2018 Fall Conference

Fall Conference 2018 Information

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October 12 – 14 @ The Holiday Inn Gateway Center in Flint, MI

During the course of the last few years we have reached out to members of CTAM and our previous conference attendees for feedback on how we can enhance our Fall Conference and more importantly the experience and value it provides our attendees.  We have taken considerable feedback into consideration and this year our biggest change is our new venue and a new date for our conference.

The 2018 CTAM Fall Conference will be held at Holiday Inn Gateway Center in Flint from October 12th until October 14th. In addition, we are also incorporating the Theater Leadership Conference (TLC) as well, which will be hosted by the nearby Fenton Village Players.

The facility is wonderful! It is easy to travel to and by pushing it back into October (to avoid those season opening conflicts) we hope it will attract many more participants this year. The rooms are very nice, J Porter’s restaurant offers a variety of fun food and when there is free time you can relax at the pool, use the fitness room, or enjoy a theatre themed drink special in the lounge.  

Friday night, we will have our keynote speech given by Allen Ebert, Managing Director of Children’s Theatre of Madison, Wisconsin. Allen will also be moderating for the TLC program all weekend. CTAM will be offering additional workshops in directing, acting, tech and a youth program with a Sunday performance led by first class instructors from around the state.

Like last year’s fall conference we are offering a la carte sign-up.  So, if you can’t make if for the entire weekend, although we sure hope you can, you can purchase the following activities (although you get a nice little discount for signing up for the whole weekend):

  • Friday night keynote address
  • Workshop sessions
  • Saturday lunch
  • Saturday banquet
  • Sunday brunch.

Join in for the workshops or just stop in for lunch. If you have a child in the youth program, come join us for brunch on Sunday and watch their performance.

Click here for the complete schedule of events.

Complete Workshop Offerings

Allen Ebert – Keynote Speaker & Moderator for TLC (Theatre Leadership Conference)

The Theatre Leadership Conference (TLC) is back, and it is now part of the CTAM Fall Conference. Beginning Friday evening and continuing through Sunday morning theatre leaders from all over the state will have the chance to network with others who do the same thing, have their questions answered, and learn from each other. The conference is based on the popular Managing Director’s Conference held bi-annually in Madison, WI, with one important difference. Our version invites both paid staff and Executive Committee members from theatres with no staff to work together to learn what shows are hits and misses, how to solve Board challenges, effective marketing tips, fundraising ideas, how to budget, new technical options, and other topics they choose themselves.

The weekend is moderated by Allen Ebert, an AACT Board member, who currently is the Executive Director of the Children’s Theater of Madison. Previously Allen was the Executive Director at La Crosse Community Theatre and served as the Entertainment Director of the Army’s Soldier’s Theatre in Vicenza, Italy. Allen has been an advocate for the arts for over 23 years.  He has managed various theaters, large and small, and has directed and performed in over 100 productions.  He has extensive knowledge in marketing, teaching, audience development, board management, consulting and directing. We are excited to have his enthusiasm and vast knowledge at the helm of this conference.

Our goals for the TLC are to send your theatre leaders home with knowledge that can help your organization improve and grow, provide a bridge between the theatres with staff and those who have not reached that level, and make it less costly and time consuming for your theatres to gain knowledge –  one conference that answers your administrative needs while others from your organization learn acting, directing, and technical skills.

The TLC has sessions Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning. Participants will dine with everyone else at the conference and will be able to attend the Saturday night general conference activities. There will be time available for theatres with comparable budgets to work together on problem solving.  Participants will have the opportunity to help shape what topics will be presented by participating in a pre-conference survey so early registration is encouraged.

It’s a lot of learning packed into one weekend, but your theatre will soon see the benefits both financially and administratively. As one regular Madison attendee always says, he never goes home without at least one idea that pays for the cost of his weekend.

If you have questions please call Betsy Willis at 231-838-0269 or reach out via email at betsy@oldtownplayhouse.com

JUST ADDED! Interpreting Shakespeare the Right Way (Acting 101/201) with Edward Daranyi

In this dynamic, high-energy workshop, Stratford Festival actors use some of the most famous and familiar bits of Shakespeare to offer actors practical ways of exploring Shakespeare’s text in active, imaginative and personally meaningful ways. How do we know we are interpreting Shakespeare the right way? Is there, indeed, a ‘right’ way? These and other questions will be explored in this lively and informative workshop that take the actor through the lens of rehearsal hall techniques and into active performance of the text.

Edward Daranyi is the Associate Director of Education at the Stratford Festival located in Stratford, Ontario, CA.  In his past 18 seasons at Stratford, Edward has served as Assistant Director of Oklahoma!, A Delicate BalanceOliver!, Ghosts, The Lark, Quiet in the Land, The Count of Monte Cristo, King Henry VIII and Associate Director of The Donnellys: Sticks & Stones.  Acting credits at Stratford include roles in Cyrano de Bergerac and Alice Through the Looking Glass. Other directing credits include Noye’s Fludde (CBC); Dance of Death; Weird Kid; Nightlight; Sometimes…; and Nunsense, Baby, Six for Song, Little Shop of Horrors, On Golden Pond and On the Fourth (SummerStage Theatre, Boulder, Colorado). Edward recently co-created a landmark multi-disciplined adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Mozambique with Shakespeare Link Canada and Montes Numuli. Edward is a BFA acting graduate of the University of Windsor, where favourite roles included Rudy in Bent, Ralph in Our Country’s Good, and Othello/Tybalt in Goodnight Desdemona (Goodmorning Juliet).  Edward has taught acting at the University of Guelph and the National Theatre School of Canada and has taught Classical Theatre for Humber College, George Brown College, The Centre for Indigenous Theatre, Cawthra Park School for the Arts and the National Ballet School of Canada. His production company, In the Blink, produces youth-oriented theatre in the Toronto area and he regularly voices characters for the TVO/Treehouse series Mighty Machines

JUST ADDED!  Using Rasa Boxes to Enhance Your Performance (Acting 101/201) with Minda Nyquist

Devised in the 1980s and 90s by Richard Schechner, rasa boxes offers performers a concrete physical tool to access, express, and manage their feelings/emotions within the context of performance. Useful as performer training, rasa boxes also has many other applications in various fields including (but not limited to) therapy, business, and education.Basically, rasa boxes trains participants to physically express eight key emotions first identified in the Natyasastra, a Sanskrit text dealing with theatre, dance, and music.

More to come on instructor Minda Nyquist from Old Town Playhouse.

Youth Program with Kathryn Willis

Kathryn Willis is the Founder and Executive Artistic Director of The Downeaster Theatre in Lansing, MI after previously serving as Artistic Director at All-of-Us Express Children’s Theatre for 3 years (in East Lansing, MI). Her other theatre credits over the last 20 years include makeup artist, costumer, director, actress, stage manager, and props master. Kathryn’s specialty and passion is children’s theatre, and she is delighted to be asked back to teach this conference!





Scene Painting Simplified (Tech 101/201) with Matt McCormick

If you’ve ever wrestled with how to get more visual impact onto your stage this workshop may be just for you. Tips on adding depth and layers to your surfaces will enhance the design and kick things up a notch. We’ll show you several easy, quick, and simple-to-teach techniques that anyone can do and share with others on your paint crew. In addition to toning we’ll also explore two popular faux finishes that find their way into many a scenic design: wood-graining and marbleizing. With a new arsenal of Dos and Don’ts in your possession you’ll have greater confidence in executing your designer’s vision and your production values will rise to the next level. Join us for this very hands-on workshop and you may surprise yourself and what you can accomplish! This workshop will take up both sessions for workshops and will be conducted at nearby Fenton Village Players.

Matt McCormick has been designing scenery and painting sets for nearly thirty years. Following a beginning in publishing and graphic design his foray into theatre has taken him from his native Michigan to many venues in the Midwest, south and northeast. In addition to numerous freelance designs he has worked as a scenic artist for STAGES St Louis in St Louis, MO and was also the Scenic Charge Artist at Northern Stage in White River Junction, VT. While in Florida he was the Resident Designer/Scenic Charge for four seasons at Theatre Tallahassee.  He has also designed for the Sugden Theatre in Naples, the Twin City Stage in Winston-Salem, NC, and the Electric Theatre Co in Scranton, PA. Matt was on staff as the Scenic Charge at Coastal Carolina University’s Department of Theatre and also designed for Atlantic Stage, both in Myrtle Beach, SC. In Traverse City, he designs and paints at the Old Town Playhouse and also for Parallel 45 Theatre, when his schedule allows. Matt holds a B.F.A. in Fine Art from Northern Michigan University and is excited for the opportunity to share some tips and techniques with CTAM’s workshop participants.  This workshop will also be conducted at the nearby Fenton Village Players.

Samples of Matt’s works:


You’re a Real Character!  Acting with Backstory (Acting 101/201) with Ben Zylman

So, you’ve been cast in a great part.  How do you go about creating a multi-faceted character that the audience will find interesting?  Whether you’re playing the lead or a part in the chorus, you’ll find this fast paced, fun-filled workshop informative and helpful.  We’ll discuss acting technique in general with a focus on script analysis and the importance of subtext.  Every character has a back story.  What’s yours?

Ben Zylman is a multi-award-winning actor and director whose career spans 40 years and 130 productions.  A veteran of the stage, radio, television and film he has worked with Jerry Seinfeld, Chita Rivera, Mayim Bialik, Renee Taylor and Claire Bloom as well as Grammy Award winning artists Meredith Arwady and Timothy Nordwind.  His training includes work with Paul Sills, the co-founder of The Second City.  Ben has conducted his well-received acting workshops at the local, state and regional levels.  In recognition of his many accomplishments, Ben has been presented with the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo’s Community Medal of Arts Award, and the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre’s Larkin H. Noble Award.



Stage Dialects (Acting 101/201) with Katie Cheely Wasserman

Get a better grasp on some accents for the stage! This workshop will introduce you to — and help familiarize you with — some of the key sounds that differentiate certain dialects from Standard American speech.

Katie Cheely Wasserman, originally from Chicago, received a B.A in Theatre Arts and an M.F.A. in Acting. She has performed, directed and taught in Illinois, Rhode Island, Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, and Michigan. She has three precious children, and a wonderful husband who is a history professor at Alma College.



Script Analysis for Directors (Directing 101/201) with James Kuhl

There exists a map in every play.  A structure that holds the story together.  As a director it is our responsibility to know how to see and read that map in order to effectively guide our cast and crew to bring the play to life. This workshop will explore the fundamentals of play structure and script analysis as well as offer tools on how to use that knowledge to improve your rehearsal process.

James Kuhl is honored to be Tipping Point Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director since 2009.  Tipping Point Theatre is one of Michigan’s leading professional theatres located in Northville, MI.  James received his Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Alma College and his Masters of Fine Arts in Acting from Wayne State University.  He is a past winner of the Heck Rabi Playwriting Competition, as well as a Wilde Award and Pulsar Award Nominee.  James is an accomplished actor and director and has worked with many of Michigan’s professional theatre companies. He is a Part Time Faculty member at Wayne State University with the Department of Theatre and Dance and sits on the Advisory Board for the Detroit Public Theatre and The Mitten Lab.  www.tippingpointtheatre.com



Click Here to Register

Don’t forget to book your room!  Click here to reserve your room at the Holiday Inn Gateway Centre in Flint.  Please use CTA for the coupon code to reserve a room for $100/night + breakfast!

Our annual raffle to raise funds for education will be happening again this year. We are looking for raffle prizes for adults and kids, $35 or more in value! Tickets are sold all weekend long and the drawing is held after brunch on Sunday morning. We raised more than $1,200 last year. This money is available through CTAM Scholarship to help attendees with registration fees for events like Fall Conference, Master Class and Regional Workshops.

It will be a fun filled weekend! We hope you all can make it. Invite your friends, share with your membership, encourage the youth! What an excellent and entertaining way to learn theatre. Theatre people really are the best!