La Donna Forsgren writes because she has something to say — and because the people she writes about had something to say, too. An assistant professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre, Forsgren’s research shines a light on the essential role African American women have played in theatre history. She has written two books on female dramatists in the Black Arts Movement and is now working on a third focusing on women in contemporary black musical theatre.
Pamela Wojcik, a professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre, has been awarded a 2020 fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in support of her book project, Unhomed: Mobility and Placelessness in American Cinema. Wojcik is among 175 scholars, artists, and scientists to be awarded fellowships this year from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants. Faculty in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters have won 18 Guggenheim fellowships in the last 20 years.
From philosophy to musical theatre to economics, Arts and Letters faculty are using technological innovations — as well as creativity, patience, and empathy — to continue the educational experience for their students as the University shifts to online classes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The sudden shift has prompted adaptation in the face of adversity — from defending a dissertation via Zoom meeting to posting and analyzing behind-the-scenes clips of rehearsal for a musical that won't be performed — but it has also already helped faculty and students forge new bonds with each other.
Hesburgh, a critically acclaimed documentary to be released nationwide on May 3, tells the story of Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C. — reaching far beyond the borders of the Notre Dame campus to tell an epic American saga. But the making of Hesburgh is very much a Notre Dame story. Documentary filmmaker Patrick Creadon ’89 has a history of hiring Notre Dame students and alumni — and sought out no less than 19 of them to help create Hesburgh.
Like the character he created, Jorge “Jay” Rivera-Herrans is exuberant and tenacious, but no one could mistake him for a cop out. A junior film, television, and theatre major, he has written the book, lyrics, and music for a new musical — Stupid Humans, in which he also plays the leading role. The show ran from Feb. 21 through March 3, sold out every one of its scheduled nine performances. An additional performance was added — and sold out online in less than two minutes.
Notre Dame has launched an interdisciplinary minor in musical theatre — a collaboration between the Departments of Music and Film, Television, and Theatre — which can be customized for students interested in performing, songwriting, directing, conducting, or scholarship. The program begins at a time when dramatic, music-based performances are thriving on campus, including Opera Notre Dame’s recent productions of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and a world-premiere operatic version of As You Like It as well as FTT musicals such as Cabaret and Little Shop of Horrors.
The Department of Film, Television, and Theatre is broadening the scope of its theatre program with two new faculty members — Tarryn Chun and La Donna Forsgren. Chun specializes in the modern and contemporary periods in Chinese theatre, as well as the intersection between technology and the arts. Forsgren focuses on African American theatre and performance, dramaturgy, and black feminist theories.
For a talented group of students and young alumni from Notre Dame’s Department of Film, Television, and Theatre, the dream of having their film screened at a Los Angeles film festival was realized this summer. The showcase, hosted by the College of Arts and Letters, was held at the Directors Guild of America Theatre this summer. It featured six student films and a short documentary from the “First Time Fans” series, directed by alumni filmmakers.
From the first flicker of life in Frankenstein’s monster to the spark of unexpected connection between two high school students, the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre’s 2016-17 theatre season features an array of diverse, compelling productions. The department will present two student-written plays, In Paradisum and The Pink Pope, followed by an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Lauren Gunderson’s I and You, and Christ’s Passion: Medieval Mystery Plays.
Political science major Patrick Vassel '07 didn’t come to Notre Dame dreaming of a career on Broadway. But a path that began with acting and directing in shows on campus has led him to New York's biggest stage. He's now associate director of Hamilton, the blockbuster musical that's won Tony Awards, a Grammy, and the Pulitzer Prize. Vassel has been a key figure in the show's development, working with actors and technicians night in and night out.
About seven years ago, Mary Celeste Kearney began noticing how much “sparkle” had become part of girls’ culture—in makeup and clothing, as well as in girl-oriented media. She began compiling a “taxonomy of sparkle” in contemporary films and TV series to explore its sociocultural significance. The resulting essay, “Sparkle: Luminosity and Post-Girl Power Media,” has been honored with the Katherine Singer Kovács Essay Award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.
The abandoned island of Inishark off the coast of western Ireland is coming to life again thanks to new technology—a multimedia book project by Notre Dame anthropologist Ian Kuijt and filmmaker William Donaruma ’89. Through an innovative collaboration, they’ve created Island Places, Island Lives, a guidebook detailing the heritage and history of Inishark and its neighboring island, Inishbofin. Along with text and photographs, the book incorporates short videos of the island that appear on a smartphone or tablet when readers, using a free companion app, hold their device over key images in the book.
After adapting his award-winning documentary On the Bridge into a graphic novel that both portrayed stories of veterans and offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Olivier Morel’s emotions and struggles as he interviewed them, the FTT assistant professor was inspired to create an undergraduate course. In Graphic Wounds, Graphic Novels, in-depth readings and discussions with some of the genre’s leading authors revealed how trauma and recovery are depicted in nonfiction graphic novels.
A new beginning in Crested Butte, Colorado. A carnivorous plant on Skid Row. A chance meeting in a Moscow cafe. And, a fresh look at Jane Austen’s beloved Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. The 2015-16 theatre season of the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Film, Television, and Theatre offers four distinctly different productions—Wildflower, Little Shop of Horrors, The Bear and Afterplay, and Pride and Prejudice—which together make this season one not to be missed.
“Imagine a kind of live, national GRE exam where students audition in open competition against one another, evaluated by representatives from the best graduate theatre programs,” said Professor Jim Collins, chair of the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre (FTT). Notre Dame had record success in 2014 at the national auditions organized by the University/Resident Theatre organization (URTA), with six of the seven FTT students who auditioned receiving offers from graduate programs in attendance.
“Cabaret,” winner of the 1967 Tony Award for best musical, is coming to the University of Notre Dame Wednesday-Sunday (Nov. 13-17).
Known for its outstanding music, edgy themes and underlying social issues, the show will be the first full-scale musical the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre (FTT) has produced in more than 20 years, said Associate Professor Kevin Dreyer.