School of Drama Blog

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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Professor Mark Jenkins

This week, School of Drama Professor Mark Jenkins reflects on his recent – and historic – trip to Tashkent, Uzbekistan with The Seagull Project – a Seattle-based company of self-producing actors, of which six of the sixteen members are UW Drama alums. In addition to being an actor and professor, Mark is a playwright. His recent work, Red Earth, Gold Gate, Shadow Sky won ACT Theatre’s 2013 New Play Award.

On April 23, 2014, a Seattle-based troupe of self-producing actors, their director, and a production manager flew to Tashkent, Uzbekistan to present their production of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull at the renowned Ilkhom Theatre of Mark Weil.  The performances we gave constituted the centerpiece of a two week...

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Leah Adcock-Starr is a rising third-year graduate student in the MFA Directing program at the University of Washington School of Drama. Her main stage directing credits for UW Drama include the recent production of The Arabian Nights. For her thesis project, Leah will be staging William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. We previously had the wonderful opportunity to chat with Leah about her background and why she has chosen a career as a theatre maker. You can read that interview over here. Now Leah is sharing with us her reflections on a recent trip across the pond.

Pourquoi Shakespeare?

by Leah Adcock-Starr

Last month I went to a birthday party in Paris.

Close to four hundred thinkers, writers, teachers, talkers, and theatre makers gathered from all over the...

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Scott Magelssen

School of Drama Associate Professor Scott Magelssen serves as guest blogger this week. Scott’s current research is on interactive performance events in which participants are immersed into live, simulated, experiential environments and take on active roles in those environments.  Using the term “simming,” borrowed from online and computer gaming, Scott considers the ways these events, while used for varying purposes (educational, entertainment, business, military, etc.), use tools from theatre and performance to help make meaning for the producers and participants. Examples range from interactive Underground Railroad reenactments at living history museums, prom-season mock drunk-driving crashes and funerals at high schools, and large scale, government-sponsored terrorism attack drills at the local and national levels. Here, Scott gives us the first look into what’s piquing his interest now and what he’ll be investigating next.

Norway is great for maritime history....

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