UToledo Theatre Faculty’s Play Nets 7 Nominations for Chicago’s Jeff Awards

May 11, 2020 | Events, News, UToday, Alumni, Arts and Letters
By Angela Riddel

The Chicago production of a play written by Dr. Matt Foss, assistant professor of theatre with The University of Toledo Department of Theatre and Film, has garnered seven nominations for the prestigious 2020 Non-Equity Jeff Awards and is tied with four other productions for having the most nominations this year.

As the Tony Awards honor top theater in New York, the Jeff Awards recognize Chicago’s top theater each year.

This photo courtesy of the Red Tape Theatre is from the Chicago production of “All Quiet on the Western Front,” an adaptation for the stage written and directed by Dr. Matt Foss, UToledo assistant professor of theatre.

“All Quiet on the Western Front” is Foss’ adaptation for the stage of the historic novel by Erich Maria Remarque. The play premiered at The University of Toledo with a student cast in fall 2018 in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, the war in which the novel is set.

The professional premiere of the play featured a unique collaboration between the University co-producing the production with Red Tape Theatre and the Greenhouse Theatre Center — two professional companies in Chicago. UToledo’s support resulted in an extension of classroom learning in a professional setting, with theatre faculty member Stephen Sakowski and a number of former students also participating in the project. Sakowski also received a nomination for his lighting design.

The opening of the production culminated in a unique showcase event highlighting the UToledo College of Arts and Letters’ commitment to the arts, student experiences and innovation.

Two UToledo alumni, Austin Rambo (Theatre 2019) and Bianca Caniglia (Environmental Science and Women’s Studies 2018), also were part of the Chicago production’s cast.

This production was nominated for seven Jeff Awards: production — play; new work (Foss); director (Foss); sound design (Dan Poppen); lighting design (Sakowski, UToledo assistant professor of lighting design); and choreography (Leah Urzendowski). The play also was nominated for best ensemble — considered one of the most prestigious awards in the Chicago theater community for its recognition of exceptional collaboration.

Last spring, the play received the Kennedy Center’s David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award, recognizing the year’s outstanding new work premiered at a college or university.

The 47th Annual Non-Equity Jeff Awards and Community Unity Celebration was scheduled to be held virtually June 8. However, the event was postponed in respect of current events. Details on accessing the free program will be made available soon.

Names of award recipients will be released immediately following the virtual program on the Jeff Awards website under Non-Equity Awards.

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