Friday, November 19, 2010

IU graduate student to premiere haunting new play

First student-authored work performed in Wells-Metz Theatre

EDITORS: A special Web page devoted to Playing the Bones, featuring an interview with John Drago, can be accessed at

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- John Drago is hooked on reality TV.

The Indiana University graduate student just might need a few "survival" skills to make it through the days leading up to the world premiere of his first major playwriting effort, Playing the Bones, on Dec. 6. It will be the first student-authored work to be performed in the new Wells-Metz Theatre of the Indiana University Theatre and Drama Center.

Drago admits he is terrified -- which is surprising coming from a young man who, not long ago, spent his days touring graveyards in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. There, among the tombstones, shadows and howling winds, the third-year M.F.A. student from Louisville began formulating the idea for his new play. Playing the Bones is an eerie, haunting Appalachian tale about an orphan girl discovering the secrets of her past and coming to terms with her own mystical powers.

A relative newcomer to playwriting, Drago, who studied musical theater in college, cites everything from the theatrical works of Henrik Ibsen and Paula Vogel to reality television shows like Survivor as his primary influences. Reality TV? Despite its superficiality and questionable realism, Drago won't write off the modern-day art form. "Even though it's pretty artificial, I love the sound of real people talking," he said. "I love hearing people talk the way they really talk. I think it's a very important skill for a playwright to have."

A coming-of-age story set in the mountains and steeped in the supernatural, Playing the Bones tells the story of a teenage girl, a grieving widower and a scheming crone, all of whom live in a haunted landscape inhabited by a band of restless spirits. Drago says audiences can distinguish between the dead and living by listening to their respective speech patterns -- the dead speak in iambic pentameter; the living in an indigenous dialect that the playwright picked up during his mountain travels.

"My friend, who was a genealogist, and I would go up into these strange towns in the mountains and talk to people you don't necessarily encounter in normal society," explained Drago, who recently turned 25.

The play is being directed by Dale McFadden, director of theatre in the IU Department of Theatre and Drama. McFadden praised Drago's talent for writing effective, accessible dialogue and structuring a story around such a sympathetic main character. "I think the audience will really sympathize with the struggle of this girl and identify with those people in our lives who may be dead but still have a role in our well-being. It's a play that contains an imaginative use of language and transports audience members to a setting that's not in the realm of their usual experience," McFadden said.

McFadden added that he has enjoyed collaborating with Drago as the two prepare the play for its debut in the 236-seat Wells-Metz Theatre, which opened its doors in February. The theatre includes two balconies, movable seating and a flexible performance space that opens up a world of exciting staging possibilities to both playwright and director. "It's been an effective collaboration because John is seeing the play on its feet and learning what can and can't be done in this particular theatre," McFadden said.

McFadden encourages audiences to seize a somewhat rare opportunity to witness the initial production of a new play and "to enjoy, ponder and consider its possible value. In that way the audience is truly serving as the first responder and litmus test of the play's strengths and weaknesses," he said.

Reality has begun to set in for Drago, so forgive him if he suddenly feels alone on a remote island. This is his first "full-throttle" production, and the learning curve has been tremendous, he said. He also knows that in just a few days his play will be judged by a couple of hundred jury members and voted up or down based on whether they are inspired by the language, characters and imaginative world he has created.

It's no wonder Drago is just a little worried.

"It's a very emotionally distressing situation to be in," he admitted with a nervous laugh. "But I certainly believe in the language of this play, in the images, in the world I've created. I have to think that it will be a really effective and moving experience for everyone."

Performances of Playing the Bones are Dec. 6-7 and Dec. 9-14 at 8 p.m. with 2 p.m. matinees on both Saturdays in the Wells-Metz Theatre. Tickets can be purchased in person at the IU Auditorium box office or by phone from TicketMaster.

Ph.D. student thrives despite health struggle

By Nathan Miller | IDS
Nov. 18, 2010

Jenelle Dorner has spent years fighting fatigue, malnutrition and pain.

Dorner, a doctoral candidate in neuroscience and psychology at IU, was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, dystonia and gastroparesis, which combined have left her wheelchair-bound with a surgically inserted tube that helps send nutrition directly to her heart.

Read the rest of the story..§ion=search

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

GradGrants Consultant Position Opening for Spring 2011

Graduate Assistant Position Opening in the GradGrants Center for Spring 2011

As director of the GradGrants Center, I am seeking a graduate student who holds (or is eligible for) graduate work-study funding for an assistantship beginning the spring semester.  If you are interested (or if you know a student who might qualify), please ask him/her to send a cover letter and vita to Jody Smith, University Graduate School, Kirkwood Hall 114, 130 S. Woodlawn Ave., Bloomington, Indiana 47405-7104,, or fax 812-855-4266.  To qualify for graduate work-study, a student would have to complete a FAFSA and talk with Jordan Bissell of the Student Financial Aids Office (812-855-6854 or fws@indiana.edui).

THE PROPOSAL-WRITING CONSULTANT/TRAINER is one of two graduate assistant positions which works directly with fellow graduate students in the GradGrants Center, a graduate student service located in the Wells Library-BL, sponsored by The University Graduate School and available to graduate students of all IU campuses.  The two consultants handle the day-to-day operation of the GradGrants Center and share training responsibilities (i.e., presenting or enlisting speakers, scheduling rooms, preparing visual aids).  Our consultants assist students in their search for external funding sources and are available to work one-on-one with graduate students in discussing and critiquing their grant proposals.

QUALIFICATIONS: Successful proposal-writing experience, editing skills, teaching experience or experience in planning and presenting special-interest training programs, the ability and personality to interact well with the public.  A one-year commitment to the position is strongly preferred.

This position provides invaluable opportunity to learn of various funding sources and to improve one’s own proposal-writing skills.  The experience is extremely valuable to future faculty. The position is a .375% FTE during the academic year (i.e., 15 hours per week) and is eligible for student health insurance. The salary is $9,121 for the academic year (with fee remission) and $2,129 for the summer.  The person hired will   work half or all of the summer as arranged.  The deadline for applications is Monday, November 29, 2010.

Jody Smith, Director
The GradGrants Center

Deadline to Order Caps and Gowns for Winter Commencement 2010 is November 22

Winter Commencement 2010

Online Cap and Gown Orders Close Monday, Nov. 22, 2010!
Rent your cap and gown at

Rental Charges
  • Bachelor’s and Associate’s apparel: $98.75
  • Master’s apparel: $108.85
  • Indiana's 7 percent sales tax will be added to these charges.
  • Associate and bachelor's degree candidates have the option of purchasing additional stoles of gratitude for $22.65 each plus Indiana sales tax of 7 percent.

Bookstore Orders: Nov. 23-Dec. 15

From Nov. 23 through Dec. 15, graduates must order caps and gowns at the IU Bookstore in the IMU. Go to the clothing service counter on the second floor.

Students may also call the bookstore at (812) 855-0547 but should realize that it is a very busy line and they are apt to encounter voice mail. Calls are generally returned within 24 to 36 hours.

Those who do not order by Dec. 15 must wait until Commencement Day when any remaining caps and gowns will be available for rental on a first-come, first-served basis. Availability is not guaranteed.

Picking Up Your Cap and Gown on Dec. 15, 16 and 17

Caps and gowns will be available for pickup from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Georgian Room on the second floor of Indiana Memorial Union.

For more information on caps and gowns, Winter Commencement and commencement in general:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

GPSO Announces Fall 2010 Travel Award Winners



GPSO Announces Fall 2010 Travel Award Winners 
Each semester the GPSO offers a competitive, financial award for graduate and professional students to help support academic travel. The award covers expenses for events that promote academic and professional development, such as conferences, workshops, competitions and auditions. Funds may be used for registration fees, presentation materials, transportation costs, lodging and per diem expenses. The recipients are selected through a competitive, merit-based process in which an independent panel of fellow graduate and professional students review and assess anonymous applications. This year there were nearly 140 applicants, and 14 award winners were selected from these. The GPSO would like to congratulate the following award recipients:

Fall 2010 GPSO Travel Award Winners:
  • Robert Holahan, Political Science
  • Audrey Dobrenn, French and Italian
  • Kierstan Connors, Education and Language Education
  • Deanna Soper Pinkelman, Biology
  • Aleksandra Snowden, Criminal Justice
  • Nicholas Belle, Anthropology
  • Yunjuan Luo, Journalism
  • Janice Levi, African American and Africa Studies
  • Curtis Child, Sociology
  • Kwan Nok Chan, SPEA
  • Craig Howard, Instructional Systems Technology
  • Paul Schauert, Ethnomusicology
  • Chrystine Keener, Fine Arts
  • Justin Rawlins, Communications and Culture
Released November 16, 2010

The GPSO Travel Awards are made possible by generous support from the University Graduate School. More information about travel awards can be found at The Graduate and Professional Student Organization is the formally recognized government for graduate and professional students at Indiana University Bloomington.

Contact Information:
Angela Jones, GPSO Communications Coordinator
803 8th St , Bloomington, IN 47408