$9M Gift Founds New Institute for Performance and Technology in the Arts
Monday, February 22, 2021

In case you missed the news last week, the university announced that TDPS is receiving a $9 million gift to found a new institute for performance and technology in the arts! Mathematics Professor Emeritus Michael and Eugenia Brin and the Brin Family Foundation are establishing the Maya Brin Institute for New Performance, which will add courses, expand research and fund new teaching positions, undergraduate scholarships, classroom and studio renovations, and instructional technology. We are thrilled with this news and so grateful to all those who made it happen—especially Frank Hildy, Leigh Wilson Smiley, Maura Keefe, Jared Mezzocchi, Dean Bonnie Thornton Dill, and Laura Brown who have all played a central role in the work it takes to secure such a gift.

Check out the listings below of all of the virtual performances and events coming up as we ease out of February and into March. Below you will also find excerpts from reflections written by TDPS alumni for Black History Month, a project that was curated by Scot Reese in collaboration with Jason Daunter of "Projects with Jason."

Our virtual main season continues, after a fabulous start with Machinal this past weekend. Check out this story in Maryland Today about the production. Congratulations to the cast and crew! Check out these screenshots to see the incredible work of our actors, designers, and technical and production teams.
Directed by Brian MacDevitt. Scenic design by Rochele Mac, costume design by Madison Booth, lighting design by Jacob Hughes, projection design by Devin Kinch, video programs design by Zavier Augustus Lee Taylor, sound design by Roc Lee. Photo credit: David Andrews.
 In this newsletter:

  • Upcoming events
  • Feature stories
  • News
  • Opportunities
Upcoming events
DCX: Delta Chi Xi Dance Fraternity - February Events
TDPS Auditions
Due March 1

Virtual auditions for our fall 2021 main season productions, Little Women the Musical and Hookman, are due by March 1. Please see the attached flyer for instructions on how to audition for main season productions. Scripts are available here.

Note: Majors are not required to audition this semester, in recognition of students' possible COVID19 complications, and all auditions will be virtual. Interviews and final decisions will happen after spring break.

In an attempt to consolidate submissions, we are planning to use the monologue submitted for the fall 2021 main season auditions to apply for fall 2021 performance classes as well. The one class exception to this is THET420, which will require an additional 60-second Shakespearean monologue. 

Instructions for performance class auditions:
Submit a 60-second monologue video (it can be the same monologue as the one you use for your main season audition) by March 1. Reach out to the Production Office at tdpsprod@umd.edu for instructions on where to submit the video. If you are interested in auditioning for THET420, Language and the Actor, please submit an additional 60-second Shakespearean monologue by March 1.
SEE: Voice Actor Panel Series
March 2 & 9, 7PM

Sammy Garcia, the comedy director at UMD's Student Entertainment Events (SEE), will be hosting a Voice Actor Panel Series with John DiMaggio and Dante Basco on March 2 & 9 at 7PM. Comedic and voice actor John DiMaggio and voice actor Dante Basco will be headlining an interactive two-part virtual event, including a moderated Q&A, on Tuesday, March 2 and Tuesday, March 9, respectively. The show will be streamed and can be accessed via see.umd.edu/voiceactorseries. Online access will begin at 6:50PM and is open to the UMD community only. A RSVP free of charge is required by all in order to attend the event. The RSVP form is available at see.umd.edu/voiceactorseries.
BlackLight Summit
Presented by the Artist Partner Programs at The Clarice

March 4-6, 7:30PM

Presented by the Artist Partner Programs at The Clarice, the BlackLight Summit is a year-long dance initiative that investigates how time, people, possibility and hope come together to examine legacy, citizenship and scholarship. The summit asks, through the practice of being socially responsible within the arts: How do we create traditions? How do we transform them into enduring legacies?

The peak of the BlackLight Summit is a three-day convening that features roundtable conversations, artistic presentations and student engagement. This initiative re-envisions dance performance as a conduit to galvanize imagination, resilience and inventiveness.

Register for free tickets here.
New Beginnings: A Musical Revue
Monique Midgette, director

Streaming online
March 5 & 6, 7:30PM

TDPS students present an evening of virtual musical theatre performances, directed by Monique Midgette.

Register for free tickets here.
The Revolutionists
by Lauren Gunderson
Leigh Wilson Smiley, director

Streaming online
March 10 & 11, 7:30PM

Juxtaposed against the background of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, this raucous comedy portrays a sisterhood of four women: a playwright, an assassin, a former queen and a rebel. The play touches on themes of legacy, activism, terrorism and feminism to suggest how women can change the world. Though set in 1793, this production uses language, culture and references to contemporary culture to highlight the relevance of such themes today.

Actors, designers and production crew bring this story to life through innovative technologies in digital performance, lighting and set modeling.

Register for free tickets here.
Black Theatre & Dance Symposium

Part II: March 26, 3-6PM

Join us virtually for the second part of our 2021 Black Theatre and Dance Symposium on Friday, March 26 from 3-6PM. The first part took place on Friday, February 12.

The 2021 Black Theatre and Dance Symposium (BTDS) will be a fresh experience for the virtual platform, with new topics, dynamic speakers and conversations and exciting workshops. Emphasizing the importance of artist-leaders, this symposium fosters dialogue and action among professionals, scholars and students as we convene to discuss, devise and actualize efforts to influence and expand inclusive practices, civility and social well-being in the performing arts and beyond.

More information on our website. Register for free tickets here.
Spring Dance Concert
Patrik Widrig, director

Streaming online
May 7 & 8, 7:30PM

In this varied, vibrant and celebratory dance presentation, the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies offers new works of art in motion. The performance consists of a selection of undergraduate and graduate dance student choreography and works by artist-in-residence Marielis Wentworth Garcia and guest choreographer Chuck Wilt, artistic director of UNA Productions based on the west coast.

Register for free tickets here.
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Feature stories
$9M Gift Founds New Institute for
Performance and Technology in the Arts
By Maryland Today staff

A family with multigenerational ties to the University of Maryland is giving $9 million to its School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) to boldly reimagine the future of education in the performing arts. 

Mathematics Professor Emeritus Michael and Eugenia Brin and the Brin Family Foundation are establishing the Maya Brin Institute for New Performance, which will add courses, expand research and fund new teaching positions, undergraduate scholarships, classroom and studio renovations, and instructional technology.  

The gift brings the university’s fundraising total for its Fearless Ideas campaign to $1.4 billion, approaching its record $1.5 billion goal by the end of this year.  

“We are incredibly proud of our university's connection to Michael, Eugenia, and the entire Brin family, and we are grateful for their continued generosity as champions of Maryland,” said Darryll J. Pines, president of the University of Maryland. “There has never been a more timely moment to apply technology to the arts to extend their reach and inspiration.”

Leaders in TDPS and the College of Arts and Humanities, where the school is housed, say the institute will advance TDPS’s role as an innovator in design and performance, and prepare graduates to launch careers in emerging media formats such as webcasts, immersive design technology and virtual reality performance.
The institute will allow TDPS “to make transformative advances in the work that they have begun doing to bring technology into the performance domain,” said the college’s dean, Bonnie Thornton Dill. “We will be at the forefront of applications and modifications of technology and theater. We’ll be able to expand our existing work and really become a national leader.”

The Brins, parents to Google co-founder Sergey ’93 and Samuel ’09, have previously made several significant gifts to support the university’s computer science and math departments and Russian and dance programs, the latter two to honor Michael’s late mother, Maya. She emigrated with her family from the Soviet Union in 1979 and taught in UMD’s Russian program for nearly a decade. She also loved the performing arts, a love she tried to instill in her children and grandchildren by taking them to the ballet and theater, said Michael Brin.

The idea of combining the arts and technology inspired this new gift. “I want to … open opportunities to the students and faculty in interactions between new media and traditional art,” said Brin, who retired from UMD in 2011 after 31 years on its faculty.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, halting most live performances for nearly a year, theaters and concert venues have sought to find creative ways to present plays, dances and musical performances over a screen. Jared Mezzocchi, associate professor of dance and theatre design and production, co-directed TDPS’ groundbreaking Zoom production in May of the fantasy “She Kills Monsters;” recently, his digital work “Russian Troll Farm,'' featuring memes, animation and virtual backgrounds, was honored as a New York Times Critic’s Pick.

The Maya Brin Institute is “giving us the opportunity not only to experiment with new technology, but to innovate new processes to create performance,” said Mezzocchi. “This is a glorious opportunity for our school to reach its goals as part of a Research I institution: taking what we have explored technologically throughout the pandemic, and launching us into a future of accessible, immersive, interactive and multidisciplinary performance.”

A new light and technology studio and multimedia labs and an upgraded dance studio in the university’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center will provide creative space for five additional faculty positions in lighting design for camera, live digital performance, technology and multimedia production, and other fields. Full-stage green screens, GoPro cameras, laser projectors and remote rehearsal technology will broaden performing options. Future classes will include “Video Design for Dance and Theater” and “Experimental Interfaces and Physical Computations.”

TDPS, home to approximately 250 students, has long served as a pipeline of talent for the thriving Washington, D.C., theater and dance community, including the Kennedy Center, Arena Stage and Dance Place; 19 Terps were nominated for the regional Helen Hayes Awards last year.

The school combines experience on the professional-quality stages and rehearsal spaces in The Clarice with teaching from nationally recognized faculty (such as five-time Tony winner for Best Lighting, Brian MacDevitt) in the context of a liberal arts education incorporating arts, society, science and technology.
The Maya Brin Institute will bolster students’ credentials even further. “Our students will have knowledge and experience that will prepare them to be among the first people hired as this new technology develops,” said Thornton Dill.

To Maura Keefe, TDPS director and associate professor of dance performance and scholarship, the institute will allow the school to propel students to the forefront of the field by focusing on what performance is about: creativity and exploration.

"We’re going to see (the influence of this gift) in every performance," she said. "The excitement from the students who are exploring the ideas—that’s going to show up across the work we’re making."

The new gift from Michael and Eugenia Brin and the Brin Family Foundation will support innovative productions in the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies like "Ghost Bride" (left), choreographed by Rose Xinran Qi MFA '20, which combined technology and movement to evoke the characters' emotional states, and "Clove" (below), directed by Paige Hernandez '02, which fused stage tech with hip-hop. (“Ghost Bride” photo by Jonathan Hsu; “ Clove” photo by Geoff Sheil)

Link to the full story.
Alumni Reflections During Black History Month

This month, theatre professor Scot Reese collaborated with Jason Daunter of "Projects with Jason" to curate letters and reflections for his newsletter during Black History Month. Three of our alumni were included in the project: LeVonne Lindsay (MFA costume design), Anastasia Wilson (BA theatre), and Joshua R. Lamont (BA theatre). Read some of their words below.
LeVonne Lindsay

"As a Black woman, educator, and designer, it is my responsibility to pave the way for others to break down the barriers that stood in my way. My constant objective is to inspire those who feel unseen or undervalued in the theater industry. I want students to use their creative skills not only as a means for careers as successful theatre artists but also as tools that can ultimately change the world. The revitalization of the theater arts weighs upon our shoulders. We stand at the precipice of an era that could induce sweeping, radical changes in our power structures. It is time to take that final leap."
Anastasia Wilson

"Love Story: A Meal in Five Courses [a piece co-devised by Wilson] brings the theatre to the comfort of your home and shines a gentle and inviting spotlight on the audience. Involving local restaurants allows people to connect with neighborhood vendors. It also supports another industry that saw devastating effects from the pandemic. Through art and this unique piece, people are able to share, support one another, and give back to their community. This is the expansive power of the arts. There is magic in developing a production for stage and film, but when a production is created through devising, it is alchemy."
Joshua R. Lamont

"While studying at the University of Maryland, College Park, I had a professor tell me that as actors, we give voice to the voiceless. I never understood what she meant until I started producing my own work. [...] As Black History Month continues, I know I stand on the backs of giants. People who fought and died for my freedom as a black man, as a creative. Believe it or not, they fought and died for ALL of our freedoms. I believe as artists we have the power to speak for those who cannot. We have the power to see solutions where there were none. We have the choice to open our hearts so others can open theirs. And I sincerely hope that gives you purpose and meaning beyond the stage lights and audience applause."
Read the letters in full here.

  • PhD student Jared Strange is building his publication record with the following recently accepted articles and reviews. Congrats Jared!
  • "Between the Rainbow Nation and the Melting Pot: Troubling Reconciliation with The Fall," forthcoming in Comparative Drama
  • "Playing On, Playing Along: Soccer's Performative Activism in the Time of COVID-19," part of the PerformativeX special section of the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism
  • A review of Philadelphia Theatre Company's The Wolves, by Sarah DeLappe, coming up in Theatre Journal

  • History and theory faculty Caitlin Marshall co-edited a special issue for the journal Performance Matters entitled "Sound Acts." The issue explores the resonances of sound in the field of performance studies, asking "how the materiality of sound acts as a form of aesthetic and political possibility." Check out the full issue here. Congrats, Caitlin!
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  • NEW The CA$H | Theatre grant exists specifically for individual artists and small arts companies. The program's goal is to provide you with the necessary funds to spur creativity and bring your artistic dreams to life. As theatre and the performing arts begin the long journey of recovery and reinvention, the survival of individual artists and small arts companies are essential to revitalizing our community. Attend the online CA$H Workshop on Monday, March 1, at 5:30PM PST, to learn about the CA$H program and how you can apply for a $2,500 or $5,000 project grant.

  • NEW Applications for the Kennedy Center’s summer 2021 intern class are open, with paid internship available in Theater Education. This position is paid hourly and will be fully virtual for this summer. There are internships in five departments available at the Kennedy Center this summer. Find information about all available internships and application instructions here. Applications are due February 28.

  • Interested in learning the business side of the arts? Through EducArte’s internship programs in marketing and graphic/media design, you will gain an understanding of how to market arts education, engage with artists, and navigate the non-profit arts sector. EducArte's mission is to bring cultural arts education programming to people in Maryland and the Washington, DC region, with a focus on Brazilian and Latinx music and dance. See internship descriptions and visit their website. If interested, please send a letter of interest and a resume to educarte@educarteinc.org

  • 1st Stage is offering the Seidel Fellowship, a six-month paid fellowship designed to nurture and support the next generation of leaders in the American Theater. Each fellowship is designed specifically for the recipient and includes supported hands on projects that are led by the fellow and mentored by 1st Stage senior staff. Fellows also receive monthly seminars with leaders in the field and networking events throughout the residency. Applications will be accepted through February 2021. To apply, see the attached guidelines and send a cover letter and resume to alexlevy@1ststage.org.

  • Beyond the Stage Door, a new education initiative conceived, created, and sponsored by the team at Baseline Theatrical (Hamilton, freestyle love supreme, The Cher Show), offers the opportunity to learn Broadway theater management from working industry professionals in New York City without the financial burden. This immersive and educational four-week program, planned for June 2021, will provide five BIPOC students from across the US with round-trip tickets to NYC, housing, food stipends, transportation and subsidized theatre tickets as they study alongside industry leaders. This program gives students a deep dive into the management side of Broadway and will offer students the chance to learn from and develop long-lasting professional relationships with industry leaders in all areas of theatre including public relations, casting, marketing, directing and more. The inaugural application will tentatively be available in December 2020 and due by March 2021. Chosen applicants will be notified in April 2021. Get more information on their website.
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