Indiana University South Bend Chancellor Terry L. Allison is one of two recipients of 2016 New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities awards from Indiana University. Allison received a $50,000 grant for an IU South Bend collaborative project to create a new musical play called MEGA! in collaboration with several faculty in the Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts. Assistant Professor of English Kyoko Takanashi received a $14,000 grant to write a book called “Traveling through the Pages: Reading Realism in the Age of Transport Revolutions”. The projects were two of 37 projects across IU to receive funding.
MEGA! is an original two-act musical loosely inspired by the story a minister in Colorado Springs who resigned after a scandal involving sex and drugs. Allison conceived the story, then began to write lyrics and melody to bring it to life. He produced a workshop last summer primarily to test audience reaction to the songs. In this next stage of the work, he is assembling artists from IU South Bend and elsewhere to develop a story and others a story that reflects on homophobia, religion, and politics in today’s society. The play uses humor, music, and the tradition of the Greek chorus that comments on the action of the characters by warning, supporting, and criticizing them. It also provides a feminist alternative to the typical “good wife” scenario when men’s sexual scandals become public.
“Writing lyrics and melodies represents a new venture for me,” Allison states. “Thanks to the New Frontiers grants, I’m able to push my creative boundaries while working with many other artists to bring this work to life.” The grant will help Allison and his collaborators to complete a full script and score of the musical. They will hold workshops and public performances to refine the production. “Developing a musical is a multi-stage process. It is absolutely wonderful to have Indiana University’s support at this critical stage,” says Allison.
Allison has assembled a team of IU South Bend faculty to work on the project. Assistant Professor of Theatre Justin Amellio will direct, Assistant Professor of Music James Bowyer will serve as musical director and supervisor, Assistant Professor of Theatre Jason Resler will design costumes, Assistant Professor of Music Thom Limbert will orchestrate parts of the work, and Associate Professor of Theatre Tim Hanson will oversee technical aspects of the production. Visiting faculty and staff will assist with choreography, scenery, lighting, and sound while several visiting artists will collaborate with Allison on story-telling and musical composition. The final public workshop performance will be scheduled for the second half of 2017.
Takanashi’s book will explore the metaphor of “reading as traveling” and its centrality to the development of modern novels. Specifically, the project investigates how realism became a dominant mode of fiction precisely as Britain witnessed revolutions in transportation technologies in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. “ Writers and readers at the time puzzled over the relationship between the transporting experience of reading and the travel they experienced using new transportation technologies”, said Takanashi. “Such bewilderment prompted writers to theorize the relationship between reading and real life.”
The New Frontiers program supports research, scholarship, and creative activity that sustain and enhance the reputation of IU as a leader in arts and humanities.