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Angela Brown Sings Again in Celebration Concert

BY

PUBLISHED ON Feb 08 2018

Indianapolis-based soprano Angela Brown, who had taken some time off due to vocal stress, returns to the stage for a free concert on Sunday, February 25, at 7:30 PM at Butler University's Schrott Center for the Arts as part of the Celebration of African-American Music Concert.

The concert will feature Brown, Butler University choirs, and the Eastern Star Church Choir performing together and separately songs such as "This Little Light of Mine," "Wade in the Water," and "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

The Celebration of African-American Music Concert, pioneered by Jeremiah Marcèle Sanders MM '17 in collaboration with the Efroymson Diversity Center, Mu Phi Epsilon and the School of Music, celebrates the vast wealth of African-American culture through singing.

"Our singing is a tool for increasing the awareness of the oppression under which African slaves were brought to this land," Sanders said. "We wish that all see a day in which we celebrate a reconciliation of racial injustice. Until that day arrives, we rejoice in hope, sing in unity of mind and spirit, and educate toward equality."

Brown, a Butler University Visiting Guest Artist during the 2017–2018 academic year, sang on the Grammy-winning recording of "Ask Your Mama,” composer Laura Karpman’s setting of the poem by Langston Hughes of the same title. She also co-starred in the new American opera Charlie Parker’s Yardbird in the 2015 world-premiere performance with Opera Philadelphia.

She reprised the role of Addie Parker in historic performances at The Apollo in New York City in 2016, for Lyric Opera of Chicago and Madison Opera, and in London at The Hackney Empire in 2017.

This season includes solo appearances with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Venice Symphony Orchestra, Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, and Duisberger Philharmonic (Germany) as well as performances of Opera…from a Sistah’s Point of View in the United States.

The Butler choirs will be conducted by John Perkins, Associate Director of Choral Activities, who joined the University in 2014. Perkins previously served at the American University of Sharjah (UAE) from 2008-2014. Perkins’ teaching and research centers around broadening reasons for choral musicking, including social justice education. In pursuit of these goals, in the spring of 2016 he created a transnational course entitled "Peacebuilding through Choral Singing."

Sherri Garrison, who conducts the Eastern Star Church, Cooper Road campus, has been the Minister of Music there for the last 30 years. During her tenure at Eastern Star Church, she has overseen six choirs, of which she taught and directed five, two praise teams, two dance ministries, and a full music staff.

 

Media contact:
Marc Allan
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

 

Arts & CulturePeopleCommunity

Angela Brown Sings Again in Celebration Concert

Performance will feature the great soprano along with Butler choirs and the Eastern Star Church choir.

Feb 08 2018 Read more
John Michael Goodson, Deena Fogle, Emily Bohn, Abby Gilster, Elisabeth Speckman
Arts & CulturePeople

Sense & Sensibility & Bulldogs

BY

PUBLISHED ON Feb 06 2018

The production of Sense & Sensibility now running at the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre in Carmel, Indiana, is more than a production of Jane Austen's beloved novel—turns out, it's a gathering of Bulldogs.

The cast includes Emily Bohn '16 portraying Elinor Dashwood, Abby Gilster '16 as Fanny Dashwood, Lucy Steele, and a gossip; and Elisabeth Speckman MFA '16 and current College of Communication Adjunct Professor as Margaret Dashwood, Anne Steele, and a gossip.

John Michael Goodson, the Director, is an Adjunct in the Dance Department, where he has taught since 2011. Deena Fogle, the Stage Manager, earned her Master of Science in School Counseling in 2013.

Speckman said she knew Bohn and Gilster were Butler graduates. She and Bohn had performed together in Shakespeare's Cymbeline in October at Indianapolis' Bard Fest, and Bohn and Gilster are roommates.

"Then one night at rehearsal we were talking about our lives outside of the rehearsal room and realized that there were lots of us!" Speckman said.

Sense & Sensibility follows the fortunes (and misfortunes) of the Dashwood sisters—sensible Elinor and hypersensitive Marianne—after their father’s sudden death leaves them financially destitute and socially vulnerable. Set in gossipy late 18th-century England, the show examines our reactions, both reasonable and ridiculous, to societal pressures. When reputation is everything, how do you follow your heart?

The show runs February 2–17. Show times, tickets prices, and more information are available here.

 

(In the photo: John Michael Goodson, Deena Fogle, Emily Bohn, Abby Gilster, Elisabeth Speckman)

 

Media contact:
Marc Allan
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

John Michael Goodson, Deena Fogle, Emily Bohn, Abby Gilster, Elisabeth Speckman
Arts & CulturePeople

Sense & Sensibility & Bulldogs

Butler is all over the Civic Theatre production of Sense & Sensibility.

Feb 06 2018 Read more
Arts & CultureCampus

Butler Ballet Spices Up Midwinter Dance Festival With a Tango

BY

PUBLISHED ON Jan 31 2018

Butler Ballet will warm up the cold winter nights with the sizzling modern dance tango Piazzolla Caldera and three world premiere pieces as part of Midwinter Dance Festival, Feb. 14-18 at the Schrott Center for the Arts.

Audiences have the opportunity to see two separate shows, each featuring Piazzolla Caldera, choreographed by the legendary American choreographer Paul Taylor, and three other pieces.

Program A will be presented:

Wednesday, February 14, at 7:00 PM

Friday, February 16, at 7:30 PM

Saturday, February 17, at 2:00 PM

Program B will be presented:

Thursday, February 15, at 7:00 PM

Saturday, February 17, at 7:30 PM

Sunday, February 18, 2:00 PM

Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors 62 and older, and $7 for students and children under 18. They are available at Clowes Memorial Hall during regular box office hours and at the Schrott Center for the Arts beginning two hours before each performance.

Piazzolla Caldera, created in 1997, has been described as "a sensual exposé of tango as reinterpreted and reimagined with modern dance." The piece will be set by Butler Dance Professor Susan McGuire, who was a principal dancer with the Paul Taylor Dance Company from 1977 to 1988 and served as rehearsal director in 1989.

On February 9, the week before the Midwinter performances, the Paul Taylor Dance Company will perform at Clowes Memorial Hall. The company will present a masterclass for Butler Ballet dancers, and two members of the Paul Taylor company—including Heather McGinley '05—will coach the student-dancers.

"The circle has completed itself," Attaway said. "We're all excited about that."

Program A also will feature:

Farewell to the Singing Earth, choreographed by Professor Stephan Laurent and set to the music of Gustav Mahler. "This is a bittersweet moment for us because Stephan is retiring at the end of this year and this will be his last Midwinter with us," Attaway said. "He thought it would be fitting for him to revive a piece he did in 2003 that is a farewell."

Like Water for Dancers, choreographed by Assistant Professor of Dance Ramon Flowers. The piece represents the elements of water, fire, air, and earth. Initially developed for three dancers, it will feature 16 dancers in this new incarnation.

Dawn, choreographed by Professor Marek Cholewa. This world premiere also will feature an original score by percussionist Jordy Long '16.

Program B also will feature:

The grand pas de deux from La Bayadère, set by Assistant Professor of Dance Rosanna Ruffo. "This is a technical tour de force for our dancers," Attaway said. "It's more traditional than other pieces in Midwinter. It's certainly been reworked by Rosanna, but it will be familiar to people."

Stardust, a world premiere by Professor Cynthia Pratt, featuring music by David Bowie. "It's a technical challenge – very aerobic," Attaway said. "It doesn't stop moving."

Flying Wings, by Associate Professor of Dance Derek Reid. "We carry thoughts/burdens that weigh us down and search for opportunities and moments to feel free, to feel happy," Reid said, explaining the dance. "A friend passed a scripture reading on to me one day which sparked my inspiration. Roman 5: 3-4: “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

 


Media contact:
Marc Allan
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

 

Arts & CultureCampus

Butler Ballet Spices Up Midwinter Dance Festival With a Tango

Performances will take place February 14-18 at the Schrott Center.

Jan 31 2018 Read more
Arts & CulturePeople

James Alexander Thom '60 Earns Lifetime Achievement Award

BY

PUBLISHED ON Jan 25 2018

Historical fiction novelist James Alexander Thom ’60 has been selected as the recipient of the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation. He is only the third Hoosier author to receive this award.

Thom studied English and journalism at Butler, after which he became a reporter and columnist for The Indianapolis Star, as well as a freelance magazine writer. His writing focuses on frontier and Indian Wars history, and his carefully researched novels have sold more than 2 million copies. Two of these novels were made into television films by Ted Turner and Hallmark.

Follow the River, a 1981 novel about a pioneer woman captured by Shawnee Indians became a New York Times bestseller and is now in its 50th printing. Panther in the Sky, his biographical novel about Shawnee chieftain Tecumseh, won the Western Writers of America Spur Award for best novel in 1989.

Years of research among Shawnee Indians for Panther in the Sky led to his marriage to Dark Rain, a Shawnee Indian with whom he co-authored the 2003 novel Warrior Woman. His most recent book, Fire in the Water, about the sinking of the steamboat Sultana during the Civil War, was published in 2016.

Thom was born in Owen County, Indiana, in 1933 and still resides there, in a log house he built himself. He is currently working on another American Indian novel and a memoir, and he is illustrating a children’s book.

“Awards come as surprises,” he said. “In my long lifetime as an author, I've never worked on a story with an award in mind. Storytelling is its own reward. It takes the cake. Good thing, because the pay isn't all that great. Being able to live on your royalties, if you can, is icing on the cake. Then they surprise you with an award like this ... and it's like a bright candle on top of the icing on top of the cake.”

The Lifetime Achievement Award is a literary honor that seeks to recognize outstanding authors who have left an indelible mark on our state’s literary heritage. Thom’s life and work will be celebrated at the Indiana Authors Award Dinner on October 13 at Central Library. He will select an Indiana public library to receive a $2,500 grant on behalf of the Library Foundation.

In 2009, Thom won the library’s National Indiana Authors Award, and he received multiple nominations for the Lifetime Achievement Award. As one nominee said, “[James Thom] researches his subjects very carefully and makes historical characters come alive and their stories compelling and interesting to read. When he writes, it’s as if he has a paintbrush in his hand, describing every detail as though he were painting a picture. I can see each scene he portrays, and I feel as though I am there in that time and place. I can even smell the smoke of battle or bread baking in the oven. He cares about his characters and makes us care about them as well.”

In addition to his writing and journalism talents, Thom’s legacy includes serving as a professor and lecturer in the Indiana University School of Journalism and mentoring many people in the Indiana writing community over the years.

The Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award recognizes Indiana authors’ contributions to the literary landscape in Indiana and across the nation. 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the Award. The Indiana Authors Award is a program of The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation and is funded through the generosity of the Glick Fund, a fund of Central Indiana Community Foundation.

Media contact:
Marc Allan
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

 

Arts & CulturePeople

James Alexander Thom '60 Earns Lifetime Achievement Award

The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation will honor him on October 13.

Jan 25 2018 Read more

Jauvon Gilliam ’01

Jauvon Gilliam ’01 came to Butler on a full piano scholarship. He left a timpanist—and a darn good one.

In the years since he graduated with a degree in arts administration, he went on to perform with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for seven years and, for the past five-plus years, as the principal timpanist for the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC. He’s also performed with the symphony orchestras in Cleveland, San Francisco, Detroit, and Indianapolis, as well as the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

“I feel like I have the best job in the world—I get paid to beat stuff,” he said with a laugh. “I get paid to bang on drums.”

Gilliam had played a little bit of drums and percussion in youth orchestra while in high school, but it wasn’t until his sophomore year at Butler when he met Percussion Artist in Residence Jon Crabiel that he thought about timpani.

“We had a three-minute conversation,” Gilliam recalled, “and he said, ‘You know, you can make money playing drums.’ I said, ‘Really?’”

He talked it over with his piano teacher/academic advisor, Steve Roberson, who told Gilliam to follow his heart. Two days later, he changed his major to devote full time to timpani.

From his piano training, Gilliam already knew how to make music. What he needed was a proficient teacher who could instruct him in technique. He found that in Crabiel.

After a year of Crabiel’s tutelage, he was playing at a national percussion convention.

“I cannot give him enough praise,” Gilliam said. I’ve called him a hundred times and said, ‘Dude, I love you, thank you, because I couldn’t have done it without you.’”

Professors Crabiel, Roberson, and Dan Bolin, he said, “were like father figures to me. Even thinking of it now, I wish I could give all three of them a hug because I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Jauvon Gilliam
OutcomesArts & CulturePeople

Jauvon Gilliam ’01

  Jauvon Gilliam ’01 came to Butler on a full piano scholarship. He left a timpanist—and a darn good one.

Phoenix
PeopleArts & Culture

Meet Butler's Participants in Phoenix Theatre's "Halftime with Don"

BY

PUBLISHED ON Jan 05 2018

Wherever you look during the Phoenix Theatre’s upcoming production of the play Halftime With Don, Butler Theatre will be well represented.

Onstage, Michael Hosp ’08 will be playing Ed, an aspiring sportswriter who meets his football hero, a man suffering from traumatic brain injury. The technical aspects of the show will be handled by Jeffery Martin, who studied at Butler from 2005-2009. And behind the scenes, Corbin Fritz ’18 is interning as he prepares for a career as a director.

“Education and the training of the next generation of theatre artists are an integral component of the mission of the Phoenix Theatre,” Producing Director Bryan Fonseca said. “We are fortunate to have an ongoing relationship with the Butler Department of Theatre.”

Over the past decade, Fonseca said, the Phoenix has hosted Butler interns, employed faculty members, collaborated with the department on projects, entertained and educated students through a formal program of attendance, advised incoming new students for the past five seasons, and employed former students as actors, technicians, and staff.

“I think our relationship is a successful model for professional training,” he said.

Let’s meet the Butler participants in Halftime With Don, which runs January 12-February 4.

 

The Actor

 

Michael Hosp grew up a couple of miles from Butler and went to school to be an actor. Ten years after graduation, he continues to rack up credits both day and night. In addition to performing in several other plays at the Phoenix, he’s appeared in and directed shows produced by several of Indianapolis’ most inventive theatre companies, including NoExit, EclecticPond, and Know No Stranger.

Hosp also has worked on adaptations of two Kurt Vonnegut books for the IndyFringe stage, and this past summer he was in the Indianapolis Shakespeare Company’s presentation of As You Like It.

Theatre is his full-time job too. During the day, Hosp works as an Actor-Interpreter at The Children’s Museum, where you might find him in the atrium dressed as a Transformer, or in one of the galleries doing a serious monologue while portraying historical figures such as Otto Frank, the father of Anne Frank.

“It’s a good day job in the sense that it’s creative and it’s different every time,” he said. “My work here at the museum and my work outside, they both help. I’ve become a better actor by just having to perform every day. And kids, you never know what they’re going to do or say. So that definitely helps the improvisational skills.”

Halftime With Don playwright Ken Weitzman, who was in Indianapolis for the first three nights of rehearsal, said casting Hosp as Ed is an unusual move since Hosp is significantly taller than Bill Simmons, the actor who plays Don.

“But there’s something really to me compelling about this big guy with this hero worship for a football player who’s not as big as him,” Weitzman said. “And Mike has a real good instinct for the part.”

Hosp said Butler gave him a great education in how to approach not only acting, but a career in theatre.

“The education prepared me to be a theatre artist and not just an actor or any one thing,” he said. “It’s so valuable to understand how to communicate and collaborate with designers if you are the director. Or as an actor, really understand how you fit into the stage picture at any given moment– to make choices that support the visual story that’s being told. I learned those things there.”

 

The Technical Director

 

Jeff Martin knew he wanted to be in theatre, and at Butler he found a mix that allowed him to experience acting as well as behind-the-scenes work.

“It gave me a good head start,” the Griffith, Indiana, native said. “Butler gives everyone what they need. You just have to use it. People coming out of school who want to be actors—it’s hard. That’s a hard life. In the tech world, there’s a lot more stability.”

After graduation, Martin spent about a year in New York, where he did some acting and special-event tech work, including setting up the teleprompter and lighting for a speech by President Obama. He then moved to Atlanta and worked with theatre companies there for a couple of years, winning awards for his lighting work.

In 2013, he saw on a Butler listserv that the Phoenix Theatre was looking for a technical director. That’s been his full-time job ever since, and he’s earned some acclaim for his innovative work. Martin also has worked regularly with Young Actors Theatre and also collaborated with Hosp on the two Vonnegut shows.

Martin said the Phoenix keeps him busy, especially now that it’s getting ready to move into a new building just west of downtown Indianapolis. Having a fully rounded education has been important to his career, he said.

“If I only knew the tech side, for example, it wouldn’t be a good fit for the Phoenix or regional theatres around the country,” he said. “The people they want to hire—from my experience—are people who can wear a lot of hats. If you can’t, it’s hard to get your foot in the door. Have that cumulative experience is helpful.”

 

The Intern

 

Corbin Fritz ’18 spent much of his winter break at the Phoenix Theatre, where he’s interning with Bryan Fonseca, the director for Halftime With Don. Fritz wants to be a director—he plans to move to either Seattle or Denver after graduation—and he said getting this experience has been valuable.

“All those actors are incredibly talented, and getting to work with Ken, the playwright, is super, super-informative and educational and also productive to the creative process,” he said. “To hear Bryan’s thoughts and analysis of the play and to be able to share my thoughts has been a cool honor.”

Fritz came to Butler from Noblesville, Indiana, planning to be an Education major, but he switched before classes started. During his time at Butler, Fritz has gotten a wide variety of experiences in acting, directing, and light, sound, and costume design. He’s studied at the Moscow Art Theatre, in London for a semester, and interned with the Indianapolis Shakespeare Company as an assistant director and production intern.

“I’ve been able to get all the education and training through Butler’s diversified theatre approach,” he said. “In the Theatre Department, we’re all theater majors—not theatre-acting, theatre-design, theatre-directing or anything like that. Wider and greater understanding of the art has been the biggest thing I’ve been able to come away with at Butler.”

 

Media contact:
Marc Allan
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

 

 

AcademicsArts & Culture

Professor Lynch's Book Named One of 2017's Best by The New York Times

BY

PUBLISHED ON Jan 03 2018

The New York Times has selected Butler English Instructor Alessandra Lynch’s Daylily Called It a Dangerous Moment as one of the 10 best books of poetry in 2017.

“You can read 20 pages into Lynch’s book before you fully realize it’s about a sexual assault—and this is to her credit,” wrote David Orr, author of the “On Poetry” column for The New York Times Book Review. “She wants to show an act of violence in all its terrible particularity and also in the way it becomes a background against which identity trembles and sometimes fractures. It’s difficult to read this collection without thinking about how timely it is, but its force is in no sense dependent on that congruity.”

The full article is here.

Lynch is the author of three collections of poetry: Sails the Wind Left Behind (winner of the New York/New England Award from Alice James Books, 2002), It was a terrible cloud at twilight (winner of the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Award, Pleaides/LSU Press, 2008)and Daylily Called It a Dangerous Moment (Alice James  Books, 2017). She has received fellowships from The Corporation of Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony for the Arts, and the Vermont Studio Center, and she has been the recipient of a Barbara Deming Award and a Creative Renewal Fellowship for the Arts from the Indianapolis Council for the Arts.

Media contact:
Marc Allan
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

AcademicsArts & Culture

Professor Lynch's Book Named One of 2017's Best by The New York Times

The New York Times has selected Butler English Instructor Alessandra Lynch’s Daylily Called It a Dangerous Moment as one of the 10 best books of poetry in 2017.

Jan 03 2018 Read more

Josh Pedde ’04

Joshua Pedde came to Butler in 2000 wanting to get into choral conducting—and did he ever come to the right place. Sixteen years later, Pedde was named as the new Artistic Director of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir (ICC). He's now in his second year.

Pedde took over for Henry Leck, the longtime Butler professor who founded the choir 32 years ago and grew it to the point that it provides music education to more than 5,000 children in central Indiana. Each week, the choir holds 110 rehearsals and music classes at Butler, where the organization is housed.

“I’m really honored that the person who started it chose me to take over,” Pedde said. “It’s the biggest compliment.”

Pedde had chosen Butler based on recommendations from several of his high school music teachers in Kokomo, Indiana, who knew Leck and the quality of the music program. “A lot of arrows kept pointing to Butler,” Pedde said. “Once I came to campus, it just felt like home. It felt right to me.” He met Leck at his audition and Leck became Pedde's choir director his freshman year. That year, Pedde walked into the ICC office to ask about becoming a choral conductor.

He said Leck and many others at Butler instilled in him values including hard work and a strong moral and ethical compass. “You put in your time, you put in your effort, but you always bring your best to the table,” he said. “Bring quality and it will always pay off for you.” He also became interested in political science, which broadened his view of the world and the part music can play in creating common culture.

Pedde received his Bachelor of Vocal Music Education and was a graduate assistant in 2005 and 2006 while earning his Master of Choral Conducting. After graduating, he taught elementary school in Zionsville and continued to work with the ICC. Then, four years ago, they created the position of assistant artistic director, and he joined the choir full-time.

“I cannot say thank you enough to the faculty and staff at Butler,” he said. “They are truly top-notch. What they put into their students and what they give is incredible. And the way they care about them as a whole person and help them mature into those people we see out in the community is absolutely wonderful.”

Josh Pedde
OutcomesArts & CulturePeople

Josh Pedde ’04

  He learned from the master. Now he’s taking over for the master.

Amber Mills ’14

Amber Mills ’14 said Butler provided her with a blank canvas—a fitting analogy for someone whose profession is graphic designer.

“I got to explore who I was, what I was passionate about, and who I wanted to become, and then Butler gave me the tools and the confidence to go out and get it,” she said.

Mills, one of the University’s first Art + Design majors, is now a Graphic Designer at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, the largest fully professional resident non-profit theater in Indiana. In that role, she works on the website (irtlive.com), designs ads, marketing materials, and does some photography. The job “changes by the minute,” she said. She even designed the theater’s current logo during its 2015 rebranding.

She said Butler prepared her well—whether it was what she learned in the classroom or in her internship with the University’s Marketing and Communications Department, where she designed the Hinkle Fieldhouse replica doghouse that is still on display in the campus bookstore. Mills did four internships while in school.

“Butler goes beyond teaching just the basic skills and theories in the classroom,” she said. “It teaches you how to communicate effectively. It teaches you how to solve problems. It teaches you how to think critically. And then it sends you out into the world to apply those skills and really gain the experience that sets you apart. There’s nothing like going into a job interview right after you graduate and being able to say, ‘Hey, I know I just graduated from school, but I’ve been making money as a graphic designer for two years and here’s my portfolio and my references to back that up.’”

Mills grew up in New Carlisle, in northern Indiana, and wanted a small school in a city. She found Butler to be “a nice steppingstone” with a community feel that reminded her of home. And she found people who are “exemplifying and living out the golden rule—being kind to one another, helping each other out, lifting each other up instead of tearing each other down. That’s the Butler Way.”

Amber Mills
OutcomesArts & CulturePeople

Amber Mills ’14

  Butler provided her with a blank canvas.

Arts & CultureCommunity

Butler Community Arts School Offers Piano For Autistic Students

BY

PUBLISHED ON Nov 08 2017

Inside a Lilly Hall practice room, a father is sitting on the piano bench next to his 6-year-old son, encouraging the boy to look at the sheet music and play.

“Play this one, play this one,” Dad says, pointing. “Play a ‘D.’”

The boy plays the note.

“And there’s that sharp,” says the piano teacher, who’s sitting to the side. “See that sharp there?”

The boy plays the next note. “Yes!” the teacher says.

Then the boy, who is autistic, stops and lets out a howl of sadness, as if he doesn’t want to play anymore. He hugs his father and turns away from the piano. Then, just as quickly, he’s back around, his hands on the keys.

“Play,” his father says. “‘D.’”

The entire 45-minute lesson takes place in fits and starts like this, with the teacher and the boy’s father coaxing him through pieces of a song. As soon as he’s finished, the boy climbs from the piano bench and heads to a chair to watch videos on a phone. His father directs him back to the bench.

The boy started taking piano lessons in the summer after his parents found a flyer in a doctor’s office advertising piano lessons for children on the autism spectrum. The teacher, Marge Lucas ’97 MM ’00, has been offering these lessons through the Butler Community Arts School since January.

 

 

Lucas believes music is highly successful in the development of neural circuits for cognitive processing, and she has developed a method of music instruction—honed at Butler and in graduate studies at Indiana University-Bloomington—that is applied to the individual learning style and personality of the student.

Her method involves a combination of letters, colors, and sounds that help students process the information needed to play music while developing motor and language skills.

She explains it like this: “For children with autism, they have overconnectivity and underconnectivity. The ones I get are usually already gifted in music, and they have absolute pitch. So their right hemisphere is overconnected. The left hemisphere is language. So they’re overconnected in spatial skills. But they are underconnected in language. Therefore, they can’t express themselves. But if you develop their musical ability and teach them according to the natural progressions of scale degrees and chords, their brain is wired to hear that.”

Lucas, who has Asperger syndrome, says she can understand her students, whereas other people don’t. And she says she has seen her methods work. One student, who started out “almost non-verbal and definitely in his own world,” developed the ability, after eight years of lessons, to do music theory on a graduate level. Another, a 12-year-old she’s been teaching for three years, went from banging on the low notes of the piano to being able to play the title theme from The Legend of Zelda video game.

With the 6-year-old, she had an extraordinary breakthrough two weeks later when the boy began to get distraught. His father said something to him, and the boy responded, “I’m tired.”

“His parents looked at each other, stunned.” Lucas said. “They said they had never heard him say anything like that ever before. Instead of a wail came a short sentence. It made my day.”

The father of the 6-year-old student says Lucas’ methods do work. His son practices piano every day.

“My son is very intelligent,” he says, “but it’s a different kind of intelligence.”

Butler Community Arts School Director Karen Thickstun says she regularly gets calls from parents whose children have autism, asking if she had a teacher who works with students who have learning differences.

“Most of the time, I had to say no,” Thickstun says, “because our teachers are primarily college students and they’re not yet trained to teach more than the traditional approaches to teaching.”

When Thickstun did offer a referral, it was to Lucas, who has been teaching privately for years. Last year, she talked to Lucas about devoting a day to teaching at Butler. Lucas’ presence proved so popular that she is now at Butler for more than a day each week, teaching six to 10 students.

“She’s one of the very few piano teachers in the state—maybe in the Midwest—who’s specializing in developing piano materials to reach autistic children,” Thickstun says.

Lucas’ presence also benefits Butler students, who can watch what she’s doing. Thickstun says the skills Lucas has are ones that teachers are going to need to know more and more.

Thickstun says that what Lucas does requires patience, but also the ability to think differently.

“She has to get into their mind and find different materials that fit,” Thickstun says. “In the students I see her work with, the materials are different for each child. She’s very much trying to figure out that particular child. Marge has been a great addition to the Butler Community Arts School. Part of our mission is access to the arts for everybody, and this is a demographic we have typically not been able to serve.”

The Butler Community Arts School is grateful for the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Indiana Arts Commission, the Indianapolis Foundation of Central Indiana Community Foundation, the Summer Youth Program Fund, and the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation.

Media contact:
Marc Allan
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

Arts & CultureCommunity

Director In The Making: Julia Hren

BY Hannah Hartzell ’17

PUBLISHED ON Oct 12 2017

The Butler senior participated in the production of ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.’

Things move swiftly in the theater world. That’s something Julia Hren ’18 can attest to. Last spring, the Theatre Production and Strategic Communications major was recommended for an internship at the Indianapolis Reparatory Theater (IRT).

Risa Brainin, the director of the production The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,needed an assistant. Hren said she was interested.

Julia Hren in the lobby of the Indiana Repertory Theatre. She interned with the IRT during ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.’

Three days later, Hren was sitting in on auditions. It only got busier from there.

“There were various Skype meetings with designers [over the summer],” Hren said. “Then, everyone got together to talk about preplans for the set and costumes…. It was very fast paced.”

Rehearsals began in late August and continued until opening night on September 22. (The show ran through October 14.) Somehow, Hren balanced the nine-hour-long rehearsal days with a full load of classes at Butler.

The experience came with struggles though—like a relapse of mononucleosis. Still, Hren said it was all worth it.

“It is one of the most touching shows I’ve ever read or seen,” she said. “When I first read the script, I actually cried. It’s so wonderful.”

The Incident, which won the 2015 Tony for Best Play, tells the story of an autistic teenager, Christopher, who witnesses a mysterious event and goes on a quest for the answers.

“The show is really moving,” she said. Perhaps even more so to Hren, who has been a part of the production from the beginning.

“[The cast and crew] really wanted me to get something out of this,” she said. “In the end, it was a wonderful process and one of the best experiences of my life.”

She also feels more prepared for life after Butler.

“Before, I would look at the IRT from the outside and think it looked cool. Now, I know how it functions … and the way [it] functions is incredible. The whole show came together in about a month.”

So, what’s the talented senior up to in the coming months? Probably recovering from mono and planning for graduation.

“My dream job is to do PR and advertising for a theater,” she said, before adding: “I also would also love to direct.”

Arts & CultureCommunity

Director In The Making: Julia Hren

Things move swiftly in the theater world. That’s something Julia Hren ’18 can attest to. Last spring, the Theatre Production and Strategic Communications major was recommended for an internship at the Indianapolis Reparatory Theater (IRT).

Oct 12 2017 Read more
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Arts & CultureCampus

In The HRC, A Blank Wall Becomes a Canvas

BY Hannah Hartzell ’17

PUBLISHED ON Oct 02 2017

One wall gets a new look — a painting depicting the front of Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Butler Director of Recreation Scott Peden was running on the track in the Health and Recreation Center (HRC) when he noticed the number of blank walls.

“I saw this particular wall,” Peden said, referring to the north entrance, “and thought: ‘We need to put something there.’”

So he turned to Chris Blice and John Edwards, who painted the mural in the Robertson Hall Johnson Boardroom as well as the historical mural in the Wildman Room in Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Peden proposed a medium-sized painting.

But Blice and Edwards were thinking big picture.

“They came back to me with a vision that was 10 times what I’d thought of,” said Peden. “They wanted to make the entire wall a mural.”

Blice and Edwards proposed creating a massive rendering of Hinkle Fieldhouse from the outside looking in. A glimpse of the Hinkle magic.

“We didn’t want the colors to be overpowering or realistic, though,” Edwards said. “It needed to blend in with the room.”

The room, Peden said, is somewhere students often come to study or relax. He thinks the mural will enhance the soft space even further.

The new mural will hold special significance for the graduating class of 2010, which helped fund it. According to Peden, when the 2010 graduates couldn’t decide what to do with their class gift money, they gave it to the HRC.

“The HRC meant so much,” Peden said. “They were the first class to have use of it for four full years. They really valued it, and they also valued Hinkle.”

When he contacted the 2010 class president and shared the idea, she was “extremely excited.” The class gave its blessing and the Hinkle mural got the green light.

Blice and Edward began work on Monday, September 11, and they were still working on it as this story was being written.

In the meantime, they’re discussing where they want to paint their next Butler mural. “It’s very special,” Blice said of the experience. “This is our neighborhood college and we love Butler.”

“For me, it’s nostalgic,” Edwards said. “I grew up here. I’ve known Butler forever.”

hrc
Arts & CultureCampus

In The HRC, A Blank Wall Becomes a Canvas

One wall gets a new look — a painting depicting the front of Hinkle Fieldhouse

Oct 02 2017 Read more

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