8/20 public comments

Amber Mitchell – Warrenville resident, longtime COD student over 20 years. Advocates for the return of the Buffalo Theatre Ensemble. Has experience working with the ensemble. BTE integral to her life direction. MA in theatre, has her own black box theatre in Geneve. Praised mentoring by our faculty Canaday-Howard and Barrett.

Ed Garzaro – returning student. Argues for return of BTE. Professional company helps to set a higher standard, allows for better mentoring of students. Active in collecting signatures for petition and creating YouTube channel with interviews in favor of BTE.

Sean Thomas – Lombard resident, speaking in favor of BTE. Benefited from seeing the plays and from seeing teachers who stay active in the discipline they teach in. Believes those benefits should be there for other students into the future.

Tony Leyve – former COD student speaking for BTE. Important educational benefit. Not much Equity theater in the west suburbs. BTE comparable to Chicago. Also cultivates the audience for theater by having such a big presence along with the student theater. Experiences seeing BTE productions and talking about them were pivotal for him. Students got to work on Equity shows, which is not really possible in Chicago.

Victoria Depa – Advocates for BTE.

Will Austin – BTE should be a resident ensemble here. Took first acting class here, COD was great learning ground with both student theatre and BTE. Shocked and upset by its being cut. Has modeled his own theater work after what he learned from BTE. Inspired to transfer to Columbia College.

Don Westlake – 55 year resident of DuPage County, has supported COD since it began. Has seen every BTE play. Wrote a letter to BOT about disappointment that BTE was defunded. One of many mistakes of the last few years. This one can be corrected. It was a community treasure and can be again. You have many important issues before you, but hope this one will be a high priority. The community has been too long without this treasure. Thank you for your attention and service.

Erica Sandvig – former COD student and now a production director in Chicago. Success in the Chicago theater community directly related to her experiences with BTE. She and her husband both found early and rapid success and were very competitive based on their experiences here. Rare to find people who have the kinds of experiences that COD students can get from working among professionals. “I have my career because of BTE.”

Benedict L. Slabik II – former student and Belushi scholarship winner. Spoke about the inspiration of BTE.

Lynda Wellhausen – Former student and 2-time Belushi scholarship winner. Argued for the return of BTE and the connectivity of theater, a rare opportunity for students to connect with mentors and learn from them.

Jennifer Roper – former student, worked backstage for BTE. Saw the standards she was taught in class, in practice in the production. Gave her professional experience to build resume.

Dan Stromquist – BTE important to his college education and career. Had his first professional audition at BTE. Able to mirror his professors to learn how to be a better student, actor, worker.

Sarah Lensink – had many experiences related to the arts at COD including being editor of Prairie Light Review, but nothing was as important as BTE. Still working as a stage manager. Students able to develop as part of a team, problem solving, learn from mistakes. Student shows are great – but even greater to aspire to be part of a BTE show, something to look forward to.

Mary Johnson – has benefited personally from working with BTE, but also has made a contribution to the community through BTE. Not many speakers have mentioned what BTE provides to the community at large, there is nothing else like BTE available in the western suburbs. Hear the passion in the voices of those who came to speak about it.

Craig Berger – Founder of BTE. Wonderful to hear what the former students and present students have said, it’s what we wanted to do. Started here in my 20s, spent 33 years here, was director of theater. Founded BTE along with Hal Macininch, who had a degree in theater. It was founded for educational and theater purposes. In a university, there are graduate students and advanced students to help teach and lead the beginning students. At COD we needed the professional company because there are no advanced students. Thanks for putting up that poster, “The best way to become a professional is to learn from one.”

Mike McPherson – 70 years old and a student here in photography. Can’t be a money issue that BTE was terminated, since we didn’t need the money from premium parking. Also asked that payment for tuition for a class could be 72 hours instead of 24 hours.

Miguel Mariano – Switching gears from BTE. Thanked the old board and the new board. We are all on the same team. No one really owns this institution, we all borrow it, it is our responsibility to maintain it. Would be great to lower taxes but not if it effects us in the future. Every situation creates a ripple effect. It is our nature to look first for ourselves, but we can do more if we rise together as a community.

Alexa Hansen – reading on behalf of Emily Rose Dano. Statement about her decision to attend CoD because of BTE. It was cut just as she entered COD. Should be brought back.