Arts and culture in the news

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A Wayne State University Theater Ensemble Performs Original Play in Scotland

Exploring topics such as race, gender, sexuality, and mental health, members of the Freedom Players — an ensemble formed out of Wayne State University’s Black Theater and Dance Program — went no holds barred this month when they performed their honest and original play, I Am, at the Scotland-based Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The trip marked the first time WSU students have attended the month-long, city-wide celebration, and their play was one of more than 50,000 performances showcased during the festival’s run. Following their experience across the Atlantic Ocean, Hour Detroit spoke with Billicia Hines, artistic director of the Black Theatre and Dance Collective at WSU, about the decision to attend this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, how it felt to bring their heartfelt work to an international audience, and the unforgettable impression this experience has had on the young Freedom Players.                                                    
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How ‘Game of Thrones’ Can Teach You To Be a Better Person

The eighth and final season of the HBO series ‘Game of Thrones’ begins next month on April 14. The show’s popularity has had an impact at colleges and universities, where courses in medieval studies have increased since it began airing. Closer to home at Wayne State University, assistant professor Hilary Fox’s specialty in medieval ethics and history have made her a popular lecturer among the show’s local fans. This Thursday, March 28 at HopCat Brewery, Fox will talk about the real-life historical events mirrored in ‘Game of Thrones’ plot as part of Wayne State’s ‘Knowledge on Tap’ series, which is free and open to the public.
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Theatre and Dance honors Jeffrey Seller with 2019 Apple Award at Hamilton

The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance, a program within the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts, is honoring Michigan native and Tony Award-winning producer of "Hamilton," Jeffrey Seller, with the 2019 Apple Award on March 27 at the Fisher Theatre. On March 28, Seller will meet with Wayne State Theatre and Dance students for a conversation about his Michigan roots and his rise to one of Broadway's most-celebrated producers. This event will take place in the Studio Theatre at the Hilberry at 11:30 a.m. The Apple Award, named for Sarah Applebaum Nederlander, is given by the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University on behalf of the Nederlander family. Previous Apple Award winners include Garth Fagan, Neil Simon, Carol Channing, Stephen Schwartz, Mandy Patinkin, Patti LuPone, Marvin Hamlisch, Elaine Stritch, Tom Skerritt and Natasha Katz.
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Why Is the Genie in ‘Aladdin’ Blue?

The story of Aladdin is one of the most well-known works in One Thousand and One Nights (Alf Layla wa Layla) or Arabian Nights, the famous collection of folk stories compiled over hundreds of years, largely pulled from Middle Eastern and Indian literary traditions. Genies, or Jinn, make appearances throughout the stories in different forms. A rich tradition in Middle Eastern and Islamic lore, Jinn appear in the Qur’an, where they are described as the Jánn, “created of a smokeless fire,” but they can even be found in stories that date back before the time of Muhammad in the 7th century. The pop culture genie of Nights we recognize today, however, was shaped by European illustrators, beginning with the frontpieces done for 18th-century translator Antoine Galland’s Les Mille et Une Nuits. At the time, French writers often used what was then referred to as the Orient—a term indiscriminately used to refer to North Africa, the Middle East, and the Far East more generally—to allude to its own society and monarchy, explains Anne E. Duggan, professor of French at Wayne State University, who’s studied the visual evolution of the genie. “
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Wayne State University unveils new float to debut at 92nd America's Thanksgiving Parade

Wayne State University unveiled its new float, “Warrior Strong,” this morning during the 19th Annual Parade Pancake Breakfast. In celebration of the university’s 150th anniversary, the “Warrior Strong” float will make its debut at the 92nd America’s Thanksgiving Parade® with a national broadcast reaching 185 major cities across the country. “For 150 years, Wayne State University has been committed to the city of Detroit and we are proud to celebrate our anniversary with our students, supporters and community with a new float on Thanksgiving morning,” said Dr. M. Roy Wilson, president of Wayne State University. “Our float, ‘Warrior Strong’, embodies a motto that Wayne State students and alumni live out each day in classrooms, boardrooms, labs, medical centers and on stage.” 
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Digging for mid-1800s trash uncovers lives of Corktown residents

Thomas Killion, associate professor of anthropology at Wayne State, said he and his students worked for three years on the archaeological dig at the row house, one of Detroit's oldest surviving structures. The dig revealed more than 6,000 fragments and pieces of different household objects that helped paint a picture of how these workers lived in the mid-1800s. Killion said archaeologists don’t expect to find one huge item that reveals everything, but rather a lot of little things that add up to a story. “It was an interesting icon for this fairly mythical Irish neighborhood of Detroit. It had the trifecta there: (the beverages you drink in) early life, middle life and later life," he said. Krysta Ryzewski, associate professor in anthropology at Wayne State, has led the Roosevelt Park digs every other year since 2012. When plans to build the train station were announced in the early 1900s, the city wanted to forcibly remove those who lived around the station, Ryzewski said. 
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“As You Like It” announced at the Hilberry Theatre

William Shakespeare's “As You Like It” treads the boards at the Hilberry Theatre beginning Friday, Oct.26 and running through Nov. 11. Directed by Lavinia Hart and set in present day Appalachia, this comedy allows audiences to view a classic story through a creative lens that transports you to the hills of Tennessee. "Shakespeare's 'As You Like It' is universal in theme and characters, easily translating to any century in any city or countryside, revealing surprising cultural connections to the here and now," says Hart.
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(Column) Americans' enthrallment with British royalty

Janine Lanza, associate professor and director for the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program at Wayne State University, examines the intense interest many Americans have in the affairs of British royalty. “Our history and Constitution forbid noble titles from taking hold in this country. American culture traditionally prizes individual achievement and accomplishment rather than status conferred by birth,” she says. “However, the pomp and ceremony of Old World royalty have captivated a country with a brief history and no traditions to rival the pageantry that marks such royal events.”
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The 2 things North Korea's Kim Yo Jong and Ivanka Trump have in common

As the Winter Olympics kicked off in PyeongChang, South Korea, this weekend, the media turned their attention to one notable nonathlete attendee: Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. Stine Eckert, chair of the feminist scholarship division of the International Communication Association and an assistant professor of communications at Wayne State University, notes that there is one particularly notable comparison that should be made between the two women in question. “They are both blueprints for whatever at the time their society and current administration needs in terms of a tool to advance their political agendas,” Eckert says.
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Movie about early activism of Rosa Parks will be based on Detroit historian's book

A book by a Detroit historian is inspiring a movie about the early activism of Rosa Parks and her quest for justice for a rape survivor. The upcoming film will focus on a real-life event that occurred long before Parks made history in 1955 by refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a bus. Parks helped spark the landmark Montgomery bus boycott in Alabama and became an icon of the civil rights movement. But a decade before that, she was one of many African-American women fighting for the right to live and travel without fear of racial and sexual violence. The early activism of Parks is detailed in "At the Dark End of the Street," an award-winning 2010 book written by Wayne State University adjunct associate history professor Danielle McGuire.
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2017 Detroit Knight Arts Challenge finalists announced

Musicians, poets, even a video game maker are among the 63 finalists for the 2017 Detroit Knight Arts Challenge sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.       Wayne State University, Department of Art and Art History: To explore the connection of politics and printing by publishing a book on the Detroit Print Co-op, which produced noteworthy and beautifully designed publications on leftist politics in the city.
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Maggie Allesse Dept. of Theatre & Dance at Wayne State announces 2017-18 season

The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University announces its 2017-18 season beginning this fall. Opening the season is "The Underpants" by legendary comedian and award-winning actor, Steve Martin. The theatre invites audiences into the forest with Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" from Oct. 12 to 28 in the Studio Theatre at the Hilberry. Next is Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire," performing Nov. 3 to 19 at the Hilberry. Then, the annual holiday favorite, "A Christmas Carol," returns to the Bonstelle Theatre, Dec. 1 through 17. Running Dec. 7 to 16 in the Studio Theatre at the Hilberry is Diana Son's "Stop Kiss." Wrapping up the fall is the December Dance Concert, featuring contemporary dance masters for one weekend only, Dec. 8 and 9 at the Detroit Music Hall. The winter opens with the Louise Heck-Rabi Dramatic Playwriting One Act Festival, Feb. 1 through 3 in the Studio Theatre at the Hilberry. Next is George C. Wolfe's "The Colored Museum," running Feb. 2 to 18 at the Hilberry Theatre. Celebrating its 89th year, the Spring Dance Concert performs at the Bonstelle Theatre March 1 and 2, highlighting national and international works from the dance world's top-performing artists. Following is Aaron Posner's "Stupid F*ing Bird" March 1 through 31 in the Studio Theatre at the Hilberry. In April, the Bonstelle Theatre presents the Broadway musical "Sister Act" running April 13 to 22. Closing the season is Shakespeare's "King Lear," performing April 27 to May 13 at the Hilberry.