Well-Intentioned White People Runs Through Sunday

Well-Intentioned White People,” runs Thursday
through Sunday at the Nelda K. Balch Playhouse.
A live stream will be available Friday night.

Is it possible for people who mean well to do more harm than good when it comes to race relations? Well-Intentioned White People, running Thursday through Sunday, examines this idea. It is the first production in the Festival Playhouse at Kalamazoo College’s 58th season themed “Black is Beautiful: An Ode to Black Life, Love and Strength.” All three plays—including Black+Phats in February and Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet in May—will feature Black playwrights telling Black stories.

In this play, college professor Cass wants to forget about experiencing an anti-Black hate crime while simply moving on with her life. Her white roommate and the dean of the university, however, push her to do something about it.

Suddenly, Cass is roped into planning an Equality Day and Unity Week while trying to convince her roommate not to plan a sit-in. Well-Intentioned White People explores how some people attempt to deal with discrimination not directed at them and how “well intentions” can be problematic.

“This play has a lot of heavy themes, wrapped up as a humorous political satire,” said Meaghan Hartman ’23, the play’s dramaturg. “It deals with the constant presence of racism at primarily white institutions and how white people attempt to cover it up, rather than digging into the root of the problems. It also forces its audience to think critically about racism on this college campus and the impact it has on our daily lives. This whole play shows us that meaning well is completely different from doing good.”

Cameo Green ’23 plays Cass in the main role. Addison Peter ’25 portrays Viv, Arman Khan ’24 plays Parker, Brooklyn Moore ’24 presents Dean Baker, and Mickie Wasmer ‘25 fills the role of Mara.

Tickets for Well-Intentioned White People, which will take place at the Nelda K. Balch Playhouse at 129 Thompson St., are available online. The presentations start at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. A virtual live stream will be available with Friday’s show. A recording of the live stream then will be available until Sunday. Adults are $15, seniors are $10 and students are $5. K students and faculty and staff are free when an ID is presented. Audiences should expect mature language and situations within the play.

“We hope to start a larger and critical conversation about race and racism on campus and in the community,” Hartman said. “I hope that after seeing Well-Intentioned White People that the audiences, especially white people, are able to critically examine their own feelings about race.”

Student-Written ‘Unzipped’ Spotlights Self-Discovery

Production Poster Says Unzipped by Rebecca Chan
Unzipped,” complete with monologues and Rebecca Chan’s own
music, explores the perception of East Asians in the U.S.
and her experiences as a queer Chinese American.

Our life stories make great stage plays and Rebecca Chan ’22 has a chance to share her story with us all. Her self-written coming-of-age story, Unzipped, is a part of the Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College’s Senior Performance Series.

The production, complete with monologues and Chan’s own music, explores the perception of East Asians in the United States and her experiences as a queer Chinese American. Unzipped takes aim at a common racial slur used against Asian Americans and refers to Chan’s life of unpacking and discovering her identity.

“I’d say in the past few years there has been a lot more representation of Asian Americans, and like myself, mixed Asian Americans,” Chan said. “But I find a lot of media has characters who maybe have one white parent and one Asian parent like myself, and the racial experience of that existence is brushed over. A lot of my life has been me questioning my racial identity, trying to understand it and what it means, so I wanted to write a show very specifically about that experience.”

Chan, a theatre major, has participated in Festival Playhouse productions and events since her first year on campus. In 2019, she was selected for the week-long Kennedy Center American College Theatre National Festival in Washington, D.C., where she was one of four students from around the country to participate in its Institute for Theatre Journalism Advocacy (ITJA) events; another one of her self-written plays, Record, was featured at Theatre Kalamazoo’s 10th annual New PlayFest in February 2020; and she earned the Theatre Arts First-Year Student Award at Honors Convocation in 2019.

Unzipped, however, represents her senior integrated project. She had a chance to write the play as an independent study during the spring term of her junior year while taking an advanced playwriting class taught by then-Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts “C” Heaps. Since, Chan has been calculating the details of the acting process.

“It’s been tricky because I want to be emotionally invested in the show, but I don’t want to carry so much of the emotions that it weighs me down,” Chan said. “It’s a very careful balance of being in the moment of the show and knowing I’m telling the story how I need to tell it.”

The production’s storytelling process includes projected pictures of Chan’s own childhood and picks up with her in high school.

“I talk about different high school relationships and how I understood myself, and as I get into college, how those experiences changed my perception of who I am,” she said. “There are two big plot points: my relationship with my family, like with my grandmother and my dad and how those evolved over the course of my life, and my relationships in college. There’s a lot of weaving and intersecting of how my perception of my family influences how I interact with my friends, and then how things I realized for my friends influenced how I think about my family.”

Chan wrote the music for Unzipped over two years and has added new songs to fill in the gaps.

“I started writing the music before I even knew I wanted to make the show,” Chan said. “I was always interested in it, but in high school, I felt very nervous about it. I didn’t think I had a good enough voice to sing on my own or had enough knowledge of music to produce something people would want to listen to. But starting my sophomore year, I got back in touch with the piano and started picking up the ukulele. I would just write little songs as I was going through life. It was a coping mechanism that helped me process what I was going through in the big events of my life. Over the summer, I spent a lot of time recording demos of the songs so I could share them with whoever would be playing in my band. Luckily, I was able to find five musicians who were available for the show. Four of which are current students and one a recent alumna.”

Milan Levy ’23 is the director and Angela Mammel ’22 designed the set and projections for their senior integrated projects. Attendees should be aware the play contains racial violence and language. Tickets for the in-person performance of Unzipped, at 129 Thompson St. in the Nelda K. Balch Theatre, and the virtual show are available online. In-person presentations start at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. The virtual broadcast is at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is to be unapologetic in who I am,” Chan said. “I think I spent a lot of time trying to make my focus educating other people or changing the world around me. While those are important things to strive for and do, I think the core of my existence should be living for myself and not living to change others who might not be willing to change.”

Kalamazoo College Welcomes New Faculty Members

Kalamazoo College is pleased to welcome the following faculty members to campus this fall:

Assistant Professor of Spanish Tris Faulkner

Assistant Professor of Spanish Tris Faulkner
Assistant Professor of Spanish Tris Faulkner

Tris Faulkner, who is originally from Jamaica, lived in Chile for about two years, working as a translator and interpreter at a prominent law firm before earning a Ph.D. in Spanish linguistics from Georgetown University. She also has professional experience as a translator and interpreter at the Embassy of Venezuela, and in similar roles at a legal firm and a business school in North Carolina.

Faulkner has lived in Spain and visited various Spanish-speaking countries, experiences which have helped her to observe the diversity that characterizes the Spanish language. Her research investigates the semantics and pragmatics of variation in verbal mood, tense, and aspect, as related to the Romance language family, English, and Jamaican Creole.

In addition to her Ph.D., Faulkner has master’s degrees from Georgetown (M.Sc. in Spanish linguistics) and Wake Forest University (M.A. in interpreting and translation studies), and a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University (B.A. in Spanish language and literature and international studies). She will teach seminars in Spanish linguistics, as well as various other courses in the upcoming academic year.

Assistant Professor of Religion Sohini Pillai

Assistant Professor of Religion Sohini Pillai
Assistant Professor of Religion Sohini Pillai

Sohini Pillai will teach courses this academic year on religious traditions in South Asia. She is a comparatist of South Asian religious literature and her area of specialization is the Mahabharata and Ramayana epic narrative traditions with a focus on retellings created in Hindi and Tamil.

Pillai is the co-editor of Many Mahabharatas (State University of New York Press, 2021), an introduction to diverse retellings of the Mahabharata tradition in the forms of classical dramas, premodern vernacular poems, regional performance traditions, commentaries, graphic novels, political essays, novels, and contemporary theater productions. She’s also a member of the Steering Committee for the Hinduism Unit at the American Academy of Religion.

Pillai has a Ph.D. in South and Southeast Asian studies from the University of California, Berkeley; a master’s degree in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African studies from Columbia University; and a bachelor’s degree in South Asia studies and theatre studies from Wellesley College.

Assistant Professor of Theatre Quincy Thomas

Assistant Professor of Theatre Quincy Thomas
Assistant Professor of Theatre Quincy Thomas

Quincy Thomas earned his Ph.D. in theatre and his performance studies certification from Bowling Green State University. His research centers on subjects including counter-storytelling, Black performativity in American culture, representations of the marginalized in popular culture, comedic and solo performance and performative writing. At K, he will teach directing, theatre history and playwriting, with further prior experience teaching theatre, performance studies and film.

His courses are informed on issues of cultural marginalization and misrepresentation in the arts, specifically of racial and ethnic minorities, women and members of the LGBTQ+ community. His work has been published in peer-reviewed academic journals, including the International Review of Qualitative Research and Puppetry International, and presented at national conferences, including the Mid-America Theatre Conference, the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, and the Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association (MAPACA). He currently serves as president of MAPACA. His most recent directorial offering was Robert Patrick’s Play-by-Play: A Spectacle of Ourselves: A Verse Farce in Two Acts. Thomas also has a background in acting. Some of his favorite roles played include Christopher in Joe Penhall’s Blue/Orange, Albert in Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park, and most recently the role of Actor in Nassim Soleimanpour’s White Rabbit; Red Rabbit.

Assistant Professor of Economics Darshana Udayanganie

Assistant Professor of Economics Darshana Udayanganie
Assistant Professor of Economics Darshana Udayanganie

Darshana Udayanganie earned her Ph.D., with specializations in environmental economics and college teaching, and a master’s degree in economics from the University of New Hampshire. She also has a master’s degree in resource economics and policy from the University of Maine and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. Before joining K in 2017 as a visiting assistant professor, she taught at Central Michigan University from 2014 to 2017, Merrimack College in 2013 and 2014, and the University of New Hampshire’s global student success program from 2011 to 2014.

Her current research focuses on urban economics and environmental economics. She also has published book chapters on economic growth in relation to military expenditure and international trade.

Assistant Professor of Japanese Brian White

Brian White will teach courses in Japanese language, literature and culture at K.  He specializes in contemporary (post-1945) Japanese popular culture and media studies.

He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, where he wrote a dissertation on 1960s Japanese sci-fi literature and film, asking specifically, “What can a genre do?” He will delve into that history when he teaches a course in the winter term this year on Japanese science fiction and media history.

White earned a bachelor’s degree in East Asian languages and civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Across his undergraduate and graduate careers, he has spent a total of two and a half years living in Japan, primarily in Tokyo, Yokohama and Kyoto. 

Assistant Professor of Chinese Yanshuo Zhang

Yanshuo Zhang’s research addresses multiethnic Chinese identities in literary and visual cultures produced in China and the U.S. Her research on multiethnic Chinese cultural productions helps diversify scholarly understanding of and teaching about modern Chinese national culture.

She was a lecturer in Stanford University’s Program in Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) from 2018 through 2020, where she designed classes on cross-cultural explorations of diversity, particularly in Asia and the U.S. She also has been a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Catherine University and a Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Visiting Assistant Professor Vijayan Sundararaj

Vijayan Sundararaj leads a biology course this term in ecology and conservation. He has prior education experience as a lecturer, teaching assistant and topic lecturer between Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Canada, and Texas A&M University-Kingsville. His teaching interests include evolutionary ecology concepts, animal behavior, foraging behavior, predator-prey interactions, conservation biology, wildlife ecology, waterfowl ecology, mammalogy, spatial ecology, and introductory geographic information systems.

Sundararaj received a bachelor’s degree with a specialty in zoology from Gujarat University in India before earning a master’s degree in ecology from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel; a geographic information systems applications specialist graduate certificate from Sir Sandford Fleming College in Canada and a doctorate in forest sciences and wildlife ecology from Lakehead University.

Visiting Assistant Professor Eunice Uhm

Eunice Uhm specializes in modern and contemporary art, with a transnational focus on the United States and East Asia. Her work examines the conditions of migration and the diasporic aesthetic subjectivities in the works of contemporary Japanese and South Korean art from the 1960s to the present. She has previously taught courses on modern and contemporary art, East Asian art, and Asian American studies at Ohio State University. She has organized panels and presented her work on Asian American art at national conferences such as CAA. She is an active member of numerous grassroots community organizations for Asian Americans and immigrant rights, and she is involved in immigrant rights campaigns such as Love has no borders: A call for justice in our immigration system. Her essay, “Constructing Asian American Political and Aesthetic Subjectivities: Contradictions in the Works of Ruth Asawa,” is forthcoming (Verge: Studies in Global Asias, University of Minnesota Press).

Uhm received a master’s degree and a doctorate in the history of art from the Ohio State University. At K, she teaches courses on Asian and Asian American art, art and race, and transnationalism.

Visiting Assistant Professor Fungisai Musoni

Fungisai Musoni has joined the history department where she will teach courses in African civilizations, decolonization in West and Southern Africa, and U.S.-Africa relations since World War II.

Musoni has prior teaching experience in African literature, American politics and global issues, and social studies between the Ohio State University, Georgia State University, Gwinnett County Schools in Atlanta and the Zimbabwe Ministry of Education and Culture.

She fluently reads, writes and speaks the African languages of Shona and Manyika. Her education includes a bachelor’s degree in economic history and Shona from the University of Zimbabwe, Harare; master’s degrees in political science and history from Georgia State University and Mercer University respectively; and a doctorate in African American and African Studies from the Ohio State University.

Visiting Assistant Professor Badru-Deen Barry

Badru-Deen Barry teaches Introductory chemistry and biochemistry at K this fall.

His education includes a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone, master’s degrees in chemistry from Northeast Normal University in China and Michigan State University, and a doctorate in chemistry from Michigan State.

He previously served Michigan State and Northeast Normal as a graduate research assistant, Société Générale de Surveillance in Freetown, Sierra Leone, as port supervisor and chemist, and Fourah Bay College as a laboratory and teaching assistant.

Visiting Assistant Professor Mikela Zhezha-Thaumanavar

Mikela Zhezha-Thaumanavar is teaching courses in Spanish this fall as well as a course in foreign language teaching methods. In addition, she serves as the coordinator for the Spanish Teaching Assistants at K. She received her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate in Spanish linguistics from Western Michigan University.

She has previously taught courses in Spanish at Western Michigan University, Davenport University, and Kalamazoo Community College. She also served WMU as a guest professor, teaching in the institution’s Summer Translation Program. She previously has worked in translation and speaks Albanian and Italian in addition to English and Spanish.

Visiting Assistant Professor Jennifer Mills

Jennifer Mills is leading courses including seminars in psychology and health psychology this term. Mills holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia, master’s degrees from Georgia College and State University and Western Michigan University, and a doctorate from WMU.

She is working on an executive master’s in public health at Emory University with an emphasis in prevention science. For the past 10 years, Mills has owned and operated MindBodyWell, a private counseling practice that focuses on science-based approaches to stress, depression and anxiety. 

Mills is an active member of the Institute for Public Scholarship, a local, anti-racist organization that works on issues of place and belonging. Her research interests focus on preventing and mitigating the impact of early childhood adversity on health. 

Visiting Assistant Professor Robert Mowry

Robert Mowry is teaching two sections of Introduction to Society and Culture offered by the Department of Anthropology and Sociology. His additional teaching interests include quantitative methods, disaster, the intersection of politics and the environment, and ways of seeing and knowing.

Mowry comes to Kalamazoo College from the University of Notre Dame, where he recently earned his Ph.D. in sociology. Previously, he earned master’s degrees from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Sheffield, and a B.A. from Earlham College.

As a teacher-scholar of disaster and politics, Mowry employs multiple methods to study the processes and outcomes of globally diverse, high-stakes political arenas—from post-disaster contentious politics in the U.S. and Japan to the gendered dynamics of protest participation in Europe. A related stream of research looks at how cultural processes of learning, memory, and thinking spur spontaneous laughter outbursts during Supreme Court oral arguments. His work has been published in Sociological Theory.

Visiting Assistant Professor Jennifer Perry

Jennifer Perry leads courses at K including General Psychology, Sensation and Perception, and Psychopharmacology in the Department of Psychology. Her credentials include a Bachelor of Arts from St. Olaf College and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. Perry’s research includes studies on the ethics of laboratory animal research and the role of impulsive behavior in drug abuse.

Alumnus Puts Streaming Center Stage for Theatre Industry

Cody Colvin edits video for streaming
Cody Colvin ’18 (left) hopes to show the theatre industry how streaming can increase revenue.

A Kalamazoo College alumnus has a plan to ensure all the world’s a stage for the theatre industry now and in the future, despite the drama that COVID-19 has caused behind the scenes.

Cody Colvin '18
Cody Colvin ’18

Cody Colvin ’18 traveled the country in about 45 days this spring with the staff of his business, Colvin Theatrical, to film 11 of the 12 Outstanding Production nominees at this year’s American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) Festival. His travels to cities from Lexington, Massachusetts, to Spokane, Washington, helped Colvin show the industry how recorded or streaming broadcasts of theatre events have the potential to widen audiences from the few sitting in theaters to thousands more regardless of their location.

“There’s one element to the filming, which was protecting theaters during the pandemic and helping them get back some of the revenue they might have lost,” Colvin said. “But what we’re really excited about is the prospect of growing the industry. We’ve found that there are companies that are doing better with streaming than they were in person, and the reason for that is scale.”

Scale is the opportunity to increase revenue at a faster rate than costs, which is one of the ideas Colvin studied as a business major at K.

“Scale in the theatre industry is basically impossible when you have a limited number of seats that you can sell,” he added. “Theaters at every level, whether they be community colleges or Broadway companies, could only sell so many seats, and their costs continued to rise. Filming creates an interactive experience that allows companies to scale their audience and reach people all over the world.”

Colvin Theatrical Sets Up for Streaming a Play
Colvin Theatrical films an AACT Festival Outstanding Production nominee on the road.

Colvin’s filming opportunities developed when he first helped K’s Festival Playhouse rethink its plans for the 2020 productions of Kokoro and K. His streaming services gave a silver lining of optimism to what otherwise might’ve been a lost season and Colvin was grateful for the work experience.

That work was key for Colvin in attracting the attention of the AACT Festival, which affirms, supports and nurtures actors, directors and producers in community-theatre companies. The event, normally conducted every other year in person, needed to be virtual in 2021 because of the pandemic. That meant the Outstanding Festival Production nominees needed to be filmed with a presentational touch absent in the single-camera video submissions they initially provided festival judges. Colvin’s services provided the solution.

An actor participates in 'The Mountaintop'
Dominic Carter portrays Martin Luther King Jr. in the Lexington (Massachusetts) Players production of “The Mountaintop,” which earned Outstanding Festival Production honors at the AACT Festival.

“With our cameras, our broadcasting equipment and the way we shoot these productions, it’s very interactive and theatrical,” Colvin said. “You occasionally have moving shots, you have multiple cameras, and you have really good audio so you’re able to get an experience that is a mix of theatre and film to take a story to the rest of the world. Video has a place in every level of theater and there’s always going to be an expanded audience that any theater at any level can find.”

Colvin and his team used Blackmagic Design products, including video-editing tools and digital film cameras, to produce film with a cinematic quality that drew rave reviews from the theatre companies. Colvin Theatrical is also partnering with Blackmagic Design to create a website, FilmingTheatre.com, that will launch in September. The interactive site will help teach theaters around the world how to film and broadcast their shows. There also will be a documentary film of their work on the site to show the production process.

“When you have the trust of all those people, you want to do it as well as you possibly can and they were very happy with us,” he said. “When you’re able to look back and say, ‘Yes, we did that as well as we possibly could have and it was a success,’ that’s an amazing feeling. The reactions are just amazing.”

Colvin admitted some might still prefer an in-person theatre experience to streaming even if they have to pay a premium for tickets. However, filming and streaming can only widen opportunities for audiences and theatre companies alike.

“Anything that you once knew as live, whether it be a few years ago or a couple decades ago, is finding a home on television,” he said. “We think theatre’s going to be no different. When I watch a Lions game, I actually prefer watching on TV because I see the best angles that way. I can hear commentary, I can see pretty much every angle of the game, and I can do it from the comfort of my own home. It’s not a direct parallel, but I think it’s where the theatre industry is headed.”

Colvin often worked at the Festival Playhouse at K. That and his experiences as a business major are fueling what stands to be his success now and in the future with much of the credit going to faculty members such as Professor of Theatre Arts Lanny Potts, Edward and Virginia Van Dalson Professor of Economics Patrick Hultberg, L. Lee Stryker Associate Professor of Business Management Amy MacMillan and Associate Professor of Economics and Business Timothy Moffit.

“The College gave me an education that allows me to be an entrepreneur at 25,” Colvin said. “I use what I learned in the business department and the theatre department every day. I use the negotiation skills I learned with Patrik Hultberg, accounting with Dr. Moffit, and marketing with Professor MacMillan. So much of how I think about business is structured based on how they taught me. I couldn’t be more thankful for my time at K.”

Water by the Spoonful Spotlights Addiction, PTSD, Family Trauma

Water by the Spoonful
Kalamazoo College’s Festival Playhouse will present the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Water by the Spoonful from Thursday, May 20-Sunday, May 23.

A deluge of trouble floods characters in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Water by the Spoonful, coming this week to the Festival Playhouse at Kalamazoo College.

In the play, moderator “Haikumom,” also known as Odessa Ortiz, leads a chat room for recovering drug addicts. From behind their screens, the participants don’t expect to ever meet each other in person yet develop helpful bonds that assist them in recovery.

Off the internet, however, Odessa’s real-life family is suffering through separate issues in a Puerto Rican neighborhood in North Philadelphia. Her biological son, Elliot, has returned from the Iraq War with post-traumatic stress disorder, and her sister is dying of cancer. Alonte Mitchell-Presley ’21 plays Odessa and Trevor Loduem-Jackson ’21 portrays Elliot.

In other roles, Rebecca Chan ’22 plays “Orangutan;” Petra Rodriguez ’21 takes the role of Yazmin Ortiz; Natalie Markech ’21 portrays “Fountainhead;” and Arman Khan ’24 plays Elliot’s ghost. Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Bianca Washington will serve as director. The play is the second in a trilogy of plays by Quiara Alegria Hudes. The first was Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue. The third was The Happiest Song Plays Last.

“I really think this a play that can appeal to everyone,” said Meaghan Hartman ’23, who is serving as the play’s dramaturg. “There might be some parts that are more relatable for most of the audience, but it’s such a powerful story about trauma in families. I just think it’s super impactful, really for anyone.”

As the dramaturg, Hartman researched the history behind the play, which is set in 2009. Although the Great Recession was of primary concern then, Hartman needed to know what troops experienced with PTSD during the Iraq War and learn about the implications of crack and opioid addiction. That exploration helped her create a lobby display at the Nelda K. Balch Playhouse that will help audiences better understand the characters in Water by the Spoonful. That lobby display is available in an online format for virtual audiences.

“This can be a very triggering show for some people, and the lobby display will help set the tone,” Hartman said. “There are a lot of facts about how the themes apply to life here in Kalamazoo, especially with crack addiction and opioid overdoses in our own city. It’s been interesting to figure out how to illustrate those feelings and experiences to the audience.”

Playhouse staff have implemented strict Actors Equity Association COVID-19 compliance safety guidelines and protocols that will allow for live audiences in socially-distanced pods in the Nelda K. Balch Playhouse, 129 Thompson St. Live productions will be available at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Reserve your tickets through the Playhouse’s Ludus system box office. Adult tickets are $15, seniors are $10 and students are $5 with an ID. Kalamazoo College students, faculty and staff are admitted free with their College IDs. No tickets will be sold at the door because of the limited number of tickets available.

A virtual broadcast will be available with the Friday production. To watch for $5 from the comfort of your home, purchase your access online.

“We’re just excited to start doing live theater again,” Hartman said. “Professor Lanny Potts opens just about every single play meeting with how grateful we are, recognizing that there are actors, theatre technicians and directors who are unable to do it. We’re pleased and thankful.”

You Can Point The Compass in the Right Direction

Promotional image for The Compass
The in-person audience attending the Festival Playhouse’s production of The Compass Thursday through Sunday will ultimately determine the fate of the main character, Marjan, played by Xochitl Robertson ’23. Graphic by Angela Mammel ’22.

If you’ve ever wanted to choose a character’s fate when you’re watching a play, Kalamazoo College’s Festival Playhouse has a production coming this week you’ll want to see.

Originally devised and produced at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, The Compass explores technology’s impact on decision-making. When an app tells Marjan, played by Xochitl Robertson ’23, to commit a crime to prevent a mass shooting at her school, the audience helps decide her fate by answering whether she should be held accountable.

The Compass poses several questions that we seek to answer together with the audience,” said Visiting Professor of Theatre Arts “C” Heaps, the play’s director. “What role does technology play in our lives? When does the greater good outweigh the strictly lawful? What, ultimately, is the right thing to do?”

Through a series of flashbacks and real-time scenes, the in-person audience learns the full story of her decision, and ultimately influences the trial’s outcome.

“The audience acts as a jury for the trial at the heart of the play,” Heaps said. “Juror facilitators lead discussions with them at key points in the play and then represent their section’s opinions on stage. The biggest challenge was finding a way to seamlessly take a vote, collate those responses and get them back to the jury foreperson, who is on stage the whole time, so he can announce the verdict. We also had to provide multiple options for sound cues to account for different choices by the audience.”

The cast includes Trevor Loduem-Jackson ’21 as Chaz Perez and Kenneth, Isaac Presberg ’24 as an entrepreneur and Mr. Ferguson, Meaghan Hartman ’23 as Ada and Blanca, Emma Fergusson ’22 as prosecutor and Ms. Ellis, and Matthew Swarthout ’22 as a defense lawyer and principal. Arman Khan ’24, Abby Nelson ’24, Brooklyn Moore ’24, John Carlson ’23 and Melody Kondoff ’24 serve as jurors and facilitators.

Playhouse staff have implemented strict Actors Equity Association COVID-19 compliance safety guidelines and protocols for The Compass that will allow for live audiences in socially-distanced pods in the Nelda Balch Playhouse, 129 Thompson St. Live productions will be available at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Reserve your tickets through the Playhouse’s Ludus system box office. Adult tickets are $15, seniors are $10 and students are $5 with an ID. Kalamazoo College students, faculty and staff are admitted free with their College IDs.

A virtual broadcast will be available with the Friday production. To watch for $5 from the comfort of your home, purchase your access online.

Festival Playhouse Production Addresses Institutional Racism

Festival Playhouse Production Poster for K
Aija Turner ’23 portrays Juanita, a student who encounters the ghosts of former Kalamazoo College President Weimer K. Hicks, played by Isaac Presberg ’24, and Festival Playhouse Founder Nelda K. Balch, played by Claire de Vries ’24, in the original Festival Playhouse production titled K.

A Festival Playhouse production written over the past two years by Kalamazoo College students is challenging administrators and faculty to better fight institutional racism, and students to consider their own biases.

In the play, simply titled K, Aija Turner ’23 portrays Juanita, a student who encounters the ghosts of former Kalamazoo College President Weimer K. Hicks, played by Isaac Presberg ’24, and Festival Playhouse Founder Nelda K. Balch, played by Claire de Vries ’24.

The dialogue, presented in virtual conversations, shows how the College’s policies and historical events are still leading to friction between students, and injustice on campus through issues the institution never publicized, examined or resolved, especially as K’s faculty demographics don’t match the diversity of its students.

The play was written with Jens Rasmussen of the Bechdel Project providing exploratory scenarios, Emilio Rodriguez of the Black and Brown Theatre Company providing guidance and sustaining support, and dramaturgy provided by Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts “C” Heaps. Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Lori Sands served as the costume designer.

Watch K at any time through Vimeo. Stay online after the play for a discussion with some of the writers and actors. Read the online program, assembled by Rebecca Chan ’22, at the Festival Playhouse website.

Honors Convocation Lauds Students’ Achievements

Honors Day Convocation
Kalamazoo College recognized outstanding achievements by its students Friday with the annual Honors Day Convocation.

More than 250 students were recognized Friday during the annual Honors Day Convocation for excellence in academics and leadership. Students were recognized in six divisions: Fine Arts, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, Humanities, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Social Sciences, and Physical Education. Recipients of prestigious scholarships were recognized, as were members of national honor societies and students who received special Kalamazoo College awards. Student athletes and teams who won Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association awards also were honored. The students receiving Honors Day awards or recognition are listed below. Watch the recorded event at our website.


Brian Gougeon Prize in Art

Awarded to a sophomore student who, during his or her first year, exhibited outstanding achievement and potential in art.

Elena Basso
Nicole Taylor
Camryn Zdziarski-West

Margaret Upton Prize in Music

Provided by the Women’s Council of Kalamazoo College and awarded each year to a student designated by the Music Department Faculty as having made significant achievement in music.

Katherine Miller-Purrenhage

Cooper Award

For a junior or senior showing excellence in a piece of creative work in a Theatre Arts class:  film, acting, design, stagecraft, puppetry or speech.

Jonathan Townley

Sherwood Prize

Given for the best oral presentation in a speech-oriented class.

Sedona Coleman
Cameo Green

Theatre Arts First-Year Student Award

Given to a sophomore for outstanding departmental efforts during the first year.

Milan Levy


LeGrand Copley Prize in French

Awarded to the sophomore who as a first-year student demonstrated the greatest achievement in French.

Tristan Fuller
Claire Kvande

Hardy Fuchs Award

Given for excellence in first-year German.

Ben Flotemersch
Elizabeth Wang

Margo Light Award

Given for excellence in second-or third-year German.

Ellie Lotterman
Noah Prentice

Romance Languages Department Prize in Spanish

Awarded for excellence in the first year in Spanish.

Emma Sidor
MiaFlora Tucci

Clara H. Buckley Prize for Excellence in Latin

Awarded to an outstanding student of the language of the ancient Romans.

Sydney Patton

Provost’s Prize in Classics

Awarded to that student who writes the best essay on a classical subject.

Jane Delmonico

Classics Department Prize in Greek

Awarded to the outstanding student of the language of classical Greece.

Nick Wilson


Allen Prize in English

Given for the best essay written by a member of the first-year class.

Shanon Brown

John B. Wickstrom Prize in History

Awarded for excellence in the first year’s work in history.

Helen Edwards
Sam Kendrick

Department of Philosophy Prize

Awarded for excellence in any year’s work in philosophy.

Julia Bienstock
Emma Fergusson
Luke Richert
Teague Tompkins

L.J. and Eva (“Gibbie”) Hemmes Memorial Prize in Philosophy

Awarded to a sophomore who in the first year shows the greatest promise for continuing studies in philosophy.

Garret Hanson
Clarice Ray
Mikayla Youngman


Department of Chemistry Prize

Awarded for excellence in the first year’s work in chemistry.

Abby Barnum
Marissa Dolorfino
Elizabeth Wang

First-Year Chemistry Award

Awarded to a sophomore student who, during  the first year, demonstrated great achievement in chemistry.

Thomas Buffin
Mallory Dolorfino
MiaFlora Tucci

Lemuel F. Smith Award

Given to a student majoring in chemistry pursuing the American Chemical Society approved curriculum and having at the end of the junior year the highest average standing in courses taken in chemistry, physics and mathematics.

Jennalise Ellis

Computer Science Prize

Awarded for excellence in the first year’s work in computer science.

Eleanor Carr
Vien Hang
Aleksandr Molchagin
Erin Murphy
William Shaw
Hanis Sommerville

First-Year Mathematics Award

Given annually to the sophomore student who, during the first year, demonstrated the greatest achievement in mathematics.

Tolkien Bagchi

Thomas O. Walton Prize in Mathematics

Awarded to a member of the junior class for excellence in the work of the first two years in mathematics.

Joseph Jung
Tommy Saxton
Carter Wade

Cooper Prize in Physics

Given for excellence in the first year’s work in physics.

Oliver Tye
Blue Truong


Departmental Prize in Anthropology and Sociology

Awarded for excellence during the first and/or second year’s work.

Milan Levy
Milagros Robelo
Aija Turner

Wallace Lawrence Prize in Economics

Awarded annually to a student who has done outstanding work in the Department of Economics and Business during the sophomore year.

Kayla Carlson
Mihail Naskovski
Emily Tenniswood

William G. Howard Memorial Prize

Awarded for excellence in any year’s work in economics.

Nicklas Klepser
Nathan Micallef
Sage Ringsmuth
Andrew Sheckell

Wallace Lawrence Prize in Business

Awarded annually to a student who has done outstanding work in the Department of Economics and Business during the sophomore year.

Lucas Kastran
Cade Thune
Alex Wallace

Irene and S. Kyle Morris Prize

Awarded for excellence in the first year’s courses in the Department of Economics and Business.

Zoe Gurney

William G. Howard Memorial Prize in Political Science

Awarded for excellence in any year’s work in political science.

Elisabeth Kuras

Department of Psychology First-Year Student Prize

Awarded for excellence in the first-year student’s work in psychology.

Violet Crampton
Sarah Densham


Division of Physical Education Prize

Awarded to those students who as first-year students best combined leadership and scholarship in promoting athletics, physical education and recreation.

Sam Ankley
Alexis Petty

Maggie Wardle Prize

Awarded to that sophomore woman whose activities at the College reflect the values that Maggie Wardle demonstrated in her own life. The recipient will show a breadth of involvement in the College through her commitment to athletics and to the social sciences and/or community service.

Camille Misra


Henry and Inez Brown Prize

Denise Jackson
Heather Muir
James Totten
Vanessa Vigier

Heyl Scholars (Class of 2024)

Lukas Bolton
Madeleine Coffman
Emily Haigh
Bijou Hoehle
Xavier Silva
Jordyn Wilson

Posse Scholars (Class of 2024)

Nicholas Davis
Nathan Garcia
Zy’ere Hollis
Tytiana Jones
Aaron Martinez
Udochi Okorie
Joshua Pamintuan
Anthony Peraza
Samantha Rodriguez
Rina Talaba

National Merit Scholars (Class of 2024)

Carter Wade

Voynovich Scholars
Awarded annually to a student who, in the judgment of the faculty, submits the most creative essay on the year’s topic.

Marina Bayma-Meyer
Yung Seo Lee

Alpha Lamda Delta

Alpha Lambda Delta is a national honor society that recognizes excellence in academic achievement during the first college year. To be eligible for membership, students must earn a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 and be in the top 20 percent of their class during the first year. The Kalamazoo College chapter was installed on March 5, 1942.

Jez Abella
Hashim Akhtar
Cameron Arens
Tolkien Bagchi
Elena Basso
Cassandra Bergen
Thomas Buffin
Natalie Call
John Carlson
Mary Margaret Cashman
Cassidy Chapman
Nicholas Cohee
Violet T. Crampton
Lauren Crossman
Sarah Densham
Charles Pasquale DiMagno
Mallory Dolorfino
Marissa Dolorfino
Katia Duoibes
Hannah Durant
Carter Eisenbach
Benjamin Flotemersch
Caelan Frazier
Nathaniel Harris Fuller
Tristan Fuller
Grace Garver
Zoe Gurney
Yoichi Haga
Vien Hang
Garrett Hanson
Lucy Hart
Katherine Haywood
Marshall Holley
Audrey Huizenga
Ian Becks Hurley
Jonathan Jiang
Emily Robin Kaneko Dudd
Benjamin Tyler Keith
Isabella Grace Kirchgessner
Sofia Rose Klein
Lena Thompson Klemm
Rhys Koellmann
Elisabeth Kuras
Caroline Lamb
Am Phuong Le
Dillon Lee
Ginamarie Lester
Milan Levy
Thomas Lichtenberg
Cassandra Linnertz
Alvaro J. Lopez Gutierrez
Kanase J. Matsuzaki
Camille Misra
Aleksandr V. Molchagin
Samantha Moss
Arein D. Motan
Matthew Mueller
Erin Murphy
Maya Nathwani
William Naviaux
Sudhanva Neti
Stefan Louis Nielsen
Keigo Nomura
Rohan Nuthalapati
Jenna Clare Paterob
Sheyla Yasmin Pichal
Harrison Poeszat
Noah Prentice
Isabelle G. Ragan
Abby L. Rawlings
Katherine Rock
Skyler Rogers
Gi Salvatierra
Hannia Queren Sanchez-Alvarado
Madeline Gehl Schroeder
William Shaw
Hanis Sommerville
Alex M Stolberg
Kaleb Sydloski
Clara Margaret Szakas
Claire Tallio
Nicole Taylor
Abhishek Thakur
Kaia Thomas
Blue Truong
Oliver Tye
Duurenbayar Ulziiduuren
Chilotam Christopher Urama
Elizabeth G. Wang
Margaret L. Wedge
Ryley Kay White
Katelyn Williams
Skai Williams
Leah Wolfgang
Camryn Zdziarski-West
Sophie Zhuang
Nathaniel Zona

Enlightened Leadership Awards

Robert Barnard
Irie Browne
Rebecca Chan
Nolan Devine
Daniel Fahle
Grace Hancock
Julia Leet
Lia Schroeder
Matthew Swarthout
Jonathan Townley
Ethan Tuck
Ian Yi

MIAA Award

These teams earned the 2019-2020 MIAA Team GPA Award for achieving a 3.3 or better grade-point average for the entire academic year:

Men’s Baseball
Women’s Basketball
Men’s Cross Country
Women’s Cross Country
Men’s Golf
Women’s Golf
Men’s Lacrosse
Women’s Lacrosse
Women’s Soccer
Women’s Softball
Women’s Swimming and Diving
Women’s Volleyball

MIAA Academic Honor Roll
Student Athletes 2019-2020

The Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association each year honors students at MIAA member colleges who achieve in the classroom and in athletic competition. Students need to be a letter winner in a varsity sport and maintain at least a 3.5 grade point average for the entire academic year.

Max Ambs
Georgie Andrews
Grant Anger
Hunter Angileri
Samuel Ankley
Julia Bachmann
Travis Barclay
Elena Basso
Lillian Baumann
Alex Bowden
Austin Bresnahan
Jack Brockhaus
Pierce Burke
Annika Canavero
Raekwon Castelow
Claire Cebelak
Walker Chung
Nicholas Cohee
Thomas Cook
Noah Coplan
Rachel Cornell
Chase Coselman
John Crane
Cameron Crothers
Gwendolyn Davis
Riley Davis
Emmelyn DeConinck
Robert Dennerll
Sarah Densham
Eva DeYoung
Mallory Dolorfino
Marissa Dolorfino
Amanda Dow
Austin Duff
Alex Dupree
Hannah Durant
Thomas Fales
Dugan Fife
Gwendolyn Flatland
Payton Fleming
Matthew Ford
Clifton Foster
Luke Fountain
Sierra Fraser
Rachael Gallap
Brendan Gausselin
Katie Gierlach
Anthony Giovanni
Madison Goodman
Mya Gough
Matthew Gu
Rebekah Halley
Grace Hancock
Laura Hanselman
Lucy Hart
Katherine Haywood
Zachary Heimbuch
Alyssa Heitkamp
Daniel Henry
McKenna Hepler
Sam Hoag
Mathew Holmes-Hackerd
Matthew Howrey
Tre Humes
Aidan Hurley
Amiee Hutton
Benjamin Hyndman
Samantha Jacobsen
Jonathan Jiang
Jaylin Jones
Jackson Jones
Amani Karim
Lucas Kastran
Maria Katrantzi
Greg Kearns
Ben Keith
Will Keller
Jackson Kelly
David Kent
Hannah Kerns
Meghan Killmaster
Dahwi Kim
Alaina Kirschman
Lena Klemm
Allison Klinger
Ella Knight
Nicholas Kraeuter
Brandon Kramer
Matthew Krinock
John Kunec
Nicholas Lang
Juanita Ledesma
Jack Leisenring
Kathryn LeVasseur
Marissa Lewinski
Rosella LoChirco
Rachel Madar
MacKenzy Maddock
Deven Mahanti
Lauren Marshall
Samuel Matthews
Courtney McGinnis
Dylan McGorsik
Keelin McManus
Benjamin Meschke
Tytus Metzler
Nathan Micallef
Camille Misra
DeShawn Moore
Dominic Moore
Maxo Moran
Samantha Moss
Elizabeth Munoz
Alexis Nesbitt
Nikoli Nickson
Madeline Odom
Abigail O’Keefe
Marianna Olson
Michael Orwin
Ella Palacios
Cayla Patterson
Hellen Pelak
Calder Pellerin
Scott Peters
Eve Petrie
Nicole Pierece
Noah Piercy
Jared Pittman
Harrison Poeszat
Zachary Prystash
Erin Radermacher
Harrison Ramsey
Zachary Ray
Jordan Reichenbach
Benjamin Reiter
Ashley Rill
Molly Roberts
Katherine Rock
Lily Rogowski
Isabelle Russo
Justin Schodowski
Michael Schwartz
Darby Scott
Andrew Sheckell
Josephine Sibley
Elizabeth Silber
Nathan Silverman
Jack Smith
Katherine Stewart
Abby Stewart
Grant Stille
Alexander Stockewell
Alex Stolberg
Hayden Strobel
Thomas Sylvester
Jacob Sypniewski
Clara Szakas
Nina Szalkiewicz
Jack Tagget
Leah Tardiff
Emily Tenniswood
Cade Thune
Kaytlyn Tidey
Mary Trimble
Matt Turton
Oliver Tye
Damian Valdes
Madison Vallan
Naomi Verne
Alex Wallace
Maija Weaver
Margaret Wedge
Tanner White
Megan Williams
Madalyn Winarski
Hannah Wolfe
Brandon Wright
Tony Yazbeck
Julie Zabik
Christian Zeitvogel
Sophie Zhuang

Kits Allow Lighting Students to Shine on


After assembling, shipping and delivering several large kits, Kalamazoo College Theatre Arts Professor Lanny Potts can say, “Let there be light.”

Normally, Potts’ lighting design course, conducted each fall, would use a light lab filled with hundreds of lights and pieces of lighting equipment to guide his students. This term, though, required some quick thinking for their three projects when classes were moved online.

“We couldn’t bring the students to the light lab, so we were going to bring the light lab to the students,” Potts said.

Two students assemble lighting kits with a blue filter
Student workers helped Theatre Arts Professor Lanny Potts assemble 15 kits for his lighting design class this fall.

It took four weeks and many assistants to pack all the materials, yet he sent 15 kits containing items including seven lightbulbs, several feet of wiring, dimmers and a professional mannequin head. You can watch a video of Potts and  student workers assembling the materials through YouTube. FedEx delivered one kit to Texas and five throughout the Midwest. He personally delivered the other nine to students living locally.

“Lighting design is very unique,” Potts said. “It’s an ephemeral art form. It’s there and when the light changes, it’s gone. That’s a challenging thing to learn in isolation.” However, it’s beneficial for students to study lighting regardless of their major and where they’re doing it from, especially in the liberal arts.

“Lighting is always about problem solving,” Potts said. “I can’t think of a better thing to engage in than doing live event production or lighting design. I always end up doing something I’ve never tried before. Sometimes you ask, ‘What are the tools you have in your tool box?’ You then try some things and see what works.”

In the first project, students find an image of a painting and reproduce it at the size of a postcard. The second project involves taking 30 to 60 seconds of music without lyrics and making a video that includes light cues to that music. Finally, students use their lights to help them re-create a scene from a play through a lighting plot, similar to an architectural blueprint. In all these projects, the intensity, color, angle and distribution of light are important.

“It’s been fun,” Potts said. “I do know that by receiving these lighting kits, the students will be able to do everything we do here. They won’t have access to the hundreds of lights we have, but they will all be able to show all the things a light does.”

Potts, a professional lighting designer and consultant, has worked in international lighting and production design; national tour designs for opera and dance; and regional designs for opera, modern dance, ballet, drama and corporate events. He also earned his third Best in Lighting Design Wilde Award from EncoreMichigan.com in 2019 for his work in a 2018 Farmers Alley Theatre production of Bridges of Madison County in Kalamazoo.

“I absolutely love light,” he said. “How lucky am I to do something I love to do? Most of my students aren’t going to be professional lighting designers. But I feel when you learn a lot about light, it teaches you to be a keen, critical observer. And being a great observer of things around you, that’s a great life skill.”

Watch Festival Playhouse’s Kokoro Online

Milan Levy ’23 (left) and Rebecca Chan ’22 portray a scene in Kokoro, which was filmed October 23 at the Nelda K. Balch Playhouse.

The Kalamazoo College Festival Playhouse is producing two plays this fall with the first available now through a performance that was recorded October 23.

Kokoro, meaning True Heart, was directed by Ynika Yuag ’21 as a part of her Senior Individualized Project (SIP). The play, filmed in front of a small audience of socially distanced invited guests in the lobby of the Nelda K. Balch Playhouse, explores the struggle of a young Japanese mother as she tries to navigate the foreign culture of the United States. The countries’ cultures and moral codes clash after Yasako, played by Rebecca Chan ’22, commits a horrible crime.

Other cast members include Fadi Muallem ’24 as Hiro, Autumn Buhl ’21 as Angela, Milan Levy ’23 as Evelyn, and Karly Paige Im ’21 (of Western Michigan University) as Shizuko. Costume Designer Marie Townsend ’21, Scenic Designer Chris Diaz ’21 and Stage Manager Teyia Artis ’21 also worked on the play for their SIPs.

A second production, simply titled K, is an original script that was devised by K students last spring to explore systemic racism. More information will be coming soon about how you can see it November 5-8.