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Fulbright Helps MSU Theatre Reach Out to Greeks

Rob Roznowski

With the Ionian Sea and snow-capped mountains of southern Greece as a backdrop, a Department of Theatre professor used an entire university campus as his stage for a unique project he conceived involving a large cast of students.

Associate Professor Rob Roznowski, on a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship at the University of Patras in Greece, planned to take Arthur Miller’s American classic, A View from the Bridge, which has a small cast, and do the play in Greece. But when he arrived in Patras, he found much interest from students to be part of the production.

“I knew A View from the Bridge wouldn’t work with all those people,” Roznowski said, so he abandoned his original plan and took on another project where anyone who wanted could participate.

Working in tandem with the students, Roznowski devised a site-specific theatre piece, called “A Private Response to Public Art,” where about 40 student actors were stationed throughout the campus to perform movement pieces or short plays devoted to the public art and/or graffiti at each location.

Audience members were given maps to find the 25 different acts spread across the university, and during the 90-minute production, the students continuously performed.

“It was really an interesting and unique project that got the entire university involved and which was born out of my seeing the university with fresh eyes,” Roznowski said. “Most of the things I identified for the public art nobody even paid attention to or had noticed. People commented afterward that they saw the university in new ways. I think it worked out better than my original idea.

“But what was really interesting about the project was the different aesthetic between the United States and Greece in the creation of performance and what constitutes theatre. It became this hybrid of Greek and American acting, Greek and America theatre, and that was the best part for the students because they came away, and so did I, with an expanded knowledge of both sides of the form.”

A colleague who helped Roznowski with the production is coming to MSU in the spring to teach Theatre students ancient Greek course techniques.

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