Clear

Winnipeg, MB

-12°c Clear

Full Forecast

The Arts

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Universities, theatres in 4 cities to join in creating new theatrical productions on Civil War

Posted: 02/28/2013 6:05 AM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 02/28/2013 10:58 AM

Advertisement

  • Print

WASHINGTON - Four major universities are joining theatre companies in Boston, Baltimore, Washington and Atlanta in a project to commission new plays, music and dance compositions about the Civil War and its lasting legacy 150 years later.

The National Civil War Project is being announced Thursday in Washington and will involve programming over the next two years to mark the 150th anniversary of the war between the North and the South. Beyond commissioning new works, organizers plan for university faculty to integrate the arts into their academic programs on campus.

Under the program, Harvard University will partner with the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass.; the University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center will join CENTERSTAGE in Baltimore; George Washington University is working with Arena Stage in Washington, and Atlanta's Alliance Theatre will join Emory University.

Each collaboration will evoke unique perspectives on the Civil War in each region.

At Harvard, a new piece called "The Boston Abolitionists" about the abolitionist movement and the trial of a fugitive slave will be performed in May. Separately, Matthew Aucoin, an assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera, is using Walt Whitman's poetry about being a medic to develop a new opera.

In Atlanta, Alliance Theatre and Emory will develop a new theatrical production of U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey's Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Native Guard," with a workshop planned for 2014. It recounts the story of a black Civil War regiment assigned to guard white Confederate soldiers on Ship Island off Mississippi's Gulf Coast.

Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith, who helped guide the project, said this is a chance to reevaluate the Civil War and consider the issues that still resonate in American life.

"This is an anniversary of what is arguably one of the most important times in American history," she said. "And the same questions behind state rights and civil rights continue to infuse who we are as a country."

In September, the University of Maryland will host a national conference on civil rights and health disparities among minority populations to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

Choreographer Liz Lerman, a 2002 MacArthur Foundation "genius" fellow, helped in developing the partnerships between theatres and universities during a semester spent at Harvard. She said artists can help professors animate their scholarship as more traditional lectures move online, and the Civil War is a good subject to connect art and academics.

"It's something about the fact that we're still trying to understand it," Lerman said. "There are enough civil wars still going on in the world, I myself am trying to understand what it must be like."

Lerman is developing a new dance theatre piece in Washington called "Healing Wars" to explore the role of women and innovations in healing for amputees from the Civil War through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Characters will migrate between past and present. The piece will feature actor Bill Pullman and eight dancers.

Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust, a Civil War historian, has been leading the university to integrate the arts with academic pursuits, through theatre, exhibits or other art forms.

"Engaging students through art and art-making is one of the ways in which universities prepare young women and men for life in a world that is far better connected and far more complex than at any other point in human history," she wrote in an email about the Civil War project.

At this anniversary of the war, she said it's important to remember how the values of freedom and equality were defined in President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg address as the war's purpose.

George Washington University President Steven Knapp said the Civil War transformed American history, culture and industry — even the concept of American democracy by redefining equality. Tackling such a subject between academia and theatre could provide a new model for learning, he said.

"It's an experiment," Knapp said, "to see how far we can go in bringing together the strengths of the university and the strengths of the theatre company."

___

Follow Brett Zongker at https://twitter.com/DCArtBeat

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.