The American Repertory Theater and Harvard University are not just neighbors. They are now artistic collaborators, and recently announced their participation in the National Civil War Project, a national effort to create new arts-integrated academic programs and commission original theatrical works in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
"The arts invite a shift in perception and understanding that is at the heart of all learning," said Harvard University President Drew Faust. "Projects that elevate the profile of the arts and art making enrich campus communities and encourage imagination and innovation – two essential drivers of human progress." A.R.T. Artistic Director Diane Paulus expressed similar enthusiasm about the melding of academics and the arts: "This anniversary provides the A.R.T. an opportunity to explore the American Civil War, and civil war as it continues in our world today. We are fortunate to be part of a University with a president who is a preeminent Civil War scholar and historian. As the leader of an art institution on campus, I have been deeply inspired by President Faust's embracing of the idea that the arts should play an important role in the cognitive life of the University. Through this project, we are exploring ways in which artistic innovation and scholarly research can inform each other, leading to the generation of new theatrical projects and new courses in the Harvard curriculum."
The centerpiece of the project is its commissioning of new works that draw on the themes of civil conflict and the American Civil War. However, A.R.T. and Harvard University also plan to join together to on a multitude of other projects, including national conferences and symposia that will feature panels of leading experts, a public discussion series, community programs and dramaturgy, student playwriting projects, student-generated exhibitions, and artist and academic roundtables.
Universities and performing arts organizations from all over the country have joined in this multi-year collaborative effort. The following is a complete list of its participants: Alliance Theatre and Emory College Center for Creativity & Arts at Emory University in Atlanta, GA; American Repertory Theater and Harvard University in Cambridge, MA; Arena Stage and the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.; and CENTERSTAGE in Baltimore, MD and The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD.