Published: Dec 12, 2009 02:00 AM
Modified: Dec 11, 2009 10:28 PM
A well-rounded education involves more than reading books, attending classes, and studying. Seeing a professional theater production, meeting a best-selling author, watching a documentary with the filmmaker, or hearing outstanding musicians can inspire students and broaden their college experience.
But did you know that you don't have to be a student to enjoy cultural events at Durham Technical Community College? They are free and open to the public.
Nine years ago, the Durham Technical Community College Foundation created Vive/Viva the Arts, a series of cultural events for students, faculty, staff and local residents. Our many visitors have included award-winning author Lee Smith, who read from her book, "On Agate Hill," and Tim Tyson, author of "Blood Done Sign My Name." Daniel Wallace, author of "Big Fish," entertained the audience with his stories of what it's like to make a book into a film. Jaki Shelton Green, a recipient of the North Carolina Award for Literature in Poetry, inspired the audience with a poetry reading. The Carolina Circuit Writers brought hip-hop novelist and screen writer Sofia Quintero to the college.
Other visiting filmmakers have included Diane Bloom, whose documentary "An Unlikely Friendship" is often used in sociology and critical thinking classes at Durham Tech, and Duke University Center for Documentary Studies instructor Randolph Benson. Emmy-winning filmmaker Dr. Steven Channing screened "Durham: A Self Portrait" for an audience fascinated with Durham's history.
Vive/Viva the Arts has sponsored Burning Coal Theatre Company's touring production of "Waiting for Godot," as well as Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Hamlet," and "Julius Caesar."
Musical events have featured Carolina Brass and the Mallarme Chamber Players. Hip-hop group Language Arts (emcees Pierce Freelon and Aden Darity) gave a presentation on the historical roots of African-American music, from spirituals to blues and jazz to hip-hop.
Durham Tech's student talent draws faculty, staff, and visitors to ongoing presentations. The college currently offers Drama 122 (Oral Interpretation) and Drama 170 (Play Production) and will soon offer Drama 111 (Theatre Appreciation). Tracy Francis, who earned membership in the Actors' Equity Association through his theater work in New York, coaches his students to take on challenging assignments. Productions have included "Mountain Language" by Harold Pinter, "Antigone" by Sophocles, and "What was Found" by Maura Fitzgerald.
The college also regularly hosts a variety of exhibits. Currently 12 banners celebrating the city's music, dance, visual arts, theater, and cinema heritage hang in the Phail Wynn, Jr. Student Services Center. This is the inaugural project of the Museum of Durham History, Inc. and is funded by the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation and the Durham Cultural Master Plan.
Irene Laube is an assistant dean of the Durham Technical Community College library. For more information, contact 536-7246, ext. 5204.