In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Matt Hawkins wanted to teach his students the value of resilience — and the power of performance art. At a time when nearly all live theatre has been suspended for more than a year, Hawkins found a way to safely bring back the musical his students had spent months planning for and rehearsing during spring 2020. Last month, he directed a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar at Notre Dame Stadium, featuring most of the original cast.
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A new installation by Sacred Music at Notre Dame’s Concordia choir is currently set up in the O’Shaughnessy Great Hall and accessible through May 20. Featuring 16 speakers arranged in a surround-sound pattern, each playing the voice of one singer, listeners are able to stand in the center of the room and feel as if they are on stage, or walk around the room to hear each voice in isolation. Each song represents a unique perspective from which to view the pandemic — with enough variety that a listener could find their own meaning in the pieces.
The Department of Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) will produce † on the field of Notre Dame Stadium at 8 p.m. Friday, April 9. Tickets are free and available only to students, faculty and staff with a Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s or Holy Cross ID. FTT had planned to put on the production last April, but the pandemic prevented that from happening.
Joyelle McSweeney, a Notre Dame professor of English and Creative Writing Program faculty member, has been named a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award, a prominent prize honoring work by a mid-career poet. The honor comes in recognition of McSweeney’s double poetry collection Toxicon and Arachne (Nightboat Books, 2020) — the first part written in the years leading up to the birth of her third daughter, Arachne; and the second part written in the spring following Arachne’s brief life and death.
The Notre Dame London Global Gateway, along with partners from the United Kingdom and the University of Notre Dame campus, is launching a year-long exploration of Shakespeare. Professor Peter Holland will kick off this ThinkND series offering the 10th annual Notre Dame London Shakespeare Lecture in honor of Professor Sir Stanley Wells at 1 p.m. EDT April 7 on Zoom. Holland, the McMeel Family Chair in Shakespeare Studies and associate dean for the arts, will present “On the Shakespeare Trail,” exploring an often overlooked area of Shakespeare marketing — the film and theater trailer. Holland will explore how trailers conceptualize and lure audiences into watching on-screen and live versions of Shakespeare's plays.
The musical production My Heart Says Go has come a long way since Jorge “Jay” Rivera-Herrans ’20 began writing it in his dorm room at the University of Notre Dame. Rivera-Herrans had recently switched majors – from pre-med to film, television, and theatre (FTT) – and that became his inspiration for the production. But going from concept to a fully developed musical has been a winding journey.
When Veronica Mansour landed her first role in musical theater as Marcie in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown at age 8, she never imagined she would one day write a musical of her own. She still has trouble believing it now. A senior English and music major with a minor in musical theatre, Mansour spent last semester workshopping her original musical, An Old Family Recipe, which will be filmed over the course of a few weeks and released to the public in a live-streamed opening night this spring.
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi is an associate professor in the Department of English, director of the Creative Writing Program, and the author of the novel Call Me Zebra, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. In this interview, she discusses how her writing examines how patterns of migration have shaped literature, how history imprints itself on physical landscapes, and her new novel, Savage Tongues, which looks at questions of nationhood, identity, memory.
“Music just really speaks to me. I feel like I'm at my happiest when I'm making music or thinking about music,” said Kola Owolabi, professor of organ at the University of Notre Dame. Owolabi is interested in a broad range of musical repertoire and enjoys finding works by less well-known composers. Recent recording projects include pieces by 20th-century African-English composer Samuel Coleridge Taylor, as well as a composition by 17th-century French composer Georg Muffat.
Sophomore Mariko Jurcsak remembers the moment she became hooked on ancient history. She was in her high school Latin class, reading a poem by the Roman poet Catallus about the death of his brother, when her teacher shared that he had connected with the poem after his own brother had passed away. Connecting with history on the basis of shared humanity gave Jurcsak a new perspective on the subject — and inspired her to major in Greek and Roman civilization in the Department of Classics.
Joy Harjo, the 23rd poet laureate of the United States and the first Native American to hold the position, will speak at Notre Dame on Monday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. The online event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. An Evening with Joy Harjo is presented by Multicultural Student Programs and Services, the new Notre Dame Initiative on Race and Resilience, and the Native American Student Association of Notre Dame.
The University of Notre Dame has received a five-year, $2.4 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative to implement Inspiring Wonder: An Initiative on Religion, Spirituality, and Faith in the Visual Arts. Designed to invite diverse audiences into meaningful conversation, Inspiring Wonder will significantly advance the Snite Museum’s efforts to deepen its constituencies’ understanding of religion, spirituality and faith in a deliberate and mission-driven way.
Neeta Verma’s teaching and research examines a range of social inequities facing the local community — including homelessness, poverty, and the digital divide. But the issue she finds most pressing is youth violence — and she believes that art and design can play a key role in breaking its vicious cycle. With a grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, she is launching a two-year project that will use community-designed public art installations and youth programming to address this systemic problem.
La Donna Forsgren, an associate professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre, has won the American Society for Theatre Research's Oscar G. Brockett Essay Prize. The award, given annually to the best essay of theatre research in a scholarly English-language publication, honored Forsgren’s “The Wiz Redux; or Why Queer Black Feminist Spectatorship and Politically Engaged Popular Entertainment Continue to Matter,” which appeared in Theatre Survey. She was also appointed this month as associate editor of Theatre Survey, which will lead to her becoming editor of the journal in two years.
While early modern artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi has been principally known for his drawings and etchings of ancient Rome, new research from Heather Hyde Minor, a Notre Dame professor of art history, reinterprets Piranesi’s artistic oeuvre by flipping the works over and reading what is written on the backs. Minor’s Piranesi Unbound, examines nearly 200 of Piranesi’s engravings and drawings. The research, recuperative in method, serves as a biography of Piranesi’s books, bringing text and image together to reveal a learned mind alive with biting wit and unflinching big-picture questions.
La Donna L. Forsgren is an associate professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre; concurrent faculty in the Gender Studies Program; and affiliated faculty in the Department of Africana Studies. Her latest book, Sistuhs in the Struggle: An Oral History of Black Arts Movement Theater and Performance, is the first oral history to fully explore the contributions of Black women intellectuals to the Black Arts Movement.
A digital image of a famous piece of art doesn’t tend to stir the soul in the same way as looking at it while standing in the same room. The context matters. Notre Dame theology and psychology faculty will extrapolate on that idea thanks to a $230,000 grant from the Templeton Religion Trust for an 18-month research project exploring the ways in which viewing art informs and enhances spiritual growth and how that changes based on time and place. The researchers will focus on two sets of religious art on the Notre Dame campus — The Stations of the Cross by Luigi Gregori in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and The Life of Christ/Cycle of Life by Philip Rickey in the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park.
As with so much of life during the coronavirus pandemic, Notre Dame Stadium is operating under "business as unusual" — with choir rehearsals taking place in the Leahy Gate, near the south endzone. “Before now, the gate had been just a passageway and the only way to get from the first floor of O’Neill to other buildings,” said Mark Doerries, director of graduate studies and head of the graduate choral conducting program for Sacred Music at Notre Dame. “But now it holds rehearsals, classes and study space — a living incubator of music and teaching.”
At Kylemore Abbey in western Ireland, the presence of pure beauty overwhelms. A mere picture will not suffice; you must draw or write or paint. That’s the idea behind two summer programs that Notre Dame runs at the abbey in the Connemara mountains. The debut of a month-long graduate art residency last summer adds another option on top of a three-credit creative writing seminar that began in 2016. The 19 students spent the first week at the Dublin Global Gateway soaking in the city arts and lit scene, then spent the remainder at Kylemore Abbey, a 19th-century castle where Notre Dame has renovated a section for hosting guests.
La Donna Forsgren writes because she has something to say — and because the people she writes about had something to say, too. An assistant professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre, Forsgren’s research shines a light on the essential role African American women have played in theatre history. She has written two books on female dramatists in the Black Arts Movement and is now working on a third focusing on women in contemporary black musical theatre.
Acclaimed organist Kola Owolabi will join the faculty of the Department of Music and Sacred Music at Notre Dame this fall as professor of music and head of the Graduate Organ Studio. Owolabi — whose expertise includes a broad range of organ repertoire, composition, choral conducting, church music, and improvisation — will replace Craig Cramer, who is retiring at the end of the academic year.
Pamela Wojcik, a professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre, has been awarded a 2020 fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in support of her book project, Unhomed: Mobility and Placelessness in American Cinema. Wojcik is among 175 scholars, artists, and scientists to be awarded fellowships this year from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants. Faculty in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters have won 18 Guggenheim fellowships in the last 20 years.
By the time Conor Hanney ’14 sat down to start his senior thesis for his film, television, and theatre major, he knew exactly what he wanted to do for a living — write for live-action TV targeting the kids and family demographic. And within 16 months of graduation, that’s exactly what he started doing. Hanney, a writer, lyricist, and composer for Netflix, works on various family programming, including the live-action comedy series The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia, The Healing Powers of Dude, and Prince of Peoria. He is currently working on the upcoming Kenny Ortega musical series Julie and The Phantoms.
Paul A. Rathburn, a professor emeritus in the Department of English at the University of Notre Dame and founder of the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival (NDSF), died Wednesday (Feb. 12). He was 85. Rathburn, who joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1965, retired from teaching in 2000. He founded NDSF the same year and served as producing artistic director for its first five years.
Tim Morton joined the College of Arts and Letters faculty last spring as director of the collaborative innovation minor and associate professor of the practice in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design. The minor, which centers on the principles of design thinking as an approach to solving real-world problems, draws students with a wide variety of majors from across the University — with more than 65 students taking the introductory Design Matters course last semester alone.
Nicole Woods, assistant professor of art history at the University of Notre Dame, has been named a 2019 recipient of an Arts Writers Grant. This award is among the highest honors an art historian or critic can receive, and Woods is one of 19 recipients from a candidate pool of more than 800. Woods is an expert in Euro-American neo-avant-gardes, performance and conceptual art, intersectional feminism and taste cultures. Her current research includes a consideration of the widespread use of food as an object of consumption and a form of political critique in the work of several late-20th-century artists.
Mike Schur — creator of The Good Place and Parks and Recreation and a writer and producer on The Office — came to Notre Dame last week to talk to students in the 1-credit The Good Class, which focuses on the philosophy and production of his current NBC show, as well as multiple sections of the God and the Good Life introductory philosophy course.
What is the music major like at Notre Dame? “Music is not only something that is appealing to the ear. There is a very theoretical and systematic aspect,” said music major Kelvin Wu. Music majors pursue their passions while developing skills such as collaboration, musicianship, communication, and critical thinking.
The Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival will host “Shakespeare Around the Bend,” an extension of “Shakespeare at Fremont Park,” from July 31 to Aug. 24.