Innovation Theatre

What is Innovation Theatre?

Innovation Theatre is the brainchild of theatre professor, Tracy Callahan. Innovation Theatre is all about students creating work from an established source as in Hip-Hop Romeo and Juliet, Lest We Forget and Stronger Than Fear. Innovation Theatre will be three stories through the eyes of three student directors, three acting ensembles and dozens of student designers and stage hands. The production will be presented in Eccles Theatre April 13-15 and April 18-22 at 7:30 p.m. There will be no Saturday matinee for this production. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students.

View a preview of Innovation Theatre here

About The Three Productions:

Stronger Than Fear [Click here for a full listing of the cast and creative teams]

Mackinzie Flinders Director's Note: 

“When I heard Malala Yousafzai speak at the United Nations I knew there was something special about her.  She is full of light, love, and strength.  When was just fourteen years old, she was shot by the Taliban for defending her right to education.  After discussing it with Tracy Callahan and thinking about what I wanted my devised theatre piece to focus on, I kept coming back to this idea of overcoming fear.  Along with Malala’s story, I knew I wanted to use Shadow Theatre to play on that light vs. dark element.  Malala was such an inspiration.  I read her book and watched the documentary in preparation for the process.

During casting, I looked for people who embodied strength and power; I wanted to work with actors who could tell her story with as much strength as she deserves.  When we got into rehearsal, we studied her life and chose the parts we thought were the most important.  I created a timeline of events and we devised our way through her story.  Throughout the process, we came to love Malala.  We found ways to connect to her culture and her platform, we discovered everyone is afraid of something, and everyone can overcome fear.  Life is too short to let our fears or the bad parts of life keep us from living our dreams.  In this show you will see pieces of everything we have been creating for the last four months.  I hope you enjoy the show as much as we have loved creating it.”  

Mackinzie Flinders Biography:

Mackinzie is grateful for the opportunity to direct "Stronger Than Fear."  She was inspired by the story of Malala and thought her message of the importance of education and her unwavering bravery needed to be told.  She is a Senior emphasizing in Theatre Education.  Her goal is to teach junior high theatre. Mackinzie has been involved in many aspects of theatre at Weber State University; she was recently the stage manager for Six Characters in Search of an Author and performed in 35 MM.  She would like to thank her incredibly talented cast and team for all their love and creative input throughout this process; Tracy and Flo for their continual guidance and support, and for giving her this opportunity to learn and grow; her family for the constant love, and her best friend Marshal who has been there every step of the way. It has been a joy to work with all of you.

Director’s note:

Triangle [Click here for a full listing of the cast and creative teams]

Ashley Patterson's Biography:

This is Ashley’s theatre debut at Weber State University. Her piece, Triangle, was inspired by a one act play that was performed at her Alma mater, Box Elder High School in 2011.  The one-act play inspired her to pursue theatre as a future career and helped carve a pathway to where she is now.  Ashley has loved spending her Junior year working on this project at Weber State University and she is grateful for everything she has learned throughout the process.  She is currently studying Theatre Education and Dance Education and hopes that one day she can pass on her knowledge in her own high school classroom. She is very grateful for the support of her fellow peers and mentors who have helped her throughout this process.  She would like to thank her husband and best friend, Alex, for always being by her side.  Ashley and Alex are preparing to welcome Baby Patterson in October of 2017.  

Ashley Patterson's Director’s note:

Triangle is a piece that was inspired from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. This factory was a New York-based factory that made women’s shirtwaists in the beginning of the 20th century.  On March 25, 1911, a fire broke out on the eighth floor of the factory and within 30 minutes, the fire devoured the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors of the Ashe building. Our piece explores the many ways the men and women escaped the building, recounting from personal stories and court testimonies of the events. The process of building this piece was a struggle to balance truth and fiction. We can only imagine what was going through the workers’ minds when they were trying to escape, especially those who didn’t make it.  It has been a thrilling and exciting process to create from the ground up.  From casting, to writing, to exploring and building, we hope you enjoy our tribute to the men and women affected by this spark.”

R&J [Click here for a full listing of the cast and creative teams]

Director's Biography

Kaylee is very excited for her mainstage directing/playwriting debut. She is a Musical Theatre senior looking to act, direct, and teach throughout her career.  You may have last seen her onstage as Estonia Dulworth in Nice Work If You Can Get It, Kitty in Jim Christian’s Pirated, or in Mockingbird.  Kaylee loves hip-hop and was inspired by her love of hip-hop culture to tell Romeo & Juliet from a different perspective.  She hopes to produce a full version of this show one day.  When she is not in the rehearsal room, you may find her being a barista at your local Starbucks.  She would like to thank Tracy Callahan and Flo Bravo for this opportunity and all their guidance.  She would also like to thank everyone who has had faith in her vision for this show and for being so patient with the process.

Director’s note: R&J" is a contemporary hip-hop rendition of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Two lovers, a few friends, and a deeply-rooted rivalry are what keeps the story the same. What's new?  Two dance crews.  To find out the rest, you'll just have to see the show. We have worked together to combine hip-hop with Shakespeare's poetic text to retell this classic story with a twist.  Some of the music you may have heard on the radio and some might be mashed up with other songs or Shakespeare’s text.  Either way, we think this story has something new to offer and we hope you enjoy the show.” 

Biographies of Mentors and Actors:

Tracy Callahan

Tracy Callahan, Director is a founding member of The Process Theatre Company. Directing credits there include CLOSER and THE DUTCHMAN. Tracy has directed VENUS IN FUR, MANNING UP, COURSE 86B IN THE CATALOGUE, SIX YEARS, HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE and MERE MORTALS for The Salt Lake Acting Company. She is a freelance director in the Salt Lake Area where she has had the opportunity to direct for Plan-B Theatre, Wasatch Theatre and Dark Horse Theatre Company. Tracy is the Head of the Acting and Directing Program at Weber State University where she has directed over 35 productions. Some of her favorite educational productions include; CHARM, UNDER CONSTRUCTION, THE LARAMIE PROJECT, ROMEO AND JULIET, AS YOU LIKE IT, ROAD, SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION and THE BIRTHDAY PARTY. Two of her Weber State Productions, THE SERPENT and MACBETH were invited to perform at the Kennedy Center For Performing Arts. Most recently Tracy collaborated on two-world première plays with playwright Julie Jensen. Mockingbird (commissioned by the Kennedy Center Theatre For Youth) was first seen at Weber State University during our first season of new plays, at the Kennedy Center For Performing Arts in Washington DC and was produced again in the same year at the Rose Wagner Theatre in Salt Lake City. Last year Tracy helped to develop and direct Julie Jensen’s play WINTER for the Salt Lake Acting Company.

Flo Bravo earned her B.A. in theatre from Weber State University in 2015 and is currently pursuing freelance work in Utah.  Recently, she had the opportunity to workshop new plays as part of Salt Lake Acting Company’s annual Playwrights’ Lab.  Her WSU acting credits include 9 Circles (young female lawyer, army shrink, and prosecutor) and W;t (Susie Monahan); she received an Irene Ryan acting nomination for both roles. She also directed For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls by Christopher Durang.  In 2014, Flo was awarded the Lindquist Fellowship for Creative and Artistic Endeavors to direct an all-student production of Seminar by Theresa Rebeck. She received the same fellowship in 2015 to work with an ensemble of students under the guidance of Tracy Callahan to create a devised theatre performance, which they took to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Hawaii in 2016. As Associate Artistic Director, Flo had the opportunity to help mentor the three directors of Innovation Theatre.  The experience has been educational, challenging, and inspirational.  Flo looks forward to creating and sharing this kind of work in the future.

Jessica Greenberg, Lighting, Sound & Projection Design Mentor's work as a designer has taken her to many venues in New York and around the country, with diverse projects in theatre, dance, and opera. New York designs include productions with La Mama Experimental Theatre Club, 59E59, Flux Theatre Ensemble, New Opera NYC, The Adjusted Realists, Red Fern Theatre, Castillo Theatre, Two Headed Calf, Midlantic Theatre, SoHo Rep, Heiress Productions, Cloud City, Dixon Place, The Exchange / Orchard Project, and Epic Theatre Ensemble Education Programs. She is the resident lighting designer with SB Dance in Salt Lake City, and a frequent sound & lighting designer at Salt Lake Acting Company. Jessica has also served as a lecturer or guest designer at Hampshire College, Endicott College, Amherst College, Smith College and Yale University. ?She will travel to Taipei, Taiwan, this July to present her sound design work at the World Stage Design Conference 2017. Awards include the New York State Decentralization of the Arts Award, Weber State Outstanding Mentor Award for the College of Arts and Humanities, and the Design Arts Utah Juror’s Award. BA : Hampshire College / MFA : UMass Amherst. Member of United Scenic Artists 829.

Jean-Louise England, Costume Studio Supervisor and has held this position since 2007. Prior to working at Weber State, she worked for companies such as Childsplay Inc, Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, Tutu Etoile, Arizona Theatre Company, Phoenix Theatre, Valley Youth Theatre, and the Phoenix Zoo.  She designs costumes for Orchesis Dance Theatre annually and assist in mentoring student designers in Costumes and Hair and Makeup. For Innovation Theatre, she supervised and mentored the student designers in construction, purchasing and rentals, pulling from our stock of costumes, fittings, specialty dye projects, and communicating desired outcomes to the studio to create their vision. 

Erin Carignan Bio - Erin’s design work encompasses a variety of work in theatre, film, TV and film shorts, and styling for fashion print ads. Post graduate, she spent two years at the LA Opera as a crafts artisan/painter-dyer and 7 years at the Old Globe as the costume crafts supervisor/painter-dyer. During that time she taught master-classes at art schools and universities. After a long stretch of professional theatre work mixed with some academic work, she is now a Visiting Assistant Professor of Costume Design at Weber State University where she mixes academic work with professional design and fine-art works.

Bryce Allen Bio - Bryce Dale Allen is the Technical Director at Weber State University.  He oversees the technical aspects of the theatrical productions for the Theatre Area in the Performing Arts Department and teaches the Production and Stage Management, Advanced Stage Craft, and Technical Direction courses for their theatre degrees.  Bryce orchestrates the behind-the-scenes magic for Weber State’s theatre program as he engineers and oversees the construction of their sets, mentors their student Stage Managers, and works as Production Manager for the theatre program.  He has recently received his ETCP Rigging Certification, making Weber State University the only educational venue in the state to have a member of their technical staff with this certification.   As Technical Director and Production Manager for the Theatre Area, Bryce has mentored the student stage managers and has overseen and coordinated the engineering and construction of the scenery for the Innovation Theatre Festival. 

Derek Williamson Bio - Derek is a WSU alum, graduating with his BA in technical theatre with an emphasis in design. He's worked at Eccles Center Theatre, as well as The Ziegfeld Theatre and for Good Company Theatre in Ogden in varying designer roles. He also works for Ogden City, in the department of arts, culture, and events, as Amphitheatre Coordinator for the Ogden Amphitheater. He is thrilled to join Weber State and the Department of Performing Arts for Innovation Theatre as the Scenic design mentor. 

Amber Smith Bio - Amber Dawn Smith is happy to have returned to Weber State's Costume Studio to be the Assistant Costume Studio Manager (aka Jean's Little Helper). From 1999 until 2007 she was the Costume Studio Manager. Amber has worked for Virginia Stage Company, Georgia Shakespeare Festival, Utah Musical Theatre, and Utah Tailoring, as well as odd jobs in other fields. For Innovation Theatre, she helped with the construction of costume pieces created specifically for this production by each designer. 

Chris Carignan, Properties mentor


Salt Lake Acting Company

Utah Repertory Theater Company

Sara Pickett

Rachel Savage

Van Tinkham

Dr. Jennifer A. Kokai 

The original creator of this image in no way endorses this production or any alterations to it. The image has been altered. 


Jenessa L’e Bowen

Amber Yardley