Capturing the Magic: Macbeth

Our experienced photographer Luis Fernando Rodriguez captured our innovative production of the classic Shakespearean tragedy Macbeth. Set in early medieval Scotland, director and acting professor Dan Kern drew on the culture of the tribal civilization of the Picts to illuminate this story of ambition and corruption. Our design team included Cat Johnson (Scenic), Katie Dowse (Costume), John Hoey (Lights), and Chris Colluci (Sound). The play was presented in February in the Tomlinson Theater.

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Capturing the Magic: The Brother/Sister Plays

Capturing a performance for one single show in action can be difficult but capturing the performances of a trilogy performed in repertory is even more challenging.  But Temple Theaters has an experienced theatrical photographer on our team: Temple University student journalist Luis Fernando Rodriguez. He was able to catch beautiful moments from these amazing plays. Temple Theaters’ production of The Brother/Sister Plays by Tarell Alvin McCraney ran last November in the Randall Theater. The plays were directed by Liz Carlson (In the Red and Brown Water), Lee Kenneth Richardson (The Brothers Size), and David Girard (Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet). Our design team included Cat Johnson (Scenic), Kabrina Lee Feickert (Costume), Aaron Crosby (Lights), and Vince Basile (Sound).

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Behind the Scenes: MACBETH

A lot of work goes into preparing a show. Beyond the weeks of rehearsals, production meetings, and shop hours, there is a flurry of activity that happens in the final hour before the show starts, as the crew and cast prepare for the performance.

Last week, university photographer Ryan Brandenberg caught our cast and crew preparing for the Wednesday morning matinee of Macbeth. From applying war paint to applying armor, he captured the moments before the “curtain rises.”

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William Shakespeare’s MACBETH, directed by Dan Kern, ran February 12-22, 2014. Costume and make-up design by MFA candidate Katie Dowse.

Student Profile: Alex Monsell

Junior spends winter break learning the ropes at Lumina Studio Theater

Photo of Alex Monsell

Alex Monsell

While most students use their winter break to relax after the fall semester, Alex Monsell,  a junior from Takoma Park, Maryland, spent his working hard. This fall, Alex received the Paul Ryan Hutton Memorial Scholarship, a $1000 stipend  awarded annually to a sophomore or junior, to participate in an internship designed for gaining practical theater experience.  Alex interned at Lumina Studio Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland, in an intense program that had him filing, stage managing, and acting.

Alex, an acting concentration, has appeared in Temple Theaters’ The Crucible and The Brother/Sister Plays. He’s also written plays for the department’s annual Short Stuff, festival of short plays and worked crew on a couple of shows. Alex got his start at Lumina Studio at the age of eleven and now works with their youth actors in the summer. His winter internship allowed him to gain experience beyond what he’s already done at Temple University, all at the theater he loves.

For this internship I did a combination of office work during the day, which included, organizing marketing plans, working on publicity packages, and even the not so glamorous, like making copies and organizing CDs and DVDs chronologically. During the evenings I stage managed, assistant directed, assistant lighting designed and acted in Lumina’s production of Cardenio, a play that Shakespeare co-wrote with John Fletcher.

Since Lumina is a relatively small non-profit as far as management is concerned I had the opportunity to do just about everything that I wanted, as someone who is interested in a very full understanding of theater it was great to be able to seek  the rights to a play, draft out lighting looks, and rehearse very rare text all in one day.

Alex hopes one day to own his own theater company; he’s preparing now by getting a variety of experiences. He say “I want to be confident that I can perform just about any job in the theater, so that when I’m a struggling artist I don’t need to hire as many people.”  But he’s also thinking about employability; “…finally, it means I’m qualified for more jobs.”

Since returning for the spring semester, Alex has been focused on producing his next show with  Raye Players show, a group he started last year with other Lumina Studio Theatre alums, and thinking about his post-graduation plans. “After graduation, I hope to perform some community service projects of one kind or another, Peace Corps or maybe AmeriCorps; then Grad School, although I’ve no idea as to where. And then who knows.”

Student Profile: Isabella Fehlandt & Philip Wilson

Two talented students receive inaugural Kunal & Neha Nayyar Scholarship

Seniors Isabella Fehlandt and Philip Wilson are the first recipients of the Kunal & Neha Nayyar Scholarship, established by alumnus Kunal Nayyar, MFA ’06, and his wife Neha Kapur. Nayyar, star of CBS’s The Big Bang Theory, has pledged $125,000 to support current theater students at Temple University. The fund provides two $10,000 scholarships for students studying acting who have demonstrated financial need, with a preference for students who attended urban public schools. In addition, the fund provides $5,000 yearly in travel stipends to assist students attending graduate school auditions and conferences.

This scholarship has provided Isabella Fehlandt, of Wilmington, Delaware, and Philip Wilson, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, another chance at theater education.


Isabella Fehlandt

Isabella Fehlandt

Acting concentration student Isabella Fehlandt began her education at Temple in 2012 after two years at Delaware County Community College. Unfortunately tragic circumstances made continuing at Temple questionable for Isabella; “The sudden death of a parent three weeks before my first semester at Temple created a severe financial uncertainty in remaining at school for upcoming semesters. For me and my family, scholarships and grants would be the only option to pay for school. ” The Nayyar Scholarship has allowed Isabella to continue her studies at Temple University and plan for her post-graduate future.

A talented actor and dancer, Isabella appeared in a number of show at Delaware County Community College including Arsenic and Old Lace (Elaine), Much Ado About Nothing (Beatrice), and Travesties (Cecily). Recently she appeared as an ensemble member and featured dancer in Temple Theater’s Oklahoma! by Rodgers & Hammerstein. Isabella has been cast as Lady Macduff in the upcoming production of Macbeth.

The opportunity to be a part of this production under the direction of Dan Kern is what I am looking forward to most this coming spring. To be a part of this ensemble of undergraduate and graduate actors working with classical text will be an exciting experience for me.  This will also be my first time working with stage combat and/or swordplay in a performance on stage.

After her graduation, Isabella plans to working Philadelphia and New York City, pursuing both her interest in acting and fitness.

Isabella in OKLAHOMA

Isabella, far left, with the ladies of OKLAHOMA

My goals for post graduation consist of auditioning and working in and around Philadelphia and New York City while furthering my training by taking theater and film acting classes and dance classes. I very much want to travel, and to do so while also having the opportunity to perform on stage [in a touring production] is incredibly appealing to me!

I have become more passionate and inspired by the Yoga/Pilates community. The ideals behind eating healthy and keeping an active lifestyle are very desirable to me, so I am looking into the process of becoming a Yoga, Pilates, and/or CrossFit instructor. My goal is to learn more about this process, and eventually be able to teach to other people while creating a healthier lifestyle for myself and for others.


Like Isabella, twenty-five year old, Philip Wilson is a transfer student. Philip attended Point Park University in Pittsburgh before starting at

Philip Wilson

Philip Wilson

Temple University in 2012. Paying for college was difficult for Philip; he had to withdraw from school  in order to earn enough to pay down the debit he owed. The Nayyar Scholarship allowed Philip to return earlier than expected. “Because of this scholarship I can continue studying what I love to do, finally graduate, and be prepared to go out and work in the field.”

A charismatic singer and actor Philip is very passionate about theater. “I was introduced to theater in high school by my theater teacher Roger Babusci who taught me a lot. I haven’t been able to stop since.” Philip appeared in Mauckingbird Theater Company’s acclaimed Much Ado About Nothing in 2012, directed by Professor Peter Reynolds. Of Philip, Peter says, “Philip is a gifted singing actor.  I am thrilled that the Nayyar scholarship will enable Philip to continue his theater studies at Temple.”

Philip was casted in Temple Theaters’ upcoming production of Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical as Margaret Mead/Tribe Member. Philip is looking forward to working on one of his favorite musical, under the direction of Brandon McShaffrey. “I’m excited to be working in such a great ensemble show with a talented cast and production team.”

After his graduation next fall, Philip plans to pursue an acting career in Chicago, Illinois. But for now, he says, “My goals for the next two semesters are to soak in as much information as I can so that I can be ready for the business side and get right to work.”

The Kunal & Neha Nayyar Scholarship Fund has given these two students another chance at a Temple Made theater education. Macbeth, with Isabella Fehlandt as Lady Macduff, begins February 12, and Hair, with Philip Wilson, starts March 26.

Citizen Artist: Sarah Stearns

In addition to its dedication to academic and professional excellence, the Temple University Department of Theater‘s strives to instill in our students an ethical aspiration to become true Citizen Artists. We hope our students become creative and  informed individuals who commit to making a difference in our communities through applied artistry and who promote the use of artistic expression as a tool for creating a culture of compassionate citizenship and civility.

Senior acting concentration, Sarah Stearns, founder of the North Philadelphia Youth Advisory Council, and recipient of the Provost’s Creative Arts, Research, and Scholarship grant (CARAS grant), is a true example of the Citizen Artist. The mission of her program is to engage the youth of the North Phildaelphia community through arts and leadership. Under the mentorship of Robert Blackson, Director of Tyler Contemporary and the Department of Exhibitions & Public Programs, Sarah has developed program that works with five high students from the area, meeting weekly to discuss issues of importance within their communities and plan public art projects exploring these issues. Last spring, the group organized a poetry slam on the steps of School District of Philadelphia’s administrative building as a artistic, and peaceful, expression of opinions about budget cuts.

Sarah Stearns

Sarah Stearns

The Rehearsal Room recently spoke with Sarah about the work she’s doing with the North Philadelphia Youth Advisory Council and what receiving the CARAS grant means to her and the students.

Rehearsal Room: What is the North Philadelphia Youth Advisory Council? When did you start it?

Sarah Stearns: The North Philadelphia Youth Advisory Council was started last Spring. It’s a group of five high school students, all from different North Philadelphia Schools, who meet once a week to explore a problem or topic in their community through art. Their communities may include their neighborhood, their schools, their families, their churches, etc. and the students each bring in a topic of importance and then vote on one to pursue through the arts for the rest of the semester. The students are all paid for their work and the program is generously funded by a grant from the Fels Foundation.

The mission of the program is to involve young students with a passion for arts and community leadership in arts management. The hope is that the Youth Advisory Council members are future community and cultural leaders and the program may give them the tools to enact change, both through the program and in the future.

RR: Why did you start this group? What was your inspiration?

SS: I had just finished a semester away at Headlong Performance Institute [in Philadelphia] that really changed the way I saw my role as an artist in the world. HPI made me rethink why and how I want to make art. The reasons I came up with because of HPI very much echoed [Associate Dean and Artistic Director] Doug Wager’s statement on the Citizen Artist. I believe art is important because of the people it effects. I believe it can be a powerful research tool in exploring what it is to be human and that asking questions with art can bring people together like nothing else.

I wanted to pursue what I had discovered at HPI and, the December before I returned to Temple, I saw a job posting in an email blast looking for an intern to help with a project at Temple Contemporary. It sounded interesting, so I applied. It turned out to be exactly what I was hoping for. Rob [Balckson] and Sarah [Biemiller] let me completely create, recruit and lead the advisory council. It was the first time I’d ever been allowed so much responsibility and autonomy. It took a few weeks to get used to, but eventually I figured out that I could completely run with it.

When people ask why the council is important, this is what I usually say:

High School students will explore the possibility of a career in making art happen. All too often, the ticket prices of museums, theaters, and concert halls make art seem like it belongs to only the few people who can afford to pay for it. The people who can pay get to decide what art they want to pay for, so the art at major institutions often ends up being about and for an elite minority. In reality, art belongs to everyone. Art is a language. Art is how people live and feel and think. By exposing underserved students to the possibility of a successful job in arts management, we give a new generation a voice to make art for and by all people.

RR: What do you plan to do with your grant?

Sarah with members of the Council

Sarah with members of last spring’s Council at Tyler Contemporary

SS: The grant will allow me to devote more time to the program next spring. The stipend it will provide me with means that I won’t need to take on as many hours working at outside jobs, and I can use that time to develop a written syllabus for the program. After working with these students for the past two semesters, I’ve slowly figured out what works and what doesn’t and what sort of time span it takes to create a community arts project. With this knowledge, I can refigure the program so that future councils get as much out of the program as possible.

This will likely include more fieldtrips to arts organizations around the city and more time spent developing and working on projects.

RR: What has the council done this year? What do you hope to do next year?

SS: This past spring we developed a project addressing the issue of budget cuts to the school district. This issue effected all of my students and there had been a huge amount of anger and frustration over this issue, particularly in that students, teachers, and families felt their voices were not being heard by officials. We decided to provide a peaceful, creative alternative for the parties involved to express themselves through. We held a poetry slam on the steps of the School District building on 440 N Broad Street called Voices @ 440.

We also explored the question of how viewing violence in TV, movies and video games effects peoples’ perceptions of violence in real life. We created a documentary interview series of various North Philly residents asking them all the same six questions about violence in real life versus in media.

This fall we are exploring the complicated, opaque mystery of how the government runs. The students were frustrated by the government shut down and fascinated by conspiracy theories. We talked about why the government seems so untrustworthy and mysterious and what information people believe and why. In an effort to inspire people to question what they believe about the government and why, we are creating a series of infographics that will be printed as postcards and handed out anonymously on the street.

We’ve also visited the Crane Arts building, the Leeway Foundation, and a plethora of galleries at First Friday in Old City. We saw a dance show presented by Boyer and Mural Arts at the Common Threads mural last fall. We’re planning a trip to the Arts Garage for early next semester. The students also saw The Crucible last year at Temple!

RR: What is the most rewarding part of the project?

SS: For me, it’s getting to hang out and talk about art once a week with these really smart, interesting, creative kids. The council becomes sort of a haven for all of us to escape from problems in our day-to-day life and talk about bigger things that we all really care about. It’s so great watching them all become friends. I’ll sometimes have really shy kids who suddenly have a ton to say, or I’ll have apathetic teenagers who find a place where it’s okay to really care about things in the council. I really love these guys. Sometimes we just talk about our lives or joke about silly things. They all bring in their sketch pads and we hang out and eat pizza and make art. I couldn’t imagine a better job, honestly.


Sarah Stearns will appear in the world premiere, Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, adapted and directed by Douglas C. Wager, from the book by Rachel Simmons, at Temple Theaters this spring.


Cast discusses the importance of the plays in YouTube videos

The cast of the The Brother/Sister Plays recently recorded a few videos about the trilogy in Annenberg Hall’s TV Studio. Edward Mawere, Jaela Cheek-Lomax, and Jared Corbin Manders spoke about the characters, the themes, and the impact of these pivotal plays by 2013 MacArthur Foundation awardee Tarell Alvin McCraney. Recorded and edited by Kaleigh Medici, the videos provide insight into the stories.



The Brother/Sister Plays run November 13-24 in Randall Theater. Tickets and information can be found at