November 4 - November 6, 2016
19th Annual Theatre Forum
Sonja Bruzauskas, Tom Foral,
Chesley Santoro Krohn,
Felicia Hardison Londré,
Kate Pogue, Vern Sutton,
Ann Thompson
August to April Series


Cervantes and Shakespeare
Golden Ages: The Theatre of England and Spain in the Age of Shakespeare and Cervantes

The Forum will present performances, recitals, lectures, research projects and lecture-demonstrations to compare the Spanish theatre of Miguel de Cervantes (creator of Don Quixote), and the English theatre of William Shakespeare. Both of these writers lived in a glorious time, both dominated their national theatres, and both died in 1616, four hundred years ago this year.

     Click here to view and print downloadable brochure.
        To request a brochure by mail, email
        or call 979-249-3129.

Presenters from all over the country include Tom Foral, Felicia Hardison Londré, Vern Sutton, Ann Thompson, Sonja Bruzauskas, Chesley Santoro Krohn, and Kate Pogue. See bios below.

Student Research Project

A highlight of the forum is the presentation of prize-winning student research papers. The Theatre Forum put out a call to undergraduate students for research papers that would shed light on the relationship between the English and Spanish theatre of the late 16th and early 17th centuries (c.1570-1616). The Theatre Forum 2016 is pleased to announce the winners of two student research awards which will be presented after the conclusion of the opera.

The Sidney Berger Shakespeare Theatre Research Award for student scholarship focused on the theatre goes to George Martin for his paper entitled "Troubled with the Stone" or Deus Pecuniaque ex Machina, the subject being "The economics of castration in Massinger's The Renegado, Heywood's The Fair Maid of the West, and Rembrandt's The Baptism of the Eunuch". The award honors Dr. Sidney Berger who chaired the School of Theatre at the University of Houston, was the Artistic Director for the Houston Shakespeare Festival for 35 years, and helped in the founding years of the Theatre Forum at Festival Hill. View G. Martin Paper.

The Mabel Leininger Award for Student Research for excellence in subjects related to Renaissance dramatic literature goes to LeeAnne Beckham Carlson for her paper entitled "Warring Views on Kingship as Seen Through Setting," a paper which analyses the effect of setting, dramatically and theatrically, on works of theatre with a particular focus on Shakespeare's Henry IV parts 1 and 2. This award honors Kate Pogue's grandmother whose graduate work in English at Northwestern University culminated with a Master's degree in English in 1905. Her thesis was on dramatic criticism embedded in Shakespeare's work and reminds us of the critical work that was done by women scholars in the 19th and 20th centuries. View L.B. Carlson Paper.

Two Cells in Sevilla Opera

Two Cells in Sevilla
Poster designed by Krystyna Steffens
World Premiere of Chamber Opera

Another highlight of the forum is the world premiere of a one-act comic opera on Saturday at 1:30 pm on the Festival Concert Hall stage. The opera, called Two Cells in Sevilla, was written by father and son team Marec Béla Steffens and Walter Steffens and is co-produced by The Greenbriar Consortium in Houston, Texas. The opera's characters include Cervantes, his great colleague Tirso de Molina (creator of the Don Juan legend), and features a letter from their English contemporary William Shakespeare.

Performers in the opera include Sonja Bruzauskas, mezzo-soprano; Todd Miller, tenor; Octavio Moreno, baritone; Vern Sutton, baritone; Anne Leek, oboe; Erika Johnson, cello; Alexander Potiomkin, clarinet; Masahito Sugihara, saxophone; and Tali Morgulis, piano.

Taking full advantage of the picturesque Festival Hill Campus, the three-day Theatre Forum also offers a tour of grounds and buildings, morning walks with Ann Thompson, and appetizing meals in the Victorian-style Menke House dining hall, as well as an open-air lunch in the lush Menke gardens on Saturday. Though casual dress is the norm for events, formal dress is encouraged for the Saturday evening reception in the Menke House Parlours followed by a gourmet dinner in the dining hall.

Overnight accommodations are available. Complimentary breakfast is included. Please call the office or email to check availability and make reservations.

Refund Policy: A 20% cancellation fee for registration, meals and lodging applies until October 21. No refunds will be issued after October 21.

Office/Information/Reservations: 979-249-3129

Location information below

Performances, Recitals and Lectures

Cervantes and Shakespeare
Lecture: Cervantes and the Golden Ages of Spanish Theatre
     Felicia Londré, award-winning author and professor from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, presents a thrilling video lecture introducing our audience to the highlights of Golden Age theatre and culture in Spain and England. The end of the 16th and the early years of the 17th century found Spain and England to be rivals in exploration, in the settlement of the New World, and in literature, music and art. Comparing the Spanish Miguel de Cervantes and the English William Shakespeare leads to a deeper insight to the work of each. Felicia's talks always lead to surprises and "Ah ha!" moments not to be missed, especially in this year honoring these two peerless writers.
   - presented on Friday at 7:30 p.m. by Felicia Londré

Performance: Gold Nuggets: Shakespearean Treasures
     Tom Foral and Kate Pogue have chosen some of the greatest of Shakespeare's speeches and scenes to perform for your pleasure. Come and be reminded of the extraordinary verbal imagination at work in Shakespeare's plays and poems—and be ready for a surprise at the end!
   - Saturday at 9:30 a.m., featuring Tom Foral and Kate Pogue

Performance/Talk: Zarzuela: Music and the Spanish Opera
     Ann Thompson has unearthed a Spanish musical treatment (a Zarzuela) of Cervantes's great work, Don Quixote. Her lectures (which she prefers to call simply talks) have entranced audiences in Houston and the surrounding area for three decades or more. Ann's wit, charm, originality, and deep research have opened many minds and hearts to the glories of opera. Here she introduces us to the particular form of musical operetta (a kind of comic folk opera) popular in Spain but less known in other countries.
   - Saturday at 10:30 a.m., featuring Ann Thompson with Sonja Bruzauskas

Photo Credit: Achim Kaufmann
Marec Béla Stevens and
Walter Steffens

Opera: Two Cells in Sevilla - Written by Marec Béla Steffens and Walter Steffens
     Marec Béla Steffens writes, "The chamber opera, Two Cells in Sevilla, with music by my father Walter Steffens is probably the first opera ever where a son wrote a libretto for his father. It is about a monk in a cloister, and a nobleman in debtors' prison, who are underfed by the cook who is in charge of both their institutions. She is an avid reader of romances, thus both the nobleman and the monk realise they have to write stories for her. So they start competing for her attention, and develop two characters for her, Don Juan and Don Quixote. A servant is part of the action, representing a giant subdued by Don Quixote, and later delivering a letter by Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff."
   - Saturday at 1:30 p.m., world premier of an original opera

Recital/Lecture: Interludes, Songs, and Musical Accompaniments: Lope de Vega and Music in Spanish Play Construction
     Much is known of the uses of music in the theatre of Shakespeare. The Spanish theatre also incorporated music in less familiar ways. In this talk, Vern Sutton, performer, teacher, and researcher, details the many ways Spanish playwrights found music to be essential in their productions.
   - Saturday at 8:30 p.m., featuring Vern Sutton

Don Quixote
Performance: Revisiting Don Quixote, The Man of La Mancha
     Enjoy songs from Man of La Mancha, the musical inspired by Miguel de Cervantes and his seventeenth-century masterpiece Don Quixote. The 1964 musical tells the story of the "mad" knight, Don Quixote, as a play within a play, performed by Cervantes and his fellow prisoners as he awaits a hearing with the Spanish Inquisition. The storyline combines a semi-fictional episode from the life of Cervantes with scenes from his novel. The musical was adapted from Dale Wasserman's non-musical 1959 teleplay I, Don Quixote, with lyrics by Joe Darion and music by Mitch Leigh. The Impossible Dream (The Quest) is the most popular song from the production. Join the cast on the Festival Concert Hall stage as they perform selections from the award-winning Man of La Mancha.
    - Sunday at 10:00 a.m., featuring Chesley Krohn and Company


Sonja Bruzauskas
Sonja Bruzauskas - Sonja is an active and passionate recitalist, specializing in German Art Song and contemporary repertoire. She further enjoys creating and designing concert experiences and integrative shows that connect to her European upbringing and education, experiences that take her audience on a journey to new horizons and knowledge. In addition to many performances in Europe, she has performed with the Santa Fe Opera, and the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, and in Houston with Da Camera, the Bach Society, Mercury, the Greenbriar Consortium, the Houston Chamber Orchestra, the Houston Chamber Choir, ROCO and Ars Lyrica. Residencies, talks and masterclasses include California Institute of the Arts, Rice University, the University of Houston, the Philosophical Society of Houston, and Folkwang University, Essen, Germany. She has recently released two recordings: Rothko Chapel (ECM), Watercolors (DELOS).

Tom Foral
Tom Foral - Tom returns from Pennsylvania for his eighteenth annual Theatre Forum. Tom's undergraduate degree is from Northwestern and he holds an MFA in theatre from Penn State. His performing experience includes shows on Broadway, off-Broadway and in regional theatre, plus film and television. A painter and designer, Tom specializes in portraiture and figurative works. As a portraitist, Tom has painted among others, H.S.H. Princess Grace of Monaco, Audrey Hepburn, Bill Blass and Eudora Welty. He has been showing his art in New York and Bucks County, including two new series of paintings on the circus and the ballet. You can see some of his work at

Chesley Santoro Krohn
Chesley Santoro Krohn - An actress, choreographer, director and producer, Chesley trained as a dancer and was a member of Houston's Allegro Ballet Company. She studied in New York City with Luigi and appeared on Broadway in A Chorus Line. In Houston, she has played leading roles with Alley Theatre, Theatre Under The Stars and Theatre Inc., among others. She has taught, directed, and coached young professionals at Houston High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. She received a Best Director nomination from the Tommy Tune Awards for the school's recent production of A Man of No Importance and directed A Little Night Music and Pippin there. She recently played Eulalie Shinn, the mayor's wife, in the Houston's Theatre Under the Stars production of The Music Man.

Felicia Hardison Londre
Felicia Hardison Londré - Felicia is Curators' Professor of Theatre at the University of Missouri-Kansas City where she teaches theatre history and dramaturgy. She earned her B.A. in French at the University of Montana, then, following a Fulbright year at the Université de Caen in Normandy, France, she earned her M.A. in Romance Languages at the University of Washington and her Ph.D. in Speech/Theatre at the University of Wisconsin. She received the ATHE Outstanding Teacher of Theatre in Higher Education Award in 2001. She is the author of fourteen books, the twelfth of which, The Enchanted Years of the Stage: Kansas City at the Crossroads of American Theater, 1870-1930 (University of Missouri Press, 2007), won the prestigious George Freedley Memorial Book Award for 2008. Felicia was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre in 1999 and served as Dean of the College (2012-14).

Kate Pogue
Kate Pogue - Producer of all nineteen Theatre Forums, Kate is a playwright, librettist and theatre director. She received an undergraduate degree in theatre from Northwestern and an M.A. from the University of Minnesota. For ten years she was Artistic Director of both Opera to Go and The Shakespeare by the Book Festival, for which she directed numerous productions. Her book Shakespeare's Friends was published in January 2006 by Praeger and a companion volume, Shakespeare's Family, came out in June 2008. Her most recent Shakespeare books involve his training and include Shakespeare's Figures of Speech (2010) and Shakespeare's Education (2012). Her most recent project involved directing Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in the original pronunciation. She is retired from the University of Houston Downtown where she received the Outstanding Adjunct Professor award.

Vern Sutton
Vern Sutton - Gifted teacher, lecturer, singer and actor, Vern returns for his eighteenth appearance at the annual Theatre Forum weekend. Longtime resident of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Vern retired chair of the Music Department at the University of Minnesota. His performances in the Twin Cities include work with the Plymouth Music Series, Center Opera, Minnesota Opera, The Guthrie Theatre, the Minneapolis Children's Theatre, and A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. His special interests include Florenz Ziegfeld and the music used to create the scores for the Ziegfeld Follies as well as early styles and techniques of singing and performance.

Ann Thompson
Ann Thompson - Born in Indonesia and educated in Switzerland, Ann developed strong cultural interests early on with a special love for opera. Her series called Let's Go to the Opera includes booklets and audiotapes giving background to 120 operas which the Library of Congress stocks for use by the visually handicapped. She gives pre-concert talks for The Brazos Valley Symphony and has provided introductory lectures to audiences and descriptive services for blind patrons for Houston Grand Opera. She has inspired Houston opera goers for 15 years with her weekly talks at the West University Senior Center and classes at the Houston Women's Institute.

Location Information

Festival Hill Campus Location (one-half mile north of Round Top on State Highway 237): 248 Jaster Rd, Round Top, TX 78954 Google Map
Service Building Location: #22 on Campus Map
Edythe Bates Old Chapel Location: #8 on Campus Map
Concert Hall Location: #6 on Campus Map
Menke House Location: 141 Jaster Rd, Round Top, TX 78954 #16 on Campus Map

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