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CREATIVE ARTS COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER ANNOUNCED

Dear Students and Faculty in the School of Creative Arts, 

I am thrilled to announce that renowned playwright and actress Melinda Lopez will deliver remarks to the graduates at the School of the Creative Arts mini-commencement on Sunday, May 21, at 1:30, in the Spingold theatre.  
For the past two decades, Lopez has been one of the luminaries of the Boston theatre scene. A number of her award-winning plays address Cuban-American identity and heritage.  Among these, Sonia Flew (2004), dramatizes the generational confrontation and the trauma of national identity between a mother, who was a child refugee from the Cuban revolution, and her American son, enlisting in the service post 9/11. The work was showered with top Boston honors (Eliot Norton and Independent Reviewers of New England awards, best Play), and has since been produced nationwide. Other award-winning plays include Midnight Sandwich/ Medianoche (1999), Gary (2007), Alexandros (2008), Becoming Cuba (2013), and Orchids to Octopi (2011); the latter was commissioned by the National Institutes of Health to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Darwin's Origins of Species. Lopez' works are frequently premiered at the leading Boston venues of the Huntington Theatre and Speakeasy Stage companies, and several have been produced nationwide, including off-Broadway, the Laguna Playhouse, and the prestigious Williamstown Theatre Festival.  She has also earned raves as an actress at her home companies. Lopez shares the insights of her successful career through her teaching at Wellesley College and Boston University. She is currently the inaugural Andrew W. Mellon Foundation playwright in residence at the Huntington Theatre Company.
It is such an honor to have Ms. Lopez participate in our School ceremony, and we very much look forward to welcoming her to Brandeis on our celebratory day. 

Jonathan Unglaub, Ph.D.

Interim Chair, Division of the Creative Arts

Associate Professor of Fine Arts

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Through rigorous learning, skill training, and aesthetic practice, the Brandeis Department of Theater Arts fosters a creativity that connects to scholarship and a scholarship that is responsive to the individual and to the community. As artists, practitioners and scholars, we create new work and ideas, and challenge our students to enact change, build connections, and value diversity.

Our rich history is embedded in the legacy of Leonard Bernstein and the gifted collaborators who invigorated Spingold Theater Center into being. At the forefront is a strong community of students, faculty and staff who work every day toward the common privilege of creating and discussing the world of theater through classes, lectures, workshops and performances.

The department is built on the following values:

Creativity
The use of imaginative ability and flexible thinking to generate original ideas and
surprising connections in all our work. Creativity serves as context for all of our other values.

Diversity and Inclusion
Distinct experiences and backgrounds (racial, ethnic, gender expression, gender identity, sexuality, economic, disability, religious, and social) enrich and enliven our conversations, scholarship, and creative expression.  Through our curriculum, season planning, and the composition of our community, we strive to challenge discrimination, the marginalization of minorities, and the legacy of racism that has been inherent in the American theater tradition.

Scholarship, (Knowledge, Craft)
The theoretical and experiential understanding of theater. Our goal is to provide students with the ability to use that understanding in the creation and appreciation of theater within a larger social context. Our students learn by doing.

Aesthetic
The deeply personal way in which we create and understand art.  Our goal is to encourage our students to develop a sense of individuality and identity that guides their artistic endeavors through training, encouragement, and example.

Risk-Taking
The act of doing something uncertain in order to make new and exciting discoveries; success requires failure. Through coaching and mentorship, we encourage our students to make bold decisions, take chances, and challenge assumptions about themselves and our world. By creating opportunities within a supportive environment for personal risk, we increase
opportunities for personal achievement.

Collaboration
The process of working with others in a shared venture.  The collaborative process values individual expertise and perspectives and elevates the work we produce as a community by interweaving our singular voices and abilities. Students, faculty, and staff work together in an inclusive environment that embraces feedback, criticism, and flexibility.

Rigor
The expectation that students learn and work at a high level.  We challenge our students to engage in their scholarly and creative work with commitment, curiosity, and depth.

Professionalism
The qualities, skills, and conduct that mark a person with training in theater.  Through example, instruction, and high expectations, we strive to prepare our students for participation in both academic and professional environments.