Spring 2012 Newsletter
Washington, DC Vassar Club eNewsletter
The Washington, DC Vassar Club eNewsletter | Spring 2012

Upcoming Events

SAVE THE DATE!!! Vassar FilmFest 2012! October 20, 2012

Club Resources

Become a Member and Pay Club Dues Online Like us on Facebook Washington, DC Website Vassar Alumnae/i Website Volunteer/Officer Resources

Of Note

The Washington Post invited psychology professor Abby Baird ’91 to co-author a post about sleep deprivation and teens. The Association for Psychological Science’s Observer invited Baird to blog about effective teaching strategies. The White House announced the nomination of Dorothea-Maria (Doria) Rosen ’72 for U.S. Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia. Stanford Arts Review (CA) featured artist Alexa Meade ’09 and her work. The Washington Post remembered the life of Ann (Bradford) Mathias ’51, noting that the education proponent overcame dyslexia with the help of a Vassar English professor. The Washington Post ran an op-ed by President Catharine Hill examining rising college prices and the role of federal support for higher education.

Club Officers

Chairman: Robert Walker ’79 Treasurer: Helen Troy ’72 Past Chairman, Ex Officio, and Interim Communications Chair: Karen Cox ’80 Programs Chair: LaFleur Paysour ’72 Scholarship Chair: Beatrix Davis Fields ’72 FilmFest Co-Chairs: Libby Richman ’92 Anita Green ’79 Carolee Walker ’79 All Ivy Singles Chair: Melanie Civic ’89

VCDC Annual Meeting

Jonathan Karl '90Be on the lookout for more information about the upcoming June/July VCDC Annual Meeting, with featured speaker Jonathan Karl, ABC News’ Senior Political Correspondent and Vassar Class of 1990. Details on date, time, and venue will be coming shortly! Jonathan Karl has been ABC News’ Senior Political Correspondent since September 2010. In this role, he is responsible for covering national political news, including presidential politics and Congress, for all ABC News broadcasts and platforms including “World News,” “Good Morning America,” “Nightline,” “This Week with George Stephanopolous” and ABCNews.com. Before joining ABC News, Mr. Karl served as a congressional correspondent for CNN. In his eight years with CNN, he covered Capitol Hill, the White House, and the Pentagon. While there, he reported on two presidential elections, President Clinton’s impeachment, the NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia, and congressional reaction to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.


Vassar FilmFest 2012! October 20, 2012


A Call for Entries recently went out for The Vassar Club of Washington, D.C.’s 8th Annual FilmFest, scheduled for October 20, 2012. FilmFest Co-chairs Carolee Belkin Walker ’79, Anita Newman Green ’79 and Libby Richman ’92 are seeking submissions of full-length films, shorts, and student films for general or mature audiences, as well as full-length and shorts suitable for young children and families. They are also thrilled to announce that this year, the Vassar FilmFest will be moderated by Vassar Professor and Chair of Film, Kenneth Robinson.

Vassar Interview Day

and Admitted Students Reception 2012 On Saturday, February 4th, the Vassar Club of Washington DC hosted an interview day for students who are Regular Decision candidates living in the DC area. We held the event at KaBOOM!, a wonderful nonprofit organization in Van Ness, where alumna Judy Lem works. The vibrant space provided an exciting atmosphere in which 30 local alumni volunteers helped run the event, interview 23 prospective students, and mingle with their parents. Throughout the rest of February, volunteer alums conducted interviews with prospective students who were unable to attend the interview day. In total, we interviewed 39 students, many of whom commented that the interview experience greatly increased their interest in Vassar. When admissions decisions came out in March, we learned that this was the second-most-competitive year in Vassar’s history- just over 22% of the students who applied were offered admission for the class of 2016.

Admitted Students Reception

On April 23rd, VCDC held a reception for accepted students from our area. We held this event at the offices of the Smithsonian’s newest museum: the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where Vassar Club of Washington DC Programs Chair LaFleur Paysour ’72 is the Manager of Media Relations and Public Affairs. Students and their families spoke with alumni volunteers who shared their love for Vassar, and a panel of recent alums fielded questions about their Vassar experiences. We were excited to be joined by Greg Wong, the Vassar Admissions Officer for the DC area, whose presence greatly enhanced the event. The evening also served as a celebratory send-off for several of the students, who’d already sent in their deposits to secure their spots in the class of 2016!

Admitted Students Reception

Both of these events served as joyous occasions for alums to connect with students, exploring the different ways in which they might develop their talents at Vassar. The events also provided opportunities for alums to reconnect with Vassar classmates and to meet fellow Vassar alums from other class years. They enjoyed reminiscing about their favorite Vassar memories and traditions, showing the prospective students and their families the enduring benefits of a Vassar education. Year after year, the alumni interview helps make Vassar the top choice school for those students who choose to participate. Many thanks again to all of the alums who helped make this year’s interviews such a success. We look forward to working with more of you next year, so please be sure to sign up to volunteer this August through the Admissions Office!

One in a series …

On recipients of the Vassar Club of Washington, DC Elizabeth Coonley Faulkner Prize

Allegra Shunk VC Class of 2009

The Vassar Club of Washington, DC Faulkner Prize is named for Elisabeth (Bussey) Coonley Faulkner, graduate of the Class of 1924, and President of the Vassar Club of Washington, DC from 1942 through 1944. The Prize provides a stipend to a Vassar junior or senior researching a thesis project in history or a related field in Washington, DC.  The Club coordinates the award of the Faulkner Prize through a selection process managed by the Vassar Office for Fellowships in concert with the Committee on Fellowships. Over the years, the Faulkner Prize has allowed students to expand and improve upon their theses projects in valuable and intangible ways. In upcoming publications of this Newsletter, we will feature the work of these diverse scholars. Past winners include

Carl J. Tierney ’88 Christina M. Bark ’89 Pamela B. Sexton ’90 John J. Wordock ’91 Jason T. Ralston ’92 Remi Bissu Dansinger ’93 Craig M. Price ’94 Amy V. Caplan ’95 Joshua A. Berman ’96 Elizabeth M. Schiff ’97 Michael T. Sclafani ’98 Shelly O’Neill Stoneman ’99 Rebecca Cutler ’01 Jennifer Gettle ’02 Kirsten N. Feroe ’03 Mary C. Joyce ’04 Rachel Panitch ’05 Marjorie Kauffmann ’09 Grady Chambers ’10 Jonathan Erickson ’11 Joy Backer ’12 Martha Turpin ’12 Jonathan Wood ’12 Lisa M. Welsh ’00

In this issue, we invite you to read about Allegra Shunk, a recent recipient of this honor. Allegra Shunk ’09, a Vassar Club of Washington, DC Faulkner Prize Recipient, interned at a professional theater in DC during the summer of 2008 while engaging in research toward completion of her Drama Department thesis. Katrina Homel ’09, former Secretary of the Vassar Club of Washington, DC, asked a series of emailed interview questions to which Ms. Shunk replied with the following —

My advisor, Chris Grabowski, suggested I look into the Faulkner Prize when she found out I would be living in DC the summer before my senior year. I applied wholly on her suggestion. I wanted to stage Caryl Churchill’s play, The Skriker, using the masked theater techniques I had studied while abroad in Italy. In addition, as I came to the fulfillment of my college career in theater, I was interested in what makes really engaging theater. Feeling that in order to figure this out I needed to return to the basis of theater (as I saw it: storytelling), I chose The Skriker for its roots in the “scary stories” that parents tell to children (fear was another variable in the theatrical process that I was interested in pursuing – if it sounds confused, it was. I was. I still am.). This primordial, cross cultural “theater” of fear – folktales and myths which instill or explain fear and the instruments and instances of their “performance” (masks and masked ritual which I saw as being even one step further removed from “bedtime stories” in this chain of performance) – became my unwieldy Topic Of Research. I wanted to stage something truly engaging, not just academically interesting, because performance (being inherently for an audience) is one medium which cannot justify its existence solely through academic relevance. The second part to my research was entirely practical – I interned at a professional theater in DC, the Studio Theatre, where I learned the technical skills necessary to stage my thesis. Although, I didn’t really know what I was doing, I spent a lot of time at museums and libraries taking notes that read like non sequiturs. In the end though, I let all of the work I had done just sort of float around before finally emerging through a sort of osmosis into the actual production. Luckily again for the theater I was interested in creating, what I sought didn’t need any justification other than an engaging final product, so I think it turned out to be exactly the kind of summer I needed. Back at Vassar, my thesis was acted, directed, designed, and produced entirely by students. While this is becoming the wave of the future in the Vassar Drama Department, it was uncommon still in my career, and felt very different from all the theater I had made with the department before. Because we were still struggling to figure out our identities as theater makers, we allowed ourselves to take a similar approach to the production itself and, as a result, making The Skriker, was the first and only time that Drama 200 (the “class” which is participation in a Drama Department show) felt like a real class. I designed the lights and sets, made and designed the 16 masks, tried to teach mask work to the cast, and starred in the show as the titular character. In a lot of ways I totally failed. I was doing WAY too much. But I also learned a tremendous amount because I was able to attempt it all without someone “who knew better” reigning me in to spare me that failure. I was a part of many productions while I was at Vassar, but I got to put all of myself into the Skriker, and as a result, it, She (the skriker is a female shapeshifter, and in my production was heavily influenced by the Italian Strega) – She will always be with me. Her face (my Skriker mask) hangs on the wall like a friend, and occasionally I put her on (which totally freaks out even the people who have met her). After Vassar, I decided to pursue theater and worked as an electrics intern at the Juilliard School in Manhattan. I’m currently in my hometown of Cleveland, and will be back in DC at Georgetown Law in the fall. With all the big budgets and fancy crews, I keep thinking back to the amazing work I did with a small budget, a dedicated team, and a really great mask. I am working out how to get back into making theater like that.

Vassar People in the Arts in DC

One in a series …

Rebecca Holderness ’79 directed Einstein’s Dreams at the Spooky Action Theatre

Rebecca Holderness ’79, Associate Professor of Acting and Directing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Department of Theatre, Peck School of the Arts, directed the play, Einstein’s Dreams, which ran through June 26, 2011 at the Spooky Action Theatre in Washington, DC. Einstein’s Dreams is a bestselling novel written by Alan Lightman. It has been adapted for the stage by Kipp Erante Cheng. The ensemble cast included Elver Ariza-Silva, Frank Britton, Jonathan Fitts, Connor Hogan, Hilary Kacser, Lisa Lias, Whitney Madren, Beckett Martin, Madeline Muravchik, Adam Segaller, Sarah Thomas, Jade Wheeler and Wendy Wilmer. The play is about a patent clerk in Switzerland, twenty six-year old Albert Einstein, who dreams possible theories of Time. Characters, real and imagined, swirl around him, and reshape his life and his dreams through movement, light and sound. Relativity in action gives birth to a new theory and a transforming vision of life. In addition to being a professor and director, Rebecca Holderness is a choreographer who is the founder and artistic director of Holderness Theatre Company. Most recently, she directed Lori-Parks 365 Plays at Joe’s Pub and The Public Theatre/NYC with the Director’s Project at the Drama League as well as acclaimed Einstein’s Dreams and Crowns at Burning Coal in North Carolina. At UWM, Professor Holderness has developed and directed 1001 by Jason Grote, Of Mice and Men, Ghost by Zakiyyah Alexander, Mr. Melancholy by Matt Cameron, Einstein’s Dreams, From These Green Heights, The Road North, Starboard Home by Joseph Goodrich, and Hay Fever by No�l Coward. Her credits for the New York City/Off Broadway scene include: The Life of Spiders, premier, Kelly Stuart, HTC/The Culture Project; and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, tour for Lincoln Center Institute. Rebecca Holderness is an Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voice Work and a member of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and is a Lincoln Center Lab and Drama League Directing Alumni. Newsletter Editor: Karen L. Cox

� Copyright 2012 Washington, DC Vassar Club
Published November 9, 2012