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Granholm Receives ATHE/KCACTF Award

Sue Dieter
Publication date: 
January 5, 2022

Lucas Granholm in the theatre shop surrounded by a set in progress of being built.

Lucas Granholm, assistant professor of theatre arts at the University of Minnesota Morris (UMN Morris), is the 2021 recipient of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region V Innovative Teaching Award. The award recognizes excellence and innovation in theatre pedagogy.  

The award is a partnership between the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) and the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE).

KCACTF Region V Chair Brad M. Carlson said, “It was easy to select Lucas, he has done some outstanding innovative work during a difficult time for theatre artists and educators.”

Granholm joined the UMN Morris faculty in fall 2016. During his time at UMN Morris he has designed or mentored student designers on a variety of shows.

“I have always been interested in theatre and the arts. The act of creating with a group of other artists has always excited me. At an early age, a theatre teacher told me that the operative word in what we do in theatre is ‘play’. I have always held onto that idea, and continue to remind students of this right before every technical rehearsal. As artists, it is our job to live on stage, to play onstage, and to share human emotion with one another! Through the act of play we are able to feel deeply for one another and the stories we present on stage.”

Granholm’s innovative work with sustainable materials in the classroom and productions can be seen in a variety of UMN Morris productions, wherein found or repurposed materials make their way into the design process.

As a student at UMN Morris, Granholm was part of the theatre department’s first sustainable production, As You Like It, in 2010, directed by Ray Schultz, professor of theatre arts, and designed by Jess Larson, professor of studio art.

“Not only did I act in this show, I also helped to build and scrounge for materials,” Granholm said. “This left a major impact on me as a designer and continues to influence me today. I was able to see how theatre can be done with all found or scavenged materials, and subsequently allow the community to be involved in a production through the act of helping collect items to be used in the show.”

He was able to work with Schultz and Larson again as faculty to create a full production out of entirely recycled materials for the 2016 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“The students are what keep me wanting to come back for more. Theatre students at UMN Morris are creative, driven, and hard working. They continue to inspire me.”