Claire Trevor School of the Arts

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Claire Trevor School of the Arts
Claire Trevor Theater and related structure
General information
Architectural styleBrutalist
Town or cityIrvine, California
CountryUnited States of America
Construction started1969
ClientUniversity of California, Irvine
Technical details
Structural systemReinforced concrete
Design and construction
ArchitectWilliam Pereira
Structural engineerBrandow & Johnston

The Claire Trevor School of the Arts (CTSA, Claire Trevor) is an academic unit at the University of California, Irvine focused on the performing and visual arts. The four departments housed in the school are for art, dance, drama, and music. CTSA has undergraduate programs, masters programs, and a doctoral program in drama conducted jointly with UC San Diego.

Architecture and history[edit]

The school was named in honor of Academy Award-winning Hollywood actress Claire Trevor (1910-2000).[1] The school represents the largest contribution to the campus by architect William Pereira, who oversaw its construction in 1970. It features a distinctive "modular" design in which individual buildings are connected by an overhead network of pillar-supported canopies. In 2005, the school's landscape was redesigned by Maya Lin in a retro-futuristic style, featuring an outdoor theater, fountains, decorative LED lighting and landscaping with native grasses and wildflowers. In fall 2011, the new "green" Contemporary Arts Center opened in the heart of the school, a $42.35-million building equipped with state-of-the-art studios and spaces for displaying, staging, and producing art.[2] It serves as the new anchor for the art school complex.

Early CTSA professors included Mehli Mehta[3] (father of Zubin Mehta), choral master; Eugene Loring, dance master with James Penrod as an assistant; Frank Stella, Henry Clay, Tony DeLap and John McCracken, who were art instructors; and Robert Cohen, founding chair of the drama department.

Departments and faculty[edit]

Art department[edit]

Founded under the name Studio Art, the department renamed itself in 2012. It teaches a wide range of contemporary media, including drawing, electronic art and design, new genres, painting, performance, photography, sculpture, and video and digital filmmaking. The department has around 20 full-time faculty members and accepts about 10 graduate students each year into its three-year M.F.A. program. In addition to those listed above, notable faculty members have included Bruce Nauman, Vija Celmins, David Hockney, Chris Burden, Catherine Opie, Robert Irwin, Larry Bell, Eleanor Antin, John Mason, Ed Bereal, Michael Asher, John McCracken, and Yvonne Rainer.[4]

M.F.A. in Critical and Curatorial Studies

The Critical & Curatorial Studies program [5] educates graduate students to pursue a career in the field of curatorial practice, art criticism and public programming. The University Art Gallery [6] serves as a 'laboratory' for research by Critical & Curatorial students and faculty. Critical & Curatorial students engage in a rigorous curriculum consisting of a collaboration between Visual Studies and Department of Art.

Dance department[edit]

The UCI Dance department teaches ballet, modern dance, improvisation, and jazz performance and choreography, as well as courses in the history of dance, dance medicine and science, and the integration of dance with interactive technologies such as motion capture and telematics. The department has about 15 full-time faculty and accepts about 10 students a year into its two-year M.F.A. program. Notable faculty members have included the African-American choreographer Donald McKayle.[7]

Drama department[edit]

Robert Cohen organized an undergraduate repertory company that took Oedipus Rex on the road to UC San Diego and UC Santa Cruz in the department's early years. Other early productions included The Assassination of Jean Paul Marat by the Marquis de Sade, "Little Mary Sunshine", Night of the Iguana and Midsummer Night's Dream.[8] William Inge, author of such plays as Bus Stop, Picnic, and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs taught playwriting in the drama department in the 1970s. Jerzy Grotowski, acting theorist and founder of the Polish Laboratory Theater, joined the drama faculty in 1983,[9] and conducted his Objective Drama project in the fields and barn south of the main campus. UCI graduate drama student James Slowiak was his chief assistant during the project years.[9] Many fellow artists and students, from the UCI student body and around the world, came to Irvine to work with him and explore experimental theatrical exercises in what has come to be known as the "Grotowski Barn." In addition to Cohen and Grotowski, other drama faculty notables have included Stephen Barker, Keith Fowler, G. Cameron Harvey, William Needles, C.M., Bryan Reynolds, and Robert Weimann. Choreographer Donald McKayle was a joint member of the dance and drama faculties until his retirement.

Music department[edit]

The Music department follows a conservatory model and offers both a B.A. and a B.Mus at the undergraduate level, as well as a two-year M.F.A. degree program. Emphases at the graduate level include choral conducting, collaborative piano, guitar/lute performance, instrumental and piano performance, and vocal arts. There is also a two-year master's degree in Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology (ICIT). The faculty consists of composers, scholars, musicologists, music theorists, conductors, and concert and recording artists. Notable faculty include jazz pianist and composer Kei Akagi, composer and trombonist Michael Dessen, computer music expert Chris Dobrian, and Ensemble-in-Residence Trio Céleste. [10]

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Chris Burden, American sculptor and conceptual performance artist known for his self-mutilations, including Shoot, performed while a student, in which an assistant shot him in the arm.
  • Barbara T. Smith, American artist known for her performance work in the late 1960s.
  • Glenn Kaino, American conceptual artist based in Los Angeles.
  • Allison Case, American actor known for her part in the "Tribe" in the Broadway revival of Hair, following her appearance in Keith Fowler's staging of Hair in the Claire Trevor Theater.
  • caryn morse desai, MFA alumna director, artistic director of the International City Theater, Long Beach, California.
  • Crista Flanagan, a regular on Mad TV, a recipient of an MFA degree from the Claire Trevor School.
  • Bob Gunton, Drama Desk Award-winning actor on stage and screen.
  • Jon Lovitz, American comedian and actor.
  • Kevin Kwan Loucks, International concert pianist, founder and artistic director of Chamber Music OC, member of classical music ensemble Trio Céleste.
  • Beth Malone, American Tony Award-nominated stage actress, a performer at the Public Theater, New York, and the Sundance Theater Lab in Utah.
  • Amanda McRaven, MFA alumna director, Winner of Ovation award as "Best Director," 2014.
  • Teresa K. Pond, MFA alumna director, artistic director of Cyrano Theater Company, Anchorage, Alaska.
  • Andrew Samonsky, American actor known for his role as Lt. Cable in the 2008 Broadway revival of South Pacific.
  • Brian Thompson, American actor, known for his work in action films and TV series.
  • Teal Wicks, American stage actor, known for her role as Elphaba in the Broadway and touring productions of Wicked. Teal was Sheila in the 2003 version of Hair on the Claire Trevor stage.


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  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-08-05. Retrieved 2012-02-27.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ a b Koehler, Robert, "O.C. Theater," Los AngelesTimes, 07/23/1991.
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Coordinates: 33°38′59″N 117°50′42″W / 33.6497°N 117.845°W / 33.6497; -117.845