Author: Tanya Maki

Auditions for Agnes of God Tonight

Auditions for Agnes of God will be held this evening, Wednesday, November 28th at 7:00 pm. in Walker 210.

The roles are for 3 women:

Mother Miriam Ruth — Actor able to play 40-60 yrs. old.  Devout.  Became a nun after having a family.  Wants to keep peace and (possibly) save face for the religious order.  Sincerely has Agnes’ best interests in mind as she tries to protect her from jail or the asylum.

Dr. Martha Livingstone — Psychiatrist, (Actor able to play 40-60 yrs. old)  She’s seen it all.  While she has a tough exterior, she struggles with personal demons.  Still, she is quite compassionate.  A chain smoker.

Agnes — Novice who denies giving birth.  Innocent.  Sings like an angel.  She was abused by her mother and is forced to face this reality at the show’s climax.

No preparation is necessary, but scripts are available to check out in the office of Visual and Performing Arts. The audition will be cold readings from the script.
Rehearsals will be next semester, with performances February 21-23, Feb 28-Mar 2.


Meditation Circuit: Join Anne Beffel for an Open Studios Event Today

Photo by Nat Seymour

Professor and public artist Anne Beffel (VPA) will hold an open studio event from 6 to 8 p.m. today (Nov. 28) in the Studio for Here and Now in the basement of Wadsworth Hall (G04W), across from WMTU.

At a 6:45 p.m. presentation, Beffel will discuss a public art and meditation walk in an urban forest she and the City Meditation Crew installed in Shoreline, Washington.

Beffel says, “Meditation Circuit is a series of meditation stations along a pathway marked by public art work. Each station offers a mindfulness-oriented activity intended to support well-being. Explore: listening; walking; even using cell phones as tools for meditating on colors in an urban forest. Meditation Circuits demonstrate the power of meditation and the value of public art.”

Meditation Circuit is inspired in part by the City Meditation Crew project, “Many Colors of Green,” in fall 2017 at Hamlin Park in which community members walked meditatively and contemplated their park using their cell phones as tools for attentiveness.

More information is available online.


“Never Empty” artist Dylan Miner featured in Keweenaw Now

Dylan MinerHOUGHTON — Dylan Miner identifies strongly with his  Wiisaakodewinini, or Métis, ancestors — a people of mixed indigenous and European ancestry who have lived in both Canada and the United States. Since his own family ancestors lived on Drummond Island in Lake Huron, water, land and settler colonialism are important elements of his art, his activism and his scholarship and teaching.

Miner is Director of American Indian and Indigenous Studies, and Associate Professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University. He sits on the Michigan Indian Education Council and is a founding member of the Justseeds artists collective. Miner holds a PhD from The University of New Mexico and has published more than sixty journal articles, book chapters, critical essays, and encyclopedia entries.

Presenting himself humbly as a learner of indigenous languages, Miner introduced himself to the audience at Michigan Tech in two of them.

In addition to expressing his environmental concerns, Miner demonstrated how he uses art on social media to call attention to socio-political injustices against indigenous people. He also displayed artwork created by one of his own Métis ancestors.

Bonnie Peterson, a local artist who attended Miner’s talk, was impressed by his use of art to communicate messages on social media.

“His work turns the patriarchial power establishment on its head,” Peterson said. “He reacts to current events by creating thoughtful, compelling images immediately, and freely distributing them on social media. His image ‘no pipelines in/under the great lakes’ is especially salient because of the threats to Great Lakes from oil spills, and also robbing the Great Lakes of water.”

Miner also mentioned how he altered some of his images after talking with people directly impacted by extractive industries. He noted as an example his discussions with Menominee tribal activists fighting Aquila’s Back 40 mining project, which could destroy indigenous sacred sites and impact the Menominee River. He changed his original design to include the Menominee ancestral bear and the sturgeon.

Collaboration is important in Miner’s work. He spoke about working with others to create projects that combine creative activities with environmental consciousness or stewardship, such as a traditional building of a birch bark canoe, an urban sugar bush, Native kids riding bikes and his recent Drummond Island reclamation project.

According to Lisa Gordillo, curator of the exhibit, “Miner’s work reimagines the landscape through digitally adjusted images that counterbalance cyanotype and contemporary processes. Cyanotype is an antiquated photographic method developed in 1842, the same year that the Treaty of La Pointe ceded Anishinaabeg Lands in the western Upper Peninsula and northeastern Wisconsin. The artist’s use of cyanotype builds a physical and conceptual connection to colonial Land expropriation, capitalist expansion, and the development of new image-making technologies. Our viewpoint is stirred as Miner distorts his original images, applying pigments, minerals, and smoke, shifting their size and scale.”

Local artist Joyce Koskenmaki, who attended Miner’s talk and visited the exhibit, commented on the cyanotype images.

“Dylan’s cyanotype images at the Rosza are beautiful,” Koskenmaki said. “His work and his talk speak to me about art for poor people: art that can be done with simple materials, and art with a message. I felt inspired.”

Miguel Levy, artist and Michigan Tech professor of physics, who is active in the local Indigenous Peoples’ Day Campaign group, said he was especially impressed by Miner’s connections between art and indigenous resistance.

Levy noted, “Regarding Dylan Miner’s talk, I found the connections he made during his talk quite illuminating: [between] the social and political dimensions of his art, between indigenous culture and resistance to environmental devastation, and between the revolutionary potential of the indigenous tradition and its points of coincidence with the anti-hierarchical and anti-capitalist traditions of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) labor union.”

Emily Shaw, Michigan Tech PhD student in environmental engineering, who introduced Miner, told Keweenaw Now Miner’s stories and connections inspired her to ask herself questions.

“So often we view art and science as unrelated but making art and doing science are processes that require us to ask ourselves what do we know and what skills do I have that can contribute to our learning? Dylan opened with those questions and shared the story of his art, weaving connections between land abuses, indigenous rights, and labor unions. I left inspired to make such connections in my work as a scientist.”

Dylan Miner has also authored and edited several limited-edition books // booklets. His book Creating Aztlán: Chicano Art, Indigenous Sovereignty, and Lowriding Across Turtle Island was published in 2014 by the University of Arizona Press. In 2010, he was awarded an Artist Leadership Fellowship through the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian. He has been an artist-in-residence at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, École supérieure des beaux-arts in Nantes, Klondike Institute of Art and Culture, Rabbit Island, and The Santa Fe Art Institute.

Learn about Dylan Minor’s projects. Thanks to Bonnie Peterson for this link.

Learn more about Dylan Miner and the art he shares on justseeds.org.

By Michele Bourdieu
With videos and photos by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now


Superior Wind Symphony Presents Wisdom from Experience

Wisdom from Experience

The Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts and the Department of Visual and Performing Arts present a concert by the Superior Wind Symphony titled “Wisdom from Experience,” a celebration of the music of long-lived composers, in honor of composers whose lives have been cut short.

The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Nov. 9) in the Rozsa Center.

According wind symphony band leader Mike Christianson, “The Superior Wind Symphony is the premier wind ensemble at Michigan Tech. Superior Winds concerts offer symphonic thrills, innovative programming, fruitful collaborations and exciting premieres. These concerts feature music from the standard repertoire and often utilize innovative formats that include visual art, the spoken word and dance.”

Christianson says the ensemble makes its home in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts, a hall acclaimed nationally for its acoustics and beauty.

“The ensemble undertakes concert tours on behalf of the university throughout the Great Lakes region. Superior Winds is an auditioned ensemble of winds and percussion that performs the music of composers spanning five centuries, living and not, from all genders, ethnicities and genres” he adds.

Tomorrow’s program includes four original pieces by Christianson, along with Kenny Wheeler, Bob Brookmeyer, Florence Price and Maria Schneider.

Other composers whose works will be performed include Ottorino Respighi, John Williams, Jay Bocook, Percy Grainger, Fred Sturm, J.S. Bach, Gustav Holst, WC Handy, William Grant Still and Vincent Persichetti.

Tickets for “Wisdom from Experience” are on sale now, $13 for adults, $5 for youth, and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee.

Tickets are available by phone at 7-2073, online at mtu.edu/rozsa, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance.

Note: The Rozsa Box Office only opens two hours prior to performances.


Magic and Fun: ‘Pinocchio’ at Rozsa Saturday

Featured event photo for Pinocchio

The Rozsa Center welcomes the acclaimed theater troupe Tout à Trac, from Quebec, Canada, with their adaptation of “Pinocchio,” a magical theatrical production which takes us on another amazing journey into the heart of childhood and imagination.

Following their internationally acclaimed “Alice in Wonderland,” Tout à Trac returns with Collodi’s tale about the world’s most famous puppet: Pinocchio.

They will present two shows —2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 10). In addition to the performance, guests at the 2 p.m. matinee will be treated to “KC Bonker’s Gepetto’s Workshop” in the lobby, after the show, co-hosted by Trish Helsel (VPA), KC Bonker’s, the Portage Lake District Library and the Rozsa Center.

“Gepetto’s Workshop” will include an interactive puppet workshop, featuring an on-stage tour of the Pinocchio set, a shadow puppet theatre and a “sock-puppet creation-station” in the Rozsa lobby, complete with refreshments and puppetry-themed fun for all ages.

Calling all parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles! If you haven’t taken the children to see Pinocchio … yet, keep it in mind as a weekend option. Every detail is artfully executed in this disarming retelling of a classic tale. The sets, costumes and, of course, the puppets (including the boy with the nose), have a distinct, folkloric style. Gepetto is adorable. One of Pinocchio’s arms is a flute. The cat gets a laugh by simply singing one word from a famous feline musical. — Pat Donnelly, Reviewer

Tickets are on sale now, $16 for adults, $6 for youth and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. Tickets are available by phone at 7-2073, online at mtu.edu/rozsa, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance.

Note: The Rozsa Box Office only opens two hours prior to performances.


VPA Students Learn Theatre Swordplay

2 females sword fightingThe Ring of Steel Stage Combat Workshop took place Saturday and Sunday, October 13th and 14th in McArdle Theatre. The event was coordinated by Alpha Psi Omega Theatre Honor Society at Michigan Tech to provide an opportunity for its members, Visual and Performing Arts students, and the greater community to learn basic stage combat techniques.

The event officially began on Saturday morning with yoga and stretching provided by Ring of Steel’s instructor, Diane. Those that participated in the session were grateful for the chance to stretch before the intensely physical workshops to follow.  After stretching, the Falling and Rolling workshop began with discussions from instructor, Maestro Chris, on the “circle of strength” and martial arts influences on achieving believable falls without injuring one’s self.  The group then rolled out mats borrowed from Air Force ROTC and practiced basic rolls using the techniques taught by Chris.  Other topics that followed included back falls.

After Falling and Rolling, the workshop for Hand to Hand combat began with continuation of the circle of strength. In this workshop, partners were necessary and the six levels of safety practiced by Ring of Steel were introduced in order to protect the partner in the exercise.

For hand to hand combat, actions such as right hook, undercut, gut punch, blocks, and napping (creating the sound without physical contact with the partner) were displayed with their appropriate safety measures and then practiced in pairs.  A sequence was developed in order to create a story and full choreography to practice.

Once participants had been introduced to the levels of safety and basic physical movements, they were able to move on to swordplay.  For Saturday, training swords made from plastic or wood-like materials were used when learning the technique and basic movements.  Like the hand to hand combat section, a sequence was created to aid in learning and practicing all six levels of safety.  The swordplay section ended the long, physical first day for most participants.

In the evening of the first day, Ring of Steel gave an after dinner lecture for VPA students with technical theatre and management interest in general stage combat weapon safety, liability, and maintenance.  Students were given the opportunity to identify the differences between resin prop and blank firing weaponry and the safety measures that must be in place when using either on stage.  Additionally, attendees fired rounds of the blank training weapons to understand the proper etiquette and dangers when handling devices to remember when managing shows involving blank firing weapons.

I really enjoyed the safety aspect of the workshops because I think it’s important to know how to do things correctly, and it is something that will be very helpful in my future as a stage manager  – Makenzi Wentela, Theatre Entertainment and Technology Student

The workshop continued on Sunday with more advanced topics.  The morning consisted of review in Falling and Rolling and Hand to Hand Combat with more advanced moves added such as fainting, partner rolls, mid-roll twists to collect an object, weapon disarms, and hair and limb pulls. Following lunch break, a continuation of the sequence learned on Saturday for swordplay was done, this time with steel training rapiers. The group was able to move quickly into the new weapons and was excited to try. After completing the basic choreography set by the instructors, participants were able to then learn the choreography notation in writing and modify the basic choreography to make it unique to each pair.  The pairs performed their unique choreography and were critiqued and corrected by Ring of Steel in terms of safety and flow of the movement.

The event concluded on Sunday evening with the large group mass battle incorporating all the techniques learned throughout the weekend.  Participants further developed their unique choreography and were checked continually by Ring of Steel.  Finally, all pairs performed their choreography to the full group and were placed into specific locations on the stage for the mass battle.  Many, many practices followed before a clean performance of the full mass battle was done successfully. At the height of the event, eight pairs of unique combat choreography were spread across McArdle Theatre with 4 different cameras catching every moment. Videos of the event will be compiled soon!

It was an absolute blast to have the experience. I’m hoping we’ll get to bring them back in the future and possibly integrate more of these techniques into future shows  –  Tom Klonowski, Mechanical Engineering Technology Student

The event was generously sponsored by the Parents Fund of the Michigan Tech Fund, Public Safety, and Alpha Psi Omega. Special thanks to the Michigan Tech Visual and Performing Arts Department, Air Force ROTC, Trish Helsel, Kent Cyr, Christopher Plummer. Photo Credits to Ethan Sommer, Christopher Plummer, and University Marketing and Communications.


Fundraiser Celebrates 25th Anniversary of VPA

Circle with Gala surrounded by colored splashesThis academic year, we will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Michigan Tech. We will hold a celebratory 25th Anniversary Gala beginning at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

Celebrate with an evening of cocktails, dinner and live arts entertainment. The VPA 25th Anniversary Gala will feature intimate performances in the lobby and on stage, and live auction supporting the Marian and John Irish Award for Environmental Art, the Visual and Performing Arts Department Theatre Scholarship Fund and the Rozsa Center’s Class Acts Program.

Come dressed for celebration. There will be a cocktail hour (cash bar), full dinner, live music throughout the evening both in the lobby and on stage, an auction of unique arts experiences, artists working during the gala and more.

Tickets for the evening are $75 per person. We will also be selling corporate tables (seating eight) for $1,000. Tickets can be purchased by calling the SDC Ticket Office at 7-2073 or following this link. More information can be found here.


Scary Ideas Sought for Haunted Mine Tour

Quincy Mine with Northern LightsThe Quincy Mine Hoist Association and the Michigan Tech Visual and Performing Arts Department are teaming up to offer the best Haunted Mine event ever. In preparation, the production team is looking for creative ideas for awesome and scary scenes. All are invited to toss ideas to the production team via an “idea pitch.”

Ideas will be selected based on feasibility and potential for the ultimate scare. Scenes will be under the direction of a professional theatre director and actors will be auditioned to fill the necessary roles.

This year’s theme is “Secret Portal to the 90th Level.” Tourists have been disappearing, only to reappear having passed through the eerie depths of the mine unseen for years. Tours will be Oct. 25-27. There will be some rehearsing this year that will require a few hours of commitment before the actual mine experience. Technical load-in will be Oct. 21-24.

There will be a mandatory meeting for all volunteers from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 20) in McArdle Theatre, Walker 207.

For more information, contact Patricia Helsel, 7-3283.

Fill out an information form prior to attending the meeting.

The team is looking for a very brief description of a mini-plot or scenario that might take between one and five minutes. These scenarios are partly improvised situations where one or more individuals interact with each other and/or the customers who enter the mine during the tour. Envision costumes, lights, props, sounds, special effects, etc. Individuals, partners and groups are all invited to submit ideas. There is no limit to the number of ideas.

If your idea is chosen, you and two friends will be invited to a special sneak preview of the whole mine tour before the event opens to the public.

If you are interested only in being a part of the Haunted Mine experience, just answer the survey questions in the form.


Meditation Circuit Combines Mindfulness, Public Art

Two men and a woman stand beneath a cloth banner in a pine tree grove.Imagine the sunlight slanting toward the forest floor, filtered through viridescent leaves and pine needles. Imagine walking slowly, meditatively, through the wedges of light, fully focused on the moment, completely present. Dust motes swirl in the light. Birds call to each other above. A fly buzzes by. Twigs and decaying leaves crunch under foot. From branches above, delicate hemp banners painted in many shades of green to mimic the landscape waft gently on the breeze.

Meditation, the practice of focusing solely on the present moment and letting go of the clutter of the mind, appears to have an increasing number of health benefitsAnne Beffel, professor of visual and performing arts at Michigan Technological University and director of Studio Here Now, intentionally looks for ways to create space for mindfulness within public art. Studio Here Now is a creative public art design studio and gallery located on campus in Wadsworth Residence Hall.

Read the full story on mtu.edu/news


Web Series Seeks Talent for Aug. 11 Filming

The filmmakers behind the Michigan-based Northbound series are seeking actors to be extras in an upcoming film shoot at the Great Lakes Research Center (GRLC) on the Michigan Tech campus.

Auditions can be done either by submitting a video or in person at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. In-Person auditions will be done on Sunday (July 22), in room 120 at the Rozsa Center.

The actual filming will take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11. The GLRC will be portrayed as a medical research facility. The extras will be playing a large group of characters who die, after a mysterious outbreak.

The team is looking for 25 to 30 extras in total. Three will be interacting with the main actors, without dialogue. An additional four actors are needed to play military guards, and will be needed between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Aug. 11. The majority of extras will play doctors, nurses or lab technicians. All adults are welcome to audition. There are no age or gender preferences.

Northbound is a post-apocalyptic webseries made in the Upper Peninsula, that began in early 2014. To date, there are two seasons currently available exclusively on the online streaming platform Seeka TV, which you can view for free by clicking this link.

The upcoming shoot is intended for the first episode of Season 3, which will also be the final season of the series, and will lead into a feature film called Northstar. This is a community-driven project that has found an audience around the world. The filmmakers are seeking actors to become part of their ongoing effort to bring the UP to a wider audience.

How to Audition:

  • Send a Video
    • Fill out a Talent Form by Sunday (July 22)
    • The form requires an upload of a MP4 video – deadline 5 p.m. Sunday (July 22)
    • You may use the scene provided, or use your own material, so long as the video is no longer than 1 minute.
  • Audition in Person
  • Fill out a Talent Form by Sunday (July 22)
  • You will be sent a 30-minute audition slot between 3 – 5 p.m. Sunday (July 22), in Rozsa 120 (choir room)
  • Using the provided scene, you will read or improvise for a video recording.

For more information, email Patricia Helsel.