Patti & Rusty Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance Department of TheatreCollege of Liberal Arts

By the Way, Meet Vera Stark Bios and Notes

Designer's Notes

Scenic Design / Jinqiu He
By the Way, Meet Vera Stark uses elegant language to present the highlights and mysteries of the life of Vera Stark. Vera lived a life which is comparable to an exciting movie full of adventures and passion. The language of the text corresponds to the free-flowing curvy shapes and varying heights of the stage setting. Each setting presents a unique personality regarding period, art style, characters’ living conditions and functions. In Act One, Gloria owns a fancy Art Deco style house representing her pride and ego. Vera’s apartment is crowded with three women who are pursuing a dream to enter Hollywood. The resulting design displays a sense of messiness. In Act Two, The Donovan Show, rooted with 70s bold colors and shapes, forms a contrast with the formal setting of the college colloquium. The curved backdrop made up of various sized square panels will be used as a projector screen throughout the two acts.

Costume Design / Courtney Bourque Frederick
The costume design attempts to capture the cinematic nostalgia and period style of three distinct periods (1933, 1973, & 2003) by using contrasts of color, pattern, and silhouette to highlight the characters’ struggles to gain purchase in an industry involved in perpetuating damaging stereotypes.

Lighting Design / Garrett Bell
The lighting in By the Way, Meet Vera Stark highlights the formative experiences that create the title character’s identity. We see Vera in the light of the contentious and uneven relationship with her friend Gloria, the struggling beginning of her career, coming into her own in her personal life, and attempting to reconcile her choices with who she is near the end of her career. It is only with the colloquium that assembles to discuss and comprehensively examine her life that we see Vera’s identity in full light.

Composer / Jeff Sherwood
Who really is Vera Stark? Who really is Vera Stark? Lynn Nottage’s timely story takes us on a thrilling journey where young black actress Vera Stark is faced to question her true identity as she navigates her career in a prejudiced society. “I got to thinking about what I’d be willing to do to have a taste of what Gloria’s got. You know, be a star!” What are we willing to sacrifice to pursue our life-long dreams? Inspired by progressive artists throughout American history, we hear the music of Vera’s world contrasted to the iconic white sound of the Golden Age of Hollywood. I hope you enjoy the show, and that the sound score will help you experience the passion, struggle, and fight for freedom along Vera’s journey and beyond.

Who's Who on the Production Team

Ameenah Kaplan (Director) is a graduate of the Academy of Art University Film School. She attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts for acting. Her credits include recurring roles on The Office and Grey’s Anatomy and she was in the original American cast of Stomp. As a director, her credits include The Wiz for First Stage in Milwaukee, How to Break for the Village Theater in Seattle, The Royale at Seattle’s ACT Theater, and Bash’d for LA’s Celebration Theatre. She directed Molodi: Up Close And Personal for Las Vegas’ premiere body percussion group and consults for Antics Hip Hop Theater Company in LA. She has twice directed for Noah Wylie’s Young Playwright’s Festival. Her short film, Man With a Movie Camera premiered at Hollyshorts Film Festival in 2014. She directed The American Failure to multiple film festivals and awards. She serves as a drum coach for Blueman Group. She has choreographed more than two dozen shows for stage and TV, including originating the choreography for The Royale at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in LA and for The Dancing Granny by Ashley Bryan at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. She is the recipient of Gregory, Ovation, Sherwood, Queen of Angels, and multiple NAACP and LA Weekly awards. Her next adventure is as resident director for Disneyland's tour of The Lion King.

Garrett Bell (Lighting Design) is a second-year Lighting Design MFA student. He recently worked as the lighting designer for Richmond Shakespeare Festival’s 2018 Summer season. His recent work at Purdue includes Lighting Design for The Beaux Stratagem, and working as the Master Electrician for The Sins of Sor Juana.

Courtney Bourque Frederick (Costume Design) is a third-year costume design graduate student. He earned both a B.A. and M.A. in English and came to theatre through his love of poetry, story, and character. He is co-founder, writer, and resident costumer of Sogmush Collective. Courtney would like to thank Harry, Stuart, and Charles for their love and support.

Anna Davis (Stage Manager) is a junior English and Theatre major with a minor in History. This is her ninth show with Purdue Theatre and her first time stage managing. She is grateful for the opportunity to work with such an impressive team ona By the Wy, Meet Vera Stark.

Jinqiu He (Scenic Design) is passionate about entering her second year in the MFA program in Scenic Design. After designing Clybourne Park last season, the design for By the Way, Meet Vera Stark has afforded her the opportunity to expand her horizons, working in a multi-media production and applying what she has learned about dramatic theory. She is always grateful to learn more. She’d like to work in the professional field in her home country of China in the future.

Jeff Sherwood (Sound Design) is thrilled to continue his second season pursuing his Sound Design MFA with the Purdue Theatre family. Purdue Theatre: The Beaux’ Stratagem (Composer). Regional: Untitled Russia Play, Jump, The Amish Project (Chautauqua Theater Company); Take the Car (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Film: White Noise, Troilus & Cressida, We Are ROM3 (Short). TV: Expats 101 (Pilot). Awards: KCACTF National Finalist 2012, 2014. BFA: Oklahoma City University. www.sherwoodsound.com

Who's Who in the Cast

Molly Bader (Gloria) is thrilled to be doing her Terminal Project Role for her MFA in Acting in this deeply resonant show. Molly has a BA in Theatre from Buffalo State College. Purdue credits include The Beaux’ Stratagem, The Mousetrap, The Glass Menagerie, and The Secret in the Wings.

Leah Craft (Understudy) is a senior studying Film and Theatre Production. She was last a production assistant for The Beaux' Stratagem, and she is excited to be cast in her first Purdue Theatre production.

Matthew J. Duncan (Von Oster/Peter Rhys-Davies) is a University of Central Arkansas graduate and MFA student at Purdue. He was last seen at Purdue as Karl/Steve in Clybourne Park. Regional affiliations include Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, Shake on the Lake (NY), PETC (Northwest AR), and Foundlings Theatre (Chicago). Boiler Up, Y'all.

You may remember Brianna Lewings (Vera Stark), from past productions here at Purdue Theatre but today, she is beyond thrilled to be apart of telling this timely and important story in honor of Nina Mae McKinney, Butterfly McQueen, Theresa Harris and every other Black Diva of Early Hollywood. Brianna would like to thank God, her family, the Purdue performance faculty and last but not least, Ameenah Kaplan! Enjoy the show!

Maya Mays (Anna Mae/Afua) is a sophomore at Purdue University. She is currently a biology major who will soon be adding theatre to her academic journey. She has been involved in other mainstage and workshop projects around Purdue theatre. Acting and musical theatre will forever be in her future.

Wyndham Maxwell (Slasvick/Brad Donovan) graduated from Clark University in 2014, after which he worked for two years as a theatre artist in the Boston area. He is excited to return as a second year MFA actor at Purdue, where he has performed in The Secret in the Wings, Cabaret, The Glass Menagerie, The Mousetrap, and The Sins of Sor Juana, and Clybourne Park.

Georgia Maya McChristian (Lottie/Carmen) is a graduating senior majoring in Industrial Engineering Technology. An active participant in the Black Cultural Center, she is a spoken word performer with a passion for the stage who made her theater debut in last semester’s award winning production of A Raisin in the Sun.

Kenneth McNeil (Leroy/Herb) is a fifth year senior, graduating this semester. He and his wig are making a return to the stage in his final Purdue production. He is extremely thankful for this cast making his last play a special one. While leaving will be bittersweet, he is ready for a new challenge.

On January 26, 1999, a destined to be actor was born. Izik D. Metcalf (Understudy) grew up his whole life performing for friends and family all around. He’s been cast in several plays in his high school, and was last scene performing as an understudy in Purdue’s version of Clybourne Park.

Thomas te Groen (Understudy) is an Acting Certificate recipient and an Accounting major. Thomas graduates in December, and this will be his last production at Purdue. Thomas would like to thank the professors and fellow students of Purdue Theatre for making this journey so amazing.

Who's Who on the Video Production Team

Alyssa Fritz is a senior in film and theatre production major and the theatre acting major. She has previously been involved with Rabbit Hole and The Sins of Sor Juana. She is very grateful to have been able to work with Ameenah and the entire team and can’t wait for you to see the show. She thanks her friends and family for the constant support.

Riley Johnston is a senior in Film & Theatre Production with a focus on live events. This is her first venture with the Purdue Theatre Department, but she is planning to continue her involvement through her last year at Purdue. She likes long walks on sandy beaches and is not allowed in the state of Kentucky.

Chris Spencer is a senior studying film and theater production and specializing in narrative film writing and direction. This is his first Purdue Theater production. It should be noted that Chris has an extreme distaste for wind, however he rather enjoys color. In addition to writing and directing, Chris moonlights as an award-winning biography writer.

PRODUCTION STAFF
Producer……………………………………… Anne Fliotsos
Production Manager ………………………… Rich Dionne

Associate Production Manager……………… Fritz Bennett
Production Assistants ...………………………
Scene Shop Supervisor .………………………Vince Lobello
Deck Carpenter ………………………………. Amy Paouch
Carpenters ……………………………………Arthur Koehler Emily Green, Aaron Moon, Eduardo Muro, Connor O'Leary, Nolan Pilarski, Janna Schorfheide, Leigh Whitek
Charge Scenic Artist …………………………Jake Wood
Scenic Artists .…………………………………Jade Bryant, Students of THTR 16000
Properties Master ……………………………. Kate Cardinalli
Costume Shop Manager……………………… Jan Evans
Head of Wardrobe .……………………………Sarah Fultz
Wig Stylists................................................... Megan Gerig, Allison Jones, and Caroline Reins
Wardrobe Crew .……………………………… 
Stitchers ………………………………………  
Master Electrician .……………………………Provina Ravichandran
Assistant Master Electrician ………………… 
Electricians……………………………………. Students of THTR 16200
Light Board Operator.………………………… Matthew Raymond Hodgen
Projections / Video      Alyssa Fritz,Riley 
Production Sound Engineer …………………. Krysta Rogers
Assistant Production Sound Engineer………... Jacob Mantel
Sound Board Operator .………………………. Jacob Mantel
Assistant Sound Board Operator …………….. Daniel Young
House Managers……………………………… Matthew Mahoney, Jacob Mestach, Grace McCoy, Brooke Stephens



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