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Olivia DrakeMay 4, 20202min
The shows must go on. Rather than allowing the COVID-19 pandemic to force a final curtain call on theatrical productions, Wesleyan's Theater Department pivoted to an online format. On May 1, and again on May 2, the department offered livestreamed performances of The Method Gun, featuring 10 student-actors. A replay of the Saturday performance is available for viewing on The Method Gun @ Wes website. After countless hours of line rehearsals, overcoming technical frustrations, and learning how to act and teach theater in a virtual world, show director and Assistant Professor of Theater Katie Pearl breathed a sigh of relief…

Lauren RubensteinMarch 2, 20204min
Wesleyan in the News 1. The Open Mind: "Democratizing the Jury" Associate Professor of Government Sonali Chakravarti is interviewed in connection with her new book, Radical Enfranchisement in the Jury Room and Public Life, in which she offers a "full-throated defense of juries as a democratic institution." "I am very interested in how ordinary people engage with political institutions, and juries are the place where ordinary people have the most power," she says. Chakravarti calls for more robust civic education, continuing into adulthood, in order to have a "more effective, modern jury system." 2. Hartford Courant: "Sen. Murphy, Aiming to…

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Editorial StaffJanuary 16, 20202min
From Wisconsin to Massachusetts, Assistant Professor of Theater Katie Pearl has visited five small American towns named Milton and developed a series of performances, each focused on (and performed in) a particular Milton. Since 2012, Pearl and Lisa D'Amour—known collectively as PearlDamour—have led the performance and community engagement experiment. In November 2019, PearlDamour released MILTON, a book that includes the full text of PearlDamour's North Carolina performance, along with photos and excerpts from performances in Oregon and Massachusetts, and essay reflections on the process and practice of community-based art-making. For more than 20 years, Obie-Award winning PearlDamour has pushed the boundaries…

Editorial StaffDecember 3, 20192min
William "Bill" Francisco, professor of theater, emeritus, died on Friday, Nov. 22,  at the age of 86. Francisco received his BA from Amherst College in 1955, and his MFA in directing from the Yale School of Drama in 1958. He joined the Wesleyan faculty as an artist-in-residence in 1974 and as an associate professor in 1975. He taught theater here for 28 years until he retired in 2002. Francisco was an active director throughout his career, working in theater, opera, television, and film. He directed productions off-Broadway, at Hartford Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, San Francisco Opera, and many other prominent…

Cynthia RockwellNovember 18, 20192min
Gilbert Parker ’48, a retired literary agent who represented many of the country’s most influential playwrights over the span of nearly half a century, died Oct. 29, 2019. He was 92 and had served in the US Navy during World War II. The first theater major at Wesleyan, he earned his degree with honors and distinction. Beginning his career at Liebling-Wood, Inc., as the assistant to Audrey Wood, the renowned agent who represented Tennessee Williams and other significant playwrights, Parker later joined the William Morris Agency, retiring in 2000. Parker was noted as an adviser and mentor to many young…

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Olivia DrakeAugust 13, 20192min
This summer, award-winning actor, singer, producer, and new assistant professor of theater Maria-Christina Oliveras acted in the world premiere of Kiss My Aztec, a new musical on Latino history. Written by John Leguizamo and Tony Taccone, winners of the 2018 Special Tony Award for Latin History of Morons, the musical debuted May through July at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Performances will continue at La Jolla Playhouse starting Sept. 8. Oliveras became involved in the musical's developmental process in 2014, when it started out as a play and evolved over time. "I am a new works junkie. There is nothing like 'brain-childing' a piece…

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Olivia DrakeJuly 17, 20194min
Ron Jenkins, professor and chair of theater, is the author of a new book titled Resurrection of the Saints: Sacred Tragi-Comedy in Venafro published by Bulzoni in July 2019 as part of the company's international series on “Theater and Memory.” The volume is in dual languages; the first part is in Italian, the second translated into English. Resurrection of the Saints is an analysis of a 200-year-old theatrical tradition in the Italian village of Venafro, where the citizens still perform an 18th-century play that recounts the martyrdom of their patron saints in the third century. In 1792, Giuseppe Macchia wrote the play, “Religion…

Olivia DrakeApril 26, 20183min
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. 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…

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Olivia DrakeApril 25, 20183min
Senior Katherine Paterson's passion for theater and environmental studies has grown over the past two months while she constructed a greenhouse for an honors thesis that explores and links together urban farming, communal activity, and theater. On Earth Day, April 22, Paterson presented (at)tend, a durational performance of song, poetry, and spoken word, which unfolded over the course of the spring semester. The project involved the collective construction, seeding, and tending of a greenhouse by students and community members, and culminated with a spring harvest. "The goal of the project was to serve as an experiment in creative place-making—in creating a space that the larger…

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Olivia DrakeFebruary 5, 20182min
During Winter Session, 14 Wesleyan students studied live, site-based theater performances in Santiago, Chile. The course, THEA 357: Space and Materiality, was taught by Marcela Oteíza, assistant professor of theater, and took place during the Festival Internacional Santiago a Mil (FITAM), the most renowned theater festival in Santiago. This was the first abroad course offered by Winter Session. “It was a wonderful experience for students and myself; particularly, to be able to share in situ with them the social and cultural history of Santiago within the framework of the festival,” Oteíza said. “Students learned about performance and reception theories, while…

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Bill HolderSeptember 18, 20172min
The Theater Department has begun fall semester with a new chair who combines an impressive list of creative accomplishments with deep and varied experience as an academic administrator. Kathleen Conlin, Frank B. Weeks Visiting Professor of Theater, has held tenured faculty positions at the University of Texas at Austin, Ohio State University, and the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana. While juggling the varied demands of an academic career, she also served for 22 seasons as associate artistic director and stage director at the Utah Shakespeare Theater. “I love being around young people who are not narrowly defined and are actively…