Arts & Culture

McCarthy ’75 produces ‘star-studded’ documentary Harry Benson: Shoot First

Stephen McCarthy ’75 is producer of the new documentary Harry Benson: Shoot First, opening this weekend.

Stephen McCarthy ’75 is partner/executive producer of the new documentary Harry Benson: Shoot First, opening Dec. 9, 2016.

Steve McCarthy ’75, managing director at KCG Capital Advisors, is also partner/executive producer with Matthew Miele’s Quixotic Endeavors (QE) film production company, featuring corporate/individual biopics, such as Crazy About Tiffany’s (starring Jessica Biel and Katie Couric, among others) and Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorfs (starring Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen, among others). Their third film Harry Benson: Shoot First, will be in theaters—including New York City—and video on demand. starting Dec. 9, 2016.

Harry Benson: Shoot First is a 90-minute documentary on one of the most accomplished photojournalists of the past five decades. Benson’s work has captured cultural icons in defining moments of history—including Robert Kennedy’s assassination—as well as in moments of playful ease—the Beatles in the midst of a pillow fight—with compassion, elegance, and intimacy. His photographs have graced the covers of TIME, LIFE, and People more than 100 times, notes film critic Isaac Guzman in the Nov. 26, 2016, issue of TIME. In Guzman’s review, titled “A Star-Studded Tribute to a Lovable Lensman,” he warns viewers, “Don’t blink…Every flutter of an eyelid risks blocking out a wonder of the photographic world: Michael Jackson frolicking like the Pied Piper at Neverland Ranch with a retinue of children; Bill and Hillary Clinton on the precipice of a kiss on a hammock; Bobby Fisher being nuzzled by a wild Icelandic horse.”

Sudanese-American Singer Elgadi ’04 Releases New Album

Sarah Mohamed Abunama Elgadi ’04, known by her stage name Alsarah, recently released a new album, Manara, with her band, Alsarah & the Nubatones. Manara, or The Lighthouse, is rooted in the style of Sudan and Nubia, and inspired by East-African music.

KCET.org says Manara “is more fluid and free-flowing than the band’s debut album, lifted by moaning trumpets and humming electronics, broken up by interludes of radio static and bits of the album’s penultimate track ‘Fulani.’”

Alsarah, who was a music major at Wesleyan, is a Sudanese-born singer, songwriter, and ethnomusicologist based in Brooklyn. She is a self-proclaimed practitioner of East-African retro-pop. She has toured both nationally and internationally, and has released one full-length album titled, Aljawal, and two full-length albums with her current band, Alsarah & the Nubatones.

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Watch the full-length music video of “Soukura” from Alsarah & the Nubatone’s sophomore album, Manara.

Lame ’04 Discusses Film Editing Manchester by the Sea

Film editor Jennifer Lame ’04 spoke to the Los Angeles Times on her experience working on Manchester by the Sea, by Oscar-nominated director and writer, Kenneth Lonergan. The drama, starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams, is about a man who returns to his hometown to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies.

In the interview, Lame explained how one scene between the divorced main characters made her surprisingly emotional in the editing process. “I’ll never forget the day I got the Michelle and Casey scene,” said Lame. “Just watching raw dailies, I was crying. That’s never happened. That scene crushed me.”

Lame also reflected on her time at Wesleyan where she studied film. She said she fell in love with the editing process here, but struggled to find satisfying work until she landed a gig in 2007 as an apprentice editor on Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, directed by Sidney Lumet.

Since then, she has worked as an editor on numerous films and television such as Paper Towns (2015), Frances Ha (2012), and The Lovely Bones (2009). In 2014, she was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Editing for Frances Ha.

Read the full interview here.

YouTube Preview Image Full trailer for Manchester by the Sea.

Photographs by National Geographic Photographer Yamashita ’71 on Exhibit in Beijing

Acclaimed photographer Michael Yamashita ’71 captures the Meili Snow Moutains in all of their breathtaking grandeur. The photograph appears in the Return to Tea-Horse Road exhibition in Beijing.

Acclaimed photographer Michael Yamashita ’71 captures the Meili Snow Mountains in all of their breathtaking grandeur. The photograph appears in the Return to Tea-Horse Road exhibition in Beijing.

Return to the Tea-Horse Road, an exhibition by acclaimed National Geographic Magazine photographer Michael Yamashita ’71, will be featured in the Sony U Space in Beijing, from Dec. 6, 2016, to Jan. 8, 2017.

An exhibition by acclaimed photographer Michael Yamashita ’71 will be held in Beijing, starting Friday, Dec. 9, 2016.

An exhibition by Michael Yamashita ’71 will be held in Beijing, starting Dec. 6, 2016, and running through Jan. 8, 2017.

Drawn from a series of photographs created for a 2010 National Geographic article, “Tea Horse Road,” Yamashita traces the legendary trail of grand vistas, where both Chinese tea and Tibetan horses were traded. His photographs offer cultural highlights rendered with intimacy—equestrian festivals revealing pageantry and brightly-colored flags, travelers sipping tea by yak-butter candlelight, men squatting to gather worms for herbal healers—as well vast landscapes of distant mountains traced with switchback trails and breathtaking majesty.

The exhibition highlights and features large-scale prints of his work, some two-by-three meters in size. Multiple Sony 4K television monitors will play a 200-picture slide show.

Additionally, Yamashita will be on hand for portions of each day this upcoming weekend (Dec. 9–11, 2016). He’ll be at a reception on Friday, Dec. 9, signing books from 1 to 6 p.m., and on Saturday afternoon he will offer a slide show, as well as attending the show on Sunday. Admission is free, Yamashita notes and adds, “I hope to see many Wesleyan alumni.”

The gallery is located at Jiuxianqiao Road No. 2, 798 Art Zone, Taoci 3rd Street E05-8, Chaoyang, Beijing, China.

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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Composer/Drummer Sorey MA ’11 is “The Maestro”

Drummer and composer Tyshawn Sorey MA’11 is the subject of an article in JazzTimes by David Adler. Sorey will return to Wesleyan as an assistant professor of music in the fall semester of 2017. (Photo by John Rogers.)

Drummer and composer Tyshawn Sorey MA’11 is the subject of an article in JazzTimes by David Adler, who calls him “multifaceted and restlessly evolving.” Sorey will return to Wesleyan as an assistant professor of music in the fall semester of 2017. (Photo by John Rogers)

Tyshawn Sorey MA ’11 is the subject of a Nov. 26 article published in JazzTimes titled “Tyshawn Sorey: The Maestro.”

“It’s something to see,” writes David Adler for JazzTimes. “A fired-up young sideman blossoms into one of the most multifaceted and restlessly evolving artists of our time at age 36. It’s hard to tally just the most recent accomplishments.”

His accomplishments include premiering a work—Sorey on piano and drums—at the Ojai Festival in California that had been commissioned by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) at the Ojai Festival in California last February—and another ICE commission is upcoming. His Alloy trio (pianist Cory Smythe and bassist Christopher Tordini) not only played a weeklong gig at the Village Vanguard, but has a work commissioned by the Newport Jazz Festival, which Sorey will release soon, containing material from his stint at the Vanguard.

Williams ’89: “Bridge Broadly and Creatively”—Interview in The Progressive

Dar Williams ’89 is touring on her Image by Tristan Loper

Dar Williams ’89 is on her Mortal City 20th Anniversary Tour and also writing a book on eight cities she has visited frequently, including Middletown, Conn. (Image by Tristan Loper)

“A featured performer at the The Progressive’s 100th anniversary party in 2009, [Dar] Williams [’89] has always identified with progressive causes,” writes Bill Luedes, associate editor of The Progressive magazine, by way of background to his Q&A with Williams that follows. “She toured with Joan Baez early in her career and has embraced feminist, anti-war, and pro-environment positions.  She’s taught a class titled ‘Music Movements in a Capitalist Democracy’ at her alma mater, Wesleyan University. A mother of two children, she has written a novel for young adults, Amalee, and is working on a sequel.”

In the interview, Luedes explores the reasons for the sense of community found among audience members at Williams’s concerts, as well as the meaning behind certain song lyrics to tease out her reaction to the recent political climate. When he asks her to recommend community action for individuals, Williams is first descriptive before prescriptive: “My particular expertise these days as a traveler is that I’ve watched towns and cities evolve and become very resilient, and fun, and unique, and prosperous on their own terms. And the secret is bridging. It’s when the local church has a fun clothing swap fundraiser with a temple, and then the next year they bring in the mosque. It’s one group working with the senior center, which works with the elementary school, which works with the Lion’s Club. … I would encourage people to bridge broadly and creatively in their communities, not just because that creates the most fun and resiliency, but also because it creates the most points of access for people to be part of the community, which is what democracy is at its best.”

 

Jazz Guitarist Halvorson ’02 Is “Unflinching and Full of Grace”

Credit Jacob Blickenstaff for The New York Times

Mary Halvonson ’02 has released her eight album, Away With You, reviewed in the New York Times by Nate Chinen. (Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff for The New York Times)

“There’s no other sound in music precisely like Mary Halvorson’s guitar, which she plays with a flinty attack, a spidery finesse and a shiver of wobbly delay,” writes New York Times jazz critic Nate Chinen in a review of her recent shows around Brooklyn in October. She also released her eighth album, Away With Youon Oct.28.

The album is produced by Firehouse 12, a production studio co-founded by fellow jazz musician Taylor Ho Bynum ’98 MA ’05, which has released his work, as well as the music of Halvorson’s and Bynum’s Wesleyan professor and mentor Anthony Braxton, whom Chinen calls “a formative influence as a musical thinker” for Halvorson. Chinen also notes another mentor Halvorson found in Connecticut: acclaimed free-jazz guitarist Joe Morris, “a staunch experimentalist,” with whom Halvorson took private lessons. (Morris is spouse of Anne Marcotty, senior designer in Wesleyan’s Office of Communications.)

Calling her new CD “the most accomplished statement Ms. Halvorson has made as a composer, her strongest turn as bandleader and a standout jazz release of the year,” Chinen notes that she is part of a “vibrant cohort,” and performs on cornetist Bynum’s most recent album, Enter the PlusTet, among other musical collaborations.

The article is both review and interview and part of Times‘ The New Vanguard series, which “examine[s] jazz musicians who are helping reshape the art form, often beyond the glare of the spotlight.” Concluding the interview, Chinen asks Halvorson “whether she had noticed her sound among any imitators …’Actually no, I don’t think so. I can’t think of a time when I heard someone and thought, ‘Oh, that sounds like what I’m doing.’ After a pause, she added: ‘Maybe that will happen. I don’t know.'”

Mitchell Scholar Treuhaft-Ali ’17 Will Continue Theater Studies in Ireland

May Treuhaft-Ali '17, donning a reindeer sweater she acquired from a study abroad experience in Ireland, poses near the '92 Theater where she "spends half her time." Treuhaft-Ali recently was awarded a Mitchell Scholarship to study theater and performance in Dublin.

May Treuhaft-Ali ’17, donning a sweater she acquired from a study abroad experience in Ireland, poses near the ’92 Theater where she “spends half her time on campus.” Treuhaft-Ali recently was awarded a Mitchell Scholarship to study theater and performance in Dublin.

Next spring, May Treuhaft-Ali ’17 will graduate from Wesleyan with a degree in theater, but that won’t be her final curtain call. As a Mitchell Scholar, Treuhaft-Ali will have the opportunity to advance her studies on theater and performance at Trinity College in Dublin.

The George J. Mitchell Scholarship Program is a nationally competitive award for U.S. citizens sponsored by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance. Named in honor of the former U.S. Senator’s pivotal contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process, the Mitchell Scholarship is designed to introduce and connect future American leaders to the island of Ireland, while recognizing and fostering academic excellence, leadership and a commitment to public service.

The scholarship will allow Treuhaft-Ali to return to Ireland; she studied abroad there in 2015 and “completely fell in love with Irish theater and the city of Dublin.”

“So many of the plays and playwrights I studied there are fascinating not just from an artistic standpoint, but because they were directly in dialogue with Irish politics,” Treuhaft-Ali said. “For example, it’s one of the only countries I know of where the content of a play has caused a riot to break out in the theater!”

At Wesleyan, Treuhaft-Ali wrote and directed plays for the Theater Department and Second Stage.

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.

Vidich ’72 Celebrated in Poets and Writers as First-Time Author

Paul Vidich ’72 is first-time author of the noir spy-thriller "An Honorable Man," garnering rave reviews.

Paul Vidich ’72 is first-time author of the noir spy-thriller An Honorable Man, garnering rave reviews.

The article in Poets and Writers begins, “From the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 program to the New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 list, many organizations make a point of recognizing young, gifted authors at the start of their literary careers. In the November/December 2016 issue of Poets & Writers magazine, we feature five debut authors over the age of 50 … whose first books came out this past year, and who stand as living proof that it’s never too late to start your literary journey.”

Highlighted here was Paul Vidich ’72, whose first book, “An Honorable Man” was published in April 2016 by Atria/Emily Bestler, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Kirkus Review called it “A moody debut spy novel inspired by real events…Dead-on Cold War fiction. Noir to the bone,” and Publisher’s Weekly listed it as one of their “top ten mysteries and thrillers of spring 2016.”

The novel is set in 1953, in the midsts of McCarthyism, and with the Cold War underway. Vidich’s hero, George Mueller, is assigned to help the CIA find the double agent in its midst who is selling secrets to the Soviets. Read the excerpt published in Poets and Writers here.

Prior to this novel, Vidich has written both fiction and nonfiction pieces that have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Fugue, The Nation, Narrative Magazine, and elsewhere. His story, “Falling Girl,” was nominated for a 2011 Pushcart Prize and appeared in New Rivers Press’s American Fiction, Volume 12: The Best Unpublished Short Stories by Emerging Writers.

A College of Social Studies major at Wesleyan, Vidich previously served as executive vice president in charge of global digital strategy at Time Warner’s Warner Music Group. A past member of the National Academies committee on The Impact of Copyright Policy on Innovation in the Digital Era, he testified in Washington before rate hearings.

Vidich is currently a venture investor and serves as an advisor to Internet media companies in video and music. He is on the boards of directors of Poets and Writers, The New School for Social Research, and the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation. A former trustee of Wesleyan, he received a Distinguished Alumni Award and is a graduate of The Wharton School.

Green Street’s MacSorley Interviewed on iCRV Radio’s “Feel Good Friday”

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Pictured from left is Cynthia Clegg, Jill Bulter and Sara MacSorley.

Sara MacSorley, director of the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center, was invited to be a guest on iCRV radio’s “Feel Good Friday” segment in mid November. “Feel Good Friday” celebrates “good people doing good work” in the Connecticut River Valley. MacSorley was joined by the Director of the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, Cynthia Clegg, and local artist Jill Bulter.

Bulter got connected to the Community Foundation through their Fund for Girls and ended up creating her own fund, the York Butler Fund, to support programs for kids that used the arts. Two years ago, Green Street TLC received the first ever York Butler Fund grant to support scholarships for the kids taking arts classes in the Discovery AfterSchool program.

The radio program focused on the value of the arts, the importance of community engagement, and the power of making connections between organizations, programs and people. Connections brought MacSorley, Clegg and Bulter together and in the end, it helped support children in Middletown.