“I wanted to help create the magic of what theatre is.” UMN alum Ellie Simonett embraced life behind the scenes by specializing in theatrical lighting. In spring 2019, Simonett was elected as the president of UMN’s student chapter of USITT (United States Institute for Theatre Technology). She explains how she worked her way up to be assistant lighting designer, later designing a few shows herself.
“I’ve never felt so welcomed into a community so quickly, and I didn't expect that.”
BFA dance senior Rahila Coats shares insights from her Jerusalem and Ghana study abroad experiences and how her experiences continue to shape her role as an activist in society.
“As a nation, we are not comfortable talking about race, and yet race is central to the core being of this nation.”
Professor Talvin Wilks and National Medal of Arts recipient Ping Chong brought their collaborative performance Collidescope 4.0: Adventures in Pre and Post-Racial America to the University of Minnesota.
Thaddeus Kaszuba-Dias (BFA ’19, acting) spent a semester at the iconic Globe Theatre in London. “This opportunity helped me gain a global perspective on the legacy of theater internationally and inspired me to set career goals to contribute to that legacy.” Donors to The University of Minnesota/BFA Actor training program made this experience possible.
PhD candidate David Melendez discusses his thoughts on marginalized theatrical communities and representation in the Twin Cities. Through his research, he’s looked at popular shows such as West Side Story and works to spread awareness about work that forces minority cultures into the past by refusing to recognize their existence at present.
TAD senior Claudia Errickson, who specializes in lighting design and technology, has sought out countless volunteer and freelance opportunities in and around the Twin Cities, gaining valuable hands-on experience in the process.
“We feel bigger and more human. It’s something that gives me back my life.” Professor Sonja Kuftinec discusses “A Contested Home,” a collaborative project with Adjunct Professor Avigail Manneberg, which aims to engage with Palestinian displacement and diaspora through Theatre of the Oppressed and other art techniques.
Students of the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program receive nationally-ranked training among one of the country’s most established arts communities. The program aims to train actors with an emphasis on excellence and individuality while providing an inspirational foundation for each student’s life-long journey of learning and artistic expression.
“Every detail of a costume tells the audience something specific about the person wearing the costume,” says 2018 MFA costume design graduate Brandi Mans. She reflects on her thesis for Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room, in which she navigates the visual language of clothing to tell historical narratives of medical practice and female sexuality.
Recent graduate JT Weaver calls framing his dance major in a liberal arts context “game-changing.” His well-rounded education equipped him to explore ideas through movement and to create dance pieces that are thoughtfully crafted ideas of creative research. “The biggest takeaway from my time at the University is my level of awareness in all facets of my life,” Weaver says. “My years at the U instilled an approach to life that is highly thoughtful and perspective-driven.”
Dive into some of the work and experiences of the Bessie Award winning Talvin Wilks. His work in theatre and dance uncovers the stories of individuals, generations and minority cultures while working with renowned artist Ping Chong and other major choreographers and companies.
Taking the path less travelled, senior Matthew Meeks graduated with a degree in Management Information Systems (MIS) and a theatre minor bringing together his solid business and management education to play the role of stage manager.
For centuries, the stage has provided a place to explore, praise, and criticize the social movements and current events of the time. PhD student David Melendez spent last summer studying how indigenous history is interpreted and displayed through California’s missions, and the impact on surrounding communities.