UCF Theatre faculty members have been working on a variety of local and national projects.
Many Theatre UCF faculty and staff are participating in a joint production of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby currently playing at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s Loch Haven facility.
Co-director Christopher Niess (with OST artistic director Jim Helsinger), Dialect Coach Kate Ingram, Set Designer Bert Scott, Actor Tara Snyder, Production Manager Molly McCarter, Costume Shop Manager Dan Jones, Workroom Supervisor Kyla Kazuschyk, Tech Director, Technical Director John Heil, Assistant Technical Director Mike Layton, and Sound Engineer Phil Ingle all contributed to the success of this collaboration.
In addition, several students from the MFA Acting, BFA Acting, and BFA Design/Tech areas participated and were mentored in this process.
Terry Teachout, the Wall Street Journal’s drama critic noted: “it’s hard to imagine that it [the original 1981 RSC production] was more moving—or fun—than Orlando Shakespeare’s 6 1/2-hour version, directed by Jim Helsinger and Christopher Niess, whose 27 actors [who play 150-odd characters] are deployed with infinite resourcefulness.”
He also noted “Bert Scott’s Broadway-quality set, which makes ingenious use of a turntable, a trap door and multiple playing levels.” Theatre UCF staff members Jones and Kazuschyk worked diligently, supervising Theatre UCF’s contribution to the costumes, to which Teachout responded: “[the] period costumes are just right…but why go on? Everything about this production is right…”
Several Theatre faculty members are also involved in Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s production of Pluto. Assistant professor Mark Routhier is directing the show and Charles “Chip” Perry is the sound designer.
Perry, an Assistant Professor specializing in Design and Technology, will also be the lighting director for WrestleMania this year. WrestleMania is the premier annual event for the WWE (World Wresting Entertainment) and this year will mark Perry’s seventh time attending in 14 years.
For the first time, Perry is taking two UCF Theatre Design & Technology students with him to serve as lighting interns at the event, which is held in the Superdome.
This past fall, Associate Professor Bert Scott designed the set for North Shore Music Theatre’s production of La Cage Aux Folles, in Boston, Mass. The production was nominated for Best Musical by the Independent Reviewers of New England.
Lecturer Sybil St. Claire is a recipient of the 2014 Life@UCF Award for UCF Women Faculty Excellence in Academic Partnerships. She was awarded for the creation of interACTionZ: a queer youth theatre for social change. interACTionZ is a partnership between Theatre UCF, the Zebra Coalition, the Orlando Repertory Theatre, and the Orange County Public School system and is one of only a handful of theatres like it in the nation. The population served consists of Zebra youth (many of whom are homeless), UCF students from multiple majors, and Orange County public high school students.
“Blending these population together we explore bullying, community and peace-building, internalized oppression, conflict resolution, consent, vertical hostility, and LBGTQ+ issues using theatre for social change techniques,” says St. Claire. “This kind of validation and celebration of the community engagement work we are doing will help the program to prosper so that we may empower ever more youth through theatre for social change.”
interACTionZ is being run by Jonathan Jackson, a recent graduate from the MFA in Theatre for Young Audiences. Working with St. Claire, the creation of interACTionZ became both Jackson’s thesis and his residency.
In February, Associate Professor Be Boyd led the cast in the role of Aunt Ester Tyler in Seminole State College’s production of Gem of the Ocean. Boyd also played the role in Theatre UCF’s 2011 production, for which she won a Kennedy Center/American College Theater distinguished-performance award. “She distinguishes herself once again here,” says Matt Palm in the Orlando Sentinel, “capturing the dichotomy of the role — mystical and human. Her Ester is domineering and invincible, yet also tender and frail.”
Professor Julia Listengarten was awarded the 2014 Information Fluency Award at UCF. In the past two months, she has also published several articles. In SCENE, a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to a critical examination of space and scenic production, she published an article titled “At MoMA show, Some Forget You Should not Touch the Art” (1:3 [December 2013]; 361-372).
She also published a chapter titled “Stanislavsky and the Avant-Grade” in The Routledge Companion to Stanislavsky (Ed. Andrew White, Routledge, 2013, 67-81). The Routledge Companion to Stanislavsky is an international collection of articles that provide scholarly and artistic interpretations of Stanislavsky’s work to the 20th century reader.
Associate Professor Vandy Wood designed the set for Jane Henson’s Nativity Story, aired on CBS in December. The Christmas special was a series of puppetry vignettes narrated by TV host Regis Philbin and conceived by the late Jane Henson, co-creator of the Muppets with her husband Jim. Wood is also working on a puppetry project in collaboration with the UCF Music department for its annual Symphony Under the Stars concert on April 17.
Theatre UCF is part of the School of Performing Arts at the University of Central Florida. The department’s graduate and undergraduate programs focus on providing a competitive edge to theatre artists seeking professional theatre careers, as well as to future creative intellectual leaders. For more information about attending performances call 407-823-1500 or visit www.theatre.ucf.edu.