Theatre Faculty and Students Find New Stages for the Summer


It’s spring semester on the UM-Flint campus, and the Theatre Department is much quieter than it will be in September. However, its quiet halls belie the busy summer schedules of the department faculty and students!

Many of them spend these months involved with professional companies and theatres across the country and world, utilizing what they’ve learned on campus and absorbing new skills for the upcoming season.

Following are some of the appointments and performances in which our Theatre members will be involved:

Nicole Broughton, Lecturer
• Production Manager on a professional production of Les Miserables for Spiro Productions at the Avondale Performing Arts Center, begins June 21.

Stephanie Dean, Assistant Professor
• Assistant Directing on a professional production of Les Miserables for Spiro Productions, Avondale Performing Arts Center, begins June 21.

Janet Haley, Associate Professor
• July 17-August 17: Janet returns for her ninth season at the Michigan Shakespeare Festival as Gertrude in Hamlet and The Queen in Cymbeline.
• Janet is currently working with Michael Rohd of Sojourn Theatre/Northwestern University, Flint Youth Theatre, and a collective of community artists to develop a new site-specific production at the Flint Farmers’ Market, which will showcase how local food and local markets nourish a community (opens Fall 2014).

Bill Irwin, Assistant Professor & Chair of the Theatre Department
• June 23-28: Directing a week long intensive in the Performance of Shakespeare at the Bay View Fine Arts Camp in Petoskey, MI.
• July 14-18: Conducting an acting technique intensive for the Michigan Opera Theatre at the Detroit Opera House
• July 21-25: Returning to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in NYC to train and perform in comedic improvisation

Kendra Babcock,Student – BS Theatre Design/Technology Major
• Company member in Spiro Production’s Les Miserables at the Avondale Performing Arts Center, beginning June 21.
• Costume Design Assistant (assisting faculty member Adam Dill) on the Flint Youth Theatre’s production of Alice in Wonderland. Performances August 8-10, 14-17.

Cat Boss, BS Theatre Design/Technology Alumna
• Company member in Spiro Production’s Les Miserables at the Avondale Performing Arts Center, beginning June 21.

Bridgid Burge, Student
• Designer with faculty designer Shelby Newport and faculty choreographer Adesola Akinleye to create “Light Steps” – a contemporary dance piece to be performed at the Turner Contemporary Art Museum in Margate, England. Performance August 10.

Michelle Hathaway, Student
• Costume Designer and wardrobe work for Children’s Theatre at the Lake Dillon Theatre Company in Lake Dillon, Colorado.

Zach Kentala, Student
• Working in Technical Direction at the Jenny Wiley Theatre in Prestonburg, Kentucky.

Annadelle Kimber, Student – BFA Theatre Performance
• Company member in Spiro Production’s Les Miserables at the Avondale Performing Arts Center, beginning June 21.

Kelsey Knag, Student
• Production Assistant at the Hope Summer Repertory Theatre in Holland, Michigan.

Ashley Kok, Student
• Costume Design Assistant (assisting faculty member Adam Dill) on the Flint Youth Theatre’s production of Alice in Wonderland. Performances August 8-10, 14-17.

Kaitlyn Pitcher, Student
• Stitcher for summer season and costume designer for Alexander and the No Good, Very Bad Day at the Hope Summer Repertory Theatre in Holland, MI. Performances held in June, July, and August.

Amanda Velasquez, Student – BS Theatre Design/Technology Major
• Company member in Spiro Production’s Les Miserables at the Avondale Performing Arts Center, beginning June 21.

Jessica Wilkowski, Student
• Scenic Charge Artist at the Jenny Wiley Theatre in Prestonburg, KY. This position entails adding realistic color and texture to the scenery surfaces.

When asked about the value of faculty and students engaging in these pursuits outside of the school theatre, department chair Bill Irwin expressed the following:

The values we place on our professional work/creative activity as an actor and/or director are four-fold:

1) Collaborating with other professional theatre artists affords me an opportunity to exchange ideas about the work, to stay relevant, to experience the current climate/culture of working professionals in the field, and to uncover what material/information/experiences my students need to be exposed to during their time of study at UM-Flint before entering the profession for themselves.

2) It is also during these endeavors where our work is reviewed either by professional theatre critics or by professional peers (actors, directors, or teachers). Although these critical assessments are of only one performance, of which they are not always privy to the creative process that led up to it, they do appraise the work and inform what we do in the future.

3) When we garner work acting or directing professionally, we personally employ, test and validate the creative concepts and performance techniques we teach our students. Quite literally, we practice what we preach in these professional creative endeavors.

4) The successes and struggles we have as professional actors or directors naturally afford us certain credibility teachers of these forms. I strongly affirm that great teachers of theatre performance must have the capacity to do it themselves. Without that facility, the acting/directing teacher can only speak of methods or techniques and not the actual experience of employing them and their actual worth.


To view photos and learn more about the experiences of the UM-Flint students traveling to England “for 4 weeks to study theatre performance, history and design,” follow their blog, England Through Our Eyes.

To learn more about the UM-Flint Theatre Department, its faculty, and performances, please visit their website or Facebook.

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