By Lara Ehrlich | Photos by Vernon Doucette, Kalman Zabarsky, and Cydney Scott
The 2012–2013 “keyword” for the College of Fine Arts was RESILIENCE, a term that readily applies to CFA students and their daring works. Established by CFA Dean Benjamín Juárez, the Keyword Initiative encourages the Schools of Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts to focus their varied programming on a unifying theme and collaborate across genres. “Resilience has a positive energy to it—the notion that the human spirit conjures something better than survival,” says Jim Petosa, director of the School of Theatre. “Resilience is survival with panache.”
The School of Theatre Keyword productions ranged from Paul Zindel’s The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, in which a self-destructive mother vents her unhappiness on her daughters, portrayed by Celia Pain and Casey Tucker (’14), to Howard Brenton’s sweeping Anne Boleyn, with Chloe Fuller in the title role.
In Benjamin Britten’s opera Owen Wingrave, a young pacifist, played in alternating performances by Nickoli Strommer and Isaac Bray (’14), must decide where his loyalty lies when his military family challenges his convictions. And in Jules Massenet’s Le Portrait de Manon, a nobleman, portrayed by Benjamin Taylor, tries to save his nephew from making the same mistakes he did.
The Initiative reinforces the School of Music’s and School of Theatre’s long-standing emphasis on collaboration to produce the College’s operas. William Lumpkin, acting director of the Opera Institute, explains: “The musicians prepare the roles while the School of Theatre students design sets, costumes, and lighting, and stage-manage the productions.”
CFA also promoted cross-genre collaboration with symphony performances and events hosted by the School of Visual Arts.
The Boston University Symphony Orchestra & Symphonic Chorus, Boston Children’s Chorus, and three soloists joined forces in the highlight of the Symphony’s Resilience season: Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, conducted by Director of Orchestral Activities David Hoose at Symphony Hall on November 19, 2012. A lusty cantata based on medieval texts that mingle Christianity and bawdy celebration for the pleasures of life and love, Carmina Burana opens and closes with a litany to fickle fortune.
Through the Alternative Visions / Sustainable Futures exhibition and event series, the School of Visual Arts invited the wider BU community to consider how critical dialogue and innovative eco-artistic practices can bring about change. The series featured an exhibition at 808 Gallery, lectures with visiting artists like the multimedia art collaborative Futurefarmers, and a host of ancillary events. (Intrigued? Click here to read more about Alternative Visions / Sustainable Futures.)
Across all three schools, CFA students embody the spirit of resilience in their practice and their public work. “Today, more than ever, the world needs leaders educated with a sense of inspiration, imagination, and vision,” says Juárez. “CFA is defining the role of the artist in the twenty-first century: an artist able to thrive in difficult times—a citizen artist, resilient in the face of uncertainty and determined to make the world a better place.”
The Keyword Initiative is funded in part by Nancy Livingston (COM’69) and her husband, Fred Levin, through the Shenson Foundation in memory of Ben and A. Jess Shenson.