In the spring of 1944, Northwestern Theatre senior Agnes Nixon received devastating news, but it was what resulted that launched a legendary career. Last week, a group of students alongside her family traveled back in time to produce the script that changed her life — and celebrate a woman who meant so much to the University.
More than 20 years coming, the Northwestern University Speech Team had its best year yet. The team has climbed in rank, hosted a new tournament, boasted a Coach of the Year, and built up a program that is sure to see even more success in 2017-18 — all monumental achievements, especially given its size relative to other competitive universities.
It was an unlikely sell in film development circles — a sweeping original musical in the style of old Hollywood. Yet the dogged persistence of producer and Northwestern alumnus Jordan Horowitz paid off. The film in question, La La Land, was made, hit box office gold, and racked up numerous awards and nominations. Horowitz returned to campus on May 23 to screen his captivating film and participate in a post-show discussion moderated by Stephen Cone.
All due respect to Johnny Carson, but this is the golden age of late-night comedy. Satirists and comedians emerged as the arbiters of truth and reason during a trying political season, and continue to challenge and enlighten viewers — as well as those in power. Four big players in the late-night comedy game came to Evanston to delight a packed house with tales from the inside — and advice for how our students can find their way there.
A career in documentary film yields many things: perspective, passport stamps, and footage. Acclaimed filmmaker Kirsten Johnson has much of all three, and given her decades of behind-the-camera-work, a surfeit of the latter — enough to craft an entirely new narrative centered on the beauty, chaos, sadness, and indomitability of the human experience. Johnson, the 2017 Hoffman Professor, screened her film Cameraperson on May 5 at the Block Museum.
Filmmaker Sam Raimi didn’t like horror movies. His brother, though, convinced Raimi that they were the most affordable way to break into the industry Armed with a Super 8 camera and a compelling script, they created the cult hit Evil Dead. Raimi has spanned film and television genres with blockbusters (Spider-Man trilogy), neo-noir thrillers (A Simple Plan), westerns (The Quick and the Dead), and more. Raimi addressed a crowd at Northwestern as the 2016-2017 Wirtz Visiting Artist.
Martha Lavey, who passed away April 25, was the legendary artistic director of Chicago’s groundbreaking Steppenwolf Theatre Company from 1995 to 2015. She was also a Northwestern alumna several times over and a proud recipient of a doctorate in the School of Communication’s Performance Studies program. Faculty and alumni reflect on her legacy, and how her time at Northwestern influenced her career.
It’s a function most people take for granted: the ability to eat, drink and swallow. Yet swallowing disorders (also known as dysphagia) are extraordinarily difficult conditions to live with — and diagnose. Bonnie Martin-Harris, Alice Gabrielle Twight Professor and the School of Communication’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, has spent her career working toward a standardized method of diagnosing and treating dysphagia. She explained her fascinating work at the 2017 Pepper Lecture.
Prolific filmmaker, cultural anthropologist, and School of Communication assistant professor J.P. Sniadecki is part of the class of 2017 Guggenheim fellows, announced April 6. This prestigious honor makes him the sixth such fellowship recipient within the Department of Radio/Television/Film.
School of Communication alumnus Joe Chappelle, director of such hit shows as The Wire, CSI Miami, and Chicago Fire, returned to campus to deliver a directing primer to eager undergraduate module-takers. Chappelle, who received his MFA from the Department of Radio/Television/Film, emphasized the importance of preparedness, amiability, and time management. Oh, and a grasp of the fundamentals certainly helps.
Amy Jordan, University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication associate dean for undergraduate studies, is a singularly accomplished expert in the field of childhood obesity, particularly among low-income families. Basing her research in Philadelphia, she has found that the media can both hurt and help children’s and caregivers’ abilities to make healthy choices — but her efforts have measurably helped, as she explained as this year’s Van Zelst lecturer.
A new addition to our innovative, immersive modular curriculum is most certainly a laughing matter. Through a focused, in-depth track, our students are harnessing the skills and savvy necessary in securing a career in comedy — and at a time in our post-truth culture when the combination of funny and smart is needed most.