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Department News - Spring 2016

The Department of Drama Dance is proud to announce the following Spring 2016 graduates.

Drama Majors: Whitney Arnold, Tessa Barlow-Ochshorn, Tyler Beardsley, Emily Bono, Artoun Festekjian, Natalie Girshman, Max Greenhouse, Jake Hoover, Stephen Hwang, Andrew Prensky, Evey Reidy, Ed Rosini, Yarista Sanchez, Sarah Vandewalle, Jem Wilner, Wally Napier

Drama Minors: Colin Burnett, Francis Appeadu-Mensah

Dance Minors: Ann Altman, Mary Barth, Megan Coughlin, Max Greenhouse, Stephen Hwang, Lindsey Jacobs, Katherine Geethanjeli Kester, Moly McLaughlin, Remy Smidt, Stacy Weng, Maya Zeigler, Hana Migliorato

Graduate Students: Jennifer Herron, M.A.; Yizhou Huang, M.A.; Matthew DiCintio, PhD; Betsey Feldman, PhD; Paul Masters, PhD; Matthew McMahan, PhD; Danielle Rosvally, PhD; Max Shulman, PhD; Megan Stahl, PhD

The Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies was very proud and excited that drama alumni and award-winning film, television and stage actor; producer; director and comedian Hank Azaria delivered the Tufts University commencement address on May 22. In his address, he urged students to follow their own paths and gave outstanding advice from his tv and film characters, including Agador Spartacas. Read a summary on TuftsNow >

Linda Ross Girard has been promoted to Senior Lecturer. Linda is also a Costume Designer and the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies. In addition to being a Tufts alumna, she holds an M.F.A. in Costume and Lighting Design from Brandeis University and is a member United Scenic Artists. Learn more about Linda >

Thank you Linda, for all you have done and all you continue to do for the department and the students!

Jennifer Burton screened her short film, Half the History: Margaret Lothrop and the Wayside, on May 3. The film features Drama Department faculty, Sheriden Thomas, Ted Simpson, and Professor Natalya Baldyga…along with several of our students. Linda Ross Girard (whose kids are also in it!) also assisted with the production. Jennifer produced it with her DR 152 students.

What a treat to see pieces of the film Jenn's class created this spring!

Congratulations to the cast and crew of Venus in Fur, our department Spring Major that was performed in April 2016! In David Ives's seductive, darkly funny Venus in Fur, a playwright-director, Sheriden Thomas, has written an adaptation of Sacher-Masoch' s novel, the story of an obsessive relationship between a man and the mistress to whom he becomes enslaved. At the end of a long day in which the actresses Thomas auditions fail to impress him, in walks Vanda, very late and seemingly clueless, but she convinces him to give her a chance. As they perform scenes from Thomas's play, the lines between writer, actor, director, and character begin to blur. An unsettling drama, a playful comedy, Venus in Fur also constitutes a masterful exploration of the art of acting—onstage and off.

Professor Heather Nathans, Department Chair, said of the show:
"Three cheers for Tessa Barlow-Ochshorn and Tyler Beardsley on their last department major show! It's a hard piece and they sustained the passion and humor throughout.
Congratulations to the design team and run crew -- the space was transformed into something entirely new, and I heard audience members post-show asking if we would sell them the costumes.
And huzzah for Sheriden Thomas on sending our 2015-16 season out in style!"

View photos of the show >
Read the 'Tufts Daily' review >

Tufts University announces Drama Alum, Hank Azaria, as Commencement Speaker
Award-winning film, television and stage actor, producer and comedian Hank Azaria, A87, will deliver Tufts University's commencement address on May 22. Actor, producer and comedian known for his Simpsons' roles is also among six honorary degree recipients.
Learn more >

Our 2016-2017 Season
We are excited to announce our 2016-2017 season of drama faculty-directed shows!

Fall: Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson, directed by Monica Ndounou
Winter: The King Stag by Carlo Gozzi, translated and directed by Natalya Baldyga
Spring: Desire Under the Elms by Eugene O'Neill, directed by Heather Nathans
Learn more >

Kudos to director Noe Montez and the entire cast and crew of Next to Normal, which was performed in the Balch Arena Theater in February 2016. Next to Normal is a modern rock musical about the devastating toll of psychiatric disorders and the decisions a family makes to keep their world intact. Winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Drama and three Tony Awards, Next to Normal is a groundbreaking American masterpiece that explores the psychology of grief, ethics in modern psychiatry, and the shared joys and heartaches of family life.

Next to Normal's production also served as a way to bring mental health awareness to Tufts' students; several community outreach events and post-show talkbacks were included as part of the program. The Next to Normal Facebook page, which was created and maintained by dramaturg Sarah Vandewalle, spotlights the various events, photos, character introductions…and more!

"Theater is most exhilarating when the actors' emotions aren't confined to the stage....Everyone stands to enjoy something about Next to Normal. It's self-aware in how it relates a delicate and emotional topic to the audience, yet it wrestles with the ugliness and hardship surrounding it deftly, an achievement for theatre, and for how we talk about mental health and illness as a campus." -- Tufts Daily Review of Next to Normal

In conjunction with Next to Normal, Tufts Department of Drama and Dance welcomed Broadway Stage director, Michael Greif, and cast member of Broadway's Fun Home, Joel Perez, to campus to participate in a series of events, which included student Q & A sessions and master classes.

Drama Alumni, Joel Perez (A08), is a performer living in Brooklyn, NY. He currently stars in the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of Fun Home after originating the role off-Broadway at The Public Theater. He's done work on TV in Person of Interest (CBS), The Big C (Showtime), and Black Box (ABC). He has toured nationally and internationally in In the Heights and Fame. He has participated in developmental labs with the Sundance Theater Lab, Soho Rep, Atlantic Theater Company, and many others. He has also worked on several commercials and voice-overs. He's an ensemble member of Broken Box Mime Theater and Pregones Theater. He studied at Tufts University, The British American Drama Academy, and Upright Citizen's Brigade. He is represented by BRS/GAGE.

“From Tufts to Broadway”, posted on Tufts' Arts and Sciences online news page, discusses Joel's decision to major in drama at Tufts, his career, and advice for aspiring drama students.

Michael Grief's visit included a Q & A session focused on staging and performing Shakespeare and the teaching of a Master class. Michael's Broadway credits include Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's Next to Normal and If/Then, as well as Never Gonna Dance, Grey Gardens and Rent. Recent work includes Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, and Steven Levenson's musical Dear Evan Hansen at Arena Stage (also upcoming at off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre), Katori Hall's Our Lady of Kibeho and Angels in America at New York's Signature Theater, the premiere of Kushner's The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide at The Public Theater and The Tempest, Winter's Tale, Romeo and Juliet at The Public's Delacort Theater. Regional work includes premieres and revivals at Williamstown Theatre Festival (10 seasons), La Jolla Playhouse (Artistic Director 1995-1999), Goodman Theatre, Arena Stage, Center Stage, Mark Taper Forum, Dallas Theatre Center and Trinity Repertory Company. Work Off-Broadway includes plays and musicals at The Public Theater, Second Stage, Playwrights Horizons, Roundabout Theater Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, MCC, Signature, and the New York Theater Workshop, where he is an artistic associate. Education: B.S. Northwestern; M.F.A. UCSD.

Photos from the production of Next to Normal and both visits can be found on the Department's online Gallery.
Photos from his visit can be found here.