Students get unparalleled opportunities in the spotlight | Arts at Mercer

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A stage of performers is photographed from the balcony
Internationally acclaimed and Grammy-nominated violinist Robert McDuffie joined R.E.M.’s Mike Mills and Chuck Leavell of The Allman Brothers Band and The Rolling Stones for "A Night of Georgia Music" on March 5 at the Grand Opera House.

Between biology class and lunch at the Fresh Food Company, a student pencils in learning to be a fire twirler, puppeteering a giant animal in the park, practicing swordsmanship and making it rain indoors (really!). 

As a Mercer Theatre student, these are real life lessons under the direction of Associate Professor Scot Mann. This diverse set of feats on display allows Mercer students to have more opportunities than in many productions, giving them marketable skills to pursue a career after graduation. To be a student artist at Mercer is to be surrounded by an abundance of choices to perform, design and watch with the best of the best.

Check out the indoor rainstorm in person at the upcoming production of “Eurydice” April 7-10, a twist on a classic by contemporary playwright Sarah Ruhl.

“It’s the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice retold from Eurydice’s perspective. It’s a look at life, death and memory,” said Mann, who directs the show. Buy tickets here for a look at this underwater, mythical adventure — and not to worry, the audience will stay dry!

Students at Mercer get lots of chances to play on stages big and small, not only on campus but in the wider community.

Last month, a trio of rock stars headlined “A Night of Georgia Music” at the historic Grand Opera House in downtown Macon. Internationally acclaimed and Grammy-nominated violinist Robert McDuffie joined R.E.M.’s Mike Mills and Chuck Leavell of The Allman Brothers Band and The Rolling Stones for a showcase of songs by different Georgia musicians, filmed for future distribution on public television.

Backing the band were the students of the McDuffie Center for Strings, who will be featured prominently in the taping and who got to watch the featured artists at work behind the scenes. The show received a standing ovation from a full house, with several students even being selected for interview by local media.

strings performers are conducted on stage
Mercer University students in the McDuffie Center for Stings perform during “A Night of Georgia Music” on March 5 at the Grand Opera House.

Just down the street, in a recently restored art deco building, senior Art Department students will soon have a full gallery showing to the public at McEachern Art Center (the MAC) to fulfill their graduation requirements.

“We also have the Plunkett Gallery on campus, so there are a variety of environments that students get to learn how to configure and install,” said Ben Dunn, director of the MAC.

Dunn assists students in not only creating their work for showcasing in the gallery but directly mentors them in museum studies on how their work will best translate to the public with details like custom-cut vinyl on the windows or the perfect artist statement. Earlier in the semester, prominent gallerists visited for a “MAC@MAS” lecture series, giving students another look at the business of art. This holistic approach sets up Mercer students for success, creating a soft cushion between the studio and the exhibition environment. Visitors can see the senior show, titled “Stairway Wit,” from April 22-May 7 at the MAC.

If a Mercerian who loves arts and culture has a little extra time between their star-studded studies, they have the chance to score free tickets to see some of the best performers and artists in the world.

The Fabian Center for Musical Excellence launched this year and offers open admission to acts that have played the largest stages nationwide. The final concert features pianist Robert Blocker, the dean of music at Yale University who was called an artist of “great skill and accomplishment” by the Los Angeles Times. Robert Blocker will play at Mercer on April 11 at 7:30 p.m. in Fickling Hall.

With a variety of opportunities to watch, participate and learn, a Mercer art lover should never get bored. Take some time at the end of the semester to jump in — whether starring on stage or supporting as a spectator.

 

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