Department of Theatre
A Musical Country Christmas Carol
Bring on the Fall
The fall semester at UNI is underway and we began with a very nice surprise of 103 students auditioning for Independence, Rent and The Glass Menagerie including many non-theatre majors. Rehearsals for Independence by Lee Blessing (which I am directing ) begin on Monday, August 31st. We open on October 8th in the Bertha-Martin Theatre located in the Strayer-Wood Theatre complex on the UNI campus. Several UNI alums are featured with this production including guest scenic designer, John Bagby of SUNY-Oneota and Katrina Sandvik as costume designer. Staff member and technical director, Ron Koinson will be designing lights. I'm also pleased to have UNI junior, Beth Hicks join us as our stage manager. Independence will also feature UNI alumnus, Kristin Tieg Torres in the role of Evelyn. I previously had the pleasure to work with Kristin on the premiere production of Storybook Christmas last December and look forward to working with her again as her talent, skill and professional approach throughout the rehearsal process will serve as an excellent example for our UNI students.
It was a good summer in 2015 as I dropped 30 pounds
and spent six enjoyable weeks at the Okoboji Summer Theatre. Thank you
to Dan Schultz for bringing me back to reprise the role of Mayor
Meekly in Unnecessary Farce directed by guest director, Karl Kippola
and starring fellow guest actors, John Lampe and Travis Mitchell and several
talented 2015 Stephen's College students. Following Farce it was
on to portraying the Constable in Fiddler on the Roof directed by
guest director/choreographer Allison Bibicoff. It was a particular pleasure
to work alongside our Tevye, Rob Doyen who is simply a pro's pro and a
great example for the students to emulate. He is one of the more giving
actors I've ever worked with. In rehearsal and in performance he is always
present, in the moment and giving 100%. We played to 7 straight sold-out
houses! A great way to end the season. It was a pleasure to work with and
meet many of the staff and guest artists this summer as well as the talented
students of Stephen's College. Producing 9 shows in 10 weeks along with
4 children's shows is a challenge, but a challenge that is met each and
every summer. A special shout-out to a wonderfully organized and postive
production manager and stage manager, Chandler Hull. She'll be working
for a long time in this business.
|Steve Taft is an Associate Professor and faculty member in the Department
of Theatre at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) located in Cedar Falls,
Iowa. With fourteen years of administrative experience, he has previously
served UNI as Head of the Department of Theatre, Acting Head of the Department
of Art and as Director of Education and Special Projects for the Gallagher-Bluedorn
Performing Arts Center. Other leadership positions include Head of
the Performing Arts Department (Theatre and Dance) at The University of
Louisiana-Lafayette and as Chair of the Department of Theatre at LaGrange
College. Steve received a Ph.D. in Fine Arts with an emphasis
in Theatre with concentrations in Arts Management and Directing from Texas
Tech University, a Master of Arts in Theatre from Missouri State University
and a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Central Missouri
majoring in Theatre and Speech with a minor in Dance.
His artistic skills and interests have allowed him to work as an actor, director and designer. Although his career has been devoted to leading university academic departments and being a member of the faculty, Steve has had the pleasure of working professionally from time to time. One of his fondest experiences was in the portrayal of Harry Mitchell in the Atlanta premiere of The Sum of Us for which he was nominated for Best Actor by the Atlanta publication, Creative Loafing. Since arriving in Iowa in the fall of 2000 he has worked at the The Old Creamery Theatre Company acting in Amadues, Tuesdays with Morrie and Greater Tuna, directing Nobody Don't Like Yogi, Broadway Bound, Rounding Third and The Odd Couple and serving as light and sound designer for a variety of productions.
Steve has also worked with the Stephen's College Okoboji Summer Theatre and their talented BFA students and fellow guest professionals portraying Dad in Leaving Iowa (2008) and Mayor Meekly in Unnecessary Farce (2010 & 2015) and also directing A.R. Gurney's What I Did Last Summer (2009) and the classic British farce, See How They Run (2010). Other artistic ventures include working with the Vox Nova Theatre Company in San Diego and Theatre L'Homme Dieu in Minnesota. His varied career has allowed him to work in radio, independent films, industrial films, and on various commercials including serving as the principal spokesperson for O'Reilly Automotive. And if you hit the pause button, you may be able to catch a glimpse of him in the films Sweet Dreams and The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All.
Having a deep respect and curiosity for all aspects of theatre, most recently Steve has focused on the task of playwriting and reigniting his passion for songwriting creating the holiday musical, Storybook Christmas: A Musical Country Christmas Carol and Hope the Firefly, a children's play with music based on the children's stories, "Hope the Firefly" and "Dancing with Daisy" by his best friend and wife of 33 plus years, Cindy (Urban) Taft. He is a member of ASCAP and President of MAYCLIFF MUSIC GROUP (ASCAP).
In the early part of his academic career at LaGrange College (Georgia), Steve served as Artistic Director of Fredrich Durrenmatt's The Visit, presented in conjunction with the "Leaders of Humanity" seminars conducted by Mr. Zigmunt Nagorski, President of the Center for International Leadership located in Washington, D.C. Presented as a LaGrange College interdisciplinary project in collaboration between the Department of Theatre and The Department of Business and Economics, Steve teamed with Dr. George Dupuy, Professor of Management, to produce the edited, yet thought-provoking and interactive drama at over forty seminars for such clients as: The Bell South Corporation, Capital Holding Corporation, Dun and Bradstreet, The Southeast Regional Education Board and the Global Leaders of the South. The program received The Southern Business Administration Association Teaching Innovation Award and the Leavey Award for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education from the Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge.
Inspired by his experiences with the "Leaders of Humanity" seminars, Steve's interdisciplinary interests continued with the development of a new course entitled, "Arts, Ethics, and the Athlete" at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. And for many years, he has been compiling research on dancer, choreographer, director and friend, Marc Breaux (1924-2013). The work includes interviews with friends and collaborators such as Dick Van Dyke, Richard Sherman, Lesley Ann Warren, Michael Kidd, Andy Williams, Kaye Ballard, and others. A veteran of Broadway, television and film, Marc Breaux is best known for his choreographic work in such films as Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, The Happiest Millionaire, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and a host of television and Broadway productions.
Steve has served on the Executive Board of the Southwest Theatre Association as Vice-President of Membership, as editor of Southwest Reports, and as Vice-Chair of Strategic Planning. On the state level, he has served as President of Theatres of Louisiana and as Chair of the College / University Division. In Georgia, he served the Georgia Theatre Conference as Vice-President of Membership, Chair of the College/University Division, and newsletter editor. He is a member of the Mid-America Theatre Conference and the Southeastern Theatre Conference and an active presenter. Steve has also had the pleasure to serve as an adjudicator for the American College Theatre Festival (ACTF), the Iowa Association of Community Theatre State Festival and Regional AACT/FEST, the Iowa High School Speech Association (IHSSA) and the Iowa Thespian Festival. He is an active member of United Faculty at UNI and serves on the UF Central Committee and others.
Representative directing credits include: Picasso at the Lapin Agile,
in Yonkers, the world premiere of the award-winning play Guernica
(by Cody Daigle), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Miracle
Lend Me a Tenor, Picnic, On Golden Pond,
Cemetery Club, The Shadow Box, Blithe Spirit,
Side Story, Working, Dancing at Lughnasa,
The House of Blue Leaves, Mauritius, The Sweetest
Swing in Baseball and more .
(photo by Randy Dardst)
HAVE A GREAT DAY!