URTA on the Map – University of Iowa


URTA on the Map – University of Iowa

Who: Paul Kalina, Head of Acting
School: University of Iowa
City: Iowa City, Iowa

What should candidates look for in a training program? And what unique qualities do you think candidates would find in your program?

Needs and desires differ for every student seeking a graduate training program. Some want more experience in foundational work, others desire training in classical texts, and others in devised work; some desire teaching skills, and still others want to learn about new play development. Whatever the case, make sure you are clear on what you want and that the program offers ample opportunity to work in that area — not just a class or one show a year, but a number of opportunities to develop your skills. Additionally, make sure the program offers a diverse approach to the skill sets that matter to you, and a taste of other options that exist in the profession. Make sure you will receive consistent feedback from the faculty on your work. Lastly, and I believe most importantly, once you have done all your homework, trust where your gut tells you to go. Don’t over-think the choices.

At Iowa, you will find many opportunities to do creative work, particularly on new play development. With over 20 productions a year in three spaces, with the Playwrights Workshop every Monday night and the Iowa New Play Festival at the end of every academic year, our students learn how to help writers shape a script as well as read, synthesize and make strong choices to support its story. Most importantly, they make lasting relationships with playwrights, relationships that extend far beyond their years at Iowa. We also offer a number of courses in digital media. In the twenty first century, it is imperative to know how to create and market web based materials, for they have become a viable economic resource for theatre practitioners.

What has been your favorite production and why?

One of my favorite productions is Complicite’s production of The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol. I was captivated by the theatricality and the way seven actors seamlessly played dozens of roles of all ages and species seamlessly on a single set. The transitions and character changes happened before your eyes and the lights never went to black until intermission or the end of the play. The performance lasted three hours and it felt like thirty minutes. It did what only theatre can do – create instant community around a simple, well-told story. It was the show that inspired me to pursue training in physical theatre. Twenty-one years later, I still look to that show and company for inspiration.

What are your favorite things to do off-campus in your free time?

I ride horses, fish and enjoy hiking in the woods around the reservoir. I also like just sitting with a cup of coffee and reading in one of the many coffee shops around town depending upon my mood. They all have a different vibe. I love catching independent and foreign films at our local arts cinema. When the weather is warm, I enjoy sitting by the river at the local brewery or listening to free concerts in the pedmall. In the spring, I always catch a number of the concerts at The Mission Creek Festival and in the summer months enjoy the many art festivals. And in the fall we pick apples at the local apple orchard, nestled in our beautiful rolling hills. Iowa may grow a lot of corn, but in Iowa City there’s a lot to do.

How do you commute to the university? Do you feel like students need a car or is there sufficient public transportation/is it a walking city?

Getting around Iowa City is easy. The campus and town are intertwined, and this helps to break down the divide between town and school that can happen on some campuses. It’s an easy town to walk and ride a bike in, and there are plenty of buses to get you to and from campus. There is even a bike library, where you can check out a bike for $50 for the year and you get part of that money back when you return it.

Posted by Olivia Vessel  Posted on 07 Nov 
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