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Exhibitions and Performances


"Arial","sans-serif"">For Immediate Release, November 19, 2013

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A crowd of over 600 people filled the Dekelboum Concert Hall last night to hear actor and children’s author John Lithgow, who appeared as part of the University of Maryland College of Arts and Humanities Worldwise Arts & Humanities Dean’s Lecture Series.

Known to millions as everything from a “Dirty Rotten Scoundrel” to a visiting alien, Lithgow charmed the audience with his erudite humor and his wisdom, drawing on his distinguished stage and screen career as well as his longtime commitment to American education.

In a conversation with Sheri Parks, UMD associate professor of American studies and former NPR host, Lithgow entertained the audience with a lighthearted and spirited defense of the arts and humanities.

“The humanities and arts are an indispensable part of a child’s education and development,” said Lithgow. “In an era where STEM subjects and test prep dominate the educational diet, it is essential students be provided their minimum daily allowance of this key source of nourishment and enrichment.”

Lithgow, the author of numerous children’s books, is also a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences. As such, he encouraged the audience to join him in “seconding the motion” whenever the value of the arts and humanities is discussed.

The reason he said is “simple and inarguable: a society, or a nation, or a world that embraces the arts and humanities is a much better one.”

The commission’s report, “The Heart of the Matter,” released in June, has since sparked conversations across the country about the myriad reasons the humanities are vital to the future of our nation. Lithgow’s appearance at UMD added even more voices to the discussion.

Another component of the Dean's Lecture Series involves speakers interacting with students and faculty in smaller settings. Earlier in the day, Lithgow conducted a master class with UMD theatre students—a unique opportunity for them to learn from an Emmy and Tony Award winner.

“It was huge to have a seasoned professional come in and say they are doing the same work as you,” said Shane O’Loughlin, senior theatre major in the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies. “As artists we’re always creating, questioning and doubting if our work is right or good enough.”

Photos courtesy of John Consoli.
Class is in session with John Lithgow and students from UMD’s Theatre 425: The Actor’s Process II.

 About the University of Maryland College of Arts and Humanities

The College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland is home to over 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students, 14 academic departments, five independent research centers, and over 322 tenured and tenure-track faculty. The arts and humanities at the university cover the cultures of the world, past and present, in all their rich variety. Through teaching and research that investigates human experience, thought, expression and creativity, the college aims to educate global citizens who assess received opinion, make independent judgments, and value the transforming power of the imagination. The college is leading the way in interdisciplinary approaches to the arts and humanities by developing emerging fields like digital humanities, and offering area study programs that draw on multiple fields to open exciting, multifaceted views of such regions of the world as Latin America, the Middle East and East Asia. 

10/8/13

By Jenny Hottle, The Diamondback

In the days following a massive donation of historical labor materials to the university archives, the collection is creating buzz not only on the campus, but also around the world.

Filling up six miles of shelving, the George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archive is the largest single donation to the university libraries ever, said Lauren Brown, manager of special collections. It is valued at $25 million and contains more than 40 million artifacts and documents ranging from campaign buttons and photographs to books and even a pair of old work boots.

The archive was curated and collected by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, an umbrella organization for 57 U.S. labor unions that represent more than 12 million workers. It joins several other university-housed collections of labor history, making this university among the largest union research sites on the East Coast, said Patricia Steele, dean of the university libraries.

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6/27/13

By Anne Midgette, Washington Post

So let’s talk Stravinsky. Heard anything about Stravinsky lately? The centennial of “The Rite of Spring” this year seems to me to have occasioned more tributesspin-offs, and homages than I can remember seeing since the last Mozart year (2006) and Bach year (2000). Forget Verdi, forget Wagner (both of whom are having bicentennials this year); we’ve seized on “Rite” as a watershed moment in the development of contemporary music, and it’s being feted as the gateway to modernity around the world. (I may have been reactionary in pointing out in the Washington Post some weeks ago that Diaghilev, who commissioned the piece, was in the business of creating commercial as well as artistic successes.)

The New York Philharmonic got its “Rite” stuff in at the start of this season. Tonight, it’s closing out the season with another look at Stravinsky ballets called “A Dancer’s Dream”: a multimedia puppet-choreography-video production of “The Fairy’s Kiss” and “Petrushka,” overseen by director Doug Fitch, known to Philharmonic audiences for “Le Grand Macabre” and “The Cunning Little Vixen” in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

What the website doesn’t tell you, though, is that this “Petrushka” originated at the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra in 2008, where Fitch was an artist in residence. (The Philharmonic does credit James Ross, UMD’s director of orchestral activities, as the “music consultant.”)

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5/14/13

By Kathy Park, WJLA

University of Maryland students took over public space in the Long Branch neighborhood and put a spotlight on an area that may soon get even more attention with the Purple Line.

baseline">Hands-on work takes on new meaning for Fox. She spent the semester along with other classmates using the Long Branch community as their canvas.

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baseline">“This piece is called Thirsty for Change,” says Kristen Fox, a graduate student at the University of Maryland. Her piece consists of 3,444 plastic bottles.

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baseline">“My favorite thing to do is watch the kids,” says Fox. “You’ll see as soon as they get off school they immediately run in and run around the tree here.”

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baseline">The two-week public art display aims to connect the neighborhood while showcasing what the area has to offer.

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baseline">“This temporary work is part of thinking about the longer term vision,” says Ronit Eisenbach, a professor at the University of Maryland.

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baseline">Part of the future plans includes the highly-anticipated and controversial Purple line, a light rail system proposed to go through Long Branch.

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3/22/13

By Michael O'Sullivan, The Washington Post 

There’s an ambivalence to a lot of the art in “Network of Mutuality: 50 Years Post-Birmingham.” If there’s a commonality among the civil-rights-themed works by 21 contemporary artists at the University of Maryland’s Art Gallery, it might be this sentiment: We’ve come far since the infamous 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., that killed four girls, but we still have a long way to go.

That friction between aspiration and reality creates, at times, heat.

Archie Boston’s posterlike digital print “We’ve Come Too Far” charts the evolution of terms used by whites to describe blacks, from “slave” to “colored” to “African American,” with other names in between (including a notoriously offensive one). The last item on the list, however, isn’t a word at all but an image commonly used on handbills announcing fugitive slaves.

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2/27/13

By Nelson Pressley, The Washington Post

An ambitious National Civil War Project will be unveiled Thursday at Arena Stage as major universities and flagship theaters in four cities team up to create new performances and campus programming.

The partnerships represent a “radical collaboration,” says Arena artistic director Molly Smith. Arena is working with George Washington University. The announcement is scheduled to include “artistic demonstrations” of the kinds of theater, dance, music and scholarship likely to emerge from this large-scale initiative...

Baltimore’s Centerstage and the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, a pod that has already initiated a notably big project. The Kronos Quartet has been commissioned for a piece composed by jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard; the performance will involve a 500-voice choir and spoken word by 2011 National Book Award winner Nikky Finney. The result, “At War With Ourselves,” will be performed at a historically significant site.

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1/22/13

By Julie Scharper, Baltimore Sun 

A rumpled pile of sheets. A Bloody Mary on an airline tray. Bags of mustard greens from a Korean grocery store. Gas station pumps, battered street signs, a steamed crab.

These are among the everyday images encountered by artist and University of Maryland, College Park professor Hasan Elahi. For the past decade — since he was detained by the FBI at an airport — Elahi has meticulously compiled tens of thousands of photos of each stop he makes in his day.

Rather than shy from government attention, Elahi embarked on a self-surveillance project. He maps his location on a website, along with photos of beds on which he has slept, lots where he has parked and meals he has eaten.

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Theatre Collaboration Combines Two Cultures, Two Languages in One Powerful Performance.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 24, 2012 – College Park, Md. -- The University of Maryland’s (UMD) School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) crosses continents, oceans and 12 time zones with a groundbreaking bi-lingual co-production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Created in collaboration with the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts (NACTA), the production will be presented at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center September 27 through September 30, 2012, under the direction of TDPS professor Mitchell Hébert and Yu Fanlin, Professor of Directing at NACTA. After its premiere run at the Center, it will travel to Beijing for a series of performances.

Two Worlds, One Vision
Two years in the making, the production features lush, brilliant costumes and dazzling sets that create a fantasy world where elements of Chinese and American performance styles, music and language come together. Each of the Chinese and American actors – Shakespeare’s lovers, fairies and trickster Puck – will speak in their own native language but will perform as if in the same tongue. Audiences will follow the dialogue through supertitles displayed on large plasma screen TVs at either side of the stage.

The Collaboration
Sets, costume designs, lighting and sound were created in partnership between the two schools. Using Skype, video drop boxes, emails and phone calls, the TDPS creative team shared their ideas, creative concepts and experiences with their distant partners. Cast members also held joint rehearsals using a new Cisco Telepresence system recently acquired by TDPS as part of a multi-year grant from the Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation.

Origin of A Unique Idea
This never-before-done production was initiated by noted costume designer and UMD Professor Helen Huang, who first shared the idea for a co-production while teaching a master class at the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts in Beijing.

Huang served as cultural ambassador between the two schools as the work unfolded, enabling all aspects to come together – from delicate creative interpretation in two languages to making actors comfortable with unknown foods. “We had to find our way in uncharted territory every day,” said Huang. “Each step required thoughtful consideration.”

Two Cultures, One Extraordinary Production
Cultural interchange infuses every element of the production. TDPS students helped prepare for their Midsummer experience by taking a semester-long class on Chinese culture taught by doctoral student Robert Thompson, who is also assistant director of the play. The class delved into Chinese history, social norms, politics, gender roles and money, among other topics, to prepare for culturally appropriate interaction with their Chinese counterparts.

TDPS explores the cross-cultural possibilities of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

By Beth Cavanaugh, Terp Magazine

How would Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” sound if performed in two countries by a cast speaking two languages? Like a unique cultural exchange, say organizers in the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies.

Two dozen Maryland faculty and students are collaborating with peers at the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts to put on the play, first on campus in September, then in Beijing. They’ve been working out the challenges of a production with double sets and locations, along with the language barrier and 7,000-mile distance between participants.

 “Splitting a production in two—it sounded impossible. We really had to sit down and figure out how you do it,” said theatre Professor Mitchell Hébert, who is co-directing the production with Yu Fan Lin in China.

Noted costume designer and Professor Helen Huang first shared the idea for a co-production while teaching a master class at the National Academy and quickly won the support of faculty there.

Emails, Skype meetings, translators and visits in both Beijing and College Park facilitated the process, and by February 2011, the group decided it could be done.

Maryland faculty and students will design and construct the costumes and set, and play the parts of the fairies and mechanicals. Their Chinese counterparts will build a duplicate set in Beijing and take on the roles of the court, lovers and supernatural characters. Shared responsibilities include directing and technical aspects, such as lighting.

All actors will perform in their native language. Audiences in both countries will read translations through supertitles.

Laree Lentz, a master of fine arts student who helped design the costumes, worked closely with the Beijing academy students to develop ideas that represented both cultures. “Through this process of two cultures coming together,” she says, “we realized that no matter how different we seemed to be, we are actually similar in so many ways."

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