Stanton Davis, associate professor in the School of Theatre and Dance and Kerry Wilks, dean of the NIU Graduate School and associate vice president for International Affairs presented at the international Hispanic Classical Theater Conference in El Paso, Texas last semester.
Their presentation featured video clips from the spring 2023 NIU production of Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s Life is a Dream.
The pair discussed the effort to contextualize a 400 year old Spanish play for a modern audience, and Davis explained how he came to directorial decisions like the addition of a Greek-style chorus and use of movement etudes and ritualized stage combat, which he says focused the text and clarified the action of the conflict.
Davis says he and Wilks talked about the need to diversify classical theater beyond it’s present scope to include the classical theatrical traditions of so much of the rest of the world.
Ben Gunter, artistic director of Theater With A Mission attended the conference and said, “The extraordinary breadth of Stanton’s knowledge, the exceptional brightness of his curiosity, and the deep warmth of his compassion make him stimulating company. His formal presentation was top-notch. Well-documented, thought-provoking, challenging, and instructive. An impressive example of theater pedagogy. His contributions during discussions were eye-opening, always constructive, invariably insightful, constantly forging productive connections across disciplinary boundaries.”
Darci Strother, chair of the Department of Modern Language Studies at California State University San Marcos said, “Stanton’s presence at the AHCT conference made the conference more valuable and enriching for everyone who attended. He asked great questions and helped us view our discipline from new angles. Stanton’s presentation with Kerry also offered an example of exciting work that can happen through collaboration.”
“The conference was mind blowing in it’s scope,” Davis said. “I was welcomed into a generous community of committed scholars and artists I never really new exited. I hope to keep these new relationships alive and grow new connections for our students and community in an underserved area of our discipline.”
Top photo: 2023 NIU production of Life is a Dream