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Theatre and Dance

Professor's Fellowships Lead to Taiwan

Craig Quintero, associate professor of theatre and dance, has been named the Frank and Roberta Furbush Faculty Scholar for the 2015-16 academic year. Quintero has also received a Fulbright Scholar Award and an Academic Enterprise Leave grant, funded by a grant made to the College by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to support his research and creative work in Taiwan during his sabbatical year.

As a Frank and Roberta Furbush Faculty Scholar, Quintero will direct his new production Rice Dreams at the Avignon Off Festival in France this summer as well as his multi-media performance Dreaming David Lynch at Taiwan’s National Experimental Theatre in November. During the fall he will also teach a class on site-specific art at Taipei’s National University of the Arts as a Fulbright Scholar. In the spring, Quintero will study filmmaking with Taiwanese director Hung Ya-yen and produce his first short film.

Quintero has spent more than ten years in Asia and has worked to forge cultural exchanges between Grinnell College and Taiwan.

As the artistic director of Riverbed Theatre, he has staged his image-based productions in Germany, Taiwan, France, Macau, Singapore, and Japan. Last year, Quintero collaborated with Professor John Rommereim, music, and six Grinnell students in staging an adaptation of Richard Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold in Taipei. The production was nominated for Taiwan’s prestigious Taishin Arts Award.

The Frank and Roberta Furbush Faculty Scholarship was established in 2000 by the late Roberta Stanbery Furbush in appreciation for the influence of Grinnell College upon the lives of her and her husband, Frank. Both Frank and Roberta were highly active in the Des Moines community, and both enjoyed theatre, art, and music.

Research Is Integral

When you take science classes at Grinnell, research is part of the learning experience from your very first course.

Biology 150, an introductory course, “gives students an authentic, accurate experience in what it’s like to do research,” says Clark Lindgren, professor of biology and Patricia A. Johnson Professor of Neuroscience.

Students aren’t simply learning the specific steps for conducting research, Lindgren says. They identify the questions they want to address and try to find answers to them the way scientists do. “They design experiments, do experiments, and write it up,” he says.

One sign of student success, Lindgren says, “is when the research project becomes their own. They get committed to finding the answer.” He says that most students get to that point, whether they end up majoring in science or not.

Think Like a Scientist

Mike Fitzpatrick ’16 appreciated the laboratory component of Bio 150. “Doing experiments, finding more information. I liked the questions I could ask and the answers I could get,” he says.

As the bio chem major delves deeper into his science courses, he’s enjoying the lab work. “It’s not so clear cut,” Fitzpatrick says. “There are more subtleties to sink my teeth into.”

In addition to his courses, Fitzpatrick is working on a Mentored Advanced Project (MAP) that involves extensive laboratory research. “There are so many thing to think about with experiments,” Fitzpatrick says. “It’s fun to learn from them and move on. I’ve learned from each failed experiment.”

With Lindgren’s guidance, Fitzpatrick is studying lizards’ neuromuscular junctions, specifically glial cells, in order to see how they function. Humans have glial cells too, which is one reason lizards make good model organisms. “Ideally, I want to study glial cells in the human brain,” Fitzpatrick says.

Although he came to Grinnell with the idea of becoming a doctor, conducting research has confirmed for Fitzpatrick that he wants a career in research. He intends to pursue an MD/PhD program. 

“I help students who want to go into science get there,” Lindgren says. He’s studied chemical synapses for several years and won a National Institutes of Health grant in 2014 to continue his work.

“Some students who do independent research projects are still exploring,” Lindgren says. “Some discover that yes, they like research, and some learn that no, they really don’t. I think both are excellent outcomes. The earlier you can discover what your interests and aptitudes are, the better off you are.”

Blend Science with Art

Erica Kwiatkowski ’15 uses images from her research to inspire dance choreographyErica Kwiatkowski ’15 has said yes to research over and over. She plans to pursue an MD/PhD program in the fall. Currently in her last semester at Grinnell, Kwiatkowski is working with Lindgren and Celeste Miller, assistant professor of theatre and dance, on a MAP that’s exploring how science and medicine can inform and inspire dance.

Like Fitzpatrick’s, Kwiatkowski’s research with Lindgren is about neuromuscular junctions — but in mice rather than lizards. Kwiatkowski is researching how their endocannabinoid receptors signal hunger and satiation. She likes this practical question.

“The endocannabinoid system still has places that need explained,” she says. “I’d love to be part of finding an answer.”

At Grinnell, she says, she’s able to be self-directed. “What keeps me interested is that I can ask questions and find answers with my hands, using incredible tools to see and figure out things.”

She’s using images from the neuroscience part of her MAP in the dance part of it. She shows the “visually beautiful” images to a group of fellow Grinnell College dance students. They use the images to generate movement ideas that Erica will then use to create the  choreography.

“With dancing and merging it with science, it’s given me a much better appreciation of how the arts and sciences can come together and create something really important,” Kwiatkowski says.

Mike Fitzpatrick ’16 is a biological chemistry major from Lakewood, Ill. Erica Kwiatkowski ’15, also a biological chemistry major, is from Weston, Mass.

The Making of an Embodied Life

Jonathan Miller-LaneJonathan Miller-Lane will present a free public talk, "A Liberal Arts Education and the Making of an Embodied Life," at 8 p.m. Monday, April 27, in Rosenfield Center, Room 101.

The philosopher John Dewey argued that, “Freedom is not the absence of an external limit of control, but rather the presence of an internal locus of control.”

Jonathan Miller-Lane asks “In a society that places such a high value on ‘productivity’and that seems increasingly obsessed with measuring academic achievement using ‘objective’ measures, what possible role might a liberal arts education still play? How might an embodied approach, that is, an approach that takes seriously the possibility that our bodies are sites of knowing, inform our understanding of the meaning and purpose of a liberal arts education?”

In his talk, Miller-Lane will explore these questions, offer some initial responses, and invite discussion.

The departments of athletics and recreation and theatre and dance collaborated on this event, which is supported by a Midwest Conference athletics integration grant.

About Jonathan Miller-Lane

Jonathan Miller-Lane is associate professor and director of the Education Studies Program at Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont. He is also the faculty head of a residential commons, working with colleagues and the student residential life staff to help foster deeper connections between academic and residential life.

His teaching and writing center on a single question: How do we draw from the best traditions of a liberal arts education while responding creatively and compassionately to the realities and challenges of contemporary society in the USA? 

For example, is ‘disinterested learning’ still ethical in a post-Ferguson world? Which cherished ideals should we keep and which should we allow to rest in peace? How should we choose?

Miller-Lane holds the rank of Sandan in the Japanese martial art of Aikido and founded Blue Heron Aikido of Middlebury in 2004. The philosophy of Aikido informs many aspects of his work.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations from the event sponsors or Conference Operations.


Artists/Writers@Grinnell: Dan O’Brien

Dan O'BrienAward-winning poet and playwright Dan O'Brien's second visit to Grinnell College this semester features a reading of the first act of his award-winning play, The Body of an American, at 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 17.

In March, O’Brien taught an English and theatre short intensive course on the creation of a one-act play. Students of the course learned the fundamentals of dramatic structure. They will present 10-minute excerpts from their one-acts at 3–6 p.m. Saturday, April 18.

Both events are free and open to the public, and will be held in Wall Theatre Lab, Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Room 154.

The Body of an American records the story of the relationship between war reporter Paul Watson, known for his iconic photograph of a dead American soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, and O’Brien, who helped each other process their roles in bearing witness. The Body of an American won the Horton Foote Prize for Outstanding New American Play, the PEN Center USA Award for Drama, and other awards. O’Brien’s poetry collections include Scarsdale and War Reporter.

O’Brien’s visit is sponsored by Writers@Grinnell and Artists@Grinnell.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations.


BAX Student Exhibition

The Bachelor of Arts Exhibition (BAX), which features works in the creative arts by students at Grinnell College, will open with a reception at 4:15 p.m. Friday, April 10, at the Faulconer Gallery, Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

BAX is an exhibition of works by advanced art students. This year, the exhibition will feature works by 26 students. Though many of this year's artists major in studio art, some are pursuing an additional major such as anthropology or computer science. Other majors represented include English, theatre, and biological chemistry. Works on view include painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, mixed media, and installations.

Students on the art and art history department's student educational policy committee organize the exhibition. This year's organizers are Becky Garner ’15, Eden Marek ’15, Maria Shevelkina ’15, David Cambronero-Sanchez ’16, Hannah Condon ’16, Eliza Harrison ’16, Glenys Hunt ’16, Hazel Batrezchavez ’17, Xena Fitzgerald ’17, and Lauren Roush ’17. The organizers designed a catalog to accompany the exhibition.

The exhibition is designed by Faulconer Gallery director of exhibition design Milton Severe and coordinated by director Lesley Wright. The exhibition is adjudicated by artist in residence Laleh Khorramian, a visual artist from New York with extensive experience in painting, drawing, animation and digital media. Khorramian will select most of the yearly prizes in studio art, which will be announced at the opening reception.

The exhibition will be on view through May 3. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, and admission is free.

Artists/Writers@Grinnell: Dan O’Brien

Dan O'BrienAward-winning poet and playwright Dan O’Brien will be in residence March 1–7 and April 16–19, sponsored by Writers@Grinnell and Artists@Grinnell.

O’Brien is giving a free public works in progress talk about his creative process at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, March 5, in Faulconer Gallery.

His plays include The Body of an American, winner of the Horton Foote Prize for Outstanding New American Play, the PEN Center USA Award for Drama, and other awards. His poetry collections include Scarsdale and War Reporter.

In March, O’Brien is teaching an English and theatre short intensive course on the creation of a one-act play. Students of the course are learning the fundamentals of dramatic structure and will write, rehearse, and present their own completed one-acts during his second visit in April.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations.

Artists@Grinnell: Stelios Manousakis

Artists@Grinnell welcomes artist-in-residence Stelios Manousakis for a two-week residency February 15–28, 2015.

Stelios Manousakis (Crete, Greece, 1980) is a composer, performer, sound artist, and researcher. He operates across the convergence zones of art, science, and engineering / composition, performance, and installation / the rich tradition of western sonic art and ‘digital-folk’ idioms. He studied music and linguistics in Greece, Sonology in the Netherlands, and is currently finishing a PhD in Visual and Performing Arts at the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS, University of Washington). You can view Manousakis’ portfolio online.

Manousakis will be visiting campus to share his process, produce work, and connect with students, faculty, and staff.

Please come to the following events in Bucksbaum Center for the Arts. Email Artists@Grinnell Residency for more information.

Scheduled Events

Student Lunch

Noon Wednesday, Feb. 18, in Bucksbaum Room 152

Artists@Grinnell and the Music Student Educational Policy Committee invites you to learn more about Stelios over an informal pizza lunch open to all majors and interested students.

Installation Tours

4:15 p.m. Wednesday, February 18, & Friday, February 20, in Faulconer Gallery

Manousakis’ sound installation titled "Act so there is no use in a centre" (2014) can be experienced in the Faulconer Gallery throughout his residency. The installation tours will be informal to give viewers a chance to ask the artist a few questions. The piece is an interactive radio-transmitted spatial play using text from Gertrude Stein’s “Rooms” (1914) and Manousakis’ audio archive.

Works in Progress Talk: Creating with Systems

4:15 p.m. Monday, February 23, in Faulconer Gallery

Stelios Manousakis will talk about feedback, musical cybernetics, and working with systems, processes, and texts. He will present some of his recent artworks and will discuss the creative processes involved while keeping an eye on a wider historical, scientific, and artistic context.

This talk is the first of a series called "Works in Progress Talks" where visiting artists are asked to speak about their processes.

Artists@Grinnell is an Innovation Fund project and a collaborative effort by Faulconer Gallery; the art and art history, music, and theatre and dance departments; and Writers@Grinnell. Manousakis’ residency is co-sponsored by the music department and Center for International Studies.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Bucksbaum Center for the Arts and Faulconer Gallery are accessible. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations.

Shaping Students

Two Mentored Advanced Projects (MAPs) in theatre, one in chemistry, an internship with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and a job managing the campus pub — the key points on Ben Doehr ’15’s resume indicate the chemistry/economics double major’s depth and breadth of knowledge.

Grinnell strives to produce “T-shaped students” such as Doehr, the depth and breadth represented respectively by the vertical and horizontal line of a T. This model stands in contrast to both the traditional university model, which emphasizes depth, and the perception of the liberal arts model, which is sometimes viewed as providing a base of knowledge a mile wide and an inch deep.

When they were applying to colleges, both Doehr and Iulia Iordache ’15 wanted something they struggled to find elsewhere. Iordache was looking for an alternative to the system of higher education in her native Romania, which would have required her to know exactly what she wanted to study when she applied. Doehr wanted to have the opportunity to study physics and economics in depth while also doing technical theatre and design work. 

Both have credited the College with expanding their knowledge within their key areas of study and helping them develop transferrable skills such as critical thinking and strong writing skills.

Developing deeper understanding

Doehr and Iordache point to MAPs as a key means of gaining depth. MAPs offer students the opportunity to work one-on-one with a faculty mentor. The results of these collaborations are frequently presented at academic and professional conferences as well as on campus.

Doehr likes to joke that being manager of the campus pub, Lyle’s, has taught him as much about economics as his coursework has. It’s not that much of an exaggeration: “Managing the pub gave me a very hands-on experience on the practical side of things,” Doehr says. His MAPs with the theatre department also allowed him hands-on work with interactive design. He and fellow student Caleb Sponheim ’15 created a series of three interactive installations in Roberts Theatre.

Iordache also credits her professors — both the degree to which they care about their students’ success and how accessible they are — for the depth of her knowledge. Iordache completed an education MAP that involved traveling to Romania to study the impact of voluntourism on the local population. Initially, she intended to be an economics major, but changed her mind and pursued psychology instead. She added a second major in Russian, and after completing a summer MAP with Assistant Professor of education Cori Jakubiak, decided to pursue international education when she graduates.

Establishing a broad base of knowledge

Iordache came to Grinnell in part because the open curriculum allowed her a chance to explore her interests. Outside of class, her perspective has been broadened by the views of other students. On a regular basis, she finds herself having conversations that relate to what she is studying. “We were talking about dualism in my psychology class,” Iordache says, “and I ended up having a conversation about dualism versus materialism in the Grill with a friend who wasn’t even in the class. It was a great discussion.” Iordache enjoys these kinds of conversations because everyone brings their own knowledge to bear on a subject.

A summer internship with the FDIC helped Doehr realize how his breadth of knowledge benefited him outside classes. He walked in knowing very little about the day-to-day operations of the FDIC, but quickly learned how the organization worked. He worked with a number of young FDIC employees and found that he could write on the same professional level as they could. He credits his liberal arts education for both his writing skills and giving him the ability to tackle new problems without being specifically trained for them.

Michael Frayn's Copenhagen

Grinnell College presents Michael Frayn's 1998 play Copenhagen, a drama that weaves together physics, friendship, and the atomic bomb; it won the Olivier and Tony Awards for best play.

About the Play

An emotionally explosive play of ideas, Copenhagen draws on history, science, moral philosophy, and metaphysics to explore the mysteries of human behavior, “the final core of uncertainty at the heart of things.” Directed by Ellen Mease, associate professor of theatre and dance, the play dramatizes what could or should have happened in the mysterious 1941 wartime meeting between the German physicist Werner Heisenberg and his former mentor, the Danish physicist Niels Bohr, in Nazi-occupied Denmark.

Hitler’s rapid conquest of Europe put Heisenberg and Bohr on opposite sides. At the time of their meeting, Heisenberg was in charge of theoretical work on the feasibility of atomic bombs. Why had Heisenberg come to Copenhagen? What did he want from Bohr?

The two men enjoyed perhaps the greatest friendship in the history of science. In close collaboration during the 1920s, they’d developed quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle, and complementarity — the Copenhagen interpretation . With the discovery of nuclear fission in the 1930s, talk of nuclear power and atomic weapons was already in the air as the world headed into war.

Tickets and Times

Tickets are required for this free public event, and will be available beginning Monday, Nov. 17, through the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts box office.

Performances are:

  • 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 20-22
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23

All performances are in Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Flanagan Studio Theatre,

About Grinnell’s Production

This production features

  • Ian Saderholm ’15 as Niels Bohr
  • Scott Slava-Ross ’17 as Margretha Bohr
  • Matt Steege ’17 as Werner Heisenberg
  • Scenic and light design by Justin Thomas
  • Costume design by Erin Howell-Gritsch
  • Technical direction by Erik Sanning ’89
  • Stage management by Emily Griffith ’17
  • Assistant directing by Mary Adams ’15
  • Directing and stage management assistance by Keith Hoagland ’18 and Michelle Risacher ’17.


Sharing the Stage

Two different productions of Eugene O’Neill’s 1921 play Anna Christie will be performed Oct. 9–12, offering an opportunity to juxtapose the musical and theatrical traditions of China and the United States.

The award-winning Ningbo Yong Opera Troupe from Ningbo, China, will visit the College to perform Andi. Andi is a Chinese operatic adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s play about an estranged daughter with a dark past. Grinnell student actors will also present an English-language production; Sandy Moffett, professor emeritus of theatre and dance, directs the English production.

Both productions of Anna Christie will share the same set in Roberts Theatre in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts. “It will be fascinating to compare and contrast these two productions of the same drama in different languages and art forms, as both versions are performed in alteration,” Moffett says. “The style of traditional Chinese opera and dance is quite different from the Western style, and should interest anyone interested in the history of opera, dance or China.” The Chinese troupe consists of nine actors and about 15 musicians who play traditional Chinese instruments. Grinnell music students will join them, playing Western string instruments required by the score.

About the Production

With a wide repertoire featuring traditional Chinese opera and interpretations of modern works, the Ningbo Yong Opera Troupe of the Ningbo Performance and Arts Group has performed in France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, among other countries. The group’s recent performance of The Red Dress at New York City’s Lincoln Center won the 11th National Spiritual Civilization Five Top Project Prize and the Excellent Repertoire Award of the Seventh China Dance Lotus Award. Playing the lead role of the daughter will be Wang Jinwen, who received the top national award for a Chinese opera performer in 2012 for her performance in the opera Wife in Pawn.

Members of the Chinese troupe will conduct an open workshop with Grinnell students interested in music and theatre. The weekend also will feature a lecture by a Chinese literary scholar about Eugene O’Neill in China.

The troupe’s visit is made possible by Grinnell’s Center for International Studies and the Department of Theatre and Dance.

Schedule of Performances

Unless otherwise noted, all events are held in Roberts Theatre, Bucksbaum Center for the Arts. All events, with the exception of The Ningbo Yong Opera Troupe’s Saturday evening performance are open to the public at no charge, although tickets are required.

Tickets may be obtained at the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts box office beginning at noon Monday, Oct. 6. A limited number of tickets also will be available at the Pioneer Bookshop in downtown Grinnell. For more information about tickets, call the box office at 641-269-4444.

Thursday, Oct. 9

4:15 p.m. – Haiping Liu, professor of foreign language at Nanjing University, and Sandy Moffett, professor emeritus of theatre and dance at Grinnell College, will give a lecture titled “A Strange Combination: Eugene O’Neill in China.” Room 152, Bucksbaum Center for the Arts. No tickets are required for this event.

7:30 p.m. – Grinnell College Department of Theatre and Dance presents Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie in its original form.

Friday, Oct. 10

7:30 p.m. – Ningbo Yong Opera Troupe presents Andi. Performed in Mandarin; English supertitles available.

Saturday, Oct. 11

2 p.m. – Ningbo Yong Opera Troupe presents Andi. Performed in Mandarin; English supertitles available.

7:30 p.m. – Grinnell College Department of Theatre and Dance presents Anna Christie.

7:30 p.m. – Ningbo Yong Opera Troupe presents a selection of Chinese songs and scenes in the Loft Theatre of the Grinnell Area Arts Center, 926 Broad St. Tickets cost $5 and are available by calling the Grinnell Area Arts Council Box Office at 641-236-3203.

Sunday, Oct. 12

2 p.m. – Grinnell College Department of Theatre and Dance presents Anna Christie.