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by Stephen Collins '74
Noah Charney '02 is a film buff. More broadly he's a performance junkie, whether it's film, stage or rock n' roll. But during his first year at Colby he attended a screening of the film "The Usual Suspects" that Professor David Lubin organized, and he was struck by the discussion afterward and the response of the students: "They really just loved it."
Charney was so enthusiastic that, with a little urging from Lubin, he started a weekly series in which a professor would introduce a film, often a classic, and perhaps stick around to moderate a discussion afterward. Lubin departed that summer (for another position), but Charney's Colby Film Society thrived. And though Charney graduated in May, the society will endure, since two members of the Class of '05, Hannah Emery and Aaron Charniak, have stepped up to run it next year.
Charney was one of those students intent on wringing everything possible out of four years at Colby, but he was unusual in the purposeful way he approached that mission. "When I first looked at Colby, I went to three classes," he said. So did his mother, so did his father. That was the beginning of Charney's research. It continued as he listened to his peers. "By the end of freshman year, so many friends had said, 'Oh my god, you've got to take...'."
"I had this checklist of professors I wanted to have before I finished, and I actually got all the way through it--Larissa Taylor [history] was the last," he said. In order to check Taylor off, he took four courses for credit and audited two more during his last semester. His parents stayed unusually involved in his undergraduate studies through Charney's four years at Colby; his father, James Charney, reported just before commencement that he had attended at least one class with each professor that Noah had at Colby. "One hundred percent," he said.
Both parents, James and Diane of New Haven, Conn., said they were pleasantly astonished by the ways that Colby students engage with faculty members outside the classroom--informally as Noah did as well as through programs like the residence-hall book seminars and "Take a Professor to Lunch."
But Charney's quest hasn't been limited to course work. "I think you can learn so much from them outside the classroom that I'm always looking for opportunities to meet with faculty members. . . . One of the reasons I chose Colby was that it was an environment that was really conducive to that, and professors were here because they like interacting with students and teaching. . . . I go to professors' houses for dinner, we go to lunch, we go to the pub. That's one of my favorite things about it."
By recruiting popular faculty members to introduce Film Society events he's learned that many of professors have their own "cult followings," and the films are a way for students and faculty from different departments to cross-pollinate intellectually.
He's had a similar experience with his interest in theater. In four years he has been involved in more than a dozen plays, including performances or readings of a half-dozen of his own original scripts. And though none of them has been a formal Theater and Dance Department production, Charney has drawn the faculty from that department into his projects and collaborated with them on others. One of his plays, "Breakfast with Magritte," which was produced at Colby a year and a half ago, recently won the national Horizons South Young Playwrights Contest, earning the young playwright a trip to Atlanta for a drama symposium in June.
Then there's his band, The Jump Into ("A band from Waterville, ME, playing original rock music with a punk and emo influence," according to www.geocities.com/thejumpinto). The Jump Into released a self-produced CD this spring, including one title--"The Night the Blue Light Went Out"--that places the CD solidly on Mayflower Hill.
A bio on the band's Web site says Charney's goal is to be "a rockstar/playwright/novelist/art collector, living in London," and the only one of those descriptors he's unsure he'll attain is rock star.
Accepted at Cambridge University (UK) for a Ph.D. program in art history, Charney deferred for a year so he can get a master's first, from the art history and museum program at the Courtauld Institute, affiliated with the University of London. "For art history it's the best place in the world," said the art history and English major, who will study with just five other students in the master's program.
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College Colby Magazine 4181
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