Alumnus and Author Richard Parnes Pledges Proceeds from The Death Maze to UM Department of Theatre Arts

The Death Maze is a story 40 years in the making.

In 1970 – when he was in 11th grade – author and future UM alumnus Richard Parnes, B.F.A. ’74, drama, started writing his epic tale of the 2,500-year-old monster Apep and the award-winning scientist caught in its inter-dimensional portal.

‌Even as a busy student in the UM College of Arts & Sciences – acting in many performances at the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre, completing his bachelor’s degree in just three years, and graduating cum laude – Parnes continued work on his manuscript.

“My education at UM was incredible. The Ring Theatre provided such wonderful experiences,” Parnes said, adding that then-Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts Hank Diers had a great influence on his acting – and his life. “I learned and developed my art and grew to really enjoy learning and speaking with him. Pushing my creative envelope was important to expand as an actor and a person.”

After graduating, Parnes moved to Los Angeles, where he still lives, now serving as Senior Operations Manager for leading communications system integrator Black Box Network Services. He continued to work on The Death Maze, completing the book and publishing it for the first time in 2010.

Parnes is now releasing a re-edited version of his novel – and he will donate the proceeds of the first 1,000 copies sold to the UM Department of Theatre Arts.

The proceeds will benefit the Department’s undergraduate degree programs, including professional training programs (Bachelor of Fine Arts, B.F.A) in five areas: performance, musical theatre, theatre management, stage management and design/production. Students can also earn a generalized Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. Admission into the professional B.F.A. programs is by audition or portfolio review/interview only. The Department of Theatre Arts auditions over 1,800 students for these very selective programs each year.

“UM gave me an opportunity to be the person I am,” Parnes said, adding, “There are so many young and talented individuals out there. They deserve the education and experiences I received. Giving back is just a small thank you to those dedicated to giving their lives to provide that meaningful education.”

The re-release comes just in time for The Death Maze, Book 2, a sequel which continues the stories of the characters introduced in The Death Maze. Books 3 and 4 are already in the works.

August 27, 2014