Weis Center Sessions: Virtual events

Nicole Yeager, Assistant News Editor

A month into the Fall 2020 semester, students and faculty alike are beginning to adjust to the “new normal.” This means students are spending more time alone in their rooms, lacking some of the human connection that came from their relationships with classmates and professors beyond the classroom, peers from clubs and groups, and friendly faces on their daily walks around campus. In order to maintain these greater connections that the University values, many organizations, groups and facilities have created or remodeled programs and events to be performed virtually so community members can enjoy their benefits while staying safe.

The Weis Center for the Performing Arts has upheld the passion for the arts that is present in all students and faculty; for more than thirty years, they have brought world-class artists to the University as well as the local Lewisburg community. They effectively bring the arts to all community members by maintaining close connections with the other academic and social sectors on campus. Their goal is to inspire artists to achieve and share their best work, inspire audiences to recognize the power of art and its capacity to change lives, and inspire the larger community to become active participants through the deep integration of arts activities between our campus and region.

This semester, they have presented the University with a virtual program: Weis Center Sessions. Each Friday, an in-house recorded and produced performance from a campus artist is uploaded onto the center’s blog along with a bio of the artist and their work. There have been 13 installments so far that feature a wide range of artistic talent: Chet’la Sebree, an assistant professor of English and the director of the Stadler Center for Poetry and Literary Arts, reading a poem; Grace Kenny, a Lewisburg local, playing an original piece on the violin; Andrei Bucaloiu ’22, reading a poem; and a collaborative performance by Joe Scapellato, an assistant professor of English, and Dustyn Martincich, an associate professor of theatre and dance, to name a few.

“The idea for these sessions came from our terrific Technical Director Kalen Sowul, who expressed an interest in exploring some of the Weis Center’s technical and production capabilities during the pandemic. We did a few ‘test runs’ earlier this summer and it quickly became clear that there was not only significant interest from an audience perspective in terms of experiencing and appreciating these videos but also in terms of shining a light on the wealth of artistic talent within our greater Bucknell community,” Executive Director of the Weis Center Kathryn Maguet said.

Assistant Professor of English Katie Hays is featured in the fourth installment of the Weis Center Sessions. “This program has given me a way to enjoy the work of many different writers, dancers and musicians at Bucknell during the pandemic. I appreciate especially how the Weis Center Sessions have begun reaching out to undergraduates in the arts at Bucknell, giving them an opportunity to be professionally filmed and to share their work with a wider audience. Since the sessions are filmed and posted online, alumni around the world with access to the internet can access these performances – so in this way, the pandemic has led to a positive innovation on campus, and, I hope, is leading to new connections across places and time zones and graduating years,” Hays said.

Director and Consultant at the Writing Center Deirdre O’Connor echoed this sentiment “The Weis Center Sessions are a great way to highlight the work of community members and to showcase the arts during the pandemic. The bonus is that they make these sessions so easy to access – not only to folks who might not have attended events before, but also to people who live far away. It would of course be lovely to listen to a concert in person or go to a poetry reading in Bucknell Hall, but we’re adapting to our moment, and one of the few good things to emerge from this moment is our widened access to the arts,” O’Connor said.

According to Maguet, this series will be continued throughout the semester and beyond; she encourages University students who are interested to contact her directly in order to schedule a recording appointment. “We’re delighted with the variety of performances — everything from classical piano, Balinese dance, uilleann pipes to creative writing, and while we miss presenting live performances, the Weis Center staff is happy to be actively serving our community in other ways that fit the current times,” she said.

“The Weis Center for the Performing Arts is an extraordinary arts hub.  It brings together so many communities — campus, town, region. We’re so lucky to have this gem right here on campus. I look forward to the day when I can once again buy a ticket for an amazing act, take a seat in the audience, and have my mind blown by art,” Joe Scapellato said.

Check out the Weis Center for the Performing Arts Blog to view the current installments of the Weis Center Sessions.

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