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Butler Theatre Presents The Wolves

BY Marc Allan

PUBLISHED ON Nov 14 2018

Butler Theatre will present the Indianapolis premiere of Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves, a comic drama that follows the hilarity and heartbreak of a high school women’s soccer team, November 28 through December 2 in the Lilly Hall Studio Theatre.

Show times are:
November 28, 29, and 30 at 7:00 PM
December 1 at 1:00 PM and 7:00 PM
December 2 at 3:00 PM

Tickets are $5-$15. They are available at ButlerArtsCenter.org.

The Wolves, a Pulitzer Prize finalist that's set on an indoor soccer field during a team’s weekly warmup drills, marks the Butler Theatre directorial debut of Assistant Professor of Theatre Courtney Elkin Mohler. She joined the Department of Theatre faculty in fall 2017.

Mohler said she chose the play, which is the fifth-most-produced play in the country during the 2018-2019 season, in large part because she wanted the student-actors to have an opportunity to portray characters who are similar to themselves.

"It’s not all that often that you get to see girls—not young women, but girls—represented in drama that aren’t in relationship to a male character," she said. "They’re not serving as a prize to be won or a distraction or the moral, emotional core of the play. It’s these women who are coming into their own. They’re athletes and they’re serious about their sport and they’re interested in getting recruited by scouts and they have all the crass and funny and inappropriate dialogue that young women, unobserved by their parents or coaches, would."

Mohler said audiences will experience being a fly on the wall of this team as it goes through its practices. The floor of the Lilly Hall Studio Theatre will be covered in Astroturf and the girls will be kicking around soccer balls as they talk.

She said that while the play is about soccer, friendship, and teamwork, it's much deeper than that.

"It's also about fighting hard for what you want, even when you're not given the same resources as—in this case—boys' teams are, or the same type of attention by scouts," she said. "I think it's kind of a metaphor for the women's fight in general in this moment."

The Wolves is the kind of play Mohler has worked on and championed since she was an undergraduate at UCLA. As a junior there, she was "bitten by the academic-theatre bug" and knew she wanted "the captive audience of a classroom."

At 21, she went directly into the doctoral program at UCLA. Her first tenure-track job was at Santa Clara University, a private school in Silicon Valley that’s just a little bigger than Butler.

Three years ago, when her husband, George, a data scientist and Indianapolis native, got hired at IUPUI, the Mohlers relocated to Indianapolis with their children. Courtney spent a year at IUPUI in a position that included teaching American Studies and serving as Director of the Intercultural Literacy, Capacity, and Engagement Department. (Her lineage is Santa Barbara Chumash—Native American people who historically inhabited the central and southern coastal regions of California—and her teaching specialties are in the areas of Critical Race Theory, Native American Studies, and Theatre History.)

Now, in her second year at Butler, she looks forward to presenting The Wolves and other contemporary plays.

"New plays, contemporary plays, ensemble shows are sort of my thing," she said. "So it’s fun to get to do that with these students."

Arts & Culture

Butler Theatre Presents The Wolves

Butler Theatre will present the Indianapolis premiere of Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves.

Nov 14 2018 Read more
Arts & Culture

Announcing Spring 2019 Visiting Writers Series

BY Marc Allan

PUBLISHED ON Nov 14 2018

Call Me By Your Name author André Aciman, doctor/poet/professor C. Dale Young, and bestselling novelist Lauren Groff are among the headliners for Butler University's spring 2019 Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series.

The spring series begins January 22 with poet Gregory Orr. He will be followed by Groff (January 31), poet and playwright Claudia Rankine (February 19), Young (March 20), essayist Eula Biss (April 4), and Aciman (April 16).

All events are free and open to the public without tickets. For more information, visit  https://www.butler.edu/vws.

More about each author follows.

 

Gregory Orr
American Academy of Arts & Letters Award in Literature Winner/Los Angeles Times Poetry Prize Finalist
Tuesday, January 22, 7:30 PM
Schrott Center for the Arts

Considered by many to be a master of short, lyric free verse, Gregory Orr is the author of eleven collections of poetry. His most recent volumes include The River Inside the River (2013), How Beautiful The Beloved (2009), and Concerning the Book That Is the Body of the Beloved (2005).

Much of Orr’s early work is concerned with seminal events from his childhood, including a hunting accident when he was 12 in which he accidentally shot and killed his younger brother, followed shortly by his mother’s unexpected death, and his father’s later addiction to amphetamines. In the opening of his essay “The Making of Poems,” broadcast on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, Orr said, “I believe in poetry as a way of surviving the emotional chaos, spiritual confusions, and traumatic events that come with being alive.”

 

Lauren Groff
New York Times Best-Selling Author
Thursday, January 31, 7:30 PM
Schrott Center for the Arts

Lauren Groff is a New York Times bestselling author of three novels: The Monsters of Templeton (2008), Arcadia (2011), and Fates and Furies (2015), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, Amazon’s No. 1 Best Book of the Year, and President Obama’s choice as his favorite book of 2015.

Groff also wrote the celebrated short-story collection Delicate Edible Birds (2009), and her latest book, Florida (2018), is a collection of interwoven short stories centered on her adopted home state. Groff’s work has appeared in a number of magazines, including The New Yorker, Harper’s, and The Atlantic, and in several of the annual The Best American Short Stories anthologies.

 

Claudia Rankine
National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry/Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry
Tuesday, February 19, 7:30 PM
Schrott Center for the Arts

Recipient of a 2016 MacArthur Fellowship, Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric (2014) and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely (2004), and several plays, including her first published one, The White Card, forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2019. 

She is the editor of several anthologies, including The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind (2015). She also co-produces a video series, The Situation, alongside John Lucas, and is the founder of the Open Letter Project: Race and the Creative Imagination.

Rankine’s bestselling book Citizen: An American Lyric uses poetry, essay, cultural criticism, and visual images to explore what it means to be an American citizen in an ostensibly “post-racial” society. A defining text for our time, Citizen was the winner of the 2015 Forward Prize for Best Collection, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry (it was also a finalist in the criticism category, making it the first book in the award’s history to be a double nominee), the NAACP Image Award, the PEN Open Book Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award for poetry.

 

C. Dale Young
Award-winning Poet and Writer
Wednesday, March 20, 7:30 PM
Atherton Union, Reilly Room

C. Dale Young is an award-winning poet and writer who practices medicine full-time and teaches in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. He is the author of four poetry collections, including, most recently, Torn (2011) and The Halo (2016), and a novel in stories, The Affliction (2018).

He is a recipient of fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Young is the 2017 recipient of the Hanes Award, given by the Fellowship of Southern Writers to recognize a distinguished body of work by a poet in midcareer.

 

Eula Biss
National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction Finalist/National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism Winner
Thursday, April 4, 7:30 PM
Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Eula Biss is the author of three books: On Immunity: An Inoculation (2014), named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction and chosen by Mark Zuckerberg for Facebook’s Year of Books; Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays (2009), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism; and a collection of poetry, The Balloonists (2002).

A frank and fascinating exploration of race and racial identity, Notes from No Man’s Land was described by Salon as “the most accomplished book of essays anyone has written or published so far in the 21st century. It provokes, troubles, charms, challenges, and occasionally hectors the reader, and it raises more questions than it answers. It is strident and brave in its unwillingness to offer comfort, and, unlike all but a handful of the best books I have ever read, it is unimpeachably great.”

 

André Aciman
Lambda Literary Award Winner for “Call Me by Your Name”/Whiting Award Winner
Tuesday, April 16, 7:30 PM
Atherton Union, Reilly Room

André Aciman is the author of the novels Harvard Square (2013), Eight White Nights (2010), and Call Me by Your Name (2007), the memoir Out of Egypt (1994), and the essay collections Alibis: Essays on Elsewhere (2011) and False Papers: Essays on Exile and Memory (2000). He also coauthored and edited Letters of Transit (1999) and The Proust Project (2004).

His work has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, the New Republic, Granta Magazine, and the Paris Review, as well as in several volumes of The Best American Essays. He has won a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a fellowship from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

Arts & Culture

Announcing Spring 2019 Visiting Writers Series

Author André Aciman and bestselling novelist Lauren Groff are among the headliners for the Visiting Writers Series.

Nov 14 2018 Read more
Arts & Culture

Butler Ballet presents Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker

BY Marc Allan

PUBLISHED ON Nov 14 2018

Butler Ballet and the Butler Ballet Orchestra bring The Nutcracker to the Clowes Memorial Hall stage November 29 through December 2 for six performances of Central Indiana's only fully staged production of Tchaikovsky's holiday favorite.

Show times are:
Thursday, November 29, at 7:30 PM
Friday, November 30, at 8:00 PM
Saturday, December 1, at 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM
Sunday, December 2, at noon and 5:00 PM

Tickets are $28-$58. They are available at the Clowes Hall box office or through ButlerArtsCenter.org.

For the first time in several years, a Butler student—20-year-old Amber Wickey, a junior from Tenafly, New Jersey—will dance the role of Clara, the girl at the center of the story. Typically, a young dancer from the Indianapolis community plays the role. But Dance Department Chair Larry Attaway said that in this year's auditions, Wickey stood out.

"It's really a difficult dancing role, and you need to have that wonderful childlike quality and all of your technique chops to handle it," he said.

Wickey, who is 5 feet tall and therefore able to pass for someone Clara's age, said she was ecstatic to get the opportunity. Wickey performed in her first Nutcracker when she was in fourth grade and, as a sophomore in high school, danced as Clara in a production at the Nunnbetter Dance Theatre in Bergenfield, New Jersey.

Wickey said other dancers have more technically advanced parts, but Clara is an extremely demanding role, as she has to dance in the Party Scene, the Battle Scene, and the beginning of the Snow Scene, and she has to be onstage for much of the second act.

"The most difficult part is maintaining a character for the duration of the entire show," Wickey said. "You have to act—probably more than any of the other people in the production. And then you have all that dancing in the first act, and then you have to act throughout the second act. So, in terms of stamina, it's really challenging."

Also challenging, she said, is maintaining the mindset and innocence of a 12-year-old.

"She's the one who gets the nutcracker as a gift, she's the one who Drosselmeyer adores, she follows all the rules, everybody loves her. So, to be that innocent child is a hard part of the role," she said.

This year's Nutcracker will include 38 young dancers from the community. In addition, there will be new choreography from Professors Derek Reid, Cynthia Pratt, Michelle Jarvis, Marek Cholewa, Rosanna Ruffo, and Ramón Flowers. Reid is choreographing the Party Scene and the Battle Scene.

"As many times as we've done The Nutcracker, it still continues to change," he said. "That's a good thing, I think. Every time we change something, the magic comes back. I think it's going to be a really exciting Nutcracker once again. I hope everyone comes to take a look."

Arts & Culture

Butler Ballet presents Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker

Butler Ballet and the Butler Ballet Orchestra bring The Nutcracker to the Clowes Memorial Hall stage.

Nov 14 2018 Read more
Arts & CulturePeopleCampus

Commedia Dell'Arte is Like the Pork

BY Marc Allan MFA `18

PUBLISHED ON Oct 22 2018

Italian actor, director, and theatre teacher Marco Luly is trying to explain commedia dell'arte, the art form he has worked in since 1980, and The Servant of Two Masters, the play he is directing for Butler Theatre, October 31 through November 4 at the Schrott Center for the Arts.

He says the show, which was written by Carlo Goldoni in 1745 and has been performed steadily in Italy since 1949, is a comedy with some funny and some serious parts. Some parts develop the story, some parts advance the story, and some parts play the lazzi—the jokes, the fun. There's improvisation, so the actors need to listen to each other. They need to understand how to share the space and pace. To learn action and reaction. To control their body, their body language. To establish contact with other people. To pick up the vibe of the crowd and play with the audience, rather than to the audience.  

"Everything can be used," he says. "Everything. It's like the pork, where everything gets used. We can title this interview, 'Commedia dell'arte is like the pork.'"

And so we have.

Luly, who is spending nine weeks at Butler teaching two classes and directing the show, is the 2018 Visiting International Theatre Artist (VITA). Butler Theatre established the program in 2010 to give students the opportunity to learn from a theater professional from another country. Past VITAs have come from Russia, India, England, and elsewhere.

Luly chose to have the students perform The Servant of Two Masters, a classic in commedia dell'arte, a 500-year-old comedy art form that will be instantly recognizable to today's audiences through its resemblance to Shakespeare's comedies, silent movies, sketch comedy, and TV sitcoms. Actors wear leather masks that exaggerate facial features and identify them as stock characters. There are mistaken identities, lovers' triangles, class struggles, and more.

"Commedia dell'arte is at the root of almost every form of comedy that we know today, whether it's a TV commercial or Saturday Night Live, or Seinfeld and Cheers," says Diane Timmerman, Chair of Butler Theatre. "All these shows have stock characters, situations, physical comedy that is all derived from comedia. So it's fun to go to the source and experience what the original comedy was."

Luly brought with him four masks for the student-actors to portray character types. There's Brighella, who is a high-status servant like an innkeeper; Arlecchino, a servant character looking for money, power, and position in the world; Il Dottore—the Doctor—who bluffs his way through every situation; and Pantalone, an old merchant who's often in love with young girls.

The masks, he says, "are the magic of this form of theater. The masks are important for the actors. The mask does not hide. The mask amplifies. The mask is a tool that can help me show the audience my emotions, my sentiments, my lines. And I don't need to use too many words, too many moves. I can project my emotions just by one movement of my mask."

Taylor Steigmeyer, a junior Theatre/Psychology double major from South Bend, Indiana, is playing Arlecchino, the servant of two masters—and having a great time squatting and jumping and inhabiting this sprightly, sparkly, physically demanding character.

Arlecchino, she says, is a character with two basic needs. He wants food—he's always hungry—and affection from Smeraldina, the maid.

"He's someone who doesn't care about anyone but himself, so while I have to worry about what the other characters are doing, I'm in my own little world sometimes," she says. "I wonder when I'm going to get to eat again. I wonder if Smeraldina wants to kiss me too."

Steigmeyer said working with Luly has been a great experience, one she initially was unsure she was going to be able to fit into her packed schedule. But she found time to take one of Luly's afternoon classes, and then was cast as the title character.

"I was like, this is going to be such a great experience," she says. "When and where would I get an experience like this again?"

Rehearsals for The Servant of Two Masters have been running 6:30-9:30 PM five days a week, and Luly says he's been impressed with the students' work ethic and the way they've come to understand the characters.

As a director, Luly is a taskmaster, but benevolent. During a rehearsal in early October, when an actor missed a line, he told her, "If you don't speak, she might speak, so you have to speak." When the cast is trying to grasp the rhythm of a particular scene where everyone has a couple of words, he explained, "This is a staircase – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 – with each line getting progressively louder. He'll walk over to tilt an actor's head, correct the emphasis of a particular line, and instruct one of the actors to carry a prop on a different shoulder so the audience can see his face.

"He's intense, but he's very definitive," says Isaiah Moore, a junior Theatre/Psychology double major from Fishers, Indiana, who plays Florindo Aretusi, who is in love with Beatrice Rasponi and has run away from his hometown because he killed a man in a duel and has relocated to Venice. "He knows what he wants. We have to make sure we're ready to present what he wants."

To put it another way, they have to deliver the pork.

 

MEDIA CONTACT
Marc Allan MFA '18
News Manager
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822  

Arts & CulturePeopleCampus

Commedia Dell'Arte is Like the Pork

Visiting International Theatre Artist Marco Luly directs Butler Theatre's The Servant of Two Masters.

Oct 22 2018 Read more
United States Marine Band
Arts & CultureCommunity

One Night Only: Colburn to Rejoin "The President's Own" United States Marine Band

BY Marc Allan

PUBLISHED ON Sep 14 2018

You can take the colonel out of the band, but you can't take the band out of the colonel.

So when “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band comes through the Indianapolis area on October 27, retired Col. Michael Colburn—now in his fifth year as Director of Bands at Butler University—will return to the podium. He'll conduct the band he led for 10 years in a performance of John Williams' "The Adventures of Han" from the movie Solo: A Star Wars Story.

"I was really thrilled to get the invitation," Colburn said. "And this will be a chance for a local audience to realize that they have a connection to the Marine Band that perhaps they weren't aware of right here at Butler."

Colburn, who directed the Marine Band from 2004-2014, said he received the invitation from his successor, Col. Jason Fettig, after Fettig found out that the band's tour would stop in Carmel, right outside Indianapolis.

They decided that it would be most appropriate for Colburn to conduct a piece by Williams because during Colburn's tenure with the band, he established a close relationship with the famed composer.

Their friendship started with a letter about 20 years ago—Colburn wrote to Williams asking him to guest-conduct the Marine Band, and Williams did. They collaborated several other times, including in 2004 when Williams requested that Marine Band perform his music during the Kennedy Center Honors tribute to him.

"Col. Colburn's distinguished service as the 27th Director of the U.S. Marine Band had an immeasurable impact on the ongoing success and reputation of this historic ensemble," Fettig said. "He spearheaded many notable artistic achievements for the organization during his time at the helm, not the least of which is developing our close relationship with famed composer and conductor John Williams. I'm absolutely thrilled to welcome Col. Colburn back to the podium of "The President's Own."

The rest of the concert at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel will feature a selection of patriotic music—Sousa marches such as "Semper Fidelis" and "Stars and Stripes Forever" (that's Colburn conducting in these video clips)—as well as some recent original music for wind band.

"This concert is a rare opportunity to hear the Marine band," Colburn said. "They only come through this area once every 4-5 years at most. I encourage people to get out there and get a little taste of what people in Washington, DC, and especially people in the White House get to hear all the time. This is really one of our national musical treasures."

"The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band will perform at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel on October 27. Ticket and tour information is available here.

Media Contact:
Marc Allan
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

 

 

United States Marine Band
Arts & CultureCommunity

One Night Only: Colburn to Rejoin "The President's Own" United States Marine Band

Butler's Director of Bands will conduct his former band when they come to area on October 27. 

Sep 14 2018 Read more
Karamo Brown
Arts & CultureCampus

Diversity Lecture Series Fall 2018 Lineup Announced

BY Marc Allan

PUBLISHED ON Sep 06 2018

Charismatic Queer Eye star Karamo Brown and University of Texas Political Science Professor and immigration expert Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto will be the fall 2018 speakers in Butler University's Celebration of Diversity Distinguished Lecture Series.

Brown will kick off the 31st annual series at Clowes Memorial Hall on Wednesday, September 19, at 7:00 PM. DeFrancesco Soto's talk takes place on Monday, October 22, at 7:00 PM in Shelton Auditorium on South Campus.

Admission to all talks in the series is free and open to the public without tickets. The lecture series will continue during the spring semester with two more speakers.

 

Karamo Brown
Know Thyself: Using Your Uniqueness to Create Success
Wednesday, September 19, 7:00 PM
Clowes Memorial Hall, Butler Arts Center
More information at ButlerArtsCenter.org

Whether as an openly gay man, a black man, a Christian, a single father, a business leader, or reality television personality, Brown has discovered that the many facets of his identity are the key to his success. In this speech, he shares his methods and ensures that corporate and collegiate audiences alike are able to recognize and utilize their own different identities.

Today, Brown serves as the television Host and Culture Expert on the Emmy-nominated Netflix reboot of Queer Eye. Brown has worked as an on-air host and producer for OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), Huffington Post Live, and a contributor on NBC’s Access Hollywood Live. He was first introduced to the world in 2005 at 22 as a housemate on the hit MTV reality series The Real World. He was a breakout star and became the first openly gay African-American in the history of reality TV. In February 2016, he returned to reality television as a cast member on TV One’s #TheNext15.

 

Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto
E Pluribus Unum? American Diversity & the Political Landscape
Monday, October 22, 7:00 PM
Shelton Auditorium, South Campus
More information at Events.Butler.edu

The United States has always been made up of diverse entities and, as a nation, we have negotiated the "pluribus" to get to the "unum." DeFrancesco Soto will consider the topic of negotiating diversity within the current political landscape with a particular focus on the last decade and the upcoming mid-term election.

DeFrancesco Soto is a professor at the University of Texas’ LBJ School of Public Affairs and a contributor to MSNBC, NBCNews.com, and Telemundo among others. She was a featured expert in the PBS documentary of the Civil Rights trailblazer Willie Velasquez in Your Vote is Your Voice and has published in both academic and popular outlets such as Politico, Talking Points Memo, and Perspectives on Politics.

Her areas of expertise include immigration, Latinos, women and politics, political psychology, and campaigns and elections. In looking at immigration, she takes a broad historical perspective to understand current policy debates. When looking at diverse groups within the electorate, she focuses on how women, Latinos, and other minorities influence policies.

 

Media Contact:
Marc Allan
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

Karamo Brown
Arts & CultureCampus

Diversity Lecture Series Fall 2018 Lineup Announced

The 31st year of Diversity Lecture Series will feature Karamo Brown and Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto.

Sep 06 2018 Read more
Dance Rehearsal
Arts & CultureStudent LifeCampus

New Dance Work To Debut with More than 100 Student Dancers

BY Marc Allan

PUBLISHED ON Sep 05 2018

Dance Professor Cynthia Pratt wants to give Butler's Class of 2022 a welcome to remember. So she and four student choreographers from the Dance Department have put together a large-scale dance project that will feature the entire department performing on the grassy areas outside Irwin Library and Jordan Hall on Thursday, September 20, from 6:30-7:00 PM.

The dance will celebrate the start of the new academic year and will revolve around the themes and values of the Butler Way. The soundtrack for the dance is expected to incorporate snippets of interviews with students, faculty, and staff talking about their Butler experiences.

"I thought it would be a great opportunity for the department to welcome everyone back to campus," said Pratt, who is starting her 24th year at Butler. "The Dance Department here is significant, but many of the students don't know who we are or what we do. Even though this type of dance isn't what we're known for—we're known for ballet—I thought it would be a wonderful welcome for the whole student body, especially since we have the largest freshman class ever."

Pratt said the idea for an all-department project goes back four years, when she choreographed a dance as part of StreamLines, an outdoor art project that meshed arts and science. She said that project was tough—"they're outside, they're uncomfortable, they're hot, they're rolling around in grass, and there's stuff in that grass"—but it helped create a bond that lasted throughout their college careers.

More than 100 students will participate in the dance.

"We found in the department that when we did those large group dances, the morale in the department skyrocketed," she said. "We found that this was a really positive experience—not just for the students, but for the onlookers as well. These were really successful performances."

 

Media Contact:
Marc Allan
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

Dance Rehearsal
Arts & CultureStudent LifeCampus

New Dance Work To Debut with More than 100 Student Dancers

The outdoor performance on September 20 will celebrate the start of the new academic year.

Sep 05 2018 Read more

Meet the Class of 2022: Max Cordoba

When incoming first-year Theatre and Math major Max Cordoba flew to Los Angeles in February to attend the National Unified Auditions—a one-stop shop for high school seniors to audition for multiple universities—he had never even heard of Butler University. The Neward, California native’s intention was to audition for mainly private schools that had a special musical theatre degree, explore those options, and then pick whichever school felt right, offered the best financial aid, and allowed him to learn more about not only the fine arts, but math as well.

He spotted Butler’s name and decided it was in his best interest to at least do one more session—it was additional practice, after all.

In most auditions, Cordoba was asked to perform two monologues and two songs. In the audition with Butler, Professor of Theatre William Fisher asked Cordoba to do one of each to start. Cordoba chose to sing Beautiful City from the Broadway production Godspell. For his monologue, he chose to read an excerpt as Hank from Marvin’s Room—a piece he believed would put him “over the top for the audition.”

After his monologue, Fisher and Cordoba made an instant connection over Marvin’s Room.

"I almost thought my audition with Butler was going to be a practice session, but after my talk with Professor William Fisher, I thought this could be the right school,” Cordoba said.

Cordoba explained to Fisher that he is a big theatre lover, but he wanted to also major in something a little more practical.

“I didn’t want to put all my eggs in one basket, and I wanted to ensure I had math as a back-up since a major in theatre isn’t foolproof,” Cordoba said. “I really needed a school that understood that about me.”

Most schools Cordoba had talked to previously in the day had told him that pursuing math with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) was not a possibility. Fisher explained that at Butler it’s not a BFA, but rather a Bachelor of Arts, which offers more flexibility, as well as the option to incorporate his passion for math.

“He really convinced me to at least explore more,” Cordoba said, “Even though it’s really far away, Butler seemed open to my diverse interests.”

In April, Cordoba—joined by his grandfather—started the on-campus college visit journey,  exploring the various schools he was interested in—including Butler. While on campus, Cordoba had the opportunity to speak with professors, including Chair of the Theatre Department, Diane Timmerman. He also sat in on an improv class.

“The students were making me laugh. Just from that show alone, I saw what I loved about theatre,” he said. “The students were super friendly and amiable, and they love to act and perform.” When he left for his trip, he was excited about all the schools he was about to explore. After the trip, though, he realized that when he was making his rounds, he always found at least one thing he didn’t like—except for when he was at Butler.

“What really set it in stone for me for Butler was that it was a smaller school than most I was looking at, but it had a big school feel,” Cordoba said.

Cordoba arrived on campus August 12, and feels just as excited as nervous—as most students are their first year. Cordoba’s distance from his friends and family definitely makes it harder, especially when he was so involved with various theatre and chorus groups for the past eight years.

Despite the nervousness of new surroundings and being so far from home, Cordoba said he feels honored, “to go to a school that is super accepting and diverse.”

Max Cordoba
Welcome WeekArts & CultureStudent LifePeople

Meet the Class of 2022: Max Cordoba

What brought Max from California to Indiana was Butler Theatre's faculty and flexibility. 

Embracing a Love of Music

Jen Gunnels

from Spring 2016

For the Starost Speicher family, music was and is a gift to be shared with others. Helen Starost Speicher earned her bachelor’s degree from Butler in 1941 and her master’s degree in 1948 before going on to play music professionally, often alongside her sister Lillian, who also earned music degrees from Butler. The sisters embraced a love of music from their parents and grandparents, and spent their lives passing that love on to others. Both women spent many years teaching music in Indianapolis Public Schools and were active in arts organizations throughout the Midwest. 

Together with her husband Bill ’35 and her sister Lillian ’38 MA ’48, Starost Speicher also chose to share her love of music by establishing three scholarships at Butler during her lifetime: The William and Helen Speicher Outstanding Music Performance Award, The Anne Starost Memorial Music Award, and The Starost Speicher Music Memorial Award. 

“My mother and aunt were both professional musicians and they were very grateful for their education,” said Helen and Bill’s daughter Anne Soper. “They wanted to afford others with the same opportunities they had because they knew how difficult it is to become a professional musician, especially how financially difficult it can be.” 

The scholarships also honor Helen and Lillian’s parents, Anne and Charles Starost, who were both accomplished musicians. The three endowed scholarships currently benefit six Jordan College of the Arts students; Whitney Cleveland ’17 is the current recipient of two of those scholarships. 

“It wouldn’t be possible for me to attend Butler without my scholarships,” Cleveland said. “I’m from a small town in western Montana, and while I grew up being very fortunate to have great teachers and strong and thriving community theatre, I didn’t have any friends my age who were serious about music. Being able to be surrounded by talented, dedicated musicians every day inspires me to work harder to fulfill my own potential.” 

Soper says it would have brought her parents great joy to know that the scholarships they established are helping promising students like Cleveland pursue music at Butler. 

“There was a lot of family history at Butler,” Soper said. “Butler was a very special place in their hearts.” 

Arts & Culture

Embracing a Love of Music

by Jen Gunnels

from Spring 2016

Read more

Midwestern Voice in the Capital

Marc Allan

from Spring 2016

During her six years at Butler—four as an undergraduate Arts Administration major and two earning her Master of Music Education— Ursula Kuhar ’05 MM ’07 often thought about moving to Washington, DC. 

In July, Kuhar took over as Executive Director of Washington Concert Opera, which specializes in performing seldom-heard operas. Kuhar calls it “one of the most revered companies in the country.” 

Getting to this point was a journey that began in Powell, Ohio, outside Columbus, where Kuhar had volunteered for her hometown symphony orchestra while in high school. She knew she wanted to pursue a career in music. After meeting with then-Associate Dean of the Jordan College of Fine Arts Steve Roberson, she discovered the idea of Arts Administration as a major. 

Butler’s undergraduate program allowed Kuhar to explore all avenues of music, from business to teaching to performance. She was so taken with what she learned from Professor Michael Sells (“He’s still a huge mentor and guiding force in my life, and a great friend.”) that she wanted to keep studying with him. So she stayed for a master’s degree, taking voice lessons and performance-based classes from Sells, as well as music education classes with another favorite professor of hers, Penny Dimmick. 

Butler led to Indiana University, where Kuhar earned her Doctor of Music in Voice. Three days after graduation in 2011, she was hired by Sweet Briar College as Director and Assistant Professor of Arts Management. She spent four years there—and would have happily stayed longer—but on March 3, 2015, the faculty was assembled and told that the school would be closing on June 30. (That decision was rescinded in mid-June, but not until after Kuhar had accepted her position with Washington Concert Opera.) 

At Sweet Briar, Kuhar had quadrupled enrollment in the arts-management program, helped secure foundation and individual gifts, and “had a wonderful time” there. Now, she enjoys presenting “exquisite music” like Rossini’s Semiramide “to a group of devoted patrons.” 

“It’s a niche that people love,” Kuhar said. 

Plus, there’s the benefit of being in the nation’s capital. The location is head-turning, she said, “but I’m still a salt-of-the-earth, Midwest girl at the end of the day.”

 

Seeing the Music

Marc Allan

from Spring 2016

Nathan Blume ’03 came to Butler from Fort Wayne, Indiana, with a plan to double-major in Chemistry (on a pre-med track) and Trumpet Performance. A year later, thanks to the guidance of Professor of Music Michael Schelle, he went “all in” on music. 

“Once I did it,” Blume said, “even the act of changing my major, I felt like that was exactly what I wanted to do. It took Schelle to get me to do that. Throughout my time there, he really became a mentor and instilled in me—not just through personal advice but in his teaching—a confidence about myself and my abilities. I always knew that I wanted to come out to L.A. and try film music. I don’t think I’d be out here without Dr. Schelle’s advice and help.” 

Schelle’s confidence proved spot-on—Blume’s resume now includes composing music for The CW Network’s Arrow and The Flash, CNN’s The Seventies, NBC’s Blindspot, and the popular web series Vixen

But before Blume got to Hollywood, there were detours—a master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University to build up his composition chops, followed by a couple of years with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra while he and his future wife, Megan McGarry ’05, figured out their next steps. They married in 2006 and moved to California in 2007 so he could attend the University of Southern California’s (USC) Thornton Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television program. That one-year intensive curriculum, taught by working professionals, is “the front door into the film music industry,” Blume said. “That’s where you meet a lot of people and you start networking.” (In the meantime, McGarry founded and now serves as principal of a charter middle school in San Fernando.) 

After USC, Blume found work consistently, first on short films, then on the TV series Eastwick, where he began collaborating with well-established composer Blake Neely. Blume credits his education for teaching him not only how to compose music but how to work fast (composers typically only get a week to write 35 minutes of music for a 42-minute show) and appreciate the way his work fits with everyone else’s. 

“You want something that sets the tone for the piece,” he said. “You’re working as a collaborator. It’s not about you and your musical abilities. It’s about your ability to work with the project and accomplish the end goal that everyone’s trying to accomplish.” 

Arts & Culture

Seeing the Music

by Marc Allan

from Spring 2016

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From Bulldog to Ogre

Marc Allan

from Spring 2016

Where in the world is John Thyen?

Depending on when you’re reading this, the 2010 graduate could be in Egypt dressed as a green ogre. Or in Asia, disguised as one of the three little pigs. Or in Australia singing in a chorus. Throughout 2016, Thyen is on a world tour with Shrek: The Musical, understudying the title role while also appearing nightly as a featured ensemble player. 

“I’ve never left the country before,” he said prior to the tour, which began in January 2016 in Istanbul. “So I think it’s going to be life-changing to see so many different cultures and bring an art form that is awesome to so many different places.” 

Thyen grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana, and chose Butler because the Jordan College of the Arts (JCA) offered an all-encompassing degree rather than a specialized one. Versatility, he realized, would be important for someone hoping to break into theatre. In fact, after sophomore year, Thyen changed his major to Arts Administration so he’d have a fully rounded view of the business. That, he said, “has been a huge benefit for me as a professional.” 

After graduation, Thyen worked in Butler’s Office of Annual Giving for seven months, then took a job at a nonprofit for about a year. In his off hours, he performed in the Indianapolis Civic Theatre’s production of Rent and with Indianapolis Opera. But at work, he found himself thinking, “I’d rather be in rehearsal right now.” Thyen felt he owed it to himself to try to be a full-time actor. 

So he packed up a car and drove to New York. He lined up a place to live and a temporary job and went to auditions. That led to some Off-Broadway and regional theatre work, then a national tour of Seussical the Musical. And now Shrek, where he will be dressed in 70-75 pounds of costume and prosthetics and, some nights, airbrushed in green paint. (Follow his trip on Instagram or his website, johnhthyen.com.) 

Thyen said that when he took off for New York, the initial reaction from family and friends was mixed. “Your family is always a little bit like, ‘Oh, you’re going to give up a salary and benefits to go be a waiter.’ But I think they saw that I really wanted to do it,” he said, “and I’ve been able to show that hard work pays off.” 

Arts & Culture

From Bulldog to Ogre

by Marc Allan

from Spring 2016

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