Read the statements from the following 2023-2024 UT Committee candidates here! Elections will be held at 4:15pm on Monday, February 13 (location TBD)
- Abby Kanes
- Anna German
- Antrita Manduva
- Belle Nahoom
- Coco Liu
- Danielle Yablonovskiy
- Eleni Lefakis
- Emily Curran
- Emma Linderman
- Jo Selmeczy
- Joelle Singer Jensen
- Joshua Winston
- Julia Morales
- Kelly Mao
- Lily McHugh
- Lincoln Crockett
- Maya Carlos Doyle
- Natalie Floreancig
- Rory McGann
Abby Kanes (she/her)
Hi I’m Abby Kanes, and I’m a second year majoring in TAPS and Business Economics. I have been involved with UT since the fall quarter of my first year and been in committee since last winter. UT has given me a wide range of opportunities onstage and behind the scenes. UT Credits include The Heirs Workshop (Aveline), Trail to Oregon (Bass), Scientific Method (Props Designer), Romeo and Juliet (Tybalt), Perfect Match Workshop (Bass), and Winter 2023 Workshops (Committee Liaison). I am currently rehearsing for Be More Chill which is performing next quarter!
Last year I joined UT Committee because I saw it as an opportunity to get hands-on experience with theater management. My life goal is to own and operate my own theater and I believed the experiences with planning and choosing shows that I would get on committee would help me achieve that goal. I have learned so much about what to pay attention to and how to build a diverse season. I hope to continue these efforts as we move to longer seasons and aid in this transition.
This past year on Committee I was the social media manager for UT. Throughout the past year we have expanded our outreach through social media with instagram posts along with facebook events in an effort to increase marketing for UT shows. If I were elected to Committee I would continue this effort and work to increase visibility for theater performances happening on campus as well as running for other roles within the committee.
Anna German (she/her)
I have been a head costume designer and assistant on 4 shows and a workshop. I am very passionate about UT and I have been a part of a production every quarter I have been at UChicago. However, that means that I have been able to see many problems with the process. I know many people are frustrated with the way that UT works and I am convinced we can improve it. One thing I think that Committee is missing is input from designers, since almost none of the current members of Committee have been in a lead design position on a show, and there are a lot of concerns and considerations that can be hard to understand from the outside in. I would like there to be more representation for an underserved and underappreciated part of UT. I also think that there could be more input and consideration from members of UT who aren’t on Committee but still have great ideas for improvement. Furthermore, I would love to see more diversity within UT. I don’t think that we as an organization do enough right now to reach out to the larger UChicago community and, as a result, lose the chance to have a wider range of people involved in our productions. Overall, I am passionate about theater and I want it to succeed on this campus. While the work we do is great, I know we have the capacity for better.
Antrita Manduva (she/her)
Through UT, I have been able to bring South-Asian stories to stage. I appreciate UT’s commitment to inclusion of diverse voices in theater, and I want to be a part of strengthening that effort. In high school, I found that there was less space in theater for URM and women. Most productions produced Shakespearean or old European plays that did not leave room for contemporary voices/issues. In College though, I have been pleasantly surprised by the variety of productions every quarter. By being a part of Committee, I hope to support more shows of contemporary and diverse voices, and help UChicago students realize their creative vision on stage. I also want to familiarize myself with running a theater and be involved with a bunch of different productions as time permits to satiate my love for the stage. Theater has always been a safe space for me, and one that continues to help me feel more comfortable with expressing myself; I hope to make theater be that for my peers as well.
Belle Nahoom (she/her)
Hi all, my name is Belle Nahoom (she/her) and I am a second year interested in joining committee in the upcoming year. I’ve had a ton of involvement with UT in the last two years spanning various roles. I’ve had the lovely opportunity to assist as a stage manager and costume designer, and lead in both those roles as well. I also was an actor in the BA thesis Yivdak last spring. I’m also a part of tech staff!
I want to be a part of committee because I have tons to say about University Theater and honestly, I just want a place to voice it. I want to be a part of the ongoing discussion about how to make theater on campus more inclusive and welcoming. I have a number of ideas about how we can retain members in roles by committing ourselves to creating a comfortable space for new people interested in UT. Personally, I’m really passionate about the roles of assistants in UT. The reason that role exists is to open the path for new members and to help students figure out what kind of work they want to do in our shows. There are some assistant roles that I woulda argue take a lot of energy, and some that don’t even really involve the individuals. I would really like to focus on getting new members via the assistant process (from what I’ve noticed is that assistants who have really good environments and training tend to stay around) by creating a standard for lead designers. Lead designers should be encouraged to involve their assistants and have an open, continuous conversation with them about their expectations in that role. I’ve also noticed that there is a void in committee - there’s no one involved in costume design. I think having me, as an addition to add that perspective would be a great help to understanding proposals! I also have some ideas about hold-space shows that I would like to voice to committee. :)
Thanks for giving me the platform to talk about my ideas!
Coco Liu (she/her)
Hi! I’m Coco, and I’ve been heavily involved in UT throughout my time here, primarily as either stage or production management on a mainstage show every quarter. As a member of Committee in the past year, I’ve also helped to organize and run auditions, as well as Staged Readings this quarter. More recently, I’m involved in the push to revamp the UT proposal process and show schedules, and this is something that I’d like to continue to be involved in if I’m re-elected to Committee.
During my time in UT, I’ve seen, heard, and experienced a lot about what’s working and what isn’t. Moving forward, if I’m given the opportunity to continue to serve on Committee, my goal would be to refine and improve our processes to reduce unnecessary stress and create experiences that are more enjoyable for everyone. This starts with more oversight over the scope of shows and introducing more flexibility in show scheduling, so that shows that are longer and/or more design-heavy can have more time in the production and pre-production process, and continues with ensuring that shows receive more support during the production process, from pro-staff or otherwise.
At the same time, I see a lot of value in lower-commitment UT programming such as Staged Readings, and I will help to ensure that they continue to happen, as well as explore more avenues for people to be involved in UT in a low-commitment way. Ultimately, I hope to help to grow the UT community, retain current members, and foster stronger bonds between members through experiences that are fun (the most important pillar of UT!!) and productive.
UT has been a massive part of my time at UChicago thus far, so I’m really invested in helping to build the community and improve our processes. Thanks for the consideration!
Danielle Yablonovskiy (she/her)
Hello UT! I am so honored to have the opportunity to run for my third term on UT committee! I am currently in my third year, majoring in Economics and Psychology, as well as minoring in Gender and Sexuality Studies. My journey with UT started as a quarantined first year, looking for any opportunity to get involved with the artistic scene in my new home (and by new home, I meant my childhood bedroom trying to do theater on a macbook). That spring (2021), I had the incredible opportunity to be the Assistant Stage Manager on Welcome Back to My Channel, an entirely virtual and live production. From there, I have been so lucky to never miss a quarter with UT, stage managing two rounds of workshops, two cross-quarter musicals, and filling in as a liaison (and even once as an APM), wherever I could! As an active member of the UT community and as a longstanding member of the committee, I have seen all of the wonderful opportunities, happy memories, and learning experiences that UT has been able to provide for dozens of us!
All that being said, if re-elected to committee, I hope to continue working hard on many of the important initiatives that we have already begun this year. I want to continue making strides on issues such as our impending understudy bylaw and proposed dramatic changes to the show proposal cycle. I am extremely passionate about these issues having been (and currently am) an SM on cross quarter shows that cast understudies. These first hand experiences with such UT experiences, making me dedicated to continuing to represent a better, more fair, and more fun UT experience for all.
Secondly, as I have often championed, I genuinely believe that there is no time too late to join any extracurricular, especially UT. During both my terms on committee thus far, I have been the only member of the Class of 2024, a sure consequence of our highly unconventional first year (see fully virtual show, above). And yes, while we are about to be fourth years, I want to continue representing an overarching access to opportunity within the UT community. UT is not only for people that have already been doing UT, UT is not just looking for first years, UT is for the entire community, and given the opportunity to continue serving on committee, I will do everything in my power to continue pushing the limits of access and interest in UT across the entire UChicago (and broader) community!
Thank you so much for your time and consideration! Much love <3
Eleni Lefakis (she/her)
Hi! I’m Eleni Lefakis (she/her), and I’m a 2nd-year TAPS and Data Science double-major. Since last year, I’ve participate in basically every UT show that would have me. My full list of UT credits is: The 18-Foot Long Banana (T24, director); Past, Present, Future (staged reading, director); Ah Wing and the Automaton Eagle (workshop, ASM); The Heirs (workshop, costume designer); The Heirs (mainstage, SM); Pre-Vaccine, Post-Instagram (staged reading, director); The Trail to Oregon! (mainstage, AD/dramaturg); Marian, or The True Tale of Robin Hood (mainstage, AD/dramaturg); Romeo and Juliet (mainstage, co-PM); MacBeth in Space (mainstage, dramaturg); Be More Chill (mainstage, co-director), and Twelfth Night (MainStage, PM). I’m also a current member of committee and an FXK technician.
This past year has been one of a lot of change for UT. We as a club have only recently started to understand what our post-pandemic operations will look like. I think we’ve spent much of the past three years expecting everything to return to how it was before COVID, but between university culture shifts and the 9 week quarter, it’s become clearly that that will not be that case. I am one of the current members of committee that did not experience what UT was like before the pandemic but was there to see everyone experience the consequences of it, which I think is something valuable as we move forward and adjust our proposal process and functioning to reflect our new reality, as well at the TAPS department’s. There are a lot of opinions and ideas floating around our community, and my substantial involvement in the activities of the club outside of committee itself have allowed me to hear and engage with many of them. I think that with the help of new members, the younger cohort of committee has the knowledge necessary to keep UT current and make changes to our processes that make more sense in our new reality.
On a more personal level, I hope to spend a possible second term on committee doing three things. Firstly, I want to continue building the Hold Space library. Three of the four texts currently in it are texts I added to it, and I think there’s a lot more good work out there that is feasible for UT to perform that our members should be aware of. Secondly, I’d like to finish the work Lena started with codifying rights and responsibilities for designers. UT’s actors are protected by the CTS and aware of their responsibilities via the actors contract, but until recently, designers didn’t have an equivalent. Now the designers also sign contracts, but there’s no document outlining the treatment and support they’re entitled to, which I consider the next step towards equity for the performing and production sides of UT. This effort will also include people acting as assistants, as I believe there’s more we can do to adequately train assistants and make sure their time and efforts are treated as valuable. Thirdly, I want to focus on the relationship between the Dean’s Men and UT as a whole. As we move into a new proposal process, communication with the Dean’s Men will be increasingly important.
Emily Curran (she/her)
Hello! My name is Emily Curran (she/her) and I want to run for Committee so that I can give back to the program that has completely changed my life at UChicago for the better. I have been involved in theatre serving as an actor, designer, and stage manager for almost my entire life. Coming into my first year, I knew that I wanted to be involved with UT and TAPS in anyway that I could.
During my first week on campus, I signed up for Theatre as a designer and got my first introduction into theatre at UChicago with the show “Dirty Cop”. It incredibly chaotic, but it only made me want to dive further in. A few weeks later into my first quarter, I saw that an assistant lighting designer position was open for Romeo and Juliet and jumped at the chance to get to work. I am also now fortunate enough to be the lighting designer on Macbeth in Space. I have learned so much through all of these shows (and one of them hasn’t even gone into tech yet). I also attend lighting cohort and every week, I learn more and more about one of the elements of theatre I love most.
I want to join Committee so that I can continue learning about the production of theatre as well as the intricacies that create and support the theatre community at UChicago. Especially as someone who is new to University Theatre and UChicago in general, I believe that there are steps that can be taken in order to make UT (especially designing within UT) more accessible to first years, those that want to try something new with theatre, and those who are simply eager to learn about production. I know from experience that being the only first year in a production meeting can be intimidating and I feel like Committee has the capability to take steps in order to ease these anxieties and expand the community as a whole.
Thank you so much for your time and the opportunity to run!
Emma Linderman (she/her)
I am a third year TAPS and CMST major, and theater has definitely been what I have committed myself most to in college, outside of academics. Having acted in UT productions, Pro-Shows, and B.A. projects, I feel that I have experienced a lot of the different ways theater is practiced at UChicago, and have also been given many ideas for how it can be practiced in the future. Though most of my experience with UT has been through performing, I am equally passionate about many other facets of theater, and hope to learn more about them. My first experience with theater at UChicago was acting in the TAPS production of Amazons and Their Men last winter, and I found that a lot of the practices put in place then (such as dramaturgy packets, extensive work on making sure costumes catered to actor comfort levels, and an efficient yet open rehearsal environment) were ones that can definitely be explored more within UT. My first UT production was last spring’s Scientific Method, and while the experience was overall a positive one, it did help me realize that there are a lot of discussions to be had, specifically around the nature of Hold Space shows, particularly their selection process and overall management. I also think there is room for Committee to focus on the comfort, safety, and respect not only of actors, but of entire production teams, especially as it pertains to policies regarding understudies, design elements, and scheduling.
Jo Selmeczy (they/them)
Hello! I’m Jo, and I am a first-year prospective TAPS and Creative Writing double major. I am applying to be on the University Theater board because I have the enthusiasm and work ethic necessary to become a leader in the UT community.
After writing for Theater24 in Autumn Quarter, I realized just how important theater is to me and the passion I have for pursuing playwriting as a career. After performing in Romeo and Juliet and becoming a Dean’s Man, I knew there was no way I could go without being somehow involved with University Theater. I plan on continuing to explore both backstage and onstage opportunities for involvement in UT in the upcoming years.
I know that I would be an effective and enthusiastic committee member. Even though I’ve only been here for two quarters, I have committed the majority of my out of class time to rehearsal. I know that I will rise to the responsibility that this role requires, and bring my passion for the performing arts to this position.
Joelle Singer Jensen (she/her)
I am a first year who is undecided but definitely wants to double major in TAPS. UT has been fundamental in shaping my experience at UChicago so far, and I am committed to being apart of UT productions for every quarter that I’m here! I greatly admire UT’s commitment to being student run and promoting student-written work, as well as advocating for the rights of everyone working on a production and want to become more involved in those areas first-hand. Working on Be More Chill has definitely been the highlight of my first year at UChicago and I would love to be a part of the process of proposing shows, reviewing by-laws as well as advocating for the rights of actors and crew. I’d like to work with Committee on promoting more diverse shows as well as further encouraging a rehearsal environment where student comfort is made a priority. I can provide insight as an actor, but also as someone who has experience working on student councils in my high school and community theater departments, as well as the Westport Country Playhouse Youth Leadership Council.
Joshua Winston (he/him)
Hello! I’m Josh Winston, He/Him/His, and I’m a second year. I’m currently acting in my third UT show, having been in Trail to Oregon, Marian, or the True Tale of Robin Hood, and now The Laramie Project, and I intend on continuing to act as much as I can over the rest of my time here!
The main reason that I want to join Committee is to make being in a UT show as comfortable and fun for its actors as possible. Acting in a UT show can be both a large time commitment and a possible source of stress, so it’s a priority of mine to reduce the stress inherent in putting on a show as much as possible and open up more communication between Committee and actors. Specifically, this would involve more directly communicating with actors about the rights they have, establishing more continuous conversation between actors on a show and their Committee Liaison (through the cast NED or otherwise), and making information as accessible as possible to those who are new to UT. It is my hope that this would ensure all actors, even those just starting with UT, are aware of the rights they have, the resources available to them, and how to utilize those resources
Another big reason that I want to join Committee is to use my own experiences to ensure that future shows are equipped with the proper contingencies to overcome whatever obstacles they face. Having been an understudy in Trail to Oregon and worked with other former understudies on parts of this process already, it is a big priority to me to continue the work that is already being done on ensuring every show has contingency plans in place, whether that is through the use of understudies or another method. In doing this, I want to remove any unneeded stress by making sure actors do not end up having to do more than they signed up to do and that the production team has a plan to fall back on if things go wrong instead of having to find a solution in the moment. Thank you!
Julia Morales (she/her)
I am a first year majoring in NELC and History. Though I am only a first year, I have already been in two UT shows, and two cup of theatre shows. I was in Marian, A True Tale of Robin Hood(UT) as Lucy, Macbeth in Space(UT) as Lennox, Arms and the Man(Cup of Theatre) as Louka, and The Physicists(Cup of Theatre) as Nurse Boll/Monika Stetller.
I want to be on the UT Committee because I love theatre. I want to make friends, and get involved with other creative people. Theatre is one of the most interesting art forms, and I think that through creating opportunities for students to be involved in that we can make truly incredible productions. The interactions between director, tech, actor, and designer that are present within UT are extremely impressive especially considering that it is all student run. I’d love to be more involved in that process and being on the Committee is a way for me to do that.
If you haven’t met me yet, know that I do my best to be friendly and welcoming. I love meeting new people and appreciate this opportunity to get more involved. Thank you for your consideration.
Kelly Mao (she/her)
Hi all! I’m Kelly, a second-year Math and Computer Science major currently serving as the secretary of UT Committee and looking to run for my second term. Over the past year and a half, I’ve gone extremely hard into theater–stage managing (Love’s Labour’s Lost, King Lear), production managing (The Heirs), and designing (Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth in Space), as well as helping organize Staged Readings, a student-written script showcase–and I have no plans on stopping for the rest of my time at UChicago.
During my year on Committee, I’ve contributed to a stage management guide, as well as worked with other members on Committee to create more designer and management resources in general and compile a production manual for UT shows, since there aren’t a whole ton of resources readily available to first-time designers or managers, especially since COVID led us to lose a lot of institutional knowledge, and we’re only just now building it up again. I think this initiative will be extremely important as we’re seeing a shift into thinking about different proposal timelines–we’ll need this baseline understanding of designer/manager responsibilities and rights to work off of moving forward.
I’m also working to increase transparency to the wider UT community–I know that sometimes the goings-on of Committee can seem a little opaque (even if you read the weekly emails!) and I want to make all members of UT feel empowered to voice opinions and trust that they’ll be heard and taken into consideration. I’m creating a feedback form for this purpose, as well as working towards facilitating more town hall-like meetings (and perhaps some regular coffee chats with Committee?). This ties into my desire to facilitate a stronger theater community on campus (my big dream is a UT formal)–individual shows can feel like islands sometimes, but more sharing of knowledge and general interaction between designers, direction, and management on different shows can only ever work out for the better.
In the end: making and being a part of theater on this campus truly means so much to me, and I’d love to have the opportunity to continue working towards making it a more fun and fulfilling experience for everyone involved.
Lily McHugh (she/her)
All of my free time is dedicated to this organization, and as such I think it’s high time I start giving back to the group that helped me make my first collegiate friends! I have worked both on and off the stage, and have a good working understanding of what makes a show run. I have a passion that drives me to want to make this organization the best it can possibly be!
Lincoln Crockett (he/him)
Hi! I am a lover of theater, I love all aspects of the theater from pre-production, to backstage, to the wonderful stagecraft that brings insight into my, and all our lives. Although my participation in UT so far has mostly been through Off-Off Campus, I also directed in Theater , an experience that exemplifies the love and joy that this community brings to theater. Because of my long journey with theater, I am willing to approach a UT committee position with a varied perspective, knowing that UT is a varied community that hopes to service all sorts of people, from those who want to try performing or producing for the first time, to those who are interested in theater professionally. Additionally I understand how theater, especially for the participants in a production, is as much a social as an artistic endeavor. My goal as a UT committee member would be to help facilitate both artistic ambition and social connection (even between different groups in UT) because I believe that as we find joy in each other, we can make more joyful, and emotionally potent art!
Maya Carlos Doyle (she/her)
I’m Maya, a second-year in the College studying some combination of English, linguistics, and education. Throughout my first two years at UChicago, I have amassed (technically) 11 UT credits, working on (at least) one mainstage a quarter. I have worked on Dean’s Men shows (Love’s Labour’s Lost, Asst. Scenic; Macbeth in Space, Asst. PM), Weekend of Workshops (Fields of Asphodel, SM), UT-proposed hold space shows (Scientific Method, Lighting Designer; Laramie, SM Collective™ member), Theater (2022–23, Curator; Writer), and cross-quarters (Trail to Oregon, Asst. Lighting), as well as on TAPS pro-shows (Amazons and their Men, ASM) and in the Logan Scene Shop. I love being on production teams, from painting sets and focusing lights to taking notes during PMs. Yet, my heart truly lies in stage management (or so I tell myself), and next quarter, I will be putting my SM hat back on for Twelfth Night. Beyond just loving being on prod teams, I really do just love theater, and I want to support theater and performance on campus.
I feel like I’ve been able to experience the broad range of UT from both the rehearsal room side and the production meeting side. We are lucky to have so many resources here, and I specifically want to develop systems of support for prod team members. Pro-Staff does so much to support our productions in terms of building scenic elements and giving tap access (and MORE!), but they’re also there to guide and mentor us as professional theater people with years of experience — and I feel we’re not making enough use of that. I want to work to facilitate more student communication with Pro-Staff. As has been noted, cohort attendance is low, Pro-Staff are receiving no communication, and designers feel lost. As a member of Committee, I want to encourage more members of UT to reach out to Pro-Staff and be in regular conversation with them, both for the benefit of smoother and better production. I know that designer contracts are being rolled out, but meetings with your mentor need to be emphasized as important to the process and to the production. Outside of UT, I’ve also been a part of performances and seen groups come in with not a clear idea of how technical elements of shows go. Having to recruit a performer to call a show is a difficult last minute task. UT has so many resources — resources that we have worked on and developed. And I want to help share those UT resources, such as our manager/designer guides as well as just our knowledge of stage management and of putting on shows.
If it isn’t clear, I really do love UT and the people in UT, and it has been a huge part of my first (almost) two years here — and by being on Committee I want to help make our community the best it can be!
Natalie Floreancig (she/her)
I first got involved with UT through Theater24 and Staged Readings in Winter 2022, and since then I have been involved with theater every quarter. I’ve made a lot of my best friends through UT, and I would love to get more involved with the logistical side of things. I specifically would love to talk more about understudies and how they can be reincorporated back into UT. Along with some of the other former understudies, I have already met with some members of committee to discuss the basics of what an understudy bylaw would look like. I think it is very important that this conversation is continued. Understudying is a very valuable experience and could be a great way to increase the number of people getting involved with UT. Additionally, I would love to discuss more ways that UT can reach more people in general. I think it can be somewhat difficult for people to first get involved, especially on the acting side, and I want more people to be able to be a part of this community. I look forward to talking with you all about how we can expand UT’s reach within the university!
Rory McGann (he/him)
I have been involved with UT for three quarters to date, both the quarters listed above as well as the current quarter, in Be More Chill (Rich Goranski) that will continue into next quarter. I have had the pleasure of getting to know much of the UChicago theater community during this time, so I am very grateful to UT for providing me with many great friendships and incredible experiences.
I want to join UT Committee for two reasons: first, specifically, I want to help construct bylaws that both define and protect the roles of understudies in UT productions. Having been an understudy during the role’s trial days in UT and having witnessed the ongoing discussion of the place of understudies within UT, I am invested in orchestrating the best solution to the current dilemma. This can only be done, in my view, by bringing the situation into UT Committee through people who have first-hand experience with it. Beyond this particular focus, I want to continue the work of shaping UT into the best possible version of itself so that all those who are involved in it in any way, shape, or form get the best out of their experience. I believe that people participate in theater because they love it, and as a member of UT Committee I would endeavor to ensure that each individual’s interaction with UT satisfies that desire as fully as possible. I understand that providing this experience to all those that seek it doesn’t just happen on its own, so I am running for UT Committee to take an active part in delivering that joy of theater to all who want it.