The University’s Center for Creativity and Arts and Atlanta’s Alliance Theater are teaming up to present a new artistic series as part of a national program to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

Emory is among four other universities, including Harvard University (Mass.), George Washington University (D.C.) and the University of Maryland, to partner with their regional performing arts groups and theaters to develop works that seek to delve into angles of the Civil War as part of the National Civil War Project.

U.S Poet Laureate and Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing Natasha Trethewey’s poetry collection entitled “Native Guard” will inspire the series.
The “Native Guard” collection focuses on the story of the Louisiana Native Guards, which was an all-black regiment in the Union army during the Civil War.

According to Lisa Paulsen, the director of the Playwriting Center of Theater Emory, this type of partnership is unique.

“An ongoing partnership between research universities and professional theaters across the country, coming together to explore a particular topic over several years, has not been done on this scale to my knowledge,” Paulsen wrote in an email to the Wheel.

The three-year collaboration will focus on several Civil War-focused projects, including research activities and a panel discussion hosted by the Emory Center for Ethics, a theatrical stage adaptation of “Native Guard” and a developmental workshop, according to an Apr. 11 University press release.

“The originators of the thematic concept felt that as we were coming to the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, that this was an apt time to explore the past, present and future of the effects of the Civil War in America,” Leslie Taylor, a professor of theater studies and the director of the Center, wrote in an email to the Wheel.

Students will be involved in all of the developmental projects that are undertaken as part of the series, according to Paulsen.

“I’m optimistic not only about what we might learn about our current relationship to the Civil War and the powerful works that we hope to contribute to the American theatrical canon but also the model for meaningful and production partnerships between academia and non-profit arts organizations,” Paulson wrote.

–By Dustin Slade