Alums in the News

Theatre Alumnus Jack Blakey Appointed to Federal Judgeship

Author: Josh Weinhold


When Jack Blakey was studying theatre at Notre Dame in the 1980s, he never dreamed he would one day be hearing legal disputes on the federal bench. But his liberal arts courses were preparing him for it nonetheless. Blakey was formally installed this spring as a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, following his nomination by President Barack Obama and confirmation by the U.S. Senate last year.

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FTT Alumnus to Launch Kids Web Series After Winning Mister Rogers Award

Author: Aaron Smith

Eugene Staples

Eugene Staples has a vision: Entertainment can be more than a distraction—it can be an inspiration. It can teach kids how to be better people. It can make the world a better place. That sense of responsibility—the desire to make things that make an impact—was sparked at Notre Dame, and was recognized this spring by the Television Academy Foundation, which honored him with a Mister Rogers Memorial Scholarship.

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Video: Krysta Dennis ’07, ’08 MA on Entrepreneurship and the Liberal Arts

Author: Todd Boruff

Krysta Dennis icon

Krysta Dennis majored in French and film, television, and theatre at Notre Dame and also has a master’s in Romance languages from the University. She is now associate lecturer at the University of Kent at Canterbury and is finishing a dual Ph.D. in theater and globalization. She also co-founded Through the Grapevine Performed Wine Tastings, a theatrical production company where each performance is devised based on the wine served during the show.

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"First Time Fans" Film Series to Be Released at Notre Dame

Author: Michael O. Garvey

Michael Canzoniero '93, "#AnnaLynneGoesToCollege"

A series of three documentary films, directed by award-winning film directors who are also University of Notre Dame alumni, will be released on the WatchND app and the website during the last three weeks of this year. The series, “First Time Fans,” presents the excitement and wonder of some very different people as they experience a Notre Dame football game for the first time.

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Film Projects Take Notre Dame Professor Around the World

Author: Mike Danahey

William Donaruma

Rome. Bangladesh. An abandoned island off the Irish coast. These are just a few of the locations where William Donaruma ’89 has traveled as a filmmaker and teaching professor in Notre Dame’s Department of Film, Television, and Theatre (FTT). “Nothing beats experience and pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone,” Donaruma said.

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FTT Students Shine at National Auditions

Author: Carrie Gates

Zuri Eshun '14

“Imagine a kind of live, national GRE exam where students audition in open competition against one another, evaluated by representatives from the best graduate theatre programs,” said Professor Jim Collins, chair of the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre (FTT). Notre Dame had record success in 2014 at the national auditions organized by the University/Resident Theatre organization (URTA), with six of the seven FTT students who auditioned receiving offers from graduate programs in attendance.

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Alumnus Jeff Spoonhower Brings Digital Media Expertise to FTT

Author: Aaron Smith

Jeff Spoonhower ’99

Jeff Spoonhower ’99 has been appointed assistant professor of film and digital media production in Notre Dame’s Department of Film, Television and Theatre (FTT). A 12-year veteran of the video game and animation industries, Spoonhower shares with students the very same production techniques and tools he uses in his award-winning professional work.

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Arts and Letters Alumnus Carves Out Golf Career

Author: Mary Kate Malone

Notre Dame College of Arts and Letters alumnus Peter Bevacqua ’93, was named Chief Executive Officer of the PGA of America in November. When Bevacqua considers the path that led him to a golf-lover’s dream job, the former English and film student credits his liberal arts education at Notre Dame, which gave him the freedom to let his career naturally take shape, he says.

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Video: Meet FTT Major Zuri Eshun

Author: Arts and Letters

“Being a film major, I knew I wasn’t going to be constricted to one way of learning or one way or thinking or one way of performing,” says Zuri Eshun, a junior film, television, and theatre (FTT) major in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters. “You really get the opportunity to be your own person and to create your own education within that program. That’s why I chose FTT.”

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Ted Mandell: From Classroom to Stadium to Third World

Author: Mike Danahey

As a documentary filmmaker, a faculty member in College of Arts and Letters’ Department of Film, Television, and Theatre (FTT), and a producer for Fighting Irish Digital Media, Ted Mandell ’86 quite literally sheds light on the University of Notre Dame’s traditions of social justice and student athletics. What unites his approach to these roles, says Mandell, is a commitment to show the human side of every story—and help his students learn to do the same.

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Alumnus Advances Career Making Movie Trailers

Author: Jeremy D. Bonfiglio

Moneyball. True Grit. The Social Network. Black Swan. If you watched a trailer for any of these movies, then you’ve seen the work of Notre Dame alumnus Scott Mitsui ’92. A communications and theatre major, Mitsui has spent the past 12 years as producer and vice president of operations at Mark Woollen & Associates in Santa Monica, Calif., a company responsible for some of the most noteworthy and award-winning film trailers in Hollywood.

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Theatre Background Gives Top Prosecutor an Edge

Author: Sara Burnett

Jack Blakey B.A. ’88 J.D. ’92 has worked as a prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and is currently chief of the Special Prosecutions Bureau of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Chicago—the second largest prosecution office in the country. He says his theatre major at the University of Notre Dame was perfect preparation for his future legal career. “Some people think it’s such a difference, going from the theatre world to the legal world, but it really seems like a seamless transition,” Blakey says.

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"Proof" of Participation: Students Take Big Roles Behind the Scenes

Author: Chris Milazzo

Raise the curtain, cue the lights, and enter our scene: an actress who discovers a hidden passion for costume design, a dedicated designer who seizes a prime opportunity, and the department where it all happens. This is the true story of seniors Lucy Lavely and Robert Jenista, theatre students in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre (FTT), who played major design roles in the spring 2011 production of Proof.

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