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Performing Arts Series & Family Fare Series Announce 2010-2011 Lineups
lily tomlinHeadlining the S. Rudolph Alexander Perfoming Arts Series, Lily Tomlin insists she wasn’t funny as a child. She does admit that she “knew who was, and lifted their material right off the TV screen.” Her career evolved from her genesis on The Garry Moore Show and  Laugh-In, to a slew of comedy television specials, guest appearances on shows as diverse as the X-Files and Homicide, and a two-year run on Murphy Brown. She co-starred with Dustin Hoffman in I Heart Huckabee’s. Curiously, the last SRAPAS presentation of Tomlin stature was Garrison Keillor, in whose movie (A Prairie Home Companion) Tomlin appeared (beside Meryl Streep). 

The Takács Quartet, one of the top 20 string quartets on the planet, will perform Kellogg’s Soft Sleep Shall Contain You: A Meditation on Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden,” followed by a performance of the Schubert masterpiece. Opole, the National Philharmonic of Poland, performs Mozart’s Overture to Die Zauberflote, Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major. The violinist Midori completes a classical trifecta, but with a twist: she’ll perform and discuss her favorite contemporary works, using East Carolina as a preview prior to performing the program in Carnegie Hall. 

The rest of the season is exciting as well. The Russian National Ballet returns, following their sold-out performance of Giselle last season. This time, they’ll perform Chopiniana, which grew out of Chopin’s Seventh Waltz, and Romeo and Juliet, with music by Tchaikovsky and choreography based on Marius Petipa’s original staging. 

Two contemporary dance companies will perform one week apart in the spring. Doug Varone and Dancers will perform Varone’s lushly scripted movement to Prokofiev and Phillip Glass. The following week, the Dayton Contemporary Dance Ensemble will conclude their program with a piece performed to live Gospel choir accompaniment. The intent is to build a pick-up choir of magnitude and see if the walls can hold the energy. Both companies will offer master classes to ECU and Pitt County Schools students, as well as informances at South Central High School and elsewhere within the county. Partners include Pitt County Schools, the Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge, South Arts, the National Dance Project, the New England Foundation for the Arts and the ECU Office of Equity, Diversity and Community Relations.

Also on the lineup is pianist Emile Pandolfi, performing a holiday and classical concert on December 1. The performance is sponsored by the FRIENDS of the series. Learn more:

knuffle bunnyChildren’s programming expands in the 2010-11 Family Fare season, with six attractions. ECU’s Storybook Theatre, under the direction of Patch Clark, will present Seussical and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The Birmingham Children’s Theatre brings Beauty and the Beast and Zorro! to the stage. Mad Science will delight with CSI: Live, an interactive higher-order sleuthing program based on the popular franchise of the same name. And, fans of the Kennedy Center Theatre for Performing Arts on Tour productions will delight in Mo Willem’s staging of Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical. Family audiences can enjoy all six titles on Friday evenings. Teachers are encouraged to bring K-6 audiences to daytime performances. More on Family Fare can be found at


A year in the (creative) life of one College employee...

“Migration”, an art book by Lisa Beth Robinson, was purchased by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Robinson serves on the national board of the College Book Arts Association. Her work recently appeared in a solo exhibition “Sidereal” at the Rocky Mount Arts Center and in invitation exhibitions including “Racism: An American Family Value” at the Center for the Book Arts in New York, “Somewhere Far From Habit” at Longwood University in Farmville, VA, and “The Assignment, A Juried Exhibition of Book Arts,” in conjunction with the meeting of the College Book Art Association at 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland. At the same venue, her work appeared in “Broadsided! The intersection of Art and Literature.” Other recent juried exhibitions include the “32nd Bradley International Print and Drawing Exhibition” at Bradley University in Peoria and “Pressing South: an Exhibition of Letterpress Printing from the Southeastern United States” at UNC-Wilmington. She presented “Alternative Book Binding Techniques” at Print Dialogue Day held at the University of West Georgia in Carrolton. Robinson serves as an administrative assistant in the School of Art and Design.


Lectures at orientation about the pitfalls of sudden freedom are replaced with informative, hip videos disguised as reality TV
By Steve Tuttle

The LoftYou’d think you had come across the web site for The Hills reality show on MTV or another of those TV teen dramas. The darkly attractive site, called The Loft, promotes a video series with the tease: “Find out what happens when six strangers take on freshmen year as unexpected roommates.”

In a few clicks you’re watching episode one, when leaving home for college gets complicated for six kids when they arrive at East Carolina and find a mix-up has cost them their dorm room assignments. They end up sharing living space in an off-campus condo complex. We see their apartment in the background as cameras track their inevitable problems and rocky relationships, which unfold in four- to five-minute-long mini dramas.

With its blogs, cast bios and “behind the scenes” photos, The Loft site provides a comfortable home for the video series. In 18 episodes so far, the story line has ranged from drinking, to sex, to friendship and herpes.

This cool web site is East Carolina’s new way of schooling students on the good and bad that can and sometimes does happen freshman year. It’s the same frank message the university has harped on for years—sudden freedom often has unforeseen costs—as retold for the Internet age.

Until recently, East Carolina delivered this low-down on life to incoming freshmen during summer orientation. They heard frankly worded lectures, with PowerPoints, warning about risky situations freshmen usually get tangled in. It was drilled into them that the legal drinking age is 21, that date rape is a real threat and that it’s better to talk over problems with a roommate than to get into a fight.
But university officials noticed that these lectures, which had evoked riveted attention in years past—now were producing lots of yawns. “We saw lots of (cell phone) texting going on,” says Bob Morphet, assistant director of the Center for Counseling and Student Development. He and others began brainstorming how to update the message for kids who don’t remember when Google wasn’t a verb.

A working group reached out to visiting instructor Michael Dermody, a specialist in video production in the School of Communication. In so many words, the group asked him: Is there a YouTube answer to this age-old communication problem? Yes, Dermody told them. Working with the counseling center, he came up with The Loft concept, scripted the dramas, recruited the cast (five of the six are ECU students) and staged the productions. Most episodes were shot over two weeks last summer on a rushed schedule with borrowed equipment. The acting is better than you would expect (three of the students are theatre majors) and the overall production is engaging if a bit jumpy. The filming is what some would call cinéma vérité and others would call low budget.

The project launched at last summer’s orien tation sessions when incoming freshmen watched the first few episodes of The Loft. Since then the roughly 4,000 freshman have received monthly updates on what’s new on the show through e-mails alerting them that Ashley is abusing her prescription medicine just to lose weight, for example, or that Zack is at a party and has to decide whether to smoke pot.

The situations are real and the information, delivered subtly and with minimal moralizing, is accurate and down to earth. Many of the episodes leave the viewer hanging. We never see if Zack actually takes the joint but we hear him think through the pros and cons. You watch. You learn. You decide.

“The hard thing is striking a balance,” Morphet says. “We need to sound like we know what we’re talking about, but not like we’re sermonizing. I’m not going to tell students what to do and what not to do, but I do want them to think about the decisions they are going to make here.”

Interestingly, there isn’t an ECU logo anywhere on The Loft web site and there’s not a single mention of it anywhere else on campus or on the ECU web site. Just the freshmen receive the e-mail updates when a new episode comes out. But the link is soon obvious. Clicking on a banner ad that asks “Looking for Adventure?” takes you to the Student Recreation Center web site. A click on the ad that asks “How Ya Feeling Today?” takes you to the Student Health Center and a number to call for an appointment.

Dermody says The Loft will continue filming new episodes for spring semester. He’s also spending time analyzing web traffic statistics. Out of the 4,000 or so freshmen receiving the e-mail links, he says some episodes are getting thousands of hits while others get far less attention. Part of the learning curve for the project, he adds, is determining when is the best day and time of day to send the e-mails. “There aren’t many freshman checking their e-mail Monday morning at 8 o’clock,” he deadpans.

There is another reason for not identifying ECU at The Loft web site, Dermody says. “We wanted the videos to look like a generic college campus. We didn’t want people to get too hung up on this being an ECU story and implying that these things don’t happen at Chapel Hill. We hope the viewer focuses on the content and not on this being ECU. Another reason is we hope this will be used at other universities and colleges. All the links that we have on the web, we would work with another college and they could just change the links to their drug and counseling web site.”