An Art/Science Experiment with Tea, Chocolate Cake and iPads

The Center for the Arts has had a deeply creative relationship with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange for the past eight years.  This Thursday, we partner with the company on an experiment that explores these questions:  What happens when you take the theatrical experience and place it at the heart of the campus in a non-traditional setting?  What happens when you employ the arts as a means of entering into scientific questions?  What’s it like to sit at a table with tea and chocolate cake and have a facilitated conversation about where we come from? (And you aid this exchange with iPads, projections, dancers, and yes, Wesleyan faculty, too!) We’ll see this Thursday when Time Has Set the Table for Tea: A Matter of Origins Project is presented at Beckham Hall at 7pm and 9:30pm.

Liz Lerman talks about the origins of this project:

It happened that the summer before meeting Gordy [Gordon Kane, Director of the Michigan Center for Theoretical Physics] I’d read a wonderful book, Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin’ s American Prometheus, about J. Robert Oppenheimer, who directed the atomic weapons research activities at Los Alamos during World War II. In it, one sentence in particular caught my eye and my inner ear: the mention of Edith Warner, whom Oppenheimer had hired to feed some of his fellow physicists on the secret project a few nights a week at her desert tea house. In an instant I imagined these people in her little space, eating, talking, questioning, wondering, and I mused on the possibility of the same for an audience.

[Time Has Set the Table for Tea] is inspired by tea house gatherings of Edith Warner, and the question of what could happen if we combined the active minds of you in a convivial atmosphere with a few stimulants: tea, cake, a team of table hosts (we call them provocateurs) from diverse backgrounds … along with a few surprises. It is a laboratory of its own, so find your table setting and join us for this experiment, a chance to converse, react, muse, or just observe, listen and enjoy Edith’s own chocolate cake recipe.

Thursday, February 24, 7pm & 9:30pm
Fayerweather Beckham Hall
$4 Wesleyan students,
$5 all others

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts

4 thoughts on “An Art/Science Experiment with Tea, Chocolate Cake and iPads”

  1. What a wholly enjoyable evening! The dancers were there amongst us, so we could hear their breathing, feel their footfalls, as well as appreciate the beauty of the dance. Then there was our table, a mix of faculty, staff, students, and visiting professional dancers. We ate cake, we drank tea, we talked. We had excellent discussions, although often too short, exploring issues of truth, trust and risk in science and the importance of exploration and research to both art and science. We even touched on the nature (and inadequacies) of early education in the arts and sciences…one minimizes the roles of research and rigor and the other, the roles of creativity and self-expression (guess which is which?). It was the most fully engaging performance I’ve ever attended. Bravo!

  2. ‘Twas a sparkling evening, nothing like any previous experience. It was unfortunate that there had to be two seatings, since there should have been more time for discussion led by the “provocateurs.” The dancers (including servers who are not part of the core company) were superb. The tea was cold but the cake was marvelous. Let’s do it again!

  3. I really loved this! I know that after a performance I am dying to talk about everything I saw so it was wonderful to be able to do that. The Provocateur at our table (Pam) had some fabulous questions to start us off. My daughter, who is 7, kept asking if she could join the dancers and Pam made sure to include her in the conversation. It was a GREAT and stimulating show.

  4. I wish we had had more time for discussion between sections. Our table would just be getting started when the conversation would have to stop. In particular, we didn’t get to hear enough from the students, who were more reticent in a mixed group than the faculty were.

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