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The Only Art Major on Campus: The Performing Arts Department fights for recognition despite its anonymity within the Marquette community

Posted on 31 March 2009 by Monica Stout

Marquette has a theatre. Marquette has a theatre department. Marquette has a theatre major. Really.
“I have gotten on the L.I.M.O. and told them to go to the Helfaer Theatre, and they have pulled up in front of the Varsity. That happened twice,” said Jessica Orr, a junior double major in Theatre Arts and Communication Studies.

The Helfaer Theatre is actually located next to Lalumiere Language Hall and is right behind the Haggerty Art Museum. It houses the program, students and faculty for Marquette’s only art degree, a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts. Theatre Arts is a major in the Diederich College of Communication.

Both faculty and students in the Performing Arts Department recognize that the theatre is not well-known at Marquette.

“When I meet other professors and faculty, they are often surprised to learn that there is a theatre department on campus,” said

Debra Krajec, an adjunct associate professor of Performing Arts. And not only the professors and faculty are unaware of the program, the students remain oblivious as well.

“They just don’t know [we’re here],” said PJ Berns, a senior Theatre Arts major.

There seem to be a variety of reasons for this university-wide lack of knowledge.

“I don’t think the arts are very prominent on campus,” said Jenni Shine, also a senior Theatre Arts major. “We don’t have a music department or a visual arts department or anything else to tie into [the theatre]. I think we’re more focused on sports and academics.”

Records held by the Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Marquette University Libraries (UNIV C-11.1 Series 1, Box 1 “Carousel”) show that Marquette once had the awareness and focus on theatre it lacks today. In 1954, Rev. John J. Walsh, S.J., the chair of the theatre department at the time, traveled to New York to personally ask Oscar Hammerstein II for the rights to perform “Carousel.” Marquette became the first amateur company allowed to perform the musical.

According the Thomas Jablonsky’s book, “Milwaukee’s Jesuit University: Marquette 1881-1981,” the theatre tradition continued in 1963, when “Oliver Twist” was in such high demand on campus that extra performances had to be scheduled, totaling 78 performances in all. Theatre’s reign on Marquette’s campus continued into the 1970s with the construction of the Helfaer Theatre in 1974.

After the theatre was built, the prominent Marquette interest in the theatre began to dwindle.
Provost John J. Pauly believes that the advent of multiple other types of entertainment has been another source of the decreasing appeal of theatre to the University as well as to the public in general. However, as an ardent advocate of the theatre program, he believes that Marquette should “reclaim that part of our history.”

The current program offers quality that deserves just as much appreciation as the theatre offered earlier in Marquette’s history.
“Marquette theatre is as good if not better than many professional shows that I’ve seen,” said Bonnie Auguston, a senior French and Theatre Arts double major.

And behind these performances is the intensive education in all aspects of theatre that Marquette theatre students receive.
“What we offer that is totally different from any other school is a BA program in a liberal arts school with a Jesuit mission and a top-notch theatre program,” said Stephen Hudson-Mairet, the Performing Arts Department Chair. “A Marquette education is so strong. Here they become the whole artist. We educate them beyond how you move on stage. That theology class ties in to that performance you are working on. Drama’s about being human and if you don’t know anything outside of these four walls you don’t know what it means to be human. So we encourage our students to go out and experience life, which they can do here at Marquette.”

Marquette’s Performing Arts Department is constantly working on improving this education. The department is currently applying for accreditation through the National Association of Schools of Theatre. According to Hudson-Mairet, the department needs to make some improvements to achieve the full accreditation, such as increasing the number of faculty, as it currently only employs five full-time faculty members. However, he hopes that Marquette will receive an associate membership or a deferred membership in NAST this spring.

This accreditation could mean extra money for the department, which already has a strained budget, only another aspect of why many Marquette students do not know the theatre exists: there is no money for advertising.

“I am given an allotted amount of money each year, and out of that has to come the money for the staging, the costumes, the lights, the guest directors and everything we do here in the theatre,” said Hudson-Mairet. “And out of that same budget I have to find the money for advertising, so it doesn’t end up being a lot of money that we can spend on advertising.”

According to Krajec, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel no longer covers academic theatre, which means it is harder to reach the Milwaukee and Marquette community. So, the department had a public relations class work on ideas to promote the theatre on campus and even instated a committee of public relations students to provide additional help.

One of the promotions to come out of the class was the institution of “Date Night” on the second Thursday performance of every mainstage show. According to Hudson-Mairet, this has really increased ticket sales on that night. Another promotional idea was “Philanthropy Friday,” where the theatre offers the opportunity to student groups with a philanthropic outlet to sponsor a Friday mainstage performance. The theatre would then give $1 from each ticket sold for that performance to the student group’s charity. This particular promotion has not been successful for the department yet, but Hudson-Mairet remains positive and hopes to continue working on it.

Another idea to increase ticket sales is the ability to sell tickets online. Hudson-Mairet hopes to have this service running by next year.

The Performing Arts Department also has one advocate at the administrative level: Provost John Pauly, former Dean of the College of Communication.

“I tried to bring the special needs of the theater program into the normal budgeting and planning processes of the Diederich College, and of the university as a whole,” Pauly said.

If and when the Performing Arts Department is able to reach the majority of the student body, it will only enrich the Marquette student’s college experience.

“[Theatre] is different than reading a book. It’s different than going to see a movie. It’s your peers up there, going through that… watching them walk in the shoes of this person; it makes it a personal experience for you too,” Krajec said.

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MU as a tourist attraction, let’s get on that Catholic art

Posted on 10 October 2007 by Daniel Suhr

From time to time, students come upon an elderly couple or a gaggle of little old ladies strolling campus, and more than once I have offered directions to help them navigate from Gesu Church to the Joan of Arc Chapel. They are, in a term, “Catholic tourists,” people who like to look at churches. As Marquette ponders the future of the Haggerty Art Museum here on campus, as the founding director retires and a new man steps into his place, I suggest that Marquette work to capture more of the “Catholic tourist” market.

The new director of the Haggerty, Wally Mason, is reportedly an expert on “cutting-edge, contemporary art.” Frankly, I hope this interest does not dominate the Haggerty.

If you like contemporary art, you can go down the street to the Milwaukee Art Museum, which has a wide-ranging collection. You can go to the galleries of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in the Third Ward, which often features contemporary art. In other words, there are already plenty of contemporary art offerings in Milwaukee. So my suggestion is, let’s find our own niche in the Milwaukee area and even the Midwest. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s art columnist is right to say that “[t]he Haggerty is primed to redefine itself with a shift in leadership.”

Let’s take advantage of this unique moment and make something of it. Let us also find a niche that meshes well with our Marquette mission. Everything at this University should be mission-driven, including our art museum. As the Second Vatican Council and Pope Paul VI noted in the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy, art can play a special role in “turning men’s minds devoutly toward God.” There is a whole universe of religious and sacred art out there: let’s bring it here.

Moreover, many Marquette professors and students are researching religious people or eras marked by particular pieces of art or subjects of art.

Members of the Jesuit order often pursue art as a way to glorify God, and yes, even to prophetically advance social justice. Marquette could provide a valuable forum for Jesuit painters to receive the recognition for their work. When the “Saint Peter and the Vatican: the Legacy of the Popes” exhibit came to the Milwaukee Public Museum, parishes and schools from Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin organized buses to bring thousands of pilgrims to see the various pieces of sacred art and church history on display.

With the grandeur of Gesu, the unique beauty of Joan of Arc Chapel and the Basilica of Holy Hill Marian shrine just up the freeway, Marquette could become a Midwestern mecca for Catholic tourists. There is no reason the Haggerty Art Museum could not tap into that market in a very unique and special way, a way that complements our mission and identity.

In other words, we could become a relic road trip destination. How cool would that be?

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Improv improves lives: Studio 13 Refugees bring comedy to campus

Posted on 25 April 2007 by Kristina Bustos

For some, it’s chocolate. For others, it’s listening to music. But for the members of Studio 13 Refugees group, it’s improvisation comedy. “It’s very therapeutic for me,” said sophomore Phillip Berns. “I’m having a bad week and I go to practice and we just play improv games and talk about our next show. I just get to hang with all these great people who are my friends.”

“It’s a great release for me after working on schoolwork,” added Julie Riederer, a senior.

Both Berns and Riederer are members of the improv comedy group called Studio 13 Refugees, which is known as the Fugges. It is part of Marquette University Players Society, the theater student organization group on campus.

Riederer, the comedy group’s leader, said that the Fugees got its start when a Marquette student gathered together a group of people with the same interest in improv comedy. Eventually, they dubbed the comedy group Studio 13 Refugees, which got its name from the theater studio where the group first began practicing.

After making its debut nine years ago, the Fugees have not only had shows for charity events, but opened for comedians such as Lee Kamp and traveled outside of Wisconsin to do improv comedy.

“My sophomore year we went to Boston actually and we did a show at the comedy club called Improv Boston,” said junior Lauren Bryant. “That was really fun. It was like we were the visiting team and they had a competition between teams.”

Bryant, who has been with the comedy group since her freshman year, added that it was exciting to do improv comedy at a professional level.

Riederer explains that the Fugees do both short-form games that are based more on gimmicks and long-form games that focus on character or scenic development. They also get audience members to become part of the show.

“Everything we do in the show is based on audience suggestions so we’ll shout out, before playing a game, for example, ‘Can you give me a name of a store you went to last week?’ and if someone shouts ‘Walgreens’ we would do a scene on Walgreens,” said Riederer.

Another game that puts audience members in the spotlight is called “Moving Bodies,” where two Fugees members stand still while two audience participants move their bodies. The players then have to respond to and justify the movements.

There is also a game called “Day in the Life,” where an audience member gets up on stage and tells what he or she did that day. The Fugees will then re-enact the person’s day with exaggeration.

“Ever since I was a freshman we’ve always had a pretty big crowd,” said Bryant. “We have a lot of loyal fans that come to all of our shows.”

Being members of an improv comedy group can be relaxing, but many members believe it has helped them in their chosen field of study. Berns, a theater arts and advertising major, and Bryant, a broadcast journalism major, agree that improv comedy has improved their communication skills. They have become more comfortable with public speaking, an aspect of communication that many students fear.

For Riederer, she plans to apply humor in her graduate studies as a psychology student.

“I’m very interested in how the brain works and how you can just come up with these things on top of your head, with literally no planning involved,” she said. “I just think there are some really interesting research implications there.”

With two hour practices twice each week, the Fugees can take up a lot of time for a college students, but Berns, Bryant and Riederer wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s so much fun for me and I really enjoy doing it,” Riederer said. “I don’t feel like I’m wasting time because it’s such a good release for me.”

The Studio 13 Refugees last show of the semester is 8 p.m. on May 4 in room 200 of Marquette Hall. For more information on the show or about becoming a member, please contact Julie Riederer or Lauren Bryant at [email protected]

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Student Fine Arts Night, an outlet for MU art

Posted on 25 April 2007 by Lindsey Huster

The Student Fine Art Show at the Haggerty Museum of Art filled the upper and lower galleries with hundreds of people. From 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., students, artists and admirers gathered in the small space, proving once in for all that art exists at Marquette, and even more, that students crave such a creative outlet.

For the fifth year running, Marquette’s own Haggerty Museum of Art has organized an evening for MIAD and MU artists to display what they deem as “art.” For students this form of expression ranged from paintings and sculptures to performing arts.

“It’s such a hidden community,” said junior Andrew Keating.

The Haggerty Museum of Art and MU’s Art Club worked closely together to achieve the success of the event.

“It was definitely a consistent effort by everyone,” said Victoria Taylor, president of the Art Club. “The atmosphere for this evening is really welcoming and opening,” Taylor said of the environment for aspiring artists. Taylor submitted a piece entitled “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter,” which was an acrylic painting of Fabio crying. Because the event generated such a high level of interest, a large number of students submitted their pieces of art.

In total, there were over 50 entries submitted by over 30 artists, said Lynn Shumow, curator of Education at the Haggerty.

Francesca Cozzone, a sophomore art major, submitted an untitled oil painting of the sun. Cozzone painted the piece for a friend’s birthday present, focusing on the colors of red, orange and white.

For most of the contributors of the evening, art is an outlet of expression, but not a career.

Photography was a one of the more popular features found at the student night. Junior Jack Bartlet submitted two untitled pieces he described as “urban shooting.”

Self-portraits were also scattered throughout the works. Student Jamie Bolker, who has taken classes at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, submitted two pieces for the event, including a self-portrait created in charcoal and ink.

“I really got excited when I found out that Marquette does something like this,” Bolker said.

In comparison to last year, there was a quite an increase in the levels of student participation and awareness of the event, noted Shumow. “This year, we really focused on getting the word out and publicizing the event more. It definitely worked.”

Throughout the event, a number of performances took place in the lower gallery. Junior Peter Woods stood out with a unique approach to performing art, creating a distorted and experimental sound with a violin, guitar pedals, amps and recordings from Waiting for Godot, a speech from Hitler’s last day.

“It’s really about nightmares,” Woods said. “I’m kind of obsessed with them right now.”

Woods’ avant-guard performance is a result of larger group in which he participates, the Milwaukee Noise Fest.

Other performers of the evening included senior Kyle Shamorian, as well as senior Mike Luede, who both played songs on guitar.

“I’m really eclectic,” Luedke said, who showed his love of art with an electric guitar.

In the future, the Haggerty Art Museum hopes to continue its gallery openings for students and others who appreciate art of all kinds from the MU college perspective.

“I think it’s nice that students have a place here,” Shumow said.

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‘Art and Conflict in Central Asia’ meets Marquette

Posted on 08 November 2006 by Lindsey Huster

“Art and Conflict in Central Asia” is a beautiful but rare exhibit. After touring Italy, this compilation of modern cultural art has made a one-time stop in the United States at Marquette University’s very own Haggarty Museum of Art.Organized by the Soros Center for Continuing Arts, as well as international curator Enrico Mascelloni, this exhibit is a great honor for Marquette. Touching on topics such as war, politics and religion, the Milwaukee community has been quite receptive to this exhibit.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the “stans” of Europe were created, which include Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. Using the contemporary work of 13 artists, the exhibit is able to capture the violence and conflict that still exist between these neighboring countries.

The central themes of the art are expressed through video, photography and video stills. In the case of the sculpture “Monument to a Hero,” a pair of cut off horse hooves is used to represent the epidemic of state monuments being destroyed in response to the independence of Kazakhstan. In another piece entitled, “My Brother the Enemy,” two men are depicted facing each other with pistols in their mouths. These graphic and uniquely modern works emphasize the continuing violence and aggression in this area. The exhibit also focuses on the roles of women, war and dervishes, or Sufi Muslim ascetic religious fraternities.

“This exhibit shows interesting art that works well with many classes at Marquette,” said Lynne Shumow, Haggarty’s Curator of Education.

So far, broadcasting classes at Marquette have taken advantage of this opportunity, filming interviews with Mascelloni and creating a Web Site with the footage. With a grant from Institute of Museum and Library Services, Haggarty is also working with the Marquette School of Education to teach future teachers how to integrate art into classes.

In addition to Marquette students, Haggarty is working with the Milwaukee Public School System and the Milwaukee Art Board.

“[This exhibit] definitely works well with what we’re trying to do here,” said Shumow. Aside from students, other organizations have come to learn and reflect about this exhibit. On Nov. 6, the Jewish Community Center began a three-part program about Asia culture. On Nov. 14, Dr. Uli Schamiloglu will be giving a talk about the exhibit concerning popular religion and Islam in Central Asia. Schamiloglu, a faculty member at University of Wisconsin-Madison, is an author and professor of languages.

Overall, “Art and Conflicts of Central Asia” is a rare window of opportunity to see the world around us with the ease of walking behind Johnston Hall.

“Art and Conflicts in Central Asia” is showing at the Haggarty Museum of Art through Jan. 21.

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‘Dance first, think later’

Posted on 08 November 2006 by Sarah Finneran

“Dance first, think later.” Dance, Inc., the student-run dance organization on campus, adheres to this motto whole-heartedly. This passion for dance was evident during Dance, Inc.’s fall recital on Oct. 27, 28 and 29.The show was held at the Helfaer Theater. One would expect the performance to take place in the main auditorium, but instead it was in a small, intimate studio room. An arrival around 7:40 p.m. was met by a packed venue with the show set to begin at 8:00 p.m. It was difficult to find a seat at first; however, there were a few spots on the bleachers in the back. People continued to filter in for the next 20 minutes. By the time the show began, there was standing room only.

The lights dimmed, and approximately 14 dancers filed onto the “stage.” The opening number was energetic and full of smiles. For the most part, the dancers were in sync and seemed to know the routine well. Two of the performers bounced up on stage to welcome the audience. All of the dancers could not wait to showcase the pieces they had worked so hard on for the past few months. The atmosphere was very relaxed and inviting.

Without further ado, the performance began. All forms of dance were represented throughout the recital. There were lyrical pieces, as well as tap and ballet. Some pieces were intense, full of emotion and meaning, while others were meant to be fun and make the audience laugh. Tap proved to be an interesting part of the show. One piece was done in a militaristic style with the dancers even wearing camouflage pants. The majority of the pieces were lyrical, telling a story through the movements. The audience was enthralled by the dancers’ ability to portray such emotion without saying a word. Allison Berg, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, said, “I wasn’t sure what to expect with the lyrical dances, but I was pleasantly surprised.”

Dance, Inc. is an extra-curricular, student-run organization here on the Marquette campus. Anyone who is interested in dance is welcome to audition to be part of the company. No prior experience is required to be a part of the magic.

Marquette students choreograph the pieces performed at the shows as well. Choreographers audition first and are picked by the executive board. Then, the choreographers teach a small bit of their pieces to the dancers auditioning. After auditions, the choreographers then hold a meeting to choose which dancers will be in which pieces. Olivia Corradin, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, who is a dancer and choreographer, said, “Dance, Inc. is an awesome opportunity to get involved in dance, regardless of your skill level. It is so great to meet people who have similar interests on campus, too.”

Overall, the performance was well-received by all audience members. The performers were met with loud cheers and a standing ovation as they came out to take their last bows. The recital ran smoothly with only a 10-minute intermission. Each dance was rather short, but quality is better than quantity. The crowd was entertained and emotionally touched. It was a pleasant (and cheap) way to spend a Friday.

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Innovative Haggerty’s exhibit scores big with students

Posted on 27 September 2006 by Lindsey Huster

Breaking the boundaries between art and sports, art exhibit “Hockey Seen: A Nightmare in Three Periods and Sudden Death” opens at the Haggerty Art Museum on Sept. 28. With well-known philosopher Nelson Goodman behind this unique display of media, the museum will be hosting a reception for the American Society for Aesthetics on Oct. 27 in conjunction with the exhibit.

Goodman used his ideas on aesthetics and epistemology as the heart of this exhibit’s essence. “Nelson felt that art was under-appreciated, but was just as important as a subject in school,” said Dan Herro, head preparatory at Haggerty.

As a result, Goodman established a program at the Harvard School of Education known as “Project Zero,” which linked the study of art and education.

Nelson first drew his inspiration for “Hockey Seen” from his wife and visual artist, Katherine Sturgis, who captured the liveliness and artistic movement in hockey, with drawings she saw on black and white television.

First recognized as a theater production, “Hockey Seen” toured the United States and even Belgium after making its debut in 1972. For the production, Sturgis’ drawings were turned into slides and projected onto the backdrop of the stage. In addition, composer John C. Adams, who is known for his work on the operas “Nixon in China” and “The Death of Klinghoffer,” created a unique and avant-garde soundtrack by combining the realistic sounds of whistles, crowd cheers and elements of early electronics. A team of dancers would authentically re-enact the liveliness and creative energy that runs through three periods of a hockey game, as well as a final showdown.

“Meeting the lines between art and sport, (“Hockey Seen”) is aesthetically pleasing,” said Lynne Shumow, Haggerty’s curator of education. “(Goodman) is trying to bring art to a wider audience.”

“Hockey Seen” is currently being showcased as an art exhibit and consists of several artistic elements which are neatly woven together. In addition to the movie component of the exhibit, the paper-mâché masks that were worn by the dancers are also on display, along with over 100 framed drawings by Sturgis and photos taken from the performances.

After Goodman died in 1998, Dr. Curtis Carter, director of Haggerty Art Museum and close friend with Goodman, was given the exhibit in 2000.

“He (Goodman) knew that this kind of artwork was kind of an unusual piece, but that I understood it and appreciated it,” said Carter.

With that in mind, Carter believes that “Hockey Seen” will be appreciated from a large array of Marquette students, ranging from the theater major to the typical athlete.

“I think we wanted to get students and others to see the types of art connected,” said Carter. “The university setting is an ideal place.”

“Hockey Seen” will be shown at Haggerty Art Museum until Jan. 14, 2007. Haggerty Art Museum is located on Marquette University’s campus on Clybourn and 13th streets. Admission to the museum is free.

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