On Tuesday, October 28 at 4:15 in 105 Lawrence Hall, Professor Una Chaudhuri of NYU will deliver a talk titled “Animal Acts for Changing Times: In Search of a Theater of Species” as part of this semester’s Arts and Humanities colloquium series. As a complement to this semester’s University Theater production, Seeing the Beast, Professor Chaudhuri’s talk will address the use of animals and animality in contemporary theater and performance.
There will be two dance workshops during the month of October that students are encouraged to attend:
Kasai’s Voice Power, a workshop with Mariko Endo
October 18, 2014, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Ryan 212
Partnering Dance Workshop with Phoenix Dance Project
October 24, 2014, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m., Huntington 202
Both workshops require reservations! Please email Professor Tanya Calamoneri at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This summer, I worked with Professor Sweeney and Colgate graduate Ben Mandell ’14 to bring the site-specific productions of LONEtheater to New York City. In this project, Argentinean director Matías Umpierrez wrote five plays, each intended to be performed in one of five different locations in New York City. As the production team, we all helped to make this intention a reality.
LONEtheater as a project aims to immerse spectators in a theater piece of their choice, placing them in a unique theater experience in which each spectator is alone with the actor(s). Each spectator is asked to respond to the piece, and even to become an active member of the performance he chooses to see. In the New York City-based project, spectators could choose from five productions: Pact, Witness, Far, Exodus, and Amnesia. Each piece asked something different of its spectators. Some spectators commented that they felt nervous in this position, as though they had a role to fill and they were not sure what this role should be, but they also seemed excited by this challenge.
In addition to being placed in the production itself, each spectator was thrust into a jarring environment. Some environments were familiar, like a subway train and Central Park, and others were entirely new to the audience member, like Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center. Each environment was entirely natural, though: no proscenium separated the audience member form the actor(s), and the sets consisted of whatever the environment had to offer. The poetic text conflicted with this natural environment, and actor(s) relayed stories to audience members in environments that would seem to call for conversations, rather than the monologues that made up most of the productions. This forced the audience member into the position of active listener for most of the performances. Occasionally, audience members were also called upon to answer questions about themselves or perform small tasks. In one instance, they had to choose whether or not to set a hostage free, and were asked to go as far as to untie him themselves. Audience members often backed away from such active participation, but a surprising number of spectators were willing to actively participate when asked, and most spectators were excited to listen.
In New York City, many stories are overlooked, as people pass others without a second glance. Matías Umpierrez’s five pieces called attention to such overlooked stories. Spectators were called into an apartment to watch the decline of a family in Exodus, and pulled onto the subway to hear the story of an average college graduate, told through the eyes of the speaker in Witness. Spectators left the productions with a greater sensitivity to the lives of the strangers that surround them in the city.
Each different location, as well, was placed in a new light during the productions. The subway became a place to enter others’ lives; the old school building housing Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center became a place to hold a man hostage; Central Park became the center of a story of migration and familial love. Suffice it to say, spectators left with a new take on the setting of the productions they had seen.
Each piece was written in Spanish, Matías Umpierrez’s native language, and later translated into English. Rehearsals took place in a mix of Spanish and English, leading to a necessary cooperation between actors who did not speak any Spanish, those who did, as well as myself, a Spanish student striving to increase my fluency. It was also a constant reminder of the fact that this piece has already taken place in multiple countries, in multiple languages, and will go on to be translated into more languages, changing slightly with each interpretation. The project has so far taken place in Argentina, Spain, and New York City, and rehearsals are now in progress in Brazil.
As the production stage manager, I worked on scheduling, rehearsal notes, acquiring props, and any other tasks that needed to be completed. Because the production had no budget, we had a much more cooperative experience, which was only augmented by the language barrier.
The project altered the way we think of theater, stripping theater down to story-telling and rebuilding it from there, just as it altered spectators’ perception of New York City. With each translation and each country in which the project takes place, it is edited to fit the current socioeconomic climate and issues faced in that particular location. The project is currently occurring in Brazil, where it will continue to demonstrate to spectators the importance of the stories that surround them.
This fall, Tanya Calamoneri joins the Colgate faculty as a visiting assistant professor of English in the University Theater, teaching courses in contemporary dance and dance imagery and improvisation.
Calamoneri (BA, American University; MA, New York University; PhD, Temple University) comes to Colgate from the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where she has been project manager for DanceMotion USA for the past two years. She also brings teaching experience from Temple University, New York University, and New College of California. Calamoneri’s dissertation title is “Becoming Something, Becoming Nothing: Performer Training Methods in Hijikata Tatsumi’s Ankoku Butoh.” Her teaching specialties and research interests include dance technique and creative process, dance cultural studies, somatic studies, ethnographic research, and movement and consciousness studies.
The theater program at Colgate has invited director Scott Sheppard to create a devised performance with our students for this fall’s main stage production. Scott’s project, Seeing the Beast, will investigate the contradictions in how humans relate to non-human animals.
In Scott’s words, “What principles lead us to sometimes consider animals sentient beings with emotional lives and other times treat them merely as materials: a source of feathers, leather, fur, and meat?” A second round of auditions will take place during preliminary rehearsals on Thursday, September 11, and Friday, September 12 from 7:00–10:00 p.m. in Ryan 212. Everyone is welcome!
Scott Sheppard is the founder and Co-Artistic Director of Groundswell Theatre Company. He has been a co-creator, producer, and performer for all of their productions including Go Long Big Softie (Philly Fringe 2013) and Hackles (Philly Fringe 2012). During the 2013-2014 season, BRAT Productions (Philadelphia) selected Scott to be their resident artist; the focus for this residency is directing devised theatre. He was twice selected to be part of FringeArts’ Jumpstart Program for his original works Underground Railroad Game (2013) and Lessons for the Lobotomized (2012).
Underground Railroad Game was later selected for a Deep Space Residency with NACL Theatre in October 2014 and for the 2014 ANT Fest at Ars Nova in New York City. Scott is a proud member of the inaugural class at Pig Iron’s school for Advanced Performance Training (2011-2013).
Over the summer, rising junior Charlotte Arbogast ’16 worked as the production stage manager with LONEtheater productions in New York City. She acquired the funded position as a part of Colgate’s undergraduate summer research program.
Arbogast, who is from Wilton, Conn., had her hands full coordinating a series of five “site-specific theater” productions. These non-traditional and sometimes interactive productions were performed for small groups, or even individuals, often taking place in public places. One of the productions, titled Witness, featured Colgate professor April Sweeney.
Learn more about Arbogast’s experience on the website of the Wilton Bulletin.
Colgate students who are interested in pursuing educational and enriching summer employment experiences are encouraged to explore the following resources:
Professor April Sweeney was recently featured in a spot on WNYC, one of New York City’s flagship public radio stations. The spot explores the merits of her work on Witness, a 30-minute “theatrical intervention” from LONEtheater’s undergroundzero festival.
Sweeney’s performances were unique, as they were one-on-one between Sweeney as the only actress and a single audience member. Each performance took place while traveling in an actual subway car, surrounded by real travelers.
Rising junior Charlotte Arbogast ’16 also worked with LONEtheater over the summer as a production stage manager for a series of five plays, including Sweeney’s Witness.
Learn more about Witness on the WNYC News website.
Phindie, an organization providing independent coverage of theater and the arts in Philadelphia, recently published a question and answer session with Danielle Solomon ’13. At the end of June, Solomon will be premiering a solo show titled Catcal], which explores the emotional impact of unsolicited catcalling. Click here to read the interview.
Solomon is a graduate of the Headlong Performance Institute, and Catcal] is her second original play.
Read a review of Catcal] in the Philadelphia City Paper.
- June 25-29 at 2:00 p.m.; June 28-29 at 5:00 p.m.
- Reservations required: E-mail email@example.com with desired date and time.
- Meet at Fairmount and Broad Streets (Philadelphia)
Marjorie Bradley Kellogg, associate professor of English and scene designer at Colgate, was recently awarded The Robert L.B. Tobin Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatrical Design. The prestigious award was presented by the Theatre Development Fund earlier this month at the Hudson Theater in New York City.
Read more about this award in the Colgate University news.
Professor Adrian Giurgea, director of the University Theater, has just returned from Tallinn, Estonia, where he directed a bilingual production of Caryl Churchill’s recent play “Love and Information.” The cast included both Russian and Estonian actors speaking simultaneously in their mother tongues, reflecting the linguistic and ethnic dualism of contemporary Tallinn.
Churchill’s script, which includes over a hundred characters, explores the changing nature of human relationships in an era of information overload — a theme amplified by Giurgea’s production. As tensions over language, ethnicity, and nation mount in Ukraine (several hundred miles south of Estonia), Giurgea’s staging of “Love and Information” delves into timely issues key to the cultural and political future of Eastern Europe at large.