Performing Arts Assistant Professor Joshua Polster was honored as the recipient of the 2010–2011 Norman and Irma Mann Stearns Distinguished Faculty Award at a luncheon held November 9 in the Multipurpose Room. Faculty, staff, and donor Irma Mann Stearns ’67 attended.
Polster used the award funds for a trip to London, where he researched the 2001 production of Arthur Miller’s play A Memory of Two Mondays by the Synergy Theatre Project, which was performed by a cast and crew of prisoners from the HM Prison Latchmere House, along with a team of theater professionals. He spoke about his project at the luncheon. The award was “crucial in supporting new scholarship on Arthur Miller’s A Memory of Two Mondays,” said Polster, “as well as new research on the pioneering work of the Synergy Theatre Project.”
While in England, he searched archives and interviewed the cast, crew, and audiences of the 2001 production for a book chapter he is writing about playwright Arthur Miller. In addition to researching A Memory of Two Mondays, Polster also studied the theater company while it was involved in a festival of new plays, which included one play written by a convicted prisoner, one play written by a former prisoner, rehearsed readings of plays written by former prisoners, and several rehearsed readings of plays written by students at risk. All of these plays were performed by professional theater actors at the Soho Theatre in London’s West End to help support the playwrights’ work.
Visual and Media Arts Assistant Professor Anya Belkina is the recipient of the 2011–2012 Mann Stearns Distinguished Faculty Award. Belkina won the award for her work Moston, a 12-foot-tall suspended inflatable sculpture that conjures a technology-driven combination of Moscow and Boston. It includes a three-dimensional form of mutated Russian nesting dolls and a two-dimensional surface design of printed artwork and documentary footage projection. Moston was featured at the SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques) 2011 Conference, “Tracing Home,” in Vancouver. The conference presented exceptional digital and technologically mediated artworks that explored issues related to the concept of home in the networked age. Belkina will serve as the keynote speaker at next year’s Mann Stearns Distinguished Faculty Award luncheon.
Norman Stearns and Irma Mann Stearns provided the endowment to establish the distinguished faculty award in their names in 1993. The Mann Stearns award is presented annually to a full-time faculty member to fund a scholarly or creative project that involves travel. Irma Mann Stearns has served on both the Emerson College Board of Trustees (Chair Emeritus) and the Board of Overseers.
Previous award recipients include Katie Youn, Cristina Kotz Cornejo, Cher Krause Knight, Robert Todd, Melia Bensussen, Jean Stawarz, Eric Schaefer, Maureen Shea, Scott Wheeler, Emmanuel Paraschos, and Lauren Shaw.