Cultural Festival and Fusion Fest VI set for September 21; Sienkewicz Lecture to explore Mount Vesuvius survivors

MONMOUTH, ILLINOIS (September 19, 2019) — Now in its sixth year, the 24-hour play festival FusionFest will once again open the Monmouth College theatre season, once again featuring a series of student-written and student-performed 10-minute plays. But in a new twist, the action in FusionFest VI on September 21 will be viewed by an audience seated on the street. The 7:30PM performances will be staged in the storefront windows of the downtown Fusion Theatre, 230 S Main St, rather than on its regular black-box stage. Monmouth theatre professor Vanessa Campagna said there are several benefits to storefront theatre. "Storefront theatre is broadly defined, but some qualities of storefront theatre are theatres that do experimental work — FusionFest constitutes that with brand new 10-minute plays," said Campagna. "Storefront theatres tend to engage the community. Fusion Theatre constitutes that. It's called 'Fusion Theatre' because it fuses the campus with the local community" through its off-campus location.

The plays are different, too, as they currently don't exist. On the evening of September 20, a group of student playwrights will participate in a blind-drawing from a pool of directors and actors, as well as for a phrase that must be used in their new work. They will have 12 hours to write their short plays, and the directors and teams of actors they draw will then have 12 hours to rehearse the plays. "Storefront theatres are experimental," said Campagna. "We wanted to capitalize on that experimental element and put these plays in the windows. We'll have chairs set up in the street. Our business neighbors have been so kind and supportive. It'll draw people down to see it, simply because the way it's being produced is incredibly different this year."

Tickets, which are not part of the season-ticket package to College productions, are available for $5 each at

Survivors of ancient Vesuvius eruption focus of Monmouth's Sienkewicz Lecture The eruption of Italy's Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD is believed to have killed around 2,000 residents of the city of Pompeii, among its overall toll of as many as 16,000 who succumbed to the deadly lava and ash. But what about those who survived the horrific natural disaster? Steven Tuck, a professor of classics at Miami (Ohio) University, will answer that question when he delivers Monmouth College's third annual Thomas J and Anne W Sienkewicz Lecture on Roman Archaeology. Tuck will present the lecture at 7:30PM September 24 in the Pattee Auditorium on the lower level of the College's Center for Science and Business. Titled "Where Did the Pompeians Go? Searching for Survivors from the Eruption of Vesuvius, AD 79," his talk is free and open to the public. "The goal of this project is to attempt to answer definitely whether people from Pompeii and Herculaneum survived the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79 and, if so, whether survivors can be located in the Roman world," said Tuck.

Tuck's work will be published this year under the title "Harbors of Refuge: Post-Vesuvian Population Shifts in Italian Harbor Communities" in the journal Analecta Romana. It has already been profiled in several other publications, including Forbes and Archaeology. After creating eight categories of evidence that might indicate refugee resettlement — including individuals whose movement is documented, Roman family-names, voting-tribes, refugee-intermarriage, new infrastructure, and cultural evidence — Tuck created databases of family names from Pompeii, Herculaneum, and other prospective refuge cities. Analysis of the material across the eight categories found that the coastal communities of Cumae, Naples, Puteoli, and Ostia provide the best support for refugee-resettlement.

"For example, at Cumae, two members of the Sulpicius family recorded at Pompeii late in the life of the city died at Cumae in the late first century," said Tuck. "They were joined there by members of the Pompeian branches of the Licinii and Lucretii, who intermarried in the new city." Tuck said the patterns indicate that more people survived from Pompeii than from Herculaneum, that most stayed in coastal Campania, and that government-intervention and support came after resettlement, but it did not drive it. The author of A History of Roman Art and many articles and chapters on Roman art, especially Roman sculpture, Tuck also publishes on Latin epigraphy and on spectacle entertainments in the Roman world. He has received nine honors for undergraduate teaching, including the Archaeological Institute of America Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award. Tuck earned his doctorate in classical art and archaeology from the University of Michigan. The Sienkewicz Lecture series was created last year by an anonymous donor to honor longtime Monmouth classics professor Tom Sienkewicz and his wife, Anne. "The generous donor who has endowed the Sienkewicz Lecture series has allowed Monmouth to bring in some of the most prominent Roman archaeologists in the field to share their fascinating research," said Monmouth classics professor Bob Simmons, who succeeded Sienkewicz as chair of the department. Sienkewicz was the Monmouth Minnie Billings Capron Chair of Classics from 1985-2017. During his first year on the faculty, he founded the Western Illinois Society of the Archaeological Institute of America, which has hosted scores of archaeological lectures on campus. From 2012-17, Sienkewicz served the Classical Association of the Middle West and South as its chief executive and financial officer. Anne Sienkewicz has been a loyal supporter of archaeology and over the years has hosted countless speakers.

Monmouth College's annual Cultural Festival hits quarter-century mark on September 21

Monmouth College's popular Cultural Festival turns 25 this year. The annual event, scheduled for 11AM-2:30PM September 21 on Dunlap Terrace, will showcase countries that are represented by Monmouth's current international students. The rain-site is the Glennie Gymnasium. Free and open to the public, the festival will include food sampling from 11:30AM-1:30PM and cultural entertainment, some of it provided by Monmouth student organizations. "The Cultural Festival has become a wonderful tradition for the College and the Office of Intercultural Life," said Director of Multicultural Student Service Regina Johnson. "More importantly, it's an opportunity for students to celebrate where they come from. While not all students participate in tabling, they still share via their traditional dress from their countries or by their talent reflecting tradition in dance, song or poetry." Five of Monmouth's first-year international students will participate in tabling: Nyasaina Angela Kwamboka of Kenya, Sreya Roy of India, Gabriela Madu of Jamaica, Ali Sabtain of Pakistan, and Rediet Tesema of Ethiopia. Ghanaian students Naa Commey ('22) and Justin Opam ('21) will also have a table, as will Monmouth student organizations Umoja and Raices. The College's Colorful Voices of Praise will perform shortly before noon, followed by a traditional Indian dance by Roy. Abierre Minor ('21) of Chicago will present a spoken word piece at 1:10PM. Monmouth's Highland Harmonizers will sing at about 1:20PM, followed immediately by a singing performance by Madu. Two groups from Chicago and another from the Quad Cities will also take the stage. Chicago's Mariachi Show Sol de Oro will perform at 11AM, and the Potts and Pans Steel Band will play at 12:20PM. The Teranga Dance and Drum Circle from the Quad Cities will perform at 1:40PM.

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