The American Repertory Theater’s (A.R.T.) founding director Robert Brustein was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama at a ceremony in the White House on March 2.The National Medal of Arts is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States government. The medal, conferred by the president, is presented to individuals or groups who are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support, and availability of the arts in the United States. During the past 26 years, more than 250 extraordinary patrons and artists in the fields of visual, performing, and literary arts have been honored. With this medal, the president recognizes the wealth and depth of creative expression of America’s artists.Brustein joins the roster of great American artists that includes Andrew Wyeth, John Updike, Wynton Marsalis, Barbra Streisand, Rita Moreno, Dolly Parton, Ray Bradbury, and Twyla Tharp.A.R.T. Artistic Director Diane Paulus expressed her joy at the award, saying: “I am thrilled to congratulate Bob on this significant honor. As founding director of the Yale Repertory Theatre and over three decades at the A.R.T., he has taught thousands of young people and inspired them to follow their dreams. His award-winning criticism, books, and plays have provided the most informed and intelligent insight into the world of theater. It’s wonderful that Bob’s extraordinary achievements are being recognized with this important award.”Brustein founded the Yale Repertory Theatre during his tenure as dean of the Yale School of Drama and the American Repertory Theater in 1980; he served for 20 years as director of the Loeb Drama Center where he founded the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard. He retired from artistic directorship in 2002 and now serves as founding director.He is the author of 16 books on theater and has also written extensively on Shakespeare. His book “The Tainted Muse: Prejudices and Presumption in Shakespeare and His Time,” was published in 2009. He has also written three plays about Shakespeare called “The Shakespeare Trilogy.” The first, “The English Channel,” about Shakespeare’s affair with the dark lady, Emilia Lanier, was produced at the Abingdon Theatre in 2009, where it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His second play, “Mortal Terror,” about the Gunpowder Plot and the writing of “Macbeth,” will be produced at Suffolk University’s Modern Theatre this spring and at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre in September 2011. “The Last Will,” his third play, about Shakespeare’s return to Stratford toward the end of his life, will be produced by the Abingdon in New York in fall 2012.He is currently distinguished scholar in residence at Suffolk University and professor of English emeritus at Harvard University.
This week, the College Seminar, the College of Arts and Letters’s signature interdisciplinary requirement, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.Implemented in 2005, the College Seminar requirement was initially intended to provide students with a traditional “Great Books” style of education and serve as an integration of the liberal arts. Now, the College Seminar serves as a course that both enhances students’ oral presentation skills and offers a variety of unique topics centered on a faculty member’s specific field.“[The] idea behind [the] College Seminar really was to give people an introduction to the three areas of the College [the arts, humanities, and social sciences],” Professor Essaka Joshua, professor of English and director of the College Seminar, said. “The idea was to take the classroom to the dorm and get people fired up about interesting issues connecting with what they were reading.”As part of the Seminar’s 10th anniversary, the College of Arts and Letters, in conjunction with its Department of Communications and Finances, is hosting a 10-day Twitter competition for students to share their personal lessons and experiences from their College Seminars. From April 10 to April 19, students can respond to questions tweeted by the College of Arts and Letters on its Twitter (@ArtsLettersND) using the hashtag #CSEM10 and receive prizes for the best answers. Prizes for the best tweets range from coffee mugs and campus gear from the College of Arts and Letters to Starbucks, Au Bon Pain and Hammes Bookstore gift cards.“Doing it on Twitter was a way to include everybody,” Joshua said. “We decided, in conjunction with the Office of Communication for Arts and Letters, on a Twitter competition that would be open to all current students.“The aim was really to get people talking about CSEM, sharing their experiences of it and, for those students who were not in Arts and Letters or who had not yet done it, to let them know what it is [that] we do that is distinctive within the College.”Several students have already participated in the competition, Joshua said.College Seminars have become unique for their interesting and diverse topics and focuses, Joshua said. Courses taught by Professors Andrew Weigert and David O’Connor are known to be especially popular, Joshua said.“CSEM gives you that opportunity to go for something outside of your discipline, because it is interdisciplinary by nature, and to go out of your comfort zone, which is nice because you end up with exploration as well as engagement,” Joshua said.Joshua views the genuine interest, engagement and bonding between students and professors as a measure of the success of the College Seminar, she said.“I measure success in whether ‘Are the students engaged? Do they love it? Do they come out talking about it afterwards and are they talking about it before they get to class?’” Joshua said.Tags: College of Arts and Letters, college seminar, CSEM10, Essaka Joshua, tenth anniversary