KC theatres give professional experience for students

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, The Coterie Theatre 2015. Photo by J. Robert Schraeder, courtesy of the Coterie Theatre
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (photo courtesy of the Coterie Theatre)

The UMKC Theatre program has an established tradition of working with professional theatres so that its actors, designers, and stage managers may benefit from the experience of working on a professional show. Few theatre departments grant students this opportunity, but UMKC partners with the Unicorn Theatre, The Coterie, and the KC Rep. These partnerships allow the future professionals to gain experiences as well as providing them an opportunity to establish their names in Kansas City.   Continue reading

Alumna ready for role as New York stage manager

Taylor Marun is a 2011 alumna of UMKC with an MFA in Stage Management. Since her graduation, she has been active in New York. Taylor talks about her recent career developments: “I have been a member of AEA for a few years now. I am currently finishing up an Off-Broadway show, In Bed with Roy Cohn. Following this show, I will be going to Roanoke, Virginia, to stage manage 42nd Street at the Mill Mountain Theatre.” Taylor is based in New York, but also takes work in other markets around the country. Within the past year, she has worked on several other Off-Broadway shows as well as readings, galas, and concerts. Continue reading

Stellar lighting designers work featured worldwide

Lighting design has come a long way in the theatre since Ancient Greek times when artists relied on the sun to illuminate the stage for their theatrical productions. This would evolve over time to the use of burning torches and candles to enhance the play’s mood. Lighting set the tone, supported the scenes, and gave the audience a desired visual into the intensity and emotional center of the piece. Lighting brings together all of the elements (actors, set, costumes, props, etc.) of the play into a cohesive look. The ever-growing field in computers and digital technology has given birth to the next evolution of this powerful medium  projection design. The lighting designer now has the ability to catapult this field into new frontiers on stage with digital animation and automated moving projectors, and give the audience a spectacular experience. Continue reading

Graduates show their costume design on stage, classroom

Othello at Riverside Theater photo credit Bob Goodfellow
Othello at Riverside Theater

While many graduate students from UMKC achieve success in either the professional world or the field of education, lucky are those who understand the challenges of balancing each. The UMKC costume department teaches students to excel at both. Tyler Wilson, Lauren Roark, and Larissa McConnell are three of many examples of success from the graduate design and costume program.

Tyler Wilson, who teaches for Wake Forest University, has designed at various regional companies. Before he entered academia, Wilson’s designs graced the stage of the Riverside Theatre in Iowa City. Iowa was treated to his creations for shows such as Cyrano de Bergerac and Othello. Wilson’s relationship with Riverside was born from his work at UMKC, and 2015 marked his third year working for the company. He believes that the training he received at UMKC jump started his career: “The opportunity to collaborate with a variety of directors throughout the professional theatre in Kansas City was a thrilling introduction to the pace and expectations of professional theatre in the Midwest.” Continue reading

Lightning Strikes TWICE in Scene Design!

Cendrillon (Cinderella) Opera UMKC - Friday 15 Nov 2013 - shots from performance (full stage width to show scene changes). Photo, copyright Mike Strong - kcdance.com
Cendrillon (Cinderella) Opera UMKC

Two scenic design graduate students found artistic inspiration and real-world alliances through professional mentorship opportunities at the UMKC Department of Theatre.  “When this happens,” says Gene Friedman, assistant professor of scenic design, “We call it ‘lightning striking’; it is that astonishing chemistry that happens on rare occasion between a designer and a director.”  Jeff Ridenour (MFA Scene Design 2014) and Alexander LaFrance (MFA Scene Design 2015) forged strong professional relationships while they were still graduate students at UMKC. They created scene design magic when they were given opportunities to work with professional directors, artistic directors and choreographers. Continue reading

Alumni stay busy on stage in Kansas City

Logan Black sitting
Logan Black

Kansas City, a mecca for theatre artists of all stripes, is not only training actors, it is also providing them with an ideal environment in which to continue to grow and work.  Two of Kansas City’s brightest talents, both graduates of UMKC’s MFA Acting program, have been working on stage since graduating.  Logan Black (MFA Acting 2014) and Nicole Marie Green (MFA Acting 2015) both hail from other states.  Black, a native of Salt Lake City, and Green, who grew up in New York and did her undergraduate studies in Florida, were both inspired to come to UMKC out of the desire for the high-quality acting education they knew they would receive from a professional and inspirational faculty.
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