Faculty and Staff News

Damian Bowerman Wins ASC Outstanding Staff Award

On April 21, the college saluted the 15 nominees and 6 winners of the 2016 ASC Outstanding Staff Awards. Department of Theatre Graduate Studies and Publicity Coordinator Damian Bowerman was one of the winners of the award, which recognizes staff members in the arts and sciences who have demonstrated sustained excellence in overall job performance and have improved or enhanced work life and services of faculty, staff, students and/or the university. Each award recipient will receive a $1,000 one-time cash award and an increase of $500 to his or her base salary.

Disparity/Disruption

In spring 2016, Associate Professor Jennifer Schlueter was commissioned by the Columbus Museum of Art to create performance works that engage with the museum’s collection in innovative ways and, at the same time, incite conversation around the longstanding gender imbalance in the art world.

As part of Equal Pay Day (April 12, 2016), Schlueter and her team of Ohio State women writers and performers intervened in the CMA’s collection through Disparity/Disruption, a series of scripted and improvisational performances and performance art.

Collaborators and performers included:

  • the fives by BA theatre student Alexandra Davis. Less than 5% of art held in museums worldwide is by women. In this piece, Davis uses 5% of the floorspace in the CMA’s Derby Court to create work that speaks to this disparity.
  • Ecstatic Viewer by MFA creative writing student Jackie Hedeman. Anchored to Alison Saar’s Nocturne Navigator, Hedeman asks: what does it mean to love a piece of art that is not for you?
  • Disreguard by BA theatre student Amanda Loch. Asking “what kind of society do we agree to live in when we are conditioned to ignore systems of power?”, Loch served as a gallery associate, monitoring the room in which Artemesia Gentileschi’s Bathsheba hangs in the CMA.
  • Unheard and Unseen by PhD theatre student Karie Miller.
  • Is There No Truth In Beauty by MFA creative writing student Molly Olguín. An alternative audio tour of work by women in the CMA, this Guide by Cell experience wrestles with the author’s and the viewer’s tastes.
  • Wait Til You See Eleanor Davis by MFA creative writing student Samantha Tucker Iacovetto.
  • A Matter of Perspective: The Life of Artemesia Gentileschi by PhD theatre student Tyrrell Woolbert. Artemesia’s father hired Agostino Tassi to teach her “perspective.” 
  •  MFA scene design student Joshua Quinlan's installation in the main lobby of the CMA.

Palindrome Productions

For a month in the summer of 2015, Lesley Ferris, artistic director of the London based Palindrome Productions, produced an ambitious season that featured a number of graduates from the Department of Theatre. Ferris directed a new play—A Land Without People by Brian Rotman—that had a four week run at The Courtyard Theatre. The five-actor ensemble (playing 17 roles) included Sifiso Mazibuko (MFA '15). Brad Steinmetz (MFA '03) designed the set and the puppet; Alex Kyle-DiPietetropaolo (MFA '11) designed the lights; and Katie Whitlock (PhD '04) designed the sound. Using verbatim text from early 20th century British history the play centered on the British Mandate of Palestine that lead to the founding of Israel.

Three other performances took place as part of Palindrome Productions summer season. Francesca Spedalieri (MA '11, PhD student) translated and directed the English language premiere of Dancers by Emma Dante and Sud Costa Occidentale, a physical theatre two-hander performed by Sifiso Mazibuko (MFA '15) and Sarah Ware (MFA '15). A staged reading of Adam P. Kennedy and Adrienne Kennedy’s Mom, How Did You Meet the Beatles? took place with an enthusiastic contingent of British Beatles Fan Club members in the audience. Adrienne Kennedy (BA '53), celebrated and critically acclaimed playwright, received an honorary doctorate from The Ohio State University in 2003. The reading was performed by British actor Debbie Korley, a long-time friend of the department as a teaching artist/actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company. A double bill of two solo works completed this season of work by our graduates: Hector by Sifiso Mazibuko and  Melonie Mazibuko’s 24 Hours of #Ferguson, both created and developed as their final MFA new work.

Palindrome Production’ inaugural 2014 production was The First Actress by Christopher St. John (Christabel Marshall). This production, first performed by a Department of Theatre cast in the Roy Bowen Theatre in May 2014, had two performances in the UK in August 2014. One took place in London and the second one took place at the Barn Theatre, Smallhythe Place, Kent, the country home of the celebrated British actress Ellen Terry, who performed in the original 1911 production. These performances added six new British actors to the cast, with the other nine roles played by Ohio State’s theatre students: Jane Elliott (MFA '14), JiRye Lee (MA '09, PhD student), Erica Beimesche (BA '16), Melissa Lee (PhD student), Roxy Knepp (BA '16), Annie MacAlpine (BA '16), Michael Carozza (BA '16), Sifiso Mazibuko, and Melonie Mazibuko. The department’s Resident Costume Designer Kristine Kearney designed this period piece.

USITT

St. Lake City, Ut. was the host to the 2016 United States Institute for Theatre Technology Annual Conference & Stage Expo, and was the first event presided over by Ohio State’s own Mark Shanda, as he began his three-year term in service as president to the institute. The department hosted a student recruitment table, conveniently located directly adjacent to the United States’ entry in the 2015 Prague Quadrennial. Both former and future students stopped by the table to catch up with faculty and staff in attendance at the event. Visual artist and internationally renown designer, Tupac Martir gave a rousing keynote address on technology’s multidimensional role in artistic communication. A large trade floor and hundreds of educational sessions rounded out the week’s events. Costume Designer Linda Pisano’s (MFA '96) costume designs for Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music production of La Traviata were selected for excellence in the biennial juried exhibition known as Design Expo. Anthony Pellecchia (MFA '09) who is an assistant professor of design at the University of Memphis Department of Theatre and Dance, was also selected in the Design Expo for his lighting design excellence in Saint Michael’s Playhouse production of Wait Until Dark.  

Mo Ryan Retires

Thank You, Mo Ryan!
By Jeanine Thompson

At the end of year celebration in April we celebrated and thanked our remarkable teacher, respected colleague and dear friend Mo Ryan who is retiring at the end of this year. Before coming to OSU in 2001, Mo was a professional director with many credits in Chicago and Columbus.

I first met Mo in 1999 at a party hosted by Dan Grey’s wife, Mary, for a group of women who were “enthusiastic” about the arts and who met regularly. I had just seen the production of How I Learned to Drive directed by Mo at CATCO, and she had just seen my solo performance, Breaking The Current here at Ohio State. When we were introduced to each other at this party, we both started pointing at the other and saying, “Oh, oh, oh you’re THAT woman! We MUST work together!” And that was the beginning of our 15-year working relationship that included 5 collaborations.

In 2001, Mo joined our faculty first as a lecturer teaching voice, and directing a 1681 British sex farce: The London Cuckolds by Edward Ravenscroft, with our very own Damian Bowerman when he was an MFA actor. Then in 2002, Mo permanently joined our faculty teaching acting & directing and regularly directing in our season.

Our acknowledgements of Mo’s accomplishments and influences could fill this entire newsletter, but here a few major highlights:

  • Mo was a part of our team of faculty who envisioned and implemented the new MFA in Acting program, one of the very first in the country that focuses on teaching traditional actor training and performer-generated creation of new work.
  • During her 15 years at Ohio State, Mo directed 14 plays and led 3 Outreach & Engagement Devised projects. She has been absolutely instrumental in envisioning how we can work with community partners and create new works that are in response to that engagement.
  • A project that was near and dear to Mo’s heart, has been the work with the Royal Shakespeare Company. She has been pivotal in the development and implementation of our partnership with the RSC including the Stand Up For Shakespeare training and 2 Shakespeare in Education Festivals culminating in the delightful and heartwarming performance of students from Columbus schools called Transformation, Trust and Love performed on May 15, 2015..

We presented Mo with a lovely memory book that is filled with beautiful photographs, mostly taken by Matt Hazard, of each of her productions at Ohio State and many notes from students, alumni, faculty and staff.

But Mo’s legacy continues!  In honor of Mo and the indelible work she has done at Ohio State, we have established a scholarship in her name: The Mo Ryan Undergraduate Theatre Scholarship

“Awarded to an undergraduate theatre major or minor who has demonstrated excellence in acting, directing, or community engagement. This award is in honor of Mo Ryan, whose expertise and mentorship in these areas influenced a generation of students in the Department of Theatre. Recipients will be selected by the department chair or his/her designee in consultation with Student Financial Aid.”

The inaugural recipient of the Mo Ryan Undergraduate Theatre Scholarship is Constance Hester.

New Department Manager and Manaber of Ticketing

Rachel Barnes joined the theatre office staff as our department manager (fiscal and HR) and assistant to the chair on Feb. 22. She has served the department and the university more than a decade as box office manager. In that role she has trained many students on the joys of selling tickets to the public and the methods for serving as a topnotch house manager. Many of her students are working in the world now using those skills they learned under Rachel’s tutelage. 

Beyond the sale of tickets, she has supervised and executed the bookings for the school tours which has drawn on her knowledge of the Columbus area school system. This has been crucial to the success of our tours by supporting numerous area teachers as well as our own faculty, staff and students.  

Carolyn Jakubczak joined us on June 6 as new manager of ticketing for our ticket office. Carolyn is a 2014 graduate of The Ohio State University, with a major in arts management. While at Ohio State she worked in the Athletic Ticket Office, was a University Ambassador, and was active with Off the Lake Productions. Carolyn comes to us directly from Ticketmaster, when she has been an event support specialist working with clients such as the Detroit Red Wings and Joe Louis Arena. Previously, Carolyn also worked front of house with the Apollo Theater in Chicago.

North Broadcast by BBC

Jennifer Schlueter playwright, director and associate professor of theatre at Ohio State, had her play North broadcast by the BBC on BBC Radio 4 as part of its “Afternoon Drama” series on April 28; it is also available for download on the BBC website.

Now re-imagined for radio, North, constructed entirely from the writings of The Little Prince author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and the celebrated aviators Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, is an off-Broadway hit that tells the story of their meeting and its consequences. Delicate and touching, it tells the behind-the-scenes story of one the most celebrated couples in America, the famous and shocking kidnap of their baby and the conflicts which flying, family and writing brought to their lives. This was further complicated by their meeting with one of France's most iconic writers.

For the radio version of North, Christina Ritter (MA '04, PhD '07) read for Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Samuel West read Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and Ian Conningham read Charles Lindbergh. Ritter has been with the piece in all of its live iterations since Chicago, as has the play’s designer, Brad Steinmetz, assistant professor in the Department of Theatre at Ohio State.

Ronald and Deborath Ratner Award Presented to Janet Parrott

Five Arts and Humanities faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences, including our own Janet Parrot, received 2015 Ronald and Deborah Ratner Distinguished Teaching Awards.

The Ratner Awards recognize faculty for making a difference in students' educations, lives, and careers. Candidates are chosen for creative teaching and exemplary records of engaging, motivating and inspiring students. Each Ratner Award includes a $10,000 cash prize plus a $10,000 teaching account to fund future projects.

As an assistant professor, Parrott received the university’s highest teaching award—the alumni award for distinguished teaching. She teaches editing, production and documentary courses that will be at the heart of the college’s new major in moving image production, and she not only engages her students but helps launch their careers. Her teaching seamlessly combines the theoretical and the applied in what is an inherently multi-disciplinary field of study. She constantly adapts her teaching to incorporate the latest technology; her excellence has continued unabated since she won the university award in 2009. She also mentors her students as they work to launch a career in media production, linking them with alumni who are industry leaders in Los Angeles and New York and helping place them in top graduate film directing and production programs. She helps her students exhibit their work to the community through Urban Arts Space and Wexner Center for the Arts.

Arts and Humanities Outreach Award Presented to Maria Ignatieva

Department of Theatre Lima Campus Associate Professor Maria Ignatieva is a recipient of the 2015-2016 Arts and Humanities Outreach Award which recognizes an individual, program, or organization in the arts and humanities that best exemplifies promotion of community outreach. She was nominated by Lesley Ferris for the Lima Children's Theatre Program and selected by Arts and Humanities Awards Committee, made up of faculty and students. ‘Masha’ received an award of $1,000 to support her research and creative activity. 

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