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Pride & Prejudice: The Bicentennial
On October 10, 11, and 12, CELIA, an Ohio Center of Excellence that fosters collaborative education, leadership and innovation in the arts, hosted a celebration of the bicentennial anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s beloved novel, Pride and Prejudice. The event, titled Pride and Prejudice: The Bicentennial featured public lectures by internationally-recognized experts on Jane Austen and British literature from universities around the country. These included Laura Vorachek from the University of Dayton, Sean Silver from the University of Michigan, James Mulholland from North Carolina State, Marilyn Francus from West Virginia University, Robert Markley from the University of Illinois, Devoney Looser from Arizona State University, and Janine Barchas from the University of Texas-Austin. Professors Looser and Barchas were both recently featured in the New York Times. Barchas’s innovative website, whatjanesaw.org, carefully reconstructs an art exhibit that we know Jane Austen herself attended in 1813. A groundbreaking project in the digital humanities, whatjanesaw.org reveals to us not only what the art exhibit looked like, but also how its placement of portraits of famous people, such as actresses and royalty, craftily cultivated Regency celebrity gossip that Barchas believes influenced Austen’s novels. Devoney Looser, another expert on Austen who spoke at the CELIA event and who is well-known for her roller-derby alter ego, Stone Cold Jane Austen, describes Barchas’s project as one that makes it possible for all of us to “imagine what it would’ve been like” to understand “painting as theatre,” and as a “exciting part of life [back] then.”
In addition to keynote lectures by specialists like Looser and Barchas that resembled TED-Talks for die hard Jane Austen fans, CELIA’s celebration featured research presentations on topics such as Jane Austen and globalism, and Pride and Prejudice in the twenty-first century. Those attending the event also enjoyed an English tea service, a staged reading of a theatrical adaptation of Austen’s novel, a display of posters highlighting Wright State’s undergraduate student research, and an exhibit sponsored by Wright State University Bookstore. The event concluded with an elegant Regency Ball at Memorial Hall in downtown Dayton. Hosted by local re-enactors and members of the Jane Austen Society of North America, Tom and Toni Tumbusch, the Regency Ball introduced guests to Jane Austen’s world. They listened to the music Austen enjoyed, learned to dance that she danced, tasted food that she would have loved, played the card games she would have played, and learned more about Regency England from Wright State student-designed informational brochures.
The event proved to be not only fun, but also both innovative and groundbreaking. Conceived by CELIA’s first fellowship winner, Crystal B. Lake (Assistant Professor, Department of English), Pride and Prejudice: The Bicentennial sought to bring together undergraduate research, international-experts, and local members of the community interested in the literary arts. Additionally, the event emphasized collaboration between units at Wright State University, encouraging faculty from the Departments of English, Music, History, and Theatre, Dance, and Motion Pictures to work together to develop programming that would enrich Wright State’s educational mission and showcase the research and performance expertise based in the College of Liberal Arts. “I couldn’t have been more thrilled about how the event turned out,” Lake said. “The entire three days proved to be an exciting opportunity for Wright State’s College of Liberal Arts and for CELIA to chart new territory in imagining how innovative research and creative work in the humanities can enrich our mission and communities.” Lake, who recently won Wright State University’s President’s award for Early Career Achievement, also commented on how important CELIA’s new Fellowship program has been to her. “I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to participate in CELIA’s humanities think-tank,” Lake said. “There’s no other Fellowship Program out there quite like this one, and I’m excited to see what CELIA does next.”
CELIA promises to bring more innovative and groundbreaking events to Wright State University in the coming year. Be sure to visit CELIA.wright.edu for more information about upcoming events.
The Last Truck: The Closing of a GM Plant
Congratulations to Wright State University's award-winning documentary filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar on their HBO documentary The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant and its Dayton premiere!
The making of The Last Truck involved numerous students, alumni, and faculty from Wright State's Department of Theatre Arts/Motion Pictures.
Working as camera operators, grip/electrics, and post-production assistants were Ben Garchar, Amy Cunningham, David Ackels, Ian Cook, Chance Madison, Doug Schwartz, Joe Lurie, Ann Rotolante, Chris "biZo" Stevens, Matt Harris, Nik Siefke, Erick Stoll, and Matt Zaff. WSU film professor Russ Johnson worked as a camera person, while Jim Klein, also a professor of film in Wright State's motion pictures department, was both the fine-cut editor on the film and contributor of a piano score to the film's soundtrack.
Last spring, audiences got a once-in-a lifetime chance to see the most complex and controversial work of composer Leonard Bernstein in a production that boasted nearly 200 of Dayton’s most talented performers, including more than 100 Wright State students and faculty.
Bernstein’s MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers fused the talents of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra (DPO) and the Wright State University’s departments of Music and Theatre, Dance, and Motion Pictures.
“This was really a major event for the Dayton region,” said DPO Music Director Neal Gittleman, who pointed out that patrons from at least 10 states came to the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center for the performances.
The piece uses the structure of a Catholic Mass to tell the story of a personal spiritual journey. Though portions of the show are sung in Latin, English lyrics by Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin, Godspell) provide much of MASS’s humor and irony. It was first commissioned by former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy for the opening of the national arts center named in honor of her late husband, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The work premiered as part of the Kennedy Center’s opening festivities on September 8, 1971.
MASS is rarely performed in its entirety due to its massive scope. The Schuster show featured a chorus of 60 singers, 19 actors in a “street chorus,” 10 dancers and a 19-member children’s choir. Musicians included a 90-piece orchestra, a five-piece rock band and a three-piece blues band.
“It was a huge challenge logistically to put it all together,” said W. Stuart McDowell, chair and artistic director of Wright State’s Department of Theatre, Dance, and Motion Pictures.
Pulling off a production of such epic proportions required a creative team from several disciplines. DPO’s Gittleman conducted both sold-out performances. Wright State’s faculty involvement included choral direction by Hank Dahlman of the Department of Music, as well as stage direction by Greg Hellems, choreography by Gina Gardner-Walther and scenic designs by Pam Knauert, all of the Department of Theatre, Dance, and Motion Pictures.
The production also included the Kettering Children’s Choir under the direction of Natalie DeHorn and noted tenor John Wesley Wright in the crucial role of “The Celebrant.”
“Even though MASS was written in the ’70s, there’s not anything in the show that isn’t relevant today,” said Hellems. For example, he pointed to a lyric about “oiling the seas,” recalling how eerie it is in the wake of the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
While MASS gave Wright State students an excellent chance to perform with a professional arts organization, it also gave them a rare opportunity to work with their fellow students.
“The music and theatre departments are both so busy that we don’t get the chance to work with each other very often,” said Dahlman. “This is probably the largest collaborative effort between the two departments, at least in my memory, and I’ve been here 20 years.”
“When different facets of the arts come together, it makes for a truly unforgettable experience,” said Samantha Helmstetter, a musical theatre major who performed in the show’s street chorus. “MASS was unlike any other performing experience I’ve ever had, and I’m grateful to have been part of it.”
STEAM³, a project designed to teach Science using music and art as the pedagogical method, was started in Fall, 2008, funded by a grant from Dr. Edgar Hardy, Wright State Founder and Department of Music patron.
Four music education majors, four art education majors, and four mathematics/science education majors are selected each year based on talent, interest, academic success and motivation to participate in the project. These students enrolled in an academic class taught by Mr. Bill Jobert, Instructor of Music, Dr. Ben Montague, Assistant Professor of Art, and Dr. Ann Farrell, Professor of Mathematics In the class, the students are grouped; one music education student, one art education student and one Mathematics/science education student. These groups then work with area public school science teachers to develop two science education lessons/units. One of the Lessons used music concepts and principles to teach science, the other Lesson used art concepts and principles to teach science. As the culmination of the class, the students go to the public schools and present the lessons/units.
Fourth Annual Music and Medicine Symposium
Although music is considered an art and medicine a science, there is a scientific basis to music and an “art” to medicine. This symposium showcases the Wright State collaborative program between the Department of Music and School of Medicine. It is a two day event, consisting of a concert and a professional conference. The topic of the 4th Annual Music and Medicine Symposium, held in 2012, was Professionalism in Medicine and Music.
CELIA on CORE
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Wright State and the greater Miami Valley are a great place to live and work, but we can do more! CELIA’s mission is to improve the quality of life and the economic health of our region and state by providing programs and projects that touch the soul and excite the imagination.