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Duke University Arts

Oct 31, 2014

Rude Mechs Residency Brings Together Theater, Gaming, and Science


Now Now Oh Now (photo by Jeremy Lange)
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A Visiting Artist Grant from the Council for the Arts brought the celebrated Austin, Texas theater collective Rude Mechs to Duke this past September. Their ten-day residency culminated in eight sold-out performances of Now Now Oh Now, an intimate, immersive theatrical experience presented by Duke Performances in Sheafer Lab Theater. Rude Mechs treated each audience of thirty to a show that combined serious scientific content with the nerdy pleasures of interactive gaming and the undeniable satisfaction of Murder Mystery Theatre.

According to CVNC reviewer Kate Dobbs Ariail, Now Now Oh Now “shows and tells the importance of plays and playing in the great game of life.” In its final section, she wrote, the actors “engage the audience in a meditation on choice and chance and make a crystalline argument for beauty's crucial role in natural selection.”

Photos by Eric Oberstein

While on campus, Rude Mechs worked with students in several acting and production classes in the Theater Studies department. They also visited Legal Issues for the Performing Arts, a class taught by Dan Ellison, a local attorney, arts advocate, and Duke alum. They joined scientists at the Durham-based National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) for a lunchtime conversation about evolution and theater and they toured Erich Jarvis’s Neurobiology of Vocal Communication Lab.

One student described to Duke Today the impact Rude Mechs' visit had on him:

Duke student Jon Payne has had just enough acting experience to be intrigued by the ethics of the craft. A visit by the Texas-based theater company Rude Mechs to his Introduction to Acting class was just what he needed.

“In the back of my head I have always debated the truthfulness of acting—whether or not what we’re doing on stage, pretending to be other people, is honest,” said Payne, a second-year student. “I’ve never heard anyone debate that in my classes but it was one of the first things the Rude Mechs wanted to discuss. It was a very eye-opening approach to the art and one I might not have heard without their class visit.”

The visiting artist program brings compelling artists in all genres to Duke not only to show their work but also to share the concept, technique and process behind it. According to Eric Oberstein, associate director of Duke Performances, artists are chosen because they are “comfortable engaging with students, good speakers, curious and interested in a deeper conversation.” Their formal and informal exchanges with students and the community complement and extend the work already being done on campus. As Jon Payne testified, those exchanges can be eye-opening.

Oct 30, 2014

Artstigators are the "Crazies for the Arts at Duke"

#artstigators create+innovate #mydukepath #dukebridge @dukeuniversity #ohduke @dukestudents

A video posted by Artstigators (@artstigators) on

As Duke Today's Ashley Mooney noted, artstigators is "a community of students, faculty, staff and alumni bringing together the organizations and individuals who make up Duke’s vibrant arts culture". Artstigating includes fun, pop-up events such as hosting the Poetry Fox at The Nasher and introducing students to alumni in the arts at Google Hangout LIVE.

Here are three ways to artstigate:

1) Email us your artstigating ideas and questions:

2) Tag your arstigating photos: #artstigators

3) Follow us @artstigators on Instagram & Twitter

Artstigating is a way for students to build their own arts culture on campus, because every great university needs an energized and active arts community. More from Duke Today:

Sid Gopinath, sophomore computer science major and graduate of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center’s Duke in Silicon Valley program, said Artstigators is accessible to anyone who likes music, watches movies or just thinks about the arts, regardless of their major.

Let's make sculpture! #artstigators

A photo posted by Artstigators (@artstigators) on

“Duke hasn't really had a unifying art or arts theme for the campus,” Gopinath said. “By making Artstigators visible without being glaringly obvious, it becomes something everyone wants to do. And that makes the arts something that everyone wants to do.”


Even if students aren’t interested in pursuing a career in the arts, they can become involved with Artstigators to celebrate art for the sake of art while feeling like they are part of a greater community.

“Regardless of origin or purpose, any arts organization on this campus is entitled to equal representation within one unified core,” junior art history major Justin Sandulli said. “It is at the Artstigators' central crossroads that the fragments of Duke's splintered arts scene will fuse into one crackling, conspicuous, collaborative whole.​”



A photo posted by Artstigators (@artstigators) on


#Artstigators dig #poetryfox @dukeartsannex #dukeartsfestival #dukeimprov #dukestudents #pictureduke

A photo posted by Artstigators (@artstigators) on

Oct 23, 2014

The University is an Artist


Image from Abstract Nationalism & National Abstraction (2001/2014)
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Art professor Pedro Lasch's new project relied on the expertise of more than a dozen Duke faculty, staff, students and alumni.

To create his newest piece of art, Duke professor Pedro Lasch needed all sorts of expertise – from historians and translators to singers, instrumentalists and composers.

He found it all in the campus directory.

Read more about it in Duke Today.

Sep 9, 2014

2014-15 Visiting Artists

Duke's 2014-15 Visiting Artist lineup includes a dance company that will explore tablao traditional dance of Spain, a theatrical group that immerses the audience in their interactive productions, and a residency that will bring together new music and rare footage about life in the North Carolina Piedmont in the early 40s.

The goal of the Visiting Artist Program is to support projects that will enrich the life of the university and broader community, augment the curricular efforts of a range of departments and programs, facilitate the interaction of artists and scholars, foster the reputation of Duke University as a place where the arts are vital and diverse, and contribute to the arts as a whole.

Aug 22, 2014

Arts@Duke Information Session


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The arts at Duke are for everybody, whether or not you intend to major in the arts. Learn about opportunities to participate in Music, Visual Arts, Dance, Theater, Creative Writing, and Film-making in Duke arts departments and student organizations. Hear about the amazing presentations at the Nasher Museum and Duke Performances, and meet faculty and students engaged in the arts at Duke. Three chances to attend Saturday, August 23 at 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm. 204B East Duke Building, East Campus.

Jul 8, 2014

Social Innovation Through the Arts in China

Three Duke dance students — Jennifer Margono , Sonia Xu, and Jullian Goncalves — are in China this summer to participate in a special project to see how the arts, leadership, and entrepreneurship can come together to empower and transform lives. Duke SITAC (Social Innovation through the Arts in China) and IDEAS (Initiative for Development of Education and Service) Foundation U-Motion Camp, the two programs around which their trip to China developed, are the settings in which they will engage with young students to encourage leadership, creativity, compassion, and inspire them to explore their passions.

This is not the first summer that Duke students have taken the arts to China. Last year we profiled Duke Alum Luou Zhou, who organized a trip for the Duke Dancers to participate in the 2011 Summer Universiade in Shenzhen, China; that was a return visit for Zhou. It built upon his prior Duke Engage experiences in China resulting in a life-changing impact that helped him choose a new and exciting career path. We expect this summer to be no different for these students.

Join Jennifer, Sonia and Jullian on their journey to China and see (and read) how Duke students continue to take the arts across the globe and transform lives.


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