By Sherri KimmelIt’s late April, and the Freer Ensemble Theater is dimly lit but very alive. Actors limber up onstage, doing the hokey pokey, while the whomp, whomp of live drumming down the hall offers ambient sound. Fernando Maldonado ’13 sits, hands resting on his laptop keyboard, staring intently at a small, blank screen suspended above the stage. Beside him is Matt Saunders, assistant professor of design and adviser for Maldonado’s independent study in integrated media design. Maldonado serves as projection designer for Meryl Sands ’13’s ensemble-created magical-realism piece, Unstuck. Saunders is her set designer and independent-study adviser. Three days before Unstuck’s debut, Maldonado and Saunders are stumped by a failure in technology.
By Carol Brévart-DemmSwarthmore’s Rare Book Room exudes all the mystery of a treasure chamber. It’s really difficult to find,undefined behind a locked wooden door at the end of a short, dark hallway on the top floor of McCabe Library. You need permission to enter. Anne Garrison, the humanities and book-arts librarian and curator of the book-arts collection since 2004, is the genie who lets you in. Dimly lit, with few windows—to protect the fragile works from light damage—and smelling pleasantly of old paper, the Rare Book Room is a magical place filled with spellbinding books. Some are centuries old, others not so old. Some are in disguise or even shape-shifters.
By Amy Stone ’64Breaking through barriers has been a way of life for Ike Schambelan ’61 since his Swarthmore days as a theater-loving student who chose to live in a residence hall peopled by athletes. For the last three decades, he’s continued to break down barriers—shaking up the New York theater status quo by giving actors and stage crew with disabilities the chance to shine Off-Broadway. Schambelan began Theater By The Blind in 1980 as “a gimmick to direct.” Five years ago, he changed the company’s name to Theater Breaking Through Boundaries (TBTB) and expanded its mission to include actors with disabilities other than visual impairment.
Quick! What do a glittery singer on the rise, a water-dice-devising artist, an ascending classical-music composer, a feature-film hit maker, and a genre-bending juggler have in common? A Swarthmore degree, of course. Known as an incubator for free and creative thinkers, the College has long provided a solid foundation for traditional artists and performers as well as those who are regarded as outliers. The following pages offer a sampling of those on the fringe and those working in a more traditional framework. Enjoy!
By Rebecca ChoppIn my four years at Swarthmore, among the many things I’ve learned is that our alumni take great pride in the intensity of the experience they had here, both inside and outside the classroom. They recall fondly the almost constant dialogue and spirited debate. More than a few have conveyed to me that their intense Swarthmore experience offered distinctive mental, emotional, and physical training for the real world, a world in which freedom with responsibility is constantly in demand within their communities and their professions.
Spending time with this disarmingly moving book by Rachel Neumann ’92 is like sitting across a table with a close friend, sharing a meal—“friends, warm food, light elemental”—or simply a cup of nettle tea, “breathing and riding waves of joy and sadness as they fall.” Neumann evokes the virtues of “Interbeing,” using the vocabulary of Vietnamese monk and Buddhist activist Thich Nhat Hanh, when she speaks about patiently cultivating connections with others—being “available,” “engaged,” “connected”—and of creating intentional forms of community with our erstwhile neighbors—“the easy ones and the hard ones.”