Alums who do cool things: WaterFire founder Barnaby Evans ’75


WaterFire is often cited as one of Providence’s premier attractions and an event which every Brown student should experience at least once in his or her time here. It’s no coincidence, then, that WaterFire founder and Executive Artistic Director Barnaby Evans ’75 attended Brown, back when the New Curriculum was still new and Providence was an entirely different city. He spoke with us about his influences, his goals, and how WaterFire and the multi-disciplinary, international nature of Providence are influencing projects across the globe.

BlogDH: What drew you to Brown?

Evans: Absolutely the New Curriculum. I was fascinated that a university was going to affirmatively talk about the importance of cross-disciplinary scholarship and engagement, and I think that we’ve made such great advances in many fields… but there’s a tremendous amount to be learned about the dialogue and the areas between fields. And that’s what I liked about Brown; that Brown wasn’t accidentally going to engage that. It was going to go head-on and say ‘this is important.’ You saw that in a lot of different things, like the way the medical program is set up.

BlogDH: Was there anything particularly formative about your time at Brown that you think helped influence your development of WaterFire?

Evans: I think Brown opened a whole series of universes to me in a very graceful way, and caused me to realize the complexity and interdependence of many of these departments, so that I was comfortable engaging in different dialogues of different disciplines in a way that I don’t think I otherwise would have been. And there’s a great balance at Brown, I’ve found, between the dialogue of making a decision, the rigorousness of the scholarship, and also the engagement to make a difference and make a positive change. You’ve got to have all those things balanced together, and I think Brown does that and, more specifically, the student who chooses to come to Brown does that. Of equal importance is what I learned from my fellow students as what I learned from my professors at the institution. There’s a collegiality and a professionalism at all levels that I think exemplifies liberal education, and I think Brown should be very proud of that.

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Cards Against Humanity: Brown Edition


Ah, Cards Against Humanity. The epic drunk-and-bored game of the early 21st century.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, here are the rules:

  • Most of the cards are white and are nouns.
  • The others are black and are questions or fill-in-the-blank types.
  • Each turn, one player pulls a random black card.
  • Then the other players put down a white card they think is funniest when paired with the aforementioned black card.
  • That original player (who pulled the black card) picks his or her favorite pairing.
  • The person who played that white card gets a point.

It’s Apples to Apples, but horribly and hilariously offensive. I called alum and co-creator of CAH Ben Hantoot ’09 to get his blessing for a Brown University expansion pack. He said it was chill. He was on his Bluetooth, driving what was probably a really nice car, what with all the big money to be made in board games these days. We had a funny conversation about smoking weed on Governor Street and the difference between Canadians’ and Americans’ card preferences, which you can read in Post- Magazine HERE. (I’m not going to pull a Jonah Lehrer and write the same article for two publications, even though I am not Jonah Lehrer and no one would care if I did.) All I can say is that I’m proud to attend the same school [wipes away single tear] as this modern genius once did. After Binder, let’s give Hantoot an honorary degree.

So here it is: the Brown University Expansion Pack. We hope you’ll mix them in with the original game, which you can download free on the Cards Against Humanity website. The card “Controversial Herald opinion articles” deserves to play in the big leagues. I, for one, will be at the GCB with these bad boys if you wanna hang out. Take a look after the jump.

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Alums who do cool things: Walton is 1/6 of NBC’s “Perfect Couples”

David Walton '01 in "Perfect Couples" — Courtesy of NBC Universal

David Walton ’01 plays Vance, one half of one of the three couples — probably the most volatile and crazy couple — featured in NBC’s new show “Perfect Couples.” He has had  a bumpy career so far, with roles on sitcoms that never got more than six episodes. And based on the first two episodes, starring in “Perfect Couples” may not be such a cool thing to do after all.

Walton said he first became interested in acting during his time at Brown, telling the HuffPo that he had to give up his spot on the crew team to pursue it. Well, that explains why Google suggests searches for “David Walton” be followed by the word “shirtless.”

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La. governor Jindal ’91.5 disses alma mater

In an interview on televangelist Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, Jindal–formerly a PLME, currently the Republican governor of Louisiana and a potential 2012 presidential contender–criticized Brown’s political correctness and liberal bent. “I wasn’t the traditional Brown student,” Jindal told Robertson.

The good stuff starts at about 7:00, with anecdotes about how Jindal’s freshman RC criticized him for “opening doors for the ladies” and refusing to attend a “mandatory” orientation session (we have those?) on diversity.

Weirdly, Jindal doesn’t mention that he once liked Brown enough to be a trustee. We’re hoping his new book answers our burning questions about his time at Brown, like which part of his bio education at Brown convinced him that intelligent design counts as science and whether he ever tried to hold the door for Ruth Simmons.

Congressional Brown U. Caucus stuck at one

So much for any hope of having two Brown alums in Congress now that Providence Mayor David Cicilline ’83 is headed to Washington. Rep. Dan Maffei ’90 has conceded in his upstate New York race, trailing by 567 votes.

Alums to host screening of Plame movie tonight

Fair Game

The Creative Arts Council is holding a wildly unpublicized advance screening tonight of a new Sean Penn movie, entitled Fair Game.

The film is based on the true story of Valerie Plame, a former CIA agent who made headlines in 2003 when she was outed as a covert agent. Naomi Watts portays Plame, and Penn plays her husband Joseph Wilson.

Presenting the film are director Doug Liman ’88 (who helmed The Bourne Identity, among other blockbusters) and producer Dave Bartis ’88. These two filmmakers and frequent collaborators helped start Brown Television back in the day, and also produced FOX’s “The O.C.”

Professor of International Studies James Der Derian will also be on hand for the panel discussion and Q&A which follow the film.

The event will take place at Salomon 101 at 7 PM, and the film’s trailer can be viewed here.