School of Drama Blog

Colton Sullivan

Hello readers,

My name is Colton Sullivan. I am a drama major and I recently acted in Sweet Charity – the inaugural production of the UW Musical Theater Program. I played the roles of Monte the Cop, Marvin, Pompeii customer #9, and Daddy. I will be telling you about my experience as a drama major in this flagship production.

End Slate

I must tell you when I was asked to write this, the thought was to reflect on my experience – as a drama major – acting in Sweet Charity, a play with an ensemble of dance students, vocal students, and the new musical theater students. The problem with this frame of writing, though, is that in this ensemble of 22 actors and a massive team of designers and crew members, there were a lot more than just those four majors represented. There were biology, scenic design, environmental...

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Cathy Madden is a Principal Lecturer at the UW School of Drama. Her specialty is the direct integration of the Alexander Technique into the acting process. Cathy leads workshops on the Alexander Technique around the world, including in Japan. Her book Integrative Alexander Technique Practice for Performing Artists: Onstage Synergy is scheduled for publication in January 2015. You can catch Cathy at the third and final installment of the 2014 Performing Arts Lecture Series on Tuesday, November 4. In this blog post, Cathy shares with us how teaching in Japan hones her skills.

Every year, for the last 18 years, I have spent a month or more teaching in Japan. I have taught for different groups, but most of my recent teaching has been with BodyChance, an Alexander Technique Training School for which I am an...

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Judith Shahn, Senior Lecturer in Voice and Dialects at the UW School of Drama, has been a leading voice specialist in the Northwest for the last twenty five years. Her innovative approach to dialect training has been documented in the Voice and Speech Trainers Association's publication "Essays in Voice and Speech." An actress and director as well, Judith has coached dozens of productions at the Seattle Repertory Theatre, Intiman, ACT, as well as the Oregon and Utah Shakespeare Festivals. Most recently she coached Intiman's 20th anniversary staging of "Angels in America." She coached Intiman's original production 20 years ago. In this blog post, Judith reflects on the annual VASTA conference.

This past August, I attended the 2014 Voice and Speech Trainers Association (VASTA) Conference in London. As a VASTA board member, I am required to go, but this was a conference not to be missed! I have...

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Cold Empty Terrible - Rehearsal
New Paradise Labs is currently in residence at University of Washington School of Drama. NPL Artistic Director, Whit MacLaughlin, has been collaborating with our MFA graduate students to create 'Cold Empty Terrible,' a newly devised work inspired by a fragmented avant-garde play nestled inside Anton Chekhov’s 'The Seagull.'

Below, Whit reflects on his time in residence at UW School of Drama, the joys and challenges of making performance work from scratch, and the process of building 'Cold Empty Terrible.'

1) How does creating performance through a group-generated process benefit the PATPs as artists?

These group-created pieces put actors closer to the driver’s seat of the generative process. By building a...

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Anna Lamadrid

Anna Lamadrid is a third-year MFA candidate in the Professional Actor Training Program. At UW, she originated the role of Rachel in Reading to Vegetables and got to sass it up as Aunt Sally in 5th of July. She'll next be seen in the world premiere of Cold Empty Terrible, a devised piece directed by guest artist Whit MacLaughlin and created in collaboration with UW School of Drama MFA students. In this blog post, Anna reflects on the process of creating Cold Empty Terrible and what that experience has brought to the surface for her as an artist. 

As I begin my final year at the University of Washington, and the more we dive into Cold Empty Terrible rehearsals, I can’t help but reflect on my experiences in the School of Drama and what those experiences have taught me.


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2014 Performing Arts Lecture Series: Celebrity and Its Discontents

Odai Johnson is a professor of theatre history and the head of the School of Drama’s PhD program, as well as a founding member of the Center for Performance Studies. His lecture, “The Predatory Gaze of Looking,” kicks off the third-annual Performing Arts Lecture Series.

This year’s Performing Arts Lecture Series takes on the topic of celebrity. The series not only addresses the process of acquiring fame, the mechanisms of its reproduction, and the discontents behind this excess of looking – that is, not just ‘celebrity’ as a pronoun (that remarkable person) – but ‘Celebrity’ as a process of consumption. To acquire what Joseph Roach has called ‘It’ seems to be the compulsion of the media, but we would do well to ask what does ‘It’ acquire? We know a great deal about the...

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Sylvia Kowalski in The Beggar's Opera, School of Drama, spring 2014. Photo by Mike Hipple.

Sylvia Kowalski is a junior studying Drama, Astronomy, and Physics with a sweet tooth for everything theater related. She has worked on stage as an actress, back stage as a running crew member, and under the stage as a pit orchestra member. In her spare time Sylvia enjoys singing, dancing, eating and looking for exo-planets. She is the Finance Director of the Undergraduate Theater Society, and was recently seen onstage as Elizabeth Peachum in the School of Drama's main stage production of Vaclav Havel's The Beggar's Opera.

Hello UW Drama family. Sylvia Kowalski here! Thank you for clicking into the first of a couple posts about summer drama adventures! Quick background on myself: I am a junior studying Drama, Astronomy, and Physics; and I love theater, space, and food! 

The reason for my posts are an attempt to articulate the incredible experience I have had the past few months...

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Production model: The Invisible Hand. Scenic design by Matthew Smucker, assisted by Julia Welch.

Every student in the MFA Design program takes a quarter to do a professional internship. Some students choose to work outside Seattle, but many remain in town. For Julia Welch and Jared Roberts, scenic designer students graduating spring 2015, they chose to stay in Seattle and have been working with UW alums Matthew Smucker (MFA ’02) and Jennifer Zeyl (MFA ’03), respectively.

The designers all agreed to sit down to chat about their projects, the internship experience, and their time at UW. It turned into a conversation that included discussion about director-designer dynamics and the shift in visual training brought on by the insurgence of digital media. Some highlights from the chat are excerpted here.

What are you working on and how is your working relationship set up?

Jen: I’ve had UW...

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Whit MacLaughlin in the studio with NPL and PATP actors

For the first three weeks of spring quarter, our Professional Actor Training Program students worked alongside company members of New Paradise Laboratories (NPL) and under the direction of visiting artist, and director of the first show of our 2014-2015 season, Obie award-winning NPL Artistic Director Whit MacLaughlin. Whit recently answered some questions via email, reflecting on the three-week residency and the pieces born out of the experience.

What influenced you to take on this residency in partnership with the School of Drama?

I worked with UW Lighting Design Professor Geoff Korf (now also head of the MFA Design program) in 1992. It was on one of my favorite projects ever, a rich and unusual production of Euripides’ The Bakkhai that he designed. I always sought to work with him again, but it never happened – a bicoastal separation problem. One day in the spring of 2013, I sent him a bit of NPL’s work by email and,...

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Holly Griffith

“I’ve found that there’s a certain drive behind the academic and the search for research and compiling evidence and developing complexity and structures that I really like,” Holly Griffith, an undergraduate at the University of Washington studying Drama, told me during a recent conversation. The premise of our conversation? To congratulate Holly on winning the 2014 National Amy and Eric Burger Essays on Theatre Competition, and to discuss the research and coursework that led to her winning essay. We ended up chatting about much more.

Drama is, of course, also learning how to articulate complex concepts and topics, just in a different way and through a different medium.

What are you studying at UW, and what’s your involvement with the School of Drama, beyond taking classes?

I am a double-major in...

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