May 13, 2004 • Volume 12 Number 17
For Arts at BC, a Time to Shine
If good luck is the residue of hard work, then so perhaps is good weather, as far as the organizers of the Boston College Arts Festival are concerned.
After five years of enduring the unseasonably cool temperatures, brisk winds and pelting rain so common to New England in spring, this year the Arts Festival was rewarded with three days of sunshine and mild air when it took place April 29-May 1.
The pleasant weather added to festival-goers' enjoyment of the array of music, dance, dramatic performances, literary and poetry readings, film screenings, and other activities on campus. It also made for an ideal homecoming for 1987 alumnus Ellis Paul (nee Paul Plissey), who presented a concert on O'Neill Plaza on April 30 and the next day received the Arts Council's alumni award for artistic achievement.
A few hours before his concert, Paul - a widely-admired singer-songwriter in the urbane "folk-pop" style he helped popularize during the 1990s - relaxed on a bench along Linden Lane and reflected on a career which had its origins, for better and worse, on this very campus.
Part of the story has become a familiar one over time. A native of Maine, Paul came to BC as a sure-fire track star, only to suffer a debilitating knee injury that laid him up for what seemed like an eternity. Looking for diversion, Paul - whose first instrument was trumpet - borrowed a guitar from his girlfriend's sister and subsequently found his muse and his calling. He has since enjoyed considerable artistic success, and some commercial as well, his songs appearing on several TV shows and movie soundtracks.
But Paul says his undergraduate years at BC were formative in other ways. "I love writing, and I love reading, and I got to do a lot of both while I was here. Whether it was taking contemporary fiction, or reading James Joyce, or studying the poetry of John Donne, all of it made an impression on me.
"I always consider my songwriting to be a combination of poetry and fiction, trying to include an element of story-telling with enough universal overtones with which people can identify, to capture a mental picture they can focus on.
"I think I'm applying what I learned from fiction writing all those years ago," said Paul, gesturing in the direction of Lyons Hall, home to classrooms and faculty offices from his days as an English major.
"In fact," he quipped, "I tell my parents, 'See, this is how I'm using my English degree.'"
Along with Paul, the Arts Council also presented achievement awards to part-time faculty member Hubert Walters, director of Voices of Imani [see separate story on p. 5], and students Jennifer Mingucci '04, Paul Schutz '04, Krista D'Agostino '05 and Elyse Mallouk '06.
Mingucci, a theater and philosophy major from Union, NJ, has appeared in several theatrical productions at BC, and drawn praise for her stints as a stage manager, acting coach and assistant director.
Schutz, an English and music major in the College of Arts and Sciences Honors Program from Evansville, Ind., has been active in many University music ensembles, including the Boston College Concert Band - with which he has premiered three original compositions - and Brass Choir, and at St. Ignatius Church. He also produced a documentary film and has worked on projects with Fine Arts chairman and filmmaker John Michalczyk.
D'Agostino is a theater major from Winthrop, Mass., who has been part of a student theater group that performs interactive-improv-murder mystery comedy shows, and acted in or worked on numerous Robsham Theater productions. She will serve as vice president of the Dramatics Society of Boston College next year.
Mallouk, from Huntington, NY, has maintained a 4.0 average with a major in studio art and English and a minor in philosophy. She has served on the Stylus review board and plans to study abroad next year in England at the University College and at the Slade School of Fine Art.
For more information on the festival, see www.bc.edu/arts.
-Sean Smith •