Assistant professor of theatre and film studies Amma Y. Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin conducts research that focuses on using theater, film and television to tell history:
Through archival-based performance pieces, books and articles, Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin, who also has a joint appointment in the Institute for African American Studies, develops innovative responses to these questions. Her latest endeavor began in a graduate school class at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts when she took a class on the history of the world's fairs.
"That very class with professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is the reason why I'm currently working on what we hope to be a Broadway-bound musical called AT BUFFALO. It gave me the opportunity to learn about the crazy, fantastical world of world's fairs," she said. "Think Disney World meets the Olympics meets carnivals, all the size of a miniature city. The Eiffel Tower, the Seattle Space Needle, the Pledge of Allegiance, the microwave—all of those things come from world's fairs."
Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin helms a team of theater professionals to develop the musical, which explores three exhibits about black culture on display at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. The first exhibit, known as Darkest Africa, featured 98 west and central Africans brought to the U.S. to live in a re-created Disney World kind of attraction that simulated an African village.
Imagine being a student with regular contact with such a engaged scholar. The world would open up to you in ways that perhaps have occurred to very few people, and you would graduate and go out into it with a creative perspective that would be welcome in any field - and necessary to most. Exciting to consider the impacts on our students from one of our best - Dr. Amma, as she is affectionately known - who pursues her professional goals and brings their lessons to the classroom as she readies them for the stage. #thisisuga
Image: Amma Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin, photo by Chad Osburn