Actress Beanie Feldstein ’15 has made her Broadway debut as Minnie Fay in the sold-out, Tony-winning revival of Hello, Dolly! this past April. The role has her playing a fresh-faced shopgirl in this comedic musical theater hit about a meddlesome matchmaker named Dolly Gallagher Levi. Starring alongside the iconic Bette Middler and Broadway veteran Kate Baldwin, Feldstein is living out her childhood dream night after night in Broadway’s Shubert Theatre—and certain magazine outlets, such as Vogue, are asking whether we are seeing the next Middler in Feldstein.
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Molly Jane Zuckerman ’16 is one of only 40 student ambassadors representing the United States at the World Expo 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan, which brings together key leaders from the global business community, high-ranking government officials, and cultural representatives in the first world fair to take place in Central Asia.
The theme of this year’s international exposition is “Future Energy,” and the United States is one of more than 100 countries and international organizations to participate. As an intern for the USA Pavilion, Zuckerman conducts tours of the exhibit for both Kazakh and international visitors.
“The theme of our pavilion is human energy, and how we—humanity—are actually the source of infinite energy,” says Zuckerman.
Clinical psychologist and YA novelist Becky Albertalli ’05 is the author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, an award winning coming-of-age story published by Harper Collins in 2015. It follows Simon Spier, a junior in high school struggling to come to terms with his sexual identity without coming out, before a leaked email threatens to compromise his secret and his comfort zone. This past October, Fox 2000 Pictures and Temple Hill Entertainment began developing a movie adaptation of the book. The major motion picture will feature a star-studded cast––including Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford and Jennifer Garner––and is set to be released in March 2018.
Directed by Greg Berlanti, the comedy-drama film of the same name as Albertalli’s debut novel is currently in post-production. Fans of the popular book and members of the cast, like Alexandra Shipp, Logan Miller and Josh Duhamel, are excited to see an underrepresented, LGBTQA-centered story told on the big screen.
Composer and musician Simon Riker ’14 showcased the original musical comedy Me Prometheus: Caveman Love Story at this year’s NY Summerfest Theatre Festival over the weekend. Conceived by Riker in 2010 and written in collaboration with friend Emerson Sieverts, the absurd full-length show about the prehistoric discovery of fire was produced first at Wesleyan and again at William and Mary. This summer, Me Prometheus appeared in its third live iteration with four sold-out shows on the New York Theatre Festival stage.
In an article for the Times Square Chronicles, Riker is described as a “composer, music director, singer, and keyboardist.” He developed his interest in music at a young age and continued to hone his skills as an undergrad:
David Lubell ’98, founder and executive director of Welcoming America, was recently named the 2017 recipient of the prestigious Charles Bronfman Prize, which “recognizes young humanitarians whose work is inspired by their Jewish values and is of universal benefit to all people.”
Welcoming America is a non-profit organization that helps communities across the United States become inclusive to immigrants and refugees. Created in 2009, the organization has developed an award-winning social entrepreneurship model, using a local approach to ease tensions and build understanding between new and long-time residents. As rapid demographic shifts are changing communities, Lubell’s nationwide network helps newcomers of various backgrounds to fully participate alongside their neighbors – socially, civically and economically.
”As a Jewish American, nothing could make me feel more connected to my values, and to my history, than working to welcome immigrants and refugees to this country,” Lubell says on the Bronfman Prize website. “One of Judaism’s central teachings is to ‘welcome the stranger,’ to offer shelter to those in need and to accept those who we perceive to be different from us.”
Brooklyn rapper Latasha Alcindor ’10, also informally known as LA, is following up the release of her debut album B(LA)K. with her newest project, Teen Nite at Empire. The project is named for the Empire Rolling Skating Center, a former nightlife venue in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, which closed its doors in 2007 due to increasing gentrification in the area. As described on her Bandcamp––where audiences can listen to and purchase the album––it is dedicated to “the around the way ones, 2 for $5 bootlegs and realizing freedom.” Having grown up frequenting and coming of age at Empire’s regularly hosted Teen Night, Alcindor uses music as a platform to remember and resurrect the culture that has been pushed out.
In a recent interview with Noisey, Alcindor discusses the significance of Empire to her experiences as a Caribbean-American teenager coming up in ’90s Brooklyn:
Renowned conceptual artist Glenn Ligon ’82 recently curated an exhibition titled Blue Black for the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis, Missouri. The group show, which had its opening day on June 9, was inspired by the Pulitzer’s permanent installation of Blue Black, a wall sculpture by Ellsworth Kelly. In Ligon’s take on the variety of meanings and uses of these two colors, he explores the combination as a means to raise nuanced questions about race, history, identity and memory. Choosing works that respond to the theme of the blues in open-ended ways, he draws numerous points of connection among a diverse selection of more than 40 pieces, ranging from Abstract Expressionism and portraiture to African and American folk art.
The show features work from artists including Norman Lewis, Andy Warhol, Kerry James Marshall and Carrie Mae Weems, and also includes well-known works by Ligon himself. While he initially traveled to St. Louis intending to propose his own solo exhibition, Ligon spoke to The New York Times about how the visit lead him to take the project in a new direction:
Multimedia artists Aditi Natasha Kini ’13 MALS ’16 and Hanna Edizel ’14 recently premiered the music video for “Park Slope,” a song from rapper, producer and 2010 Wesleyan alumnus OHYUNG. The co-directors were joined by cinematographer Neo Sora ’14 and actor Stephen Acerra ’12 in creating an absurdist accompaniment to OHYUNG’s record, which parodies Brooklyn gentrification and the “lifestyle” it sponsors for white gentrifiers.
Focusing on Park Slope, one of New York City’s most affluent neighborhoods, OHYUNG and his collaborators enter into a larger citywide and national dialogue about the ever-growing problem of gentrification. As Kini explains in an interview with Brokelyn, “Park Slope is a petri dish for everything bad that’s happening in New York.”
Suki Hawley ’91, director and editor for the award-winning independent film studio RUMUR, is debuting the collaborative’s latest film in New York this week. The documentary, titled All the Rage, chronicles the work of renowned physician Dr. John Sarno and his radical methods for treating chronic pain. It will debut at Cinema Village in New York on Friday, June 23. A Q&A with directors and special guests will follow after every screening Friday (June 23), Saturday (June 24) and Sunday (June 25).
All the Rage comes at a critical time, when the epidemic of chronic pain is afflicting over 100 million Americans and millions more worldwide. Dr. Sarno, professor of rehabilitation medicine at the NYU School of Medicine and writer of four bestselling books on pain management, is considered a medical pioneer in the field for the connections he draws between his patients’ emotions and their pain. Despite backlash from the mainstream medical community, Sarno has spent 50 years developing his revolutionary treatment program. Some of his most notable patients include Larry David and Howard Stern, both of whom are featured in the film.
Jazz pianist, band leader and composer Darius Brubeck ’69 recently toured in Israel with his renowned Darius Brubeck Quartet as part of the Hot Jazz Series. The quartet performed seven shows across the country from June 3 to 10, presenting compositions written by Brubeck and his late father, a legendary jazz pianist best known for his album Time Out.
Before returning to a career as a touring musician, Brubeck spent many years at the University of Natal in Durban, South Africa, where he founded the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music. Both an artist and an academic, he has toggled between these identities for many years.
Since publishing her latest book, The Argonauts, winner of the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism, author Maggie Nelson ’94 has received attention from more mainstream outlets and audiences. As her popularity grows beyond academic circles, her earlier works, including The Red Parts and Bluets, are gaining in visibility.
A recent article from The Telegraph discusses Nelson’s books of nonfiction published between 2005 and 2015, and draws connections between them, focusing on the similarities in content and form that tie these works together:
More than anything, Nelson’s project [is]: to behave as though the land of the heart were automatically a subject for reportage, and not just a cause for an outpouring of emotion. Heartbreak, longing, sex, death, fear, family trauma, love, maternity, homonormativity: these are the territories from which Nelson has chosen to deliver her dispatches. If that sounds merely confessional, the books are far from it . . .
Nelson’s interest in form might be traced to her beginnings as a poet. “I think of the ‘I’ as a character that I’m controlling in a certain way,” she explains.
Anthropologist Shalini Shankar ’94 has been named one of 173 recipients of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for 2017. Winners of the annual competition were chosen from a pool of 3,000 applicants that includes scholars, artists and scientists who are advanced professionals in their respective fields. She was chosen on the basis of prior achievement as a productive scholar who has published several works on teen and youth culture, as well as her exceptional promise to continue research in the social sciences.
Shankar, who studied anthropology in Wesleyan and received her PhD in the field from New York University, is a sociocultural and linguistic anthropologist. An associate professor of anthropology and Asian American studies at Northwestern University, she has conducted ethnographic research with South Asian American youth and communities, and is one of three Guggenheim Fellows of Indian origin this year.