Hopkins Center, Dartmouth

Posted in Uncategorized | April 9, 2008 | by emilyharney | Leave a Comment

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Catching the bus from Boston to Hanover was a little tricky because with the two big boxes of screens, it was more luggage than we could carry, although we had Maggie to help us. We got a porter at the transport terminal, and caught the bus. I liked the bus, you could see more.
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Dartmouth College one of the Ivy League Universities and it dominates the town of Hanover. The buildings are beautiful, set around a village square, and the facilities lavish. The film Animal House was shot here, and people tell me that there is a drinking yahoo culture here but unfortunately all I met seemed staid. Our hotel was owned by the University and situated on the square; comfortable with elements like the fittings slightly old fashioned, due to university heritage restrictions, but nice.
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During our stay there was a beautiful fall of snow one morning. I was able to get out in it. It was so exciting, although the locals rolled their eyes at my ecstatic comments and said, “When’s spring coming, it’s been snowing since November, we are so over snow.”

The Hopkins Center of Dartmouth College was our host. Margaret Lawrence, the program director, had seen Shadows in Adelaide in 2002, and she had been keen to get the piece over since then. They have quite an extensive performance program.
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We were here the best part of a week and Colin and I had a program of talks and workshops for students, both school and university. Sometimes we were separate and sometimes together. We talked to medical students and Native American students; I talked to several groups of photographic students. At one of these talks one of the students from an advanced group said, “I’ve seen your website and there is a lot of raunchy gay photos there, why didn’t you show more of them.” I explained that I’d put the shows together for school children and it was conservative, but I took his advice and included more. Certainly for the gay and lesbian group who hosted a talk. I always fantasize that there will be spunky students at my talk who will become groupies. But there were none, although the talk went well.

Our best gig was at the house of a professor, Susan. The university provided her with a very nice house on campus (the position was rotated every two years), and she was sort of mother to a block or cluster of students. She often provided entertainment and socialization for them. At this event a take out Thai dinner was served to about 20 students and friends in her living room, a very cozy setting. Colin played, and I did a talk about my Chinese origins/family. Colin told me the Taiwanese girl next to him gave deep, guttural sighs of recognition during the talk where she had obviously connected in some way.

I had a connection with the Hood Museum, which is also part of the University. They had a very good collection, the main piece was five magnificent Assyrian stone reliefs, similar to ones in the British Museum but in excellent condition. Their current exhibition had a decidedly contemporary tone and it was about depictions of black women.

The director, Brian Kennedy, I knew from the time he was director of ANG in Canberra, and he had invited me to give a public lecture at the Hood Museum. This went very well. I inserted some of my “raunchy gay photos” which seemed to go over well. In this context, the gay content was seen in educational terms, not commercial terms (of how many people would this attract). I have been giving the generic talk at various places along the tour and I had more or less perfected it here.

Brian hosted a dinner of about 20 Hood alumni and friends after the lecture. Everyone was well educated and socially adept. Brian was a charming host, who led the conversation. The dinner was held at the hotel.

Previously Brian had taken me to lunch where he ate boar sausages and told me that hunting wild creatures is big in New Hampshire, and they have a state motto, “Live free or die.” After lunch he pointed out some interesting things on campus including an Orozco mural in the library which was commissioned in the thirties and which had caused a controversy. The facilities were immaculate and I heard that classes of only eight students are not unusual.

Emily from MAPP visited and took us to lunch. She had brought her parents from a nearby town to see the show. We were delighted to meet her as we had had a year-long email correspondence but had not met face to face.

All the extra curricular activity helped build an audience of 250+ for the one performance at Spalding Theatre. The theatre capacity was 700 but that was a good enough number to play to. The theatre had been built for music concerts so the sound system and acoustics were excellent. I was in good voice (the cold I was coming down with in Chicago had not developed) and Colin was pleased with his playing. It was perhaps the best performance we did. We got a standing ovation at the end from sections of the audience. In other places patches of people had stood up but this was the first time en masse. About 60 people stayed for the question and answer after the performance, which was a good number, said Margaret, who led the discussion. She knew practically every one in the audience, it was that kind of community.

Margaret took us to supper after the show; there was a late night place, the Canoe Club, which served nice hamburgers, with the meat cooked rare. We all agreed the week had gone extremely well.

We caught the plane at Lebanon, a nearby town, for New York and beyond, Colin and Gordon returned back to Sydney and I went to Los Angeles to visit my sister. We thought because it was a remote area the security would be relaxed. No such luck, they singled us out as irregular. They went though every bag of mine, all of Colin’s instruments, and they took Gordon behind a screen to check out his hunch. I was irregular because I was the only non-Caucasian on the flight, Colin had irregular instruments and Gordon was an irregular shape. The only other person who was searched was a person who had his leg in plaster from a skiing accident.

I did enjoy flying out over the snowy landscape.