Arts: A Year in Review
Last year, students were exposed to a wide range of artistic projects, from the Hopkins Center’s “World War I Revisited” exhibit to a screening of the movie “The Hunting Ground” (2015) to “Merrily We Roll Along,” a student-directed spring musical.
In the fall, the theater department put on the student production of “In the Next Room” (or the vibrator play). The play, written by Sarah Ruhl and first performed in 2009, is set in the 1880s during the invention of electricity and uses a doctor’s vibrator treatment of patients with “hysteria” to explore themes of gender and sexuality.
Dartmouth’s Shakespeare theater group, the Rude Mechanicals, performed “Macbeth” on Halloween night in Beta Alpha Omega fraternity to an audience seated comfortably in couches. The troupe’s production involved sword-fighting, witches and lots of dramatic speeches.
During V-February, a campaign to promote gender equality, the second annual Voices performance, directed by Jessica King-Fredel ’17 and Kalie Marsicano ’17, along with the Vagina Monologues, directed by Margot Yecies ‘15 and Upstaging Stereotypes took place, giving self-identified male Dartmouth students a place to speak about their identities and experiences.
The eighth annual Dartmouth Idol took place during winter term, featuring six finalists performing in Spaulding Auditorium. Tara Joshi ’18 won the competition, receiving a $500 prize and a chance to record a two-song demo. The finalists performed a solo and two duets with just a month of rehearsal.
The theater department’s winter production was “Romeo and Juliet,” directed by theater professor Peter Hackett, featuring recorded video footage, live acting and projected text in a modern twist on an ancient tale.
In early May, Max Gottschall ’15 directed the 1981 musical “Merrily We Roll Along” for his senior thesis. Based on a 1934 play by George Kaufman and Moss Hart and with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the show explored the lives of three college friends dealing with success, love and loss.
Each term was filled with performances by the many Dartmouth student groups, ranging from dance groups like hip-hop based Sheba and contemporary-focused Sugarplum to chorale groups such as the Dartmouth Glee Club to musical groups such as the Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble and the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra.
In the fall, six films from the Telluride film festival were screened at Dartmouth to packed audiences. Dartmouth’s relationship with the festival was made possible by Hop film director Bill Pence, who co-directed Telluride for 33 years. The films shown included “The Imitation Game” (2015) and “Wild” (2015).
In April, the Hop screened “The Hunting Ground” (2015) by Kirby Dick, an extremely interesting and groundbreaking film that examines sexual assault and rape at colleges. The movie follows Annie Clark and Andrea Pino, two women who have been at the forefront of the movement to reform college responses to sexual assault allegations.
In the fall, the Hop launched its “World War I Reconsidered” series in honor of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the war. The project featured several projects, including “An Iliad,” a dramatic reading featuring Dennis O’Hare, a base player and lighting effects, pianist-in-residence Sally Pinkas, The Emerson String Quartet and a live production of “The Great War” by Dutch group Hotel Modern, a performance based on soldiers letters from the war.
Also in the fall, the Hop hosted Scottish theater company Visible Fictions in their performance of “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” a production which focuses on economic inequality. The production featured two actors and 25 cardboard boxes in the new take of the classic story.
The Hop brought many concerts to campus throughout the year, most notably nine-time Grammy Award-winner Wynston Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, a 15-man band. The performance featured songs by jazz icon Art Blakey such as “Free For All” and “Along Came Betty.”
Another notable performance was three-time Latin Grammy Award-winner Diego El Cigala, who performed music from his album “Romance de la Luna Tucumana,” which has influences in Argentine and Cuban musical traditions.
During the winter term, film and live-action performance came head to head in Mariano Pensotti’s “Cineastas,” which follows four Argentine filmmakers making their own movies. Performed on a two-level stage, the production simultaneously explored the movies as well as the lives of the filmmakers themselves.
In early April, Dartmouth students under the direction of Glee club director Louis Burkot united forces with professional opera singers in “Figaro! (90210),” a modern take on the opera by Vid Guerrerio ’96. The production transported the story into a modern Beverly Hills setting, where the main characters are undocumented workers in a millionaire’s mansion.
The Nile Project visited Dartmouth classrooms as well as the Hop and the greater Upper Valley area in late April, addressing about the cultural and environmental challenges of the Nile River Basin through music. The group features artists from 11 countries along the Basin, and along with performances, the group participated in panels and performed with student groups.
During the summer term, award-winning orchestra-style band Pink Martini performed in Spaulding Auditorium for the third time after having sold out shows in both 2007 and 2011. The band, which describes itself as a “little orchestra,” features music of various styles including latin, classical and jazz and performs in various languages.
Hood Museum of Art:
The Hood put on a series of exhibits throughout the year, beginning with “Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties,” which was shown August through December 2014. The exhibit looks at race relations and social protest as shown through many different art mediums in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Beginning in April, “Water Ways: Tension and Flow,” an exhibit incorporating pieces from around the globe, explored the relationship between water and humans, featuring photographs from the 20th and 21st century. The exhibit explored positive as well as negative impacts of the relationship, such as fishing and flooding.
Also beginning in April, the Hood featured an exhibition titled “Auto-Graphics: the Works of Victor Ekpuk,” which ran until Aug. 2. The exhibition featured the work of Nigerian artist Victor Ekpuk, which focused on the Ekpe secret society located in the border regions between Nigeria and Cameroon. His work derives from the Ekpe’s language, nsibidi, using the language as a visual inspiration and resource. Ekpuk visited and drew publicly over about a week.
Near the beginning of spring term, Hood director Michael Taylor left his post after four years of work without much explanation from the College. When hired, Taylor stated that his goals for the Hood were to increase student engagement, and during his time he saw the expansion of the museum.