This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Students to perform in Belgium

Published: February 17, 2005

Reporter Editor

Eleven UB students will share the stage with representatives from university theater companies from around the world next week as they take part in the 22nd International University Theatre Festival being held at the Université de Liege in Liege, Belgium.

The students, all associated with the International Artistic and Cultural Exchange Program (IACE) in the Department of Theatre and Dance, will perform Rebecca Gilman's award-winning play "Spinning Into Butter," directed by Maria S. Horne, associate professor of theatre and dance, and founder and director of IACE.

The IACE delegation will be the only group representing the United States to attend the festival. The other countries that will be represented are Algeria, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Lithuania, Mexico, South Africa, Spain and Belgium.

Horne calls the theater festival—a prestigious, invitation-only international event—"a crossroad of creative research and theoretical exchanges, a learning place for actors and audiences, for artists and scholars."

"This event is a world renowned leader in the field of university theater and provides the arena for international comparative studies, and for confronting, sharing and evaluating contemporary experiences and creative research from around the world," she says.

UB's participation in the festival "is both a great honor to represent our country and our university, and a unique experience that will forever change the students who benefit from it," Horne says.

Participating in the festival exposes students to a wide variety of genres, points of view, perceptions and approaches, Horne points out. "Their senses are stimulated, energized and regenerated, so that when they come back to UB, there will be a plethora of new ideas that they will try out on their own work, creating their own signature art. By experiencing different cultures, interacting and getting responses from international peers, we gain a better understanding of who we are, our relationship to others and the importance of our work and how we will contribute to make this place a better world," she said.

"Participation in international theater festivals allows us to share our culture, as well as getting feedback about what we project into the international community. Students will acquire the skills, attitudes and perceptions that will allow them to be globally and cross-culturally competent."

During the festival, which will run from Sunday through Feb. 27, two university groups will perform on each day, presenting a play in their own language. The event also will feature lectures and master classes, and Horne will participate in a round table discussion on the state of university theater around the world.

The play that the UB students will perform, "Spinning Into Butter," focuses on the topic of racism in academia. It was presented in the Center for the Arts in October as part of the celebration marking the investiture of John B. Simpson as UB's 14th president.

"Spinning Into Butter" is the second play directed by Horne that has been presented at the International University Theatre Festival. In March 2000, she directed a production of "Chimes at Midnight," starring Saul Elkin, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance, and a cast of four theatre and dance students.

The students engaged in this year's production are members of Horne's IACE Creative Research Lab and have conducted extensive research on the subject of race in American universities.

Making the trip to Belgium will be Liam P. Burke, Angela Cristantello, Thomas DeTrinis, Tim Eimiller, Jamie Elvey, Giselle Nicholson, Meghan McAdam, Lauren Millman, Marilyn Sloan, Stephen Stocking and Gordon Tashjian.

The students are excited about going to Belgium.

"I have never in my life been a part of such an opportunity, and I have never in my life felt more honored," Cristantello says. "I think that it is every person's dream to travel and become immersed in as many different cultures as possible; therefore, to do so in the name of theater—something that we all share an enormous passion for—is more than a dream come true.

"I also feel that it is an excellent way to spread a message of peace, specifically in a time when there is so much turmoil between so many different countries," she adds.

In addition to attending the festival, members of the UB delegation will travel to Brussels, where they will conduct performing arts research and visit cultural sites. A field trip to Brugge also is planned.