Performance hour shows off faculty talents

By Jacob Pierce | @JacobPierce1_DE | Daily Egyptian

Puppetry, memories and southern life are just some of the themes touched upon at the Kleinau this weekend.

The Marion Kleinau Theatre will host a Faculty Performance Hour at 8 p.m. Saturday free of charge. The event features faculty members from the Department of Communication Studies performing various work from different genres.

Craig Gingrich-Philbrook, an associate professor, said it was only recently that the department decided to hold the event annually. Gingrich-Philbrook, the show’s producer, said he uses the hour as a venue to try new projects.

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“You want a half step,” he said. “To show a work in progress or try an element of something before an audience before you expand it to figure out how it should grow.”

Gingrich-Philbrook, who has participated in the event since he arrived at the university in 1998, said it is a time to grow one of his pieces through people’s feedback and criticism.

“It is important to us in the same way time in a laboratory would be important to a chemist,” he said. “It gives us a sense of how things are working and how things can change.”

Gingrich-Philbrook will perform a piece about a memory he has of his father, who died when Gingrich-Philbrook was young. He said the story will be told from a stream of consciousness perspective, and questions of memory and time are going to be used to speak to people with recent losses.

“My artistic and social question with the piece is how to talk about the long half-life of memory and the periodic surprises that reframe someone we lost a long time ago,” he said.

The current line-up for the hour includes four more faculty members.

Suzanne Daughton, an associate professor, said performance has been important to her since she participated in theater in high school. Daughton, who has been teaching at the university for 25 years, said this year is her third appearance at the show and it serves as a release from everyday life.

“It is so easy to fall into patterns of just focusing on work and household obligations and things that feel like requirements,” she said.

Daughton is performing a piece from the book “Shopaholic and Sister,” by Sophie Kinsella. The novel is the third in a series of books about a young woman named Becky who collects hobbies and items ranging from yoga to jewelry.

“What motivates me to want to perform is something about playfulness,” she said. “That is a need I really get met through performing.”

Rebecca Walker, an assistant professor, is a new addition to the showcase.

She said her piece, “Peacocks and Porches,” is about living in the south. She said the collection of non-original prose narratives and personal stories focus on grace and hospitality.

The one woman show, which showcases a few different genres, features a nonfiction article by Flannery O’Connor, a novelist and essayist known for her southern gothic style. It also includes some poetry and a personal narrative about Walker’s grandmother.

“It is going to be really interesting, fun show,” she said.

Jonathan Gray, an associate professor, has participated in the event since he came to the university in 1999. He said his main aim at the university is to discuss how to communicate and use artistic practices to understand the environment in his piece.

Gray said his piece will use puppets to explore the paradox of personifying animals or other inanimate objects in order to empathize with them.

“Are we anthropomorphizing the animals?” he said. “There are all kinds of danger warnings in science about adding human qualities to animals.”

Nathan Stucky, chairman of the department, said he will perform sections from Shakespeare’s tragedy “Macbeth.” He said “Macbeth” seemed like an obvious choice, as it tells of the unpleasantness of how people treat one another, which is still seen today.

Stucky said the show serves as a good model for students and is an opportunity to celebrate the idea of performance.

“It is always great fun to see what my colleagues are going to do,” he said.

Jacob Pierce can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JacobPierce1_DE.

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