Special Events

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Intro to the Performing Arts!

First Years and Transfer Students!  Join us!

Into to the Performing Arts Banner

Discover all that the UR has to offer in the performing arts across the disciplines of Theatre, Music, and Dance!  Join us for Intro to the Performing Arts!

When: Monday, August 29 at 3pm

Where: Smith Theatre (Sloan Performing Arts Center)

What: Discover the Performing Arts at the University of Rochester!  Meet faculty and students and learn how to get involved.  Followed by a dessert reception!

Meliora Banner

Pulitzer Prize-winning Playwright & Screenwriter, Tony Kushner is coming to the University!  Join us for two special events!

Tony Kushner

Public Conversation with Tony Kushner

Saturday, October 1 at 1.30pm in Strong Auditorium (registration link to come)

Registration for this event is available through the Meliora website.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner joins Russell and Ruth Peck Artistic Director of the University of Rochester International Theatre Program, Nigel Maister, for a wide ranging discussion on theatre, the role of (and intersection between) art and politics, the writing process, and his extraordinary career creating some of the  seminal works of our time with extraordinary figures in the world of theatre, film and music.  Kushner's accomplishments, including the landmark Angels in America, as well as the musical Caroline, or Change, and the screenplays for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, Munich, and recent remake of West Side Story, have justifiably made him, not only one of the world's preeminent dramatists, but also a perceptive and distinguished thinker and public intellectual.

A book signing with Kushner will follow the event.

Collaboratively presented by Meliora Weekend, the University of Rochester’s Institute for the Performing Arts, and the Schwartz Fund for the Humanities and the Performing Arts.

STUDENTS ONLY! Student Masterclass/Q & A with Tony Kushner

Saturday, October 1 at 3.30pm in the Smith Theatre (Sloan Performing Arts Center)

Moderated by Director of the Institute for the Performing Arts and Director of the Program of Dance and Movement, Missy Pfohl Smith, Pulitzer, Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner will take questions from students about life, art, and theatre.  Only open to students and select faculty at the University of Rochester.

Shape Notes Singing Intensive with Dr. Ian Quinn (Yale, ESM)

Ian Quinn

One of the most exciting and thrilling communal music experiences is being involved in shape note singing. We're using this musical form in our upcoming production of Arthur Miller'sThe Crucible and are holding a weekend of intensive workshops in the form.  All are welcome to join!  Workshops will be led by world-renowned music theorist and shape note singing educator, Dr. Ian Quinn.

Saturday & Sunday, October 8 & 9 (Sloan Studio, Todd Union 107; Saturday, Sept. 17: 12-3pm & 4-7pm, Sunday, Sept. 18: 10am-2pm)

Meet Director, Vernice Miller and Join the Conversation about Creativity, Black History, and Building Authenticity through Art (& Explore Carlyle Brown's terrific The African Company presents Richard III)!

Vernice Miller

You read something which you thought only happened to you, and you discover that it happened 100 years ago to Dostoyevsky. This is a very great liberation for the suffering, struggling person, who always thinks that he is alone. This is why art is important. Art would not be important if life were not important, and life is important.”      –James Baldwin

Join acclaimed actress and director, Vernice Miller, as she invites us to consider a response to the current climate of social divisiveness through creativity, artistic engagement, and visionary action.  Referencing examples from the past, we will examine how, as we build our lives today, we can bolster our resistance to contemporary challenges by engaging our own artistry and translating our creativity into a wellspring of action.  Part talk and conversation, part communal experience, Vernice will speak about her own professional journey, about the fascinating historical play she will be directing at the UR International Theatre Program next semester (The African Company Presents Richard III by Carlyle Brown), and lead attendees in exercises aimed at sparking creativity and engagement.  All are welcome! 

Get involved with The African Company Presents Richards III! Using the starting point of the first Black theatre company in the US, Brown's play questions the notion of identity, performance, and who "owns" Shakespeare. The Theatre Program is producing this work in Spring 23 and we want you to be involved...so come and learn more, participate in a workshop, and get excited!

Saturday, October 15 (3-4.30pm) and/or Sunday, October 16 (12.30-2pm) in Douglass Leadership House

Co-sponsored by Douglass Leadership House.


Theatre is often viewed as a site of privilege and whiteness. The UR International Theatre Program acknowledges this and wants to be part of meaningful change. We know this is an ongoing project, but we took some early steps towards making change by commissioning a new play by BIPOC playwright, Sam Chanse, for an acting ensemble composed predominantly of performers of color.  That production, Fellowship, will receive its world premiere during Meliora this year.  This builds on the Theatre Program's record of and commitment to casting students from all communities in key roles over the course of its 33 years, in addition to staging important works of theatre from BIPOC playwrights like Suzan-Lori Parks, Maria Irene Fornes, and Jose Rivera, and diversifying is artistic staff and faculty.  Though the production of Fellowship was cast in Spring 22, every production this season has outstanding roles for all actors and specifically actors of color.  None more so that The African Company Presents Richard III which is our first production of the Spring 23 semester.

Make a contribution to real change: show up and audition!  You'll pave the way for more diverse offerings in the Theatre Program and greater enrichment for all at the University of Rochester!

"They'll Sing Fa-Sol-La in the Tavern": Music Literacy and Identity in America, 1698–1958 

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Dr. Ian Quinn (Chair: Department of Music, Yale University)

The singing of psalms and hymns has been an important site of cultural exchange between Black, White, and Indigenous communities since the founding of the United States. This talk traces the role of musical literacy in the negotiation of American identities, focusing on the controversial vernacular singing-school traditions that spread through the camp meetings of the Second Great Awakening and that live on in the DNA of contemporary American musical practices from folk to gospel. 

Friday, November 4: 6-7pm | Humanities Center (Conference Room D), Rush Rhees Library
Watch on Zoom here!

Co-sponsored by the Humanities Center/Humanities Project and the UR International Theatre Program

About Dr. Ian Quinn

Ian Quinn is Professor and Chair of the Department of Music at Yale University. He works at the intersection of music, computation, philology, and ritual studies. His research is driven by questions about how the everyday musical mind works and how humans have learned to use it to access mindful and devotional states of consciousness. He is particularly interested in repertories of sung music intended for the transmission of sacred texts. Such repertories typically travel through time and culture alongside theories of the musical mind that make claims about the structure of pitch (tonality) and time (rhythm). These theories in turn serve as technologies to regulate and reduce the information complexity of both the music and the texts borne by the melodies. Quinn’s work involves working with computers to construct, compare, and interpret information-theoretic models of sacred song repertories. These techniques, which were developed for natural-language processing, elucidate the relationship between music and language, not only at the level of song and repertory, but also at the level of mind.  Outside of academia, Ian is a leading educator in the international community of amateur shape-note singers, who preserve and negotiate a set of musical, ritual, and notational practices with roots in the Second Great Awakening, which brought black, white, and indigenous Christians together in sustained and worshipful musical contact during the nineteenth century. He has taught singing schools for communities throughout Appalachia and the Northeastern states, England, and Ireland.


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Calling all BIPOC actors!!  Douglass Leadership House and the UR International Theatre Program presents an Audition and a Workshop for interested students to be part of the terrific spring production of Carlyle Brown's The African Company Presents Richard III.  Based on true events, the play tells the story of the first African-American theatre company, their decision to challenge the dominant culture in presenting their own version of Shakespeare's Richard III, and what happens as a result.  This important work examines the nature of Black identity and performance, and explores notions of ownership, culture, and appropriation.  The play has great roles for Black actors and actors of color!  A half-semester commitment, no prior experience necessary, and 5 academic course credits if cast! 

Come be part of the workshop with the director, Vernice Miller and audition (or gain valuable auditioning skills)!

Douglass Leadership House
Saturday, December 3 from 1pm-3pm

Finding Tituba's Voice: Performing BIPOC Characters in White Spaces

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Historically and dramatically, the character of Tituba, an enslaved woman, is central to the actions of the 17th Century Salem Witchcraft Trials depicted in Arthur Miller’s iconic play, The Crucible. But how was this character portrayed by Miller? Who was the real Tituba? And what challenges face actors in giving voice to BIPOC characters, often the product of white authors’ imaginations, in (frequently) predominantly white performance spaces? How do we frame such characters within our contemporary political and cultural discourse, and how do BIPOC performers approach them? Join us for a panel discussion on history, authenticity, performance,
race, and the performance of race with distinguished academics and performers, Kat Rina Davis (Actor/Author/Advocate; Tituba in the UR’s production of The Crucible); Prof. Mike Jarvis (UR History Department); Nigel Maister (Artistic Director: UR International Theatre Program; director of The Crucible; Panel Moderator); Jeffrey McCune (Director; the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies); and Esther Winter (Actor and Educator).

Tuesday, December 6 at 5.30-6.30pm
Smith Theatre (Sloan Performing Arts Center, UR River Campus)
followed by reception in Sloan Performing Arts Center Lobby