Theo Lotz didn’t attend UCF, but as he points out, he was educated there. While his father, Steve Lotz, served as the university’s first art professor, young Theo chased snakes and turtles around campus. “That was pretty much what was out there,” he remembers.
“Someone told me once that I probably have the longest institutional history of anybody on the campus,” Theo says. He first stepped on campus as a 3-year-old.
As Theo played, his father distinguished himself as both head of the Art Department and a nurturer of eager students, as well as a creative problem solver. Lacking proper quarters and supplies, the students used the floor in the Science Building as a giant makeshift easel.
His father retired after a 34-year tenure, but Theo remains a UCF fixture as the director of Flying Horse Editions, located at the UCF Center for Emerging Media in downtown Orlando. Flying Horse Editions is a fine-art research facility and nonprofit publisher of limited-edition prints, artist books and art objects by internationally renowned artists. The facility also provides creative opportunities to students and faculty.
After obtaining bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art, Theo eventually became an adjunct art professor at UCF. In 2003, he served as curator of the UCF Art Gallery and in 2009 assumed the reins of Flying Horse Editions.
Steve describes his son’s facility as “marvelous” and “world class.” In terms of his original makeshift studio, he says, “There isn’t even any way to compare the two.”
Theo calls the experience a family art affair, noting that his mother is a sculptor. “UCF,” he says, “is home.” ✦
As Stuart Omans, UCF professor and chair of the English Department, describes it, “This was a story of passion. The whole thing was a Shakespearean drama.
It was great fun and absolutely insane.”
Omans is recounting the tale of the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. Starting with volunteer efforts, expansions took place, awards were garnered, and a multimillion-dollar budget was realized.
The catalyst for the theater began in the 1970s, when Omans bused university students to area schools to perform scenes from Shakespeare. And in 1975, FTU received a grant that allowed Omans to produce “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in Loch Haven Park. Thousands attended, and midnight performances were added to accommodate demand.
Now, the Orlando Shakespeare Theater provides a place where UCF faculty members can collaborate with students who are preparing for careers as actors, directors and stage managers. Students are also able to fulfill degree requirements through the theater.
As well as designating representatives to the theater’s board of directors, UCF provides financial support. The Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s artistic director also teaches classes and serves as a faculty member for Theatre UCF.
More than 40 years in the making, the Orlando Shakespeare Theater has emerged as a full-blown tour de force. ✦
In the words of Dr. Alvin Wang, dean of The Burnett Honors College: “Art makes UCF a much better place to teach and learn.” And there is plenty of art throughout campus, including from those doing the teaching. At the Honors College, for example, 17 pieces are on display from UCF faculty Jagdish Chavda, Ke Francis, Scott Hall, Joo Kim, Steve Lotz, Carla Poindexter and Robert Rivers. ✦