If you’re headed to USITT in Salt Lake City next week, you won’t want to miss a fantastic session led by URTA’s Vice President, Holly Poe Durbin (UC Irvine)

Undergraduate Teachers: Frontline Educators/Mentors/Guides

Teachers and students are invited to this panel discussion on teaching theatre design and technology at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The panel will include distinguished faculty, and attendees will be fully involved in the conversation about topics including:

  • What type of education and skills undergraduates should seek to acquire on campus and off (and how faculty can help)
  • The significant challenges in undergraduate instruction
  • Mentoring for graduate training, internships and career transition
  • Time off—if any—between undergraduate and graduate enrollment
  • and most importantly, an open forum for Q&As.

This session hopes to further networking between undergraduate and graduate faculty on topics relevant to BAs, BFAs and MFAs.

Participants include:

Holly Poe Durbin, Head of Costume Design, University of California, Irvine; Jon Gottlieb, Head of Sound Design, CalArts; Tracy Nunnally, Technical Director and Head of Design and Technology, Northern Illinois University; Mark Halpin, Assistant Professor of Design at University of Cincinnati-CCM; and Sean Savoie, Resident Lighting Designer at Washington University of St. Louis.

USITT Conference

Thursday, March 17, 1:00PM

Salt Palace Convention Center, Level 1, Room 155A



Indiana University Professor and Students Play Key Role in Prague Quadrennial

The November issue of Theatre Design & Technology features a fascinating article about the USITT-USA National Exhibition for the 2015 Prague Quadrennial.

The technical director chosen to lead the build and installation was URTA’s own Paul Bruner, Associate Professor at Indiana University. A grant from USITT and another from a private donor in Bloomington, allowed for eight IU students to work with Bruner on the install and staffing of the exhibit in Prague.

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URTA Interview with Beth Malone: Tony Nominee and URTA Alum

Beth Malone is a graduate of the MFA Acting program at UC Irvine. Last year, she originated the role of Molly Brown in the world premiere of a wholly reimagined The Unsinkable Molly Brown at the Denver Center for the Arts. This year, she received a Tony Award nomination for her portrayal of Alison Bechdel in Fun Home, the acclaimed Broadway musical based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel.

Last week, she spoke with URTA about graduate school, auditions, and making a life as an actor.

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CalArts’ Marissa Chibas Awarded Fox Foundation Fellowship

The William & Eva Fox Foundation and Theatre Communications Group (TCG) have awarded Marissa Chibas (Professor at URTA-member University, CalArts) an Actor Fellowship in Distinguished Achievement, in partnership with Bootleg Theater.

ChibasChibas plans to use the grant to develop The Second Woman, an interdisciplinary performance with themes from both John Cassavetes’ film Opening Night and Henry Rider Haggard’s novel She. Chibas describes the project as sharing “themes of the terrors of aging and the mysteries of the feminine.” In preparation, she will travel to Crete for intensive research and workshops in improvisation, clowning, Afro-Cuban dance, and vocal technique. In turn with the help of the grant, Chibas plans to conduct similar intensive workshops at Bootleg and open the sessions free of charge to High School students from the Downtown Los Angeles area.

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URTA Launches Arts Leadership Initiative


URTA is excited to announce our Arts Leadership Initiative, aimed at promoting the fields of arts management and producing. As part of this initiative, candidates in Theatre Management at URTA’s 2016 National Unified Auditions and Interviews will have all registration fees waived, and be able to take advantage of free seminars and workshops.

URTA President, Brant Pope says, “An increasingly important function of URTA is its ability to serve as a bridge between member programs and the theatre and entertainment industry. This Initiative is perfectly positioned to assist our members attract and train these management professionals and make them known to employers.”

The Arts Leadership Initiative is sponsored by the Westin Michigan Avenue, the Chicago site of URTA’s National Unified Auditions and Interviews, and a longtime supporter of URTA.

Applications for the 2016 National Unified Auditions & Interviews are available now at

Want to Get a Sneak Peak of the URTA Auditions?


Announcing: URTA Auditions now have a “Sneak Peek” program!

For 46 years, the URTA auditions have helped to match the best MFA candidates to the best training programs across the country and internationally. We’ve seen some big stars come through our process, from Ty Burrell, Kate Burton, Frances McDormand, Norbert Leo Butz, Keegan-Michael Key, Lauren Graham, Joel McHale, Kunal Nayyar, and thousands of other professionals that have built solid careers working in the arts—from acting to design to directing to theatre management. We’re so proud of all the candidates that trust us with this important step in elevating their craft to the next level.

URTA is always looking for ways to nurture the next wave of theatre artists. With that in mind, we believe undergraduate acting students would really benefit from viewing the URTA process; seeing first-hand the work and preparation that goes into the MFA candidates’ auditions. What better way to study audition technique than to watch a diverse selection of artists make their choices, right there in the room?

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Acting for the Stage: Call for Essays by Theatre Scholars

Focal Press (an imprint of Taylor & Francis) is developing a new book series, PERFORM: Succeeding as a Creative Professional. Edited by Anna Weinstein, this series will serve as supplemental text for undergraduate and graduate students that professors across disciplines in the arts can use to accompany their primary textbooks. The books will have a conversational tone and will serve as career development to help students understand how to navigate the industry and vocational possibilities in their field. Specifically, this series will address business as opposed to craft and will offer insights into the day-to-day realities of the professions as well as long-term planning strategies to build and sustain a career in the arts.

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URTA Sponsors KC-ACTF Allied Design and Technology Award at USITT

Once again, URTA is proud to be a sponsor of the Kennedy Center – American College Theater Festival’s Allied Design & Technology Award. The program provides outstanding student designers from the various ACTF regional festivals the opportunity to attend the annual USITT Conference. USITT is the premier event in the theatrical design and technology industry. Attending the conference gives students the chance to take part in specialized workshops, professional seminars, and industry panels that develop their skills and craft, as well as network and build contacts with professionals in the field.

URTA is happy to show our dedication to the quality training of future theatre artists by helping to make this award possible.

This year’s USITT Conference runs from March 18-21 in Cincinnati.

URTA at USITT March 19th


Are you heading to Cincinnati for the USITT (United States Institute for Theatre Technology) Conference next week? So is URTA–and we’d love to see you there!

Be sure to check out the URTA panel discussion:

Undergraduate Teachers: Frontline Educators/Mentors/Guides

Thursday, March 19th, 1:00 PM – Room 232

URTA and USITT present a panel discussion on teaching theatre design and technology at the undergraduate level. The panel will be led by distinguished faculty, and attendees will be fully involved in the conversation on topics including: what type of education and skills students should seek to acquire on-campus and off (and how faculty can help them acquire it); the significant challenges in undergraduate instruction; mentoring for graduate training, internships and career transition; time off—if any—between undergraduate and graduate enrollment; and most importantly, an open forum for Q&As. This session continues a process of networking undergraduate and graduate education and training—an important discussion now and into the future. Faculty and students are welcome to join the conversation.

In addition to URTA’s Scott Steele, participants to include:

Holly Poe Durbin  Professor and Head of Costume Design – University of California, Irvine

Sarah Nash Gates Professor EmeritusUniversity of Washington

Mary Heilman Head of Applied Design for Performance, and Recruitment Manager – California Institute of the Arts

Sean Savoie Sr. Lecturer and Coordinator of Design/Technical Theatre Program – Washington University in St. Louis

Kenton Yeager Associate Professor, Head of MFA in Entertainment Lighting Design & TechnologyUniversity of Tennessee/Clarence Brown Theatre

Mark your calendars now, and we’ll see you at USITT!