Herberger Institute racks up ariZoni Theatre Award nominations

August 22, 2014

The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts students, faculty, alumni and productions received more than 100 nominations for the annual ariZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence for 2013-2014. The ariZoni Theatre Awards is a not-for-profit organization devoted to promoting the visibility and growth of theater in the Phoenix area and Maricopa County.

Between its people and its productions, the School of Film, Dance and Theatre in the Herberger Institute earned more than 75 nominations – from MainStage’s “Fall of the House of Escher” for Overall Production of a Non-Contracted Play to faculty associate Randy Messersmith in the category of Actor in a Major Role (Contracted Play), for his appearance in Southwest Shakespeare Company’s “Equivocation.” An image from "The Fall of the House of Escher," a production of the ASU School Download Full Image

"We are so proud to have so many nominations this year for our students, faculty and alumni,” said Jake Pinholster, director of the School of Film, Dance and Theatre. “It is particularly exciting to have ‘The Fall of the House of Escher’ nominated as a production, as it was the original, collective work of our graduate students in performance, design and directing."

People and productions affiliated with the School of Music in the Herberger Institute garnered approximately 25 nominations, including the Lyric Opera Theatre’s production of “RENT” for Best Overall Production of a Non-Contracted Musical.

“These nominations are great recognition of the exemplary efforts of our students, faculty and staff, who work tirelessly each year to launch engaging, challenging and provocative work,” said Heather Landes, director of the School of Music. “That the Herberger Institute fared so well this year in the nominations is a tremendous endorsement for the cutting-edge thinking and excellent instruction offered in our performing arts programs.”

Bachelor of Arts student Sam Wilkes, who starred in Lyric Opera Theatre’s “RENT,” as well as in the Phoenix Theatre production of the same musical, was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Contracted Musical) for the latter. Wilkes takes courses in both the School of Music and the School of Film, Dance and Theatre; School of Film, Dance and Theatre Director Jake Pinholster describes him as “a great example of a shared, interdisciplinary student.”

Tyler J. Gasper, Wilkes’ co-star in the ASU production of “RENT,” was nominated for Actor in a Supporting Role (Non-Contracted Musical). Another co-star in that production, Melissa Modifer, received a nomination for Actress in a Supporting Role (Non-Contracted Musical). In all, the Lyric Opera Theatre production of the provocative, moving musical earned six nominations.

The School of Film, Dance and Theatre’s mind-bending “The Fall of the House of Escher” received nine nominations in the category of Non-Contracted Play, including Overall Production, Actress in a Major Role (Julie Rada), Director (Brian Foley and Megan Weaver), Scenic Design (Brunella Provvidente), Costume Design (Anastasia Schneider), Sound Design (Stephen Christensen) and Original Writing (Punctum).

Winners will be announced at the ariZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence Ceremony, Sept. 15, at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

The full list of nominees is available here.

Deborah Sussman

Communications and media specialist, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


Humanities Lecture Series focuses on power of creativity

August 24, 2014

Creativity is linked to better job satisfaction, more positive emotions and greater overall well-being and happiness. For college students, it could mean finding a different academic approach, better grades and landing a dream job.

Keith Varnum, a self-help expert and Matrix Energetics coach, will commence the fall 2014 Humanities Lecture Series with his presentation of “Using Energy to Develop Compassion, Empathy, Forgiveness, Integrity and Kindness and Respect in Our Lives.” Hosted by ASU’s School of Letters and Sciences, the lecture starts at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 4, at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, 555 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, room 128. Keith Varnum Download Full Image

The lecture series, now in its seventh year, is open to the general public and is free.

The theme for this year’s series is titled “Creativity and the Humanities.”

“The Humanities Lecture Series provides us with opportunities to analyze, discuss and interpret current events. We look forward to public discussions that help us understand and appreciate various points of view on political, social and cultural issues,” says Duane Roen, director of ASU’s School of Letters and Sciences and dean of University College. “We are deeply honored that Keith Varnum is presenting the first lecture of the 2014-2015 season.”

The School of Letters and Sciences provides students across ASU with the knowledge and skills to comprehend and effectively engage the changing world of the 21st century at local, national and global levels. Theory, creativity and applied learning are integrated as students build entrepreneurial opportunities both inside the university and their communities.

In addition to his life coaching duties, Varnum is an adventure guide, international seminar leader, author, acupuncturist, filmmaker, gardener, radio talk show host, owner-chef of two gourmet natural foods restaurants and vice president of the country’s largest natural food company.

Varnum said he was a typical 1960s college student at the University of Michigan, which was a cauldron of social and political radicals at the time. It was there that Varnum made provocative and experimental films until he was halted by blindness. After two months of doctors’ exams, diagnoses and treatments, Varnum says he went “spiritual,” and eventually got his sight back.

“I was forced to look outside of the paradigm that I was taught, and forced to change my attitude,” Varnum said. “I changed what I read, what I listened to, what I ate, my entire way of living, and started thinking outside of the box. I spent the next few years exploring, experimenting and discovering the real reason things are the way they are.”

As a Matrix Energetics Practitioner, he will demonstrate to attendees how to use the power of active imagination and focused intent to produce instant, physical, verifiable effects in real time. He says it’s not a technique but a consciousness shift to transform anything in your life.

“I meet thousands of young people in college who have dreams, and I want them to open themselves up to the possibilities they can be themselves and express themselves and showcase their talents to the world,” Varnum said.

The lecture series will continue on Oct. 16 with Jonathan Davis’ presentation, “Telling Stories through Creative Technology.”

For more information on the fall 2014 Humanities Lecture Series, call Mirna Lattouf, series lecture organizer, at (602) 496-0638 or email at Mirna.Lattouf@asu.edu.

Reporter , ASU Now