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Workshop highlights

For the full CommFest schedule, visit

Friday, April 20

A Conversation with Rocky Wirtz

2-3:30 p.m. | Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts - 1949 Campus Drive - Room 201

Northwestern School of Communication alumnus and University Trustee Rocky Wirtz (C75) is one of the savviest minds in organizational leadership. As the principal owner and chairman of the Chicago Blackhawks and its parent company, Wirtz took a losing team and quickly turned it into a Stanley Cup-winning club and marketing sensation. Michelle Shumate, communication studies professor and faculty director of the Master of Science in Communication program, will sit down with Wirtz for a candid discussion about leadership, effective reorganization and change management.

Acting the Northwestern Way

2-3:30 p.m. | Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts - 1949 Campus Drive - Room 101

Would you like to revisit acting class? Come watch or explore Cindy Gold’s workshop for alumni. We will demonstrate current techniques with current undergraduate students, including improvisation, mask work and Laban effort factors. Alumni are invited to participate or observe.

Waa-Mu Sneak Peak: “Manhattan Miracle” Open Rehearsal

4-5 p.m. | Cahn Auditorium - 600 Emerson St.

Get an exclusive first look at the 2018 Waa-Mu Show, “Manhattan Miracle,” through an exciting and rare open rehearsal. Enjoy a selection of songs and scenes from this extraordinary student-driven musical tradition, and get a sneak peak at a working rehearsal just a few weeks before the show opens. Known as “the greatest college show in America,” Waa-Mu brings together 200 undergraduates annually to write, orchestrate, manage, choreograph, design and, of course, perform an original work of musical theater.

Saturday, April 21

Trump and the Media: Understanding the Present and Future of the News and Social Media

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. | Annie May Swift Hall - 1920 Campus Drive - Helmerich Auditorium

Communication studies professor and author Pablo Boczkowski will moderate a discussion among media experts about President Donald Trump and his relationship with the press. The panelists — Rod Benson (New York University), Gina Neff (University of Oxford), Sue Robinson (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Michael Schudson (Columbia University)— are contributors to "Trump and the Media," the volume that Boczkowski co-edited together with Zizi Papacharissi.

The Art of Puppetry: A Discussion with a “War Horse” Puppeteer and More

12:15-1:30 p.m. | Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts - 1949 Campus Drive - Room 201

This event features Northwestern Department of Theatre associate professor and theater historian Dassia Posner in conversation with South African playwright, scholar and Northwestern alumna Jane Taylor (author of "Ubu" and "The Truth Commission") and U.S.-based puppeteer and director Tom Lee (puppeteer in "War Horse" on Broadway). The conversation will explore the imaginative, cultural, and ethical relevance of contemporary puppetry and object theatre, punctuated by images of the artists’ past and current projects and a live demonstration of Japanese traditional puppetry.

You are The Ocean: Interactive Art in Virtual Worlds

12:30-1:30 p.m. | Kresge Hall - 1880 Campus Drive - First floor

The human body does not begin and end with the skin. The boundary between the human body and the rest of the world is permeable. You are the Ocean, a large-scale interactive installation created by assistant professor of radio/television/film Ozge Samanci, generates ocean waves and clouds in response to brain waves of a single participant. Water, light, clouds and lightning are realistically simulated by computer code. A participant wears an EEG (electroencephalography) headset that measures the user’s approximate attention and meditation levels via brain waves. Through relaxation and concentration, the subject can control the water and sky. Attention level affects storminess; with higher concentration, the waves get higher and the clouds thicken. By calming her mind, the subject can create a calm ocean. Samanci will collaborate with dance program director Joel Valentin-Martinez for this event.


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