Students in the UMW Theatre deparment get hands on experience in every aspect of production and performance of a variety of dramatic pieces, funded in part with monies from the Dean’s Research and Creativity grants.
Fall 2019 student directors: Senior Jacob Dodges, Clever Little Lies by Joe DiPietro. Senior Morgan Shotwell, Mojo by Jez Butterworth. Senior Victoria Fortune directed Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies. Senior Jessica Elkins and junior Ben Lechtman directed the First Year Showcase. All of the student-directors commented on how their experiences helped them hone communication skills and leadership. “Between scheduling conflicts with actors and communicating with my team of designers, I learned a great deal about the amount of responsibility and organization it takes to successfully direct a show” commented Dodges.
Olivia Whichloe had the opportunity to present work with a vocal coach in New York City, learning techniques that she used in her portrayal of Alison Bechdel in the fall 2019 production of Fun Home.
Spring 2020 was shaping up to being just as busy for UMW Theatre, and was highlighted by a research trip by 16 students to New York City to meet with alumni-professionals. But shortly after returning from break, everyone had to leave campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. UMW Theatre faculty and students began working on creative ways to continue their work. Senior Ben Lechtman, together with Jacob Dodges and Aaron Hoffman-Wilson plan an on-line series of performances of three pieces by the Studio 115 committee. Students and faculty have also continued rehearsals of the UMW production fo Much Ado About Nothing and plan an on-line performance of Shakespeare’s comedy soon. Chair Gregg Stull described his departments amazing efforts during this difficult time:
“Our faculty and staff are moving ahead—still teaching and creating incredible learning experiences for our students. I am amazed at how resourceful they have become in the pivot to online education. Faculty are still lecturing, demonstrating, and discussing as they keep our students engaged in their courses. Some are creating videos, others are meeting their classes online, and still others have adapted numerous technologies to keep their classes moving forward. I am inspired by their commitment to our students.”