School of Arts and Communication

Spring 2013 FOCUS Series


Challenging our assumptions about the way things are and can be.

The 2012-13 SOAC Focus Series theme of empowerment explores the creative and artistic dimensions of the social process that fosters power in people for use in their own lives, communities and in their societies, by acting on issues they define as important.

The focus series brings together SOAC’s talented students and faculty to focus on a common theme through a multi-disciplinary approach. These events present each discipline – Art & Design, Communication, Music and Theatre – dynamically interpreting “empowerment” through the panorama of their respective discipline. Each year, the theme selected will be relevant, timely, and appropriate to the mission of SOAC and PLU.

Friday, March 8: How I Learned to Drive

In the play, How I Learned to Drive, the audience is urged to examine their relationship with the term “empowerment” and what it means to them as individuals.

Thursday, March 14: Art and the Holocaust: Understanding Aesthetic Experience as Empowerment

What role can the experience of art play in our understanding of the Holocaust? Including a performance of Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time”

Thursday, April 11: Beyond Burkas and Bombers: Anti-Muslim Sentiment in America

With this film, the MediaLab team opens a discussion about a largely marginalized portion of American society and explores how Islam is defined in America, and how they might hope to counter negative stereotypes.

Saturday, May 11: Cosmosis

The University Wind Ensemble and University Singers perform “Cosmosis”, a composition about how the quest for scientific discovery has empowered and shaped our society for our entire history.


March 8, 2013 – 7:30 pm

How I Learned to Drive

How I Learned to Drive urges us to examine our own relationship with the term “empowerment” and what it means to us as individuals. As the play shifts the balance between victimization and empowerment, it makes simple judgment impossible as no character is painted as a clear victim. The play is strong, because it challenges our point of view.

A post-performance discussion will be held immediately following the show. Meet with members of the artistic staff and cast and gain insight into the author’s work and production process. The audience is encouraged to participate in this open format, and offer their own insight, experiences or questions relating to empowerment.






March 14, 2013 – 3:40pm

Art and the Holocaust: Understanding Aesthetic Experience as Empowerment

Professor Heather Mathews, Lecturer

Location: Lagerquist Concert Hall, Mary Baker Russell Music Center

What role can the experience of art play in our understanding of the Holocaust? In this session, we examine artworks as tools of empowerment, from the point of view of both the victim and the descendants of the perpetrators. We look first at paintings and objects made post-war to address the issue of German guilt, and end with a performance of Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time” by PLU faculty members – Cameron Bennett, piano, Svend Rønning, violin, Craig Rine, clarinet, and Richard Treat, cello.   This work was premiered during World War II in Stalag VIII-A, a prisoner-of-war camp in Görlitz, Germany, outdoors and in the rain, on January 15, 1941 to an audience of fellow prisoners and guards. Messiaen performed on piano with musicians he met on the journey to the camp. This event is held in conjunction with the 2013 Holocaust Conference.


April 11, 2013 – 7pm

Beyond Burkas and Bombers: Anti-Muslim Sentiment in America

Presented by MediaLab

In the past decade since the tragic events of September 11, anti-Muslim sentiment has become increasingly prevalent in America. This phenomenon, referred to by many as “Islamophobia,” has lead to a significant fear of an unknown and largely misunderstood world religion. By 2010, TIME Magazine reported that an astonishing 62 percent of Americans had still never met a Muslim, however much of the American population holds an opinion of this group.

With the production of this empowering film, the award-winning MediaLab team has set out to open a discussion about a largely marginalized portion of American society, explore how Islam is defined in America, and to counter negative impressions and stereotypes. While empowerment can be difficult to implement effectively, it can begin with the simple act of creating a personal connection to breakdown harmful stereotypes. Delving into their own personal experiences with Islamophobia, award-winning Muslim comedians Dean Obeidallah and The Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi explain comedy’s role in combating media’s negative portrayal of the American Muslim minority. The MediaLab production team, made up of students from across SOAC and various departments at PLU, goes one step further to empower the audience. During the event, follow us on Twitter with the hashtag #beyondbombers and lend your voice to the conversation.

Watch from anywhere – we’ll be streaming live.

Location: The Studio Theater in the Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts


May 11, 2013 – 8 pm

Cosmosis: University Wind Ensemble, University Singers

Susan Botti, Composer

Edwin Powell and Brian Galante, Directors

Cosmosis composer, Susan Botti, sets two texts by American poet May Swenson. The first movement uses the text of “Overboard,” and musically depicts the effects of gravity.

In the second and third movements, the effects of gravity are released as Botti sets Swenson’s fictional musings on the first American space station, Skylab, and an experiment to test if a spider could spin a web in space. Though Skylab ultimately lost orbital integrity and came crashing to Earth, the lessons learned shaped future space missions. The quest for scientific discovery has empowered and shaped our society for our entire history. We discover valuable things through triumph in discovery and learning through failure.

This is a multi-media production. In the third part of the performance join us in the Mary Baker Russell Amphitheater for a science lab.

Location: Lagerquist Concert Hall, MBR

Tickets: $8 general admission, $5 senior citizens (55+), $3 alumni, free 18 and under. Tickets available at PLU Concierge Desk (253 535 7411)