On Dec. 3, 2019, Northwestern University dedicated a blackbox theater at the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts in the name of three trailblazing alumnae. The Clara, Lu ‛n’ Em Theater was named in recognition of a gift to the School of Communication, which will be used to create a dean’s discretionary fund supporting areas of greatest need. David Berolzheimer made the gift in memory of his mother, Northwestern alumna Isobel Carothers Berolzheimer, and two of her classmates — the trio co-created the first radio soap opera: “Clara, Lu ‛n’ Em.”
Alumnus Greg Berlanti endows a professorship at the Northwestern University School of Communication, which will significantly expand the dramatic writing program. This is the largest ever gift from the Berlanti Family Foundation and is named in honor of Berlanti’s late mother.
Stay Close, a short documentary created by MFA Documentary Media graduates, was shortlisted for an Oscar—the announcement for which came on December 17. The film was directed by Shuhan Fan (G16) and Luther Clement (GC17), produced by Nevo Shinaar (GC17) and co-produced by Ashley Brandon (GC17), and featured music and sound mixing by MA in Sound Arts and Industries graduates Xiameng Summer Lin (GC17) and Lianna Squillance (GC19), respectively. Nominations will be selected from the shortlist and will be announced on January 13. The 92nd Annual Academy Awards will take place on February 9 and air live on ABC.
Noshir Contractor, the Jane S. and William J. White Professor of Behavioral Sciences in the Department of Communication Studies in the School of Communication, the McCormick School of Engineering, and in the Kellogg School of Management, was elected in November a 2019 fellow to the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest multidisciplinary science society.
Acclaimed Broadway actress and president of the Actors Equity union, Kate Shindle (C99), will be joining us on campus for a performance of Fun Home followed by a talk-back on Friday, November 22. Shindle is the School of Communication’s 2019-20 Hope Abelson Artist-in-Residence.
The School of Communication’s innovative writing curriculum has taken a scary-good turn. The genre of horror is much more than just slasher gore—it’s an exercise in social commentary, personal reflection, and artistic expression. Students, faculty, and alumni alike thrive in the creepy, crawly, creative work.
A dozen distinguished artists and scholars will be presenting their work on campus this academic year as part of a new initiative that Northwestern launches this month called Humanities on the MAP (Media, Arts, Performance). The theme for the inaugural humanities series is “Aesthetic Emergency,” and the initiative aims to examine issues of urgency and importance in our world today. School of Communication faculty have curated events for each quarter of the 2019/2020 academic year and expect to present a new theme yearly.
The School of Communication welcomes this academic year our first-ever cohort of MFA in Acting students, signaling an exciting expansion of graduate curriculum. Eight talented actors from across the country comprise the brand-new class that began coursework on September 24. The actors join graduate artists in a suite of complementary MFA programs, which includes design, directing, writing, and documentary media. These programs will be housed in a forthcoming performing and media arts center in Abbott Hall on Northwestern’s campus in downtown Chicago.
School of Communication faculty and alumni were big winners this year at the American Alliance for Theatre and Education annual conference and awards ceremony in New York City in August. AATE is the premier professional network for theatre educators.
School of Communication’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders launched this summer its first collaboration with the National High School Institute (NHSI), which brought seven Chicago-area high schoolers to campus for a free, weeklong deep dive into Neuroscience and Communication. The program aims to diversify the fields of audiology and speech-language pathology through early exposure and recruitment.
School of Communication alumni once again paint the town purple with a spate of 2019 Emmy Award nominations. Notable among them is Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has the chance to make Emmy history (again) with a win for her role as Selina Meyer in HBO’s Veep, which she also executive produces.
Aymar Jean Christian, associate professor in the Departments of Communication Studies and Radio/Television/Film, was awarded in June a Field Foundation of Illinois grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, honoring him as one of the 14 inaugural Leaders for a New Chicago. Christian is the founder of OTV | Open Television, a Chicago-based distribution platform for web series made by emerging intersectional artists.