The 2005-2006 academic year gave the student body a wide variety of art and cultural events to choose from, with lectures, screenings, exhibits, and performances to satisfy almost any interest. Here are but a handful of the highlights from last year:
Some of the film industry’s most respected names stopped by last year, giving their insights into both their own work and the art of filmmaking. Joss Whedon ’87, acclaimed television writer/director, treated last year’s freshman class to an advanced screening of “Serenity,” the cinematic coda to his short-lived sci-fi western. In February, Paul Weitz, another Wes alum and director of “American Pie” and “About a Boy,” also gave students a sneak peek of his latest work, the political/media satire “American Dreamz.” In April, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, the team behind “About Schmidt” and the Oscar winning “Sideways,” sat in on a screening of their 1999 satire, “Election.” All four of these filmmakers stayed for lengthy Q & A sessions afterwards, answering student and faculty questions with intelligence and good humor.
Famed Chicago-based troupe The Neo-Futurists brought their brand of lightning-paced theatricality to the CFA Theater in September. Their show, entitled “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind,” successfully performed thirty short plays in sixty minutes. Another renowned theater company, the New York City-based SITI company, performed their acclaimed version of “Death and the Ploughman” in the CFA in February. Fall and Spring semesters also gave us two very different faculty productions: visiting professor Robert Bresnick’s stylistically-diverse “Celebrating Don Quixote” and Professor Claudia Tatinge Nascimento’s raucous staging of Nelson Rodrigues’s “The Deceased Woman.” And no mention of Wesleyan theater would be complete without a nod to Second Stage, Wesleyan’s student-operated theater group, which gave the Wesleyan community productions that ranged from the powerfully traditional to the explosively innovative.
Adrienne Rich, the much-lauded poet, read selections of her work to a packed house at Memorial Chapel in April. Her appearance capped a year of notable literary figures visiting the University. George Packer, whose recent book, “The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq,” was a 2006 Pulitzer-Prize finalist in General Non-Fiction, visited Russell House in April to discuss both his latest work and the current events that drove it. Russell House hosted another famed poet, Alice Notley, in November. The author of over 25 books of poetry, Notley read both her more famous works and previously unpublished pieces.
Music and Dance
Campus dance aficionados saw the world premiere of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange’s latest production in February at the CFA. “Ferocious Beauty: Genome” translated questions of human genetics and scientific research into singular, movement-based pieces. Music lovers saw a variety of notable acts come through campus. Politically-aware hip-hop The Coup and acclaimed jazz vocalist Tierney Sutton and Trio both played to a packed Crowell Concert Hall within two weeks of one another in November. Later in the year, the campus got an earful of divergent musical talents at the annual Spring Fling, from pop-rocker Andrew W.K. to hip-hop artist Talib Kweli and even Wesleyan’s own Red Wire Black Wire.
Throughout the year, students took in some fascinating exhibits at the CFA’s Zilkha Gallery, on subjects that ranged from the horrific effects of warfare to the collision of feminism and religious tradition. “The Disasters of War: From Goya to Golub,” which ran for most of the fall semester at the Zilkha, used a variety of paintings, sculptures, and multimedia pieces to chronicle the tragic loss of human dignity in the face of war. In February the Gallery hosted “Not Prepared,” which illuminated the experience of Jewish women who separate themselves from men during their menstrual cycle, in accordance with religious and social norms.