Thursday, May 5, 2016

Let’s Get to Know the Faculty: Ethan Krupp

We’re interested in getting to know the faculty of the Division of Theatre and Dance a little better, so we asked them a few questions. Here’s what we learned from Professor Ethan Krupp who teaches Lighting, Scenic, and Sound Design and Technology classes as well as some Theatre Appreciation sections.

What first got you interested in or involved in theatre?
Took a drama class in 8th grade.  I did some scenes from some Neil Simon plays, as well as a Thornton Wilder one act play, among other things.  Really enjoyed doing the scenes and wanted to continue.  That lead to more drama classes and plays in 9th grade with the same teacher.

What made you want to teach theatre?
By the time I was trying to figure out what the plan was after college, I had worked with a few teachers who had really nurtured my creativity and shown me how powerful theatre could be. There's a long history of teaching in my family, so that, combined with the impression these folks had made on me, made exploring teaching as a career a logical plan.

What has been your favorite or most exciting or most memorable theatre experience?
Professor Krupp's lighting design in Dance Concert 2016
One of my favorite experiences was one of my first professional design jobs.  I was hired to serve as the lighting designer for a new play called The Last Hanging in Pike County that looked at the final hanging during the feud between the Hatfields and McCoys.   It was produced at Theatre at Lime Kiln in Lexington, VA.   The main performance space theatre was an outdoor space built in and around a cluster old limestone kilns.  The scenic designer was my undergraduate design mentor and we worked really well together, creating some beautiful moments on stage.  My grandmother, Margaret Rector, who was a playwright and producer earlier in her life was able to come out and see my first professional show.  It was pretty special.  I hadn't really been aware of my grandmother's theatre work before getting more into theatre in college, but had been reading some her old plays and pumping her for stories when I would go back home on breaks.   The intersection of my beginning professional design career, a typical crazy, wonderful, busy summer stock experience, and my family history was quite magical.

What's one show you would love to work on?
I've always wanted to revisit Neil Simon's play The Prisoner of 2nd Avenue. I did a scene from it in 8th grade that is etched in my brain. Before coming to Bloomsburg, I had a chance to work on Plaza Suite, also by Simon, and design the lights (as well as the Act III rain effect) for another play I did a scene from in junior high school and I loved revisiting with an "old friend."

Where would you love to work on theatre?
Theatre at Lime Kiln will be a special place for me.  The space was just so amazing and unique.  Working in outdoor summer theatre in Virginia wasn't always the most pleasant in terms of weather and temperature.  Throw in the fact that you can only set light levels in an outdoor theatre during overnight tech slots and you've got an experience custom built for creating great memories! While I was in Houston, TX, I saw many shows at the Alley Theatre but never had a chance to work for them.  They are another company I would love to work with.

Professor Krupp
Who would you love to work with?
Thanks to my sabbatical during the Fall 2015 semester, I actually got to work with two dear friends and colleagues, Tom Anderson and Will Ingham...Tom was undergraduate mentor and Will was the scene shop manager (and one of my bosses) during graduate school.   I would love to work with Mark Dean, my graduate school mentor again, as well as some of the folks I spent time with in various summer stock companies over the years.  Barbara Masters was my high school drama teacher...I would give my left arm to work with her again.  


Some years ago I had the chance to hear Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhower speak about their lighting design work.  I would love to work with them and pick their brains. Robert Edmond Jones (although deceased) is another designer I would have given anything to work with again.   The two most bittersweet names, in terms of people I would love to work with, are both people who clearly put me on the path to where I am now who died far too early, Ron Masters and Mike Gorman.  In part, I think some of why I do what I do is to honor them and carry the small part of their legacy that lives inside of me forward. 

Ethan H. Krupp teaches design and technology classes as well as some of the general education classes.  He serves as the Director of the Theatre and Dance Division and as the Division's Technical Director.   He's also a lighting, scenic, properties and sound designer for the BU Players and other theatre companies.  

Friday, April 29, 2016

Let’s Get To Know The Faculty: Julie Petry

We’re interested in getting to know the faculty of the Division of Theatre and Dance a little better, so we asked them a few questions. Here’s what we learned from Professor Julie Petry who teachers performance courses in both Theatre and Dance.

What first got you interested in or involved in theatre/dance?
I was lucky to grow up with a Dance studio in the basement of our house.  Every chance I got I was going through the "dress-up box" my mom provided, putting on costumes and singing and dancing to all the records (musicals) she had: Anything Goes, Les Miserable, Xanadu and Fame were some of my favorites.....I knew every word to each of those albums by heart.  Sometimes I would dress up my brother, and get him to play characters, and I would direct him. 

What has been your favorite or most exciting or most memorable theatre/dance experience?
I was lucky and had many benchmark moments in my career that brought great excitement and rewards to me. I have been fortunate to work with over 20 different professional companies, multiple University programs, and received several grants along the way. I will never forget touring with Kenny Rogers in his original musical, receiving two regional Emmy nominations for my work in Children's entertainment, or teaching Ellen DeGeneres dance steps via telephone live on national TV.

What's one show you would love to work on?
I would some day like to perform in musicals again.  Playing Little Red in Into the Woods, and Tzeitel one more time in Fiddler remain on my bucket list.

Where would you love to work on theatre or dance?
I would love to direct/choreograph an off-Broadway musical in either LA or New York. Access to an amazing talent pool of true triple threats is what would make it exciting!

Who would you love to work with?
I would love to work with so many folks that this question is over-whelming.  However, I can say Susan Stroman is high on the list. I know I could learn a lot from her.

Julie Petry, Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance, is in her 7th year teaching at BU, and enjoys writing, directing, choreographing, teaching, traveling, and the healing arts. She continues to study her craft, bodywork, Reiki, and the never-ending field of human behavior as much as she can. She has a great love of animals, and supports the generation of quality food products and humane farming techniques.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Portrait of an Artist as a Theatre Minor (or, Five Questions for Alyssa Lardi)


We wanted to get to know more about our Theatre Minors, so we have started to ask them each five questions… The first Theatre Minor we asked is Alyssa Lardi and here’s what she told us.

What do you love about theatre?
I love how theatre can be so different yet similar. When I tell people I'm a theatre minor, sometimes they'll respond with "Oh plays are so boring" or "God I can't stand musicals," but there are so many different kinds and levels of theatre that it's impossible to not find SOMETHING you can enjoy. Theatre allows you to go anywhere and be anyone- a stressed and overwhelmed student director one week (first photo--I am on the right, attempting to troubleshoot blocking issues), a secret agent the next, and an Elf a month later (in the second photo, I am in the bottom right in pink wig and green jacket--I'll never get to dress this fashionably again). It's also a craft that employs all kinds of people with all kinds of interests, and everyone can feel that their work is important and they belong. Whether it's people working on Broadway, community theatre, improv groups, school plays, musicals, Shakespeare, introductory classes- there's always a bond among those who appreciate theatre and you can always find something you have in common.
What's one show you would love to be a part of one day?
I've been in love with the musical Spring Awakening since my freshman year of high school, and have seen it six times during three different productions. It's amazing to me how you go from all the issues the young characters face- suicide, child abuse, acceptance, religion, abortion- to a song named "Totally Fucked" which is literally a carefree rocking out party on stage. The music is beautiful and the show itself is quite eye-opening, so it's definitely a dream production for me.

What inspired you to become a Theatre Minor?

I've been involved with theatre for my entire life, and freshman fall semester was the first time since about 4th grade that I wasn't involved with a production. I knew I wasn't going to just stop being involved and had friends who were majors, so I decided to look into the minor. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to stay active and really start learning about all of the aspects of theatre. I like the structure of the minor because it's not too overwhelming for a person with a time-consuming major, but still allows me to branch out into new disciplines and take courses I'm interested in. 

What is your major?
My major is American Sign Language/English Interpreting, which means facilitating communication between hearing people who use spoken English and Deaf/Hard of Hearing people who use ASL. If you've ever seen a person signing during an important press conference or interpreting for famous Deaf people like Marlee Matlin or Nyle DiMarco, those are a few settings interpreters can work in. I took ASL in high school and came to Bloomsburg specifically for the interpreting program, because I am absolutely in love with the language, the communities, and the profession (even though it's a LOT of work and extremely difficult). Adding a theatre minor was also a practical career choice, as theatrical interpreting is a field I may wish to pursue and background knowledge of what happens both on stage and behind the scenes will be extremely beneficial.

If you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be?
I won't lie, I thought the most about this question. After a lot of personal debate and soul searching, I think would be an Apple, because they're honestly the most superior fruit. They go with caramel, peanut butter, chocolate, and in pies or other amazing desserts. Also, I'd get to be in a ton of Instagram and Facebook posts in fall when all of us New Yorkers visit orchards and spend the day apple picking.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Photo Essay: Crew Watch for The Laramie Project






"What shocked me the most about attending crew watch was really seeing the people I work with on a daily basis produce so many different characters. The Laramie Project is a truly wild show for the amount of characters it has and for only fourteen actors putting that all together showcases the talent we have here at Bloomsburg. 

Pictured: Will Olsen as Jedadiah Schultz recounting his college audition. Sorcha Smith as Romaine Patterson as she remembers Matt by his smile. Josue Nieves playing Aaron Kreifels as he informs the audience there was nothing he could do for Matthew. Shelby Snyder and Carly Carman as they lighten the mood and drunkenly discuss Aaron McKinney. And finally, a fence as The Fence, which feels like a character on its own, as it is powerfully incorporated into this production. It may not be the fence in Laramie, Wyoming, but it emanates the powerful memory of Matthew Shepard and all the people impacted by his life and his story as it sits upstage watching the play unfold."

- Toni Carosella, Photographer and Theatre Major
"The Laramie Project" runs February 24-28 at the Alvina Krause Theatre in downtown Bloomsburg, PA. For more information, visit buplayers.org.
 

Director’s Notes for The Laramie Project

Detail of The Laramie Project set. Photo by Toni Carosella.
"Drive west from Bloomsburg on I-80 for 1,636 miles, and you'll arrive in Laramie, WY. Both are small towns of long-time residents, situated among a rural landscape; both are home to a university attracting out-of-towners; both possess an All-American mix of blue and white collar jobs. And both have gay residents. I'm sure many of the straight members in today's audience are accepting of our fellow citizens who are gay. Others in the audience, though, may find the presence of gays in Bloomsburg troubling, or sinful. In that regard, American society today retains a similarity to 1998-2000, the time of Matthew Shepard's murder and the writing of The Laramie Project. In the nearly 20 years since then, has anything changed? Has there been progress in the struggle for acceptance of, and civil rights for, gays and lesbians?

Certainly on the legal front one could point to the federal Matthew Shepard & James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (2009), the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (2011), and the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same sex marriage (2015), and give a qualified “Yes!” But hate crime and discrimination legislation on the state (including Pennsylvania and Wyoming) and local levels are woefully lacking; and when it comes to the hearts and minds of average Americans, there is still work to be done. Just recall the Kentucky county clerk who refused to grant same sex marriage because of “religious freedom”, or local businesses nationwide who deny service to gays and lesbians. This reveals how fragile and misunderstood the LGBTQ movement is in America, not to mention the violence done to gays outside our country, in Africa, Russia and elsewhere.

The Laramie Project examines these questions as two communities –the Laramie residents and the members of the Tectonic Theatre Project from New York- learn about themselves and each other in response to the brutal murder of Matthew. Now drive east on I-80 for 1,636 miles and check out Bloomsburg. Should a hate murder occur in our community, how would we respond? With examination, or a cover-up? With outrage, or harassment? These questions keep The Laramie Project from being a period piece. Its enduring relevancy is a call for vigilance against hate. Healing and progress are possible."

- Jim Goode, Director of The Laramie Project 

BU Players' production of The Laramie Project runs February 24 through 28. Days and times, as well as ticket information, at buplayers.org.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Photo Essay: Load-in for The Laramie Project





"Of what I took that day, I enjoyed these because they are all depictions of collaboration within the line of theatre. Theatre doesn't happen without other people coming together. There's Kyle and Donald carrying a table together, Kyle and Sara figuring out the gels, an overview of everyone painting the stage together, and an up-close snap of Bailey and Kate doing so. Collaboration was screaming at my camera that day and I couldn't help but capture it. That leads me to the collaboration of the Tectonic Theater Project and all of those who worked together to create The Laramie Project. And even the people of Laramie that collaborated on both the project and on attempting to help Laramie move forward from the day Matthew Shepherd was murdered. Collaboration is important for the human soul. We cannot survive without collaboration and neither can theatre."
- Toni Carosella, Photographer and Theatre Major

"The Laramie Project" runs February 24-28 at the Alvina Krause Theatre in downtown Bloomsburg, PA. For more information, visit buplayers.org.

Friday, November 13, 2015

What do theatre and dance students learn? Part 2

In Part 2 of “What do theatre and dance students learn?” we explore how theatre and dance students learn the skills that employers most desire in potential candidates. (Haven't read Part 1 yet? Check it out.)

Communication Skills: There’s a fantastic triangle of communication with every performance of theatre and dance: artists communicate with one another and with their audience. They must communicate on multiple levels. And in the creative process one must articulate their intention as well as a reflection on process and on the product and on the relationship between process and product. Students are constantly challenged to articulate their intent through written words, verbal expression and through performance (often through the lens of another artist's play or choreography—another layer of communication).

The auditions sees the demonstration of learning on stage in
productions such as The Nosemaker's Apprentice (Spring 2015).
Problem Solving/Analytical Skills: There are an incredible number of ways to accomplish a performance. The road from first thought to final performance is a winding path with many obstacles. Whether it’s analyzing a script for performance or discovering the piece of choreography that’s right for every measure of music, the theatre and dance student is challenged to be analytical in their creative problem solving.

An important aspect of this skill is Time Management. There is always a great, looming clock that threatens “Opening Night”… The problems, we hope, will have been given a solution by the rise of the first curtain. When alumna Kellyanne Klause was asked, “What would you consider the most valuable thing you have learned at Bloomsburg University?” she answered, “Time Management. You need to learn how to manage your time as a theatre major…to organize and to prioritize your time.”

Teamwork: Collaboration is at the heart of live performance in theatre and dance. Students understand not only that they need to rely on others, but that others rely on them. We stress the value of “ensemble”—respectful, effective collaboration that puts the good of the group first.

Initiative/Self-Starting: Developing a strong “work ethic” is how students will succeed in theatre and dance at school and beyond. We know that being "on time" arriving at least 15 minutes early and being ready to go—warmed up, having rehearsed and prepared on your own—when rehearsal begins. Student set designers, actors, dancers, directors, playwrights are all expected to meet the goals set out by the faculty and by themselves.

Leadership: Students are regularly given leadership roles, formally and informally. Informally, there is a culture built in theatre and dance that the more experienced students are role models for the less experienced. Formally, students are assigned “Practicum” assignments that cast them as Head Usher, Director, Assistant Director, Fight Captain, Producer, Costume Designer and other roles that require that they join the leadership team or are the leader of the team itself.

Flexibility: Sometimes your first idea doesn’t work. Sometimes someone else has a better idea. As an effective collaborator, you have to be willing to let go of your “favorite idea” if there’s a better solution in the room.

Every one of these skills was used in the process of creating
this scene from Macbeth (Fall 2015).
Creativity: This may be the most self-evident?

Willingness to Learn: Every theatre and dance student is challenged to take advantage of every opportunity to learn. A great artist is to be a well-rounded artist. Students should not only be willing to learn about all areas of theatre and dance, but to seek out those learning opportunities every chance they get.

Attention to Detail: On stage and off,  students are asked to “go back to the basics”—what is being communicated in this play, this lighting design, this choreography? Does that match your original intent, in every detail? As an artist you are responsible for every choice on that stage, every word in that script, and every line of that criticism. Every detail is a choice, so you had best pay close attention to every detail.

Interested in seeing these skills at work or in getting involved in the division of theatre and dance? Visit buplayers.org.