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>  News Releases >   2007 >   May

New theater program to emphasize diversity and bring visiting artists

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 05/02/07
Genevieve Haas • (603) 646-3661

The Dartmouth Department of Theater is developing a new program that will produce an annual theater piece focusing on issues of particular relevance to Dartmouth's minority communities. The annual program, Voices: The Dartmouth Theater Visiting Artist Program, will bring to campus accomplished minority and other theater artists to collaborate on a production. The first event, sponsored and produced by the theater department, is tentatively scheduled for the fall term in 2007.

Peter Hackett, chair of the theater department, said that at a February 2005 August Wilson tribute, both he and Dartmouth President James Wright were struck by students' passionate desire to see more diverse voices represented in Dartmouth's theatrical productions. "The arts are in a unique position to take a leadership role in communicating via a collaborative, public art form," said Hackett. With an annual funding commitment from the administration, Hackett began to develop the program whose mission he describes as "presenting work of particular relevance to Dartmouth's minority communities; attracting and increasing the participation of members of Dartmouth's minority communities in the activities of the Theater Department; expanding and enriching the repertoire of Department offerings to regularly include significant theatrical works by artists of color; bringing to Dartmouth distinguished theater artists, including artists of color, to collaborate on these productions; and creating a highly visible artistic initiative that recognizes the diversity at the center of the Dartmouth community."

"A program like Voices is a way of putting into practice the ideals and spirit of Dartmouth," said Provost Barry Scherr, whose office is funding the program. "It provides a way for faculty and students to join with talented artists from outside the institution in creating something new and meaningful through theater."

Hackett, who is planning to convene the theater department in order to select a multidisciplinary selection committee, explained that Voices is deliberately amorphous. Beyond the basic requirement of inviting a visiting artist to contribute to a theatrical production, Hackett said he left the criteria and structure of the program flexible and open to allow for artists' schedules and to make possible different kinds of theatrical projects and collaborations that would not mesh with the more regimented performance schedule in an academic setting.

The flexibility of Voices not only allows for non-academic production schedules, but permits different kinds of artists, including playwrights, actors and directors, to make a variety of contributions to the program. Ideally, said Hackett, Dartmouth will develop a resource pool of talented artists invested in the program, and possibly find itself able to commission new works for the program.

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