November 05, 2007

'The Academy' explores academic life

by Andrea Hahn


CARBONDALE, Ill. — So, how does Professor X really feel about that student who seems unable to get beyond self-censoring and is inhibited about learning? Or the really remarkable project presented by a back-row student who seems suddenly to have become inspired by the material?

"The Academy," coming to Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Kleinau Theater for three performances, may not answer every question a student ever had about what a professor may or may not think, but it promises to offer a glimpse of the "inner workings of academic life." Ron Pelias, professor of speech communication and director of graduate studies in that department, wrote and directs the performance. Seven SIUC speech communication graduate students perform, each of them with multiple roles.

"The show is a compiled script of published stories and reflections, written by scholars within the field of speech communication, that put on display the struggles and joys of life in the academy," Pelias said.

Kleinau Theater performances begin at 8 p.m. The show runs Nov. 8-Nov. 10. General admission is $7; students get in for $5.

"The Academy" also plays, by invitation, at 5 p.m. on Nov. 16 at the Chicago Hilton to the National Communication Association at its 93rd annual convention. The convention includes more than 1,200 sessions of academic papers and presentations with more than 4,000 participants expected. "The Academy" is a Spotlight Performance.

Arthur P. Bochner, this year's program planner and the first vice president of the NCA, invited Pelias to create the show. "I was indeed honored to be asked to do a featured presentation at our national organization," Pelias said. "This production will give our students a wonderful opportunity for national exposure as well as further the reputation of the performance studies area within our department. To my knowledge, this is the first time a first vice president of NCA has featured a production for the convention."

Pelias is the author or co-author of four books and more than a dozen articles in scholarly journals. His public performances, often original pieces, debut at SIUC and other universities as well as at speech conventions and performance art festivals. He specializes in performance studies, including performance methodologies and performance composition as well as literary and performance theory.

The graduate students in the performance are:


Evanston – Janet Donoghue

Oak Brook – Christopher Collins


Waterloo – Aubrey Huber


Coral Springs –Patrick Santoro


Lincoln – Charles Parrott

Sidney – David Sharp


Cape Breton, Novia Scotia – Shauna MacDonald