Announcements and Accolades at UNCSA

(Last Updated On: July 12, 2017)

The University of North Carolina School of Drama announced that Scott Zigler has been selected to become the next dean.  For the last 20 years, Zigler has been the director and head of actor training at the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater School Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. He will succeed Carl Forsman, who served as dean for five years and announced last summer his intention to step down at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. Following a research leave, he would resume a full time faculty position teaching both acting and directing.

Zigler will continue at Harvard through May 2018 and join University North Carolina School of the Arts full time the next month. Until then, UNCSA School of Drama professor Dale Girard will serve as interim associate dean, supervising the daily administrative duties and working with Zigler to make the transition easier. Bob Francesconi will continue serving as assistant dean, while faculty member Quin Gordon and UNCSA graduate Kelly Maxner will continue serving, respectively, as director of recruitment and director of the high school program

“Scott Zigler brings a rare combination of exceptional talents to our School of Drama,” Lindsay Bierman, UNCSA chancellor said in an official statement. “He’s spent two decades running one of the country’s premier actor training programs, has built an impressive career as a director and has demonstrated a heartfelt dedication to art pedagogy and student success at one of the world’s greatest institutions. It was a coup to get him, and I have no doubt that he’ll continue to lead by example as an artist, academic and administrator at UNCSA.”

UNCSA’s executive vice-chancellor and provost David English in his official statement added, that they were impressed by Zigler’s knowledge of and passion for the theater. As well as his commitment to actor training, which involves the integration of a wide variety of pedagogical approaches.

“I passionately believe that the young theater artist should be exposed to a broad range of approaches and aesthetics,” Zigler said. “And that every artist must ultimately create her or his own unique methodology, synthesizing a broad array of influences into a unique approach that best serves the individual’s own nature, creativity, imagination and passion.”

Zigler, the co-author of “A Practical Handbook for the Actor,” published by Random House in 1986, previously served as artistic director of the Atlantic Theater Company of New York and Burlington, Vermont. He was also the executive director of its training program, the Atlantic Acting School, where he is currently a senior member of the acting faculty. He has been a lecturer in dramatic arts at Harvard since 1996.

Zigler’s illustrious career includes stints as associate professor of acting and directing at Indiana University in Bloomington and director of the apprentice/intern company at Actors Theater in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as guest teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University of Louisville, Philadelphia High School for the Arts, and the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney, Australia.

An experienced hand at directing the works of David Mamet, Zigler’s extensive credits include the world premiere of David Mamet’s The Old Neighborhood (starring Peter Riegert and Patti LuPone) on Broadway in 1997, Ghost Stories: The Shawl and Prairie du Chien at the Atlantic Theater Company, November at Center Theater Group/Mark Taper Forum, Race at Philadelphia Theater Company, Glengarry Glen Ross at the McCarter Theater, and The Cryptogram at both The Alley Theater and the Steppenwolf Theater Company.

Benjamin Hoff, who graduated the UNCSA School of Filmmaking with an M.F.A. in film composition in 2016, is the third UNCSA composer to have won a College Television Award, which he received for the score of the 2016 fourth-year student film Parchment Wings. This made him the third UNCSA composer to have won the award, which is commonly known as the Student Emmy.

In 2015, Nathan Fenwick Smith, who received his M.F.A. in 2014, won for the score of The Collection, and in 2012 alumnus Leo Hurley won for his score for Zomromcom: The Musical.

Hoff and Smith both studied with Chris Heckman, a graduate of the program and now its director. In an official statement Heckman said, “As a professor, it is very rewarding to see my students recognized with the industry’s highest honors. I am tremendously proud of Ben, and I look forward to watching him build a stellar career as a film music composer and orchestrator.”

Susan Ruskin, dean of the School of Filmmaking added that under Heckman’s expert mentorship, music composition students would continue to win prestigious awards and coveted internships.

“We offer our hearty congratulations to both Ben and Chris,” Ruskin said.

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