Art Stories: Students Giving Voice to Art

During Fall and Winter Terms 20-21, a year marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, Jemma Alix Levy, Associate Professor of Acting and Directing, taught THTR 141: Acting I. Each semester, for one of the class projects, she assigned each of her students to write and perform a monologue using the art collections of the Museums at W&L as inspiration. The goal was a creative response rather than a research project, so while some students chose to include information about their specific artwork, artist, subject, or historical period in their performances, absolute accuracy was not a concern. 

During the course of these two classes, each student selected a painting, print or sculpture from among many displayed across campus. They examined the works and wrote a monologue to be spoken by the artwork (or one of the figures or objects in it).  The students then made audio recordings of their monologues. This online exhibition is a compilation of many of their contributions. We hope you enjoy reading and listening to the theatrical work of these talented students.

In planning this assignment, Levy was inspired by the “Talking Statues” project that began in Copenhagen in 2013 and quickly spread throughout the world. Authors wrote dialogue for select statues —mostly cultural figures — and actors gave them voice. Using a smartphone and a QR code located on a traditional identification label, visitors can now connect with the statue, who “calls” the person, and learn about their history. There is also “an app for that.”

For information on the artwork that is in the collection of the Museums at W&L, click on each photograph.


THTR 141: Acting 1 students, Fall 2020 and Winter 2021; Jemma Alix Levy, Associate Professor of Acting and Directing; and Patricia A. Hobbs, Senior Curator of Art, Museums at W&L