by Pam Wigley
The voices of the next generation of entertainment industry professionals will be heard loud and clear at the 2020 Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama “eShowcase”. Departing from its usual live format through presentations in New York and Los Angeles, the annual Showcase of talent from the school’s prestigious program will come to participants virtually this year on May 18, 19 and 20 through “eShowcase.” The May 18 event is open to the public and goes live at 5:30 p.m. EST; the remaining two sessions will be sponsored by School of Drama alumni chapters.
The format, however, does not diminish class members’ promise of being the latest roundup of exceptional talent that will lead future theater, film and TV productions — in a wide range of professions behind the scenes and as actors.
“We are extremely proud of this class of students and of what they have accomplished during their time at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama,” said Anne Mundell, professor of scenic design. “While a virtual showcase is not what any of us were planning for six months ago, we are excited by this alternative way to celebrate the incredible work our students have done.”
When colleges and universities closed campuses around the world this spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the School of Drama’s administration, faculty, students and staff adjusted classes and events to accommodate students’ continued learning. Showcase was one event that immediately became the focus of a team within the school. Traditionally, graduates participate in live events on both coasts, providing an opportunity for them to meet with agents, casting directors, producers, directors, designers, playwrights, and other established working professionals in theater, film and television working in the U.S. and around the world.
Having met with success through online instruction and performance, faculty advisers determined that a virtual event could help to support their goal of having graduates gain visibility, and “eShowcase” was born.
“This is a courageous body of students who want to take creative steps to move forward in their careers during a very challenging time,” said Peter Cooke, professor and head of the school. “We want to help make a pathway to their futures.”
Graduates in acting, design, directing, dramatic writing, dramaturgy, production technology and management, and theater studies will meet with national and international representatives during “eShowcase.” Through short, personal introduction videos from each graduate, combined with School of Drama production archive footage, “eShowcase” attendees will meet students and learn about their work. From those introductions, students will go in real time into breakout sessions with members of the entertainment community to learn more about various industry sectors and discuss the future of the industry. Carnegie Mellon School of Drama faculty members will be present in each breakout session to encourage discussion.
Additionally, moderated panels featuring School of Drama alumni will be part of “eShowcase.” Kim Weild, associate professor and option coordinator, The John Wells Directing Program, will moderate the first panel of alumni with John Wells, Molly Smith Metzler, Sheldon Epps and Daniella Topol. Cooke will moderate the second panel, which is a conversation with alumna, lifetime Board of Trustee member and producer Paula Wagner on “The Future of the Entertainment Industry.”
“We can really reach a vast audience this way,” said Brian Russman, associate teaching professor of costume production. “And we’re doing it in an inviting way that promotes natural interaction among students and audience members. This is a bridge to important people they need to meet in the business.”
The May 19 event is sponsored by the New York Drama Alumni Clan (NYDAC) and is focused on professions within that region of the U.S. On May 20, the West Coast Drama Alumni Clan (WCDAC) hosts the final event, which is geared to industry professions in the Los Angeles area. Alumni from both coasts will be in attendance.
For people who want to meet the graduates before “eShowcase,” credentials and information are on the School of Drama “eShowcase” site. Interested parties also may schedule one-on-one interviews with the graduating seniors on the site. General inquiries should be sent to Russman at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mundell at email@example.com.