Middletown-based ARTFARM artistic director Marcella Trowbridge, center, works with Lola Makombo ’20 on crafting a performative conversation based on interviews with a family member.
Students in the Mixed in America: Race, Religion, and Memoir course explored mixed-race identities not only through reading, writing, and classroom discussion, but through performative art.
Matt Kleppner ’18 created a short performance based on an interview with his uncle.
Throughout the semester, students used the genre of the memoir as a focusing lens to look at ways that Americans of mixed heritage have found a place, crafted an identity, and made meaning out of being considered “mixed.”
The course is part of Wesleyan’s Creative Campus Initiative, which pairs non-arts faculty with artists for collaborative teaching and research. Professor Liza McAlister teamed up with the local professional theater organization ARTFARM to offer students a module of four classes under the instruction of artistic director Marcella Trowbridge.
In the students’ exploration of memoir, Trowbridge asked them to interview a family member and craft a short performative piece based on their interviews–or–their responses to their interviews.
“We spoke about ‘brass tack’ strategies for interviewing and documentation, but then left the linear procedural work for a process-based inquiry,” Trowbridge explained.
The class collaboratively brainstormed and worked physically with mark-making, personal items, architecture, kinesthetic response, and the use of space. Students also learned about using text, gestures, movement, sound, repetition, and props in a performance.
On April 18 and 19, the students shared their compositions with their classmates.
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