Bravo! Theater Program Vitalizes Visual and Performing Arts

The award-winning actors, directors, composers, playwrights, and producers who shape Arcadia’s Theater Arts program aren’t merely putting the University’s MainStage Theater on the map. Home to a Barrymore Award winner, a Philadelphia Fringe Festival playwright, and a nationally recognized actress, the program continues to expand as members explore and redefine performing arts in Glenside, Philadelphia, and beyond.

Enhancing Collegiate Theater

2017 Honorary Degree Recipient Dr. Julianne Mamana Boyd ’66

Since co-founding Massachusetts’s Barrington Stage Company (BSC) in 1995, Beaver College alumna Dr. Julianne Mamana Boyd ’66, ’17H has directed, produced, and supported theatrical productions that explore a range of issues, including feminism, racial conflict, immigration, and politics, as BSC’s artistic director.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Theater Arts and English from Beaver College, Dr. Boyd directed Mississippi’s first racially integrated play, The Crucible, in 1968. Ten years later, 

Dr. Boyd advanced her Broadway career as creator and director of Eubie!, a Tony-nominated revue featuring the music of Eubie Blake.

In addition to directing critically acclaimed productions in Massachusetts, New York, and across the region—including the award-winning Off-Broadway musical revue, A...My Name Is Alice, and its sequel A...My Name Is Still Alice—Boyd oversees the BSC’s Playwright Mentoring Project, a program that helps underserved youth develop self-esteem through storytelling. In 2007, the project received the national Coming Up Taller Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. 

Boyd also served as president of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers from 1992 to 1998, and was named Adviser on the Arts for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s transition team in 2007.

Throughout December, the original cast of Arcadia’s fall production, Speech & Debate, revisited scripts they’d shelved in early October. Led by Adjunct Professor and Director Kevin Glaccum, the crew—comprised of student, faculty, and alumni designers—revamped and restored sets, props, and costumes to accommodate the 500-seat Alexander Kasser Theatre at Montclair State University.

One of seven programs invited to perform, Arcadia University Theater reprised Speech & Debate on Jan. 6 at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Region II Festival, a celebration of “the finest and most diverse” work produced by collegiate theaters across the country. Met with a standing ovation, senior Lindsay Deal ’17 was recognized as Most Outstanding Actress in an Invited Production for her performance as Speech & Debate’s lead, Diwata. (Shown above, Lindsey perfoming in Speech & Debate.)

Additionally, Assistant Professor Mark Wade, artistic director and co-chair of the Theater Arts program, received the Kennedy Center Region II Medallion for his commitment to continuing excellence in educational theater.

Excellence On and Off the Stage

Dedicated to elevating local theater, Arcadia was well represented at the 2016 Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, a ceremony that honors a diverse selection of performers, artists, and production companies in Philadelphia.

For their behind-the-scenes production work, Zack McKenna ’13 and Damien Figueras ’16 received Outstanding Sound Design nominations for Inis Nua Theatre Company’s The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning and Azuka Theatre’s Moth, respectively. 

“I composed for Arcadia’s production of Eurydice in 2015,” said Figueras, who served as resident sound designer at Arcadia throughout the 2016-17 academic year. “The experience helped me better understand dramatic characters and the worlds they live in, and really gave me a sense of what it would be like to compose for theater once I graduated.”

Additionally, several faculty were recognized at the ceremony: J. Alex Cordaro, stage combat instructor, was nominated for Outstanding Choreography/Movement; Greg Wood, adjunct professor of TV and Film Acting, received two Outstanding Leading Actor in a Play nominations; and Glaccum, who also serves as artistic director of Azuka Theatre, accepted the prestigious June and Steve Wolfson Award for an Evolving Theatre Company.

Creative Standouts

This year, Taysha Canales ’11 starred as Hermia in Arden Theatre’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Gabrielle York in Wilma Theater’s When the Rain Stops Falling. Canales also appeared in the world premiere of renowned playwright Tom Stoppard’s The Hard Problem at Wilma Theater last season.

Becca Austin ’09 and Robin Stamey ’10 were awarded residencies at Philadelphia Design Center, a workspace that provides advanced software technology, production equipment, and textile facilities to the theatrical design community. Austin currently designs costumes for the Wilma Theater, Tribe of Fools, and the National Constitution Center, while Stamey has served as theatre programs manager at the National Constitution Center for six years.

Gianna Lozzi ’16 debuted her original play, Right Behind, at Connie’s Ric-Rac during the 2016 Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Set in a fictional restaurant, the production—which grew from Lozzi’s senior thesis at Arcadia—provided a humorous glimpse into the lives of overworked service-industry professionals.

Jonathan Shandell, associate professor of Theater Arts, co-edited Experiments in Democracy: Interracial and Cross-Cultural Exchange in American Theater, 1912-1945, an exploration of interracial collaboration on the American stage before the Civil Rights Movement. In addition to writing the book’s introduction, Shandell contributed a chapter on Anna Lucasta, a Broadway production that featured an all-African American cast in 1944.
Kathryn Petersen, associate professor of Theater Arts, was named an artistic associate at People’s Light, a production company dedicated to entertaining, inspiring, and engaging the Chester County, Pa. community through quality theater and arts education programs.

Musical Theater

In fall 2017, Arcadia will offer a concentration in Musical Theater focused on voice, dance, and movement training to prepare B.F.A. in Acting students for careers and graduate studies in theater arts. 

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