CMU historical audio drama receives acclaim

Faculty member’s work shares university’s history through storytelling

| Author: Ari Harris

The legacy of Central Michigan University alumni echoes through halls on CMU's campus. For the first time, these will be more than ghostly echoes thanks to a series of new audio installations, part of an award-winning project called "School Spirits. "

After working with students to dramatize the history of Beaver Island through audio vignettes in 2018, Broadcast and Cinematic Arts faculty member Will Anderson wanted to do the same for landmarks on CMU's main campus in Mount Pleasant. This inspired the "School Spirits" project, recently named Best of Competition in the Broadcast Education Awards Festival of Media Arts.

"I wanted to find new places and uses for audio drama. I also wanted to use it to capture CMU's history," Anderson said.

Anderson uses recognizable places on campus as settings for conversations at different points in the university's history. Warriner Hall's vignette is set in 1928, when the building was constructed. The Biosciences Building feature is a conversation between two women pursuing careers in STEM fields who are excited about the opportunities CMU has for them.

The project features the voices of students, faculty and CMU President Bob Davies.

Anna Rudnitsky, an Honors Program student majoring in Theatre and Interpretation, coordinated the cast of "School Spirits." She connected the audio text to the people reading it and helped recruit voice talent. For Rudnitsky, this project was an opportunity to leave her mark on campus.

"I learned more about the connection to the community that arts can have," she said. "I found it cool to be a part of something long lasting within the school. My voice and the work I did is all across campus and will impact future generations."

The day after most of the recording for "School Spirits" was finished, CMU's campus shifted to remote-only classes due to COVID-19. Through Anderson's innovation, Rudnitsky's leadership and on campus voices, "School Spirits" was completed, despite the pandemic.

"This project reinforced to me what a special community we have," Anderson said. "I think it does a fantastic job of showing CMU's motto of wisdom, virtue and friendship. People at CMU are very good people and want the best for others."

This story was written by University Communications intern Eva Steepe.

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