Students pursue summer arts opportunities

by Margarette Nelson | 9/14/14 4:35pm

From playing street performances in Provincetown, Massachusetts, to attending screenings at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Dartmouth students engaged in various summer arts activities.

Grace Carney ’17 sang weekly solo performances at a Provincetown drag variety show and performed on the town’s streets with her band, Grace and the Carnivore, comprised of herself and her two brothers, several times a week, she said.

Her “jazzy, indie, pop-rock” band plays original songs as well as covers of songs by bands like The Beatles, Jason Mraz and The Weepies, Carney said.

A highlight of Carney’s summer, she said, was the band’s show at T.T. the Bear’s Place in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At the show, the band played original songs from its EP, Out of Context, released last November.

The band has started to make more recordings, and Carney and her brothers, students at Northeastern University, plan to play on campus soon, she said.

Actress Emma Orme ’15 worked this summer as a production assistant to playwright Sibyl Kempson at the New York Theatre Workshop, a theater in the East Village neighborhood of New York City that focuses on producing new works. Artists from the theater visit Dartmouth each summer as part of a residency program that allows them to develop works in progress.

Orme also served as assistant director for experimental director Marina McClure ’04, who is currently working on a play for the Edith Wharton Project. Orme felt she had the opportunity to be a “creative contributor” to the production, which rehearsed in Brooklyn’s JACK theater.

Although Orme has performed in numerous productions at Dartmouth, her positions this summer allowed her to explore other creative roles, she said.

“I see myself as a theater-maker in general, rather than an actor,” Orme said.

Several students participated in productions at the New London Barn Playhouse, a summer stock theater, as well.

Dartmouth has a close relationship with the theater — Carol Dunne, producing artistic director at The Barn, said that more than 50 Dartmouth students have participated in its productions during her seven years working at the playhouse. The result is “constant cross-pollination,” she said, between campus theater and The Barn.

Dunne is also artistic director at the Northern Stage theater in White River Junction and a senior lecturer in Dartmouth’s theater department.

Actor Max Gottschall ’15 participated in the Acting Intern Company at The Barn, which performed six shows, four of them musicals, during the theater’s three-month performance season. Victoria Fox ’15 spent her summer at The Barn as a props designer and assistant stage manager, and Cristy Altamirano ’15 was stage manager for the Junior Intern Company, an acting group for middle- and high school-aged actors.

Student participants described life at The Barn as extremely busy. Altamirano navigated simultaneous rehearsals for three shows with overlapping cast members, while Gottschall spent mornings on tech duty and helped with the stage changeover between shows.

“It’s an all-hands-on-deck kind of approach to the show,” Gottschall said.

Dunne said that The Barn facilitates participants’ career development in addition to improving technical skills. She emphasized that artists should cultivate an array of skills in order to be successful professionals.

“I certainly walked away with a renewed appreciation with how much work and passion and blood and sweat and tears goes into a theatrical production,” Gottschall said.

Jazz guitarist Michael Blum ’15 spent the summer preparing to record his quartet’s next album, a tribute to the late jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. Blum said he spends about 60 hours a week playing his guitar.

Blum’s quartet released its debut album, “Initiation,” earlier this year. He plans to record about 10 new tracks with his quartet in November.

Students attended summer foreign study programs in the arts, including the theater department’s program in London and the film and media studies department’s program in Edinburgh.

Students on the theater FSP studied at the London Academy for Music and Dramatic Art and participated in an intensive, conservatory-caliber experience along with students from around the world. Classes included instruction on movement, dance and voice, and students attended several local performances each week, participant Katelyn Onufrey ’15 said.

Theater professor James Rice, who led the program, described the curriculum as a “combination of the very practical and the observational.”

“Living in London is an incredible opportunity with the history and culture and fabulous museums,” Rice said.

Onufrey said attending the local shows was her favorite aspect of the program’s curriculum. Students also gathered on Sundays for a seminar in Rice’s flat, where they discussed the shows, she said.

The film FSP in Edinburgh was planned to coincide with the annual Edinburgh International Film Festival, one of the longest-running and most renowned in the world.

Students used facilities at the Screen Academy Scotland to produce original short films as well as music videos for local bands, said film and media studies professor Mary Flanagan, who led the FSP.