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Poe-Themed Southwick Recital Kicks off Inauguration Celebration

Two women flank man on stage, as woman pretends to be passed out in chair to right. All dressed in black
Students perform in the Southwick Recital on March 20, part of the Celebrate Emerson inauguration festivities. Photo/Christopher McIntosh

As Emerson prepares for the investiture of Jay Bernhardt as the College’s 13th president, there are many events celebrating the community.

The three-day fest kicked off on Wednesday, March 20, with one of Emerson’s longest traditions — the Southwick Recital. The Southwick features staged readings of prose, poetry, and dramatic monologue. It both honors the tradition and embraces the future of oral communication through literature.

This semester’s edition, Intervals of Horrible Sanity, used original theatrical scenes, music, dance, puppetry, film, narration, and excerpts of the writer’s own work to tell the story of Boston native Edgar Allan Poe. Students from across majors joined Southwick director and Communication Studies Senior Executive-in-Residence Ken Grout, and a faculty/student jam band onstage at the Robert J. Orchard Stage in the Paramount.

“I can’t think of a more fitting way to kick things off than to celebrate with Emerson’s oldest continuing tradition,” President Jay Bernhardt said in opening remarks. “I’m really grateful to my … long ago predecessor, Emerson’s third president, Henry Lawrence Southwick, who had the foresight and the vision to establish these recitals 124 years ago, way back in the year 1900.”

Read about the history of the Southwick Recitals.

Photos by Chris McIntosh

  • A person performs as Edgar Allen Poe
  • Three people perform on stage
  • Jay Bernhardt addresses the audience at a lecturn
  • A person performs with two people standing next to them
  • Two people hold up signs that read: Enthusiastic Applause
  • A person performs as Edgar Allen Poe.
  • Ken Grout speaks to the crowd from a lecturn
  • Tim Douglas speaks to the crowd
  • A person pretends they're calling on a phone
  • Greg Payne speaks to the audience
  • A person performs with a red scarf around their neck

Communication Studies Chair Greg Payne called Grout a “maestro” for modernizing the Southwick Recitals. Grout thanked Payne for the kind words, and then tossed credit to the entire production team.

“There are two dozen students who are involved in this. They represent eight majors from across the College…” said Grout. “And if you just please take a look at your programs in the special thanks section, because this does not
happen as a result of any one personal alone.”

Panel Highlights Gender-Affirming Voice and Communication Program

Five people hug in a circle
Clinical Instructor Barb Worth (front, in purple jacket) hugs fellow presenters and CSD graduate students (left to right) Logan Clark, Cai Conners and Lior Grader, and Clinical Instructor Michele Page Sinotte. Photo/Sami Ahmad

One new program since the last time Emerson College inaugurated a president is the Gender-Affirming Voice and Communication (GAVC) Program, housed in the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department’s Robbins Center.

CSD Clinical Instructors Barb Worth and Michèle Page Sinotte led a panel discussion with graduate program students Logan Clark ’22, MS ’24; Cai Conners ’23, MS ’25; and Lior Grader, MS ’24.

The panel talked about the inception of the program and its impact on the trans/non-binary and Emerson communities, as well as CSD graduate students, with a testimonial from Tonia, a GAVC client. The program began after being suggested by then-grad student Kevin Pasternak MS ’16 in 2014.

Today the program serves 15 to 20 clients per semester, with a 50-person waiting list. Clients work with staff to make their voice sound how they want it to sound, and success is determined by the client.

“All the work we do is based upon clients’ perception and desires,” Worth said. “We offer many opportunities for exploration.”

Tele-sessions have allowed them to expand to other parts of the state.

Grader is a speech-language pathologist in Israel where GAV is in its infancy.

“I want to learn and get as many tools as possible for from our wonderful expertise here and bring them back home to Israel to help trans people there.”

Left to right, Clinical Instructor Barb Worth; Logan Clark ’22, MS ’24; Cai Conners ’23, MS ’25; Lior Grader, MS ’24; and Clinical Instructor Michele Page Sinotte. Photo/Sami Ahmad

More From Day One

Colorful prints of and by Black Bostonians line a wall
Prints line a wall at the Elma Lewis Center, part of the Growing Up Roxbury: 150 Years of Community Luminaries exhibit. Photo/Christopher McIntosh

Throughout Wednesday and continuing into Thursday, the Elma Lewis Center presented Growing Up Roxbury: 150 Years of Community Luminaries. This multimedia pilot inaugural exhibition featured family archives, live interviews, music recording sessions, dance performances, and original art from more than 150 Roxbury- and Boston-area luminaries from the past two centuries.

Woman speaks and gestures as others look on
Alayne Fiore, Executive Director of the Social Justice Collaborative’s Hub for Inclusive & Visionary Engagement (HIVE) talks about Emerson’s college pathway programs at the HIVE offices on Wednesday, March 20, as Shaya Poku Gregory, Vice President for Equity & Social Justice, left, and others look on. Photo/Sami Ahmad

The Social Justice Collaborative’s Hub for Inclusive & Visionary Engagement (HIVE) presented With Love, From the Margins: Students at Emerson Subverting Erasure. This was an experiential college-pathway gallery that resists systemic erasure and reimagines a culture where all have access to higher education. The gallery featured work by students with the Emerson Prison Initiative and the College’s free college-access programs, EmersonWRITES and EmersonTHEATRE.

Man in dark suit speaks into mic as two women look on in background
Mac Hudson ’23, a former Emerson Prison Initiative student, speaks as Marlboro Institute of Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies Dean Amy Ansell, far left, and EPI Director Mneesha Gellman look on in the Bordy Theater. Photo/Christopher McIntosh

The Emerson Prison Initiative hosted a panel featuring Mac Hudson ’23, a former EPI student and re-entry consultant for Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts. The panel, which also included EPI Director Mneesha Gellman and Marlboro Institute of Liberal Arts & Interdisciplinary Studies Dean Amy Ansell discussed the benefits and importance of expanding access to higher education to people incarcerated in Massachusetts.

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