Launched in 1982, the UC Davis Granada Artist-in-Residence program is unique in American university theater, bringing prominent theater artists—directors, playwrights, choreographers, or filmmakers—to Davis each academic quarter to teach and create a work for public performance. A special opportunity for graduate and undergraduate students to work closely with major theater and dance practitioners, it is a unique cross-cultural experience.
Established with funding provided by Britain’s Granada Television, the program originally hosted British practitioners exclusively, but in the 1990s, it was expanded to include distinguished artists from all parts of the globe, including the U.S., to better reflect the rich cultural mix of students at UC Davis.
Since its inception, the Granada Artist-in-Residence program has brought a roster of gifted artists to UC Davis. These artisans include playwrights Philip Kan Gotanda and Mark Ravenhill, directors Irina Brown and William Gaskill, as well as choreographers John Jasperse, Bill T. Jones and Doug Varone. Former Granada Artists Mindy Cooper and Peter Licthtenfels are now members of the Department of Theatre and Dance faculty.
Various distinguished artists have served on the Granada Artist-in-Residence program advisory committee including actress Dame Judi Dench, director Sir Peter Hall and film and television producer Derek Granger.
All Granada artists work closely with the permanent faculty to integrate their unique talents and areas of interest into the existing curriculum.
Andrew Nicholls began writing comedy with Darrell Vickers in Junior High. After high school in Canada the team wrote for radio, TV and stage, and for comedians and cartoonists. In 1983 they moved to Los Angeles, where they wrote for George Carlin, Mickey Rooney, and for NBC’s Tonight Show from 1986-92, as Johnny Carson’s head writers. They’ve since created twenty TV series and written over 400 episodes of children’s TV.
This class incrementally works through the steps of learning a role and bringing a role to life. This begins with the simplest technical elements of a performer’s tasks in developing a character, and includes discussion of the piece being learned: period, location, research and personal additional choices to be made by the performer. The range of elements explored are: speech, dialect or varying dialects, physicality, vocal demands of each individual character, the study of the musical score and the embodiment of the character’s singing.
Originally the Department of Theatre and Dance faculty conceived of establishing a relationship with a professional production company in order to draw upon the expertise of eminent professionals who would come to the department for a limited time to create and teach.Faculty member Dan Snyder, who had worked as a designer for Granada Television Ltd (best known in the U.S. for its productions of Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown, and Lost Empires), suggested that the department approach Granada, which had a wealth of contacts in British theater.
Judy Blazer has appeared on Broadway in leading roles in Me and My Girl,A Change in the Heir, Titanic the Musical, LoveMusik, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. At New York City Opera, she appeared in Candide and Sweeney Todd. Off-Broadway: Hello Again, (Drama Desk nomination), The House of Bernarda Alba (both at Lincoln Center),Hurrah at Last (Roundabout Theater).
Janni Younge is a director and producer of multimedia, theatrical and visual performance works, with an emphasis on puppetry arts. Janni’s work has been performed widely internationally in North and South America, Africa, Europe, India and the East. Recognition awards include the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Theatre, several Fleur du Cap awards for puppet design and the Nagroda award for direction.
Kent Nicholson received his MFA from the Department of Theatre and Dance in 1995. He returned to UC Davis in 2006 to direct Death of a Salesman, which won a Writers’ Choice Award for best theatrical production on a university campus from the Sacramento News & Review. New York directing credits include: 9 Circles (The Sheen Center), Long Story Short (Prospect Theater), Five Flights (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater), Wet (Summer Play Festival), and Marry Harry (NYMF, American Theater Group).
Mindy Cooper has directed, choreographed and performed on Broadway and Off-Broadway in Chicago - The Musical (original revival), Titanic (original cast), Dracula – The Musical, 50 Shades – The Musical Parody, Mars/Venus Live, The Eternal Space, Soul Doctor, Wrong Mountain, Five Course Love, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Song & Dance, and Tenderloin, as well as TV’s Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
Kirsten Brandt is an award-winning playwright, director and producer. She served for six seasons as Artistic Director of Sledgehammer Theatre where she directed over a dozen plays and wrote Berzerkergang, The Frankenstein Project, and NU. She was the Associate Artistic Director of San Jose Repertory Theatre, where she directed Dr. Faustus, Next Fall, The Big Meal, Legacy of Light and Groundswell, among others. As a director, Ms.