Jane Cox, senior lecturer in theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts and director of the Program in Theater, was presented with the Ruth Morley Design Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women on May 3, 2016. The annual award recognizes leading female designers working in theater and film. Cox is an award-winning lighting designer and has been a lecturer at Princeton since 2007. Her recent projects include Hamlet, starring English actor Benedict Cumberbatch and directed by Lyndsey Turner, and the new musical Amelie, directed by Pam MacKinnon. She received a 2016 Drama Desk Award nomination for her lighting design on the Broadway revival of The Color Purple.
Two faculty members and a visiting lecturer have received 2016 fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in recognition of their excellence in scholarship or creative work. The fellowships were awarded to Daniel Garber, the A. Watson Armour, III, University Professor of Philosophy, for his project, How Philosophy Became Modern in the 17th Century; Juri Seo, assistant professor of music, for music composition; and Raphael Xavier, a visiting lecturer in dance and the Lewis Center for the Arts, for choreography.
Garber researches the history of philosophy and the history of science in the early modern period, especially the questions of what is considered philosophy and what is considered science, and how that has changed over time. He is the author of numer- ous works on the science and philosophy of Galileo Galilei, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton and others.
Seo is a composer and pianist who writes music that is unified and fluid but also complex in structure. She brings influences from music of the past century into her compositions, which are serious and humorous, lyrical and violent, and use fast-changing dynamics. She has earned many composition honors and joined the Princeton faculty in fall 2014.
A hip-hop practitioner since 1983, Xavier is a choreographer with a profound understanding of movement, sound and musicality. In addition to his success at integrating hip-hop styles into dance theater, he has created an approach to dance that helps with physical healing and makes movement accessible to any body type. His artistic work also includes photography, film and music.
Jhumpa Lahiri, whose novels and short stories explore the immigrant experience, family, love, language and cultural identity, was named a recipient of the 2014 National Humanities Medal. The medal was conferred by President Barack Obama at a ceremony at the White House on Sept. 10, 2015.
The citation for the award honored Lahiri, who joined the faculty in 2015 as a professor of creative writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts, “for enlarging the human story. In her works of fiction, Dr. Lahiri has illuminated the Indian-American experience in beautifully wrought narratives of estrangement and belonging.”
Her 1999 debut collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, which probes issues of love and identity among immigrants and cultural transplants, won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the PEN/Hemingway Award and The New Yorker’s Best Debut of the Year Award. Her 2013 novel The Lowland was a National Book Award and Man Booker Prize finalist. Her 2003 novel The Namesake was released as a film in 2007.
Lahiri’s most recent book of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth, received the 2008 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and was a finalist for the Story Prize. Her forthcoming book, In Other Words, explores the often emotionally fraught links between identity and language.
–By Jamie Saxon
FOR HIS SENIOR THESIS, Eamon Foley combined indie rock music, dance, aerial choreography and ethnographic research to create an original theater-dance piece titled Hero, which tells the story of a young man transformed by his experiences in the Vietnam War.
The senior thesis is a major research or creative work required of all Princeton undergraduates. Foley’s thesis, featuring a cast of fellow Princeton students, was performed April 25 through May 1, 2015, at the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Matthews Acting Studio, the Program in Theater’s black box theater.
The script is based on Foley’s interviews with Vietnam veterans and other research, including his visit to Vietnam in summer 2014. “I spent a lot of time studying ethnography — the idea of gathering information through interview,” said Foley, who graduated in 2015 with an anthropology degree and a theater certificate. “I thought this would be a great way to look at where anthropology and theater meet.”
A documentary about the experience of creating Hero, by Danielle Alio and Jamie Saxon, takes viewers through Foley’s 10-month creative journey, from early fall 2014 when he had no script, no choreography and no cast — just “a lot of great ideas bouncing around in my head” — through opening night.
-By Danielle Alio and Jamie Saxon
Jill Dolan, the Annan Professor in English, professor of theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts, and director of the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, received the 2013 Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Society for Theater Research (ASTR). ASTR is a U.S.-based professional organization that fosters scholarship on worldwide theater and performance, both historical and contemporary.
The award committee commended Dolan as “someone who has been a visible presence in every aspect of our profession for over 30 years.” The award was presented at the ASTR conference in Dallas on Nov. 9, 2013.
–By the Office of Communications
A MUSICAL ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE that was born at Princeton made its New York City debut in April 2014. Both entertaining and informative, The Great Immensity focuses on the quintessential question of our time: How can we change our society to solve the enormous environmental challenges we confront?
The play came to life in 2010 in a novel collaboration involving the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) and the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Atelier program, which brings together professional artists from different disciplines with Princeton students to create new works. The play was developed by PEI Barron Visiting Professors Steven Cosson, theater director, and Michael Friedman, composer/lyricist, both founders of The Civilians, a New Yorkbased investigative theater group. The project later received a grant from the National Science Foundation.
The Civilians performed The Great Immensity at the Public Theater Lab, after a 2012 run at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre.
–By Ilene Dube
The 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction was awarded to A.M. Homes, a lecturer in creative writing and the Lewis Center for the Arts, for her novel May We Be Forgiven. The £30,000 ($46,000) prize rewards excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing worldwide. Homes received the prize in London.
A contributing editor at Vanity Fair, Homes has written the novels This Book Will Save Your Life, Music For Torching, The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers and Jack. Her short-story collections include Things You Should Know and The Safety of Objects. Homes has also written for television: she helped write and produce the television show The L Word, and adapted her first novel, Jack, for Showtime
Three professors have received 2013 Guggenheim Fellowships for demonstrated excellence in scholarship or creative work.
D. Graham Burnett, professor of history; Deana Lawson, lecturer in visual arts and the Lewis Center for the Arts; and Colson Whitehead, lecturer in creative writing and the Lewis Center for the Arts, were selected by a network of former Guggenheim Fellows to receive grants that would provide them with the ability to work with significant creative freedom for six months to one year.
Burnett focuses on the history of earth and oceanic science from the 17th through the 20th centuries. He has written about changing human conceptions of nature, art and technology, and serves as an editor at the Brooklyn-based art magazine Cabinet.
Lawson’s work uses photography to approach personal and social histories, particularly in black culture. Her artwork has been exhibited in galleries throughout New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta, including the Museum of Modern Art, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Print Center and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art. She has also displayed her photographs in the Helene Bailly Gallery in Paris and the KIT Museum in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Whitehead’s novel John Henry Days was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the Los Angeles Times Fiction Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and his collection of essays The Colossus of New York was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Whitehead has received a MacArthur Fellowship and a Whiting Writers Award.
Acclaimed poet Susan Wheeler, professor of creative writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts, whose last individual collection predicted the spiritual losses of the economic collapse, turns her attention to the most intimate of subjects: the absence or loss of love.
A meme is a unit of thought replicated by imitation; examples of memes, Richard Dawkins wrote, “are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches.” Occupy Wall Street is a meme, as are Internet ideas and images that go viral. What could be more potent memes than those passed down by parents to their children?
Wheeler reconstructs her mother’s voice— down to its cynicism and its mid-20th-century Midwestern vernacular — in “The Maud Poems,” a voice that takes a more aggressive, vituperative turn in “The Devil — or — The Introjects.” In the book’s third long sequence, a generational inheritance feeds cultural transmission in “The Split.” A set of variations on losses and breakups — wildly, darkly funny throughout and, in places, devastatingly sad — “The Split” brings Wheeler’s lauded inventiveness, wit and insight to the profound loss of love. One read, and the meme “Should I stay or should I go?” will be altered in your head forever.
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012 (Cover image and text courtesy of the publisher.)
Extravagant wigs and sumptuous costumes serve as metaphors that breathe life into the social satire of Der Bourgeois Bigwig, a new adaptation of a 17th-century comedy by Molière that pokes fun at both the pretentious middle-class and the snobbish aristocracy.
A production of Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts and the Department of Music, Der Bourgeois Bigwig tells the story of a wealthy merchant who aspires to become an aristocrat, but who only succeeds in looking foolish and falling prey to con artists. The adaptation was created by playwright James Magruder, who served during 2012-13 as Princeton’s Class of 1932 Visiting Lecturer in Theater, and is based on Molière’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme as well as a 1912 musical version by Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Der Bürger als Edelmann.
Performed for the first time in fall 2012, the play was directed by Tim Vasen, director of the Program in Theater. Michael Pratt, director of the Program in Musical Performance, conducted the Princeton University Orchestra. Performed by an all-student cast, the Bigwig production was also a credited course, taught by Vasen.
“Our production was a 21st-century English language version of an early- 20th-century German musical adaptation of a late-17th-century French play,” said Vasen. “Yet, the story, the themes, the satire and jabs at pretense to a higher perceived social class resonate as vividly today as they did over 300 years ago.”
The title role was played by Gary Fox, Class of 2013, who earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry with certificates in French and theater. His classmate, Lily Akerman, who earned her bachelor’s degree in comparative literature with certificates in creative writing and theater, choreographed the production. New York-based designer Anya Klepikov created the set and costumes, with lighting design by Jane Cox, a lecturer in theater and the Lewis Center for the Arts.
-By Steve Runk