RIT Performing Arts Newsletter - Spring 2018 Edition

Artists and Engineers Collaborate

to “Save Humanity from Robots”

When Rochester professional theatre company, The Kingfisher Theater, decided to stage the 1920 play "R.U.R," they knew they needed to engage RIT students to bring the science fiction play to life. RIT’s students from the Kate Gleason College of Engineering are collaborating with the local theatre company to create robotic and science fiction props for the production.

"R.U.R.," short for “Rossum’s Universal Robots,” is the work of literature that originated the term “robot.” The play is about artificial intelligence, artificial life, and the potential threat to humans if robots begin to sense that they aren’t recognized as persons. RIT engineering students are working with the theatre’s production staff to help design and create the setting of the show – a distant planet colonized with the purpose of producing robots using steampunk-inspired tools and laboratories. The students are creating detailed pieces to illustrate a microcosm of the greater universe in which the play is set.

The team has come up with creative and practical designs for pieces to use for this show and beyond. Collaborative design and fabrication meetings have been an open forum for ideas from everyone. The students and the theatre staff are working toward the common goal of creating pieces that make the setting as real as possible to the audience.

Travis Faircloth, first-year mechanical engineering student, has taken a lead role in the project. With previous theatre experience as a performer and behind the scenes, Travis notes the project has been highly engaging, as well as a highly-practical and comprehensive skills-building experience.

“The students and I have learned some of the issues and problems that naturally arise during the creative process, and more importantly how to work through them,” says Faircloth. “Real world constraints such as the space we will be working in, the need for storage, and our budget, all produced problems and dilemmas that we were able to work inside of, or navigate through, with the assistance of both the College of Liberal Arts and the Kate Gleason College of Engineering. Issues like these help provide us with practical exercises of our problem solving skills.”

The play will be on stage in April, and the student team is showing their work at Imagine RIT on April 28.

RIT Performing Artists Spotlight

Jalon Hall ’18

NTID/School for Individualized Studies

Dual Major: Human Resources / Hospitality and Service Management

I didn’t choose RIT/NTID, it chose me. I originally wanted to be at another school, but now I love RIT/NTID so much I call it my second home. My involvement with campus activities, including performing arts productions, has helped to make the campus feel this way.

I’ve been in musical productions since high school, so joining the NTID musical casts was a chance for me to continue what I’ve enjoyed on a bigger stage. I was one of the Dynamite Girls in Hairspray, and I was Mrs. Potts in last fall’s production of The Story of Beauty and the Beast. I’m a very visual person, and I like imitating people and creating characters. The theatre is a perfect place for me.

There are so many things being part of the productions offers me. I was pretty confident as a high school student, but every production I’m involved in just builds my self-confidence more. The characters I play allow me to create a whole new persona, and be creative in front of a bigger audience. After two productions at NTID, I feel like I can put my talents out in front of an audience and, while I hope they enjoy the show, I get personal satisfaction from the creative expression that’s really meaningful.

I’ve also learned a lot about how to work with different types of people, especially people that don’t necessarily think like I do. Working with the whole cast and crew involves getting to know people (quickly!), building relationships, and sometimes overcoming disagreements and personality conflicts. When I graduate, my dream job would be working in human resources for a diverse company (wearing heels!) and advocating for the deaf community. These interpersonal skills are really valuable for me to take out into my professional life, and would help anyone with their life after college!

Jessica VanGiesen ’16

My performing arts activities had a huge impact on me, both while at RIT and after graduation. My career as an electrical engineer centers on performance and entertainment activities, and I am still very involved in theatre as a personal interest.

As an RIT student, I was in the RIT Players and directed and acted in the club. My senior year, I was the president. I also performed in two shows with NTID.

Today, I work as a control systems engineer at Tait Towers, a company that designs live entertainment equipment for tours, theatres and theme parks. I am also still acting in community theatre in the area and will be in "Beauty and the Beast" at Ephrata Performing Arts Center this winter.

Through my experience in the RIT Players, I formed so many wonderful friendships that will last forever, and my experience was crucial to helping me develop real career skills. It helped discipline me, and taught me how important it is to have balance in my schedules. Electrical engineering at RIT was a demanding major, so having theatre as my outlet was a great way to break up my day and decrease my stress. Also, our clients are often artistic people and don’t have an engineering background. My theatre experience helps me communicate with our clients better and in a way they will understand.

Even now, theatre is my stress relief. Everything I learned from my theatre professors, directors and fellow students helped my singing, dancing and acting abilities. Without those I wouldn’t have been cast in the recent shows I’ve done. Theatre has always been a great way to meet new people and it helped me do that when I moved to Lancaster, PA. I didn’t know anyone when I moved here and theatre has helped me meet some amazing people.

My theatre work has been a tremendous help to me. It really shows how performing arts and technology are a perfect match.

Performing Arts on Campus Updates


RIT’s New “Home” for Performing Arts

Performing Arts at RIT has a new virtual home. A website landing page has been created to put all of RIT’s arts activities in the spotlight. The new landing page makes it easy for perspective students, the RIT community, and regional arts fans to navigate the many arts initiatives and education opportunities across this huge campus.

The site directs visitors to one of three areas of interest: Study (academic programs in performing arts); Attend & Enjoy (complete performance calendar and ticket information); and Perform / Participate (audition calls and more for current students interested in performing or joining an ensemble). Addition information for alumni and donors is also available.

“This is an important first stop for people interested in the arts,” says Amy Lyman Admissions Liaison; Recruitment & Marketing Specialist in COLA. “I regularly talk with prospective students whose academic interests are in other colleges, but they’re looking to blend coursework or extracurricular activities in performance areas. Now there’s an easy way for them to find out what’s available across campus.”

Visit the new site at rit.edu/performingarts.


Imagine RIT President’s Challenge Is All About Arts

Dr. Munson is bringing his own twist to the annual Imagine RIT President’s Challenge this April. The annual challenge is a competition for current students, and a highlight of the popular festival. Showing his love of performing and appreciation for what it brings to the university, he has launched a performing arts competition for music, dance, theatre and more.








RIT Press receives PROSE Award for Innovative “HAYDN” Journal

An online journal published by RIT Press and focused on scholarship exploring the music of Haydn has been recognized for innovation in journal publishing in the humanities and social sciences. Learn more about the prestigious award.





Eight Beat Measure Shines at ICAAs

RIT favorite, Eight Beat Measure, placed second in their quarterfinal regional competition for the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA). They were also recognized for Outstanding Soloist (Jarell Davon Green) and Outstanding Choreography (Chris Foley). The group is looking forward to the regional semifinals on March 24!

The group also announced that their newest single, "Forgiven," has been nominated for the 2018 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award for Best Male Collegiate Song. The group thanks CASA (The Contemporary A Cappella Society) for the honor of being nominated, The Vocal Company for helping produce the song, and their fans! You can listen to the song on Spotify, Apple Music, or Google Play.