This fall we welcome the largest incoming first-year class! This is indeed an exciting time to be part of the School of Theatre & Dance. With nearly 170 smart, talented, passionate, and driven theatre and dance artists joining 20 experienced and professional faculty, the upcoming season will be one not to be missed.

The new BFA Musical Theatre and BA Dance programs have seen the biggest growth in the last several years, but the Acting and Design/Tech and MFA programs continue to show steady enrollments which is a testament to high quality a performing arts education at WVU. The excitement and passion of our current students and the success of our alumni have really helped the School develop a national reputation for excellence in the performing arts.
Just this past year, the School of Theatre & Dance was re-accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) which further confirms the quality of our curriculum and our production program. In this coming year, the School will begin the application process to accredit the BA in Dance with the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD). Accreditation with NAST and NASD help assure our students that our curriculum meets rigorous national standards and industry expectations.

So it is with great excitement that I look forward to meeting the new students in both the graduate and undergraduate programs in the coming weeks and I’ll see everyone next week in the School meeting on Thursday the 20th.

—Prof. Joshua Williamson, Director

Kevin Long, a graduate of the School of Theatre and Dance, was nominated for a 2015 Tony Award!

What’s your story? Send us a blurb and we’ll try to print it in one of our future newsletters. We’d love to hear from you!

Kevin Long

Kevin Long, who graduated with a BFA in Theatre/Acting from the WVU School of Theatre and Dance in 1989, was nominated for a 2015 Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre Education. Congratulations Kevin!

He is currently Associate Professor and Director of Theatre at Harper College in Illinois, where he received the Illinois Theatre Association’s Award for Excellence in College Theatre Teaching in 2012, and is President of the Illinois Communication and Theatre Association.

Kevin has worked professionally in various equity and summer stock theaters and he has been teaching acting and theatre classes for more than 25 years and has directed more than 60 productions, including his highly acclaimed production of “Parade,” in 2013, which won BroadwayWorld Chicago’s Best Revival of a Musical (Resident Non-Equity).

He has also earned elite status the only director who has completed Alfred Uhry’s “Atlanta Trilogy” (“Parade” and “Driving Miss Daisy” in 2013 and “The Last Night of Ballyhoo” in 2014), capped off with a visit in June 2014 from Alfred Uhry and presenting and directing “An Evening with Alfred Uhry.”

Additionally, Kevin frequently presents his workshop “Shakespeare Whispers in Your Ear,” which explores the language and theatre of Shakespeare through the use of the First Folio.

“My WVU degree and training at the Creative Arts Center with master acting teacher Angela D’Ambrosia have been the best things that ever happened to me in my life,” he said. “I am where I am today because of the training I received at WVU.”

See video about Kevin’s nomination for the 2015 Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre Education
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggI8cgu7IdI

See video featuring Kevin’s work teaching First Folio Technique for Chicago Shakespeare:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfskOmKCe9U

Kevin’s website: www.kevinlongdirector.com

WVU’s School of Theatre and Dance will present a wide variety of works, from drama to musical theatre, dance and one-act plays during its 2015-2016 season at the Creative Arts Center. Tickets go on sale August 17 for all of these shows:

“The Clean House” – Sept. 25-Oct. 4
by Sarah Ruhl

What would you do if your maid couldn’t clean? When Dr. Lane hires a housekeeper, she assumes the maid will keep her house in tip-top shape, but her new employee has other plans. Sarah Ruhl brings to life a unique and heartwarming story of broken stereotypes and overstepped boundaries between a wildly diverse and vibrant set of characters, bringing to the forefront questions of life, love, and laughter. Out of tragedy and loss come strength and serenity. In a world turned on its head, a maid brings a healthy mess into a clean house.

“Kiss Me Kate” – Oct. 22-25
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter, book by Sam and Bella Spewak

What happens when you mix “The Taming of the Shrew” with the music of Cole Porter? Songs and dances that are “Too Darn Hot,” that’s what! So “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” and join us for “Kiss Me, Kate!” The battle of the sexes rages onstage and off in this classic musical that never stops entertaining. We just know you’ll fall “So in Love” with the songs and spectacle of one of the most delightful musical comedies of the American theatre.

“The Beaux’ Stratagem” – Nov. 19-20 and Dec. 1-6
by George Farquhar

The eyes of Lichfield are on Aimwell and Archer in this classic comedy of manners written more than 300 years ago that touches on the eternal questions of the value of love and money. Two gentlemen pose as master and servant and devise a rags-to-riches plan to regain their recently lost fortunes. It all becomes more difficult than they imagined, when falling in love and their true identities prove to be their ultimate obstacles. Dazzling wordplay, swooning damsels in distress, and dashing sword-fight rescues—Igad!

“Dance Now!” – Feb. 4-6
“Dance Now!” features new choreography by WVU dance students, as well as WVU dance faculty members and prestigious guest artists, performed by a cast with 50 students to original lighting and costume designs by Theatre and Dance design faculty and graduate students. Each year, the annual WVU dance concert gives audiences the opportunity to see a wide array of dance styles and movement studies. This year’s concert will continue that tradition, presenting the talent, creativity and passion that WVU students, faculty and guests continue to bring to our audiences.

“Courtship” and “Valentine’s Day” – March 4-13
One-acts by Horton Foote from the Orphans Home Cycle

In the first two plays of Foote’s “Orphan’s Home Cycle,” the Robedaux and Vaughn families explore the consequences of love, youthful rebellion, and family values—or lack thereof. Set in Texas in the early 1900s, these one-act plays show us how the Vaughn family learns a lesson in raising children when one of their daughters falls in love with a “wild boy” who has a bad reputation. But what happens when children no longer need the approval of their parents? These heavy-hearted comedies will make you question the idea of “true love” from start to finish.

“The Arabian Nights” – April 15-24
by Mary Zimmerman

It’s rare that a classic work of literature becomes an extraordinary piece of live theatre, but that is what’s in store for you when the “The Arabian Nights” takes the stage! In this celebrated adaptation by one of America’s most exciting playwrights, we explore all of the magic, humor, love, and power of these timeless tales. Join us for this amazing journey!

Tickets for the WVU School of Theatre and Dance season are available at www.ticketmaster.com, the CAC or Mountainlair Box Offices, or by calling 304-293-SHOW.

For more information about the 2015-2016 season, please visit http://theatre.wvu.edu, call 304-293-2020, or email theatre@mail.wvu.edu.

The College of Creative Arts is pleased to announce its success during the “State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University,” the comprehensive capital campaign conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of WVU. Thanks to the generosity of alumni, faculty, and friends, the College of Creative Arts has raised $17,453.434 of its goal of $23 million.

“On behalf of the faculty, staff, and students of the College of Creative Arts, I express thanks and appreciation to donors and friends who continue to invest in the arts and arts education. We will be excellent stewards of your generosity,” said Dean Paul Kreider.

“The college’s previous State of Minds goal of 13.5 million was surpassed and the new goal of $23 million was set when the campaign became extended,” he said.

The impact of donor generosity on the College of Creative Arts and its programs includes:

• Gifts totaling nearly $600,000 in support of the Art Museum Capital Project, Museum Store, and Museum Education
• Acquisition of three new Boston Steinway pianos for the School of Music, as part of its effort to become an All-Steinway school
• Endowed scholarships supporting art education, music therapy, music, and art education through planned and major gifts
• Gifts supporting the “Pride of West Virginia’s” travel to Atlanta, Georgia, and also McDowell County, West Virginia
• Creation of a Classical Music Touring Fund
• $200,000 in support of research activities for faculty in the School of Art and Design
• New camera and lighting equipment for the School of Theatre and Dance
• Gifts of artworks in support of the Art Museum of WVU

“A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University,” the $1 billion comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University, runs through December 2017.

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The Art Museum of WVU is scheduled to open to the public in late August with a number of programs and activities planned for the campus and community during a week-long celebration.

Designed by Stanley, Beaman & Sears of Atlanta, the building is located next door to the Creative Arts Center, facing Patteson Drive.

It will be home to WVU’s collection of nearly 3,000 works of art, as well as visiting exhibitions—all open to the public with free admission.

The building has two galleries totaling 5,400 square feet, a classroom seating 25 students, collection storage, and a collection research room.

“The Art Museum is a beautiful place for people to see and experience art,” said Director Joyce Ice.

The WVU art collection has been assembled for more than 40 years and includes everything from Korean pottery of the Silla Dynasty to 19th- and early 20th-century landscapes and prints, African masks and sculpture, to works of art created just recently by contemporary artists.

The collection has strong Appalachian roots with works by West Virginians such as woodblock artists Blanche Lazzell and Grace Martin Taylor, and gifts from the Appalachian collection of Ramona Lampell, which highlights self-taught artists throughout the region.

But the collection also houses works by names almost everyone is familiar with, including Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Ansel Adams. And there is a substantial collection of African art of more than 300 pieces.

See the schedule of events for the opening of the Art Museum below. All events are free and open to the public!

Tuesday, Aug. 25, 1 p.m. – Dedication ceremony at the Museum Education Center. Reception following.

Tuesday, Aug. 25 – The inaugural exhibition opens. Titled “Visual Conversations: Looking and Listening,” it highlights connections among the works of art in the WVU collection and presents the work of dozens of different artists.

Tuesday, Aug. 25, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., “WVU Student Evening at the Art Museum,” with music, food, games and tours for WVU students.

Wednesday, Aug. 26, 5 p.m., Bloch Hall (Room 200A), Creative Arts Center – Dan & Betsy Brown Lecture by Sean O’Harrow, Director of the University of Iowa Museum of Art: “What does an Art Museum have to do with University Education?”

Thursday, Aug. 27, 7 p.m., Bloch Hall (Room 200A), Creative Arts Center – J. Bernard Schultz Lecture by Roger J. Crum, Professor of Art History at the University of Dayton: “Renaissance Florence as Prequel to the Art Museum of West Virginia University.”

Friday, Aug. 28, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Opening Party with tours, live music and DJ, food, door prizes and art activities.

Saturday, Aug. 29, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., “Family & Community Day at the Art Museum” with hands-on art activities, tours, music and refreshments.

For more information, see the Art Museum website at http://artmuseum.wvu.edu or call 304-293-7790.

The School of Theatre and Dance in the WVU College of Creative Arts has joined only a handful of universities across the country offering a Master of Fine Arts degree in Technical Direction.

The WVU Graduate Council approved the new major this spring and it will be available to students beginning in the fall of 2015.

The School of Theatre and Dance currently has an MFA program that includes majors in Acting, Lighting Design & Technology, Scene Design & Technology, and Costume Design & Technology. The MFA in Technical Direction will be the fifth major in the MFA program, which is accredited by the National Association of the Schools of Theatre (NAST).

“We are pleased to offer this new program that will be overseen by School of Theatre and Dance Technical Director and Production Manager Steven Neuenschwander,” said College of Creative Arts Dean Paul Kreider. “This program will allow students to train with Professor Neuenschwander, who is the only Entertainment Technician Certification Program (ETCP) Certified Theatrical Rigger in the state of West Virginia. We are confident in the superior quality of training students will receive from this program.”

Neuenschwander, who has been at WVU since 2009, received his MFA in Technical Design and Production from the Yale School of Drama. While attending Yale, he worked for ShowMotion Inc., a commercial scene shop, building productions for Broadway and national tours. He has also served as an independent contractor. He is currently co-chair of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) Technical Production Commission project for Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Standards. Prior to joining WVU, he worked for Sunbelt Scenic Studios, an events and themed design company, where he served as senior project administrator.

According to Neuenschwander, the new MFA is an intense three-year course of study that gives students professional preparation in all aspects of theater production, including set design, lighting design, production planning, automation, entertainment rigging, theatre health and safety and AutoCAD, as well as use of computer applications to support these functions.

“We are excited to be adding Technical Direction to our successful existing MFA program in Design and Technology,” Neuenschwander said. “We now have the only MFA program in Technical Direction in the state of West Virginia and we have put together a tremendous curriculum and outstanding faculty to provide an elite hands-on training opportunity.”

The course of study covers the implementation of different technical and production practices, including planning, management, documentation, and the use of materials, tools, equipment and construction techniques, as well as theater history and stage design.

As part of their hands-on training, students will complete five to six major theater production assignments in conjunction with the School of Theatre and Dance’s fully staged theatrical productions. These assignments will provide them with hands-on experience working in professionally equivalent positions such as master carpenter, assistant technical director, technical director or production manager.

In their final year, students will complete a research thesis or practical performance project, documenting their participation in a project as the technical director.

“There is a high demand for technical directors throughout the entertainment industry, in both the national and regional theater markets and in concerts, film, corporate venues and academic institutions,” Neuenschwander said.

“As the industry has changed, the specialized training needed for this position has increased. Our new program will train technical directors in a quality graduate program that already has a highly established national reputation.

“Nationally, only a handful of universities are capable of offering such a degree and WVU is one of them.”

For more information about the new MFA in Technical Direction at WVU, visit http://theatre.wvu.edu, call 304-293-2020, or email theatre@mail.wvu.edu.

Four new faculty members will join the WVU College of Creative Arts in August 2015, in the areas of voice, music theory & composition, music education and the new music therapy program. In addition, two interim music faculty members will also be returning next year.

“I am excited about our newest crop of faculty in the College of Creative Arts,” said Dean Paul Kreider. “They bring an extensive array of professional and academic credentials that will most assuredly contribute to the excellence that exists among our faculty ranks. We are extremely proud to have recruited this group of outstanding talent to WVU.”

Robert Chafin

Tenor Robert Chafin will join the School of Music as assistant professor of voice. A native of Virginia, Chafin has garnered accolades for his dramatic interpretation and versatile creativity on the international opera, concert and recital stages. He has more than 70 operas in his repertoire and has performed as a guest artist at New York City Opera and at Carnegie Hall. He has performed internationally in Berlin (the Deutsche Oper and Philharmonie), Paris, Salzburg Summer Festival, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Vienna, Frankfurt, Brussels, Madrid, Milan, Leipzig and in Israel (Tel Aviv and Jerusalem). He has critically acclaimed recordings of the operas of Franz Schreker (“Flammen” and “Christophorus”), Richard Strauss (“Die Liebe der Danae”), Leonard Bernstein (“Candide”), and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Upcoming engagements include concerts in France and Germany. In March, Chafin sang “Das Lied von der Erde” with the Ensemble du Monde in New York. He will be returning to the faculty of the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh and also the international Napa Opera Festival in Napa, California, this summer.

Dena Register

Dena Register, formerly of the University of Kansas, will join the School of Music as coordinator of the new Music Therapy program in Music Education. Register earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the Florida State University and previously worked as a private practice music therapist in Florida, providing services to early intervention programs, students with special education needs, bereaved children and battered women and children. Her research interests include music therapy in early intervention and literacy skill development, as well as working with early childhood educators on incorporating music in their classrooms. In 2009, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to teach and conduct research at Mahidol University, Thailand. She has trained more than 100 professionals, initiated numerous clinical sites and offerings and consulted on research projects across Thailand. She continues her work there as a consultant for the first music therapy training program in the country.

Matthew Heap

Matthew Heap, who is joining the School of Music as assistant professor of Music Theory and Composition, is an internationally performed composer whose music has been featured in several American and English cities and on WQED and WCLV radio. He is also very involved in the theater community as an actor, director, and writer. Matthew received his BFA from Carnegie Mellon University, MMus from the Royal College of Music in London, and doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh. His theory interests center around the analysis of mid- and late-20th century works. Recent projects include a full analysis of Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia with a focus on the narrative function of various elements within the work. Currently, he is researching how theories of perception can be applied to works of current composers such as Matthias Pintscher. His compositions range dramatically from completely atonal concert music to musical theater. One of his most recent works, “Loki,” for orchestra, was selected by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for a reading.

Lindsey Williams headshot

Lindsey Williams joins the Music Education faculty as associate professor. Williams earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Kansas and his doctoral degree from Florida State University. His public school teaching has included experiences in elementary, junior high, and high school instrumental and choral music in Kansas, Florida, and Georgia, and he has served in various leadership roles within professional music organizations. Williams is an active performer, conductor and clinician for music educators and young musicians throughout the United States and Southeast Asia. In 2012, he was named a Fulbright Scholar and he continued his work with music educators in Thailand in spring 2013. His research interests include musicians’ focus of attention, musical complexity, life-long learning and music teacher training. He is a founding co-editor for the ASEAN Music Journal and is on the editorial boards for the International Journal of Music Education and the Missouri Journal of Research in Music Education.

In addition to the four new music faculty members, two other interim faculty members will be returning to the School of Music next year.

Kym Scott

Kym Scott, interim director of the Choral Program, graduated from Queensland Conservatorium of Music in 1997 and was a member of the state committee of the Australian National Choral Association, and on the organizing committee of a national male voice festival. She also worked with Stephen Leek and The Australian Voices, facilitating both national and international tours. In 2010, she received a Master of Music degree from the University of Queensland and taught choral music at the Brisbane Girls Grammar School and contemporary music and theory at the Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE. Scott is currently completing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Music at the University of Southern California. While at USC she conducted the USC Thornton Oriana Women’s Chorus. In 2013, she conducted members of the USC choirs in several performances with The Rolling Stones during their “50 and counting” world tour. She also went to China and South Korea in 2014, performing with the USC Thornton Chamber Singers.

Robert Lauver

Robert Lauver, who came to the School of Music as visiting professor of horn last year after the death of long-time Horn Professor Virginia Thompson, will continue as interim horn professor for the next two years. Lauver received a bachelor’s degree from The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University and studied at Northwestern University. He has performed professionally with the Chicago Chamber Brass and the Austin, Alabama, Columbus and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras. In 2000 he began his tenure with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, where he is currently second horn. He has toured worldwide in South Africa, Europe and Asia, including a special performance at the Vatican for Pope John Paul II. Since 2000, he has spent his summers performing in the Grand Teton Music Festival, and occasionally the Sun Valley Summer Symphony. He also teaches privately at his home in Pittsburgh and has taught at Southern Illinois University, the University of Missouri, Carnegie Mellon University and The Barry Tuckwell Institute.

Stevenson & McGowen
Keith Stevenson and Neil McGowan in Stevenson’s 2012 film “Out There on Fried Meat Ridge Rd.”

Neil McGowan and Keith Stevenson, two WVU School of Theatre and Dance alumni who graduated in the mid-1990s, have been working together on numerous stage and film projects in Los Angeles during the past few years. Their latest film, “Loners,” went into production at the end of May.

McGowan (BFA Acting ‘95) is from Finleyville, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, and Stevenson (BFA Acting ‘96) is from Keyser, West Virginia. After graduating, the two moved separately to L.A. to become actors and then reconnected and found they worked well together and had a mutual interest in comedy.

“Loners” sounds like it could be a hit. According to McGowan, who wrote the screenplay, it is “The Breakfast Club” meets “Dr. Strangelove.”

“These days it seems like every time there is a mass shooting in this country, the media people reporting on it use the same sound-bitten cliché—’He always kept to himself’—to scapegoat loners for society’s ills and to shame them for being themselves,” McGowan said.

“In our comedy, we pursue this even further. We follow a group of eccentric loners who are forced to endure government-mandated group therapy. Led by a less-than-competent therapist, they are thrust into a conspiracy created by politicians to justify a failing government program and, in the end, they are forced to do what terrifies them the most—to stand up for their right to be alone—together!”

The movie started out as a play called “Lone-Anon,” written by McGowan and named one of the ten best plays in Los Angeles for 2013 by LA Weekly. He wrote it for a festival at the Pacific Residence Theatre, and it premiered at the award-winning Rogue Machine Theatre.

Around the same time, Los Angeles producer David Welborn asked fellow producer and actor Tyson Turrou if he had any material that would make a good film. Since Tyson was acting in “Lone-Anon” at the time, he suggested an adaptation of the play. Turrou also brought in his USC film school friend, director Eryc Tramonn, and Tramonn’s producing partner Rob Miller.

After a year and a half of rewrites, tweaks and table reads with the cast, the team now has an amazing script that went into production on May 26.

McGowan and Stevenson are both starring in the film and have put a lot of their own money into the project. They also raised enough funds through the crowdfunding source Indeigogo to cover the basic costs of production.

“Neil and I have worked together on several film and theater projects over the last 15 years,” Stevenson said. “I’m very excited that a large audience will finally get to see the work of one of my favorite writers—Neil McGowan.”

McGowan has been particularly successful as a writer. His screenplay, “Numbered,” won the 2008 Slamdance Screenplay Contest, and was a finalist in the 2007 Final Draft Big Break Screenplay Contest and the 2007 Austin Film Festival Screenplay Contest. His play “Tracks in the Snow” won the 2008 Mildred and Albert Panowski Playwriting Award and was produced in 2008 at Northern Michigan University.

Stevenson has acted in, produced, directed and written numerous plays, films and short films, and also became well-known for the play, “Out There on Fried Meat Ridge Road,” a comedy that took Pacific Resident Theatre by storm in 2012. The real fried Meat Ridge Road is located in Stevenson’s hometown—Keyser, West Virginia.

In the play, Mitchell answers an ad for a roommate and finds himself in a West Virginia countryside motel with JD, an affable hillbilly of mysterious origins. Soon JD’s neighbors—curmudgeonly Flip, meth-head Marlene, and her hot-headed boyfriend, Tommy—have all but taken over the tiny room and Mitchell finds himself in a hopeless situation, until he discovers the power of dance.

“Out There on Fried Meat Ridge Road” immediately became a cult-hit among fans and ran for six months to tremendous popular acclaim. Stevenson has since written two more Fried Meat plays and received an Ovation Award nomination for “Best Playwriting for an Original Play” for the Fried Meat comedy series.

Stevenson and McGowan starred in the “Fried Meat” plays together (McGowan as Mitchell and Stevenson as JD) and both are both members of Pacific Resident Theatre. One of the founding members of the theatre is Joe Olivieri, who was head of the acting program at WVU when they were students in the School of Theatre and Dance.

They previously co-founded the production company Wee Small Films and together they have created several festival shorts, including “In the A.M. of Dec. 26th at the Corner of Kogosak and Cunningham in Barrow” and “All That Glitters,” as well as “Like Old Times” and “Trip and Sloan,” both of which were nominated for Best Short Film at the Austin Film Festival.

Shooting for “Loners” will take about two weeks and then will go through the editing process. When it is finished, they hope to get it on video-on-demand services, including Netflix and Amazon. They would also love to get it distributed through a studio and shown at a major film festival.

For more information about “Loners,” or to contribute to the production, see the website: Indiegogo.

What's Your Story?

Charlene | June 1, 2015

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Dan Fisher (MFA, Technical Theatre, 1986)

Dan Fisher, a graduate of the School of Theatre and Dance, who is currently a property master for some of today’s best-known films and television shows, visited the Creative Arts Center in April to speak to students about his career.
The talk was part of the College of Creative Arts Alumni-in-Residence Series, in which outstanding alumni of the College return to work with students.

Dan attended WVU from 1982 to 1986, graduating with a BFA in Technical Theatre. After graduation, while living in Beckley, West Virginia, he was hired to work as a Set Dresser on the John Sayles film “Matewan” and soon afterward moved to New York City to continue working in film and television production. For almost 30 years, Dan has been involved in props and set decoration on productions including “Mississippi Burning,” “The Adventures of Pete & Pete,” “Men in Black,” and “Law & Order.” In recent years, he has worked exclusively as a Property Master on feature films including “Black Swan” and “American Hustle” and on television productions including Season One of HBO’s “Girls” and TNT’s upcoming “Public Morals.” Dan has been married to Helene Eisman Fisher for more than 20 years and they have two teenage children, Augustus and Phoebe Fisher. He said his children are his proudest accomplishment.

“I grew up in Middlebourne, West Virginia, population around 800,” Dan said. “From an early age, I was enamored with movies, TV, and comic books. I decided to go to WVU when I was offered a full academic scholarship. My dad was not thrilled that I chose Theatre as my major, but since my tuition was free, he felt that I had earned the right to study whatever I wanted.”

Some of the professors who were most influential to Dan when he was a student at the CAC from 1982-86 included Jon Whitty, Angela D’Ambrosia, and Frank Gagliano.

“I came in believing I would emerge as an intense method actor, but by my senior year, I felt more encouraged to write and stage plays, courtesy of Frank Gagliano,” Dan says. “But I would also say that my peers in my classes were as influential as anybody. We had a very talented, interesting class. I felt competitive with them, but also inspired by them.”

Dan’s most memorable experience at the CAC was being part of the cast of Harold Pinter’s “The Homecoming,” playing the part of Joey, a boxer.

“For that part, I had to lose 15 pounds, adding muscle as I learned how to box, perfect a Liverpool accent, and be part of a steamy, controversial sex scene,” he said.

“The big thing I would like all WVU Theatre students to be aware of is how many opportunities are out there for them in the ever-expanding world of show business.

“With a gazillion TV channels, streaming-only films and shows, and an international appetite for all American entertainment, there are more opportunities than ever before for people with a background in the creative arts.

“I want them to know that, at age 51, I am still learning, still trying to figure out how to do what I do better than I did it the last time. I have experienced success, but I have also made plenty of mistakes along the way. I get up every day and I go out there hoping I will have learned from the mistakes and to not linger too lovingly on memories of success. Every day is, and always will be, an opportunity to prove myself.”

Commencement 2015 Highlights

Charlene | May 29, 2015

The beautiful voice of music student Faith Snyderman singing “Simple Gifts” was one of the highlights of the College of Creative Arts Commencement on Saturday, May 16, as 115 graduates of the College of Creative Arts received their diplomas during a special ceremony featuring School of Art and Design alumnus Jacob Lewis, director of Jacob Lewis Gallery in New York City, as guest speaker.

Student Marshals, who led the procession of graduates, were undergraduates in the College who have achieved the highest cumulative grade point average in their division. The Student Marshals for 2015 were: Lindsay May Dieffenbauch, School of Art and Design; Ashley Ruth Elliott, School of Music; and Lauren Kimberly Waldron, School of Theatre and Dance.

Outstanding Graduating Senior awards for the three Schools included: Emily J. Hersman, School of Art and Design; James David Conkle, School of Music; and Rachael Anne Cowne, School of Theatre and Dance.

Rachael Anne Cowne was also named the College of Creative Arts Outstanding Graduating Senior for 2014-2015. The award was announced by Dean Paul Kreider during the Commencement ceremony.

Faculty Award Winners

From left: WVU Provost Joyce McConnell, Joseph Lupo, Travis Stimeling, Steven Neuenschwander, Michael Ibrahim, Rhonda Reymond, Kristina Olson and Dean Paul Kreider.

In addition to the student awards, the College of Creative Arts also presented Outstanding Faculty Awards for 2015 during the ceremony. These included Award for Adjunct Faculty Excellence: Maureen Kaddar of the School of Theatre and Dance; Outstanding Advising Award: Kristina Olson of the School of Art and Design; Excellence in Internationalizing the College Award: Rhonda Reymond of the School of Art and Design; Outstanding Teaching with Technology: Michael Ibrahim of the School of Music; Outstanding Service Award: Steven Neuenschwander of the School of Theatre and Dance; Excellence in Research and Creative Activity: Travis Stimeling of the School of Music; and Outstanding Teacher Award: Joseph Lupo of the School of Art and Design.

Jacob Lewis

Guest Speaker Jacob Lewis was born in Huntington, West Virginia. In 2001, he received a Bachelor of Arts with a focus in painting and printmaking from West Virginia University. Upon graduation, Lewis moved to New York City, where he began a 13-year career with Pace Prints. In 2007, he was instrumental in inaugurating Pace Prints’ Chelsea gallery as its first director.

During his seven years as director, Lewis developed many personal and professional relationships with the artists whose work he has championed. With their encouragement and support, he opened Jacob Lewis Gallery to present a breadth of imagery and artistic mediums that resonate with the aesthetics of the Millennial generation.

Last January, Lewis brought the New York artists How and Nosm to the WVU Creative Arts Center, where they showed their works in the Mesaros Galleries, presented the Deem Distinguished Artist Lecture in the School of Art and Design, and created a special mural that will be unveiled at the dedication for the new Art Museum of WVU in August 2015.

“It is a huge honor to be back here,” Lewis told the audience at Commencement.

He talked about his days as a student in the School of Art and Design, where he studied printmaking. When he graduated in 2001, he said, all he knew was that he wanted to go to New York City. Internships helped integrate him into the life of the city and he was lucky enough to join Pace Prints during his first few years in New York. He worked his way up and in 2007 was tapped to open Pace Prints Chelsea.

Now he said he works to show people that printmaking is as important as painting and sculpture.

“This all started in my very first class in freshman year,” he said.

He urged the graduates to come back and share their stories and experiences with the next generation of students.

“Thanks to WVU for everything you have done for me,” he said in conclusion. “I can’t tell you how much I love this school.”

Outstanding Seniors



Rachel Cowne

Rachael Cowne
Outstanding Graduate, WVU College of Creative Arts
Outstanding Graduate, WVU School of Theatre and Dance

Rachel is from the small town of Warrenton, Virginia. She began dancing at the age of three when she started her first ballet class. As she grew older, she continued to study tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, and contemporary dance, as she became a member in the company. At the age of 14, she then became an elite company member at Stage Door Dance Studio and traveled with the company to numerous local and national competitions. When she began high school, she realized that dance was what she really wanted to do with her life after she graduated. During the summer of 2007 she attended Point Park’s Conservatory of the Arts Summer Intensive and during her junior year of high school she was awarded the opportunity to work with the owners of Pushing Progress in New York and received a scholarship to their summer program. She began her first year at WVU in the fall of 2010 with intent of majoring in business and minoring in dance, but in her junior year WVU created a dance major and she immediately switched her major over to dance and was accepted into the program. At WVU she has had the opportunity to perform in three of the annual “Dance Now!” concerts, worked with Pilobolus Dance Theatre, and got accepted into guest artist Adam Barruch’s dance piece that was presented in the 2015 “Dance Now!” concert. She traveled with the Dance Program to the West Virginia Dance Festival and the American College Dance Association conferences and she will be teaching this summer at the WVU Summer Dance Academy. Rachael has been accepted into the training program at Broadway Dance Center in New York City, where she will receive training from elite artists and choreographers who will help her accomplish her dream of becoming a Radio City Rockette.

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James Conkle
Outstanding Graduate, WVU School of Music

James Conkle is a percussionist from Washington, Pennsylvania. While growing up, he was influenced musically by his parents and experienced music through community groups and church. While attending Washington High School James studied with Bill Galvin and Jack DiIanni and performed in school ensembles and various state and national groups. He also performed with the Washington Symphony Orchestra as a percussionist and soloist. James came to West Virginia University in 2011 as a Music Education major and began studying percussion with Professor George Willis. While at WVU, James was a member of the Wind Symphony, Symphony Orchestra, Steel Drum Band, and Percussion Ensemble. This past semester, James was a student teacher with John Brosky at South Middle School in Morgantown, and with Mark Santore at Laurel Highlands High School in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. This fall, James will be attending Duquesne University to pursue a M.M. in Percussion Performance.

Emily Hersman

Emily Hersman
Outstanding Graduate, WVU School of Art and Design

Emily Hersman is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Student Award from the School of Art and Design. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, she graduated in the Sycamore High School Class of 2010. Throughout her high school and college career Emily was an active member of the marching band, playing a variety of instruments ranging from piccolo to tuba. Emily completed both a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography while at West Virginia University. She is a member of Phi Sigma Theta, Alpha Lambda Delta and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. Emily’s diverse interests serve as inspiration for her art. She is always interested in exploring new mediums and materials for expression and pushing the boundaries of art as a whole. After graduation, Emily will be returning to Cincinnati where she will work as an intern alongside the Art Conservation professionals of the Cincinnati Art Museum in the Works on Paper Department. She plans to continue her education at the graduate level, pursuing a Master’s degree in Art Conservation.

Congratulatons Graduates!

Following the conferring of degrees, there was a reception in the Douglas O. Blaney Lobby of the Creative Arts Center for the graduates, their families and friends, as well as College of Creative Arts faculty and staff.

View a video capturing the thoughts, emotions and images of WVU Commencement Weekend 2015: Sights and Sounds Video

Commencement photo


Hope and student in hallway


Joseph Jefferson DMA


Congrats to Connor Haupt and family


Yoav and student


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