Read the statements from the following 2022-2023 UT Committee candidates here! Elections will be held at 5pm on Monday, February 28 in the Logan Center (room to be confirmed).
- Abby Kanes
- Ariana Baginski
- Cameron Drake
- Coco Liu
- Danielle Yablonovskiy
- Jared Zuker
- Kelly Mao
- Layla Lukaj
- Luke Walker
- Noah Klowden
- Reese Klemm
- Spencer Ng
- Zander Galluppi
Abby Kanes (she/her)
I am planning on majoring in TAPS. Before I came to UChicago I did a lot of research on the theater department, and the thing that truly excited me the most was the idea of a student run theater. One of my long term goals is to run a theater and UT committee would help me get a lot of experience in this field.
Ariana Baginski (she/her/hers)
Hi! My name is Ariana Baginski (she/her), and I am a third year Molecular Engineering major with a TAPS minor. Despite COVID, I have done my best to participate in UT in some way every year. I’ve attended both scenic and management cohort over these past three years. I have served as an assistant scenic and sound designer on shows including The Winter’s Tale, The Old Man and The Old Moon, and My H8 Letter to the Gr8 American Theater. Now, I am currently working as one of the stage managers on The Trail to Oregon.
The primary reason I want to join Committee is because I have a lot of passion for theater. I have met several incredible performers, designers, and managers. (Selfishly I would like to be on Committee to continue meeting people and making new friends.) I want to help these creators make more impressive art. I find myself amazed every time I go to a UT show and remember that it is all student run. Being able to lift up any student’s voice is a very important aspect of UT and I want to help those people get to a space they can speak out from. New Work Week and the Weekend of Workshops are great ideas that have recently been started to do just that and I’d love to continue to develop those productions.
Another reason I want to join Committee is to help create a safe space for students to perform in. Theater is a very interactive and vulnerable activity and therefore, anyone participating should be able to feel safe whether it is in regard to COVID or intimacy/fight choreography. I have started working with current Committee members to introduce Title IX training at the start of any rehearsal process. This introduces the idea of consent into the rehearsal room in a non-sexual capacity because it is always important to check in with your fellow performers. The crew I’m on now is also working with ways to define what people are comfortable with in terms of COVID. Exposure is a risk we all face, and we want to reduce that risk as much as possible while still allowing a productive rehearsal schedule, whether this is through the introduction of understudies or a democratically decided COVID policy.
Cameron Drake (he/him)
I have worked in almost every aspect of University Theater. I am a Dean’s Man, I’ve acted in both Theater  and Staged Readings, I directed with New Work Week last year, I’ve pm’ed with paper projects, and I assistant costume designed with Our Channel in Spring of 2021. I’ve seen all sides of University Theatre. University Theatre is an excellent community space filled with students who want to act and design and direct. However, there isn’t a lot of opportunities for students who want to learn how to set design or costume design, especially since we didn’t do paper projects this year. I would want to build a database that will organize when cohorts are happening as well as opportunities for students to learn new areas of design. I also want to discuss the hold space bylaw. It is a great bylaw and absolutely necessary for University Theatre. However, it’s a bit vague both in execution and language within the bylaws. I would want to spend my time on committee actively taking steps in order to better organize and structure the hold space bylaw. Thank you all for your consideration.
Coco Liu (she/her)
The one constant I’ve had over the past two quarters (and the first year of college is famously a volatile time) is going for rehearsals (almost) every day. As Assistant Stage Manager for Love’s Labour’s Lost last quarter and Stage Manager for The Light now, I’ve probably spent more time in Logan than in any other building on campus. Besides working on mainstage shows, I’ve also attended management cohort and participated in Theater as a writer. Theater is something that excites and comforts me, and I am deeply passionate about making it. UT, in particular, has a special importance to me. It was my introduction to a lot of things: to working in theater, to UChicago, to college, to the US. With that in mind, I’d like to deepen my involvement in UT and go further in my contributions to the UChicago theater community. I’ve always liked working in the background (that’s partly why I enjoy SMing) and organizing and planning things behind-the-scenes; being on Committee would allow me to do that on a larger scale, and allow me to impact others on a larger scale as well. Furthermore, the direction that UT is heading in – that of increasingly prioritizing minority representation and diversity in the arts – is something that attracts me. As an international student, this has a unique significance for me, and is an area that I am interested in exploring and furthering.
Danielle Yablonovskiy (she/her)
Hi!! I have been involved with UT every quarter since Spring 2021. In the spring of 2021, I was the ASM on Welcome Back to My Channel. In the Fall of 2021, I was the SM on Ah Wing and the Automaton Eagle, one of the Fall 2021 Workshops. In the winter of 2022 (this quarter), I began working as one of the SMs on The Trail to Oregon, the University’s first cross quarter show, which will go up this coming spring.
I joined Committee in the Fall of 2021 through a special election and my two quarters on Committee have already shown me all of the wonderful impacts that Committee can make. It is through our time and efforts that we are able to better the UChicago Theatre Community at large. My favorite thing about being on Committee so far is being able to meet and appreciate people working on all of the different shows, not just the one I am currently working on. This gives me a deeper perspective on the inner workings of UT, as a whole. This also goes for being given the ability to work with many Pro-Staff and learn the logistics of putting on programs at UT.
I want to remain on Committee to use these lessons in order to provide a better theatre environment for everyone at UChicago. I find that there is an extreme lack of communication between committee, Pro Staff, and the general public. There is a lot of information that gets lost in the cracks between these three groups. As a member of committee, I want to continue pushing for better information pass down to the UChicago community by continuing to better our social media presence.
Furthermore, I would like to make the entire process of joining UT more accessible. Even as someone who as been involved with UT my entire time in college, there are still list hosts that I am not on that I should be on. I would want to make all of this information available readily and easily on our website, instagram, Facebook, newsletter, etc. Additionally, as we are doing with the spring quarter committee produced show, I want to create more opportunities for “hold-space” shows to be produced my UT, encouraging everyone and anyone to bring their story to UT.
I am so lucky to have already had the chance to serve on committee and hope that I get the. chance to continue serving the theatre community at large!
Jared Zuker (he/him)
Acted in three shows: Macbeth, Twelfth Night, and Love’s Labours Lost, and currently directing King Lear. I will be staying in Chicago as a grad student and would love to continue helping the theatre community at uchicago!
Kelly Mao (she/her)
I’m really passionate about theater and have wanted to join UT since before I arrived on campus (my first O-Week activity, actually, was going to Logan to print scripts for Love’s Labour’s Lost). Since then, I’ve been a writer in Theater, I’m currently production managing The Heirs, and because I don’t know how to not throw 100% of myself into one thing, I’m running for Committee! Ever since I’ve jumped headfirst into working on UT shows, I’ve wanted to increase outreach and get more up close with the producing and proposal stage of making theater here. Specifically, I’m interested in increasing transparency around the particulars of different show roles (perhaps by officially documenting the rough time commitments and responsibilities of each role) as well as the production process, so as to make UT more accessible to newcomers. Most importantly, though, this is a community that’s already grown important to me even in just the last couple months, and I’d love to serve it however I can.
I am a first-year prospective TAPS and Political Science double major. I consider myself primarily and actor, and I think that UT as committee representing the theatre community at University of Chicago is the place for people of all theatrical backgrounds to come together to make theatre as exciting and well-managed as possible. I have spent the last four years organizing theatrical events at my high school and I want to take my excitement for the craft of theatre-making and my past experience in leadership in theatre forward though UChicago. As an actor I think I can provide valuable insight on drawing other artists to UT productions, organizing events, general UT marketing, and generating hype for upcoming shows. I plan to be apart of the UT community for the rest of my term here, so hopefully I can formalize that commitment by joining Committee!
Luke Walker (he/him/his)
My past UT involvement includes being a member and performing with Off-Off Campus, as well as designing props for The Light while working in the prop shop. I would like to be a part of Committee because I want to know how things worked and get more involved with UT as I put so much time and energy into UT already.
Noah Klowden (he/him)
Having directed both a workshop and a mainstage production through University Theater, I have a good amount of experience with both the proposal process and putting on shows. Being new to University Theater post-quarantine, I have first hand experience that can be applied to knowing how reform can be implemented to improve UT’s accessibility to newcomers in a time where experience is in hot demand.
I believe my experience means that I will be able propose ways to make University Theater a space better equipped to train new people, promote itself, and support shows in progress. I will continue to support new outreach systems such as the Instagram, as well advocating for better support for new comers, such as finding a way to better help designers utilize their assistants.
Reese Klemm (she/her)
Last year, when I ran for Committee, my primary objective was to make sure that students interested in getting involved in UT productions have a clear path to do so. As a result, once I began to serve on Committee, I helped to develop a form that allows people to indicate interest in certain positions on creative teams. This was a crucial resource that allowed me to cast a wider net when filling production positions in The Trail to Oregon.
This coming year, I hope that I can continue to serve on Committee to make sure that this form is effectively optimized and continues to be used. Additionally, I would like to create a stronger bond between UT and music organizations on campus. I would love to create a directory and guide for enlisting band/orchestra members that can be used in the future, so musicians interested in UT have the same access to our opportunities. This will hopefully aid in the musical audition process as well.
Lastly, moving forward, I would like to support the goal of increasing the dialogue and interaction between Committee and Pro-Staff as well as the broader UT and Pro-Staff. As a past member of SM/PM cohort and current manager of Directors’ Cohort, I see the importance of getting professional help when it comes to UT shows and future occupational advice. Therefore, as we go into this coming school year, I will be personally striving to get the word out about our cohort and create the space for UT members to learn something new… Also, karaoke night. Yes.
Spencer Ng (he/him)
Hello! I’m Spencer, and I’m a third-year who’d like to continue improving UT’s community, foster more original and diverse work, and make it easier for anyone to get involved in UT. Over the last two years as the Social Chair on Committee, I’ve helped make UT’s inner workings more transparent, closely involving the community and TAPS through open subcommittees and office hours as we worked together to transition over to a nine-week quarter proposal system. This led to increased sliding-scale budgets for both mainstages and workshops, while maintaining roughly the same number of productions that UT has seen during ten-week quarters. There’s also been the chance to do larger-scale designs during workshops in preparation for designing mainstages, as well as more design and assistant positions than ever before this year!
Meanwhile, UT programming and opportunities have become increasingly accessible - I helped launch the new UT Instagram, website, and Discord. These platforms have been used to better reach the greater UChicago community about our shows and open positions, facilitated a very successful audition process this winter, and of course, brought us some fun game nights when things were remote. In particular, the design/management interest form through the website has made it very easy for experienced designers to find brand-new assistants the past two quarters (some who are now heavily involved with UT and fellow candidates for Committee!), instead of just relying on word-of-mouth. On the acting, writing, and directing side, I helped organize Staged Readings this quarter, bringing together over 25 people (many of which had no prior theater experience) to produce six new plays and experience what working on a show feels like in a low-commitment process.
In the future, I plan to continue expanding our online presence to better promote UT opportunities and make the proposal and production processes more accessible through community resources. I’m excited to see the new work that future quarters have in store, as we’re providing more platforms for playwrights to workshop their scripts and encouraging more site-specific work. And of course, I’m hoping to facilitate more mentorship between experienced production staff members and assistants to ensure everyone has the knowledge to pursue their artistic passions and feel like they’re part of this wonderful community. Theater has been an important part of my time here at UChicago, and I would love to leverage my stage management experience and knowledge of UT pre-Coronatimes to help UT grow. Thanks for your consideration!
Zander Galluppi (he/him/his)
Hi UT! My name is Zander Galluppi, and it is a privilege to run for my fourth term on UT Committee. My past UT involvement, in addition to my Committee duties, includes acting in over twelve UT/TAPS performances since my first year of grad school in 2017. Some of my major accomplishments on Committee include rewriting our (pre-COVID) proposal documents, heading the UT Newsletter subcommittee that has now been folded into the Instagram group, and leading an introduction of fight captains to UT to increase fight safety on set.
UT has seen a lot of instability and change over the past few years: between COVID and then the shift to 9 week quarters, we have all had to be flexible and inventive about the art we do and how we do it. Throughout this period of experimentation, Committee has been considering what normal UT operations should look like in the future, which has resulted in several major changes to season structure, proposal types, funding opportunities, and more.
It feels to me that we are settling into a new normal for UT post-COVID, and as our operations and involvement ramp up again, it is imperative that we work next on clearly codifying our new standards and practices. I think we have a good idea of what those standards and practices should be as of this quarter, but it feels like we’re still in a “reactionary planning” mode when issues arise because we have yet to codify a lot of our new operating procedures. This lack of clarity impacts our whole community–and everything from current projects to communication and expectation setting about future projects.
As I am soon to be the only student at the university who was on Committee pre-COVID, I hold a uniquely useful perspective about our organizational standards as we begin to codify them. I know all the ins and outs of pre-COVID UT–from things that worked well to things that should change–and I’d focus next term primarily on helping write the bylaw and production manual language that will carry UT forward. I have always run for Committee on a platform of transparency, communication, and support of our members, and I hope to continue being a resource for those who have questions and concerns about our operations as they change and grow.