Staging success: UVU's 'young' theater department earns honors, awards despite challenges

Published: Saturday, June 28 2014 2:00 p.m. MDT

Updated: Friday, June 27 2014 6:09 p.m. MDT

“We are trying to build a facility that is worthy of the arts programs we have,” Holland said. “The spaces we have now were not designed for the arts, and these facilities are suboptimal; they diminish our chances to achieve even greater excellence.”

According to a UVU spokeman, the university is in the initial design stages of a 100,000-square-foot performing arts building. Early estimates suggest the building will cost approximately $30 million. Holland is spearheading a campaign to raise a considerable portion of the costs from private sources and is planning to ask the Legislature to help complete the funding of construction and its ongoing maintenance.

“We are not the most well-funded program,” Holland said. “But in spite of those situations, the theater department has risen to the top, and it’s extraordinarily impressive.”

A drastically revised bachelor of arts theater program will begin with UVU’s upcoming fall semester. The program will include concentrations with more specialized training in dramatic and musical theater performance, directing, playwriting, theater design and dramaturgy. There’s also talk of a bachelor of fine arts degree — in acting, musical theater and technical design — that may be offered as early as this year if it receives approval from state education officials.

Clark said he is particularly looking forward to two productions in the new school year: “The Romeo and Juliet Project,” a film and performance staging; and the world premiere of “The Milk Dragon,” written by award-winning children’s playwright Susan Zeder, who has decided the show will be developed through workshops with UVU students.

“There is energy here for what we are doing, both onstage and offstage, that is innovative,” Clark said. “Innovation is a real focus for us. We try to think outside the box with everything we do, including the way we teach our classes and the way we present our productions.”

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