Alumni News from Jay!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

I thought I’d use this opportunity to bring you up to date on some alumni travel I’ve been doing lately. Allow me to introduce our new Alumni Development person for the newly merged College of Humanities & Fine Arts & Natural Sciences (we’re working on a new name but the acronyms keep coming out strange.) Debra Umbdenstock [] is doing the alumni wrangling and development work for the new college. If you are trying to track someone down, plan a reunion, suggest a fellow alum for an award or publicity, report the news, or dump a whole load of cash on the department, she’s your woman.

John Kaufmann graciously invited me down to Iowa City to see his thesis production of Madwoman of Chaillot last April and at that gala event (with Tim McClain, Angie Toomsen, et al.) I had the chance to catch up with Matt Fleming, who informed me of the upcoming 2010 Olive Street Reunion and he sent me a link to the video. <> (go to the bottom of the blog to see the instigating artifact and read upwards to follow the genesis and ultimate fruition of the event).

I figured half a day wasn’t too much to ask in the cause of alumni development, so I drove to lovely Dolliver State Park just outside of Fort Dodge (the explanation is on the video) in blistering heat and under the threat of tornadoes and ripping thunderstorms, thinking that these conditions by themselves were enough to make for a very memorable weekend.  I began looking for the reunion, asking at campsites and venturing deep and deeper into the heart of darkness.  The mood in the park was not jovial, as the park had apparently booked a Johnson family reunion AND a Johnston family reunion and just assumed that there had been a typo, mixing them up and leading to some provocative and potentially productive Lutheran cross-breeding.

At last, I found our campsite and the knot of happy campers who had spent the previous night huddled together for shelter in the public lavatory for protection from the threat of tornado and a convenient place to be in and out of which to have the piss scared.  Weather notwithstanding, the reunion was a huge success, attended by:

Chelle Budrevich, Genevieve Budrevich & Emme

Amanda Cherry-Haus, James Haus, Dixie & Simba

Matt Fleming, Kristin Graziano, Iris, Maeve & Beau

Jimmy Garver & Rebecca Bray

Allie Gerlach (alas, didn’t make it)

Chellie Herren-Brown, Chris Brown & Ivan

Gregg Horrass

John Kaufmann, Brynn Hambly & Rumpus

James Kurtzleben

Tess Lassen-Wortinger & Mike Wortinger

Tim McClain, Maria Araeipour & Alex

Jason Palmquist

Eric Reiners, Kerri Eich & Boden

Katrina Sandvik, Jay Radcliff & Felix

Kerry Schyba, Anji Moreas & Amelia

Doug Sigwarth

Ken Steadman, Cheryl Elsinger, Chris, Ethan, Amelia & Dulce

Kristin Teig-Torres, Travis Torres, Jack & Ava

Megan Trower-Ward & Nichola

sPlease note: in many cases, people have included the names of pets as if they were children. So do not be misled as to either the casual disregard of overpopulation warnings or the somewhat prosaicl choices of children’s names, such as Rumpus Kaufmann.

While I didn’t get to see everyone due to revolving door arrivals and departures, I had a great time dredging up old stories, spraying insect repellant, seeking shelter from the sun, spraying insect repellent, eating, seeking shelter from the sun, and trying to remember people who weren’t there and what they were up to.  Tess Lassen-Wortinger & Mike Wortinger did an amazing job feeding everyone, as did James, the Omelet King, Kurtzleben. James Garver engineered a wonderful soundscape for the weekend and everyone did State Parky things, drank and visited. They’re planning another, so you 80s alums check out the web site for ongoing info. For you non-80s alums, if we can’t get you back to Cedar Falls (“Come for the Cedar, stay for the falls.”) think about doing the same thing somewhere air conditioned, like an expensive resort or cruise ship.

Debra Umbdenstock and I just got back from Dallas where we had a great catch-up with Cheryl Ammeter, class of ’79, and Stephanie Steil Hoppe, class of ‘88. Cheryl has enjoyed a varied career as a writer, model, and actor in Dallas. You’ve heard her voice in national ads and probably bought her several Barney (yes, that Barney) DVDs for your kids.  Stephanie is currently working as Senior Marketing Director for 7-11.  I know that she has been remarkably successful because they have spun off an entire new marketing division just to handle Slurpees—it must be the Glee thing.

I know Debra and Eric Lange are planning an alumni trip to NYC in early October, so let Mayor Bloomberg know you’ll be busy and plan to attend whatever their event October 7th!  Eric and Debra are planning to see underneathmybed at The Rattlestick Playwright’s Theatre, with a post show party at Dublin 6.  You should email Eric at for more information.

Also, by way of ready-to-wear, I understand the student USITT chapter is planning to make available to you the rarely seen and often copied “Read the Damn Play” tee so wildly popular last season in Cannes. Watch this space for future developments.

Write or call if you’re going to be close.


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