Celebrating our 2021 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher, Benjamin Stanford

May 05 2021

The College of Fine Arts is delighted to honor the 2021 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher: Benjamin Stanford (Theatre). 

In 2015, The Office of Undergraduate Research established the Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award to recognize an outstanding undergraduate researcher from each college. Faculty mentors are invited to nominate students, and awardees are selected by committee. The criteria for the Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award include: a record of sustained commitment to developing research skills and knowledge under the supervision of a faculty mentor, evidence of independent and critical thinking, active participation in research-related activities on campus, and positive contributions to the research culture of the department, college, and university.

In his own words: 

Name: Benjamin Stanford
Major: Theatre Studies H.B.A.
Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT
Three words that describe me: Non, Con, and Formist.
Most impactful class and professor: Tim Slover has been the most impactful professor in my development as an artist and writer while at the U. I have participated twice in the Department of Theatre's New Play Workshop, which he runs each year, as well as three other classes of his. His Topical Theatre class in particular expanded my perceptions of what theatre ought to do. Tim has taught me that complete creative and personal trust between mentor and student is critical for learning. Honestly, most of my current talent exists because of him!
A CFA moment I’ll never forget: One of my favorite CFA events that has stuck in my mind ever since I attended it was Taylor Mac's shortened performance of "A 24-Decade History of Popular Music" at Kingsbury Hall in 2018. For me, it was the first performance I had experienced that truly broke open my perceptions and assumptions of the many different forms artistry and theatre can take.
What inspires me: I find a lot of inspiration in the creative work of other artists and collaborators whom I have the chance to work with closely. I also find inspiration in certain professional playwrights and composers such as Bruce Norris, David Henry Hwang, and Stephen Sondheim, to name a few. I am also very much inspired by my partner, Izabelle, and all six of my genius brothers.
Summary of major accomplishments on or off campus:
Ben is an award-winning playwright graduating this year from the Department of Theatre. His works include One-Sided (Univ. of Utah, 2020), The Experiment (On Pitch Performing Arts, 2020), We Don't Smoke (Univ. of Utah, 2021), and most recently, Human--a musical Ben co-wrote and composed (Open Door Productions, 2021). Ben has performed with the Utah Opera, Draper Philharmonic and Choral Society, and the Murray City Arts Council. He has also worked as Dramaturg this year on Henry V (Univ. of Utah), and is currently working as a Writing Coach for WriteOn! Workshops as well as Associate Director for the student organization Open Door Productions. Ben is headed to graduate school in the fall to start his MFA in playwriting. He is the proud recipient of the Hoenig Theatre Artist Scholarship, the Marion Stiebel Siciliano Utah Fine Arts Institute Scholarship, the Ralph E. and Winnifred S. Margetts Scholarship, the Jack Lunt and Gordon & Connie Hanks Summer Study Prize, and the Promising Playwright Award.