Jenny Curatola

Headshot of Jenny Curatola

Student Spotlight | Winter 2013

Major: I graduated with a B.A. in Theatre Performance last May and am completing majors in English and Global & International Studies (with an emphasis on the Middle East and Comparative Systems) in May 2014.

Q: Describe your research or creative project in just two sentences that we can all understand.

A: I endeavored to reimagine the way we think about aging and life course through an original ensemble performance piece.  I adapted short stories to the stage, conducted interviews with local seniors, and directed a workshop process for seven actors to develop additional text for the script we eventually produced at the Lawrence Arts Center free to the public.


Q: Who mentors your project?

A: I worked with Cheryl Lester from the English department and Leslie Bennett from the theatre department primarily, but had help from many others, including the Simons Public Humanities Fellow Bill Lattanzi from the Hall Center and David Ekerdt, the director of KU's Gerontology Center.


Q: What surprised you about doing research and creative work?

A: Although my project was about aging, I learned a lot about the form of applied theatre and how it can influence communities.  Because I worked closely with people in the community to explore aging, the project became much more than research.  One Wild and Precious Life gave people the space and tools to talk about a very complicated and personal issue openly.  Of course, there is no "solution" to reimagining the aging process, but I love that my research had a direct impact on so many people's lives and I hope the ideas it proposed will have a ripple effect.


Q: What do you like most about your research or creative project or process?

A: Using theatre as a research medium doesn't get you to precise answers, but it opens up a lot of compelling questions and engages an entire community in those questions.  The collaborative process of making theatre is both challenging and energizing, because unlike other research media where you may be working with your own ideas primarily, in theatre you are constantly confronted with the ideas of your collaborators.  It can be a challenge to bring all those ideas together into a cohesive framework, but you can get a richer, more diverse understanding of the the issue that way.


Q: What advice would you give to a friend wanting to get involved in research and creative work?

A: Don't be afraid of not getting to the final "product."  One actor I worked with at festival in Massachusetts told me "The play will be whatever it wants to be," meaning you can't control creative work the same way you control a research paper.  I had no idea how my play was going to turn out, and that was scary, but if I had had a specific end-goal, I would have missed out on all the wonderful work of my collaborators.


Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not working on your research or creative  project?

A: I like reading the paper or seeing someone else's play. I also love the KU Fit classes at the Rec!