43 Strong, Eastern Represents in Georgia at National Conference

With 43 student presenters, Eastern was among the top 20 schools nationwide for NCUR participation, and the only school from New England to make the list.

Forty-three students from Eastern Connecticut State University traveled to Georgia on April 11-13 to present original research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR). The 2019 conference occurred at Kennesaw State University and featured hundreds of undergraduate students from across the country.

Eastern was among the top 20 schools nationwide for NCUR participation this year – the only school from New England to make the list – and one of the few with a student population of less than 6,000.

Eastern students from a range of majors presented artwork, music performances and oral/poster presentations. Research questions probed topics such as the microbiome of scorpions, the link between casual sex and online dating, pop-culture glamorization of eating disorders, and much more.

Adella Dzitko-Carlson presents “Finding Faith in the 21st Century: The Search for the Sacred in John Luther Adams’ “In the Name of the Earth.”

Music major Esther Jones ’20 commented on the experience of performing a lecture-recital. “This experience at NCUR was a milestone in my life because I didn’t think that I could actually do it when the time finally came around. I thought that I would be trembling so badly that my mind would go blank.”

Jones’ piano performance was titled “‘Theme and Variations on an Egyptian Folksong’ by Gamal Abdel-Rahim.” She added, “This experience helped to boost my confidence and has given me courage to face new challenges.”

“One of my greatest takeaways from this conference is how it pushes you and makes you a better academic,” said Michael Tuttle ’19, who majors in psychology and mathematics.

“Presenting at a conference subjects your research to a higher level of scrutiny, challenging your thoughts and ideas. When audience members ask questions and offer suggestions, it pushes you to think critically and creatively.” Tuttle’s presentation was titled “Overconfidence and Impulsivity of College Students in a Cognitive Reflection Task.”

Theresa Parker presents “Echo Chambers in Social Media: Why do People Seek or Reject Opposing Viewpoints.”

Biology major Chris Shimwell ’20 presented “Molecular Identification of the Scorpion Telson Microbiome.” He said, “Presenting at a national conference is a valuable experience because it allows you to synthesize information into an audio-visual format and present it to others who are highly educated and knowledgeable about your field.”

Jacob Dayton ’19, a biology major who presented two projects – one on the genetic diversity of a migratory bird group and one on the behaviors of strawberry poison-dart frogs – added that the value of presenting at national conferences is threefold.

“One, it provides students with the opportunity to practice communicating their research to a diverse audience. Two, questions and comments from audience members challenge students to defend and/or expand their thinking. And three, it provides the opportunity to publicize Eastern and the quality research that its students are conducting.”

Students also cited being exposed to new research questions during others’ presentations, interacting with peers from across the country, and sharing the NCUR experience with their Eastern friends as highlights of the conference. Psychology Professors Carlos Escoto and James Diller and Biology Professor Patricia Szczys accompanied the Eastern group.

NCUR was established in 1987. From a pool of several thousand applicants, students are accepted into the conference if their research demonstrates a unique contribution to their field of study. NCUR offers undergraduates the opportunity to present their research findings to peers, faculty and staff from colleges and universities across the nation, providing a unique networking and learning opportunity.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Eastern to Present ‘To Damascus’ Immersive Theatre Experience

The Theatre Program at Eastern Connecticut State University will present “To Damascus” from April 23-28. Based on August Strindberg’s seminal trilogy “The Road to Damascus” and adapted/directed by Theatre Professor David Pellegrini, “To Damascus” is an interactive theatre experience that traverses venues throughout the Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC).

The show follows a man on a fascinating and sometimes terrifying spiritual journey. Small groups of viewers will follow the journey and be taken through scenes in multiple settings throughout the FAIC – including the building’s three performance venues, main lobby and select classrooms.

Speaking to the traveling, multi-venue format of the play, Pellegrini explained, “In this adaptation, we attempt not only to actualize the spatial-temporal conditions of the medieval-cycle plays (a medieval format of theatre) – where spectators would visit various ‘stations’ all over town in much the same way as present-day theme parks – but we also extend the palindromic structure to the entire trilogy.”

The “palindromic structure” of the play is such that the protagonist passes through several “stations” on his journey, and then returns to each in reverse order before concluding at his starting point.

The cast and crew of “To Damascus” are students who are enrolled in the capstone course “Experimental Theatre.” The production features theatre majors as actors, designers and technicians, as well as new-media studies students who have created the media content alongside faculty mentor-artists.

“To Damascus” will run at 8 p.m. on April 23, 24, 26 and 27; at 7 p.m. on April 28; and at 11 p.m. for a special late-night performance on April 26. Tickets are free for Eastern students; $5 for other students and groups of 10 or more; $10 for senior citizens; $12 for Eastern faculty, staff, and alumni; and $20 for the public.

Purchase tickets online at http://easternct.showare.com/todamascus/. Contact the box office at (860) 465-5123 or theatreboxoffice@easternct.edu.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Mohegan Tribal Chief Named Eastern’s Commencement Speaker

 Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba, chief of the Mohegan Tribe, will be the Commencement Speaker at Eastern Connecticut State University’s 129th Commencement Exercises on May 21 at the XL Center in Hartford. Malerba will also receive an honorary doctorate degree at the ceremonies.

Malerba has achieved an exemplary career in the health care and tribal governance fields. Not only has she served her community with distinction, she has brought national recognition to the State of Connecticut.

Chief Mutáwi Mutáhash (Many Hearts) Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba became the 18th Chief of the Mohegan Tribe on August 15, 2010, and is the first female chief in the tribe’s modern history. The position is a lifetime appointment made by the tribe’s council of elders. She previously served as chairwoman of the tribal council and was also executive director of health and human services for the tribal government.

Prior to her work for the Mohegan Tribe, Chief Malerba had a distinguished career as a registered nurse and served as director of cardiology and pulmonary services at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital. She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at Yale University and was named a Jonas Scholar. She holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Connecticut, and has an honorary doctorate from the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford.

Chief Malerba has achieved a national reputation as an advocate and supporter of health issues and the welfare of Native Peoples. She is chairwoman of the Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee of the Federal Indian Health Services; is a member of the U.S. Justice Department’s Tribal Nations Leadership Council; serves on the Tribal Advisory Committee for the National Institute of Health; is a member of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Tribal Advisory Committee; and serves as a technical expert on the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. She also serves as the United South and Eastern Tribes board of directors secretary, and is a member of the board of directors for the Ms. Foundation for Women.

In Connecticut, Chief Malerba serves as a trustee for Chelsea Groton Bank, as a board member for the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, as an advisory committee member for the Harvard University Native American Program and served on the board of directors for Lawrence Memorial Hospital for 11 years.

More than 1,200 undergraduate and graduate students will receive their diplomas at Eastern’s graduation exercises on May 21, with an audience of more than 10,000 family and friends expected. In addition to Malerba, dignitaries expected to attend include Eastern President Elsa Núñez; Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System; and Merle Harris, vice-chair of the Board of Regents for Higher Education.

Written by Ed Osborn

Annual CREATE Conference to Showcase Student Art, Research

 

WILLIMANTIC, CT (04/08/2019) Eastern Connecticut State University will host its premier academic and artistic conference of the year on April 12. CREATE – Celebrating Research Excellence and Artistic Talent at Eastern – will take place from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Student Center and surrounding venues. An award ceremony with remarks by Eastern President Elsa Núñez will take place at 12:30 p.m. in the Betty R. Tipton Room of the Student Center.

Hundreds of student researchers, artists and performers will present their talents at CREATE. Students from all majors will lead oral and poster presentations, participate in panel discussions, showcase music and dance performances, exhibit their art and photography, and present documentary films and more.

Registration will take place at 8 a.m. at the Student Center Café. President Núñez will present two undergraduate awards and two mentor awards to outstanding students and faculty members at the 12:30 p.m. award ceremony.

For more information, visit http://www.easternct.edu/create/, where you can view the day’s agenda and download the event’s cell phone app for iPhone and Android.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Annual CREATE Conference to Showcase Student Art, Research

Eastern Connecticut State University will host its premier academic and artistic conference of the year on April 12. CREATE – Celebrating Research Excellence and Artistic Talent at Eastern – will take place from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Student Center and surrounding venues. An award ceremony with remarks by Eastern President Elsa Núñez will take place at 12:30 p.m. in the Betty R. Tipton Room of the Student Center.

Students present research during the poster session of the 2018 CREATE conference.

Hundreds of student researchers, artists and performers will present their talents at CREATE. Students from all majors will lead oral and poster presentations, participate in panel discussions, showcase music and dance performances, exhibit their art and photography, and present documentary films and more.

Registration will take place at 8 a.m. at the Student Center Café. President Núñez will present two undergraduate awards and two mentor awards to outstanding students and faculty members at the 12:30 p.m. award ceremony.

For more information, visit http://www.easternct.edu/create/, where you can view the day’s agenda and download the event’s cell phone app for iPhone and Android.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Eastern Theatre to Present ‘Africa to America’ on March 24

The Theatre Program at Eastern Connecticut State University will present two performances of “Africa to America: Perspective, Pride, and Power” on March 24 at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the Proscenium Theatre of the Fine Arts Instructional Center.

Directed by Eastern Theatre Professor DeRon Williams and written by Wendy Coleman, chairwoman of theatre arts at Alabama State University, the performance chronicles the history, heritage and legacy of African Americans through oration, music and dance.

This rich and powerful experience depicts the struggles, determination and triumphs of African ancestors and descendants who survived the voyage from Africa to America. The audience will see representations of some of the most notable icons of the civil rights movement, including Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Angela Davis, Rosa Parks and the first African-American president and first lady, Barack and Michelle Obama.

The March 24 performance will feature original poetry and choreography by Eastern students. A post-show discussion with Coleman and Williams will follow the 4 p.m. performance.

Tickets are free; however, guests are encouraged to reserve tickets in advance by visiting http://easternct.showare.com/africatoamerica/. Walk-ins will be accepted as tickets remain available.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Eastern Theatre Presents ‘The Wolves’ with All-Female Cast

The Theatre Program at Eastern Connecticut State University presented “The Wolves” as its first production of the spring 2019 semester. Running from Feb. 27-March 3 in the DelMonte Studio Theatre, “The Wolves” is a coming-of-age story that takes place on the turf of a local indoor soccer field.

The play was performed by an all-female cast, directed by Theatre Professor Kristen Morgan and written by award-winning playwright Sarah DeLappe.

The Wolves are a highly competitive indoor soccer team composed of nine teenage girls. Each scene depicts the girls on the artificial turf warming up before their weekend game. The play spans a variety of themes pertinent to modern society, told candidly from the perspectives of nine passionate young women growing up in America.

“Anyone who identifies as female can tell you that growing up in America can feel like one batter after the other,” said Morgan, pointing out the unique pressures women feel about body image, sexuality and social obedience. “Athletics can mean freedom for girls and women. When you’re on the field, everything else may fall away… there are moments of overwhelming strength, as if you could do anything, like you are free.”

The girls who make up the Wolves are at a turning point in their lives; they’ve grown up playing together and know all about each other’s bodies and personality quirks, but adulthood is beckoning. Into their fragile mix comes a new player, drivers license’s, college scouts, weekend ski trips and other challenges.

As the girls stretch, run drills and kick the soccer ball among each other, their conversations explore abortion, immigration, eating disorders, sexual assault and other difficult topics.

Contrary to most theatrical productions, “The Wolves” features an all-female cast. “This is an important play for today’s world because it shows teenage girls in a different light than how you typically see them,” said Sara Lafrance ’19, who played #25. “They’re not portrayed as boy-crazy, catty or overemotional. They’re portrayed as intelligent, athletic, strong, funny young women. It shows how teenage girls can work through conflict and maintain a strong bond.”

“I think this play gives a semblance of what it means to be a young woman in high school with strengths and weaknesses and fears of the future,” said Onyae Randall ’19, who played #2. “The play can be re-evaluated and reimagined so many times because of the playwright’s use of nuance. It’s the type of story where you learn something new each time you see it. This is the kind of work we all need to expose ourselves to.”

Written by Michael Rouleau

Eastern Theatre to Present ‘The Wolves,’ Feb. 27-March 3

The Theatre Program at Eastern Connecticut State University will present its first Main Stage production of the spring 2019 semester, “The Wolves,” from Feb. 27-March 3. Written by Sarah DeLappe and directed by Eastern professor Kristen Morgan, the play will follow a girls’ soccer team as they struggle to adapt to new players and lifestyles. The play will be shown in the Del Monte Bernstein Studio Theatre in Eastern’s Fine Arts Instructional Center.

Exploring the unique dynamics of a girls’ athletic team, “The Wolves” observes the complex social navigation required for high school. “From the safety of their afternoon exercise routine, the team wonders about big questions and wages tiny battles with all the vim and vigor of a pack of adolescent warriors,” writes the publishing company Samuel French. “This is a portrait of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for nine American girls who just want to score some goals.”

DeLappe describes her play as “a portrait of teenage girls as human beings – as complicated, nuanced, very idiosyncratic people.” Since its publication in 2016, “The Wolves” has garnered critical acclaim and numerous accolades, including being a finalist in the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and winning the 2015 Relentless Award for Playwriting.

“The girls in ‘The Wolves’ are at a turning point in their lives,” writes Morgan in her director’s notes for the play. “These girls have grown up playing together, and have shared all the emotional weight that comes with it. ‘The Wolves’ is a meditation on growing up female in America and the meaning that girls make for themselves in a society that still doesn’t have any idea what to do with them.”

“The Wolves” will be performed on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m.; Friday, March 1 at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, March 3 at 4 p.m. Tickets are free for Eastern students; $5 for other students and groups of 10 or more; $10 for senior citizens; $12 for Eastern faculty, staff and alumni; and $20 for the general public. For tickets and more information, call the box office at (860) 465-5123 or visit http://easternct.showare.com/thewolves/.

Written by Raven Dillon

Daughter of Historic Dress Maker Explains ‘Sidonia’s Thread’ Exhibition

Hanna Marcus, daughter of dress maker Sidonia Perlstein, spoke at Eastern on Feb. 13 about her mother’s life and exhibition currently on display at the Windham Textile and History Museum.

Author and social worker Hanna Pearlstein Marcus came to Eastern Connecticut State University on Feb. 13, to promote the exhibition “Sidonia’s Thread: Crafting a Life from Holocaust to High Fashion,” which is open at the Windham Textile and History Museum until April 28.

Organized by Eastern Theatre Professor Anya Sokolovskaya, the exhibition showcases the life of Marcus’ mother, Sidonia Pearlstein, who survived the Holocaust and fled to the United States at the conclusion of World War II. It also highlights Sidonia’s legacy of becoming an accomplished clothing designer in Western New England after overcoming a difficult period in her life.

Garments from the ‘Sidonia’s Thread’ exhibition.

Marcus’s book, “Sidonia’s Thread”, spotlights her childhood growing up with her mother and the creative yet secretive life they shared with each other, which Marcus says was the primary nature of their relationship.

The Windham Textile Museum exhibition features garments by Sidonia, which tell stories of how survival, family and other trials and tribulations inspired the remarkable clothing designer.
Marcus provided Eastern students many insights about her biography, making sure to capture her mother’s resilience while emphasizing her ability to handle a needle and craft beautiful garments.

“My mother had a special gift, a gift that saved her in the holocaust and made a living for her in America,” said Marcus. “She had golden hands that could create the most beautiful head turning garments.”

One piece of advice from her mother that Marcus taken into adult life is: “Stand up straight in both fashion and life.” Marcus explained, “It means having self-confidence and a good self-image.”
The exhibition was organized by Anya Sokolovskaya, assistant professor of theatre and costume design, who enlisted the help of several students to bring the exhibition to life.

The Windham Textile and History Museum is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. General admission is $7; students and seniors (62+) pay $5; admission for museum members, children under 5 years old, and Eastern students is free.

Written by Bobbi Brown

‘Pluto’ Takes the Stage, Eastern Theatre Represents at KCACTF

Prior to the KCACTF performance, “Pluto” showed at Eastern in the fall 2018 semester

Eastern’s rendition of “Pluto” took center stage at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) earlier this month. “Pluto” was one of only three productions featured at the Region 1 festival, which includes colleges and universities from all over New England and New York, including New York City. The festival occurred from Jan. 29-Feb. 2 at Cape Cod Community College and included an awards portion and theatre workshops.

Written by playwright Steve Yockey and directed by Eastern Theatre Professor Chase Rozelle, “Pluto” follows a mother who is desperately attempting to connect with her withdrawn son in the aftermath of a local school tragedy. Set entirely in the kitchen during breakfast, the play uses humor, fantasy and raw emotion to tackle a troubling present-day issue.

“Pluto follows a rather traditional plot structure, in that the action leads to one big scene, one climax, where all the themes and conflicts come together,” said Kaileen Langlois ’19, the play’s dramaturg. “The purpose is to thrust audiences immediately into the action and catch them up on details as the story progresses.”

In the control booth prior to the KCACTF performance of “Pluto”: alumna Cat Foley ’17, guest-artist lighting designer; Rebecca Figueroa ’20, KCACTF tech intern; SJ Reynolds ’20, stage manager; and MK Cannon ’20, sound board operator

KCACTF adjudicators first saw “Pluto” when it was performed at Eastern in fall 2018. Impressed by the merits of the production, they invited the cast and crew to remount “Pluto” at the festival – one of only three selections festival wide.

Speaking to the disturbing yet culturally relevant subject matter, Rozelle wrote in his director’s notes: “Art has a responsibility to be relevant. Art should explore what it means to be human and should be a reflection of the issues of our society.”

More than 1,000 college theatre students, faculty and professionals from across the Northeast attended KCACTF, with hundreds packing the audience to see “Pluto.”

“This was the first time the cast performed for an audience of more than 600 seats, and it was electrifying,” said assistant director Matt Bessette ’19. “Combine the size of the audience with the fact that they were mostly college theatre majors and you get a crowd whose energy you won’t see in many other places.”

The performance received a standing ovation and Eastern students were praised throughout the duration of the multi-day festival. During the closing ceremony, “Pluto” was awarded the “Golden Hammer” for being the smoothest running show over the course of the week.

In addition to the feature performance of “Pluto,” other Eastern students also represented during the awards and workshop portions of the festival. Merit awards went to Katrina Kirby ’19 for make-up design in spring 2018 production of “Awakenings: Youth and Chitra”; Eumir Abela ’19 for sound design in “Pluto”; and the cast of fall 2018’s “Cabaret” for ensemble work.

The “Pluto” cast and crew stand before a van full of set pieces. For the KCACTF performance, they broke down the very set that was used at Eastern and drove it to Cape Cod.

MK Cannon ’20 made it to the final round of the Stage Management Fellowship. Jake Buckley ’21 was nominated for the Richard Maltby Musical Theatre Award. And based on his audition at the conference, Christian Fronckowiak ’20 was selected to participated in the Music Theater Intensive this summer at the National Theater Institute.

Nominations for the Irene Ryan Acting Award went to Emily Kelly ’19 for her performance in “Awakenings: Youth and Chitra”; Erin Wallace ’21 and Zoe Czerenda ’19 for “Cabaret”; and Andrew Rich ’20 and Elizabeth Heaney ’19 for “Pluto.”

Speaking to the quality of Eastern’s theatre program, Heaney, who played the role of the mother in “Pluto,” said: “We were up against shows from all over New England, as well as New York City. Eastern theatre is expanding and improving every year. Each professor has an innovative and unique perspective, and the collaboration that goes on is beautiful. Opportunity is plentiful, technology is state of the art, resources are always available.”

Heaney remarked on the festival at large: “Not only is KCACTF an inspiring and motivating experience, it provides so many resources and opportunities for students. I took two workshops. You get the opportunity to sharpen audition material, find new works to look at, and be exposed to so much in such a short amount of time. Because there are professional theater artists as teachers, the workshops get into the nitty gritty and answer any questions you may have about your craft. KCACTF is one of my favorite experiences I’ve had at Eastern.”

Written by Michael Rouleau