Creativity Conversations put distinguished visiting thinkers and creators in conversation with great Emory scholars. Past topics range from the interplay between words and music, and intersections of history and creativity to experiences in microfinancing and feminist jurisprudence.
In this new YouTube video, see Will Ransom (Mary Emerson Professor of Piano, Director of Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta, Director of Piano Studies) and Tim McDonough (Chair & Professor of Theater Studies, Resident Actor/Director of Theater Emory) bring Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem Enoch Arden to life in this production at Emory’s Schwartz Center (January 17, 2015).
In the poem, Enoch Arden is a happily married fisherman who suffers financial problems and becomes a merchant seaman. He is shipwrecked, and, after 10 years on a desert island, he returns home to discover that his beloved wife, believing him dead, has remarried and has a new child. Not wishing to spoil his wife’s happiness, he never lets her know that he is alive.
Music by Richard Strauss
Poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Tim McDonough, Narrator
William Ransom, Pianist
Presented by the Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta and Theater Emory.
During his visit to Emory in fall 2012, Stephen Unwin, artistic director at the Rose Theatre Kingston, led a memorable Shakespearean acting workshop at The New American Shakespeare Tavern in Midtown (Nov. 14, 2012). In this series of videos, he discusses his approach to connecting with the inner reality of Shakespeare’s works, considers Shakespeare’s brilliant minor roles, and directs a scene from Romeo and Juliet Act 3 Scene III.
During his 30 years of directing, Unwin has worked with a range of distinguished actors, including Alan Cumming, Tilda Swinton and Timothy West. He also has taught workshops at the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Court, the Traverse Theatre and several schools in the U.K. and the United States. A prolific author, his books include The Faber Pocket Guide to Shakespeare’s Plays, A Guide to the Plays of Bertolt Brecht, The Well Read Play and So You Want to Be a Theatre Director? He has been artistic director of the Rose Theatre since 2008
The workshop was sponsored by Emory’s World Shakespeare Project (WSP) and the Halle Institute for Global Learning. The WSP represents a new, interactive teaching and research model that links international faculty and students, creating educational dialogues on Shakespeare, performance, and cultural studies.
Jan Akers, senior lecturer and artistic director for Theater Emory, is featured in this article (“Theater Emory artistic director a quadruple threat”, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 28) by Bert Osborne.
Be they actor-singer-dancers or writer-director-producers, so-called “triple threats” are nothing new in show business.
Janice Akers takes it one step further as a quadruple threat: actor, director, educator and — with her appointment last fall as the new artistic director for Theater Emory — administrator.
Her growing list of duties has made finding time to act more difficult, but she is getting back to her first love this spring in Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard,” running April 4-14 at Theater Emory.
Akers portrays Madame Ranevskaya, the deeply conflicted matriarch of an aristocratic Russian family on the brink of financial ruin. Like all Theater Emory shows, many of the younger roles are played by students, who will mix with professional actors: James Donadio, Mark Cabus, Clint Thornton and Donald McManus as Chekhov, who becomes a character in this production.
Consumed by guilt and grief involving the drowning death of her young son years earlier, Ranevskaya returns from a self-imposed exile in Paris to confront her demons.
“She’s an incredibly complicated woman, caught between two worlds, tied between Russia and France, navigating between the past and the future,” Akers said.
“Many things about her really resonate with me. She’s at an incredible juncture in her life where her choices are very difficult. Not everyone is going to approve of them. Sometimes, we all reach a point in our lives when we may be fragile but need to act boldly and take a risk.”
As Akers’ three-year term as Theater Emory artistic director develops, one thing is certain: Risks will be taken.
“We’re in a privileged position here to be able to focus on new work and innovative approaches to the classics,” noted her husband, Tim McDonough, also a teacher, actor and director at Emory. McDonough is a former artistic director for the company.
“Chekhov wrote this last play when he knew he was dying and there’s a real haunted quality about it,” McDonough said. “It’s preoccupied with time and death, with the letting go of a way of life and of life itself. There are many ghosts haunting the people in this play.”
Chekhov did not write himself into the play, but “in our production, Chekhov himself is one of them,” he said.
“Other (commercially driven) companies don’t always have the freedom to experiment in the same way, so it almost feels like our responsibility in contributing to the Atlanta theater community at large,” McDonough said.
A native of California, where she was one of the founding members of the still-thriving Sacramento Theatre Company, Akers and McDonough relocated to Atlanta in 1990 when he was offered a teaching position at Emory.
For the first several years, Akers was primarily regarded in Atlanta as an actress. Her local career included eight seasons performing the classics with Georgia Shakespeare and culminated in 7 Stages’ widely acclaimed “Black Battles With Dog,” which toured the world for some seven years, off and on.
But the scheduling demands of that show and Akers taking a full-time position with Emory’s theater in 2003 meant her stage appearances grew less frequent.
“I’ve certainly had my fair share of work around town over the years, but teaching simply prevents you from having the time to really get out there and audition for things as an actor,” Akers said.
While she has taken occasional acting roles at Theater Emory, such as 2009’s “Peer Gynt,” most of Akers’ work with the group has been off the stage, directing such productions as “Buried Child” and “The Night of the Iguana,” both of which featured McDonough in the cast.
“It’s a delicate balance,” she said. “My primary commitment is to Emory’s theater program and my primary focus is on educating our students.”
At the same time, auditioning and working is a valuable part of research as a teacher, in a sense practicing what she and her husband preach, she said.
Akers’ return to the stage will give her a chance to, like her character, “act boldly and take a risk.”
Check out a YouTube video celebrating 10 years of excitement and creativity in the Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. On February 1, 2003, the Schwartz Center opened its doors, and since then it has raised the visibility of the arts in the community and continues to spark the imagination and vision of both artists and audiences alike.
See the Emory Wheel article (01.23.12) on Emory College seniors who are planning to work in art after graduation. The article profiles Gillian Kramer (Theater), Kala Seidenberg (Dance), Matt Gaynes (Film), and Charlotte Watts (Visual Arts).
With graduation fast approaching, Emory seniors are faced with a question: What’s next? This question is a particularly difficult one for students whose passions lie in the arts. Artists cannot spring forth into the world expecting to find a desk job awaiting them — they must work hard to get their names out there, network with others in their field and find a niche. So what, exactly, do the graduating artists of Emory have planned?
Leslie Taylor, Professor and Chair of the Department of Theater Studies and Dance, has won a 2011 Suzi Bass award for best scenic design (play) for the Alliance Theater’s August: Osage County. She was also nominated for best costume design, Georgia Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
The Suzi Bass awards, Atlanta’s version of the Tonys, were founded in 2003 by Gene-Gabriel Moore and a small group of industry professionals to celebrate outstanding work in live theatre and the artists who produce it. Twenty-one professional theatres in Atlanta participate in the awards process. Each theatre season, volunteer judges choose nominees and recipients in 25 performance categories.
Leslie Taylor talks about designing the costume for Emory Dance faculty member Anna Leo’s piece “Warrior Woman'” (September 6, 2011, Dance Studio, Schwartz Center for Performing Arts).
In these YouTube videos from the 2011 Arts Soiree, Emory College students and Dean Robin Forman talk about the power of creativity in their lives.
The Soiree brought out hundreds of students and faculty to exchange ideas, sample art programs and opportunities at Emory — as well as make music, art and dance in front of the Schwartz Center.
Want to feel even more creative? Check out the Emory Creativity & Arts blog.
In this new YouTube video, Nicholas Surbey ’10C talks about Emory’s relatively new playwriting major (he was actually the first to graduate with the major) that brings together the disciplines of Theater Studies and Creative Writing to educate playwrights both as writers and as theater professionals. For more information, see http://www.theater.emory.edu/Theater-Studies/playwriting-major.php
Here are a couple of highlights from Garrett Turner’s “I Dream A World: The Life and Work of Langston Hughes,” which the College senior (Music & Creative Writing Double Major) wrote and produced (Feb. 11-12, 2011, Emory’s Harland Cinema). (See full production)
“Harlem Sweeties” by Langston Hughes
“The Weary Blues” by Langston Hughes
An AHANA Theater Collaboration—This project was sponsored in part by a grant from the Emory College Center for Creativity & Arts, The SIRE Undergraduate Research Program, an SGA Cool Project Grant, The Office of Multicultural Programs and Services, and The Ethics and the Arts Society.