CEAR CITY – Now in its second year, the Southern Utah University fellowship program at the Utah Shakespeare Festival is now running at full steam. This program provides SUU students an opportunity to work at professional theater while gaining credit towards their degrees.
“The SUU Fellowship provides an incredible platform for the practical application of what has been learned in the classroom,” Brian Vaughn, artistic director, said. “Not only are these students building relationships with top professionals within the field; they are also acquiring the professional experience that one that needs prior to graduation. In the cut-throat world of theatre, giving the student the opportunity to get ahead is central to why this program exists.”
These 10 students either work in the technical shops building the shows or act in “The Greenshow” and in different shows as ensemble members. Each receives school credit while working alongside professional actors and technicians who mentor them throughout the summer.
The program allows students to bridge the gap between educational and professional theater. These fellows not only grow as students, but they are receiving hands-on experience that will open many doors after they graduate.
Austen Andrews, entering his third year in the Bachelor of Fine Arts technical theater and design program at SUU, is a stage management fellow at the festival.
“Stage management is a discipline that is not easy to teach,” Andrews said. “One has to learn by doing, and what better way than working at a professional theatre. I am exposed to a myriad of techniques and styles of stage management from the Festival’s team. I am grateful for the chance to represent SUU at the Utah Shakespeare Festival!”
Currently working towards a bachelor’s in classical acting program, Halie Merril will be featured in “The Greenshow” as well as being part of the ensemble in “Amadeus” and “South Pacific.”
“There are several things I’m learning and I’m overjoyed to be growing as a performer and person,” Merril said. “Going from years of admiring these actors to being in the same room as them is exciting and rewarding. I’m so grateful to be in the fellowship, and it feels amazing to know I’m going to share the stage with people I look up to so much.”
Participants include Merril, Andrews, Phoebe Bock, Jordyn Cardwell, James Alexander Greig, Chalise Jenkins, Luke Johnson, Kristine Norbdy, Aimee Pearson and Robby Wilson.
This program would not be possible without the generous support of SUU and provost Brad Cook. Artistic directors Brian Vaughn and David Ivers have wanted to develop the fellowship program for years, but there weren’t enough resources within the festival. Thankfully, SUU has stepped in and provided the funding essential to make this program happen.
“The Fellowship Program is one of many ways SUU is providing relevant, applied experience for students to connect with their future communities of practice,” Cook said. “Experiences such as this afford focused reflection for students in order to increase knowledge, develop skills and clarify values. Experiential learning is also referred to as ‘learning through action’, ‘learning by doing’, ‘learning through experience’, and ‘learning through discovery and exploration.’ The students who go into this program will have an incredible advantage in their next stage of life, whether that is graduate education or employment.”
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