Category: Theatre

Dean’s Teaching Showcase

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.


Auditions for “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” Tonight and Tomorrow Night

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 helsel@mtu.edu.


The Rozsa Presents Christmas Carol from Emmy-Winning Manual Cinema

In pandemic-times, the arts become even more creative. Direct to your home, the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts brings an imaginative Christmas Carol blending innovative storytelling, puppetry, cinema, and live performance. Streaming Thursday – Sunday (December 17-20).

The Rozsa Center brings original, creative, groundbreaking arts to the Keweenaw, whether audiences are in person or online. In that tradition, we are proud to host the world premiere live stream of Christmas Carol by Manual Cinema, an award-winning artistic company that has pushed the art and crafts of filmmaking, puppetry, and live performance in an exciting and breathtaking new artistic direction. In this world premiere online event created for audiences of all ages, interdisciplinary performance collective Manual Cinema takes on Charles Dickens’s holiday classic with a visually inventive adaptation made to broadcast directly to your home.

There will be four live showings. Each performance will only be live at the advertised times:

  • 8 p.m. Thursday (December 17)
  • 8 p.m. Friday (December 18)
  • 4 p.m. Saturday (December 19)
  • 4 p.m. Sunday (December 20)

For tickets visit mtu.edu/rozsa.


A Haunted Drive Thru at the Quincy Mine Ruins!

A Haunted Drive Thru

The Department of Visual and Performing Arts and the Quincy Mine Hoist Association announce a spooky Halloween collaboration, “A Haunted Drive-Thru at the Mine”. It’s taking place Thursday, October 29 through Saturday October 31 at the Quincy Mine Ruins.

Scheduled times are 7 to 10 p.m. each evening. The cost is a donation that can be made at the entrance to the drive-through at the mine.

According to Kent Cyr (VPA), “We’ve got a multi-layered project in the works, with built and lit scenic elements out in the mine ruins, and original scary podcast/stories produced by the Tech Theatre Company. The sounds will play on a long loop broadcast over a low-power FM transmitter. As people drive the ruins along the path marked out, they can tune their radios to the ‘Haunted Mine Drive-Thru’ Halloween broadcast.”

 Proceeds benefit the Quincy Mine Hoist Association.


Call for Actors: Auditions for Play Miasma

Auditions for Tech Theatre’s Eric Samuelsen’s play Miasma, a story of enduring love’s struggle with selfish desire, will be held by appointment on the following dates and times:

September 20, 2-5pm and 7-10pm – Rozsa Stage
September 21 and 22 , 7-10pm – Rozsa 120 (Choir Room)

Please enter through the Rozsa Stage door next to the loading doors. Email amsouthg@mtu.edu for rehearsal appointment.

Auditions will be by “cold” readings. Callbacks are planned.

When you come to audition, please wear a closed-tight mask, and use hand sanitizer when you come in and when you leave. Observe social distancing within the audition space.

This first round of auditions will last about 30 minutes. The cast consists of Claire, who wrangles her feisty and stubborn father, Ben. Ben holds the power of the family purse over his wife and children. His sons abandoned him and depend on Claire to speak for them. His other daughter, Beth, is his favorite; she follows his pursuit of wealth. Ben has left his wife, Liz, who weeps for the old west, in favor of Liza, a strong woman, who knows what she wants. Jorge, the ranch manager, is trapped between the family and the illegal aliens who work in Ben’s enterprises.

The play calls for 4 women and 2 men.

The production will be streamed from the Rozsa Center facilities at 7:30pm, December 10-12, 2020. The play will be captured on video in Covid-19-compliant recording studios and spaces.


Isolation, Collaboration and All That Jazz

Despite the challenges of social distancing and virtual instruction, the COVID-19 pandemic has inspired some creative collaborations that span not only academic disciplines, but hundreds of miles. Adam Meckler (VPA), Michigan Tech’s director of jazz studies, recently connected with a former college classmate and both brought along students for the collaboration.

Adam Meckler

The project is a video/audio exchange between Meckler’s jazz students at Michigan Tech and students from the Department of Dance at the State University of New York-Brockport. Meckler’s partner at SUNY-Brockport is Greg Woodsbie, lead professional staff accompanist and music instructor. Meckler said the idea of a jazz/dance collaboration began to take shape when he and Woodsbie were undergraduates at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, nearly 15 years ago.

“We played in many bands together over the years, but the first was a 12-piece salsa band when we were students at Lawrence,” Meckler said. While the salsa band spent many hours rehearsing, they didn’t “get it” until their first gig. “There were dancers there. It was then that we recognized how the dancers elevated the music and likewise how the music elevated the dancers.”

It is this mutual elevation that Meckler and Woodsbie’s students are exploring, even though they are more than 800 miles apart. “Each Tech student is paired with a dancer,” Meckler explained. “Our jazz students will send over 30 seconds of recorded music and the dancers will send over 30 seconds of dance.”

The guidelines are simple — there aren’t any. “The music can be anything the students can dream up and execute,” he said. “Some will improvise on a trumpet, trombone or saxophone while some might record multiple layers and instruments.” The same goes for the dancers — their contribution can be virtually anything.

Once the students exchange material, the fun begins. “The musician will record music over the dance video and the dancer will do some kind of choreography to the music sent in the exchange,” Meckler said. Following a dialogue to discuss what worked and what didn’t, the students will vote on their favorite collaborations, with the winners forming a single video to be released on social media.

Meckler said he and Woodsbie feel the collaboration goes to the heart of the two art forms. “Historically, music and dance are not two separate art forms, but one. We are well-served to explore these folkloric roots, in turn integrating art into our lives and culture.”

At the same time, it’s also a fun and healthy form of symbiosis — musicians and dancers complementing each other. “The dialogue between music and dance elevates both parties,” he said. “Dancers deepen the practice that is crucial to artists — developing an intimate relationship with your materials. Musicians are reminded of the body and that music ultimately comes from movement.”

Meckler, Woodsbie and their students are proving that creativity and art can flourish, even in the time of social distancing. As Meckler puts it, “The dialogue between the dancer and the musician will teach both parties the benefits and challenges of interdisciplinary collaboration. The participants will observe these benefits and challenges and will discuss perceived successes and failures in dialogue throughout this process.”


Public Performances and Receptions at the Rozsa and McArdle Cancelled

As you are likely aware, Michigan Tech is carefully following guidance from the recent Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order issued by Governor Whitmer.  Campus is closed to the public, except for critical services, and faculty and staff are working from home.  We were sad that the current COVID-19 situation necessitated cancelling or postponing the rest of our arts season at Michigan Tech, but we are hopeful that measures that we are taking now will make a big difference in keeping our community safe and healthy.
With the cancellation of the remainder of the season we will provide three options for all single tickets and pro-rated package tickets purchased to the following Rozsa/VPA events that were cancelled or postponed.  These include:

Option #1 Contact the SDC Ticket Office at tickets@mtu.edu for a refund of your concert tickets.  Season Subscriptions, Pick-6, and Pick-3 packages will be pro-rated.

Option #2 Tickets may be traded for an equivalent performance in the 2020-21 Season.  Some Presenting Series Events have already been rescheduled for next season, including:  Manual Cinema (Sept. 4, 2020), Audiopharmacy (March 19, 2021), and Vieux Farka Touré (March 20, 2021).  Tickets Visual and Performing Arts Department student concerts (Tech Theatre, KSO, Choirs, Bands, Jazz) can be redeemed for a performance in the 2020-21 season by contacting tickets@mtu.edu.

Option #3 Unrefunded or untraded tickets refunds may be donated to the Friends of the Rozsa Fund.  This gift will be tax-deductible and will be acknowledged by the Michigan Tech Fund.  This can also be done by contacting tickets@mtu.edu.

We appreciate your patronage over this past season and look forward to announcing our 2020-21 season.  Details about next season will come soon.  Please visit the Rozsa website for more information, www.mtu.edu/rozsa


‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!’ Tonight and Tomorrow

silhouette of two persons kissing

The Michigan Tech Theatre Company’s production of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!” continues tonight and tomorrow (Feb. 28/29). Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. in the McArdle Theatre in the Walker Arts and Humanities.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for children, and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. To buy your tickets, call 7-2073, visit mtu.edu/rozsa, in person at the Central Ticketing Office, or at the McArdle Theatre the night of the show. 

Note: This show contains adult language and situations.


Tech Theatre Company Presents “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!”

The Michigan Tech Theatre Company will perform the longest-running cabaret musical in history, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!” for seven performances. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (Feb. 20-22) and Wednesday through Saturday, (Feb. 26-29) in the McArdle Theatre in the Walker Arts and Humanities Center.

Based on the book by Joe DiPietro, with music by Jimmy Roberts, the musical takes on the comedic side of love and marriage, painting a series of vignettes about relationships through the tumultuous dating scene, road trips, marriage, kids, and all the other troubles couples face.

 “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!” has been making auiences around the world laugh and cry for twenty-four years. It tackles the goofy, embarrassing, unspoken truths of relationships with a collection of short stories that span as many different lives. The musical has been translated into 17 languages and performed in over 34 countries. Act one shows the panic, disappointment and excitement of the search for the right someone. Act two reveals the stress of in-law visits, kids, car trips, and all the other adventures couples thought would be different for them. Upbeat from the beginning, the show builds laugh upon laugh until the bittersweet moments before the final curtain.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for children, and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. To buy your tickets, call 906-487-2073, visit mtu.edu/rozsa, in person at the Central Ticketing Office, or at the McArdle Theatre the night of the show. 

Note: This show contains adult language and situations.


Rozsa Receives Grant

Surround Sound Music Festival to Receive $10,000 National Endowment for the Arts Grant

Libby Meyer (VPA), Director of Music Composition Program, and Mary Jennings, Rozsa Programming and Development Director, were awarded a $10,000 Challenge America Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support the Surround Sound Music Festival.

The Surround Sound Music Festival is a two-day event that encourages audiences to listen differently. The festival will feature Audio Pharmacy, a Native American Hip Hop band, Evelyn Glennie, a world-class percussionist who has been deaf since the age of 12 and Vieux Farka Touré, a Malian blues guitarist. The Surround Sound Music Festival will take place April 3-4.

The purpose of the Challenge America grant is to support projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations. NEA has approved 1,187 grants totaling $27.3 million in the first round of fiscal year 2020 funding to support arts projects across the country. The Sound of Music Festival is one of 145 Challenge America grants included in this announcement. The Challenge America funding category offers support primarily to small and mid-sized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to populations that have limited access to the arts due to geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. Each grant is for a fixed amount of $10,000 and requires a minimum $10,000 cost share/match.

“The arts are at the heart of our communities, connecting people through shared experiences and artistic expression, The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support projects like the Surround Sound Music Festival.”

—Mary Anne Carter, Arts Endowment Chairman