Schönegge Wins SETC Young Scholars Award – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Schönegge Wins SETC Young Scholars Award

While on exchange at HWS from University Leipzig, Berit Schönegge embraces being a scholar and artist.

Exchange student Berit Schönegge has been selected from a national pool of applicants to present her theatre history scholarship at the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) Convention in Memphis, Tenn. Her paper, “Between Colonial Imposition and Native Christianity: Nahuatl Theatre ‘under?’ the Influence of Spanish Occupation and Catholic Mission,” is the national winner of the Young Scholars Award for undergraduates.  

Papers selected for the SETC Young Scholars Award can use traditional and contemporary approaches to history, theory, criticism and literature as well as related concerns such as pedagogy, historiography and applied drama. 

Schönegge completed her paper for “Theatre History I” with Associate Professor of Theatre Chris Woodworth. She says the HWS Theatre course was a new meaningful opportunity to write a thesis driven paper with an argumentative structure.

HWS will host a “dress rehearsal” for her presentation on Tuesday, March 8 at 4:15 p.m. in Williams 201. During the campus event, Schönegge will deliver her paper and then take questions.

Schönegge’s scholarship looks closely at theatre and performance in Mexico in the mid-1500s. Her research evaluates how Franciscan Friars used religious theatre as tool of indoctrination. By applying methods in historiography, Schönegge also considers the agency of the native population. As the Nahuatls translated the Franciscan scripts and applied their own use of metaphor, and otherwise experienced cultural and religious misunderstandings, the theatre created shifts of power. The paper’s conclusion points to the need for further study on the subject of trauma.

“Between Native agency and Spanish oppression, it stresses the importance of multifaceted approaches and findings, when trying to understand the art form’s intricate power complexity,” Schönegge writes in her abstract.

At her home university, University Leipzig, Schönegge says she developed a strong foundation for her scholarship as a musicology major. Her year as an exchange student at HWS is part of an additional year of study on her path to completing her bachelor’s degree. At the Colleges, she has embraced the liberal arts, taking courses in multiple disciplines surrounding art and performance, including theatre, theatre history, music, composition and dance. 

“This school has given me so many opportunities. I am now considering completing a Ph.D. Here I am closer to having a goal in mind, and now I’ve seen where you can go with your work. When I leave here, I want to take with me that “both” is possible. You don’t have to decide between being a ‘researcher’ or ‘doing art’ or ‘being a stage manager.’ All of the faculty here do both.”

Schönegge arrived at HWS with experience in professional theatre, having taken a gap year between school and University Leipzig to volunteer in public relations and dramaturgy at Theater Vorpommern. She quickly immersed herself in the HWS Theatre community and joined the production of “From the Beyond: Geneva’s Unheard Voices” as an assistant stage manager. She will also serve as the stage manager for the winter production “Memories of Overdevelopment.” She is also a member of the Colleges’ Chorale.

She offers thanks to Center for Global Education, the Theatre Department, and the William Smith Dean’s Office for the funds provided to attend the conference.