A play cannot exist without a stage manager, especially a play with lights, props, entrances, exits, movement, story, and flow. The person who received the Williston Working Artist Award on May 10 is someone who remains invisible during performances, but without her, Williston literally could not have put on a show, theater director Emily Ditkovski said as she presented the award.
As stage manager of the spring production of Peter and the Starcatcher, Risa Tapanes ’18 was responsible for knowing every component of the production, including every actor’s blocking (movement on stage) and when each prop should come and go.
“When I am lost, I turn to Risa and she always has the answer,” Ditkovski said. “You probably don’t know that during each performance Risa sits high above the stage calling the show from the booth—telling our light board operator to change light cues (in Peter and the Starcatcher there were over 150). Risa isn’t just calling ‘Cue 3, standby. Cue 3, Go.’ She is living and breathing the performance with the actors, telling the story through these cues.”
Risa puts countless hours into her work inside and out of rehearsal making sure she knows the show backwards and forwards. “She is a leader,” Ditkovski added, “someone our cast and crew can always count on, and is one of the reasons our 1,000-plus audience members felt the magic of Peter and the Starcatcher.”
Williston conferred the Williston Working Artist Award on two students at an assembly on April 5. Triniti Slaughter ’18 and Yana Pyryalina ’18 received the awards, which recognize exemplary effort and mastery of an art form.
Emily Ditkovski, visual and performing arts teacher and director of the Williston Theatre, spoke about Triniti’s devotion to dance and acting. “With lines and blocking memorized, the cast of Peter and the Starcatcher are busy putting together all of the pieces of the show. With moving set pieces and actors swimming and flying across the stage, we have our work cut out for us. It is certainly not easy.” She continued: “The Williston Working Artist award in the theater goes to a cast member who has embraced this challenge fully. Never missing a beat (literally and figuratively) and always there for her fellow starcatchers, Triniti demonstrates the camaraderie, creativity, and focus an actor needs. Continue reading →
Winter is no time for hibernation in the Arts Department. Students are busy rehearsing, creating, and learning new techniques, and a raft of performances and exhibits will give them a showcase for their talent and hard work.
Speaking of talent and hard work, Mark Wei ’17 received the Williston Working Artist Award, bestowed to those who go above and beyond in effort and achievement in the arts. This fall, Mark returned to campus after a summer internship at a Beijing studio determined to become a photographer. “It’s obvious that Mark has found his passion,” said photography teacher Ed Hing ’77. “He spends most of his waking hours in the Photo Lab thinking, creating, and making images. He aims for perfection in pursuit of his vision. The results have been exceptional and inspiring.” Congratulations, Mark!
On the heels of a daylong visit from Berklee College of Music student a cappella singers Pitch Slapped (read more here), Williston welcomed pianist Aaron Diehl. Diehl is one of the most sought after jazz virtuosos, consistently playing with what the New York Times describes as “melodic precision, harmonic erudition, and elegant restraint.” Diehl’s meticulously thought-out performances, collaborations, and compositions are a leading force in today’s generation of jazz contemporaries, spearheading a distinct union of traditional and fresh artistry. He was on campus to deliver a master class to Mario Flores’ instrumental students before his performance at the UMass Fine Arts Center with Grammy-winning vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant and fellow pianist Adam Birnbaum, playing songs by Jelly Roll Morton and George Gershwin. Read more about his visit here.
But there is still more to look forward to!
Artist Bill Mead is showing paintings through the end of February in the Grubbs Gallery.
Winter Choral Coffee House on February 16 will feature singers from Williston’s many choral groups at 7:30 in the Chapel.
Williston’s dancers will perform their winter moves during a show on February 27 at 4:30 p.m..
Theater Lab, featuring one-act plays of experimental theater, takes place on February 23 to 25 at 8 p.m. Read more about the plays and buy tickets here. (Free for Williston students)
Winter Pops Concert, February 26, 7 p.m. in the Dodge Room of the Reed Campus Center (moved from the chapel at 7:30 p.m.).
Dance Concert, February 27 at 4:30 p.m. in the chapel.
At a recent assembly, Visual and Performing Arts Department Head Natania Hume presented this year’s third Williston Working Artist Award to Gabby Record ’17.
Visual and Performing Arts Teacher Steven Berlanga, who leads choral music at Williston, said this about Gabby in nominating her: “Obviously she is a good musician and singer, which she is able to demonstrate at concerts and in rehearsal.
“She deserves this award because of what she does for the ensembles and the community beyond the classroom. She is president of our newly formed (still forming) Williston Student Choir Board, where she oversees the planning and execution of student events and concerts, as well as takes a leadership role in the ensembles.
“She writes and arranges music for our concerts. She is the director of the Wildchords a cappella group, which she does with little to no help from me. She jumps at every opportunity that is even hinted upon to sing and perform. She continues to be a leader in the classroom. She understands the importance of music making so much, that it doesn’t matter what type of music it is. She will give it her full attention and support because she recognizes music, not just by style and popularity, but by quality.
“She deserves this award, not because of the quality of musician that she is, but because of the quality of person that she is and her willingness to support the music making of others.”