CBT Theatre Thursdays

CBT Theatre Thursdays is a new digital initiative designed to help bring theatre education to the East Tennessee Community. This program aims to provide enriching cultural and educational content to our area youth and lifelong learners who are looking for ways to stay artistically engaged. Each month we will dive into a small section of a play and explore what goes into making that piece of theatre come to life! From conversations and mini video tutorials with directors, dramaturgs, designers, performers, prop artisans, costumers, and more we hope to inspire people to create theatre at home!


March

Week 1
The Whipping Man
: Ravages of War

This month we revisit one of the most stirring and all time audience favorites, The Whipping Man. Tune in this week as host for the month, Steve Sherman, interviews director John Sipes and dive deeper into the themes of play as they recount what made this particular production so riveting.


February

Week 1 Blithe Spirit:
Inhabiting an Iconic Role

This month, we dive into the world beyond as we explore Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit! Join our host for the month and audience favorite, Laura Beth Wells, as she interviews our very own Knoxville legend, Carol Mayo Jenkins. Discover the historical significance of this play which was written to provide light in a particular dark time for England and learn how Carol was able to bring the iconic character of Madame Arcati to life on stage!


Week 2
Blithe Spirit: Character Designer

Join us as we continue our exploration of the world beyond with Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit. This week our host, Laura Beth Wells, interviews MFA costume designer Margo Birdwhistell. Just as the clothes we wear have stories, so too, do the costumes our characters wear on stage. Discover Margo’s process as we get a closer look at the inspirations behind the wardrobe!


Week 3
Blithe Spirit: Tricks of the Trade

Join us as we continue our exploration of the world beyond with Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit. This week we travel behind the set with our host, Laura Beth Wells, as she interviews Technical Director Jason Fogarty as he reveals some of the secrets behind the CBT’s biggest scenic tricks!


Week 4
Blithe Spirit: Bringing Visions into Realization

Join us as we wrap up this month’s exploration of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit and learn just what it took to bring the artistic visions to realization. This week we continue to peel back the curtain with our host, Laura Beth Wells, as she interviews Production Manager, Susan McMillan as she reveals the responsibilities of coordinating the production elements and shares her story about becoming a Production Manager for the CBT!


January

Week 1
Around the World in 80 Days: The French Connection

Grab your passports this month as we prepare to explore Around the World in 80 Days! Join our host for the month and CBT resident artist and senior lecturer David Alley, who played Detective Fix, as he interviews actor and UT alum, Aaron Orlov who shares how he took on the larger than life character of Passepartout!


Week 2
Around the World in 80 Days: Circles of Light

Grab your passports this month as we prepare to explore Around the World in 80 Days! Join us this week as CBT resident artist David Alley who played Detective Fix, interviews lighting designer and UT alum, Maranda DeBusk and learn how she was able to help take the audience and actors around the world with lights!


Week 3
Around the World in 80 Days: Elephant Escapades

Grab your passports this month as we continue to explore Around the World in 80 Days! Join us this week as CBT resident artist David Alley, our very own Detective Fix, interviews Prop Shop Supervisor and Props Master, Christy Forgarty and discover the gigantic undertaking the prop shop took on bringing one of the biggest stars to the CBT stage!


Week 4
Around the World in 80 Days: The Dream Team

Grab your passports for this final week as we finish exploring Around the World in 80 Days! Join CBT resident artist David Alley, otherwise known as Detective Fix, as he interviews our Assistant Stage Management team, Laura Clift, Rachel Clift, and Savannah Smith. Discover how this dream team of undergraduate students at the time, made sure to keep everything moving smoothly backstage, even in moments where things went awry.


December

Week 1
A Christmas Carol: Rediscovering Time

This month, we raise a bowl of wassail and bring you an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at Knoxville’s favorite holiday tradition: A Christmas Carol! Join our host for the month, audience favorite Laura Beth Wells, as she chats with director Kathleen Conlin and gets the inside scoop about how the process of remounting this classic changes, yet stays the same, year after year.


Week 2
A Christmas Carol: Tracking the Tradition

This month, we raise a bowl of wassail and bring you an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at Knoxville’s favorite holiday tradition: A Christmas Carol! Join us this week for a fireside chat with audience favorite Laura Beth Wells and stage manager Patrick Lanczki as they reveal the behind the scene tools it takes to make the production run like clockwork each year!


Week 3
A Christmas Carol: Ghosts of Costumes Past

This month, we raise a bowl of wassail and bring you an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at Knoxville’s favorite holiday tradition: A Christmas Carol! Join us this final week as Mrs. Fezziwig and audience favorite Laura Beth Wells and Cutter/Draper Kyle Schellinger revisit some ‘old friends’ in the costume shop. Learn all about what it takes to bring these beautiful costumes to life on stage!


NOVEMBER

Week 1
The Open Hand: Playwright’s Perspective

This month we delve into the themes of generosity and explore the CBT’s commissioned original play The Open Hand. Join our host for the month Steve Sherman, one of the original cast members, as he interviews playwright, Robert Caisley this week! Get an inside look at how this play was developed from scratch!


Week 2
The Open Hand: Transforming the Space

This month we delve into the themes of generosity and explore the CBT’s commissioned original play The Open Hand. Join our host Steve Sherman, again this week, as he interviews scenic designer, Nevena Prodanović and discover how the play was able to transition seamlessly from 6 different locations within 8 scenes!


Week 3
The Open Hand: Character Creation

This month we delve into the themes of generosity and explore the CBT’s commissioned original play The Open Hand. Join our host Steve Sherman, for this final week as he interviews actress and UT MFA alum, Lindsay Nance. Dive in as we explore the challenges and joys of performing a character created specifically for you and how to embrace when things on stage go awry.


OCTOBER

Week 1
Sweeney Todd: Obsession

As the air turns cool and we head into fall, get ready to explore the spooky tale of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. We kick off this month with an introduction to this musical by Producing Artistic Director, Calvin MacLean. Explore the themes of obsession, humor, and human motivation and how the Clarence Brown Theatre decided to produce this piece together with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.


Week 2
Sweeney Todd: Imagining the Space

As the air turns cool and we head into fall, get ready to explore the spooky tale of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. This week will feature a part two by Producing Artistic Director, Calvin MacLean. Discover the challenges of creating this world and staging it all around the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.


Week 3
Sweeney Todd: Textures of Fleet Street

As the air turns cool and we head into fall, get ready to explore the spooky tale of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Join us this week as CBT alum, Miwa Ishii, shares how she designed costumes that blend historical and contemporary styles to create the visual story of the characters on Fleet Street.


Week 4
Sweeney Todd: Sculpting with Light

As the air turns cool and we head into fall, get ready to explore the spooky tale of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Discover how lighting not only helps to create the mood, but can also impact the visual energy of the stage. Join us this week as lighting professor Kenton Yeager shares his tips and tools used when designing Sweeney Todd!


Week 5
Sweeney Todd: Musical Epiphanies

As the air turns cool and we head into fall, get ready to explore the spooky tale of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Join us for a special interview with Grammy award-winning Maestro Lucas Richman as he reveals the magic of the music and how it enlivens the story of Sweeney Todd!


Sweeney Todd: Special Treat!

No tricks, just treats! Join us as we wrap up this month of all things Sweeney, with a special interview with Dale Dickey and Micah-Shane Brewer as they look back at their time working together on Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street!


SEPTEMBER

Week 1
Detroit ‘67: Take Up Space

This month we explore Detroit ‘67 and hear from past and current graduate students on how they worked to bring this important and timely story to life on stage. Join us this week as UT alum Aleah Vassell shares her inside look at getting to play the character of Bunny and the challenges and tools she used to take up the space on stage.


Week 2
Detroit ‘67: Specificity Matters

How can a set transport you to another place and time, while also tying in the current times? Find out as current MFA designer Katherine Stepanek as she shares her process of designing the set for Detroit ‘67.


Week 3
Detroit ‘67: More than Music

How can you create two distinctly different worlds in one space using sound? Find out as current MFA designer Chandler Oppenheimer shares the tools he used when sound designing Detroit ‘67.


Week 4
Detroit ‘67: Interview with Jade Arnold

Join us this week as House Manager David Ratliff sits down for a special interview with alumni Jade Arnold to hear his perspective of playing Sly in Detroit ‘67 in this extended Theatre Thursdays video.


AUGUST

Week 1
Peter and the Starcatcher: Imaginative Collaboration

This month we explore Peter and the Starcatcher and how this fantastical world was brought to life. Join us this week as director and UT Professor Casey Sams shares her inside look at the collaborative efforts it took to stage this imaginative story.


Week 2
Peter and the Starcatcher: Costumes of Starstuff

How can costumes help create a familiar world while also demonstrating the power and magic of Starstuff? You won’t want to miss costume designer Erin Reed as she shares her inspirations for Peter and the Starcatcher.


Week 3
Peter and the Starcatcher: Props Rock!

How do you make the impossible possible… like making a cat fly on stage? Find out as our Prop Shop Supervisor Christy Fogarty shares her secrets behind the magical props required for Peter and the Starcatcher and why the prop shop is not unlike a moving truck.


Week 4
Peter and the Starcatcher:
Finding the Freedom to Play

How can actors overcome the pressures associated with performance? Join us this week as UT alum, Ellen Nikbakht, shares how she was able to overcome that pressure, connect with her character, and use a sense of play to fully embody the character of Molly in Peter and the Starcatcher.


JULY

Week 1  |  Theatre as a Social Tool

Theatre has been used as a tool to help bring about social change throughout history. Join us as English professor Misty Anderson takes us from Restoration Plays and 18th Century Theatre all the way to Hamilton today as we discover how plays can help shape our society.


 

Week 2  |  Act Up: Designing Brecht

Bertolt Brecht described art as a hammer with which we can shape our reality. Discover how Brecht used Epic Theatre to challenge audiences and how scenic designer and MFA alumni Josafath Reynoso was able to use the set design in Threepenny Opera to both bring audiences in and distance them at the same time.


Week 3  |  Act Up: Representation Matters

The stories we tell on stage and the voices who tell them are critical in creating an authentic theatrical experience that can bring about change and push forward social movements for the greater good. Join us this week as costume designer and MFA alumni Nicole Jescinth Smith talks about the importance of capturing the authenticity of the costumes in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and how important it is to continue to elevate and celebrate the stories of Black artists today.


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Week 4 | Act Up: No Day But Today

Wrapping up this month’s series on Theatre as Activism, we take a look at how theatre and musicals such as Rent have helped to highlight the artistic community including the LGBTQ+ experience. Join us as former MFA acting graduate and CBT resident artist Brian Gligor shares his perspective on Rent and how it helps to show us a better world.


JUNE

Week 1  |  The Magic of Midsummer

Welcome to our first installment of CBT Theatre Thursdays as we explore Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream! Join us to learn some historical insight around the celebrations of Midsummer and brief overview of the scene we’ve chosen to explore this month!


 

Week 2 | Playing Peter Quince

Ever wonder how a professional actor plays an inexperienced actor on stage? Find out as Emeritus Theatre Professor Terry Weber shares some challenges, tools, and insights on performing Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream!

 


Week 3 | Costume Creations

Part of the magic of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is all the creative costumes that help bring the characters to life! Join us as Costume Shop Manager Melissa Caldwell-Weddig explores how to go about using the text for costuming clues and repurposing items around the house to create your own costumes!

 

 

 

Read the full scene here.

Short Version of the Scene – Just the Play within a Play

Want to learn more? Check out these resources!


We are currently working on next month’s videos that center around activism in theatre and the role stories can play in creating a better society. 


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Have a suggestion of a play or theatrical aspect you would like to learn more about? Other questions?
Contact Hana Sherman at hsherma1@utk.edu