The Department of Theatre Arts proudly recognized Lily Twining ’03 as our 2014 Honored Alumnus at
this year’s Graduating Student Ceremony. The Honored Alumnus award, created in 1983, is used to recognize graduates for outstanding professional achievements in the field. Twining is the thirty-sixth alumnus to be honored. Past recipients include designers Judy Dolan, Rosario Provenza, Stephen Strawbridge and Melissa Binder, actors John Glover, Bruce Nelson and Isabelle Monk, Artistic Director of the Acting Company Ian Belknap and University President Maravene Loeschke.
In presenting the 2014 award to his former student, Technical Director Anthony Rosas quipped, “the accomplishments of this year’s honored alumnus are in spite of me and not because of me.” He shared his memory of meeting Twining when she was “an energetic and enthusiastic sophomore. She also was an excellent student with a focus and determination I had never seen before.” He continued, “Honestly, she probably wasn't too excited about having to break in a green, freshly minted technical director from a grad program no one had ever really heard of, but she was patient with me and over time we became a pretty good team.” That spirit of collaboration and mutual respect between teacher and student was evident in their joyous reunion at the Graduating Senior Ceremony. And Rosas’ description of Twining’s sizeable accomplishments demonstrated what good use she made of her education at Towson University.
After earning her B.S. in Theatre Arts, Twining attended the Yale School of Drama, where she received an MFA in Technical Design and Production. Her resume includes prestigious positions such as Technical Director for the Goodspeed Opera House, Engineer for PRG: Scenic Technologies, Production Draftsman for Spiderman: Turn off the Dark, Associate Project Manager and Engineer for Hudson Scenic Studio, and Associate Adjunct Professor at NYC Collage of Technology. Twining is the founder and owner of Blackbird Production Services and most recently served as the Production Manager for Rocky Broadway, IF/THEN Broadway, and NBC Upfront 2013.
Twining began her speech to the class of 2014 with a quote from an unlikely source, Benjamin Fairless, an early executive in the American Steel Industry: “What is the recipe for successful achievement? To my mind there are just four essential ingredients: Choose a career you love, give it the best there is in you, seize your opportunities, and be a member of the team.” After sharing wisdom gained from her experiences in the theatre, Twining told the graduating students, “My time at Towson started me on a path to last year, last week and to where I’m going to be in 30 years. It has done the same for you, though you may not yet know where that path will lead.”
Posted January 9, 2014
The Department of Theatre Arts at Towson University Presents a Reimagined MFA Program in Fall 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –The Department of Theatre Arts at Towson University presents a reimagined MFA program in Fall 2014. The university’s innovative MFA in Theatre Arts has been redesigned to respond to a new era. Twenty years ago, the program began with a unique vision of providing a laboratory environment for the development of the self-generative artist and the creation of new work. The retooled MFA builds upon this vision and history of achievement to serve a new generation of students in a shifting theatrical landscape.
• Intense small cohort brought in every other year
In its 20-year history, the MFA Program in Theatre Arts at Towson University has made significant contributions to the field. Unlike other programs available at the time, the Towson University MFA in Theatre Arts was designed to serve students who cannot be content working in a single discipline or in the traditional conservatory model. Graduates of this program have gone on to produce work world-wide and to take positions of leadership in prominent educational and artistic organizations. National tours of shows have included trips to Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, and Austin, Texas. Student and alumni work has been produced in cities from San Francisco to Louisville, and at a variety of New York venues including The Kitchen; Mabou Mines/Suite; The Ontological at St. Marks; HERE; New York Musical Theatre Festival; P.S. 122; The Culture Project; The Public Theatre; Arts at St. Anne’s; The Bushwick Starr; Joe’s Pub; and La Mama ETC.
Naoko Maeshiba, an artist and scholar originally from Kobe, Japan, will take leadership of the revised program. Maeshiba is a director, choreographer, and performer who holds a diverse background in literature, dance, and theatre. She has created and performed in over sixty solo and ensemble productions in both traditional and non-traditional venues in North America, Hawaii, Europe, and Japan. She brings to this new position her experience of having worked as a self-generative total artist, as the artistic director of a theatre company, and as an individual director and choreographer in regional and experimental theatre.
Maeshiba, an associate professor who has taught directing and performance classes at the university for over ten years, brings her experience and sensibility as an artist to a program that “cultivates total theatre artists who stand on the foundation of their personal and global history, invigorated with a spirit for innovation, and passionate in their inquiries about the role of theatre in the 21st century.” Through collaborative performance work, theoretical scholarship based on the avant-garde, and independent experimentation, students learn the skills and sensibilities of generative artists who can also function as entrepreneurs, educators, and active citizens of the world.
The program will continue to explore theatre through international contexts. Artists from countries such as Japan, Russia, Costa Rica and South Africa have had residencies in the program. MFA productions have toured to international festivals in Bulgaria, Slovakia, Egypt, Poland, Hungary, Latvia and Scotland. Additionally, students have studied and presented work in countries from Spain to India to Zambia. As a result of its long-standing relationship with the Center for International Theatre Development (CITD), major co-produced collaborations include the convening of the first ensemble meeting that led to The NET (Network of Ensemble Theatre); a conference, “International Origins for New Theatre Practice,” attended by 150 artists and educators from 37 countries; a multi-year collaboration of dozens of Russian and US theatre artists culminating in a conference at Towson featuring new Russian plays in translation attended by leaders from major US theatres; and a US-Polish-East Africa project where students from five countries joined together for 8 weeks of devised theatre creation.
Applications accepted now to March 1st , 2014. Financial aid available.
Contact: Temple Crocker, Administrative Director – firstname.lastname@example.org 410-704-3251
Posted September 29, 2013
Theatre students from Morgan State University and Towson University collaborated to produce a 24-Hour PlaySlam on September 27th and 28th. 50 undergraduate students collaborated as playwrights, directors, actors, designers, and technicians to make theatre happen in one day.
The PlaySlam resulted in six new plays by 3 playwrights from Towson (TU) and 3 playwrights from Morgan (MSU): A Farce in Fragility by Steven Barroga (TU); The Greenhouse Effect by Brandon Scott Boyd (TU); The Mask of Life by Dominique C. Butler (MSU); Greg Glass by Jim Harbor (MSU); The Negro Nutcracker by Wilton Howard (MSU); Tales to Turn Fire to Ice It’s… Where Thunder Strikes Twice by Linus Owens (TU).
The plays were written overnight Friday into Saturday in Towson’s Center for the Arts and produced at Morgan State’s Turpin-Lamb Theatre on Saturday evening.
The excitement and the creativity was memorable for the audience and for the company as well. Rich in diversity, artistry and originality, this was a wily and innovative theatrical experience.
A team of journalists from the Morgan State newspaper, The Spokesman was embedded with the PlaySlam artists. Several of the journalists stayed in the building overnight with the writers, and their coverage of the event captures many different angles on this exciting event:
Posted September 18, 2013
Ian Belknap Artistic Director of The Acting Company 2012.
Posted September 13, 2012
Ian Belknap, a 2006 graduate of the Towson University Department of Theatre Arts, has been named as the new Artistic Director of The Acting Company. Margot Harley, who founded the company along with legendary director and actor Houseman forty years ago, announced the appointment. “We’re a Company of young actors – founded forty years ago with the young Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, David Schramm and David Ogden Stiers right out of Juilliard – and it is appropriate that we begin our next 40 years with a vibrant young talent as our artistic leader,” said Ms. Harley, who will move from Producing Artistic Director to Producer. Harley and Houseman, who is perhaps best known for his collaborations with Orson Welles and his Oscar-winning role as Professor Charles Kingsfield in the film The Paper Chase, created The Acting Company from the first graduating class of the Drama Division at the Juilliard School. The company is known not only for the prominent American actors it counts among its alumni, but also for its educational outreach programs. The Acting Company performs each year in over 40 cities to audiences of 70,000 and reaches more than 30,000 students with its arts education programs. Its numerous awards include the Obie Award, Los Angeles Critics Circle Award and a Tony award for Excellence in Theatre in 2003.
As a student at Towson University, Belknap appeared in several main stage productions, including
Ian Belknap in the Department of Theatre Arts Production of Waiting for Godot (2004) directed by Peter Wray.
The Servant of Two Masters, Hair, and Waiting for Godot. He was awarded the John Glover Scholarship. He directed David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago and was a leading force behind the student producing group Free Space. Belknap also began his work in the professional theatre through internships with the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival and CENTERSTAGE. While a directing intern at CENTERSTAGE, Belknap began working with director Mark Lamos. He would go on to assist Lamos at several other theatres throughout the country. Belknap also worked at the New York Theatre Workshop, Primary Stages, New Victory Theater, Guthrie Theater, The Kennedy Center, Rep Stage, Everyman Theatre, Young Audiences, Prince Music Theater, and Philadelphia Theater Company, before beginning work at The Acting Company in 2008. His production of Damascus, written and performed by Andrew Weems, ran off-Broadway. Damascus was part of the inaugural WRITE ON! Festival that Belknap created to feature new plays written by The Acting Company alumni actors turned playwrights. He directed The Comedy of Errors which premiered at the Guthrie Theater before a two year national tour. His upcoming production of Of Mice and Men will also tour as part of The Acting Company’s 40th anniversary season. Since 2011, Belknap has overseen The Acting Company’s education department, forging new relationships with Teachers College, Columbia University and Lincoln Center Theater. The partnership with Teachers College gave rise to a 40 week Shakespeare program for kindergartners at The Community School, a public school in Harlem. Lincoln Center Theater presented The Acting Company’s production of Julius Caesar in 2012 for students across New York City.
Belknap says of his education at Towson University, “The Department of Theater Arts taught me clarity. Ambiguity begets boredom. Clarity creates experience. I learned that difference from a constellation of opportunities as a student actor, historian, electrician, producer and director. The department gave me room to explore a variety of interests and that freedom led me to directing. This process from general to specific was ushered by the extraordinary faculty, in particular Professor Dr. Robyn Quick and Associate Professor Peter Wray, the finest jurors of clarity.”
See the announcement on The Acting Company's website here.
Posted July 10, 2012
Towson University Department of Theatre Arts alumnus Adrian Wattenmaker was selected to be one of six distinguished New York theatre critics and educators who will chose the nominees for the 2012 – 2013 Drama Desk awards. Since his graduation from Towson University in 2005, Adrian has worked extensively as an actor and director. He directed plays at the New York Theatre Workshop, 440 Studio, and Brooklyn WordShop. He served as an assistant director for Austin Pendleton and David Schweizer. Adrian also taught acting at Brooklyn College, New York Film Academy, University of Nevada, Reno, and the School of Creative and Performing Arts, where he is the director of their Brooklyn Campus. Adrian is currently completing his MFA in Directing at Brooklyn College.
Adrian was in the theatre studies track in the Department of Theatre Arts at Towson University. His directing projects as a student included Betrayed by Everyone and Tales, as well as a development internship at Baltimore Theatre Project, and a dramaturgy internship at CENTERSTAGE in Baltimore. He was selected to receive the department’s Steve Yeager Scholarship. Mr. Yeager, a fellow Towson theatre alumnus and director, teaches Acting for the Camera at the university.
The Drama Desk awards are among the most important New York theater honors. The awards recognize productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway.
Theatre professor Daniel Ettinger worked on scenic design for four plays in the top 10, including "Two Rooms," "Apartment 213," "All My Sons" and "The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?".
"Apartment 213," conceived and written by MFA in Theatre candidate Joseph Ritch, was performed as a co-production between Iron Crow Theatre and TU's MFA in Theatre Program. Faculty member Stephen Satta is the artistic director for the Iron Crow Theatre.
"Sideshow" was produced by MFA in Theatre graduate Jose David Gregory's company, Teatro101.
Theatre graduate Andrew Peters directed "Antarctica," produced by Glass Mind Theatre Co., for which Peters is also artistic director.
"Playing Dead," a product of the New Russian Drama Project at TU, was translated by theatre professor Juanita Rockwell and directed by Fulbright Scholar in Residence Yury Urnov.
Donna Sellinger, MFA Theatre ’ 10, won 1st place for her short fiction, “The Universal Sewer,” and Lola Pierson, a current MFA theatre student, won 3rd place for her short fiction, “Good for What Ails Ya,” in the City Paper’s 2010 short fiction and poetry content.
The Theatre Arts Department congratulates them and is very proud of their accomplishments.
The Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA) recognized the extraordinary achievement of dramaturg Robyn Quick, professor of theatre at Towson University, at its annual conference held in Banff, Canada, June 20-July 1. Quick received the Elliott Hayes Award and a $500 prize for spearheading the New Russian Drama Project, a major effort to bring contemporary Russian drama to an American audience. The project brought together TU's theatre department and Philip Arnoult's Center for International Theatre Development. With Quick serving as lynch pin, the two organizations partnered in a series of commissioned translations, classroom studies, productions at the professional and university level, and a series of artistic collaborations and exchanges.
The project focuses on theatrical work created by Russian artists who came of age after the fall of the USSR. Says Quick: "Many artists and scholars still know little about this movement and have limited access to the plays themselves in translation. As a result, the plays have not yet found their place on U.S. stages or in academic study. Our project hopes to acquaint more people in the United States with this writing and to use the plays as a point of departure for enriching our understanding of the current social and cultural concerns of the Russian people. Given the historic tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States, as well as the environment of misunderstanding that still permeates our country's relationship with Russia, insights we might gain about this culture from the plays seem particularly timely and necessary." Read more.
Adam Nicholas Burke graduated from Towson University in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in theatre design. He now works at the Charleston, S.C.-based marketing agency Rawle Murdy Associates as social media manager. He represents several major clients including artnet.com, Carnival Cruise Lines, CARTA, Cheeseburger in Paradise, MeadWestVaco, Nickelodeon, Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co., South Carolina State Port Authority and Wild Dunes Resort. Adam was mentioned in this New York Times article.
"It was during my first job interview that I discovered the true value of the education I had received from the Theatre Program at Towson University. Where others may have been sweating through their interview suits, I was eerily collected. The time I had spent pushing my boundaries in the acting courses at TU had taught me how to develop a character with a clear goal as a way to work through uncomfortable situations; I played Happily Employed and there were no obstacles that could keep him from achieving his objective of landing the perfect job. After knocking the interview out of the park and landing the job, the writing and research skills I had developed while preparing my Bachelor's Thesis have helped me successfully explain complex social media concepts to my clients. My experiences at TU working with teams of students to produce plays and outreach programs have taught me how to work collaboratively with my colleagues to accomplish tasks. Although I may not have ended up working in the theatre Industry, the most important lesson I have taken with me from Towson University's theatre program is that 'All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players.' "