Playshop Theatre Presents ‘Baby With the Bathwater’

Allegheny’s Playshop Theatre presents “Baby With the Bathwater,” Tony award-winning author Christopher Durang’s outrageous take on the ultimate in bad parenting, April 20-23 in the Gladys Mullenix Black Theatre in the Vukovich Center for Communication Arts.

In this absurdist satire, Helen and John are completely unprepared for their first child and cannot even decide if it’s a boy or a girl – their doctor tells them they can choose later.  In his review in The New York Times, Frank Rich wrote, “A playwright who shares Swift’s bleak view of humanity, Durang conquers bitterness and finds a way to turn rage into comedy that is redemptive as well as funny. Directed by Dan Crozier.

Performances are at 8 p.m. April 20-22 and at 2 p.m. on April 23. For more information, visit http://sites.allegheny.edu/playshop/87th-season-2016-17/

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny Students Develop Ad Campaign, Film Commercial

Clay Dawson stood under a giant American flag hanging from the plant’s rafters and studied his lines.

A few steps away, Allegheny College senior Shu Yi Tang flipped through sheets of paper that laid out the entire video shoot in detail: what scenes would be filmed and when, where and how they would be shot, and the people involved in each.

Lily Loreno, a senior at Allegheny, framed the opening scene with her hands, her fingers forming a square in front of her face. Sophomore Margaret West wheeled the camera into place.

“Every single second (of the video) has to be exactly perfect,” West, a 20-year-old communication arts major, said later.

The Allegheny trio had an important client to impress: Acutec Precision Aerospace Inc., a Meadville-based company that makes parts of the braking system used on Southwest Airlines jets, among other products, had tapped the group to create a commercial that would re-introduce the company to the community after a rebranding and, ultimately, encourage more prospective employees to walk through Acutec’s doors. Dawson, project manager for new product integration, would be one of the stars.

Acutec President and CEO Elisabeth Smith had worked with Allegheny students before and felt confident West, Loreno and Tang would bring the breadth of a liberal arts education to bear on the project.

“Who we look for (to work with) are people who think,” Smith said. “Allegheny students know how to think.”

The Acutec project is just one part of a larger multidisciplinary effort, still in the pilot stage, to create a student-run media agency at Allegheny that would connect students with local businesses and nonprofit organizations that need media, marketing and advertising services.

Vice President of College Relations Susan Salton proposed the idea of a student-run media agency when she came to Allegheny in 2015. Intrigued, Assistant Professor of Communication Arts/Theatre Julie Wilson started talking about the possibility with other faculty partners in and across departments.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity to showcase the creative talents of our students and serve the community in a real, tangible way at the same time,” Salton said. “Our students gain experience working with clients in professional settings, applying what they’ve learned in the classroom to the benefit of our region.”

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Allegheny @ Acutec

The Acutec project started as a college-wide competition among groups of students interested in vying for the company’s business. Interdisciplinary groups of three students each pitched a storyboard and tagline. Tang, West and Loreno’s winning tagline? “It all starts here,” a nod to the region’s manufacturing roots and Acutec’s essential role in the supply chain creating individual parts that, pieced together, make the whole.

Once selected, the students were mentored to handle all the pre-planning and contract logistics. They hired a makeup artist and another person to help with some technical aspects of the shoot, scouted the Acutec’s Meadville and Saegertown plants, and shot the video over the course of several days

Tang relished the opportunity to put what she’d learned in her advertising and video production classes into practice.

“You get to have a real-life experience and talk to a client and get to know people. Why not take part?” she said. “It’s a very valuable experience, something I can talk about.”

They all felt pressure to deliver a quality product. The heightened expectations that came with working for a client gave the group “an opportunity to rise to the occasion,” West said.

“When you’re (working for) someone else, when you’re taking their time and their money, you want it to be that much better,” Loreno said of the video.

After a late-night scramble to the finish, the commercial debuted at a companywide breakfast on Feb. 8.

It was a success, Smith said.

“People really enjoyed it,” she said. “In terms of working with students, (the experience) was excellent. They were very professional.”

Associate Professor of Communication Arts/Theatre Ishita Sinha Roy ran the Acutec storyboard competition and worked with the students, along with Assistant Professor of Art Byron Rich.

The Acutec project and the larger media agency effort are “a great way to respond to the critics that say that the liberal arts are impractical,” Rich said. “The ideas and critical thinking skills that we foster here can be put into practice in the business world.”

Working on the commercial “empowered students to bring their ideas to life” and allowed them to take ownership of a project from start to finish, Sinha Roy said. The commercial and other projects that will fall under the media agency umbrella also help foster and strengthen ties between the college and community — and that’s a good thing for all involved, Sinha Roy said.

When students work for and within the community and learn the stories of its people, “suddenly your neighborhood starts to become friendlier and more well-known in your mind,” she said.

The Acutec video is not the only project of the nascent media agency, though it might be the most visible. A group of communication arts students working under the direction of Professor of Communication Arts/Theatre Michael Keeley have also filmed videos for the Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation & Education Center. And students working with Wilson and Assistant Professor of Computer Science Janyl Jumadinova developed a website and pitched a logo for an online food hub that, when launched, will connect restaurants and food wholesalers with local farmers.

Wilson stressed that the agency is still in very early stages of development. But if it’s successful, she said, it could be a model for business incubation that leverages the resources of the college to help promote economic development.

Wilson said she doesn’t know of many other colleges or universities similar to Allegheny doing that important work.

“If we get this up and running soon, we’ll be pretty cutting edge.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Playshop Theatre Presents ‘Luna Gale’

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The Allegheny College Playshop Theatre will present “Luna Gale” from February 23-26 in the Gladys Mullenix Black Theatre in the Vukovich Center for Communication Arts.

“Luna Gale,” written by Rebecca Gilman and directed by Mark Cosdon, centers on a social worker who is confronted with an unforgiving dilemma — what to do with a child born to drug-addicted teens. Family secrets, moral ambiguities, faith, biases, and the beleaguered welfare system collide in this contemporary drama.  A play that The New York Times called “smart and absorbing,”  “Luna Gale” is sure to provoke questions of how we care for the most vulnerable and at-risk.

Performances are at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23-25, and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26.

The cast features theatre majors Mary Lyon ’17 as Caroline, the social worker; Ada Zech ’19 as Karlie, the mother, and Simon Brown ’19 as Peter, the father, as well as Alyssa Johnson ’20, Daniel Keitel ’17, Sam Richardson ’20, and Eddie Glass ’18.  The production is stage managed by Johanna Stanley ’18.  Michael Mehler is the scenic designer, Miriam Patterson designed the costumes, and William Kenyon designed the lights.

“Luna Gale” includes strong language and subject matter that some might find upsetting.  The play is recommended for mature audiences only.

Tickets for all productions are $10 for adults and $8 for non-Allegheny students, senior citizens and Allegheny employees. Admission is free for Allegheny students with identification, but they are asked to make reservations.

For more information or to order tickets, contact the Playshop Theatre box office at (814) 332-3414.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny College’s Playshop Theatre to Present ‘Luna Gale’

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The Allegheny College Playshop Theatre will present “Luna Gale” from February 23-26 in the Gladys Mullenix Black Theatre in the Vukovich Center for Communication Arts.

“Luna Gale,” written by Rebecca Gilman and directed by Mark Cosdon, centers on a social worker who is confronted with an unforgiving dilemma — what to do with a child born to drug-addicted teens. Family secrets, moral ambiguities, faith, biases, and the beleaguered welfare system collide in this contemporary drama.  A play that The New York Times called “smart and absorbing,”  “Luna Gale” is sure to provoke questions of how we care for the most vulnerable and at-risk.

“Rebecca Gilman is a very contemporary playwright,” said Cosdon, associate professor of communication arts and theatre. “Her most well known plays are dramas without clear antagonists and storylines that don’t have easier answers. ‘Luna Gale’ follows this pattern. What Gilman consistently returns to are situations that never resolve themselves easily … and there’s never an easy solution when it comes to the welfare of a child.”

The play “asks us to consider our biases, and it also, I think, encourages us to think about where and how each of us takes responsibility for ultimately the most fragile of beings in society,” Cosdon said.

Performances are at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23-25, and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26.

The cast features theatre majors Mary Lyon ’17 as Caroline, the social worker; Ada Zech ’19 as Karlie, the mother, and Simon Brown ’19 as Peter, the father, as well as Alyssa Johnson ’20, Daniel Keitel ’17, Sam Richardson ’20, and Eddie Glass ’18.  The production is stage managed by Johanna Stanley ’18.  Michael Mehler is the scenic designer, Miriam Patterson designed the costumes, and William Kenyon designed the lights.

“Luna Gale” includes strong language and subject matter that some might find upsetting.  The play is recommended for mature audiences only.

Tickets for all productions are $10 for adults and $8 for non-Allegheny students, senior citizens and Allegheny employees. Admission is free for Allegheny students with identification, but they are asked to make reservations.

For more information or to order tickets, contact the Playshop Theatre box office at (814) 332-3414.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Valerie Sweeney Prince – WATERBEARER – February 9, 2017

In celebration of Black History Month, the Black Studies program and the Theatre department will present a dramatic reading of an excerpt from Waterbearer, a piece of historical fiction that examines what it means for African American women to do laundry.

A lecture by Valerie Prince, author of Waterbearer and associate professor of English and Black Studies at Allegheny, will precede the performance.  The students in the dramatic reading include Itzel Ayala, Luka Crozier, Robyn Katona and Nia Shuler.  Beth Watkins, professor of Communication Arts/Theatre, directs.

The lecture/performance will be at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 9 in the Arter Little Theatre at Allegheny College. The event is free and open to the public.

Allegheny Professors Study the Story of Zika, Effects on Behavior

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What are people reading and hearing about the Zika virus?

How are their behaviors changing as a result?

Those are the questions three Allegheny College professors are asking as part of an interdisciplinary effort here to better understand the global consequences of Zika, a virus at the center of an international public health emergency.

The answers could have profound social and economic ripple effects and change the way society talks about sexually transmitted infections, including Zika, a mosquito-borne virus that can also be spread through sex.

Vesta Silva’s work began this summer.

Silva, an associate professor of communication arts, and student Rachael Robertson ’17 analyzed an archive of American media coverage of Zika, looking for common themes. The stories, they found, focused on personal, not governmental or public, responsibility: Wear long sleeves. Use bug spray. When sexual transmission was part of the message, the message was limited to “Don’t get pregnant,” said Silva, who also teaches in the interdisciplinary Global Health Studies program.

Government officials weren’t talking about what federal, state and local agencies could do beyond insecticide spraying (visual, but not very effective, Silva said) or long-term research and vaccine development. Nor were they discussing direct actions communities could take now with the help of the government or nonprofit agencies, like installing window screens and air conditioning and cleaning up neighborhoods, Silva said.

“It’s not that there’s no role for the individual, but when you’re simply telling the story of individual responsibility and the government is responsible for vaccines only, we lose all sorts of possibilities for slowing the spread of Zika,” she said.

And just as important, what people read, hear and understand about the virus could influence their decisions and behavior.

As Silva was scouring newspapers and websites, Becky Dawson ’00 and Amelia Darrouzet-Nardi, both Allegheny assistant professors of global health studies, were surveying more than 2,000 women of childbearing age who live in states bordering Mexico or in states along the Gulf Coast, the areas in the U.S. most vulnerable to Zika infection.

A short questionnaire asked women about their behaviors and their future plans, whether they were sexually active and whether they planned to have children, among other questions. It also asked what form of birth control they used, if any, and which forms of birth control should be encouraged and used in light of Zika.

Dawson and Darrouzet-Nardi have just started to analyze the results, but answers suggest misconceptions about the virus and how it is spread.

“Our initial findings suggest that among the women who have heard about Zika, fewer than 15 percent are changing their sexual behaviors as a result of the outbreak,” Dawson said. “The number of women who are unaware that Zika can be spread between monogamous partners is staggering. We are also seeing that the majority of women believe that they know how to prevent spread of the disease by avoiding mosquito bites. The level of concern for the disease is lower than we anticipated.”

That could be because public health campaigns have largely focused on mosquito bite prevention. There has been relatively much less education around sexual transmission, and that’s especially problematic when it comes to Zika, Dawson and Darrouzet-Nardi said.

Infection during pregnancy can cause birth defects, including microcephaly, which could have major economic effects on a family.

“Having it happen to you would be so life-changing,” Darrouzet-Nardi said.

It’s also important to talk about sexual transmission because people typically think of sexually transmitted infections as something they’re vulnerable to only if they or their partners are not monogamous, Darrouzet-Nardi said. That’s not the case with Zika. A woman or a man in a monogamous relationship who has been infected through a mosquito bite could pass the virus on to his or her partner.

“Monogamy isn’t protection,” she said.

That’s a game-changer, potentially upending how everyone ought to be talking about sexually transmitted infections and safe sexual practices in the future, Dawson said.

“Now we can pass an infection with enormous consequences between monogamous partners,” she said. “It’s going to revolutionize the way we talk about sex.”

If women do start making family planning decisions based on Zika, the effects on demographics and the economy could be long term and far reaching, Darrouzet-Nardi said.

“Whether and how women attempt to plan pregnancies around various risks is still an empirical question, and the answer is essential for improving global maternal health, birth outcomes, and women’s empowerment. Regular monitoring of family planning decisions and outcomes is essential for understanding the patterns that emerge with respect to infectious diseases or other health threats,” she said.

An interdisciplinary approach to Zika is crucial, Silva said.

“Zika is not a problem that can only be addressed by science, social science or humanities alone,” Silva said. “If we don’t bring all of those perspectives to bear, we’re missing key elements of controlling this outbreak or future outbreaks.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Food Hub, Mobile Market Bring Fresh Food to Community

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The burgeoning farm-to-table movement is getting some help from some tech-savvy students at Allegheny College.

Working under the direction of Assistant Professor of Computer Science Janyl Jumadinova, two students — junior Maria Kim and sophomore Jesse Del Greco — are developing an “online food hub,” a website aimed at connecting the community with the region’s farmers. It’s one of the many ways Allegheny faculty and staff are working to educate the public about the availability and benefits of fresh, locally grown food.

Once launched, the still-unnamed site will allow users to search for sellers of specific produce within a selected geographic range. Buyers — limited to restaurants and other bulk purchasers, initially — will be able to place orders online and arrange for pickup or delivery, Jumadinova said. If successful, the hub could expand and offer online buying to the general public.

Every visitor will be able to search for local gardens and pick-your-own farms and learn about events and activities related to local foods and farming.

“The whole goal is to increase access to and availability of fresh, local food,” Jumadinova said.

The site’s searchable database includes nearly 30 participating farms, gardens and farm-to-table restaurants in Crawford County or Edinboro — and that’s just the start.

“Eventually we want to expand to markets as far away as Cleveland, for instance. That’s a big city and that’s a good market for (local) farmers,” Jumadinova said.  

As Jumadinova’s computer science students put the finishing touches on the site, communication arts students Madeleine Zimmermann and Madeline Becker are working to design a logo and branding with the help of the Assistant Professor of Communication Arts Julie Wilson. The site could launch as early as spring 2017. When complete, it will be an online space benefiting both farmers and consumers, Del Greco said.

“Farmers will be able to list the produce they have grown, and businesses will instantly be able to connect with the farmers and purchase the produce as needed,” Del Greco said.

The hub builds on many other ongoing efforts Kerstin Martin, director of Allegheny’s Community Wellness Initiative, is leading to increase access to, and availability of, locally grown food.

In 2015, the CWI built a community garden at the Meadville Area Recreation Complex featuring 30 raised beds that residents can rent each season on a sliding scale. Students from Meadville Area Middle School use the garden as part of their curriculum, planting crops and cooking with produce they’ve grown.

“I really see this as being integral to getting people excited about local food, getting kids to think about the implications of local food both for their health and the health of the environment. They’re going to be the consumers of tomorrow,” Martin said of the education component.

This year, Martin took her mission on the road.

Every Wednesday between August and October, she and a few students loaded up her car with the produce picked earlier that day from Allegheny’s Carr Hall garden and headed to Holland Towers, a senior living community in downtown Meadville. Once there, she’d spread out the bounty — tomatoes, kale, peppers — on a table for residents to buy.

The mobile market project drew between 15 and 20 people each week.

“For people who say transportation is a barrier to getting fresh food, this is bringing the food to their neighborhood,” Martin said.

Martin said she plans to continue the mobile market in 2017. The long-term plan is to add more selling sites and to sell food from local farmers, not the Carrden, giving farmers another venue and residents more produce options.

Emma Yates, a 21-year-old senior environmental science major who is doing an independent study on the food hub, said the effort helps educate people and builds a bridge between the campus and the community.

“It’s a really cool way to bring sustainability efforts and local farming to community members,” Yates said.

Holland Towers resident Robin Milstead visited the mobile market each of the six weeks it stopped at the apartment complex, building a friendship with Martin as she shopped for hot peppers and garlic and cherry tomatoes. Milstead doesn’t have a car, so usually relies on friends to give her a ride to the grocery store. Sometimes she takes the bus.

The mobile market makes it easier to eat healthier, she said.

“The produce is really good quality. I like it better than what you can buy at the store,” Milstead said. “I can’t wait until they come back next year.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

“A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration”

November 17-20, 2016
Thursday-Saturday, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

It is Christmas Eve in 1864 along the icy, war-ravaged Potomac near Washington, D.C.  Union and Confederate troops are hunkered down by the river, Abraham Lincoln strategizes for peace while his wife Mary visits the wounded, and former slaves are migrating north in search of freedom.  Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel weaves a rich tapestry of stories, both historical and fictional, into a drama that intertwines holiday carols, marches and spirituals of the Civil War period.  An epic theatrical event that captures a nation in desperate need of hope and healing.

To order tickets call the box office at 814-332-3414

Gator Day Alumni Panel 11:00 a.m. “How to Move Off Your Parent’s Couch and Get the Job You Love”

We welcome three successful professional alumnae, from Pittsburgh, who are returning to Allegheny College to share how they got from college to where they are today. This panel is a rich resource for those seeking a career in branding and digital marketing—from tips on how to make your application and résumé stand apart from the “clutter,” to thinking about how to look for jobs you would truly love to be in, to networking and mentoring advice, and developing a portfolio that shows who you are, rather than simply showcasing skills.

Our panelists are Kristen Lauth Shaeffer ’03, assistant professor of film and digital technology at Chatham University and filmmaker; Macae Lintelman ’10, digital customer experience consultant with Accenture, and Hillary Wilson ’12, digital marketing manager, Pittsburgh Public Theater.

WHEN: Tuesday, Oct. 25, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (including Q&A), followed by a meet-and-greet with panelists over a buffet-style lunch.

WHERE: Gladys Mullenix Black Theater in the Vukovich Center. Entrance to the theater is through the main lobby on the ground floor.

This event is open to all members of the college community and is sponsored by the Department of Communication Arts and Theatre.

Cosdon co-leads graduate sessions

At this summer’s meeting of the American Theatre and Drama Society, Associate Professor of Communication Arts/Theatre Mark Cosdon co-led sessions for graduate students dedicated to teaching in a liberal arts college and the tenure/promotion process. Cosdon serves on the board of the American Theatre and Drama Society. Recently, he joined the advisory board of the Harvard Theatre Collection.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research