College of Fine Arts and Communication

Research and Creative Activities

COFAC Colloquium 11 — October 1, 2010 — Van Bokkelen 204

Responding to Art with Art and Conversation: Interdisciplinary Reactions to New Plays

David M. White, Assistant Professor, Department of Theatre

wordBRIDGE posterFor centuries artists have responded to other artists’ works by creating new works of art. As Artistic Director of WordBRIDGE Playwrights Laboratory, one of my goals has been to push the reactions offered to playwrights out of the rhetorical and didactic and into the creative and evocative. Following in the WordBRIDGE and Sundance tradition of an interdisciplinary roster of resources available to respond to new works, I have involved psychologists, mathematicians, visual artists, storytellers, musicians, clowns and mimes, as well as a full roster of professional theatre artists in responding to the new works developed by pre-professional playwrights from around the U.S. during our two and a half week long laboratory. Many of these artists create new works of art to express their reactions to the playwrights’ works. It is my vision that WordBRIDGE should be a laboratory in which playwrights can experiment freely with their works AND a laboratory in which a broad range of artists and professionals can hone their skills in responding to new works and develop new techniques for exploring
and discussing new plays.

PlaywrightsDuring my September trip to the Lubimovka Festival in Moscow, Russia, I presented a workshop with Erik Ramsey (Director of Innovation, Research and Theory at WordBRIDGE) on various strategies for artists responding to new plays at WordBRIDGE Playwrights Laboratory. Since feedback after the readings of new Russian plays is largely unstructured, this proved of particular interest to the Russian playwrights and mentors present (which included playwrights Maksym
Kurochkin and Yury Klavdiev, who were featured in the
Towson/CITD New Russian Drama project).

Sanctuary of the Great Gods at Samothrace

Amy Sowder, Assistant Professor, Department of Art + Design, Art History, Art Education

Sanctuary of the Great Gods at Samothrace ElevationI have been involved in the excavations at the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on Samothrace (Greece), under the direction of James R. McCredie, Professor Emeritus of the New York University Institute of Fine Arts, since 2002. In the last several years, my primary research interests in the Sanctuary have been the reconstruction and interpretation of the decorated marble ceilings that adorned at least three major buildings along the processional route through the sacred space. These sculpted ceilings represent a major investment of artisanship and expense for the Sanctuary. The number of buildings in this sacred precinct given this elaborate treatment is rivaled only by the Athenian Akropolis, which has the same number of similarly treated structures but does not approach the ingenuity of design seen in the Samothracian ceilings.

Hall of Choral DancersThe Hall of Choral Dancers, so‐named because of a striking frieze of sculpted dancers gracefully surrounding the entire perimeter of the massive structure, is the largest and most central building in the Sanctuary. Built in the third quarter of the fourth century BCE, it is also the earliest of the all‐marble constructions. It previously has been suggested that this building may have been dedicated by Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, himself, whom we know to have been an initiate into the mystery cult and legendarily met his future wife (and mother of Alexander), Olympias, at the site. The quality and character of the sculptures from the ceiling, which feature finely carved portrait heads resembling Greek gods, heroes, and portraits of the Macedonian royal family, certainly suggest such an elite donor. My task has been to reconsider the archaeological evidence for the ceiling and its dispersal across the architectural space in light of new excavations in the last decade, to prepare a reconstruction of the ceiling scheme, and to reinterpret the significance of the presence of these gods, heroes, and kings co‐inhabiting the architectural space with the newest initiates into the cult.


As if the Sixties never happened: A singing cop, Baltimore’s last minstrel show, and the newspaper narratives that accompanied a First Amendment battle

Stacy Spaulding, Assistant Professor, Department of Mass Communication & Communication Studies

This paper explores a 1982 NAACP protest of blackface minstrelsy by a white performer – a Baltimore cop who fought and won a First Amendment battle with the police department over his right to perform. This research explores the historical continuities between the antebellum roots of minstrelsy and this 20th century episode, shedding light on contemporary white working class attitudes toward race. This paper found that newspaper coverage acknowledged the existence of the blackface performance before the protest without editorial comment, yet after the protest called for negotiation and compromise. This research suggests the protest, though limited in scope, influenced the politics of racial representation both at the newspaper and in the police department.


College of Fine Arts and Communication
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• COFAC faculty and professional staff members submit your proposal for the next COFAC Colloquium. The deadline is Jan. 22 2010.



• Learn about more of Professor Spaulding's and Professor White'sachievements on the Faculty Accolades page.






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