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The College of Arts Sciences

Escape from the Archive Conference examines performance and history

By: Julian Robison,  originally published in the Cornell Chronicle
October 24, 2017

Scholars and artists will explore the interaction between history, theater and performance during the Escape From the Archive conference, Oct. 27-29 at the Schwartz Center. The conference, organized by doctoral students Caitlin Kane and Erin Stoneking from the Department of Performing and Media Arts (PMA), will feature lectures, performances and roundtable discussions on theater, film, dance and opera.

Georgetown University professor Soyica Diggs Colbert will deliver the conference’s keynote lecture, “Archival Curiosities and Fugitive Geographies in Lorraine Hansberry’s ‘A Raisin in the Sun,’” at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 28 in the Film Forum. Colbert is the author of several books, including “Black Movements: Performance and Cultural Politics” and “The African American Theatrical Body: Reception, Performance, and the Stage.”

A roundtable, “Queer Archives in Practice,” at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 27, will look at how artists and scholars draw from LGBT history. Sara Warner, associate professor in PMA, will facilitate a discussion between Brenda Marston, curator of Cornell’s Human Sexuality Collection; Lisa Merrill, professor at Hofstra University; and James Waller, president of the Arch and Bruce Foundation in Room 124 at the Schwartz Center.

The LGBT theme continues with a workshop performance of Leigh Fondakowski’s “Casa Cushman” at 7 p.m. Oct. 28 in the Black Box Theatre. The play chronicles the life of 19th-century American actress Charlotte Cushman, who was famous for challenging Victorian gender norms with her stage performances of male Shakespearean roles.

The Cherry Arts’ “Storm Country,” a walking play. Meet behind Boatyard Grill, 525 Old Taughannock Blvd at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 29 and end at the Cherry Artspace, 102 Cherry St. Audience members wear headphones as they travel along the 1-mile journey through Ithaca’s history. The play, adapted by Nick Salvato, professor and chair of PMA, and Aoise Stratford, visiting assistant professor, comes from the Ithaca-set novel “Tess of the Storm Country” and incorporates dialogue, music and environmental sounds. The play will be followed by a talkback with the writers and Rod Howe, executive director of The History Center in Tompkins County.

“I am excited by the slate of artists and scholars who are participating, and I hope the mix of performances and academic panels will appeal to a wide swath of people,” Stoneking said.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, email Caitlin Kane or Erin Stoneking.

Julian Robison '20 is a communications assistant for the Department of Performing and Media Arts.