Penn Live Arts Blog / By / Rachel Messeck

Behind the Lens

Posted May 11, 2021

Did you know that our Bruce Montgomery Theatre was originally designed for film screening? Or that the Harold Prince Theatre, which is now our popular black box theatre space, was built as a TV studio? Film and media has a long history here at the Annenberg Center, and we are proud to be part of a University with a dynamic cinema and media studies program, not to mention many well-established alumni who have succeeded in the film industry!

If you have ever been curious to know more about what it was like for film students during the pandemic, we are pleased to share Sunday Night at the Movies: Behind the Lens with Penn Student Film Festival Winners. Featuring the top three student winners, Penn Cinema and Media Studies faculty members and alumni who worked on projects ranging from TV’s Reading Rainbow to films like Cruel Intentions, The Fast and The Furious and 13 Going on 30, it is a lively discussion of filmmaking during unusual times.



Feintuch Family Lobby Dedication

Posted April 20, 2021

You may have heard that we recently celebrated an exciting milestone – the 50th anniversary of the Annenberg Center’s dedication! The Center was the first multidisciplinary performing arts center in the region, and in 1971, brought a new wave of creativity and innovation to Penn and West Philadelphia. Though much has transpired in the last half century, for those close to the Annenberg Center from the beginning it feels like just yesterday that Penn committed to the performing arts with the establishment of a professional venue here on campus.

Among those who fondly remember our early days are Rick Feintuch, a member of the Annenberg Center Board, and his wife Merry, both graduates of the Wharton School Class of 1974. Together with their sons Jason and Jonathan (both proud Penn grads as well) and their families, they made a generous gift to name a central space here at the Annenberg Center: the Feintuch Family Lobby. We were thrilled to be able to host a virtual dedication ceremony for the Feintuch Family Lobby on the Annenberg Center’s 50th anniversary, April 8, 2021. Read more...

From rehearsal rooms to Zooms—Penn performing arts student groups innovate during COVID-19

Posted December 18, 2020

West Philly Swingers performing "Burn the House Down"
“As student (arts) leaders, we had to improvise— there was no precedent. It speaks to the power of the arts community at Penn that every single person has made it a commitment to stay connected to their groups and continue making art despite a lot of limitations.” – Henry Platt, C’21

During a typical academic year, the performing arts at Penn buzz with activity. Student groups ranging from dance to jazz to musical theatre come together to rehearse in spaces throughout campus, forming tight social bonds that are key to the Penn experience. Ensembles frequently perform at the Annenberg Center where they learn how to produce in a professional venue and pack the theatres with audiences from across the University. With over 2,000 undergraduate students involved in performing arts groups, there is no doubt that this creative community is thriving among Penn students. Read more...

Our 2019-20 Impact Report

Posted November 10, 2020

This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak; we write; we do language. That is how civilizations heal.” – Toni Morrison

Last season, the Annenberg Center connected our audiences with visionary artists from across the globe, presenting groundbreaking work and sustaining a thriving performing arts community in Philadelphia. We championed performance at Penn, collaborating throughout the University and providing students with meaningful exposure to the professional performing arts. We served as a bridge between Penn and our surrounding community, welcoming our youngest neighbors to professional dance, music and theatre performances. And amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we built on the resilience and adaptability of the arts, pivoting to a digital platform to uphold and uplift music, dance and theatre during extraordinary times. Please join us in reflecting on this exceptional year of programming as detailed in our 2019-20 Impact Report. Designed as an academic year calendar, we invite you to explore our impact from last season, whether you read the report in one sitting, come back to it over time, or even print a copy to hang on the wall as a source of inspiration throughout the months ahead. Read more...

Penn alumnus John Legend participates in the #TogetherAtHome Concert Series

Posted April 22, 2020

Special Features Music

As Penn’s center for the performing arts, we were so pleased to see one of our University’s most celebrated alumni, John Legend, participating in the #TogetherAtHome Concert Series. The series, organized by Global Citizen, the World Health Organization (WHO) and a growing group of artists, serves to bring joy, optimism, and a shared sense of humanity during this time of uncertainty and challenge. We certainly felt hopeful watching Legend sing a few tunes with his family close by, from a Stevie Wonder cover, to Beauty and the Beast (at his daughter’s request!), to one of his biggest hits, “All of Me.” Watch a replay of the performance below.

During his time as a student, Legend was President and Music Director of Penn’s oldest, co-ed a cappella group, Counterparts. Days before Penn announced that it was transitioning to remote classes due to COVID-19, Counterparts performed some of their material for Legend over their spring break, in what would soon be one of the group’s final performances with their graduating seniors. Our hearts go out to all of the Penn performing arts groups who had to cancel shows they had been working towards, and especially those who won’t have the opportunity to perform together again once we return to campus. Help us show Penn’s student performers some love and follow < Read more...