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!


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 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.


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.

Want to learn how you can help support?

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.


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. 

Made possible in part by:


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