A showcase of arts department news

‘Luminous Planes’ Define Susannah Auferoth’s Paintings at the Grubbs Gallery

Shimmer by Susannah Auferoth; photo by David Hillberby Photography

Kicking off the 2017-18 exhibit schedule at the Grubbs Gallery will be Holyoke-based painter Susannah Auferoth. Auferoth uses oil paint and often resin and/or wax on wide stretches of paper or board, resulting in compositions that resemble flat horizons. Color palates differentiate each piece, as do the grades of hue in each stratum, and the subtle markings on each plane. Continue reading

Stage Manager Risa Tapanes Cues Up Williston Working Artist Award

 

A play cannot exist without a stage manager, especially a play with lights, props, entrances, exits, movement, story, and flow. The person who received the Williston Working Artist Award on May 10 is someone who remains invisible during performances, but without her, Williston literally could not have put on a show, theater director Emily Ditkovski said as she presented the award.

As stage manager of the spring production of Peter and the Starcatcher, Risa Tapanes ’18 was responsible for knowing every component of the production, including every actor’s blocking (movement on stage) and when each prop should come and go.

“When I am lost, I turn to Risa and she always has the answer,” Ditkovski said. “You probably don’t know that during each performance Risa sits high above the stage calling the show from the booth—telling our light board operator to change light cues (in Peter and the Starcatcher there were over 150). Risa isn’t just calling ‘Cue 3, standby. Cue 3, Go.’ She is living and breathing the performance with the actors, telling the story through these cues.”

Risa puts countless hours into her work inside and out of rehearsal making sure she knows the show backwards and forwards. “She is a leader,” Ditkovski added, “someone our cast and crew can always count on, and is one of the reasons our 1,000-plus audience members felt the magic of Peter and the Starcatcher.”

Peter and the Starcatcher: Truly Child’s Play

Peter Pan was initially created as author J.M. Barrie’s tribute to the five Llewelyn Davies boys, who Barrie had known from infancy and became his adopted sons after their parents’ death. The story we have all grown to know and love evolved out of Barrie’s dramatic play with the three middle boys, Peter, Michael, and John, and is a celebration of all things childhood. Peter Pan debuted on the stage in 1904. While the play was an immediate hit in London, Barrie could not stop editing and evolving the story even after it had opened (a rarity in the theater where shows are typically set by opening night). The process Barrie underwent to write Peter Pan mimicked how children adapt and change stories as they play.

Three of the LLewelyn Davies boys playing castaways– the make believe game that inspired J.M. Barrie to write PETER PAN.

The playwrights of Peter and the Starcatcher unabashedly bring this celebration of childhood to life through their script. Nothing is literal—we see trunks change into seats and ropes into doors just as children transform household objects into whatever their dramatic play calls for. Actors in Starcatcher play multiple roles just as children declare, “Now I’m so and so!” Narrators pop out onstage to tell us what’s happening like children announce, “Let’s pretend [fill in the blank] happens!” Not only does this elevate child’s play to an art form (as Barrie intended in his original) but it also invites our audience to be part of the story. The fourth wall, which is at the heart of theatrical realism, is abandoned. The story erupts off the stage and into the audience. You get to use your imagination to fill in the gaps—the door made of rope takes on a unique form in the mind of each audience member. A connection is formed with the characters as actors speak directly to you. In this world, you are no longer a passive audience member but an active part of our theater-making. I recently read the following quote to our cast. It’s from Le Hung, artistic director of Hanoi’s Youth Theatre, speaking about Vietnamese Ceo, a theatrical genre that heavily employs the use of narration. It resonated with the entire company and we wanted to share it with you: “In the Russian tradition of Stanislavsky, the actor says ‘I will tell you a story about me.’ In the German tradition of Brecht, the actor says, ‘I will tell you a story about them.’ In the Vietnamese tradition, the actor says, ‘You and I will tell you the story about all of us.’” With Peter and the Starcatcher, this community storytelling allows us to tap into our child-minds and in the process, opens our hearts more fully to the message of the story, a message as timeless as Peter Pan himself: we all have a gift to give, sometimes it takes a little bit of a journey to discover where it lies.

The (almost) entire cast who are having as much fun as the Llewelyn Davies boys did years ago!

 

 

Peter and the Starcatcher: A Group Poem

This poem was created by Harrison Winrow with help from the company of PETER AND THE STARCATCHER and read by the full cast  at assembly on March 25th. Created with and inspired by words from the show, we hoped it would give our school a taste of the story. By popular demand we include it here. You can also read it in our program when you come see PETER AND THE STARCATCHER. Either way,  enjoy.

The Peeling Gold Letters on Her Majesty’s Trunk

A Company of Men and Women enters with a purpose,

Those who hope and those who dream, on the brink of a new adventure.

We enter now before you, both to hope and to dream

With you yes, swimming in this shimmering lake of gold far, far underground.

There’s a poet in this pirate’s veins

And he scribbles down arteries frantic and with ire brewed in the belly of the Neverland Because it all ends, those are the rules.

No! we are not to dull or drown or disappoint!

The object is to lure them here, not send them into psychoanalysis!

Oh, We are but actors of youth and Integrity

So now if you please, join us, get comfy

And in this chapel, or in the theater, or both

An echo or a voice, or both

Seemed to answer us:

Peter and the Starcatcher

I promise you now,

There is nothing between me and the sky–

But, Why?

Oh you and your inclination towards the sentimental

Fine, I’ll tell you:

It is he, the boy, nameless and friendless, he is a lonesome child with not a single toy;

It is they, the orphans, a unit in desperate need of a leader, they cannot swim lest they have tails, gills or fins;

It is she, the girl, the starcatcher — no apprentice! — the mother, oh the reckless selfless lover of life, and giver of the kiss!

And it is us, the dreamers and the hopeful, yes, the onlookers must look on.

And yes, sold to the snakes, saved from the savage, sent from solace to solitude, he still just wants to be something!

We all still just want to be that one thing.

we still just want to be

A kid

A captain

A lord

A mother

A Pirate

A sailor

A Tropical king

We all still just want to be

Alive

Alive

ALIVE

ALIVE

ALIVE!

 

PETER AND THE STARCATCHER runs April 27-29 and May 5-7. To order tickets visit our website.

 

Williston Working Artists Receive Awards

Williston conferred the Williston Working Artist Award on two students at an assembly on April 5. Triniti Slaughter ’18 and Yana Pyryalina ’18 received the awards, which recognize exemplary effort and mastery of an art form.

Triniti Slaughter '18
Triniti Slaughter ’18

Emily Ditkovski, visual and performing arts teacher and director of the Williston Theatre, spoke about Triniti’s devotion to dance and acting. “With lines and blocking memorized, the cast of Peter and the Starcatcher are busy putting together all of the pieces of the show. With moving set pieces and actors swimming and flying across the stage, we have our work cut out for us. It is certainly not easy.” She continued: “The Williston Working Artist award in the theater goes to a cast member who has embraced this challenge fully. Never missing a beat (literally and figuratively) and always there for her fellow starcatchers, Triniti demonstrates the camaraderie, creativity, and focus an actor needs. Continue reading

Williston’s ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’ Traces a Heroic Journey

starcatcher-webPeter and the Starcatcher unfolds the origin story of Peter Pan, and in doing so, invites theater-goers to join a heroic journey. The Williston Northampton School’s theater program presents the play April 27 to 29, and May 4 to 6 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available here and go on sale on April 1. They cost $10 general admission and $7 for students and seniors.

The young adult book on which this play is based was co-written by humorist Dave Barry, and the play offers contemporary jokes and is told in a tongue-in-cheek style, said Williston Theater Director Emily Ditkovski. The Broadway production of Peter and the Starcatcher was nominated for a Tony award for best play in 2016.

According to Ditkovski, the play explores the often-dark path to find one’s best self. “There is no straight trajectory. The messiness of the journey is really important,” she said. “But that best self is there. It’s findable.” Continue reading

Justin Kim Paintings Challenge Tradition

Painting by Justin Kim
Painting by Justin Kim

Justin Kim’s work, on view at Williston’s Grubbs Gallery through April 28, combines the grand tradition of figure painting with a contemporary sensibility, exploring themes including archetype, pastiche, authenticity, and the relationship between technology and the artist’s hand. In addition to landscapes and figures, Kim works on miniature collages, combining forms and figures from traditional painting. His work generates tension between artifice and reality while challenging traditional painting structures.

Painting by Justin Kim
Painting by Justin Kim

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Kim received a B.A. from Yale University and an M.F.A. from the American University in Washington, D.C. He interned with the artist David Hockney, and has taught at Yale, Dartmouth College, Smith College, and Deep Springs College in California. The recipient of several residencies and awards, he has exhibited both regionally and nationally.

Arts Heat Up this Winter

Winter is no time for hibernation in the Arts Department. Students are busy rehearsing, creating, and learning new techniques, and a raft of performances and exhibits will give them a showcase for their talent and hard work.

Speaking of talent and hard work, Mark Wei ’17 received the Williston Working Artist Award, bestowed to those who go above and beyond in effort and achievement in the arts. This fall, Mark returned to campus after a summer internship at a Beijing studio determined to become a photographer. “It’s obvious that Mark has found his passion,” said photography teacher Ed Hing ’77. “He spends most of his waking hours in the Photo Lab thinking, creating, and making images. He aims for perfection in pursuit of his vision. The results have been exceptional and inspiring.” Congratulations, Mark!

On the heels of a daylong visit from Berklee College of Music student a cappella singers Pitch Slapped (read more here), Williston welcomed pianist Aaron Diehl. Diehl is one of the most sought after jazz virtuosos, consistently playing with what the New York Times describes as “melodic precision, harmonic erudition, and elegant restraint.” Diehl’s meticulously thought-out performances, collaborations, and compositions are a leading force in today’s generation of jazz contemporaries, spearheading a distinct union of traditional and fresh artistry. He was on campus to deliver a master class to Mario Flores’ instrumental students before his performance at the UMass Fine Arts Center with Grammy-winning vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant and fellow pianist Adam Birnbaum, playing songs by Jelly Roll Morton and George Gershwin. Read more about his visit here.

But there is still more to look forward to!

  • Artist Bill Mead is showing paintings through the end of February in the Grubbs Gallery.
  • Winter Choral Coffee House on February 16 will feature singers from Williston’s many choral groups at 7:30 in the Chapel.
  • Williston’s dancers will perform their winter moves during a show on February 27 at 4:30 p.m..
  • Theater Lab, featuring one-act plays of experimental theater, takes place on February 23 to 25 at 8 p.m. Read more about the plays and buy tickets here. (Free for Williston students)
  • Winter Pops Concert, February 26, 7 p.m. in the Dodge Room of the Reed Campus Center (moved from the chapel at 7:30 p.m.).
  • Dance Concert, February 27 at 4:30 p.m. in the chapel.

Jazz Pianist Aaron Diehl Gives Master Class at Williston

Aaron Diehl listens while Derrick Zhao '18 plays.
Aaron Diehl listens while Derrick Zhao ’18 plays.

Mario Flores’s instrumental students got a treat yesterday when acclaimed pianist Aaron Diehl stopped by campus and delivered an impromptu master class. “It was a fantastic opportunity for our students!” said Flores, who leads the Williston’s orchestral and jazz programs and teaches music here.

Diehl is a sought-after jazz virtuoso, playing with what the New York Times describes as “melodic precision, harmonic erudition, and elegant restraint.” He will perform tonight at the UMass Fine Arts Center with Grammy-winning vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant and fellow pianist Adam Birnbaum, playing songs by Jelly Roll Morton and George Gershwin.

“We had four students play and work with him,” Flores said. Students brought a piano piece they were working on, either already learned or just beginning to master. Diehl listened and then provided feedback and suggestions about everything from expression of emotion to concrete advice about fingerings and hand position. “It was a casual but professional learning moment for our kids,” Flores said.

 

 

Cig Harvey, Maker of Mysterious Images, Continues Photographers’ Workshop Series

cig 2
Photo by Sam Adler

For our second installation of the 2017 Photographers’ Lecture Series, we welcome acclaimed photographer Cig Harvey, maker of odd, off-kilter images from which one can’t look away. She will speak in the Dodge Room of Reed Campus Center on Feb. 16 at 6:30 p.m.

Harvey’s photographs and artist books have been widely exhibited and remain in the permanent collections of major museums and collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; the Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine; and the International Museum of Photography and Film at the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York. Harvey began working in a darkroom at 13 and has been dedicated to photography ever since. She grew up in the deep valleys of Devon in the UK, and came to the States for her MFA in 1999, after years spent living in Barcelona and Bermuda.

Her first monograph, You Look At Me Like An Emergency (Schilt Publishing, 2012,) is a collection of 10 years of pictures and written vignettes. It sold out in all printings and was named one of PDNʼs Best Books of the Year 2012. Harvey had her first solo museum show at the Stenersen Museum in Oslo, Norway, in conjunction with the release. The book was well reviewed in a number of publications, including The Independent, Aesthetica, the Boston Globe, Blink, PDN, and Pro Photographer.

Harvey’s second monograph, Gardening at Night (Schlit Publishing, 2015,) was published in conjunction with solo shows at Robert Mann Gallery, New York; Robert Klein Gallery, Boston; and Paul Kopeiken Gallery, Los Angeles. The book received critical acclaim with features and reviews in Vogue, The Telegraph, the International Wall Street Journal, the International New York Times, and Aesthetica, among others.

The International Wall Street Journal said of the series, “Though the subjects and setting are familiar to us, we cannot help but feel that Cig Harvey has led us through the looking glass to a world of wonder. In the way that twilight is not quite day and not quite night, the photographs of Gardening at Night are stories not yet fully developed, while still capturing the unexpected yet oddly harmonious moments that surround us daily.”

Harvey’s work has been displayed at Paris Photo, Art Miami, and AIPAD every year since 2006. She has been a nominee for John Gutmann fellowship and the Santa Fe Prize, and a finalist for the BMW Prize at Paris Photo and for the Prix Virginia, an international photography prize for women.

Her devotion to visual storytelling has lead to innovative international campaigns and features with New York Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar Japan, Kate Spade, and Bloomingdale’s. Harvey teaches workshops and regularly speaks on her work and processes at institutions around the world. She is known for her high energy, sense of humor, and creativity. She brings a profound sense of optimism to all that she does.

Ed Hing ’77, Williston photography teacher and organizer of the series, said he asked her to speak here because of her creativity and enthusiasm about image-making. “Her work is sensitive and mysterious,” he said. “I always want to know more about the image after I’ve looked at one.”