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Lewis Center for the Arts Announces 2012-13 Season


Steve Runk    
Director of Communications
Lewis Center for the Arts

(Princeton, NJ) The Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University will present over 100 events during its fifth anniversary season, running September 2012 through May 2013, including theater and dance performances, readings by internationally-known writers, exhibitions, screenings and lectures. 

“The Lewis Center has an exciting and diverse program planned for this year,” noted Michael Cadden, the new chair of the Center. “More than ever, we want to share with the entire community the amazing artistic work that comes out of our programs – work created by our students, our faculty, and the dozens of guest artists who visit our campus. Because we want people to see what we have to offer, most of our events are free or ticketed at no more than $15, making them accessible to just about anyone. We want everyone to know that the Lewis Center is not something in Princeton’s future. The Lewis Center is happening now!”

The Lewis Center offers courses through Princeton University’s programs in creative writing, dance, theater, and the visual arts, as well as through the interdisciplinary Princeton Atelier founded by Toni Morrison. Putting artistic practice on a proper footing at the university became an announced priority of Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman in 2006 and has begun to be realized through a $101 million gift from Peter B. Lewis, Princeton Class of 1955, for whom the center is named. As Tilghman noted at the official launch of the center in 2007, “The goal of this center is to ensure that the arts become a part of every Princeton student’s experience and that they play a greater and more central role in the life of our campus and our community.”

The Program in Theater, in collaboration with the Princeton University Orchestra, will open its season in November with Der Bourgeois Bigwig, the world premiere of a translation and adaptation by playwright James Magruder of Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Richard Strauss’ Der Bürger als Edelmann. The Hoffmansthal/Strauss version was itself an early 20th-century musical adaptation of one of Molière’s 17th-century comédie-ballets, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, which satirizes attempts at social climbing, poking fun both at a pretentious middle-class and a snobbish aristocracy. Although Strauss’ music for the show was much admired and became the basis of a well-known orchestral suite, Hoffmansthal’s book never worked. The Program in Theater turned to Magruder to help remedy that problem, allowing Strauss’ music to once again be heard in relation to the story it was written to serve, told by Magruder with a few new twists and turns. Magruder is best known for his versions of plays by Molière, Marivaux, and Gozzi; his Three French Comedies (Yale University Press) was named an "Outstanding Literary Translation" by the American Literary Translators Association, while his musical version of Marivaux’s Triumph of Love appeared on Broadway. Der Bourgeois Bigwig will be directed by Tim Vasen, Director of the Program in Theater, renowned for helming the university’s productions of Boris Godunov and Eugene Onegin. The Princeton University Orchestra, conducted by Michael Pratt of the Department of Music, will perform the musical score and be an integral part of the on-stage performance. This lavish production, running November 9-17, will also feature choreography by Princeton senior Lily Ackerman.

French theater will also take center stage in the Lewis Center’s co-sponsorship of a new Princeton French Theater Festival, Seuls en scène, in collaboration with the Department of French and Italian and the student French theater workshop L’Avant-Scène, running September 25-29. The Festival, produced by faculty member Florent Masse, the creator of L’Avant-Scène, will bring a group of four early-career French actors to Princeton to perform five recently developed one-person shows that have either received accolades at international festivals or are about to premiere in their home country. The Festival is also supported by Cultural Services of the French Embassy. In October, L’Avant-Scène will present Masse’s French language production of Molière’s L’Ecole des femmes (School for Wives), featuring an all-student cast.

Other theater productions scheduled this season include a concert performance of Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate (December 6-8); Keith Huff’s psychological crime thriller A Steady Rain, which recently ran on Broadway starring Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman (January 10-13); Shakespeare’s The Tempest, performed with puppets and live actors (February 8-16); Sarah Ruhl’s comedy In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play), recounting the history of a Victorian device invented to cure female “hysteria” (March 8-15); the fierce, funny drama Woman and Scarecrow by Irish playwright Marina Carr (April 12-14); and Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George (April 12-20). Also planned are premieres of two new student-written plays, a concert musical, and a theater/dance piece -- all being developed by seniors in the Program in Theater.

In late March the Performance Central series at the Lewis Center will bring the comedic musical theater improv troupe Baby Wants Candy to Princeton. The New York Times describes the group as, "Truly amazing! Critics’ pick!" On November 20 the series welcomes Joan Breton Connelly, Professor of Classics and Art History at New York University and Director at the Yeronisos Island Excavations in Greece, for a talk on “Recovering the Ephemeral: Archaeologies of Performance in the Ancient Mediterranean World.” The series will also present the biennial Princeton Poetry Festival, organized by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and Princeton professor Paul Muldoon, on March 15 and 16. This internationally acclaimed festival, arguably the most prominent on American soil, will feature readings and panels by poets from China, Scotland, Ghana, Africa, Turkey and the U.S. This year, the festival will open with the New Jersey State Finals of Poetry Out Loud, a national poetry performance competition for high school students sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Last year over 19,000 students from New Jersey participated in the program.

The Program in Dance brings its annual Spring Dance Festival to the community on February 22-24 presenting student-performed works choreographed by internationally renowned guest artists and faculty. This year’s festival will include works by Merce Cunningham (set by Princeton alumnus Silas Riener ‘06, a member of Cunningham’s company), Mark Morris, Laura Peterson, and Zvi Gotheiner, among others. New student choreography will be the focus of performances in early December and in the spring, and informal showings of works-in-progress will be presented at various points throughout the year. Widely recognized guest choreographers and dancers will present a series of master classes, which will be open to the public to observe.

Princeton’s internationally acclaimed undergraduate Program in Creative Writing will continue its presentation of world-renowned writers in the Althea Ward Clark W’21 Reading Series. Authors scheduled to appear include: poet Laura Kasischke along with playwright, actor, and writer Wallace Shawn (October 3); author, journalist, poet, and playwright Denis Johnson along with poet/playwright Tom Sleigh (November 14); poet Alicia Ostriker and fiction writer A S Byatt (February 13); author Azar Nafisi and poet Nikky Finney (March 13); and poet Matthew Dickman and novelist Joseph O’Neill (April 17). Readings will be held at 4:30 p.m. at the Berlind Theatre at McCarter Theatre Center. The Clark series will kick-off on September 19 with a reading by this year’s Princeton Hodder Fellows, emerging writers who have received early recognition and show great promise, and who will be in residence at Princeton throughout the academic year. This year’s Hodder Fellows include poet James Arthur, fiction writer Melinda Moustakis, non-fiction writer Yasmine El Rashidi, and playwright A. Rey Pamatmat. In addition, students in the Creative Writing Program will read at the end of each semester from new work, and in May seniors earning a certificate in the program will present their poetry and fiction.

Through the Visual Arts Program, exhibitions of student work will run throughout the year in the Lucas Gallery and in various other galleries and venues on the university campus. Kicking off in early October, successive exhibitions of work by students in drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design, and photography will be presented, as well as screenings of student films and video work. Beginning in January and running through May, work by seniors completing a degree or certificate in visual arts will present individual exhibitions of work created as part of their senior thesis projects. In addition, a group exhibit will showcase the best work completed by juniors, and a Senior All-Stars Show will conclude the exhibition series. Each exhibition will open with a public reception in the gallery where guests can meet the artists.

Serving as a unique incubator of interdisciplinary creativity, the Princeton Atelier will again bring guest artists to campus to team-teach several courses in the fall and spring. In these intensive collaborations, professional artists work with one another and with students to create innovative work that often pushes the boundaries of given artistic forms. While specific events are not yet scheduled, audiences can expect to see a wide range of programming including a new experimental music theater work from a course co-taught by theater director Alec Duffy, playwright Sylvan Oswald, and set designer Mimi Lien; new choreography created in a movement improvisation course taught by Susan Marshall, Director of the Program in Dance, along with Toronto-based choreographer Sharon Moore; a concert of new songs created in a course taught by poet Paul Muldoon and composer/writer/musician Wesley Stace (a.k.a. John Wesley Harding); a multidisciplinary new work combining music, theater and filmmaking taught by Grammy Award-winning Princeton music professor Steve Mackey and director/filmmaker Mark DeChiazza with guest artists, percussionist Jason Treuting and video designer Josh Higgasson; and an exhibition of collective art-making, musicianship and writing led by painter John O’Connor and author Rick Moody.

The Lewis Center is also a sponsor of this fall’s The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art and Society, a showcase of women artists, writers, and scholars of the Middle East. Spearheaded by the Rutgers Institute for Women and Art in partnership with the Lewis Center, Princeton University Art Museum, Arts Council of Princeton, Institute for Advanced Study, and more than 40 other partners and venues throughout New Jersey, the project will present over 50 exhibitions, performances, film screenings, symposia, readings, panel discussions and lectures through January. Events at the Lewis Center include “A Conversation on Women and the Revolution in Egypt” (September 14), involving Hodder Fellow Yasmine El Rashidi, who has been reporting from Egypt for The New York Review of Books; a reading and panel discussion by Middle Eastern women writers (October 3); a performance of Lifting a Secret by Turkish-German artist Nezaket Ekici (October 4); and a performance of Scheherazade Goes West by Fawzia Afzul-Khan (October 17).

Associated with the Lewis Center, Princeton’s Fund for Irish Studies will present its annual series of lectures by artists and scholars from Ireland on a wide range of contemporary and historical topics. On February 5, playwright Enda Walsh, who received the 2012 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for Once, will be “In Conversation with Lewis Center Chair and Senior Lecturer in Theater Michael Cadden.” Other lectures scheduled include: Irish scholar Eve Patten from Trinity College, Dublin, on “‘A Feverish Place’: Ireland and the English Literati, 1920-1945” (September 21); Judith Hill on “Brickbats and Love: Lady Gregory’s Encounter with America on the Abbey Theatre Tour of 1911-12” (November 12); Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy on “Grá agus Bás: Love and Death” (December 7); Irish scholar John Kelly on "The Lessons of the Irish Famine" and what history can inform us today about starvation and food distribution (February 15); a performance by Len Graham and Brian O'Hairt of "In Two Minds: Songs, Music and Dance from the Irish Tradition" (February 12); and Oxford professor and Yeats biographer R.F. Foster on "Making a Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890-1916" (April 19). The lectures are held on Fridays at 4:30 p.m. at the James M. Stewart ’32 Theater at 185 Nassau Street.

Continuing to expand its outreach into the local community, the Lewis Center will again join with 10 other venues in downtown Princeton and on campus for Thursday evening ArtWalk events. During the Princeton ArtWalks venues such as the University Art Museum, Firestone Library, the Woodrow Wilson School’s Bernstein Gallery, and Arts Council of Princeton open their doors from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. for free programming, activities, and refreshments. The next ArtWalk is scheduled for October 4 and will have a Middle Eastern theme in keeping with The Fertile Crescent project running throughout the fall. The Lewis Center will also again join with the town of Princeton and the students of Princeton University for the annual Communiversity Festival of the Arts in late April.

Members of the community can receive weekly email updates on events at the Lewis Center by signing up for the Center’s newsletter. To sign up and to learn more about these events and other activities presented at the Lewis Center visit

The Lewis Center for the Arts encompasses Princeton University’s academic programs in creative writing, dance, theater, and visual arts, as well as the interdisciplinary Princeton Atelier. The Center represents a major initiativeof President Shirley M. Tilghman to fully embrace the arts as an essential part of the educational experience for all who study and teach at Princeton. Over 100 diverse public performances, exhibitions, readings, and lectures are offered each year, most of them free or at a nominal admission fee. For more information about the Lewis Center for the Arts visit 

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