Check what's happening at TDPS and find out what our alumni have been up to!
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Dear TDPS alumni,

Happy spring! Our fearless leader Leigh Wilson Smiley is on sabbatical this semester, so I am serving as interim director of the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies. It is a privilege to lead this fantastic community of faculty, students, and alumni as we work together to continue the scholarly and artistic work of the School.

In February, we premiered Hamlet Replayed, directed by Associate Professor Leslie Felbain. This creative adaptation of Shakespeare's classic tragedy was told through the eyes of the millennial generation using physical clowning techniques to represent the ways that decision-making (“to be or not to be?”) can be playfully deconstructed beyond just two
oppositional choices. The opening night show had a special pre-performance lecture by James Hollis, executive director of the Jung Society of Washington, titled Hamlet's Problem; And Ours. Professor Emeritus of Dance Anne Warren has fostered the relationship between TDPS and the Jung Society. It was also intriguing to consider Hamlet after the fall MFA concert titled Hamlet by choreographer Christine Hands (MFA ’19).

March led off like a lion with the first ever main season Fearless New Play Festival. Keynote playwright
Sheila Callaghan presented her new play in development, So Um Thank You, on Thursday,
March 7. We staged readings of new plays by current students on Friday, March 8, and we
celebrated with readings of new plays by alumni on Saturday, March 9.

April and May are busy dance months, with the second annual madDASH Festival and
UMoves: Undergraduate Dance Concert. During madDASH, TDPS hosts guest artists, such as Monica Bill Barnes, Robert Een, and Alexandra Beller, who will teach master classes from April 12-17. UMoves, the annual undergraduate dance concert, opens on Friday, May 10. We will be celebrating our students at a scholarship awards reception after the opening night concert, and it would be wonderful to have you join us.

This year TDPS faculty, students, and alumni received 21 Helen Hayes Award nominations. We are proud of the work that every one in our community does, here on campus and in the professional world. Let's celebrate their commitment to excellence in the performing arts, through research, practice, and education. Check out the full list below.

We continue to thoroughly enjoy the time that the students and faculty get to spend with
alumni. Your presence and support of the education provided by the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies completes the circle.

So, thank you,

On behalf of the members of TDPS,
Maura Keefe, Interim Director
University of Maryland School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies
Photos from this year's Main Season productions
Little Shop of Horrors - photo by Stephanie S. Cordle
Citizen - photo by Thai Nguyen
dwelling by Stacey Carlson - photo by Jonathan Hsu
Hamlet by Christine Hands - photo by Jonathan Hsu
's (apostrophe s) by Shawn Stone -
photo by Thai Nguyen
Tides by Ama Law -
photo by Thai Nguyen
Fall to Fall by Alvin Mayes at the Faculty Dance Concert -
photo by Thai Nguyen
Hamlet Replayed -
photo by David Andrews
Sheila Callaghan, keynote playwright of the Fearless New Play Festival, speaks after a staged reading of her new play in development, So Um Thank You -
photo by David Andrews
Students perform a staged reading during the alumni play night at the Fearless New Play Festival - photo by David Andrews

In this newsletter:

  • TDPS Season - Spring 2019
  • Feature story: Dancing about architecture - Tzveta Kassabova '09 opens a new arts space in Detroit
  • TDPS Helen Hayes nominations
  • Alumni spotlights
  • Alumni production notes
  • Alumni placements, publications, and awards

Stay in touch by emailing your news to

Also be sure to follow us on social media:
TDPS Season - Spring 2019
Please join us for the remainder of our Spring 2019 Main and Second Season!
Shared Graduate Dance Concert
March 29-30
More information and tickets here.

I've Been a Woman by Jordan Ealey
April 12-13
More information and tickets here.

The Heidi Chronicles
May 4-11
Tickets and information and tickets here.

UMoves: Undergraduate Dance Concert
May 10-12
Tickets and information and tickets here .
Feature story
Dancing about architecture:
Tzveta Kassabova '09 opens a new arts space in Detroit
The famous aphorism, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture,” suggests that architecture has nothing to do with dance, and dance has nothing to do with architecture. However, dance has everything to do with space and architecture, as demonstrated by site-specific dance artists such as Tzveta Kassabova ‘09. This UMD MFA Dance alumna is an innovative scientist-turned-artist who recently opened a new arts space in Detroit called Andy that challenges the misconception that dance and architecture are antithetical to one another.
Read the full story here .
TDPS Helen Hayes nominations
Congratulations to the faculty, students, and alumni from the University of Maryland’s School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) who were nominated for the 2019 Helen Hayes Awards!

Check out all the TDPS folks who were recognized for their phenomenal work in the theater scene of DC, Maryland, and Virginia, for a total of  21 nominations :
Outstanding Choreography in a Play - Hayes
  • Colette Krogol and Matt Reeves (Orange Grove Dance), How to Catch a Star, The Kennedy Center

Outstanding Costume Design - Hayes
  • Ivania Stack, Cinderella, Imagination Stage

Outstanding Costume Design - Helen
  • Kelsey Hunt, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Constellation Theatre Company
  • Debra Kim Sivigny, The Lathe of Heaven, Spook Action Theater
  • Debra Kim Sivigny, Swimming with Whales, 1st Stage

Outstanding Lighting Design - Hayes
  • Andrew Cissna, John, Signature Theatre

Outstanding Set Design - Hayes
  • Paige Hathaway, John, Signature Theatre
  • Emily Lotz, The Princess & the Pauper - A Bollywood Tale, Imagination Stage

Outstanding Set Design - Helen
  • A.J. Guban, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Constellation Theatre Company
  • Misha Kachman, Girlfriend, Signature Theatre
  • Daniel Pinha, The Trial, Synetic Theater

Outstanding Sound Design - Helen
  • Michael Winch, The Frederick Douglass Project, Solas Nua
  • Michael Winch, How to Keep an Alien, Solas Nua

Outstanding Direction in a Play - Hayes
  • Paige Hernandez, Queens Girl in Africa, Mosaic Theater Company of DC

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play - Helen
  • Moriamo Temidayo Akibu, The Interstellar Ghost Hour, Longacre Lea

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical - Helen
  • Aaron Bliden, Fly by Night, 1st Stage

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play - Hayes
  • Erika Rose, Queens Girls in Africa, Mosaic Theater Company of DC

Robert Prosky Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play - Helen
  • Matthew R. Wilson, Swimming with Whales, 1st Stage

Outstanding Original Play or Musical Adaptation
  • Patti Kalil, Rachel Menyuk, Eric Swartz, Don Cristobal, Pointless Theatre
  • Jared Mezzocchi, How to Catch a Star, The Kennedy Center
Outstanding Theatre for Young Audiences Production
  • Judy Moody & Stink: The Mad, Mad, Mad Mad Treasure Hunt, Adventure Theatre, directed by Mitchell Hébert, with Heather Gibson, Philip Kershaw, Kristen Ahern, and Paige Hathaway among the cast and design team

Go, TDPS! We are proud of the work that every one of our community does, here on campus and in the professional world. Let's celebrate this commitment to excellence in the performing arts, through research, practice, and education.
Alumni spotlights
Jayme Andrews (Bell) (BA Theatre '10)

Jayme Andrews (Bell) is a working actor in Los Angeles, California and was most recently seen a holiday KFC commercial as a Christmas Caroler. He has worked on ABC's American Housewife and the upcoming Netflix program, What/If. He performed with the comedy group, Kid Cactus, at San Francisco Sketchfest in January. Jayme also produces and performs in a satirical boy band called Guy Pie, with singles available on iTunes and their hit single, "Makeout Stakeout," available to watch on Youtube. In addition, Jayme appeared in the short film Evening at the Diner, which has won multiple awards at various film festivals in the last year. Read more about Evening at the Diner here.
Liz Baqir (BA Theatre '89)

Liz Baqir was featured in UC Berkeley News for her years of work as the "ticket lady" at Cal Performance's box office.

“I found my calling in this. I love tickets,” Baqir says. “I find everything about tickets fascinating, from the psychology behind it to the technology that makes it happen. I find it fascinating. People are really emotionally attached to tickets as a product. You are attached to your team, you are attached to your artist, the dance company.

Check out this great feature about her passion for all things tickets, stemming from her time as a stage manager the University of Maryland.
Raha Behnam (BA Dance '11)

Since graduating in 2011, Raha Behnam moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, danced while working full-time, then moved to central Illinois where she obtained a Master's in Urban and Regional Planning.

She now lives in New York City, focusing on dance, art-making and root-building. She recently started a teacher certification program in Open Source Forms (OSF), lead by Stephanie Skura in Seattle, and co-led a workshop in with Abby Crain at San Francisco's FRESH Festival of contemporary dance, organized by Kathleen Hermesdorf. She plans to get her OSF certification and teach in New York City.
Jeannette Christensen (MFA Design '18)

Jeannette Christensen's work was featured at the RAW Artists showcase in Washington, DC in February. Find out more about Jeannette's recent and upcoming work at her website.
Nathaniel P. Claridad (BA Theatre '04)

Nathaniel P. Claridad recently appeared in Unchained Melodies at Florida Studio Theatre and is returning in March for an encore engagement for three weeks. He has also been named a 2019 Director in Residence at The Drama League to develop a new piece about the Filipino-American experience that will be presented in July 2019.  
Alycia Cooper (BA Radio/TV/Film '93)

Alycia Cooper was the voice of various characters in the new Spiderman movie,  Into the Spider Verse, which won Best Animated Feature at the 2019 Oscar Academy Awards. She also does stand-up comedy, which you can view here: I'm not the corporate type, Kids Today, and BHM Suggestions. Find out more about her work on her website
Yuval David (BA Theatre '01)

Yuval David has been enjoying a successful career as an actor, host, and social journalist. This includes recurring roles on "Madam Secretary” (CBS), “What Would You Do” (ABC), doing voice overs for Disney and narration for numerous documentaries. Yuval produces 7 acclaimed web-series. His short films have been winning award in national film festivals. Yuval also regularly speaks and is the MC for live events, and is on the speakers bureau for multiple governmental and non-for-profit organizations. He teaches master class acting workshops, and workshops for companies and organizations on how to use art for social change. More can be seen about Yuval and his work at He was also recently interviewed by Naluda Magazine about his creative process.
Abigail (Gustafson) Hawk (BA Theatre '04)

Abigail (Gustafson) Hawk delivered the keynote address at the California Breastfeeding Coalition’s 9th Annual Summit in January.
Rick Inguanti (BA Theatre '79)

Rick Inguanti has been working as a voice-over artist, audiobook narrator, actor and soloist in the New York City area for the past 37 years. His work can be found on and his website at He feels grateful and indebted to his UMD classmates and professors who pushed and inspired him. Special remembrance to professors who have passed, including Ron O’Leary, Roger Meersman and Rudy Pugliese.
Nava Behnam Shabahang (BA Dance '13)

Nava Behnam Shabahang recently finished her first semester of graduate school at Rutgers University, pursuing a Masters of Dance Education with Certification, Prek-12. Now in graduate school, she appreciates the unique advantages of having studied at the University of Maryland's non-conservatory dance program. The nurturing and humanitarian environment, she says, have allowed her to choose what she invests herself in. She thanks the dance faculty for the gift of empowerment, allowing her to pursue a career path aligned with and guided by her values and priorities.
Adam Shapiro (BA Theatre '02)

Alumnus and TDPS Board of Visitors member Adam Shapiro was featured in Maryland Today for his work with wife Katie Lowes on Broadway's Waitress.

“Theater is really hard to make a living doing, but it's completely soul-fulfilling,” Shapiro said. “If I'm doing TV and film for like a whole year straight, I know that some point I got to go back and do a play.”

Check out the full story here.
Korinn Walfall (BA Theatre '06)

Korinn Walfall was featured in Maryland Today for her performance in Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Signature Theatre.

“[Professor Brian MacDevitt] made me feel like I was on Broadway with that show, and [Professors Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig] helped me feel confident with my movement,” she said. “Maryland did a good job of creating a well-rounded performer and someone that’s not just cookie cutter.”

Check out the full story here.
Want to put your story in the spotlight? Please email .
Alumni production notes
Dior Ashley Brown (BA Theatre '06) will perform at the Kennedy Center this month
  • Dior Ashley Brown (BA Theatre '06) will perform live hip-hop at the Kennedy Center on Saturday, March 23. As described on the Kennedy Center website: "An emcee, actor, poet, host, songwriter, playwright, activist, creative community curator, and Founder of the DC Music Summit. Miss dAb is a proud Washington, D.C. Native, Army Brat and graduate of both Duke Ellington School of the Performing Arts and University of Maryland, College Park, Theatre Arts Programs." Find out more about the event here.

  • David Samuel (BA Theatre '13) is playing Mr. Beauregarde in the national tour of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, on tour now.

  • Jordan Claire McGraw (BA Theatre '08) was a principal actor in the Knock the Vote campaign nationwide, directed by Malcolm Lee (Girls Trip) and co-starring Affion Crockett.

  • Moriamo Temidayo Akibu (BA Theatre '15) will be making her debut at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company's production of Describe the Night.

  • Wayne Duvall (BA Theatre '81) is shooting on the yet-unnamed Suits spinoff, which will run on USA beginning this spring. He also recently appeared in the film The Kitchen, starring Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elizabeth Moss.

  • Sean Hoagland (BA Theatre '05) recently wrapped two films, "Stage V" and "0-32" and his film, “What Tomorrow Brings,” was accepted into the Garden State Film Festival in March 2019. He also produced a successful Off-Broadway run of Danny and the Deep Blue Sea at the Davenport Theater in New York.

  • TDPS alumni Vaughn Midder (BA Theatre '14) and Tendo Nsubuga (BA Theatre '15) are actors in Mosaic Theater's production of Native Son, running from March 27-April 28, 2019.
The Brothers Size

The 1st Stage production of The Brothers Size by Tarell Alvin McCraney features actors Thony Mena (BA Theatre '11) as Elegba and Gary-Kayi Fletcher as Ogun, with costume design by Moyenda Kulemeka (BA Theatre '16). Read more about the production in the Washington Post.
Pointless Theatre

This spring, Pointless Theatre is presenting an original work inspired by the DC Sniper Attacks, entitled Forest Treás. Pointless is comprised of many UMD alumni, including:

  • Patti Kalil (BA Theatre '10) + Matt Reckeweg (BA Theatre) - Co-Artistic Directors
  • David Lloyd Olson (BA Theatre '11) - Managing Director
  • Rachel Parks (BA Theatre '11) - Director of Digital Marketing
  • Jackie Littman (BA Theatre '09) - Graphic Designer

This original commissioned work is funded in part through a DC Commission Budget Enhancement Grant. More information about the production, running May 31 - June 30, here.
She a Gem

"She a Gem" recently premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, directed by alumna Paige Hernandez (BA Theatre '02). She worked with UMD Theatre alumnae actors Alicia Grace (BA Theatre '18), Heather Gibson (BA Theatre '16), and Moriamo Temidayo Akibu (BA Theatre '15), as well as MFA Design alumni scenic designer Deb Sivigny (MFA Design '04) and lighting and projections designer Rob Siler (MFA Design '17).
Professor Scot Reese with Heather Gibson, Moriamo Temidayo Akibu, and Alicia Grace
at She A Gem at the Kennedy Center
Do you want us to share your recent and upcoming work?
Please email .
Alumni placements, publications, and awards
Michael Boynton (PhD '18)
Michael Boynton was promoted to Associate Professor in the Drama Department at Jacksonville State University.
Marci Rodgers (MFA Design ‘16 and TDPS Board of Visitors member)
Marci Rodgers was nominated for a Costume Designers Guild Award for her costume design in BlacKkKlansmen, directed by Spike Lee.
Paige Hathaway (MFA Design '14)
Paige Hathaway was awarded the 2018 USITT Rising Star Award. The Rising Star Award, sponsored by LDI/Live Design, is given annually to a young professional at the beginning of their career.
Anu Yadav (MFA Performance '13)
Anu Yadav will be an artist-in-residence at Beloit College Spring 2019, teaching courses in improvisation in social change and inclusivity in theater as well as direct a devised theater production with students.  
Thank you to for sharing your alumni stories, keeping in touch and continuing to be TDPS representatives that model innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship in the performing arts.

Please email .
The School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies
advances and transforms the research and practice of the performing arts
through a commitment to excellence and innovative education.


Kate Spanos, Coordinator of Marketing & Communications