Department of Theatre

  • Theatre teaches soft skills

    Creative high school students find a home in theatre departments because they feel valued. But we also need to be thinking about the future.

    It’s not easy to convince students and their parents that a degree in theatre will ensure success in life. If I can be totally honest with readers, the majority of students who graduate with degrees related to theatre don’t go on to achieve fame and fortune in a job related to theatre. There… I’ve spilled the beans. This isn’t an industry secret that I have foolishly disclosed. And I suspect this is true for many disciplines. With this in mind, we often ask our students what they will do if they can’t do the thing that drew them to theatre. What is their plan B or the “other” option? Specifically, what will they do to pay their bills so that they can continue acting, designing, or, in some other way, creating theatre?

    A student in my Theatre Cornerstone class last year, I’ll call them Pat, told me, “A plan B is for losers.” A lot of responses rolled through my head, but I settled on, “You go, Pat!” It didn’t seem like the right moment to pull Pat back down to earth. Pat might actually achieve fame and fortune in theatre. They are very talented, focused, and driven. While I admire Pat’s passion and confidence, the reality is different for most of our students. Most of them are starting this journey in a whole different place. For the record, I’ve always had a plan B, so...

    Oddly enough, I believe a theatre education is more valuable for students who do not have Pat’s gifts. Pat is a triple threat who can act, sing, and dance—they are kind of a unicorn, though. So, why do students who might not become professional theatre performers enroll as theatre majors? If you gather 20 of them in a room and ask that question, you’ll get 20 different answers. There will be similarities, but every answer will be nuanced. Some have a true passion for theatre and want to pursue a career as an actor, designer, director, stage manager, or another role required to produce live theatre. It might surprise readers to learn that many students enroll as theatre majors because it’s a community that accepts them the way they are. It’s a safe place. It would require all my fingers and toes to count all the students who have told me that theatre saved their life in high school. Sadly, they are being literal my friends. It’s sad but it’s also gratifying to know that I work in a field that has that power. The theatre community doesn’t just tolerate diversity—we embrace it and celebrate it. Creative high school students find a home in theatre departments because they feel valued. But it’s not enough to feel safe and valued—we also need to be thinking about the future.

    I think graduates from our programs fall into three groups. Group one includes those who find success after graduation in the theatre industry. They are the smallest group. Then, there are those who find success in allied industries like film, dance, music, and opera. Also in this second group are the graduates who pursue careers in industries that value the technical skills our graduates learned studying theatre, including education, event management, fashion design, marketing, content creation, graphic design, public relations, politics, interior design, and many others. There are elements of theatre in all these industries. Students in the third group find work in fields that seem totally unrelated to theatre—the key word is “seem.” Because the thing that contributes more than anything to the success of our graduates in all three groups is the development of soft skills.

    Do a search for “soft skills” on your web browser, and you will find hundreds of lists. Narrow the search to “soft skills employers value,” and you’ll find dozens more. Some of the soft skills that you’ll typically find on these lists are critical thinking, creativity, emotional intelligence, social skills, poise, confidence, communication skills (verbal and written), listening, collaboration/teamwork, resource management, introspection, and adaptability. These are skills and character traits that are important in any setting, and our majors develop these skills and character traits doing theatre. Every play we produce presents a new set of challenges and requires all of us working as a team to create a new world onstage to tell stories that enlighten and entertain our audiences.

    We tell our new students that the jobs they will pursue in four years don’t exist today. So, what are we doing with them for four years? In the Department of Theatre, we are preparing our graduates to be employees who can adapt and learn new things. We are preparing them to be creative thinkers who can work independently and collaborate as a member of a team. We are training them to communicate effectively with the written and spoken word. We are helping them develop the poise, confidence, and introspection required to be effective leaders. And, most important, we provide opportunities to explore the lives of others so that they will be empathetic human beings.

    It may sound like a magic elixir, and in some ways, it is.

    By Kelly Allison, chair of the Department of Theatre

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  • UAB Department of Theatre announces new season of plays for 2022-2023

    Theatre UAB will present “A New Brain,” “Sense and Sensibility,” “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” “Sanctuary City,” and “Into the Woods” for its 2022-2023 season.

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  • Theatre UAB grad wins national award, after starting career in costumes then pursuing her Ph.D.

    This year, Theatre UAB alumna Skye Geerts Strauss earned her Ph.D. from Northwestern, won a USITT Merit Award and will begin teaching this fall at Baylor University.

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  • UAB student’s work recognized by Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival

    Amanda Grace Waller, 22, was named a national finalist for the KCACTF’s Barbizon Award for Excellence in Lighting Design and was one of two students nationally given a special achievement award.

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  • For The World Games 2022, Birmingham puts on its biggest shows ever — with help from UAB artists

    UAB faculty, staff and students are helping create, organize and perform in the massive opening and closing ceremonies, happening July 7 and July 17 at Protective Stadium.

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  • Theatre UAB finds new synergy, collaboration with Red Mountain Theatre

    Opportunities for UAB theater students and faculty are booming with Red Mountain Theatre in its new 60,000-square-foot Arts Campus in the city’s burgeoning Parkside District.

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  • Employees recognized at 2021 UAB Service Awards

    Twenty-seven College of Arts and Sciences employees who have worked at UAB for 20 years or more were recognized at the UAB Service Awards reception on April 11, 2022.

    Dean Kecia M. Thomas with Kim Hazelwood at the UAB Service Awards reception.Twenty-seven College of Arts and Sciences employees who have worked at UAB for 20 years or more were recognized at the UAB Service Awards reception on April 11, 2022. These dedicated colleagues were honored for their number of years of employment at UAB as of December 31, 2021.

     

    The UAB Service Awards are given to active employees beginning at five years of employment and at each five-year milestone. Employees who reach 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, and 45 years of service are invited to a reception on behalf of UAB President Ray L. Watts and presented with a service award pin, certificate, and a gift of gratitude.

     

    This year, Dr. Vithal K. Ghanta, professor in the Department of Biology and co-director of the Undergraduate Immunology Program, was honored for 50 years of service to UAB. Dr. Gregory Pence, professor in the Department of Philosophy and director of the Early Medical School Acceptance Program, was honored for 45 years of service. Congratulations to all our colleagues for their dedication and commitment to the University’s mission and vision.

    50-Year Recipient: Dr. Vithal K. Ghanta, professor in the Department of Biology

    20-Year Recipients

    • Kimberly H. Hazelwood, College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office
    • Erin Wright, Art and Art History
    • Tanja Matthews, Chemistry
    • Dr. Jacqueline Nikles, Chemistry
    • Daniel L. Butcher, English
    • Dr. Gale M. Temple, English
    • Dr. Lourdes M. Sanchez-Lopez, Foreign Languages and Literatures
    • Dr. Stephen J. Miller, History
    • Dr. John Heith Copes, Criminal Justice
    • Dr. Reinhard E. Fambrough, Music
    • Dr. Gitendra Uswatte, Psychology
    45-Year Recipient: Dr. Gregory E. Pence, professor in the Department of Philosophy

    25-Year Recipients

    • James R. Grimes, Advising
    • Margaret Amsler, Biology
    • Leslie C. Hendon, Biology
    • Adriana S. Addison, Psychology
    • Dr. Karlene K. Ball, Psychology
    • Wanda R. Fisher, Psychology
    • Pamela Y. Robinson, Psychology

    30-Year Recipients

    • Dr. Tracy P. Hamilton, Chemistry
    • Dr. Kathryn D. Morgan, Criminal Justice and African American Studies
    • Kimberly A. Schnormeier, Theatre

    35-Year Recipients

    • Dr. Edwin W. Cook III, Psychology
    • Dr. Edward Taub, Psychology

    40-Year Recipients

    • Dr. Howard L. Irving, Music
    • Dr. Franklin R. Amthor, Psychology

    45-Year Recipient

    • Dr. Gregory E. Pence, Philosophy

    50-Year Recipient

    • Dr. Vithal K. Ghanta, Biology

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  • Graduating students make a splash while creating “The SpongeBob Musical”

    Lighting designer Bailey Dumlao and co-director Devin Ty Franklin are two of the artists behind the scenes of Theatre UAB’s “The SpongeBob Musical.”

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  • See “The SpongeBob Musical” by Theatre UAB from April 13-17

    When the Mount Humungous volcano threatens to annihilate the town, the citizens of Bikini Bottom must come together in this zany musical, which makes use of recycled and repurposed props, scenery and costumes.

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  • Celebrate student creativity and fine arts April 11-20 with Arts Week 2022

    The College of Arts and Sciences will elevate a series of student performances, exhibitions and events for the new Arts Week celebration in April.

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  • Theatre UAB grad is co-producer of “The Gilded Age,” HBO drama set in booming 1882

    The American period piece is entertainment “on a grand scale.” Alumnus Luke Harlan helped to shape the sumptuous new series and he credits the UAB Department of Theatre, where he learned many of his skills.

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  • Theatre UAB presents original alumni play, “Echo(es)” from March 7-11

    Inspired by the myth of Echo and Narcissus, the new work was created by alumna Rebecca Jones and shaped through a residency on her family’s farm, a 2021 UAB Department of Theatre staged reading, and collaboration with faculty, students and alumni.

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  • Theatre UAB presents comedy “Noises Off” from Feb. 23-27

    “The funniest farce ever written” follows the misadventures of actors rehearsing a show set to open the next day and delights in physical comedy, witty dialogue and improvisation.

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  • The Joe and Mary Ann Cromeans Foundation provides scholarships to music and theatre students

    The foundation aims to advance the field of medicine and broaden the arts by providing scholarships to qualifying juniors and seniors at universities in the South.

    In March 2021, the Joe and Mary Ann Cromeans Foundation provided a generous donation to the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Both the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Nursing received a portion of the gift to provide scholarships to juniors and seniors.

    The Joe and Mary Ann Cromeans Foundation is located in Orange Beach, Alabama. The foundation aims to advance the field of medicine and broaden the arts by providing scholarships to qualifying juniors and seniors at universities in the South.

    In the College of Arts and Sciences, both the departments of Theatre and Music awarded scholarships to a total of nine students for academic year 2021-2022. Five students in the Department of Music received scholarships, and four students in the Department of Theatre received scholarships.

    Rachel Thomas, a music education major and scholarship recipient, aspires to become an elementary music teacher after graduation. “This would not be possible without the funding of the Joe and Mary Ann Cromeans Scholarship,” said Thomas. “This scholarship has helped me continue my learning experience and will be a great help in achieving my goal of becoming a teacher.”

    Nina Ballon, a senior majoring in musical theatre and scholarship recipient, will graduate in Spring 2022. During her tenure at UAB, she has focused on developing her talent as a performer—at the same time, she has developed technical theatre skills too. “It’s good to know or be familiar with all of the other aspects of the theatre world and not limit myself to just performing on stage,” said Ballon. “This scholarship helps me not only achieve my goals but also have the freedom to create goals that I probably wouldn’t have even thought about if I were anywhere else.”

    Clearly, The Joe and Mary Ann Cromeans Foundation is fulfilling its mission by investing in students who will further broaden and advocate for the arts in Alabama and beyod.

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  • Theatre UAB presents “Much Ado About Nothing,” from Nov. 10-13, 17-20

    After a year of streamed performances due to the pandemic, the Department of Theatre is celebrating its return to live theater with comedy and laughs from one of Shakespeare’s most delightful comedies.

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  • A performance to honor people impacted by cancer, “Raising Our Voices” Oct. 29-30 at UAB

    UAB Institute for Arts in Medicine and Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater will present this original work created with Birmingham community members affected by cancer.

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  • Theatre UAB presents “Godspell,” 2012 version, Oct. 13-17

    Celebrate community and inclusion in this masterful retelling of the original sensation, injected with contemporary references and dazzling new arrangements.

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  • UAB’s Lightner honored by Alabama Conference of Theatre

    Roy Lightner, MFA, an assistant professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Theatre, has received the Dorothy Schwartz Outstanding Educator Award.

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  • Theatre UAB celebrates 50 years, announces new performance season

    “Godspell,” Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Noises Off,” an original play by a Theatre UAB alumna, and “The SpongeBob Musical” are set for the 2021-22 season.

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  • National honors awarded to Theatre UAB’s original production “Disconnect” by KCACTF

    The KCACTF awarded “Disconnect” with Special Achievement honors in directing, production design, ensemble collaboration and company-generated work, as well as a Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Award.

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