Category Archives: Theatre

‘Agnes of God’ Opens Thursday

Questions of faith, motherhood and determination arise as three women with vastly different ideologies are faced with a supposed virgin birth.

The investigation of the nun who was found to have given birth, and ensuing controversies and debates over the possible miracle — and subsequent death of the infant — are explored as Tech Theatre presents John Pielmeier’s 1979 play “Agnes of God.”

The Department of Visual and Performing Arts, presents six performances of “Agnes of God,” tomorrow through Saturday (Feb. 21 – 23 ) and Feb. 28 to March 2.  Performances are at 7:30 p.m. in the McArdle Theatre on the second floor of the Walker Arts and Humanities Center.

Pielmeier’s dramatic script poses challenging questions for its three characters — Dr. Livingstone, an atheistic psychiatrist, the pius Mother Superior and young Sister Agnes, mother of the deceased child she claims to have immaculately conceived.

The cast of three experienced performers is directed by Patricia Helsel (VPA).

Tickets are on sale now, $15 for adults, $5 for youth and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee.

Tickets are available by phone at 906-487-2073, online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex or one hour prior to show time at the McArdle Theatre the night of each performance.


Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo to Perform at the Rozsa

The Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts presents Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. The all-male comedy ballet company, beloved internationally since 1974, sacrifices comfort to perform en pointe, tutus and all. Confirming why audiences flock to see them year after year. The “trocks” are witty, fun and above all, masterful in the art of ballet.

The Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo is performing at the Rozsa Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16. This event is made possible with support from WGGL Minnesota Public Radio, Keweenaw Pride, and with funding from the Michigan Humanities Council — an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Arts Midwest Touring fund, a Program of Arts Midwest, generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts with additional contributions from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Crane Group.

Tickets for adults are $28 and  youth $12. Michigan Tech Students are no charge with the Experience Tech Fee.

Tickets are available by phone at 487-2073, online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex, or at the Rozsa box office the night of the show. Note: the Rozsa box office opens two hours before performances.


Visual & Performing Arts Students Receive Numerous Awards at Theatre Festival

Sound and Theatre students from the Visual and Performing Arts Department recently attended the Kennedy Center/American College Theater Festival (Region III) in Madison, Wisconsin. Started in 1969 by Roger L. Stevens, the Kennedy Center’s founding chairman, the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide which has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States. The KCACTF has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theater departments and student artists showcase their work and receive outside assessment by KCACTF respondents.
Visual and Performing Arts students presented their work to a jury of professionals and received a number of awards.  Top award winners in the design competition will travel to Washington, D.C. to compete in the national festival design competition.
The award recipients were as follows:
Jason Bates: Recipient Regional Sound Design Competition top prize
Joseph Styers: Honorable Mention Regional Sound Design Competition
Makenzi Wentela: Honorable Mention Regional Lighting Design Competition, Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas Don Childs Award
David Brown: Honorable Mention Allied Design and Technologies Award
Sarah Calvert: Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas Don Childs Award, Finalist for the National Award for Theatrical Design Excellence, Honorable mention team for Design Storm for their design of Chicago
Students also participated in the Tech Olympics, team competitions showcasing skills in areas of technical theatre.  Michigan Tech Students took top prizes in a number of categories:
Overall first place: Lexa Walker and Zep Elkerton
First place Sound: Lexa Walker and Zep Elkerton
First Place Props: Lexa Walker and Zep Elkerton
First Place Costumes: Lexa Walker and Zep Elkerton

Auditions for Agnes of God Tonight

Auditions for Agnes of God will be held this evening, Wednesday, November 28th at 7:00 pm. in Walker 210.

The roles are for 3 women:

Mother Miriam Ruth — Actor able to play 40-60 yrs. old.  Devout.  Became a nun after having a family.  Wants to keep peace and (possibly) save face for the religious order.  Sincerely has Agnes’ best interests in mind as she tries to protect her from jail or the asylum.

Dr. Martha Livingstone — Psychiatrist, (Actor able to play 40-60 yrs. old)  She’s seen it all.  While she has a tough exterior, she struggles with personal demons.  Still, she is quite compassionate.  A chain smoker.

Agnes — Novice who denies giving birth.  Innocent.  Sings like an angel.  She was abused by her mother and is forced to face this reality at the show’s climax.

No preparation is necessary, but scripts are available to check out in the office of Visual and Performing Arts. The audition will be cold readings from the script.
Rehearsals will be next semester, with performances February 21-23, Feb 28-Mar 2.

Student Shares Theatre and Electronic Media Performance Experience

Callisto CortezIt’s not typical for a person to study Theatre and Electronic Media Performance at a university more known for engineering. As I thought about my education at Michigan Tech and this unique program, that not many people pursue in the Upper Peninsula, I realized how extraordinary my college adventure would be. I am a fourth-year Theatre and Electronic Media Performance major, minoring in Technical Theatre, and my name is Callisto Cortez.

Over the years I’ve fallen in love with my department and the people that have become some of my closest friends. The tight-knit community that is the Visual and Performing Arts department works as a family and all the students can get one-on-one discussions and attention from each of our professors. Within my first year and a half at Michigan Tech, I was able to complete my Acting Practicums. Each practicum was worth 1 credit, which means I had already acted in 3 productions with the Tech Theatre. It’s been an incredible learning experience, for the fact that I was able to immerse myself in the program right away. By the first semester of my second year, I was cast in my first leading role for the Tech Theatre, Silent Sky.

I have realized how extremely passionate I am about theatre and how fortunate I am to make my dreams into a reality by making my hard work pay off.

The major of Theatre and Electronic Media Performance at Michigan Tech caters to each student individually as artists. At first, my mindset was focused primarily on performance and enhancing my acting abilities. Then, I discovered my love for the technical aspects of theatre as well, which lead me to taking technical theatre courses. My second year, I helped to paint an entire set for The Irresistible Rise of Arturo Ui, and also stage manage the production of Sexual Perversity in Chicago During these two semesters, I was the lead in Silent Sky for the Fall semester and a dancer in West Side Story spring semester.

Now, I want to be able to act in a show, stage manage another, assist in any type of design, and just get to know the people who make an entire production happen.



Magic and Fun: ‘Pinocchio’ at Rozsa Saturday

Featured event photo for Pinocchio

The Rozsa Center welcomes the acclaimed theater troupe Tout à Trac, from Quebec, Canada, with their adaptation of “Pinocchio,” a magical theatrical production which takes us on another amazing journey into the heart of childhood and imagination.

Following their internationally acclaimed “Alice in Wonderland,” Tout à Trac returns with Collodi’s tale about the world’s most famous puppet: Pinocchio.

They will present two shows —2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 10). In addition to the performance, guests at the 2 p.m. matinee will be treated to “KC Bonker’s Gepetto’s Workshop” in the lobby, after the show, co-hosted by Trish Helsel (VPA), KC Bonker’s, the Portage Lake District Library and the Rozsa Center.

“Gepetto’s Workshop” will include an interactive puppet workshop, featuring an on-stage tour of the Pinocchio set, a shadow puppet theatre and a “sock-puppet creation-station” in the Rozsa lobby, complete with refreshments and puppetry-themed fun for all ages.

Calling all parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles! If you haven’t taken the children to see Pinocchio … yet, keep it in mind as a weekend option. Every detail is artfully executed in this disarming retelling of a classic tale. The sets, costumes and, of course, the puppets (including the boy with the nose), have a distinct, folkloric style. Gepetto is adorable. One of Pinocchio’s arms is a flute. The cat gets a laugh by simply singing one word from a famous feline musical. — Pat Donnelly, Reviewer

Tickets are on sale now, $16 for adults, $6 for youth and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. Tickets are available by phone at 7-2073, online at mtu.edu/rozsa, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance.

Note: The Rozsa Box Office only opens two hours prior to performances.


In the News – Haunted Mine and 41 North Film

The Visual and Performing Arts was in the news this past week for two different events.

Silhouettes of minersThe Haunted Mine presented by the Department of Visual and Performing Arts was covered by WLUC TV6.

Michigan Technological University VPA students installed 2,535 feet of speaker cable, 1,000 feet of microphone cable and 31 speakers to create the ultimate creepy soundscape for Quincy Mine’s annual haunted tour.

A half-mile in and seven levels below ground, the 15-by-15 dark tunnel awaits the brave souls who dare to enter for pre-Halloween tours Thursday, Friday and Saturday, October 25-27. This is the second year Michigan Tech students in sound design and audio production and technology programs have collaborated on the project.


41 Film Festival logoThe upcoming 41 North Film Festival, beginning Thursday (Nov. 1) was covered by WJMN TV3. This year, the 41 North Film Festival will screen five films about history, issues and accomplishments related to STEM innovation in its lineup of more than 20 films.

 


VPA Students Learn Theatre Swordplay

2 females sword fightingThe Ring of Steel Stage Combat Workshop took place Saturday and Sunday, October 13th and 14th in McArdle Theatre. The event was coordinated by Alpha Psi Omega Theatre Honor Society at Michigan Tech to provide an opportunity for its members, Visual and Performing Arts students, and the greater community to learn basic stage combat techniques.

The event officially began on Saturday morning with yoga and stretching provided by Ring of Steel’s instructor, Diane. Those that participated in the session were grateful for the chance to stretch before the intensely physical workshops to follow.  After stretching, the Falling and Rolling workshop began with discussions from instructor, Maestro Chris, on the “circle of strength” and martial arts influences on achieving believable falls without injuring one’s self.  The group then rolled out mats borrowed from Air Force ROTC and practiced basic rolls using the techniques taught by Chris.  Other topics that followed included back falls.

After Falling and Rolling, the workshop for Hand to Hand combat began with continuation of the circle of strength. In this workshop, partners were necessary and the six levels of safety practiced by Ring of Steel were introduced in order to protect the partner in the exercise.

For hand to hand combat, actions such as right hook, undercut, gut punch, blocks, and napping (creating the sound without physical contact with the partner) were displayed with their appropriate safety measures and then practiced in pairs.  A sequence was developed in order to create a story and full choreography to practice.

Once participants had been introduced to the levels of safety and basic physical movements, they were able to move on to swordplay.  For Saturday, training swords made from plastic or wood-like materials were used when learning the technique and basic movements.  Like the hand to hand combat section, a sequence was created to aid in learning and practicing all six levels of safety.  The swordplay section ended the long, physical first day for most participants.

In the evening of the first day, Ring of Steel gave an after dinner lecture for VPA students with technical theatre and management interest in general stage combat weapon safety, liability, and maintenance.  Students were given the opportunity to identify the differences between resin prop and blank firing weaponry and the safety measures that must be in place when using either on stage.  Additionally, attendees fired rounds of the blank training weapons to understand the proper etiquette and dangers when handling devices to remember when managing shows involving blank firing weapons.

I really enjoyed the safety aspect of the workshops because I think it’s important to know how to do things correctly, and it is something that will be very helpful in my future as a stage manager  – Makenzi Wentela, Theatre Entertainment and Technology Student

The workshop continued on Sunday with more advanced topics.  The morning consisted of review in Falling and Rolling and Hand to Hand Combat with more advanced moves added such as fainting, partner rolls, mid-roll twists to collect an object, weapon disarms, and hair and limb pulls. Following lunch break, a continuation of the sequence learned on Saturday for swordplay was done, this time with steel training rapiers. The group was able to move quickly into the new weapons and was excited to try. After completing the basic choreography set by the instructors, participants were able to then learn the choreography notation in writing and modify the basic choreography to make it unique to each pair.  The pairs performed their unique choreography and were critiqued and corrected by Ring of Steel in terms of safety and flow of the movement.

The event concluded on Sunday evening with the large group mass battle incorporating all the techniques learned throughout the weekend.  Participants further developed their unique choreography and were checked continually by Ring of Steel.  Finally, all pairs performed their choreography to the full group and were placed into specific locations on the stage for the mass battle.  Many, many practices followed before a clean performance of the full mass battle was done successfully. At the height of the event, eight pairs of unique combat choreography were spread across McArdle Theatre with 4 different cameras catching every moment. Videos of the event will be compiled soon!

It was an absolute blast to have the experience. I’m hoping we’ll get to bring them back in the future and possibly integrate more of these techniques into future shows  –  Tom Klonowski, Mechanical Engineering Technology Student

The event was generously sponsored by the Parents Fund of the Michigan Tech Fund, Public Safety, and Alpha Psi Omega. Special thanks to the Michigan Tech Visual and Performing Arts Department, Air Force ROTC, Trish Helsel, Kent Cyr, Christopher Plummer. Photo Credits to Ethan Sommer, Christopher Plummer, and University Marketing and Communications.


Fundraiser Celebrates 25th Anniversary of VPA

Circle with Gala surrounded by colored splashesThis academic year, we will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Michigan Tech. We will hold a celebratory 25th Anniversary Gala beginning at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

Celebrate with an evening of cocktails, dinner and live arts entertainment. The VPA 25th Anniversary Gala will feature intimate performances in the lobby and on stage, and live auction supporting the Marian and John Irish Award for Environmental Art, the Visual and Performing Arts Department Theatre Scholarship Fund and the Rozsa Center’s Class Acts Program.

Come dressed for celebration. There will be a cocktail hour (cash bar), full dinner, live music throughout the evening both in the lobby and on stage, an auction of unique arts experiences, artists working during the gala and more.

Tickets for the evening are $75 per person. We will also be selling corporate tables (seating eight) for $1,000. Tickets can be purchased by calling the SDC Ticket Office at 7-2073 or following this link. More information can be found here.