The Cooper Series returns for the 2021-22 academic year with eight artistic events, featuring dance, activism, and the homecoming of a beloved theater company.
The series commences September 10 with the kickoff of the “Voices from the Eastern European Anthropocene” program. Luminaries from Central and Eastern Europe will join the College for conversations about climate change and environmental activism. Through a series of lectures, workshops, and Q&As, these speakers will offer urgent and interdisciplinary perspectives on the inextricable links between environmental activism and global fights for equality, governmental accountability, and freedom of expression.
Galina Rymbu, a leading voice of Russian eco-poetics, gives the first reading/lecture Friday, Sept. 10, from 1-3 p.m. EDT. Register here.
Rymbu will also lead a virtual workshop on Sept. 17 at 1 p.m. EDT (Register here). Additional programs will be offered on Oct. 8, Oct. 15, Nov. 17, Feb. 11, and March 25.
Next up in the series is Love Unpunished, a performance from Pig Iron Theatre Company, which was founded by Swarthmore Theater Department alumni. Directed by Dan Rothenberg ’95, Love Unpunished is an acclaimed dance-theater meditation on love and grief, set on the stairs of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The piece imagines the moments of fear, confusion, and human contact as the denizens of the skyscrapers descend many flights of stairs, unaware if it’s a drill or emergency. Love Unpunished combines a monumental, iconic scenic design by MacArthur Fellow Mimi Lien with a unique movement style by Philadelphia choreographer David Brick of Headlong Dance Theater. This 2021 version is being co-presented by Swarthmore and the Philadelphia FringeArts Festival, where it will be performed on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
The first performance will be on Saturday, Sept. 18, at 8 p.m, followed by an outdoor reception. A second performance will take place on Sunday, Sept. 19, at 2 p.m., in the Lang Performing Arts Center (LPAC). Additionally, there will be a panel discussion with the artists on Sunday, Sept. 19, from 3:30–4:30 p.m. in LPAC Cinema, moderated by Professor of Theater Allen Kuharski. Note: Due to Covid-19 protocols, the performances are limited to the on-campus community only.
The program will also include dance workshops on Sept. 13 from 4:30-6 pm, and Sept. 14 & 16 from 9:55-11:10 am in the Boyar Dance Studio of LPAC along with theater workshops at 4:15 p.m. on Sept. 21, 22, and 23 in the Frear Ensemble Theater of LPAC.
Also taking place in September are Dois Pontos (Sept. 22-24), which applies theatrical techniques to dance performance, blending dance and sign language in such a way that the narrative and choreographic compositions form a poetic whole, and The Frontera Project (Sept. 30-Oct. 2), which brings Mexican and US artists together to lift up human stories about our southern border that too often get lost in the noise of partisan agendas and media bubbles.
The full slate of Cooper Series events can be found below.
Due to Covid-19 protocols, programming and capacity limits to in-person events may change at the last moment. Please check with event organizers and the College's Covid-19 website for the most up-to-date information.
“Voices from the Eastern European Anthropocene” features luminaries from Central and Eastern Europe in conversation with the Swarthmore community about climate change and environmental activism. Through a series of lectures, workshops, and Q&As, these speakers will offer urgent and interdisciplinary perspectives on how environmental activism is inseparable from the global fights for equality, governmental accountability, and freedom of expression. Participants will learn how leading voices in the Eastern European environmentalist movement harness the power of narrative and coalition-building to inspire individual and collective action and leave with tools to inform their own activism on campus and beyond.
Galina Rymbu, Leading Voice of Russian Eco-Poetics:
Language as Revolution in the Face of Climate Disaster"
Zoom Lecture: Friday, Sept. 10, 1 p.m. ET (Register here)
Zoom Workshop: Friday, Sept. 17 1 p.m ET (Register here)
Baktybek Abdrisaev, former ambassador from the Kyrgyz Republic to the U.S. and Canada:
Approaches to Sustainability and Gender Equity in Mountainous Communities Worldwide
Zoom Lecture and Q&A: Wednesday, Nov. 17, 4:30 p.m. ET
Anastasia Fomina, Youth Climate Activist, Fridays for Future Russia:
Direct Action and Political Activism as Responses to Climate Change
Zoom Lecture: Friday, Feb. 11, 1 p.m. ET
Zoom Workshop: TBA
Svetlana Alexievich, 2015 Nobel Laureate in Literature and author of Voices from Chernobyl:
History, Memory, Narrative, and the Writer’s Relationship to Catastrophe
Zoom Lecture and Q&A: Friday, March 25, 1 p.m. ET
Pig Iron Theatre Company in Philadelphia remounts its acclaimed 2006 dance-theater meditation on love and grief, set on the stairs of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The piece imagines the moments of fear, confusion, and human contact as the denizens of the skyscrapers descend many flights of stairs, unaware if it is a drill or an emergency. Love Unpunished combines a monumental, iconic scenic design by MacArthur Fellow Mimi Lien with a unique movement style by David Brick of Philadelphia’s Headlong Dance Theater. The 2021 version is being co-presented by Swarthmore and the Philadelphia FringeArts Festival, where it will be performed on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
Sponsored by the Theater Department and part of the Cooper Series. Co-sponsored by the Dance Program and the Peace & Conflict Studies Program
Saturday, Sept. 18, 8 p.m. (followed by outdoor reception)
Sunday, Sept. 19, 2 p.m.
Pearson-Hall Theatre, LPAC
Note: Due to Covid-19 protocols, this performance is limited to the on-campus community only.
Panel Discussion with the Artists:
Sunday, Sept. 19, 3:30–4:30 p.m.
Moderator: Professor Allen Kuharski, Department of Theater
Theater: Frear Ensemble Theater, LPAC
Tuesday, Sept. 21, 4:15–6:15 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 22, 4:15–6:15 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 23, 4:15–6:15 p.m.
Dance: Boyer Dance Studio, LPAC
Monday, Sept. 13, 4:30–6 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 14, 9:55–11:10 a.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 15, 9:55–11:10 a.m.
Dois Pontos applies theatrical techniques to dance performance, blending dance and sign language in such a way that the narrative and choreographic compositions form a poetic whole. They build on popular Afro-Brazilian dance with ballet, folk dance, acrobatics, and contemporary dance techniques. They enrich all of those traditions with the visual vernacular techniques of sign language storytelling. And all of these pulse with rhythms that reflect the cultural weaves of Brazil, including samba, forró, and tango. In this way, the troupe addresses accessibility, inclusion, and diversity of several types. Its performances are accessible to audiences that are deaf and/or hearing.
All events are offered in person, with artists appearing virtually. No dance or signing experience is required.
Workshop on Dancing with Sign Languages:
Wednesday, Sept. 22, 4:30–5:30 p.m., the Boyer Dance Studio of LPAC
The dancers will work with participants on the creation of dance using Libras (the sign language of Brazil) and Brazilian social dances.
Contemporary Dance Masterclass:
Thursday, Sept. 23, 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m., Boyer Dance Studio, LPAC
Social Dance Masterclass:
Thursday, Sept. 23, 4:30–5:30 p.m., Dome Room, Hormel-Nguyen Intercultural Center
The dancers will teach popular Brazilian dance, including salsa, samba, and zouk.
Video Presentation of 1717:
Friday, Sept. 24, 7 p.m., Pearson-Hall Theatre, LPAC
After praying to the Madonna for good luck, three Brazilian fishermen cast their nets into a river and hauled out a black statue of the saint — followed by numerous fish. The statue of the Black Madonna became a symbol of hope for the poor, and this saint became the patron of Brazil. 1717 is a theater-dance performance inspired by that history, pulling together the country’s diverse racial, ethnic, and religious traditions.
Q&A with the Artists:
Friday, Sept. 24, 8:15 p.m., Pearson-Hall Theatre, LPAC
A border is a limit. But it also suggests possibility: a chance to approach someone on the other side. The Frontera Project brings Mexican and US artists together to lift up human stories about our southern border that too often get lost in the noise of partisan agendas and media bubbles. Specifically focused on San Diego/Tijuana, The Frontera Project explores the varied experiences of people on both sides of the border for audiences who may never have been there themselves.
This interactive theatrical experience, performed by a cast of both U.S. and Mexican actors, uses theater, music and play (in both English and Spanish) to actively engage the audience in a compassionate, often joyous conversation about La Frontera.
Conceived and Directed by Ramón Verdugo and Jessica Bauman. Text by Bárbara Perrin Rivemar
Friday, Oct. 1: 8 p.m., Pearson-Hall Theatre, LPAC
Saturday, Oct. 2: 8 p.m., Pearson-Hall Theatre
Thursday, Sept. 30 (time and location to be determined)
For many years, the name Henrietta Lacks was unknown, but thanks to author Rebecca Skloot’s phenomenal and enduring bestseller The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a growing number of people, from medical researchers to book groups to high school students, have learned more about the woman whose cells are now famous. Skloot tells the story of a young Black woman who died of cervical cancer in 1951 and left behind an inexplicably immortal line of cells known as HeLa. Henrietta Lacks’s cells — harvested without her knowledge or consent — contributed to scientific advancements as varied as the polio vaccine, treatments for cancers and viruses, in-vitro fertilization, and the impact of space travel on human cells.
Henrietta’s descendants speak candidly and poignantly about the Lacks family’s experiences and the matriarch whose cancerous cell tissue has become one of the most important medical research tools ever discovered. The Lackses’ thoughtful and personal connection to the bestselling book emphasizes how proud they are of Henrietta’s contribution to science. Their story, as told in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, has sold nearly 3 million copies around the world, has been selected as a common read by more than 250 schools, libraries, and community institutions, and adapted for the screen by HBO and Oprah.
Screening of the Movie The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Tuesday, Oct 19, 7 p.m. LPAC Cinema
Lecture Discussion with Lacks Family and Rebecca Skloot, followed by book signing:
Thursday, Oct. 21, 7 p.m., LPAC Cinema
Writing Workshop and Discussion:
Friday, Oct. 22 (time to be determined), in Singer Hall
Dyani White Hawk (Sičáŋǧu Lakota) merges modernist art strategies with Indigenous art forms, highlighting the intersections of artistic and national histories. Hear Her features mixed media paintings, photographs, and prints, as well as an eight-channel video installation titled LISTEN that introduces audiences to some of the Indigenous languages of this continent while illustrating the divide between the general American public and Native nations.
The work promotes visibility and humanization as important factors in fighting the epidemic of disappearances and murders of Native women — and about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives Movement (MMIWR) aimed at stemming the tide of this humanitarian crisis.
Lecture from Dyani White Hawk, followed by a public reception:
Thursday, Nov. 4, 4:30 p.m., LPAC Cinema
Thursday, Nov. 4 through Wednesday, Dec. 5, Tuesday through Sunday, 12–5 p.m., in the List Gallery and the LPAC lobby
For thousands of years, mathematicians have used the timeless art of logic to see the world more clearly. Today, truth is often buried under soundbites and seeing clearly is more important than ever. In this talk, Dr. Eugenia Cheng will show how anyone can think like a mathematician to understand what people are really saying. Taking a careful scalpel to politics, privilege, sexism and dozens of other real-world situations, she will show that math is not just about numbers and equations, but is about thinking better, and that it can help us find clarity without losing nuance in this complex world of ours.
Dr. Cheng received her Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Cambridge. She switched her focus to bring math to a wider audience, authoring popular math books such as How to Bake π and The Art of Logic and giving lectures and presentations around the world. Her latest book is x+y: A Mathematician’s Manifesto for Rethinking Gender.
Lecture by Dr. Eugenia Cheng
Thursday, Feb. 10, 4:30–5:30 pm in Science Center 101
Professor Margaret MacMillan is one of the world’s preeminent scholars of international relations. A best-selling author and frequent commentator in the media, she is known for her unparalleled grasp of her subject – war and peace – as well as her gift for vivid and powerful storytelling. She is currently visiting distinguished historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, emeritus professor of international history at the University of Oxford, and professor of history at the University of Toronto.
Lecture with Margaret MacMillan:
Wednesday, March 30, 7 p.m. (location to be announced)
The William J. Cooper Foundation provides a varied program of lectures, performances, and exhibitions that enrich the academic life of the College. The foundation was established by William J. Cooper, who specified that the income from his gift should be used “in bringing to the College eminent citizens of this and other countries who are leaders in statesmanship, education, the arts, sciences, learned professions, and business.”