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HFC Prof Wins Mayor's Arts Educator Award

Release Date

Dr. George Popovich, director of the HFC Dept. of Theater Arts, will receive the Dearborn Mayor’s Arts Award for Arts Educator 2014 at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 11, in Studio A of the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center in Dearborn.

Dearborn Mayor John B. O’Reilly, Jr. will be present at this ceremony, which is sponsored by the Dearborn Community Arts Council (DCAC).

This prestigious award is given annually to an educator from the greater Dearborn community who has provided students with exemplary educational opportunities, has demonstrated the importance of the arts in the community and leads by example.

“I think much of this award has to do with our Virtual Theatricality Lab’s (VTL) November 2014 production of ‘Dinosaurus!’ This show reached so many kids and so many families and taught our students what theater in the 21st century and beyond will be like. This virtual reality (VR) 3-D production broke attendance records for HFC and was well-received by the professional theater world. I could not have accomplished this without the support of HFC and HFC’s trust in my vision,” said Popovich, who has taught at HFC since 1985.

“Dinosaurus!” used advanced cinema technology to enhance live stage shows and featured 3-D animated dinosaurs interacting with live actors. Many Metro Detroit area elementary schools attended “Dinosaurus!” and more than 50 percent of which were from Dearborn. It received critical acclaim from Encore Magazine, Michigan’s professional theater magazine.

A native of California, Popovich implemented VR into live theater with HFC’s production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” in 2003, which received plenty of mainstream media attention and was a regional winner at the Kennedy Center's American College Theater Festival (ACTF) at Illinois State University (ISU) in January 2004. Another VTL production he directed at HFC was the 2006 production of Caryl Churchill’s “The Skriker.”

He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in English from California State University (CSU) at Fullerton, where he also earned a secondary teaching credential and a community college teaching credential. He earned a graduate degree in Directing from the University of Texas (U-T) at El Paso and a doctorate in Theater from Ohio State University (OSU). Additionally, he is a graduate of the South Coast Repertory Acting Conservatory in Costa Mesa, CA.

Popovich has won numerous awards and honors, including induction into the Dearborn Theater Hall of Fame in 1995. Popovich, along with fellow VTL team member Alan Contino, won the Michigan Education LAND Award for Best Innovation Team in January 2007, as well as the Community College Innovation League Award in March 2007.

He is listed in the 2007 and 2008 editions of “Who’s Who in America” for his pioneering work in digital theater through the VTL. Additionally, he received a formal invitation to the Kennedy Center's ACTF in January 2007 to give a motion capture workshop.

Popovich developed the associate of arts degree in Theater at HFC and founded the New Playwright’s Workshop in 1996, which produces new plays by Michigan playwrights each spring. His inter-disciplinary course “Science-Fiction and Horror Films” is one of the most popular courses in HFC’s Fine Arts Dept.

From 2007-11, he developed several new VTL courses at HFC in green-screen videography, 3-D stereo videography, film acting, motion capture acting, as well as developed a motion capture certification program. Additionally, he presented several workshops involving VTL to the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).

“It’s amazing to check the trade papers, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and the theater databases to see all the great places and jobs our graduates are experiencing,” said Popovich.

For further information about the Mayor’s Arts Awards, call 313-943-3095. For further information about the Henry Ford College Virtual Theatricality Lab, please visit