“Arts and Authors” showcases professors’ works

Communication Arts Professor Kate Caffrey and Art Professor Paul Yalowitz shared their newly published books with faculty and students in the Ecumenical Center on Wednesday afternoon.

This event series, titled “Art and Authors,” is meant to open the window into this field of work while also promoting the books written by FSU faculty members. Both professors discussed their process, motives of creation and shared a brief reading from their respective books.

Caffrey originally wrote an acting book and only came to write “Celebrating Live Theatre” after being prompted by her publisher. This introductory theater book needed to cover a wide variety of material, therefore enabling Caffrey to research unfamiliar topics and further her development as a professor.

Caffrey used her lack of experience in performance art as an opportunity to connect with people in her community who had studied and seen many of the traditions firsthand. However, the main ideas and principles of Caffrey’s book come primarily from her extensive education in theatre as well as her knowledge from having worked as an actor, director and producer.

An important aspect Caffrey focused on in her book was accessibility. “I was trying to create something that had theory but was also practical for them to use as well,” said Caffrey. Her alternative textbook was intended to be easily understood and include only the necessary information for an introductory class.

Caffrey took the readers into consideration during her process. “These students may not become theatre professionals but they will probably always be audience members. So the focus was to have them be able to go to a production and be able to understand it better.”

Caffrey hoped that through understanding theater production students would gain a better appreciation of theatre.

Caffrey said, “I really wanted to write something that was unique and different. … I saw that people covered a lot of different things, but there was no book that really covered design in the way that I had experienced it.”

She worked directly with three Boston designers to explain the connection between character and costume and the role design has on a production.

Caffrey read a design-related excerpt from her book, referencing the production “A Streetcar Named Desire.” She displayed photos of actors in the play and described how their clothing affected their character as well as the setting and mood.

“Costume design and implementation demonstrate how an actor and designer working in collaboration can create a more powerful impact than either could by working in isolation,” Caffrey read.

Professor Paul Yalowitz followed Caffrey, sharing his children’s book “The Admiral and the Penguin.” Yalowitz received his MFA in illustration from University of Hartford and joined FSU’s faculty in 2015 as an art and music professor.

Yalowitz started drawing as a young child and never stopped. “Almost everybody draws when they’re kids, but you get to a certain age where your taste exceeds your talent. I have no taste so I don’t have that problem,” joked Yalowitz.

Whether it be watching the Marx Brothers or pretending his blue living room carpet was an ocean floor, Yalowitz’s childhood experiences directly influence his work.

Before reading his newly published book, Yalowitz shared a list of storylines currently under development. One story titled, “When Push comes to Shove,” is about a man named Push who comes to a town called Shove.

Although Yalowitz loves creating humor through wordplay, he strives to build stories around more serious subject matter. In his working story, “One of the Boys,” Yalowitz discusses concerns with prejudice and subtly references suicide. His deep subject matter is meant to be relatable to all readers, regardless of age, and to deliver a powerful message of morality.

Yalowitz’s most recent book teaches themes of friendship, greed and righting a wrong. “The Admiral and the Penguin” is about a retired admiral who sets sail to Antarctica to capture an elusive penguin and sell it to the local zoo. The admiral is met with fame and fortune upon return and only realizes the harm he has caused after seeing the penguin sick and depressed inside the zoo a year later.

The admiral knows he has to fix what he has done so he breaks the penguin out of the zoo, setting it free at the cost of his own imprisonment.

What started out as a thumbnail sketch turned into a cohesive storyline. Yalowitz said, “A big thing that I try to teach my students is that good enough isn’t good enough. You can’t just stop when things are comfortable, you have to keep pushing.”

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