A major announcement for the graduate program, and check out what some faculty and students were up to this summer!
TDPS Newsletter
  Monday, September 19, 2016
This week we are excited to announce The Randy Lord and Steve Fessler Graduate Assistantship in Theatre, thanks to the generosity of Theatre alumnus Randy Lord ('77) and his husband, Steve Fessler. Read more about Randy and Steve's gift below.

We are ramping up for the start of the TDPS season, which begins with The Call, opening on Friday, September 30th. Be sure to get your tickets now, and bring all your friends!
  In this newsletter:
  • Upcoming TDPS events
  • Feature Stories
  • News (Awards & Honors, Performances & Productions, Publications, other activities)
  • Opportunities (Jobs & Auditions; Scholarships, Fellowships, & Grants)
  • Other Upcoming Events (Off-Campus)

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  Steve Fessler and Randy Lord (BA Theatre '77)
The Gift of Goosebumps: The Randy Lord and Steve Fessler
Graduate Assistantship in Theatre

University of Maryland alumnus  Randy Lord (BA Theatre ’77)  and his husband,  Steve Fessler , love the performing arts. As former professional performing artists whose lives evolved into careers that required the skills they learned in college, they have continued to immerse their lives in the performing arts. After a lifetime of encouraging young adults to pursue their passions instead of searching for the most lucrative job, Randy and Steve hope to facilitate future performing artists' ability to "follow their goosebumps," instead of "chasing the money." 

Armed with first-hand knowledge of the financial challenges of pursuing a degree in the performing arts, Randy and Steve have committed an endowed gift to support a graduate assistantship for the University of Maryland’s School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS). This generous estate gift will support future artist- scholars in pursuing their education in the arts without having to live a life of debt and financial constriction.

Director of TDPS, Leigh Wilson Smiley, states,

“Randy and Steve have given a gift that will touch so many people. Artists balance the human condition. They are the storytellers and the creative provocateurs who remind society that we are together in this journey of life. Randy’s and Steve’s gift is an outstanding symbol of the value of education in the performing arts and of their commitment to the future artists and audiences who will together share their stories.”

Randy and Steve are particularly interested in supporting graduate students due to their strong passion for developing an excellent and solid career in the performing arts.

Randy Lord fondly remembers his time as a Theatre major at the University of Maryland. Although the Theatre program was small at that time (and housed in Tawes Hall, pre-dating the construction of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center), he and his classmates were offered many opportunities to perform and develop their theater skills on- and off-campus. He recalls, in particular, the advice of Professor Ionia Zelenka, who emphasized the importance of gaining both on-stage and backstage experience. 

Randy remembers performing in musical comedy shows, often as the lead actor, as in The Wizard of Id, under the direction of Professor Rudy Pugliese. At that time, shows were performed on campus and were toured throughout the state of Maryland. In addition to his UMD studies, Randy made ends meet by performing in theaters in the Washington, D.C. area to pay for college. The combination of such academic and professional experiences gave him a deep understanding of the expectations and requirements of success in the profession.

After Randy graduated from the University of Maryland, he moved to New York City to work as a professional stage actor. There he met his partner and future husband Steve Fessler, also a professional singer and actor. Though they were able to work together only one time, both of them enjoyed rewarding careers that lasted nearly a decade and allowed them to perform in a multitude of venues in the United States and overseas. Their work included concerts, plays, Broadway musicals, movies, and network television shows.

Randy and Steve eventually decided to go back to school, and both attended the University of Florida (UF) to further develop their careers. Randy shifted his focus to Law when he entered the UF College of Law, and Steve completed graduate studies in Conducting and Music Education at the UF School of Music. After graduate school, they settled in Florida together and spent their post-graduate careers there, including a number of years at the Walt Disney World Co. in Orlando as in-house litigation counsel (Randy) and entertainment/production stage manager (Steve).

Randy spent the latter years of his career working at one of the nation’s largest labor and employment law firms. He explains that the foundation of basic acting technique that he gained at the University of Maryland served him throughout his career, as both a performer and an attorney. In the courtroom, he was able to use his theater skills to think on his feet, make compelling arguments, and quickly solve problems through improvisation. As an attorney, Randy practiced what he describes as the “science of human nature” to read people—through what they say, as well as through their body language. He used his acting skills as a lawyer to understand what motivates people to behave in a certain way. His ability to know what people want to hear was key to his success: he was first in his class at UF College of Law and never lost a jury trial!

Now in retirement, Randy and Steve feel strongly that the performing arts are important because of how they move and touch people. “There is no other job that I know that gives you goosebumps,” says Steve. “To us, it really is everything. It really touches our whole life.” Even though Randy spent more of his life as a lawyer than as an actor, he says that he still does and always will feel like an actor at heart.

The couple has also given a similar gift to create a graduate assistantship to Steve’s alma mater, the University of South Florida’s (USF) School of Music.

Randy and Steve encourage future philanthropists to consider making a gift to performing arts programs because of how rewarding it is to know that they will make a difference long after they are gone. They consider the students at their alma maters—at the UMD School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies and at the USF School of Music—to be their family. The assistantships will allow these students to excel as productive writers, performers, and designers.

When asked how they feel about giving this scholarship to TDPS, Randy and Steve responded that they always like to be able to say, “We’re glad we did,” and not, “We wish we had.” Establishing this graduate assistantship in Theatre is something they certainly are glad they did.

By Kate Spanos

Article link: http://go.umd.edu/i5c

     Randy Lord (’77) and Marti Empey (’76) in the “Corpse de Ballet” scene in  The Wizard of Id , 1976
Upcoming TDPS Events

The Call
by Tanya Barfield
September 30 - October 8

Kay Theatre
Directed by Eleanor Holdridge 

When Annie and Peter decide to adopt, they set their sights on a child from Africa. But just how much of Africa are they willing to bring into their home? Long-buried secrets surface, surprising new tensions with old friends arise, and their marriage is put to the test — all in the face of one startling choice. With keen acumen, this portrait of cultural divide casts global issues into the heart of an American home.

  • The first TDPS History/Theory Colloquium will take place on Monday, September 26th, 12:30-2:00pm. Location TBD. Ken Cerniglia, Dramaturg & Literary Manager of Disney Theatrical Group, will be our guest speaker, and he will discuss dramaturgy as a viable career path for those with a Ph.D. in Theatre. More information here. Email Esther Kim Lee with questions.

Feature stories
Check out some of the amazing projects
our faculty, students, and alumni worked on this summer!
Professor Jared Mezzocchi Completes First Summer as Artistic Director of Andy's Playhouse
Over the summer, Design Professor Jared Mezzocchi led his first season as the Artistic Director of summer youth theater Andy’s Summer Playhouse in Wilton, NH. The program involved a number of TDPS students and alumni, and Mezzocchi says,

“I’m trying to make it into a standard that UMD alumni and students are coming. Andy’s infuses itself into these artists.”
Read More
Artist-in-Residence Christopher K. Morgan, Dance Omi Program Director
This past summer,  Dance Artist-in-Residence Christopher K. Morgan  served his eleventh year as Program Director for Dance Omi International Dance Collective. The summer residency program brings together ten international dance artists each year for three weeks of creative exchange, experimentation, and collaboration. Many TDPS Dance students and alumni have participated over the years, including this year's guest mentor Stephanie Miracle (MFA Dance '14) and resident Sarah Beth Oppenheim (current MFA Dance candidate).

Read More
  Have a story you want featured?
Please email  tdpsmarketing@umd.edu
Sara Pearson photo
Patrik Widrig photo
Dance faculty Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig perform at the DANCENOW Festival at Joe's Pub
Photo credit: Robin Staff


  • From September 7-9, Dance faculty Sara Pearson, Patrik Widrig, Adriane Fang, and Christopher K. Morgan performed at the DANCENOW Festival at Joe’s Pub in NYC. Before Fang and Morgan's performance on September 9th, TDPS alumni gathered at The Library at The Public Theater for an NYC Alumni Event.
NYC alumni event photo
TDPS alumni and faculty at our NYC Alumni Event last week
Other News
  • BA Theatre student Amber Chaney was featured on the UMD Education Abroad website for her study abroad in Italy. Are you interested in joining Amber and other #TerpsAbroad? Application and program information is available here.
  Have you recently received an exciting opportunity, award, or accolade?
Please email  tdpsmarketing@umd.edu
Jobs, Programs, & Auditions
  • Join Delta Chi Xi, the first and only honorary dance fraternity! Applications and faculty recommendation letters are due September 23rd at 5:00pm. For more information, e-mail dcx.umd@gmail.com.

  • A stage manager/board op is needed for Perisphere Theater's next show, Michael Frayn's "Copenhagen." Please send your resume to info@perispheretheater.com for more details. 

  • Applications for Alternative Breaks are open until September 25th at 11:59pm. Registration for Alternative Weekends is first-come, first serve. For more information, check out their website: alternativebreaks.umd.edu

  • Holton-Arms, an all-girls school in Bethesda, MD is seeking costume designers and wardrobe managers for their 2016-17 season. If you are interested, please email elizabeth.zitelli@holton-arms.edu.

  • MAD Theater in Greenbelt, Md are looking for two male and two female musical theater performers for their production of Oklahoma! If interested, call Todd Lowenberg at 301-775-7680 to schedule a meeting. 

Scholarships, Fellowships,  & Grants
  • Theatre CAPA Scholarship auditions/interviews will be held on Friday, September 30th from 1:30-3:30pm. Applications are due Tuesday, September 23rd 5:00pm, guidelines detailed here. Please contact  Susan Miller with questions.

  • The Laura Nichols Award recognizes undergraduate students who exemplify a commitment to feminist principles and social change through scholarship, service, activism, and/or creative endeavor. Women’s Studies majors and certificates, Black Women’s Studies minors, and LGBT Studies certificates and minors are all eligible. Applications are due Monday, September 26, by 4:00 p.m. and should be submitted via email to Professor Elsa Barkley Brown at  barkleyb@umd.edu.

Call for Papers, Conferences, & Research Opportunities
  • humanitiesNOW Graduate Humanities Conference is calling for abstracts! This  two-day conference will take place Feb. 9 to 10 at the University of Cincinnati. Last year, participants from throughout the country took part in the program. If interested, please submit a 250 word abstract and contact information to taft@uc.eduAbstracts are due at 5 p.m. Wednesday, November 9. 

  • Are you an undergraduate looking for research opportunities? Learn more about the Maryland Student Researchers program, and review nearly 150 available opportunities by visiting the program's website.

  Have a job or audition opportunity to share?
Please email  tdpsmarketing@umd.edu
Other Upcoming Events
BA Dance alumnus  Jonathan Hsu (‘15) is teaching beginner level Urban Hip Hop classes with Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company at Glen Echo Park, Mondays 6-7:15pm. More information is available here.

Wanna get political? Check out the UMD College of Arts & Humanities' (ARHU)  Democracy: Then and Now series of lectures and events leading up to the November election. Also get information about voter registration on campus (until October 18th).
Free tickets are available for the 2016 NEA National Heritage Fellowships Concert on September 30th at 8pm in George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium!
  Are you participating in an off-campus event or performance?
Please email  tdpsmarketing@umd.edu  to help spread the word.
  Do you have news to share with the TDPS community?
Email tdpsmarketing@umd.edu and share with us on social media!

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
Jonelle Walker, Graduate Assistant