American Startups Work to Bring Solar Powered Electricity to Parts of Africa

A June 26, 2017 article by Bill McKibben in the New Yorker titled, The Race to Solar-Power Africa explains the reasons why implementing an electric grid on the continent presents a unique challenge. McKibben writes,

“There are about as many people living without electricity today as there were when Thomas Edison lit his first light bulb. More than half are in sub-Saharan Africa. Europe and the Americas are almost fully electrified, and Asia is quickly catching up, but the absolute number of Africans without power remains steady.”

The demand for reliable and accessible electricity has prompted some entrepreneurs in the West to launch solar companies in Africa. It has some advantages over the traditional electric grid infrastructure but comes with its own set of problems relating to the newness of technology being used, engineering challenges, and uncertainty around financial feasibility, both for the consumers and for the companies.

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Some Sneak Peeks of our 2015 Line-up

cyranaHaving recently received the final abstracts for the 2015 Festival presentations, we’ll be blogging about the program and offering you some sneak peeks of what you can expect to see this September!

Our first teaser is about a presentation entitled “CyranO Becomes CyranA” featuring Prof. Doug Zschiegner and actors from the Niagara University Theatre, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 26th at 11am in the Burchfield Auditorium. In this adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano De Bergerac, the genders of the characters are switched while their behavior is unaltered. The result is a world where women are the dominant sex, while men peacock for their attention. This presentation will feature actors recreating scenes and sharing their experiences with the production, with adaptor/director Doug Zschiegner moderating.

In an article about the play published in the Buffalo News, Zschiegner says that, “The female students are really taking this by the horns – these particular roles – because they know they will never get to play these roles again, as a woman. The men are finding some very interesting aspects – what it’s like to not be in the dominant gender. To not assume they have the power, especially in this period when his main role is to attract a mate.” The interviewer also writes that “[Zschiegner] said the play is set in the 1640s, which is an especially difficult period for costumes and sets, so they are “making up” a 1640s setting, but with women as the dominant gender. He said his decision to adapt the classic came from two impulses: to present a play that has more roles for women, which is a common problem in classic plays; and to look at the familiar story in a fresh way.”

The play’s run took place this past March and was well-received, so Zschiegner is considering publishing the play. But don’t worry—even if you missed your chance to see it, actors from the production will be acting out scenes during the Festival presentation.

Doug Zschiegner is Associate Director and Associate Professor of Acting and Directing for Niagara University’s BFA Theatre program.  Doug’s MFA is from the University of Delaware’s Professional Theatre Training Program, and he has directed, acted, and taught at Equity theatres and universities around the country.

Click here to buy tickets and other great indoor events at this year’s Festival!

New History Museum Kickoff Event Added to 2015 Schedule!

business-manWe’re very excited to announce that this year’s Humanities Festival will now run from Wednesday, Sept. 23rd to Saturday, Sept. 26th! The expanded schedule will allow us to add more events and performances to the schedule while reducing overlap, making it easier for festival goers to participate in all of the events that interest them.

In addition to the expanded schedule, we also have a new kickoff event planned for Wednesday evening from 7 to 9pm at the Buffalo History Museum. It will be a lecture and reception led by Prof. Patrick McDevitt of the UB History Department entitled “Do Clothes Make the Man?” The talk will explore the history of the man’s suit in Western fashion and the ways in which it continues to convey notions of wealth, masculine prestige, and power. Also featured will be a “pop-up” exhibit about men’s fashions from the Buffalo History Museum’s collections.

Prof. McDevitt will discuss the extent to which regional dress for men from around the world has largely been colonized by the dark, sober, Western suit.  Without his Savile Row suit, James Bond would be just another government assassin. Even famously fashion-averse Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg puts on a suit to meet the President. The goal of the lecture is to ultimately interrogate our understanding of the role that the suit plays in shaping gender norms and denoting power in the contemporary world.

Patrick McDevitt is Associate Professor of History at the University at Buffalo.  As a specialist in Irish, British, and imperial history, McDevitt explores the cultural meanings of sport, masculinity, religion, and fashion. His life’s ambition is to be on a first-name basis with an Italian cordwainer who makes his shoes.

We hope you’ll join us for this lecture and kickoff reception! Check back here and on Facebook and Twitter for more updates as we work toward finalizing the schedule for this year’s festival.