December 2010

Print this page ›

December 2010

News & Notices

Building PQ Exhibit Brick by Brick

Michael Monsos USITT Praque Quadrennial Committee

BFA senior Doug Dion welds the truss.

From left, students Johanna Josephian, Ryan Luwe, Trevor Muller-Hegel, and Shy Iverson.

Some of the bricks.

Construction on the USITT–USA exhibits for the Prague Quadrennial has started at the University of Montana. While most of the construction on the National Exhibit is complete, the texturing and painting of the roughly 16,235 faux bricks to cover both the interior and exterior facades of the garage-like space designed by William Bloodgood are keeping the students busy and at times a little loopy. The occasional weariness at repetitive tasks always seems to vanish as the students realize the incredible excitement in both the design and the project.

After spending the summer building the scenery for the National Tour of the Montana Repertory Theatre’s production of Bus Stop, the crew usually takes a few days off. But this year some of the students spent the break in a planning meeting with some of the outstanding faculty and professionals associated with the USITT-USA exhibits. It was at those meetings that the students realized they would have the opportunity to work on something very exciting, with professionals from across the country, and to be part of a project that would elevate their skills and experience to a higher level.

It was also the uniqueness of the project that invigorated them. The University of Montana constructs national tours every year, but not to Europe, and not a show that represents the entire country. The students are always challenged to build to a high quality product, recognizable from any angle or distance; however, the USITT-USA PQ 2011 exhibit can be touched, inspected, and evaluated by thousands of people. That’s a new twist.

BFA Senior Doug Dion reduced his credit load to two classes so he could serve as lead carpenter on the National Exhibit, and to (so far) construct the Student Exhibit single-handedly. Johanna Josephian stayed in Missoula after graduating last spring to oversee all the painting and the model repair, and to build the exhibits. Shy Iverson (sophomore BFA), Trevor Muller-Hegel (junior BFA), Karl Mitchell (senior BFA), Pamela Hickey (third year MFA), and Ryan Luwe, (who is not even in the design/tech program but can build as if he were), are all coming to the shop each and every day this semester. The enthusiasm and energy from the students is what makes this project gratifying.

Exhibits Projects Manager Mike Monsos recalled, “In 2003, when I first made the case for The University of Montana School of Theatre & Dance to be the host site for the construction of the exhibits, I had no idea where our program would be or what caliber students we would have in 2011. But I knew we had the facilities and the commitment from our program, and I believed in what we would be able to build. I can’t tell you how proud I am that the students have more than done their part. It is, in fact, why we teach – so that our students, when challenged, can step up to and surpass whatever obstacles there may be.”

So even though all those bricks were cut out by hand, and are being textured in what must certainly be the slowest process on earth, the students keep coming, and they keep smiling – with or without donuts.