Performance Hour showcases talent

The expertise of professors and faculty members is rarely seen in physical form. The communication studies department looks to change that a bit.

The department will host the Faculty Performance Hour at 8 p.m. on Friday in the Marion Kleinau Theatre. This event is a chance for the faculty of the department to present any piece of performance they want. 

Communication studies has offered this annual event for the about six years, said Craig Gingrich-Philbrook, an associate professor of performance studies from Chico, Calif.,. Poetry, music, prose and personal narrative are some of the genres that have been represented in the show. 


 Gingrich-Philbrook has helped put the show on for five years. He does not consider himself the leader of the performance hour, but rather the facilitator.

The hour has several different purposes, he said. It can be looked at as a way to show students what their professors can do and it can also be viewed as a way to present nagging ideas for a crowd of people, like a way to change up a performance or a new poem.

“It provides the faculty the opportunity to regularly make work,” Gingrich-Philbrook said. 

He said it can be a way to question performance as an idea. People have used it to experiment with an non-traditional, form of story-telling. How a performance is designed is often more interesting than the reason behind it, he said. 

At the time of this interview, Gingrich-Philbrook was unsure about what he would present. It will be a performance art piece about loss and persistence, he said.

From there, his idea is a little hard to describe.

“It is a little bit about the cosmos,” Gingrich-Philbrook said.  “And, it’s a little bit about my mother.”


Bryan Crow, an associate professor of communication studies from Memphis, will be performing something a little more straight forward. His presentation involves the poems of his late father.

“It’s an opportunity to let people know where some of my gifts with language come from,” he said.

Crow’s father worked at a newspaper in Memphis and writing poetry was a big hobby of his. A lot of his father’s work includes limericks, puns and long-form poetry. Presenting his writing to people would be a good way to honor his pastime, he said.

One great aspect of the faculty performance hour is how easy-going it is, Crow said.  It’s the type of environment where someone  can stand up and just read his or her work.

Crow is unsure how much of his performance will be rehearsed.

“I’m not planning on doing any dramatic readings of my poems,” he said. “Thought I’d make it more casual.”

Jonathan Gray, associate professor of communication studies from Winston-Salem, N.C., said his process was broken up into a few stages. His performance involves setting up a tent on stage while having a conversation with the audience. 

He said he has to be prepared on how he will set up the tent and also be ready for anything that is thrown at him.

“There is a certain amount of experience in the field, reflecting on it, voicing it and thinking out loud,” Gray said. “A certain amount of crafting that into a script and a certain amount of leaving open some flexibility.”

His presentation will be using a lot of his environmental performance experience to talk about a recent topic that interests him, he said. It will compare the safety enigma when one goes camping and backpacking to the Syrian Crisis.

He said when a person goes camping, he or she set up a tent as a temporary home. It does not matter how flimsy the material is, one feels safe inside the tent.  

The show will contrast the irrational idea of safety and protection one feels inside the short-term home to the paranoia surrounding Syrians after the Paris attacks, Gray said.

“It’s about what it means to select to be out backpacking or hiking,” he said. “Versus being displaced.”

The show is free for everyone. Rebecca Walker, an assistant professor of Communication Studies, was unavailable for interview, but will also be presenting. 

Jacob Pierce can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3325