Committee on Theater & Performance Studies
Tiffany Trent (Interim Director of Performance Programs)
Kurtis Boetcher (Director of Design)
Ben Caracello (Technical Director)
Joyce Ciesil (Audio Manager)
Brian Maschka (Production Manager)
Neel McNeill (Managing Director)
Heather Sparling (Lighting Manager)
Jenny Pinson (Props Manager)
Samantha Rausch (TAPS North Theater Manager)
Nathan R. Rohrer (Costume Shop Manager)
Vicki Walden (Academic Administrator)
Tiffany Trent is an accomplished director, deviser, and scholar of theater and performance studies. Her artistic and scholarly practices encompass theater and performance primarily in contexts of justice work and faith practice, particularly with youth. She earned her B.A. in Politics, Economics, Rhetoric, and Law at the University of Chicago, an MFA in Directing at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, and an M.Div. from Chicago Theological Seminary. Most recently, Trent completed her doctorate in Theatre for Youth at Arizona State University, where she received research support from the American Alliance for Theatre Education (AATE) as a Winifred Ward Scholar, grants from the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at ASU and the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), and was a doctoral fellow with the Forum for Theological Exploration. Her dissertation, “Radical Welcome in Youth Performance Spaces on Chicago’s South Side: the Child as Hungry, the Child as Village, the Child as Visible,” intertwines her research areas of performance studies, child drama, child theology, liberation theology, and critical race theory. In her wider projects analyzing embodiments of race, class, gender, childhood, and faith, Trent connects arts practice to citizenship, self, and culture.
Aesthetically, Trent’s work includes cultural legacies, found objects, and ritual onstage. Her theatre credits include script development workshops with Alabama Shakespeare Festival and New Harmony Writers’ Project; directing with MPAACT and Pegasus Young Playwrights’ Festival; teaching with Goodman Theatre’s Youth Drama Workshop, Chicago Dramatists, and The Viola Project. Currently, Trent is part of the NOURISH cohort with Goodman Theatre and the Center for Performance and Civic Practice to incubate a community arts chaplaincy. Trent has served two local United Church of Christ congregations, Trinity UCC and God Can Ministries UCC, as well as wider ecumenical and interfaith initiatives through facilitating drama as part of liturgy, community engagement, and exegetical enterprise. Beyond her undergraduate degree from UChicago, Trent’s long association with the UofC includes stints as Assistant Director of College Admissions and Lecturer in TAPS.
Kurtis Boetcher is a Chicago-based scenic designer whose work has been seen locally at Victory Gardens Theater, TUTA, and Sideshow Theatre, among others, and regionally at Yale Repertory Theater, Edinburgh Fringe, Theatre@Boston Court, Gulfshore Playhouse, First Stage, A Noise Within, Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA, The Blank, Black Dahlia, and Celebration Theatre, among others. His designs have been nominated for Jeff, NAACP, Ovation, and Falstaff awards and he is a recipient of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Bob Z Award for Career Achievement in Set Design, and the LA Weekly Award for Best Production Design. Mr. Boetcher holds a BFA from The Theatre School at DePaul University and an MFA from Yale School of Drama.
Ben Carcello worked for two years as Technical Director at Presbyterian College. He has also worked as a carpenter for Lookingglass Theatre Company and Chicago Shakepeare Theater. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Design and Production from Illinois State University.
Joyce Ciesil is a Chicago-based composer and sound designer originally from Wauconda, Illinois. Since graduating from The Theatre School at DePaul University her work has been featured in Illinois, Michigan, and Baltimore.
Brian Maschka most recently served as a Stage Manager at Steppenwolf working on The Burn, The Rembrandt, Monster, Linda Vista, Visiting Edna, Love Kills, Mary Page Marlowe and Domesticated. Previously he was the Production Manager for Chicago Children's Theatre including the productions of Edward Tulane and Wonderland. He spent two years as the Production Coordinator for the Dance Department at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Production Managed the 2003 season at Barrington Stage. New York credits include eight years with the Museum of the City of New York's Perform Series, Frost/Nixon on Broadway, Anna Nicole at Brooklyn Academy of Music, and multiple shows at Playwrights Horizon, The Zipper, DR2 Theatre, The Play Company at 59E59, and Mint Theater Company. Regional venues include Weston Playhouse, Florida Repertory Theatre, and Syracuse Stage.
In addition to her position in TAPS, Neel McNeill is the Managing Director of Definition Theatre Company, a storefront theater currently a resident at Victory Gardens Theater. Most recently, Neel was the Marketing and Memberships Manager at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. In her position, she managed Steppenwolf’s membership campaigns—including its groundbreaking RED membership geared toward millennial audiences—while also handling analytics, pricing, and main series campaigns. A graduate of Howard University, Neel was named by American Theater Magazine as a “theatre worker to know” in its “Roll Call People to Watch” section. Neel has had the pleasure of spearheading collaborations with other Chicago institutions, including Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, and The New Colony. Neel has also worked at renowned regional venues, including The Studio Theatre and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, among others in the Washington, DC area. Neel also volunteers for the American Heart Association to fight to prevent heart disease, the number one killer of African American women.
Heather Sparling is a freelance lighting designer, and formerly a resident assistant at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Her most recent design work includes Tasters (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble), The Fly Honey Show (The Inconvenience), If I Forget (Victory Gardens), La Havana Madrid (Teatro Vista), First Love is the Revolution (Steep), The Grelley Duvall Show (The Hideout), We are Proud to Present... (Steppenwolf), and Scientific Method (Rivendell). Upcoming projects include I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Steppenwolf), The Dream King (Teatro Vista), Ironbound (Steep Theatre), and Longer! Louder! Wagner! (Lyric Opera of Chicago). Heather is a proud alumna of Boston University. For more information on her work, please visit www.sparlingdesigns.com.
Jenny Pinson has been a freelance Properties Designer in Chicago since 2006, when she graduated from The Theatre School of DePaul University with her BFA in Theatre Technology. She has had the opportunity to work with a variety of theatre companies in the Chicagoland area including Theater Wit, Redtwist Theatre, Oakton Community College, Route 66 Theatre Company, TUTA, Drury Lane Oakbrook, and Emerald City Theatre Company, among others.
Samantha RauschTAPS North Theater Manager
Locations: Room 218, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E 60th Street
and FXK Theater, Reynolds Club, 5706 S University Avenue
Samantha Rausch is a Chicago-based theater artist working as a scenic/props designer and technical director. Rausch is also a multidisciplinary artist working in sculpture, installation, performance and public art. Currently, she is the North Theatre Manager of the FXK Theater and welcomes all students to explore their arts discipline in this incubator space. Rausch has been grateful for the experiences working with such institutions as North Park University, Redmoon Theatre, Theatre on the Lake, The House Theatre of Chicago, and A Red Orchid Theater. Rausch's commitment to transforming public spaces has led her to be a grant and fellowship recipient and participant in a number of artist residencies around the country. Rausch received her MFA from the Mount Royal School of Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and her BFA & BA in Art History from the University of South Florida. Rausch's online portfolio can be found at SamanthaRausch.com.
Nathan R. Rohrer, Costume Shop Manager
Location: Room 032, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E 60th Street
Shop hours: MTRF 1-6:30pm Shop is Closed: W, Sa & Su
Nathan R. Rohrer has been a successful theatrical costume designer since 2007 in Chicago, where his costume designs have been seen in theatre and dance productions citywide. He has worked with numerous Chicago dance companies, having designed for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, River North Chicago Dance, Thodos Dance Chicago, Deeply Rooted Productions and many others. Nathan has also designed for such theatre companies as Lifeline Theatre, Griffin Theatre, City Lit Theatre, and Emerald City Theatre, and has worked with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Marriott-Lincolnshire Theatre, Northwestern University, and other performing arts entities nationwide. Nathan received his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.
Vicki Walden is a New England native who relocated to Chicago after receiving her B.A. in Theater and English from Wesleyan University. She has been a part of the city’s storefront theater community for 28 years, as both an actor and director. She was an ensemble member of Cook County Theatre Department, Lucky Pierre, and DOG, a theater company. Her current theatrical home is with Curious Theatre Branch, where she has been an ensemble member since 2007. Vicki’s performance venue highlights include Chicago’s MCA, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Hebble Theater (Berlin), The Kitchen, and The Ontological Hysteric Society. For TAPS, Vicki oversees all curricular and adminstrative concerns for both the undergraduate and graduate programs.
Student staff are paid positions assisting UT/TAPS Pro-staff in running our programs. They will work closely with you on your productions and should be your first resource for many of your needs.