Imagination. Creativity. Local and world histories. Art. Theatre. Music. Design. Michigan Tech’s first arts-focused study abroad is an immersive experience. Students from many campus majors are taking part: from Theatre and Sound Design, Humanities, and Chemistry, to Biomedical and Environmental Engineering. The trip focuses on art, theatre, architecture, and culture, with a special emphasis on the Prague Quadrennial, one of the largest theatre design events in the world. Students explore world heritage sites, study works of art in museums and galleries, attend performances, and reflect on local/global history, culture, and connection. The trip is open to all majors and is designed for students whose interests benefit from creativity and new perspectives – in other words, everyone. Follow us on the trip blog and on Instagram.
After a heartwarming opening night, you have three more chances to see “A Christmas Carol,” written by Charles Dickens, adapted to the stage by Romulus Linney and presented by Michigan Tech Theatre this weekend.
The beloved holiday classic, directed by Trish Helsel, boasts a Tech Theatre Company cast of nearly 40 local youth, Keweenaw community members, and Michigan Tech faculty, staff and students. “A Christmas Carol” will lift holiday spirits at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Dec. 2) and tomorrow (Dec. 3), with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday (Dec. 4).
From the first “Bah, Humbug!” to the final, “God bless us, everyone,” this performance will delight audiences of all ages as they join Ebenezer Scrooge on his journey of transformation and redemption.
“The Charles Dickens classic has long been a Christmas favorite; the story is much more universal in its message,” says Helsel, professor of theatre at Michigan Tech. “I chose this stage adaptation because it does not paint Ebenezer Scrooge as a villain, but rather someone broken by a series of devastating life events. Our production focuses on Scrooge’s ability to accept his past and embrace the present.”
The strength of the Keweenaw community, its overwhelming artistic talent and phenomenal young people were at the forefront of Helsel’s mind as she chose this year’s holiday show. “The show was chosen as a community-centered production with a cast of Michigan Tech students, faculty and community members,” says Helsel. “It has been a pleasure to work with this lot of youngsters, who range in age from 4 to 17 years. It is exciting to be a part of their induction into a professional theatre setting. Children are such fast learners! They have picked up the British dialects with ease, and they memorize quickly. Most importantly, they bring a sense of joy to the process.”
Get tickets online, by calling 906-487-1906, at the Rozsa Box Office from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, or for one hour before shows. Michigan Tech students can reserve free Experience Tech tickets online, and Student Rush will be available at the door.
What: “A Christmas Carol,” written by Charles Dickens, adapted to the stage by Romulus Linney
When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2 and 3, and 2 p.m. Dec. 4
Where: Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts
Cost: $20 Adults | $5 Youth Under 18 | Free Student Rush
Join us this Halloween season at the Quincy Mine for a haunted experience that you won’t forget! Tram will run about every 20 minutes from 6-10 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in advance online at www.quincymine.com, and it is HIGHLY recommended to do so, as the tours sell out quickly! Youth under 12 years must be accompanied by an adult.
Content Considerations // jumpscares, flickering and strobing lights, loud sounds, and fog, appropriate clothing and comfortable footwear that can handle some dirt is strongly suggested.
Michigan Tech Theatre creates entertainment events for the Keweenaw, sharing the creative and scholarly work of students and faculty from the Department of Visual and Performing Arts.
Kent A. Cyr, Associate Professor, is the Technical Director at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI. He teaches courses in Technical Construction, Stagecraft, Rigging, Stage Mechanics, and Properties Artisanship. He is the director of the B.S. in Theatre and Entertainment Technology program. He is a member of the USITT Tech Expo committee and active in the Technical Production commission, Education commission, and the Emerging Creatives Showcase. In KCACTF region III, he is the Festival Technical Director, and a respondent to the technical load-in process. He has worked at Spoleto Festival USA, Bard Summerscape, The La Jolla Playhouse, Cyco Scenic, and continues to work professionally with Technical Theatre Solutions.
Audition announcement for Tech Theatre’s, A Christmas Carol.
Students and Adult Community Members:
Monday or Tuesday, September 26-27, 6:30-8:00 or 8:00-9:30 pm
Walker 207 (McArdle Theatre)
Please do the following before you audition:
Sign up for a 90-minute slot on Monday or Tuesday
Fill out an audition form
You will be notified by email which audition time slot you are confirmed for by Sunday evening.
We will do introductions and a short warm-up, then we will have everyone read scenes from the play. A copy of the script can be found here: A Christmas Carol Script
Wednesday, September 28
4-6 years old – 5:00-5:45 pm
7-12 years old – 5:45-6:45 pm
13-17 years old – 7:00-8:00 pm
Parents – Please fill out an Audition Form and Release Form before your child auditions.
December 1-3, 7:30 pm, Rozsa Center
December 4, 2:00 pm, Rozsa Center
Rehearsal may begin as soon as Thursday, September 29
Rehearsals will generally be Sunday – Thursday evenings, 6:30-9:30, but that is subject to change depending on the responses to this audition form, and we may accommodate an earlier rehearsal for scenes with children.
We expect to release children as early as possible, except for the final dress rehearsals.
Once the production goes into technical rehearsal (beginning November 14th) rehearsals will take place every day beginning as early as 5:00pm and ending as late as 11:00pm. There may be rehearsals on the 18th and 27th of November (Friday, of the beginning of Thanksgiving Break and Sunday, the end of Break).
Following the final performance on December 4th, actors are expected to remain to help with striking the set, putting away costumes, cleaning the dressing rooms, and other tasks.
A Christmas Carol has a seemingly large cast with “named” roles. However, we plan to have some actors play more than one role, and all will be part of the ensemble. Some roles may be cast against the assumed gender in the script.
Roles for Adults:
Fred (Scrooge’s nephew)
Marley (Ghost of . . . )
Julia (Fred’s wife)
Lucy (Julia’s sister)
The Ghost of Christmas Past
The Ghost of Christmas Present
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
Peter (Cratchet’s son)
Belinda (Cratchet’s daughter)
Old man and woman in Park
Roles expected to be filled by children (although youthful adults may be considered!):
Young Scrooge (12-14)
Boy Scrooge (8-10)
Boys at the Crossroads (8-12)
For questions regarding the audition schedule and times, please contact the stage manager, Laurel Schmidt firstname.lastname@example.org
For questions regarding the play, please contact the director, Trish Helsel email@example.com
Visual and Performing Arts announces two new sound faculty that have joined the department. Jeff Sherwood, Assistant Professor of Sound, and Michael Maxwell, Assistant Teaching Professor.
Jeff Sherwood (he/him) is a professional theatre artist and educator specializing in sound design, music composition, and audio engineering. He strives to bring original and innovative ideas in collaboration with creative teams in the art of storytelling. He has worked in New York City at Off-Broadway theatres including The Public Theater, The New Group, Signature Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Roundabout Theatre Company, and others. During the past few summers, he has worked as Audio Supervisor at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut, where his affinity for sound design for new puppetry, music theatre, and play development continues to grow, and where he will be returning this year as the Resident Sound Designer for the National Playwrights Conference.
He is thrilled to be joining the sound program at Michigan Technological University as an Assistant Professor of Sound in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and is eager to collaborate with colleagues and students on future projects. He enjoys mentoring and fueling the passion of the rising generation of sound artists and engineers, and is regularly invited to teach sound design masterclasses and workshops at the National Theater Institute. He previously held the faculty position of Teacher-Scholar Postgraduate Fellow in Sound Design at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. He received his Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Theatre Sound from Purdue University, and his Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Theatre Design and Production from Oklahoma City University.
Recent awards include the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) Robert E. Cohen Sound Achievement Award for Young Designers, Managers, and Technicians in the Performing Arts, as well as the Purdue University Excellence in Teaching Award for Graduate Teaching Assistants in 2020. He was also a national finalist for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in 2012 and 2014. He is an active member of the USITT Sound Commission, Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association (TSDCA), Audio Engineering Society (AES), and is an Associated Crafts and Technicians (ACT) member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). His Korean American heritage inspires his interests in traveling, exploring new cultures, and keeping local restaurants in business. View and hear his work at www.sherwoodsound.com.
We are excited that Jeff Sherwood is bringing his expertise in composing with virtual instruments as well as in depth experience with New York City theatrical production to Michigan Tech. We are extremely lucky to have attracted new faculty with this level of creative and technical skill and experience.
Michael Maxwell, MFA
Michael Maxwell is a sound/media artist, audio engineer, and educator with an interest in audio/visual synthesis, music and sound effects recording, mixing, and media art installation. Maxwell received his Master of Fine Arts in Mass Communication & Media Arts from Southern Illinois University and is an Academic Leadership Fellow through University of Central Oklahoma’s Educators’ Leadership Academy.
Maxwell has worked in post production audio for SyFy Channel, Historia Pictures, and various independent filmmakers with works shown in dozens of film festivals internationally. Recently, Maxwell has been a live sound mixer for the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, John DaVersa & His Small Band, Emily Rhyne & The Oklahoma Legacy Band, and AdaFest Music Festival. Current media art pieces include Aggregate Voices, an audio installation series shown in the Pogue Gallery in Ada, OK and After Hunts Spiral, which was installed in the Over the Structures Exhibition at Czong Institute for Contemporary Art, Gimpo-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea. Portfolio Link https://www.mgmaxwell.net/
Mike Maxwell brings experience in synthesizers, art installations, and video broadcast to the VPA department. This will provide our students with more creative opportunities and expand on numerous cross campus collaborations.
Auditions for Stories That Go Bump In The Night, a collection of spooky and fun short stories, will be held this Sunday and Monday.
Sunday, September 12 – Rozsa 120 from 6-8pm.
Monday, September 13 – Walker 210 from 6-8pm.
Please wear a mask and observe social distancing while in the space.
We are looking for several actors, all inclusive, for this project. Those willing to have fun and get into the spirit of Halloween. Auditions will be cold readings, you will be provided with scripts at the time of your audition. Here is a link to some of the stories we are considering: Stories That Go Bump in the Night!
The collection of stories range from children’s Halloween time stories such as the Bogey-Beast, to that of Edgar Allan Poe. Bring your childhood wonder and curiosity!
For more information, contact Trish Helsel, firstname.lastname@example.org or (906) 281-0203.
Gottlieb Beidermann, is a respected businessman with a wife, Babette, and a comfortable home. He is the epitome of a conventional upper class gentleman. When rumors of arsonists in the area begin to surface, Beidermann convinces himself that the normalcy of his life will protect him. Evil arsonists may be going door to door, talking their way into people’s homes only to plot the destruction of those houses, but surely these men won’t fool him. A dark comedy, The Arsonists explores corruption, greed, and apathy that exists in society today and how all of us are just sitting around waiting for the world to burn.
Written by Max Frisch, translation by Alistair Beaton
Directed by Kristy Dodson
Staring Joshua Michael Levine (Off Bway Channeling Kevin Spacy)
Auditions: Saturday, September 18 and Sunday, September 19 (6:45 – 9pm)
Location: Walker 210
OPEN CALL: Come as you are! Sides of the script will be provided for you to look over and then read for the audition.
Roles: Babette: Beidermann’s wife, oblivious yet anxious
Anna: Beidermann’s servant, the only one who knows what is going on
Schmitz: A former wrestler and one of the arsonists
Billy: A former head waiter and one of the arsonists
Police Officer: Local police officer
Mrs. Knechtling: The grieving widow of Beidermann’s former business partner
Doctor of Philosophy: One of the arsonists who is now having doubts
Chorus of Firefighters: 3 Firefighters all attempting to save the town from the arsonists
by Bethany Jones, Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts
The Department of Visual and Performing Arts and the Rozsa Center are pleased to announce “Denali: Artists Respond to Music Inspired by Wilderness,” an exciting collaboration culminating in both a Rozsa Gallery A-Space exhibit and a virtual event
The project features composers and artists, their music, and the art inspired by it. “Denali: Artists Respond to Music Inspired by Wilderness,” exists in the confluence of two languages — music and visual art.
It features eighteen works of art made in response to original chamber music inspired by composers’ experiences in Denali National Park, in central Alaska. The in-person gallery experience opens in the Rozsa Gallery A-Space on Friday (Jan. 22), and both the live and virtual events will be available through Saturday, April 17.
Gallery hours are:
- M-F: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. 1:00 – 8:00 PM
- Saturdays: 1 – 8 p.m.
The Denali virtual event can be streamed anytime from Jan. 22 to April 17 by visiting the Rozsa website.
QR codes, posted with each work of art throughout the gallery exhibit, provide links to the related pieces of music by scanning with a QR code reader on a smartphone.
Musical scores, program notes, artist statements, and biographies of all project participants will be available both inside the gallery exhibit and digitally as part of the virtual experience.
According to project leaders Terri Frew (VPA) and Libby Meyer, (VPA), “What do you get when you set nine composers loose in Denali National Park? You get nine great pieces of music. Give this music to artists as inspiration and you get eighteen great pieces of art!”
In conjunction with the A-Space Gallery exhibit, participants of Composing in the Wilderness, a shared wilderness experience for adventurous composers and members of the Elements Artist Group, will discuss the collaboration, share performances of the music and images of artwork in virtual music and art experience, featuring a series of videos with each composer, their music and artwork related to each piece of original music.
The Elements Artist Group comprises six artists anchored in Alaska including Charlotte Bird, Susan Campbell, Nancy Hausle-Johnson, Mary Bee Kaufman, Margo Klass and Ree Nancarrow.
The nine composers from the 2017 Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival’s Composing in the Wilderness Program include Jesse Budel, Christian Dubeau, Corinna Hogan, Aaron Keyt, Brent Lawrence, Libby Meyer, Christina Rusnak, Dawn Sonntag and Jennifer Wright.
The idea for the project was originally sparked by a painting Elements artist Mary Bee Kaufman rendered while listening to music written by Christina Rusnak in 2012. Their successful collaboration resonated with other Elements artists who were eager to explore a new challenge – making visual art in response to music inspired by a place they all love, Denali National Park.
Stephen Lias, Composing in the Wilderness director, shared the proposal with his Composing in the Wilderness musicians and they enthusiastically said, “Yes.”
In 2017, Lias led nine experienced composers into the backcountry of Denali National Park. They composed original chamber music inspired by their experiences in the wilderness and then shared recordings of their compositions, along with their scores, ideas, and inspiration with the Elements artists. Elements artists created visual responses to the music, generating eighteen works of art – two responses to each of the nine musical compositions. Artists worked in a variety of media including fiber art, ceramic tiles, painting, poetry, and artist books. Denali: Artists Respond to Music Inspired by Wilderness is evidence of the surprising results that emerge when artists collaborate.
The generous support of a Community Arts Development Grant from the Alaska State Council on the Arts helped fund the project along with sponsorship by the National Park Service, Alaska Geographic, Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, and Composers in the Wilderness.
Written by David Hemmer, dean of the College of Sciences and Arts
Mary Cyr, lecturer in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, has been selected as our first spring Dean’s Teaching Showcase member. In making the nomination Hemmer said “The costume shop is next to my office in Walker, but until recently I had no real idea the incredible work that Mary does there. Our classroom students and student performers are fortunate to have her talent and creativity on campus.”
Cyr’s courses in costume technology, design and crafts are typically hands-on requiring very up-close and meticulous work such as: sketching and rendering of the human form; pattern drafting, marking, and alteration; machine sewing and hand sewing techniques; along with dyeing and other fabric manipulation techniques.
For the sudden shut-down in the Spring 2020 semester, Cyr quickly assembled appropriate level kits, to be picked up or mailed, for both FA1703 Costume Technology and FA 3703 Advanced Costume Technology. These included the projects the students had been working on as well as the remaining projects for the semester, which had to include basic hand sewing tools and materials for FA1703 and next level patterns, fabric, drafting paper, and hand-drafting tools for FA 3703.
Using document cameras and creating pictorial tutorials, she taught the students the necessary techniques while also introducing the proper use of the tools. Then the students remotely shared their works in progress for guidance and finished projects for critique and evaluation.
Cyr expanded and enhanced these methods for Fall 2020 to begin with face-to-face classes that had to be ready to go remote at a moment’s notice. She used a document camera and large monitor in the costume shop to demonstrate close work while maintaining appropriate distances from and between the students who could also show their minute work using the same.
Cyr also chose to teach two sections of FA1703 so a typical number of students could take the course while maintaining social distancing in the costume shop. With time to plan, she researched patterns all would be able to understand and use whether remote or in-person. She expanded the supplies and tools to function in class and transition easily as potential take-home kits.
Cyr searched out very small but fully functional sewing machines, small irons, and good quality fabric shears to effectively create a portable costume shop for each student. In addition to her classroom responsibilities, she is the costume designer for all of the theatre productions. She also oversees the work of the costume shop as they build the costumes for the theatre productions.
She is imaginative in her designs and consistent in meeting all deadlines for costuming the shows. VPA Chair Jared Anderson said “Mary has been a vital part of the Visual and Performing Arts Department since she arrived in 2015. She has created new courses that have expanded opportunities for students to work in costuming and has been especially innovative and flexible in the ways that she has delivered a hands-on curriculum during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is always dependable in her work, meeting important deadlines and overseeing student workers in the costume shop. She is beloved by students who work with her. It is a pleasure to have her on the faculty in the Visual and Performing Arts Department.”
Cyr will be recognized at an end-of-term event with other showcase members, and is also a candidate for next year’s CTL Instructional Award Series (to be determined this summer) recognizing introductory or large-class teaching, innovative or outside the classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.
The Michigan Tech Theatre Company’s next production is “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). Auditions will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight and tomorrow night (January 14/15) via Zoom (password: 085217).
Casting is open for three actors. Be ready to improvise. Actors will learn a short scene and memorize it within the audition. Make sure you are able to activate your computer camera and audio and that all parties within your immediate area are aware of your participation so as to not be caught unaware within our silly pseudo-Elizabethan world.
You will be asked to use the space around you, so consider how to position your camera for the best effect.
“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” will be performed on a Zoom platform and broadcast live February 18-20 and February 25-27.
Rehearsals will be from 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and every evening the week before opening, with a brush-up rehearsal on February 24.
Here is a copy of the script we will use for auditions. Any questions, please contact Trish Helsel at email@example.com.