, B.F.A. 1953 Marilyn Burns, B.F.A. 1971 Nancy Burrows, B.F.A. 1968 Patricia Ervin, B.A. 1947 Page Higgins, B.F.A. 1951 Rachel Perlmeter, M.A. 2001 Lillian Rhodes, B.F.A. 1942


All artists, titles and dates are subject to change. For more information, visit us online at

INTRODUCING THE 2015/2016 SEASON The Diary of Anne Frank By Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett October 8-18, 2015 A story known across the world, The Diary of Anne Frank is the haunting, yet inspiring account of a young Jewish girl and her family’s lives during World War II. Seeking refuge from Nazi persecution, Anne, along with seven others, hid in a “secret annex” in Amsterdam for two years. Told through recordings in Anne’s cherished diary, the play stands as a timeless reflection of her fear, hope and faith during one of the darkest periods in history. Presented in recognition of the 70th anniversary of the Allied liberation of the Nazi death camps, this production is the centerpiece of a two day commemoration of the Holocaust and a celebration of the art and literature that was produced by those who endured untold suffering. DANCE REPERTORY THEATRE PRESENTS

Fall For Dance November 12-15, 2015 Exploring the genre of contemporary ballet, Fall For Dance features works by former San Francisco Ballet dancer and artistic director of The Foundry, Alex Ketley; former dancer with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and guest artist with La La La Human Steps, Manuel Vignoulle; and Texas Theatre and Dance faculty members David Justin and Andrea Beckham.

The Wild Party Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March November 20-December 5, 2015 Set in Manhattan in the Roaring Twenties, vaudeville dancer Queenie and her volatile partner, Burrs, host an evening of excess for their guests; a collection of the unruly and undone. The jazz and gin-soaked party rages to a mounting sense of threat as artifice and illusion are stripped away. When midnight debauchery leads to tragedy at dawn, this dark and decadent musical reminds us that no party lasts forever.

Twelfth Night By William Shakespeare February 26-March 6, 2016 Following a shipwreck on a strange shore, Viola fears her brother dead and is forced to build a new life on her own. Masquerading as a man in order to procure a job with Duke Orsino, she finds herself in the midst of a topsy-turvy love triangle. Magic, mayhem and mistaken identities come to the stage in Shakespeare’s cherished romantic comedy of revelry, reunion and love.

AdMortuos by Yacov Sharir Performed in MOVE!, 2015 ENCORE SUMMER 2015



All artists, titles and dates are subject to change. For more information, visit us online at


Bodies & Souls April 8-17, 2016 Under the direction of Charles O. Anderson, Erica Gionfriddo and Lyn Wiltshire, the award-winning dance company, Dance Repertory Theatre, returns to the stage in Bodies & Souls. A celebration of emerging voices and visions of contemporary dance, Bodies & Souls features new works by Alvin Rangel, Johnnie Cruise Mercer and Jun Shen.

FOUR NEW PLAYS PRESENTED AS PART OF UTNT (UT NEW THEATRE) April 14-24, 2016 Established in 2007, UTNT (UT New Theatre) presents newly developed works from playwrights of Texas Theatre and Dance and Michener Center for Writers. This showcase exists as an incubator for new work, with many plays continuing on to be professionally produced across the country. The 2016 UTNT (UT New Theatre) plays under consideration include:

Home Stretch By Gia Marotta Ellen and Meg have kept their distance since their brother Henry’s death 25 years ago. When circumstances force Meg to live with Ellen and her son, David, for a month, the sisters are asked to reckon with the loss that drove them apart. Home Stretch is a rich and theatrical story about grief, memory and the harrowing work of forgiveness.

Girls in Cars Underwater By Tegan McLeod When newbie Dusty is hired at the most difficult bar in the city, she forms an unexpected bond with one of the old-timers. But allegiances beyond the bar start to threaten Dusty’s new-found security — and in one terrifying night, everything changes. Girls in Cars Underwater is an unflinching exploration of love and loss and the power of both to ruin and remake our lives.

The Silent Woman By Lydia Blaisdell The strange, true tale of a painter living with an effigy of his ex-lover in 1919 Europe. Because the doll cannot dress herself, the painter enlists a young maid to help him, resulting in an intricate, erotic game of pretend. The Silent Woman is the winner of the 2015 Kentucky Women’s Playwriting Prize.

Dead Leaves By Joanna Garner Pearle is dead, Benjamin is not, and Ella is somewhere in between. Dead Leaves is a tale of the living and the ghosts trapped in a small town — told through text, imagery and original mountain gospel, country and folk music. 17

Enter a Woman, Pretty Enough, 2015

Texas Theatre and Dance is a world-class educational environment that serves as the ultimate creative incubator for the next generation of artists, thinkers and leaders in theatre and performance.

STAY CONNECTED /uttad @uttad @uttadaustin We want to brag about you to our alumni, students and faculty! Send us your latest news online at

GET INVOLVED Your support of Texas 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 or call Jessi Propst, director of development and alumni relations at 512.475.6291.

Wildness: A Requiem for J.M. by Kate Watson-Wallace Performed in MOVE!, 2015 ENCORE SUMMER 2015


Non-profit org. U.S. postage


Austin, Texas permit # 391

ENCORE Summer 2015  

The University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre and Dance Alumni Newsletter

ENCORE Summer 2015  

The University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre and Dance Alumni Newsletter