Associate Professor of Scenic Design Eric Renschler has been named the new Chair of the Department of Theatre at the University of Evansville.
A 1983 graduate of UE, Renschler returned to the faculty of his alma mater in 2006, after spending the previous 20 years working professionally in New York City.
His Broadway designs include scenery for As Long As You Both Shall Laugh, including a national tour and PBS special, and Mamaloshen. As an associate designer, Renschler was involved with over forty Broadway productions and tours including The Color Purple, Doubt, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Footloose, Proof, Wonderful Town, The Redwood Curtain and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. His work as an associate scenic designer has taken him around the world for installations of the hit musical Chicago, including London, Paris, Moscow, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Mexico City, Berlin and Vienna.
Renschler’s Off-Broadway credits include designs at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Circle Repertory Company, Pan-Asian Repertory Theatre, Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, and The Juilliard School. He also worked on over 30 productions with the New York City Center’s series Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert.
In 2011–2012, The Institute for Global Enterprise named Renschler a University of Evansville Global Scholar. He used the award to expand his experience in the international design arena with a yearlong comparative study of national design aesthetics as exhibited through theatrical scenography. Renschler visited Prague to study the impact of globalization on the national cultural identity as exhibited at the 2011 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space.
Renschler holds an MFA in Theatre Design from the University of Michigan and is a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and United Scenic Artists (USA).
“My time as a student at UE was essential in preparing me for success in the professional theatre. I look forward to working with the finest theatre faculty in the country to ensure that tradition continues,” says Renschler.
Renschler replaces Professor John David Lutz, who has been on the UE faculty for 50 years and served as Department Chair since 1983. Lutz will take a sabbatical in the fall and return to teaching in the spring of 2016
In addition to Renschler being named chair, two new positions within the UE Department of Theatre have been created. Professor R. Scott Lank has been named the Artistic Director and Head of Acting and Sharla Cowden has been named the Managing Director and Head of Theatre Management.
Lank, a 1978 graduate of UE, has taught acting for 28 years and coached many of UE’s most notable alumni working professionally today on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regional theatre, as well as in film, and television. Lank has an MFA in Directing from the University of Nebraska and has directed over 50 productions at UE, two of which were invited to perform at the Kennedy Center, in Washington, DC, Anatomy of Gray and A Plague of Angels. Lank is a member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and is the current Chair of the Standards and Best Practices in the Field of Actor Training Committee for The Actors Center in New York City.
Cowden has an MFA in Theatre Management from Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., and has been the Department of Theatre’s Marketing Director and Head of Theatre Management for 15 years. Under her leadership, the UE Theatre Management program is recognized as one of the top undergraduate arts administration programs in the nation and boasts alumni working in leadership positions on Broadway, regional theatres, and arts organizations across the country.
Renschler, Lank, and Cowden will serve as the UE Theatre’s executive team, collaborating with a nationally recognized theatre faculty, to oversee the department’s mission of educating future professionals.