Learning from Performers

About the Learning from Performers Program

The mission at the heart of the Learning from Performers (LFP) program is that creativity and discovery are nurtured by engagement. To that end, the LFP team -- associate director for programming Alicia Anstead and program associate Deena Anderson, in conjunction with OFA director Jack Megan and many student co-producers -- works to develop immersive programs that put students and professional artists in the room together in creative, exciting, intellectual exchanges.
Under the OFA directorship of Myra Mayman, Learning from Performers was the brainchild of Jerold Kayden ’75, now the Frank Backus Williams Professor of Urban Planning and Design at the Graduate School of Design. Kayden and Mayman worked together to establish the program in 1975, and Kayden ran it during its inaugural year, establishing the template for what would become a thriving enterprise that continues to this day. It was then fostered for many years by the former manager Tom Lee.
LFP hosts 15 to 20 artists and artist ensembles annually in music, dance, theater, film, TV, visual arts and inter-disciplinary arts. These artists lead workshops, classes, seminars and informal discussions, and also engage in longer-term residencies that sometimes culminate in performances, exhibitions and new works. In recent years, LFP programs have increasingly and more deeply involved students, faculty and FAS curricular courses and other Harvard departments such as the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, JFK School of Government, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism, the Department of Music, the Graduate School of Education, the Harvard College Women's Center, the Office for BGLTQ Student Life, the Harvard Ed Portal, Harvard iLabs, Harvard Business School and more.

Highlights from the 2019-2020 season include:

  • a conversation and performance with Mamma Mia! Broadway star Mary Callanan
  • a class with actor BD Wong
  • a workshop and conversation with Broadway music directors Isaac Alter '16, Cynthia Meng '15 and Madeline Smith '14
  • a conversation and workshop with actor and director Adriana Colón
  • a class with opera bassist Morris Robinson

Students also enjoyed luncheon meetings with authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman HLS '91, fashion designer Walé Oyéjidé (whose work featured in Black Panther), In the Dark staff writer Daniel Rogers ’12, musician Rhiannon Giddens and others.

All artist residencies are planned in close consultation with the artist, and most are open to the general public. We encourage student participation, suggestions and partnerships. For more information, contact Alicia Anstead at anstead@fas.harvard.edu