Texas Performing Arts

Blog by the Staff of Texas Performing Arts

Student Spotlight: Emily Haueisen

October 26th, 2011 by mbang in Uncategorized · No Comments

Emily is a senior at UT studying Theatre & Dance and Radio-Television-Film (RTF). It is required for her Theatre & Dance degree, that all students take a Production Lab class. This class places students in one of the five production shops: scenery, audio, lighting, props, or costumes. Emily was placed in the Scene Shop for her Production Lab class, and she did such an impressive job in the class that she was asked to stay on the next semester as an employee; and she agreed! Now in her 3rd semester of working at Texas Performing Arts in the Scene Shop, she couldn’t be happier.

After Emily graduates in May, she hopes to pursue a career of designing sets for film, hopefully in L.A. It’s amazing to think that Emily had no prior experience with set design before college. It wasn’t until Emily took the Production Lab class that she realized her talent and love for painting. Emily is appreciative of the time she’s spent working here because know she understands the limitations of design. She was explaining to me the importance, as a designer, to know what you can and cannot do within a given budget. This is one skill that she knows will be invaluable as she continues in her career.

When we started reminiscing on past productions she has worked on, she couldn’t help but fondly remember the challenges she had with painting dirt spots on the set of Elixir of Love. She said that she started to notice all the dirt spots she had painted looked the same, so she had to go back to alter each one a little bit. In addition to working here, Emily has also taken the Scene Painting Class taught by our very own Karen Maness, Charge Scenic Artist. Last year she worked on a painting that had to incorporate UV paint. Check out Emily’s Millennium Falcon below. This painting proved to be one of the more challenging projects for Emily due to the different techniques and color theory she needed to know in order to mix the paint colors properly. Despite the challenge of working with UV paints, Emily thoroughly enjoys her job. She gets to paint and learn something new each day.

Besides being busy working on graduating with two degrees in May, Emily also enjoys playing piano and guitar when she can. She is also Historian for Gamma Beta Phi, an honors and service organization. She enjoys volunteering at Matthews Elementary where she is able to teach a class of her choice once a week. Emily also helps design sets for their school plays. We have all thoroughly enjoyed having Emily as a part of the Scene Shop crew, and now that we have an expert dirt spot painter, we’re not sure if we want to let her go!

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Student Spotlight: Trent Lesikar

September 28th, 2011 by mbang in Uncategorized · No Comments

Trent is one of two student photographers employed at Texas Performing Arts. Luckily enough his sister was looking out for him and saw the job posting last summer and encouraged him to apply. Thankfully she did because Trent has done amazing work during the past year with us!

While Trent is also a staff photographer for the Daily Texan, he is thankful for the other experiences he’s gained from working here. It all got started when he was 15 and took pictures at concerts with disposable cameras. His interest grew, and his parents were supportive, so he continued shooting pictures at concerts throughout the rest of his high school years. He even started his own website where he posted reviews with the pictures he took. After 6+ years of working as a concert photographer, Trent got to work for Pitchfork during the last SXSW festival, and he also works for the Austinist taking pictures for concerts around the city.

His passion and expertise lies with concert photography, but Trent is thankful for the work he’s been able to do with Texas Performing Arts where some of the shoots have been more staged. For those of you who have seen the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde image in the Texas Performing Arts 11-12 season brochure, that is Trent’s handiwork. He really enjoyed working with the lighting designer and actors to create the finished product.

After he graduates in December, Trent hopes to do concert photography full time. If that doesn’t work out, then he would enjoy working in news photography and freelancing for concerts. Who knows…maybe in a few months we can find a spot for him as the Texas Performing Arts staff photographer?

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Student Spotlight: Kurt Mitschke

August 15th, 2011 by mbang in students · No Comments

You don’t find too many students like Kurt Mitschke, and we’re glad he was part of our team at Texas Performing Arts. Kurt graduated in May from UT with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, but he had been working with us since January of this year. He was working as the Marketing Research Student Assistant, a fairly new position at Texas Performing Arts, where he was asked to gather data from our audience members and analyze the results so that Texas Performing Arts may make more informed decisions about how to interact with our patrons. Kurt also helped us decipher the most meaningful ways to be involved with social media so that it enhances our conversation and relationship with the community. He did such good work with us that other UT departments took note, and now Kurt is the new Marketing Specialist for the Texas MBA Programs.

As the Marketing Specialist, he’ll be responsible for managing the student blog, which encompasses all six MBA programs offered by the McCombs School of Business. Most of his job will entail producing content for various social media sites and working to present a cohesive image of the MBA programs to prospective students.

The experience Kurt gained here learning marketing methods to sell tickets will be pushed in new directions, as he learns the tactics involved with marketing a business education. Kurt knows that he’ll have to work hard to get people excited, but he is up for the challenge. He was very involved while a student at UT, so he is a wonderfully enthusiastic spokesperson for the University. I have no doubt that he’ll contribute greatly to recruiting some of the top students for the MBA programs.

When I asked him about his ideal job after graduation, he said he wanted to do something that combined journalism and marketing, and he got exactly that. He claims that it wasn’t until after working at Texas Performing Arts that he realized that he really wanted to work at UT. He enjoyed being able to work in an environment where he could talk, and people listened; and he could share ideas that were valued. In the end, it looks like Kurt got what he wanted, and we couldn’t be happier for him!

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Hank’s Birthday Haiku Parade

June 20th, 2011 by Curt in Uncategorized · No Comments

Hank Schwemmer, master carpenter at Texas Performing Arts, is having a birthday. He also likes haiku poetry.

Measure, cut, sand, weld
Clearing sawdust from young brains
Hank builds the future.

Happy Birthday!

Allison Lowery
Wig and Makeup Specialist

Witty, humorous
Writing from his brilliant mind
Hank makes e-mail fun.

Happy b-day, Hank.

April Holmes
Associate Director, Administration and Operations

Big beautiful hair
Blowing in the dust of a
Compound miter saw

Happy birthday!

Jessica Haynie

One syllable names
Make Haikus so easy, look:
Happy Birthday Hank!

Dani L Pruitt
Assistant Manager

Buon compleanno!
Hank, ¡Feliz cumpleaños!
Bon anniversaire!

Natalie Wilemon
Marketing Associate

Haiku for you, Hank.
Deceptively simple, he
Speaks in sparse volumes.

Yvonne Kimmons
Technical Director Performance Logistics

To see the ball
To be the ball
Excuse me sir do u carry plywood here?

Brent Juve
Facilities Manager

Out on vacation.
I’ll return on July 5.
Happy birthday, Hank.

Jeff Ellinger
Lighting Supervisor

Humor without end
Such an asset and a friend
Hank born on this day

Happy Birthday Hank!

Brian Stovall
Front of House Manager

“Oh man, where is Hank?”
Little red haired boy laments
backyard clown gone

Happy Birthday Hank,

Karen Maness
Charge Scenic Artist

A Haiku birthday
For the man of very few words
And long silver locks

Kathy Panoff
Director and Associate Dean

Haiku syllables,
contrary to age, don’t rise.
Always seventeen!

J. E. Johnson
Scene Shop Supervisor

I’m the new guy
You seem pretty all right though
And you work with saws

Taki Pappas
Talent Buyer

Happy Birthday, Whoop!
Let’s all cheer for Hank’s new year
He’s a big boy now

Have a super day Hank!

Leigh Remeny
Administrative Associate, Business Affairs

Cycling as you go.
Successfully dodging cars.
Stay forever young.

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday to Hank, happy birthday to you and many more.

Terri Waddle
Senior Departmental Buyer

Now you are older
A little bit wiser too
When is the party?

Michael Malak
Assistant Audio Supervisor

quizzical smile and
words I don’t quite understand
now I get it Hank

Jan Horn
Costume Tailor

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Student Spotlight: Taylor Kelley

May 17th, 2011 by mbang in Uncategorized · 1 Comment

Taylor, a Public Relations major, has been a huge asset to the Texas Performing Arts team. She started out as an Administrative Receptionist a year and a half ago, and she is now the Public Relations Student Assistant. Her work ethic and enthusiastic spirit was evident through her work at the receptionist desk, and she made a smooth transition to Public Relations Student Assistant this past fall. Taylor is grateful for her work at the Admin Receptionist desk because she feels that she has a better understanding of the entire organization. Her work here has also allowed her to become more involved in the arts and to become more knowledgeable of various artists.

Her experience working at Texas Performing Arts has proven to be very valuable. Taylor learned this semester after recruiting for a summer internship that she has more experience than most. This experience led to a summer internship opportunity with Kristy Ozmun Public Relations where Taylor will be sending out press releases and working with some of their clients which include Central Market. We are all proud to see Taylor gain more experience this summer, and we look forward to her returning in the fall. After her last year at UT, Taylor plans to work at a PR firm or work as an event planner.

Taylor also became involved with Hook ‘em Arts, the student organization of Texas Performing Arts, this past year. She served as the 2010-2011 PR Chair where she developed many of the ideas for guerilla marketing on campus, as well as organize all of the on-campus promotions for Texas Performing Arts performances and Hook ‘em Arts activities.

On a daily basis, Taylor assists the Communications Manager to research upcoming shows and input those shows into various community calendar listings. She is hoping to become more involved with writing press releases in the fall. Taylor really enjoys the people with whom she works, and she enjoys being able to see what goes on behind-the-scenes.

As a singer/songwriter herself, this is a perfect fit for Taylor. You might even see her occasionally playing downtown. If you do, tip her well! She has already begun recording some of her songs, so we might even have a budding star on our hands. On top of work, Hook ‘em Arts, school, and playing shows whenever she can, Taylor is also active in Texas Sweethearts, an all-girls social and spirit organization on campus. Her team was recently awarded the title of Intramural Champions for Water Volleyball, and she can be seen on the flag football fields in the fall.

We’ll miss Taylor around the office this summer, but we are looking forward to next year with her.

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Student Spotlight: Jumana Rizik

April 26th, 2011 by mbang in students · No Comments

For Jumana, it seems as though theatre is just in her blood. She began playing piano when she was 3 years old, and she always enjoyed film and theatre growing up. There wasn’t a theatre program at her high school, so she didn’t have much exposure to the theatre world until college. Her curiosity led her to take some technical theatre classes, and she’s been hooked ever since.

Jumana, a junior Acting & Technical Theatre student at UT, currently works in the Prop Shop and in the Scene Shop. As a theatre student, Jumana was required to take a production lab course, and she chose to work in the Prop Shop. Her work over the course of that semester exposed her natural abilities, and the Prop Master, seeing her potential, asked Jumana to stay on the following semester as an employee. Jumana couldn’t refuse the offer and has been here ever since.

One of the things she is most grateful for is being able to learn in such a supportive and safe environment. Jumana appreciates her supervisors for giving her work that will enhance her portfolio. For the Department of Theatre & Dance production Difficulty of Crossing a Field, Jumana was the head of the prop crew and had to create a puppet weevil. It was this weevil that employees noticed, and were impressed with, at the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) conference that she attended last month. Jumana believes that working at Texas Performing Arts has not only helped her to hone her craft, but also to speak confidently about her work to potential employers and others.

While working in the Prop Shop, one never knows what the day will bring. On a daily basis, they are approached to create brand new props, as well as alter existing props for the changing needs of the show. When I asked Jumana about a crazy request she told me about having to create a rolling jail cell for someone to dance on for the Three Penny Opera. Because of the fluid nature of their work, Jumana and her coworkers have to constantly prioritize their work based on the needs of the shows. The most challenging parts of her job are communicating with the designers to ensure that their vision is realized in what she creates and learning how to teach. With almost 2 years of experience under her belt, Jumana has taken increased responsibility in teaching her fellow students who are taking the same production lab course that she took when she was first introduced to the Prop Shop. It’s been a challenging, albeit rewarding, experience learning how to teach, but it’s something that Jumana is growing to love. Her love of learning is infectious, and I can only imagine how great of a teacher she must be.

When Jumana isn’t in class or working in one of the shops, she enjoys playing piano and guitar. She’s a music lover and video game enthusiast. As a hobby, she enjoys building models. Her dad owns a computer shop, so she grew up thinking mechanically. This summer she hopes to get back to robot engineering with her dad. Jumana is also a scuba diver and bungee jumper (she jumped in England & Israel), and she hopes to sky dive soon. And if that isn’t enough, Jumana is working with a group of other students to start a new student organization Texas Design Tech & Management (TDTM), a networking and training organization for entertainment design, technology & management students.

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Reflections on Festival of Children’s Voices Featuring the Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge

April 11th, 2011 by psanchez in Hook'em Arts · students · No Comments

Not knowing exactly what to expect from the Festival of Children’s Voices, I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy a wonderful concert on Sunday evening.  The first hour was filled with the voices of the St. John’s Choir where they performed song like Magnificant “O Che Vezzosa” and “Coronation” Mass in C Major, K. 317. The University of Texas Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Singers accompanied them in the latter.  I was thoroughly impressed by the small boys that were apart of this college level choir.  Quite a few of the songs were a cappella, and these small boys performed them with ease just like their collegiate peers.  The only thing I could imagine while listening to the Choir of St. John’s were angels because their voices were flawless.  To finish off their performance, on the opposite end of the spectrum than where they began, only the older guys came out and did some fun crowd pleasers like Surfing U.S.A.  leaving the crowd with a “Hook’em Horns” sign in gratitude.  This led to The University of Texas Festival of Children’s Chorus.  The children took the stage, in a colorful whirlwind, performing songs like Simple Gifts and Ching A Ring Chaw. The atmosphere was completely delightful with the children’s young spirit and sweet voices.  Many proud parents gave standing ovations as the concert came to a close, and I am sure they would agree, Sunday could not have ended on a better note.

Aisha San Roman

Hook’em Arts Member

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Student Spotlight: Krystal Hawkins

March 29th, 2011 by mbang in students · No Comments

Krystal, with her infectious smile, is a joy to work with. She’s a sophomore working towards her BBA in Management. Hopefully down the line she’ll be able to add Theatre & Dance as an additional major.

We found Krystal last spring after she interviewed for a position in the Scene Shop. Even though she wasn’t offered the position, the Scene Shop Supervisor was thoroughly impressed with her, so she was then put into the candidate pool for her current position of Scheduling & Logistics Student Assistant.

Even though Krystal still has a few years left of school, she knows that she wants to work for Disney when she graduates. One program she’s hoping to complete before she graduates is the Semester in Los Angeles Program through the College of Communication. This program allows students to “explor[e] academic and professional interests related to the entertainment industry. More information about the program may be found here: http://communication.utexas.edu/utla

The work she does every day at Texas Performing Arts is preparing her for the career she hopes to start with Disney as a producer. She’s learning all about the logistics of putting on a show, including scheduling and reading contracts. The work she does here is helping her to understand all the different elements that must come together to create a seamless event. At first, reading the contracts were a bit challenging for Krystal. She would email vendors about a particular aspect, and they ask questions she didn’t know how to answer. Fortunately, she’s learned a lot in this past year and is able to answer many of those questions on her own now.

As far as her favorite part of working here, she told me a story about how she heard a woman singing in the restroom, and it struck her as a bit strange, yet utterly exciting. Not every office restroom has opera singers rehearsing! But that’s the beauty of working at Texas Performing Arts. You can walk backstage and watch a Broadway play load-in. You can walk downstairs and see costumes swirling in the washing machines. Just being a part of the whole process that makes magic happen on stage is a beautiful and rewarding thing.

Outside of work and school, Krystal is very involved in the Innervisions Gospel Choir. This year she fittingly serves as Business Manager for the student organization. In the past, they’ve performed at such large UT events like Gone to Texas and the Hex Rally. She enjoys singing with Innervisions because she said that it has helped with her presence and confidence on stage. That must be working because Krystal also enjoys modeling! Her last show was with Hip Hop Couture, a student fashion show here at UT.

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Merce Cunningham Reflections

March 28th, 2011 by mbang in Hook'em Arts · No Comments


Being involved with the performing arts since a young age, I consider myself a dancer and an avid audience who loves to learn from other artists. There are two moments during a performance that are my favorites. At the beginning, the house lights dim down, the chatter ceases, and I become giddy as I anxiously wait to see how the performance begins. I felt even closer to this company as Merce Cunningham was born in a town less than an hour from my hometown! The suspense as the curtain rose up on Merce Cunnigham’s Last Tour captivated me as a pair of dancers began their powerful movements across the stage. At that moment, there is a sense of camaraderie moving through the audience, especially since we all knew we would be one of the last audiences to see this avant-garde dance company perform. To preserve Cunningham’s artistic integrity within his company, the Cunningham Dance Foundation announced the Legacy Plan, a plan to have the company tour one last time celebrating Cunningham’s choreography, and then disband two years after his death. With the Legacy Plan giving the performance a bittersweet quality, the audience seemed to hold on to each movement with every breath, trying to permanently engrain the experience into their minds.

Now normally after that first moment, I then can relax; but with the unpredictability of Merce Cunningham’s choreography, I was pleasantly on the edge of my seat during the whole show, guessing what would happen next–and I was usually wrong. Even audience members unfamiliar with dancing technique would be impressed by the agility and balance that the dancers demonstrated. Not only did the dancers execute their movements well, but they do what true artists do best: express intimate emotions. It’s easy with today’s pop culture to feel that dancing and music are shallow and unsubstantial. I mean, I can applaud Ke$ha for using her post-feminism personality to make the statement that it is okay to live life outside of the box–and I’ll be honest, her songs are fun to dance around to–but I just can’t connect to her songs on a deep level. Not that I would want to restrain her artistic freedom, I just was able to emotionally connect more with Cunningham’s company as they laid out everything they had on Bass Concert Hall Stage.

The engaging aspect of it was that the movements seemed to be open for interpretation. Perhaps my feelings that were evoked from the piece were completely different from the person sitting next to me, which could be the exact opposite of what Mr. Cunningham intended when he choreographed the piece! Cunningham’s versatility also allowed the audience to harbor different reactions. Before intermission, I was guided into a thoughtful and serious mood; but, the third piece of the show was more lighthearted and amusing. We then were at my second favorite moment of a performance– when all of the emotions and dancing become intensely escalated and then the show ends. The rush of feelings pour out as everyone stands up, in camaraderie again, and shows appreciation for all of the hard work the dancers have put out. As cheesy as it sounds, there is a magic in the air at a performance. Goosebumps will appear on my arms, and I just feel so proud of the company! Their dedication, their passion, their energy to create art for us is invaluable. A quote, as said by another famous modern choreographer, Martha Graham, which is said to be inspiration for one of Merce Cunningham’s pieces, “…art is eternal, for it reveals the inner landscape, which is the soul of man”, and I couldn’t agree more.

-Felicia Fitzpatrick (Hook ’em Arts member)

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Black Watch Blog

March 2nd, 2011 by psanchez in Hook'em Arts · students · No Comments

Gregory Burke, the writer of Black Watch, said “In the end, our soldiers don’t fight for Britain or for the Government or for Scotland. They fight for their regiment. Their company. Their platoon. And for their mates.” Black Watch seems to be defined by that sentence. Throughout the play you see a group of young men go from a pool hall in Scotland to a war-torn country and back again, while never losing their camaraderie.
The play is more like a multimedia performance. The dialogue and blocking of characters was beautifully combined with video, lights, and sound. Seeing the actors respond to imaginary explosions and then seeing clips of it or hearing the explosion makes the viewer feel a part of the action. I play a lot of war video games and I have to say it was almost like I was a player in these scenes. The dialogue was written in a way that seemed perfect for the people speaking it. Even the high usage of some particular four letter words seemed to fit right in with the actors’ portrayals of their characters.
Yet, there was still one thing that stood out to me. The choreography of the dance-like movements of the soldiers was an unexpected addition to the straight blocking. To me, it added a depth to the performance that was needed to break it away from just another war story. Each movement was so clean and controlled even when holding the weight of another actor. The scene that most stands out in my mind is the suspension of the soldiers on harnesses. It actually seemed like they were being launched in slow motion from an explosion, which was insanely awesome to watch.
I even have to say it was a great blend of many interests. I mean there was choreography for the dancers, war stories and curse words for the manly men, and some good-looking guys for us gals to look at.
This was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. I still haven’t stopped talking about it to my friends and would recommend anyone to go see it.

Melody Major,

Hook ’em Arts Member

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