Penn Live Arts Blog / By / Leah Falk

Mapping our Philadelphia experience

Posted February 5, 2024

Photo by Mark Garvin

We all use maps to help orient ourselves in space, navigate an area, or learn more about what’s around us. But maps can also be a source of stories about a place – and, as participants at two special events learned last week, the information available on a map can suggest a story that either contradicts or complements individuals’ lived experience. In that tension lives the possibility for a creative, human-driven use of maps – the often complex, messy rejoinders to dominant narratives about a city. Read more...

Cappella Pratensis and Salamone Rossi educational engagements

Posted November 21, 2023

For Rutgers musicologist Rebecca Cypess, who spoke at our recent roundtable on the music of Italian-Jewish Renaissance composer Salamone Rossi, there is something strange about Psalm 137. Though the text describes the Israelites rejecting music in the face of mourning – “there on the poplars we hung our lyres” – and though that custom persists in certain Jewish communities, she noted that the psalm has been set to an astonishing variety of melodies, including Rossi’s own. It’s almost as if, she noted at her talk’s conclusion, the poem presents a challenge: to sing even in times of distress. Read more...

The Negro Ensemble Company connects with students

Posted November 7, 2023

During the week of October 16, the Negro Ensemble Company (NEC), our 23/24 season artist-in-residence, prepared to perform No Policy, No Justice, an evening of world premiere one-act plays by Mona Washington (Elevator Not Necessary) and Cynthia Grace Robinson (Breathe) that addressed how mourners process deaths of loved ones lost to gun violence. Penn theatre arts, creative writing and English classes hosted NEC artists throughout the week leading up to the performances, beginning with director Ralph McCain in August Wilson and Beyond, the Academically Based Community Service course, co-taught this semester by Margit Edwards and Suzana Berger. McCain found clear connections between Wilson’s legacy of writing about Black communities and the emotional exploration of the aftermath of violence in the plays, and he exchanged stories with students about the frightening grip gun violence has on everyday American life. Read more...

Summer Internship Reflections

Posted September 7, 2023

Left to right: Evan Golinsky, Ejun Hong, Heather Shieh and Lucy Gale
This summer, Hollywood looked and felt a bit different as the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes continued, but that didn’t faze Penn summer interns Lucy Gale (SAS ‘25) and Evan Golinsky (SAS ’24), who both pursued talent management opportunities in Los Angeles with the help of our Arts Career Connections initiative. The program responds to an appetite on campus for enhanced support of career exploration in the arts and has provided summer funding support to students in a range of arts industries since 2022. Read more...

Announcing our summer internship funding awards

Posted May 11, 2023

Left to right: Evan Golinsky, Ejun Hong, Heather Shieh and Lucy Gale
As another academic year draws to a close, we are delighted to announce four winners of our summer internship funding awards. Made possible by alumni support including gifts from the Class of ’93 and Class of ‘72, these awards will enable students to accept internships in talent management, film production and television, and will support their moving and living expenses during summer 2023. A record number of applicants with a wide range of arts and entertainment career interests made the decision process competitive and challenging. Read more...

It’s time for the 2023 Philadelphia Children’s Festival

Posted April 12, 2023

Children's Festival

At Penn Live Arts, the return of cherry blossoms to our Outdoor Plaza can mean only one thing: the steady approach of our Philadelphia Children’s Festival, entering its 37th year this May 20th through 23rd.

Like all large public gatherings, the Children’s Festival was on extended hiatus throughout the pandemic and had a soft return in 2022. This year, it will look more the way our audiences remember it, with live performances of dance, theatre and music for pre-K to middle-school students. Read more...

Engaging our communities with the Negro Ensemble Company

Posted March 22, 2023

February’s world premiere of Mecca is Burning, our commissioned play co-produced by our 22/23 season artist-in-residence, the Negro Ensemble Company (NEC), was a resounding success. Through our residency activities, over 150 students at Penn and in Philadelphia schools received special insight into the development of new theatre. NEC Artistic Director Karen Brown visited theatre arts instructor Margit Edwards’ Movement for the Actor class with NEC actor Steven Peacock Jacoby. Speaking to a room of Penn students studying everything from engineering to economics, Brown and Peacock Jacoby emphasized the meaningful place theatre could occupy in students’ lives, regardless of their career paths. Read more...

Bringing Beowulf into the present day with Benjamin Bagby

Posted March 7, 2023

Photo credit: Eric Sucar for Penn Today
When we contacted a group of early modernist faculty in the Penn music and English departments about a possible engagement event featuring Benjamin Bagby, whose performance of Beowulf took place on January 27, the response was immediate and enthusiastic. These faculty, including Assistant Professor of Music Mary Channen Caldwell, Assistant Professor of English Caroline Batten, and Professor of English David Wallace, were more than scholarly appreciators of Bagby’s painstaking historical investigation into the type of harp most likely to have accompanied the epic poem, or his years of touring the globe enlivening the Old English text for contemporary audiences: they were fans. Read more...

Our fall education and engagement activities

Posted January 17, 2023

NEC Artistic Director Karen Brown and longtime company member Kene Holliday visit an Intro to Directing class.
“It’s like watching people paint with their life, with their bodies,” longtime Negro Ensemble Company actor Kene Holliday told a roomful of Penn students about the art of acting this past November. Holliday would know; the historic company’s Brownstein Residency for Artistic Innovation with Penn Live Arts this year marks more than 50 years of the stage, film and TV actor’s career. He and NEC Artistic Director Karen Brown made Penn Professor McKenna Kerrigan’s Intro to Directing class one stop in a busy series of outreach engagements to students and the West Philadelphia community, kicking off our education and engagement activities for the season. Read more...