Six Students Recognized by OFA

GRACE M. CATENACCIO ’04

Considering that Grace M. Catenaccio ’04 will be onstage in two separate shows this weekend, it’s surprising to learn that her biggest art contribution takes place in the background. This Adams House Visual and Environmental Studies (VES) concentrator is one of the year’s recipients of the Louise Donovan Award, which recognizes outstanding work behind the scenes.

Catenaccio says she is thrilled to receive the award. “I did a tremendous amount of work to get others’ art shown, and while people definitely noticed and appreciated it, it was heartening to have the OFA recognize that” she says.

Catenaccio’s primary work is encompassed by State of the Art, a program she initiated her junior year to showcase student artists. “There are so many talented artists…that don’t have the oppurtunity to show their artwork in a context where it’s for its own sake rather than representing some other social issue,” she says.

Catenaccio’s solution was to put on six shows in the next year and a half. She tried to avoid showing only her friends work, but adds that “it’s kind of impossible…in VES you become friends because you’re interested in their work.” She says she was also “contstantly trolling the Carpenter Center and asking VES professors who their best students were.” Her position on the Advocate’s Art board helped as well.

Each show was based on a theme. Catenaccio points to last year’s “Portrait of the Artist,” which consisted of work that was “vaguely self-portraitive,” as her biggest show, drawing scores of people to the Adams Artspace.

Catenaccio has also been heavily influential in reviving “The Collective,” a bi-weekly concert in the Quincy Cage. Her involvement began her sophomore year. “I went to the first [concert] and immediately became obsessed,” she says. She spent the rest of the semester offering her help, but the organizers never got back to her. “I’m pretty sure it was because I’m a girl,” she says, and points to how even now, it’s hard to find female performers for the space.

Catenaccio’s boyfriend was slated to take over the Collective. “I kept pestering him to let me help,” she says. When he stopped showing interest in the program, Catenaccio contacted some students in Quincy, and with the help of her now co-director Daniel H. Senter ’04, resuscitated the Collective.

In contast to Catenaccio’s very particular curating, “the Collective is much more Communist,” she says. “It glories in enthusiasm for music over talent, though considering the musicians’ background and training, they’re really all quite good.”

Catenaccio’s plans for the future remains unclear. She hopes to attend architecture school after spending some time in England. As for the future of State of the Art, she says she hopes that the two sophomores taking over the Collective will continue it as well.

But Catenaccio is not concerned. She says she feels confident that the resurgence in student curating won’t ebb away. “The Artspace is being used more now,” she says. “The spirit is still there.”

—Jayme J. Herschkopf

BEN D. MARGO ’04-’05

As a fledgling actor in his first year at Harvard, Benjamin D. Margo ’04-’05 made a decision that has earned him all the attention he could hope for. He stepped off-stage.

Since then, the efforts of this Currier House philosophy concentrator behind the scenes have seen him play the role of producer, director, sound designer, and writer, making him one of the most active and visible members of Harvard’s theater community.

This weekend, Margo, who is also a Crimson editor, will be a co-recipient of the Louise Donovan Award for his efforts. His journey through Harvard’s theater world has led him to the presidency of the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club (HRDC) and a co-chair of the Hyperion Shakespeare Company (HSC).

Margo says he appreciates the challenge of coordinating so many different aspects of putting a play together, as well as the chance to work and bond with talented people on all levels of a production.

“It’s not as though I’m toiling away unnoticed,” he says. “I’m not the guy who feels underappreciated ever.”

His recent work has gone the experimental route, most recently directing a production of Roberto Zucco in the Loeb Experimental Theatre.

“It’s something where I feel like I can pour a lot of time into it and I can learn so much and get so much out of it,” he says of directing. “In a way you have a really kind of grateful feeling towards the people that you’re working with…You’re so utterly dependent on them to make the thing good that when you’re happy with the work you find that you’ve really bonded with those people.”

In his rise through the ranks, Margo has in many ways blazed his own trail—a trail he says he is happy to see more and more younger students following. He praises Harvard’s theater community not so much for providing members with a set path to follow, but for making resources available to people looking to do “adventurous and entrepreneurial” productions.

A major accomplishment of his HRDC tenure was reinstating the Visiting Director Program, which Margo calls his greatest achievement and hopes will “end a ripple effect of new techniques into the community.”

In addition to his work with the HRDC, he has still found time for less high profile work, including the HSC, which he calls “a nice side thing to do.”

In 2002, on the encouragement of his roommate, he hastily cobbled together a production of a short play he had written, Kiddie Pool, which dealt with two insecure young men and their quest for the attentions of the fairer sex. “It’s just great to have the freedom and environment and a crew of people that you can call up to put up lights and…find a way to bust out a play in a week and a half,” he says.

Margo will return this summer to direct The House of Yes in the Loeb Ex. True to his meandering past, he says he has not decided what he will after he graduates in January. Theater, of course, is not off the table.

—Nathaniel A. Smith

ANTHONY S. CHEUNG ’04

Last weekend found Anthony S. Cheung ’04, this year’s recipient of the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts, in Minnesota, where the state orchestra performed a piece he has been working on for the past two years. It was the first time he actually heard it played. “It’s the greatest feeling in the world to actually hear your music come to life in such away,” he writes in an e-mail.

The experience is not new for Cheung, who is also a Crimson editor. The Sudler Prize recognizes outstanding artistic talent and achievement in composition or performance, and over the past four years, Cheung has won a slew of awards for his compositions.

Cheung is part of the Harvard-Radcliffe Contemporary Music Ensemble, a group of composers and instrumentalists. “As a composer myself, it’s always a full-time job on top of the academic load,” he says.

Cheung began playing piano at six, and started composing shortly thereafter. He calls his first work “little imitations of the stuff I was learning, like sonatas in the style of Mozart or nocturnes.” When he was 12, he began learning with a composition teacher.

The experience was eye opening. “I remember opening the score to the ‘Rite of Spring,’” Cheung says. “I had never seen anything like it in my life. After somehow following the score with a recording, it was a total out-of-body experience.” It was moments like these that convinced Cheung that music was indeed his calling.

Cheung says his style has become more consistent over the years but is still developing. He draws influence from “everything in the Western tradition” but is partial to French music after Debussy and jazz of all kinds. “You are what you hear, and I hope to be hearing a lot more unfamiliar music that will influence my future work,” he says.

But the journey has been difficult. In addition to monetary constraints and public apathy, “composition can be the most frustrating thing in the world,” Cheung says. However, he remains optimistic. “It’s in those rare instances when someone tells you that what you’ve done has affected them that gives a composer the sense of having made a difference,” he says. “The challenge and reward is refining your craft.”

Cheung points to his guidance over the past four years from professors Robinson Professor of Music Robert D. Levin ’68 and Rosen Professor of Music Bernard Rands as his most fullfilling academic experience. He says their work with piano and composition continues to inspire him today.

Next year will find Cheung at Columbia University in the graduate program in composition. “I’m looking forward to hearing all the exciting new music that’s being presented in New York,” he says. Beyond that remains unclear, though he says he hopes to teach and write. In any case, he points to the uncertainty as part of the excitement.

—Akash Goel

GEORDIE F. BROADWATER ’04

Although as this year’s recipient of the Jonathan Levey Award in Drama, Geordie F. Broadwater ’04 may be recognized as Harvard’s most promising undergraduate actor, Broadwater actually hopes that his future artistic path will lead him to the world behind the mainstage. Next year, the Eliot House resident plans to pursue Master of Fine Arts in Directing from the Brown/Trinity Rep Consortium.

But don’t expect Broadwater to close the door on his acting pursuits any time soon. As he tells it, “People experience passion in various activities: learning, sports, writing, sex. You need passion in your life—and there’s little I wouldn’t give up for acting.”

Impelled by this hunger to perform, in his four years at Harvard, Broadwater has played not only Lord Goring in An Ideal Husband, Larry in Closer and the Man in The Blue Room, but also Gus in The Dumbwaiter and Guildenstern in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

Even while pursuing this repertoire of characters in such rather weighty dramatic works, Broadwater has managed to keep a sense of humor. Indeed, Broadwater admits that he selects his project based on the “innovation, emotion, humor, violence, and beauty” that a work shows.

Broadwater also acknowledged that he was not always so bold in tackling theater and noted that he has only recently been able to realize his hopes of contributing to popular, entertaining, and ground-breaking productions as a director on Harvard’s Mainstage.

Explaining his penchant exploring unchartered territory and directing independent student works, Broadwater says, “I’m tired of seeing the same plays over and over. [Although] revisiting classic texts is important and extremely fun, I think that we need to expand our canon and search beyond Shakespeare, Chekhov and Tennessee Williams for new plays to do. Performing a student-written play is almost always worth doing, unless of course the play is terrible, which sometimes they are.”

Next month, Broadwater will enter a world beyond student-authored works, but he is confident that he will carry with him the indelible impression of his time at Harvard. Indeed, Broadwater credits Harvard for instilling in him the desire to set high standards for his own theatrical creations. “[Thanks to Harvard,] my artistic ambitions are inexorably based in a highly intellectual mindframe, and while I strive to create theatre that is visceral, emotional and accessible, I’m confident in my ability to tackle complicated and intelligent subject matter.”

Broadwater also believes his politically-charged classmates may have rubbed off on him. “Perhaps it is merely a reflection of the times, but I believe that my peers at Harvard have awakened a political awareness in me that would have otherwise have remained dormant,” he says. “I can’t help but comment on and reflect socio-political currents in my work.”

—Vinita M. Alexander

CHRISTINA M. SHELBY ’04

Christina M. Shelby ’04 is no stranger to the Harvard stage. This spring, she will dance on a Washington, D.C. stage as a part of a national dance showcase put on by the American College Dance Festival.

As a performer in the annual Dancers’ Viewpointe since its inception in 1999, Shelby, this year’s recipient of the Radcliffe Doris Cohen Levi Prize that is awarded annually to Harvard’s premier student actress in musical theater, has a played an active role in molding the campus’s dance culture.

Pointing to the overall lack of University funding for dance programs, Shelby says she especially appreciates the Office of the Arts-sponsored spring Dancers’ Viewpointe because it provides a rare opportunity for Harvard students to witness the rich community of their dancing peers at work. “Performing in Dancers’ Viewpointe was always one of the highlights of each year for me, and in my opinion it showcases some of the very best dance at Harvard,” Shelby effuses.

Shelby admits that she was bitten by the dancing bug early on and is always restless for her next dance opportunity. “I get a huge rush out of performing…there is this part of me that I can access through dancing that otherwise remains hidden,” she says. “It’s a highly personal feeling—like catching a glimpse of your soul and reveling in it. It’s wonderfully fulfilling.”

But Shelby says she unexpectedly found her greatest artistic fulfillment in a role that required both singing and dancing in the 2002 Loeb Mainstage presentation of Cabaret. “It was actually the first time I branched out to musical theatre at Harvard, and I couldn’t be happier that I did it…It was very gratifying to take a risk in auditioning for the show and have it turn out to be such a wonderful success,” Shelby recalls.

Although Shelby will bid farewell to the College stage this spring, it is hardly the end of the road for the Eliot House resident, who is planning a post-graduation move to New York to professionally pursue modern dancing.

Indeed, it will be hard to take the Harvard spirit out of this dancer who is so well-entrenched in Harvard’s dance community, as a member of the Radcliffe Dance Company, the Mainly Jazz Dance Company, Harvard Ballet Company and Harvard Contemporary Dance Ensemble.

In particular, Shelby says she will always have fond memories of the site where she spent much of her creative college career: the Riemann Dance Center. “It’s really quite amazing to stand alone on the marley [there] and think of how many dancers have tread in the same spot before you and scrutinized themselves in the same mirrors, how many dances have been made in the space, how many dance world “greats” have been there, how much sweat and blood the room has held and how many people have bared their souls there. It’s a majestic space.”

“Harvard has been a wonderful home for me,” Shelby says. “I think I am definitely a different person now than I was when I first got here.”

—Vinita M. Alexander

E. PEYTON SHERWOOD ’04

After four years of intensive involvement with the technical side of Harvard theater, E. Peyton Sherwood ’04 has been selected as one of this year’s recipients of the Louise Donovan Award for excellence in behind-the-scenes theater work. Sherwood has worked as technical director, producer, executive director, master rigger, sound designer, lighting designer, technical advisor, sound board operator and master carpenter for over 20 Harvard productions, as well as serving on the executive board of the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club (HRDC), as a proctor for the Harvard Freshman Arts Program and as managing producer for the Harvard-Radcliffe Summer Theater in 2003.

Sherwood identifies Cabaret, which he worked on during the fall of his junior year, as his favorite production experience. “For me, the process of creating art and the friendships developed during the collaborative process are just as important as the end product,” he says. “All three of those things were particularly rewarding during Cabaret.”

However, Sherwood adds that some of his most rewarding work in the arts has been out of the theater. He helped institute the Loeb technical theater requirement for performers. “I believe it is a crucial step towards creating more technically solid productions as well as forming a closer community among Harvard theater participants,” he says.

Sherwood says he was convinced to pursue the requirements, which before had only been a musing, when people expressed enthusiasm for it at an open HRDC meeting. “I realized that Harvard artists were in fact very interested in helping their peers in this way,” he says. “With more than 60 theater productions on campus every year, I think it’s very important that we all pitch in and help each other create theater. It is, after all, a collaborative art.”

Sherwood has a fond place for the Loeb. “Its technical capacity far outweighs that of other spaces on campus,” he says. “Anything is possible on the Mainstage. Witches can disappear in a cloud of smoke, a Berlin nightclub can appear where there was darkness before and can disappear as quickly as it came, and a house with working electricity and plumbing can split apart and turn around before your eyes.”

Sherwood also says he enjoys his work on the Harvard Theater Database (HTDb). “It’s important that the HRDC forms relationships with its alumni and builds a historical record, and the HTDb helps both of those initiatives” he says.

While he does not plan to go into arts as a profession, Sherwood is sure that they will remain a part of his life. “As a musician, it is tortuous for me to go a week without at least playing a few notes on the piano, and attending theater is second-nature to me,” he says. “I am looking to enter a technology career, but I will always be creating, writing, innovating—I can’t conceive of a life without the arts.”

—Marin J. Orlosky