Randi Plake

Randi Plake works for the Office of University Communications at Wesleyan University.

Angelson ’08 is Star of Amazon’s Newsroom Drama

Genevieve Angelson '08 by Ramona Rosales

Genevieve Angelson ’08 (Photo by Ramona Rosales)

Season one of Amazon’s period drama, Good Girls Revolt, premiered in October 2016 and the show’s star is Genevieve Angelson ’08.

Good Girls Revolt is based on the book by Lynn Povich P’03, and coincidentally stars another Wesleyan parent, Jim Belushi P’04. Povich is an award-winning journalist who wrote about her early career at Newsweek. She was one of 46 women who sued the magazine for sex discrimination in 1970. After the lawsuit, Newsweek agreed to provide equal employment opportunities to women, and Povich went on to become the first female senior editor in Newsweek’s history.

Angelson, who was a film studies major, attended Wesleyan with Povich’s daughter, Sarah Shephard ’03. She read the book when it was published, and she even knew a few of the women involved in the lawsuit. In what she describes as “completely serendipitous,” Angelson was given the script and an audition for a role in the series.

She described an intense attachment to the script and the story. “When I saw what it was based on, I wanted it so much,” she explained. “I thought if someone else gets [the part], it’s not going to mean as much to her.”

She recalled being so thankful to the production and writing teams for wanting to tell the story of the female employees who changed the workplace for women everywhere. During her audition, she said, “Cast me, or don’t cast me in this part. Cast the right person, whoever that is, but please take this pilot and make it into a series. I’m a part of a generation of women who need this kind of story to be told.”

Angelson indeed landed the part of Patti Robinson, a brilliant researcher who wants to be treated equally with the male journalists in the newsroom.

However, when Angelson first arrived at Wesleyan, she did not set out to be an actress. She chose Wesleyan for the liberal arts education she would receive and for the student body she would be a part of. Then, during her junior year, she worked at a production firm in Hollywood, an experience that helped her see the options she had to work in the film business if she didn’t pursue acting. She said, “I was good at it, but I wasn’t fulfilled in my soul. That’s when I made the decision to train to become an actress.”

After Wesleyan, Angelson went on to graduate from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts master’s program. From there, she landed television roles on series such as Fox’s Backstrom, where she played the lead role of Detective Sergeant Nicole Gravely, and Showtime’s House of Lies, where she played the role of Caitlyn Hobart.

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Play by Greenidge ’96 Explores Pressures of Today’s Teens

Milk Like Sugar by Ryan Maxwell

Milk Like Sugar. (Photo by Ryan Maxwell)

On Nov. 2, Milk Like Sugar, a new play by Kirsten Greenidge ’96, premiered at the Mosaic Theater Company in Washington, D.C. Broadway World calls it a “rousing story about young women coming of age in a time when issues of acceptance, mentorship, and materialism challenge the dreams and ambitious of so many teens.” This production is a D.C. premiere, for both the play and for the playwright. Greenidge has had extensive production history around the country, but had yet to premiere a production in D.C.

Greenidge, who majored in history at Wesleyan, was inspired to write the play “because I wanted to write about young people grappling with growing up without choices. Since the play was first produced at La Jolla Playhouse and Playwrights Horizons, it’s beginning to find a wider audience, and that’s wonderful.”

Milk Like Sugar, commissioned by La Jolla Playhouse and Theater Masters, in association with Playwrights Horizons and Women’s Project Productions, premiered in 2011, before transferring Off-Broadway to Peter Jay Sharp Theater later that year. In addition to the 2012 Obie Award for playwriting, Milk Like Sugar received the 2011 Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award, and the 2011 San Diego Critics Circle Craig Noel award for Outstanding New Play.

Greenidge, who focuses on placing underrepresented voices on stage, has many projects in the works, including commissions from CompanyOne, Yale Repertory Theater, Denver Center Theater, The Goodman, La Jolla Playhouse, Baltimore Center Stage, and Emerson Stage, where she and director Melia Bensussen will adapt the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Common Ground. Her latest work, How Soft the Lining, inspired by the lives of Mary Todd Lincoln and her freed black seamstress, Elizabeth Keckly, just premiered on Nov. 5 in Boston at the Boston Center for the Arts. The show will run until Nov. 20.

Tony Award-Winning Actor Wood ’83 Discusses Ties to Election

Photo via LCT.org

Frank Wood ’83

Frank Wood ’83, the Tony Award-winning actor who is currently starring in The Babylon Line at the Lincoln Center Theater, discussed his family’s ties to the election in an interview with the Lincoln Center Theater Blog.

In the interview, Wood noted he is the brother of Maggie Hassan, the current governor of New Hampshire and U.S. Senator-elect. His father, Robert Coldwell Wood, Wesleyan’s Andrus Professor of Government, Emeritus, had also taught at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and had served as the first under secretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the Johnson administration.

Through his father’s political connections, Wood met many interesting people. “I remember listening to all these people, but we were also encouraged to talk and, whether we knew it or not, develop our speaking skills,” he said.

Wood said that this training led to acting, which he pursued at Wesleyan as an undergraduate and later at New York University as a graduate student in theater.

Read the full article here.

Ishiguro Awarded Research Fellowship to Study Acehnese Dance

Maho Ishiguro MA'12, and doctoral student, was awarded the Nadia and Nicholas Nahumck Fellowship. Contributed photo.

PhD candidate Maho Ishiguro MA’12 was awarded the Nadia and Nicholas Nahumck Fellowship.

Ethnomusicology PhD candidate Maho Ishiguro MA ’12 was honored at the 2016 Society of Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting with the Nadia and Nicholas Nahumck Fellowship for her research titled “Seudati and the Social Contestation of Female Dance in Aceh, Indonesia.”

The award is given to help support research on a dance-related subject and its subsequent publication, and consists of a $4,000 research fellowship and $1,000 award for publication.

“This fellowship will allow me to continue doing my research on the topics of Acehnese dance and music forms, women’s practice of performing arts, and changing socioreligious climate in the post-tsunami Aceh, from 2004 to today,” she said.

Ishiguro, who spent 15 months in Indonesia on a Fullbright-Hays Fellowship studying Acehnese performing arts, will now take a deeper look into the seudati dance form.

“In my research, I plan to look more closely into seudati as a case study to examine the issues of female and male aesthetics expressed through movements in Acehnese dance and how choreographers navigate through social expectations and Islamic regulations today when they create movements,” she said.

Chemistry, Physics Students Attend Biomedical Research Conference

Contributed photo

From Nov. 9-12, two faculty members and five students from the physics and chemistry departments, attended the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Tampa, Fla.

Candice Etson, assistant professor of physics, and Erika Taylor, associate professor of chemistry, were joined by McNair Scholars Luz Mendez ’17, Tatianna Pryce ’17, Stacy Uchendu ’17 and Hanna Morales ’17; and Wesleyan Mathematics and Science (WesMaSS) Scholar Helen Karimi ’19.

Students observed other research being performed around the nation by students who are members of underrepresented groups in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). In addition, the Wesleyan students presented their own research and Morales and Karimi were awarded Outstanding Poster Presentation Awards.

“Through the PIE Initiative, Wesleyan has a deliberate strategy to support underrepresented students and faculty in STEM fields by providing resources that increasing post-Wesleyan mentorship and exposure to research excellence, all of which were fulfilled through this conference,” said Antonio Farias, vice president for equity and inclusion/Title IX officer. “It cannot go without saying that without Professor Taylor’s and Professor Etson’s holistic mentorship approach, these type of opportunities for our young scholars would not be possible.”

Sumarsam Performs Shadow Puppet Play at Islamic Intersections Festival

Sumarsam, University Professor of Music

Sumarsam, University Professor of Music

On Nov. 9, Sumarsam, professor of music and puppeteer, performed his shadow-puppet play, Bima’s Quest for Enlightenment, at the Performing Indonesia: Islamic Intersections festival, presented by the Smithsonian’s Museums of Asian Art and George Washington University. This music, dance, and theater festival celebrates the many manifestations of Islamic culture in the island nation, which is home to more Muslims than any other country.

During the festival, Sumarsam performed a condensed version of an all-night wayang puppet play, featuring only the main episodes of the story. Wayang is the Javanese word for shadow, or bayang in standard Indonesian. More than 200 people attended.

Additionally, Sumarsam and his students led a panel discussion “Intercultural and Interreligious Encounters in Indonesian Performing Arts.”

On Dec 2., Sumarsam and the Wesleyan Gamelan Ensemble will present a Javanese wayang puppet play in the World Music Hall. The performance is free and open to the public.

Sumarsam’s research on history, theory, and performance practice of gamelan and wayang, and on Indonesia-Western encounter theme has resulted in the publication of numerous articles and two books. His recent research focuses have been on the intersections between religion and performing arts.

Graduate Student Khan Gives Sarangi Demonstration at UCLA

Suhail Yusuf Khan by Shiv Ahuja

Suhail Yusuf Khan (Photo by Shiv Ahuja)

Graduate student Suhail Yusuf Khan recently gave a lecture and demonstration at the Department of Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Khan’s lecture focused on the sarangi and its use in popular music contexts.

Khan was invited to UCLA to lecture to a global pop music class.

“The idea was to show students some of my experimental and pop music,” Khan said.

During his demonstration, Khan spoke about the the sarangi’s role in Hindustani music and the relationship to the voice. He also showed different playing techniques, and shared his own musical story, including the challenges he faces as a classically trained musician navigating the global popular music industry.

Khan, from New Delhi, India, is working towards his master’s degree in music. He also is a composer, singer and songwriter. After graduating from Wesleyan, he is considering applying to PhD programs in ethnomusicology or will continue to perform around the world.

Baltzell ’87 Named President-Elect of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology

Photo by Vernon Doucette

Amy Baltzell ’87 (Photo by Vernon Doucette)

Amy Baltzell ’87, of Boston, Mass., has been named President-Elect of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP), an international professional organization that promotes the field of sport and exercise psychology. She assumed the role at the 2016 annual conference in Phoenix, Ariz., where members from around the world convened to network and share the latest presentations and research in the field. Baltzell has been a member of the AASP for 12 years.

Baltzell is a clinical associate professor and director of Sport Psychology Specialization (of Counseling) at Boston University, with research focuses on mindfulness and compassion in sports. She also is the author of Living in the Sweet Spot: Preparing for Performance in Sport and Life and editor of Mindfulness and Performance with Cambridge University Press. Outside of academia, she is a former U.S. National and Olympic Rowing Team member, member of the All Women’s American Cup Sailing Team, and was head varsity lightweight rowing coach at Harvard University, where she taught the first course in sport psychology.

She earned her master’s and doctorate degree from Boston University.

Kottos Awarded Engineering Grant from the National Science Foundation

kottos2

Professor Tsampikos Kottos

Tsampikos Kottos, professor of physics, professor of integrative sciences, professor of mathematics, was awarded a $400,000 Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) engineering grant from the National Science Foundation in October. This $2 million grant is equally split among a consortium of universities, including Stanford University, University of Minnesota, and University-Wisconsin-Madison, and will last for a period of four years.

The grant is associated with “New Light and Acoustic Wave Propagation: Breaking Reciprocity and Time-Reversal Symmetry” (NewLaw) and supports “engineering-led interdisciplinary research that challenges the notions of reciprocity, time-reversal symmetry and sensitivity to defects in wave propagation and field transport,” Kottos explained. 

Rudensky Finalist for Photography Award

© Sasha Rudensky, from Tinsel and Blue

© Sasha Rudensky, from Tinsel and Blue

Sasha Rudensky ’01, assistant professor of art, assistant professor of Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies, is a finalist for the New East Photo Prize. Her photos, Tinsel and Blue, explore the relationship between illusion and truth and the young people of the post-Soviet generation. Rudensky shot the photo series between 2009 and 2015 in Russia and Ukraine.

An alumna of Wesleyan, Rudensky graduated with a degree in studio arts. Rudensky, who was born in Russia and moved to the United States when she was 10, feels this competition keeps her in touch with her heritage. “I am happy to be included on a list of Eastern European artists in general because I strongly identify as one,” she said. “A majority of my artistic work has been done on the former Soviet Union and it continues to pull me back to my roots.”

The inaugural New East Photo Prize is sponsored by the Calvert 22 Foundation supported by The Calvert Journal. According to the Calvert 22 Foundation, “the Prize champions contemporary perspectives on the people and countries of the New East (Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Russia and Central Asia).” The initiative received a total of 1,030 entries form 25 countries.

Rudensky’s photo will be included in an exhibition at Calvert 22 Foundation in London from Nov. 4 to Dec. 18. The winner of the prize, which will be announced on Dec. 1, will have his or her work published as a photo book.

Barnwell ’89 Explores Voting, Millennial Women of Color in Upcoming Documentary

Michele Barnwell '89, courtesy of LinkedIn

Michele Barnwell ’89. (Photo by Marc Baptiste)

Michele Barnwell ’89 spent the summer filming a political documentary, Party Girls: Exploring Politics in America, a film that “follows a small group of millennial women of color who travel the country engaging in the politic process.” The documentary aims to air around Election Day 2016 as both an independent film and a six-part web series through PBS affiliate ITVS.

Barnwell, director and producer, traveled across the United States following six students as they prepare to vote for the first time this November. Barnwell’s aim is to make this a bi-partisan project and will feature “real conversations on immigration, mass incarceration, police brutality, equal pay, and education reform.”

“Women and women of color are absolutely key to the American electorate,” she said. “I’m doing Party Girls to amplify the voices of millennial women of color first-time voters. And I promise you, they have so much to say and it’s not always what you might think.”

Barnwell, who was an African American studies major at Wesleyan, continues, “Much of this experience was positioned to ask a question that I believed my Wesleyan experience had in fact answered for me personally. That is, can a diverse group of intelligent critical thinkers who are not all aligned politically still find common ground and even friendship?”

Barnwell is the principal executive of Reel Roost, Inc., a  transmedia production company specializing in story-driven-content creation and production. She has worked extensively as a television showrunner and executive producer. Her work as a producer in nonfiction television, short-form branded entertainment, web-based clips, music videos, pilots, specials, and full series has been delivered for: the CW, HBO, Fox, MTV, Lifetime, E!, BET, Centric, Oxygen, TLC, STYLE, Intel, and the UK’s Channel 4—where she sold and delivered a nonfiction television pilot.

Patey Featured in A Peace of My Mind, a New Collection of Stories

Laura Patey (photo courtesy of appmm.com)

Laura Patey (photo by John Noltner for “A Peace of My Mind: American Stories”)

Laura Patey, associate dean for student academic resources, was featured in the newest book of the series, A Peace of My Mind: American Stories, by award-winning photographer and author, John Noltner. In his book, Noltner drove 40,000 miles across the country to ask people the simple question, “What does peace mean to you?” This resulted in the stories of “58 people from diverse backgrounds, who share stories of hope, redemption, and forgiveness, paired with compelling color portraits.”

Patey’s personal story highlights the peace she has finally found with embracing her own identity, with a focus on her experience adopting her sons out of foster care and how her experience of not fitting in when she was younger made her into an advocate for the marginalized in society. She also spoke of her challenges of coming out and being accepted. In the end, she has found peace now that she realizes “it’s not about having people tolerate or accept you, it’s about embracing your identity.”

An excerpt of Dean Patey’s story, along with her full audio interview was published on the website for the Peace of My Mind Project. Moreover, her story was highlighted in one of Noltner’s blog posts as a tool he was able to use to connect with a young student who was having her own trouble and felt isolated dealing with the reality of her own similar family situation.