Italian Actor Leads Workshop, Performs at Rochester

By Caitlin Mack
Univ. Communications

Students at the University of Rochester will have the opportunity to learn from Italian actor and translator Mario Pirovano during a workshop on “The Art of Storytelling.”   The workshop, which is from noon to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 10,  in Drama House, features a two-hour segment in English from noon to 2 p.m. and one-hour segment in Italian from 2 to 3 p.m.  Pirovano aims to show the audience how “to conquer scenic space,” “use the body to support the voice,” and “show how one can tell a story without scenes, music, videos, or costumes.”

Pirovano also will host a showing of Francis, the Holy Jester (1997), a play by Nobel Prize Winner in Literature and renowned Italian playwright, Dario Fo, at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 10, in the sanctuary of the Interfaith Chapel.  Pirovano, a long time disciple, collaborator, and artistic heir of Fo’s, translated his masterpiece “Lu santu jullare Francesco” (1999) into English as “Francis, the Holy Jester.”  Wednesday’s performance will be the first time the play is performed for an American audience. The event is free and open to the public and includes refreshments and a book signing in the lobby following the performance.

According to Donatella Stocchi-Perucchio, associate professor of Italian and organizer of Pirovano’s appearance at the U of R, the event “serves the aims of the Humanities Project as a point of intersection of several disciplines, departments, and programs, including Italian language and literature, medieval studies, religion, theater, music, and translation studies.”

She also hopes to “attract students of the Italian language towards theater as a powerful tool for language and culture acquisition.”

The event is sponsored by the Humanities Project, University of Rochester, and co-sponsored by the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, the MLC Italian Program, the Department of History, the Cluster on Pre-Modern Studies, the J. H. Newman Chair in Roman Catholic Studies, The Drama House, The Department of Modern Languages and Cultures of the Rochester Institute of Technology, and an anonymous donor.

University of Rochester Launches Online Exhibit of Largest Collection of AIDS Education Posters

Univ. Communications – When Edward Atwater, M.D.,’50 boarded a subway car on Boston’s Red Line in the early 90s he found himself staring at a poster unlike any he had seen before. It showed two hands, a condom wrapper, and text reading Prevent AIDS. Use One. Intrigued by what he saw, Atwater began to track how different societies viewed and responded to the worldwide epidemic through posters and other public messages, eventually gathering together the largest collection of AIDS posters in the world.

The Atwater collection of AIDS posters is now online, providing a visual history of the first three decades of the HIV/AIDS crisis from 1981 to the present. Launched in October during the 30th anniversary year of the identification of the disease, the online exhibit consists of more than 6,200 posters from 100 plus countries in 60 languages. While selections of the posters have been exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum of Art and other locations, the online collection provides the first opportunity to view the collection in its entirety.

“I started collecting the posters to chronicle the history of medicine but soon realized that they represent more of a social history than a medical history,” said Atwater, emeritus professor of medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center and a self-professed collector who lives in Rochester. That realization led the now 85-year-old retired physician to donate his collection to the Rare Books and Special Collections Library at the University, with the stipulation that it be digitized and put online. By giving people around the world access to the collection online, Atwater’s hope is to show people the responses from various societies to a deadly disease.

Looked at chronologically, the AIDS posters show how social, religious, civic, and public health agencies tailored their message to different groups. Depending on their audience, they used stereotypes, scare tactics, provocative language, imagery, and even humor. “The posters also show how regions, cultures, and religions influenced the message,” said Atwater.

“The Atwater collection of AIDS education posters tells a great deal about different societies’ understanding of sexuality and raises questions about the politics of visibility over the past 30 years,” said Joan Saab, professor of art history and director of Rochester’s graduate program for visual cultural studies. “When thinking about the history of AIDS, the story needs to be told from every angle. This includes graphic and controversial topics like sex and drugs and the different responses of filmmakers who choose to communicate awareness through public service announcements and artists who lend their voice and work towards the cause,” said Saab.

Using the posters as a starting point, Saab and her colleagues have organized a series of events and discussions to draw attention to the relationship between AIDS and global culture in art, academia, and medicine. Looking at AIDS 30 Years On kicks off on Thursday, Oct. 27 with a talk by AIDS Pioneer Michael Gottlieb, M.D., ’73M who wrote the first report to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in 1981 identifying AIDS as a new disease.

Sponsored by the University’s Humanities Project, an interdepartmental endeavor that supports humanistic inquiry by Rochester faculty, the project’s events are free and open to the public. For more information and a list of upcoming events, visit www.rochester.edu/college/humanities.

To access the Atwater AIDS education posters collection online visit http://aep.lib.rochester.edu/. In addition to searching the posters, the site contains research conducted by Rochester students who have used the collections, an introduction to the collection by Alexander Breier Marr, a doctoral student in visual and cultural studies, and links to additional AIDS educational resources.

Article written by Valerie Alhart, University Communications. Photos courtesy of Rare Books and Special Collections Library at the University.