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Limelight: An Investigation Into Performance

Noelle Huser

The world's a stage and we are all its performers. We perform in the way we exist, in relationship to ourselves and others, both a byproduct and ingredient of conditioning and identity. Our gender identity, race, social status, all inform the way we behave in different settings. Our performance, whether we are conscious of it or not, is what makes us most animal and most human all at the same time.

“Limelight”is the choreographic work I will be presenting on, in which I will unpack the dance performance and the movement methodology used to create it. This lens that I have crafted to see the world through, pays close attention to the endless performances we live within. My body is a place for me to untangle, fantasize, and communicate my own story. By letting sensations take shape in my movement, a fluid, ever-evolving narrative divulges, informed internally and externally throughout existence.

Manifestation is a powerful tool of performance, if one can believe in performance and live so convincingly in an emotion, sensation or character, they can bring onlookers there with them. Being real with ourselves means being real with all the ways we have learned how to be performative. From here, we can gain a better vantage point, widening our perspective to understand someone else’s. I believe if we can own up to who we are in the performances we create, we allow ourselves to be present in our own experiences enough to not project onto others but rather empathize and be present in our communication and correlation. By not denying or hiding our performance, but understanding it, we can become more free, understanding and connected with ourselves and our world.

Mother Courage & her Children- Defining a New Era of Art in the Age of Coronavirus

Kendall B. Seibel, University of Montana, Missoula

This spring, for the first time since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, theatre students at the University of Montana were challenged with the unique opportunity to produce a full scale filmed production to stream to audiences everywhere. With the help of the new COVID regulations and an enormous amount of luck, the director, actors, and crew were able to rehearse in the same space to create the spectacle that is Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and her Children. Taking place in the Thirty Years War, Anna Fierling, known to most as Mother Courage, pulls her wagon of wares behind Swedish soldiers with her three children as they make their way through war-torn Europe. From start to finish, the play explores themes of war, capitalism, and the lengths one reaches for a profit.

Approaching the challenge of playing Mother Courage, I followed Brecht’s techniques to create a performance that covered all of the character’s complexities. Over several decades, Brecht developed his own style of acting known as epic theatre- plays with an episodic plot, unlike the linear storylines we commonly see in media. Brecht was known for making Marxist theatre with clear politically charged messages. This was useful for the cast to navigate masked performances; they became a metaphor for the muzzles that people wear as they suffer under capitalism and corrupt government. He encouraged his actors to practice verfremdung (“alienation”) to distance themselves from their characters. This was also present in the music in each scene- the songs deviate from the style of the play which encourages the audience to engage more critically with the material. It wasn’t easy finding new ways to make theatre in times of unease, but by using Brecht’s ideologies, we created a production that was cohesive, political, and safe.

Something Old, Something New; Where Classic Literature Meets Creative Writing

Arwen Baxter, University of Montana, Missoula

I started this project as a study tool for my upper division literature courses. For every story I read, I would write a poem, sometimes based on my general reaction or a specific line, or just a word that resonated. I would use these free form poetry sessions to help clarify what each text meant to me and the facets I was most interested in exploring through longer essays. Over time, the poems became a goal in themselves. I find that Poetry has a great power of synthesis, that as a practice it can distill meaning into its purest forms. I am fascinated as an aspiring educator by the possibilities of using creative pursuits such as music, theatre, and creative writing as tools of study for all disciplines. I hope to use these poems and this kind of exercise to help students actively interact with difficult texts. We are not only creators or only appreciators; as readers, artists, and people we must be both. Below, you will find my poems Galileo Went Blind, written in reaction to Galileo Galilei’s classic text, The Sidereal Messenger, my poem Desert Specimen written in response to Mary Austin's "Land of Little Rain" and Ellen Meloy's "The Anthropology of Turquoise", and an original song written in response to Tennyson's poem The Lady of Shalott.

Weathering the Storm: A Student Documentary

Becca M. Olson
Hailey Monaco
Sydney Hanson
Maiya Fleck
Trevor Reid
Hazel Cramer

Weathering the Storm takes us into the lives of fishing guides, anglers, business owners and experts as they navigate both the challenges imposed by COVID-19 restrictions and the rollercoaster of emotions while operating during a pandemic.

Fly fishing plays a key role in Montana’s tourism industry. COVID-19 restrictions and shutdowns shuttered the dynamic industry during the spring of 2020. When the state opened up, record numbers of people, both local and out-of-state, flocked to Montana’s beautiful rivers, challenging the organizations slated with managing and protecting our waterways.

Hear the personal struggles Montana fly-fishing guides encountered as the crippling effects of statewide shutdowns and closures stymied tourism and their businesses. Witness retail and fly shop owners struggling to keep their doors open and businesses afloat, while trying to keep retain their staff and provide top notch service to their clients. Listen to conservation experts trying to manage and protect Montana’s rivers and fish during a summer that saw a dramatic increase in recreational traffic.

The film follows industry voices such as Carlye Luft, Director of the Montana Women’s Fly-Fishing School, lifetime angler George Kesel, Blackfoot River Outfitter owners John and Terri Herzer and fly fishing guide Jenny West. Their stories highlight the resiliency and adaptability of the fly fishing industry in Montana during this unprecedented time.

Student filmmakers from the University of Montana School of Journalism spent three months reporting and documenting these stories while diving into the complex issues each of these industry members and businesses faced. This film was made possible by the Greater Montana Foundation and the University of Montana School of Journalism.