12 Sep
Theatre student Micah Beachy
Theatre student Micah Beachy in the museum

A group of West Virginia University theater students from professor Lee Blair’s THE 244 acting class in the School of Theatre and Dance will perform monologues and scenes inspired by artwork currently on display at the Art Museum of WVU.

The event will take place Thursday, Sept. 15, at 6 p.m. in the Museum Education Center Grand Hall and is free and open to the public.

Professor’s Blair’s sophomore acting students visited the museum in August, where they participated in a guided tour with Educational Programs Manager Heather Harris. They also spent time exploring the museum on their own, in order to gain inspiration for their work.

Blair encouraged the students to see the artwork from different perspectives, even imagining that they were inside some of the pieces they saw. Harris asked them to think beyond representational pieces that portray people and animals and to consider the moods and feelings evoked by abstract artwork as well.

The resulting monologues and scenes will be performed as pieces of devised theatre, which is a theatrical tradition that emphasizes interaction with environment, community and colleagues as the inspiration for performance, rather than a formal script.

“Doing this project is totally in line with writing and devised projects that I do in my many of my acting classes,” Blair said. “Students are inspired by something, or assigned a topic, and they write from their perspective and their experience. They learn how challenging writing can be. They also learn in a new way the appreciation of language, storytelling and playwriting. They see the value of language and its usage by the actor.

“Also, they see the power of their own thoughts, words and ideas and how creating their own work as an actor has creative value.”

Harris said The Art Museum of West Virginia University is thrilled to collaborate with the School of Theatre and Dance on this project.

“By integrating visual and dramatic arts, we are not only addressing one of the University’s goals that encourages interdisciplinary activity, but also inviting performers and audience members to engage with our collection in new and varied ways,” she said.

“I am excited to watch what the students devise, and I know that it will inspire me to see artwork I encounter every day in a different light. I hope everyone who attends will be stimulated to think critically about the obvious—and sometimes not so obvious—connections between art forms, as they follow the theater students on their imaginative journeys through our exhibitions.”

Visitors to the scenes and monologues on Sept. 15 are encouraged to visit the Art Museum’s galleries before and after the performance, in order to experience the artworks that inspired the students.

The Art Museum of WVU is open from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays. It is also open Wednesday and Friday through Sunday, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m., during the fall semester.

For more information, contact Lee Blair at Lee.Blair@mail.wvu.edu, 304-293-6100, or Heather Harris at Heather.Harris@mail.wvu.edu, phone: 304-293-5267.