Category Archives: Tiger of the Week

Tiger of the Week: Mattie Brickman ’05 To Debut a Reunions-Themed Play in L.A.

Mattie Brickman ’05, third from right in the front row, with the cast of Reunions, Reunions, Reunions. (Courtesy Mattie Brickman)

Mattie Brickman ’05, third from right in the front row, with the cast of Reunions, Reunions, Reunions. (Courtesy Mattie Brickman)

Mattie Brickman ’05 has enjoyed explaining the phenomenon of Princeton Reunions to her friends in California. “They go back every year?” people often ask. “What do they do every year?”

But for Brickman, a playwright and screenwriter, there’s more to reunions than fun and revelry. Revisiting your alma mater fits a more general storyline of “going back to an evocative place that formed you,” she says. That was a driving force in the development of her new play, Reunions, Reunions, Reunions, which debuts Feb. 5 and will run through Feb. 21 at the Studio Stage Theater in Los Angeles.

Set at a fictional college, the play features four main characters, including Courtland, who is coming back for her first reunion. She visits her boyfriend’s father, a professor obsessed with turning points in history, to pick up a gift that becomes, in Brickman’s telling, something of a Pandora’s box.  Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Nushelle de Silva ’11, Building Bridges in Sri Lanka

Nushelle de Silva ’11, center, with children from the Building Bridges program. (Courtesy Nushelle de Silva)

Nushelle de Silva ’11, center, with children from the Building Bridges program. (Courtesy Nushelle de Silva)

By Jeanette Beebe ’14

Nushelle de Silva ’11 grew up in Sri Lanka. In 1983, before she was born, the country erupted in what would be a 25-year civil war.

“My parents, who were fairly young at the time, saw the horrific violence that erupted on the streets,” she says. Then, she pauses. “I don’t want to provide details that run the risk of flattening what was a very complex conflict.”

Sri Lanka is a country that de Silva’s parents left and returned to — despite the civil war. After a stint in Sydney, Australia, where Nushelle was born, the family moved to Colombo, the southwestern capital, when she was 7.

In 2004, during a ceasefire, de Silva’s K-12 all-girls’ school visited a sister school in Jaffna, the country’s northernmost city. “It had a huge impact on me as a young girl,” she remembers.

“My childhood was certainly filled with bomb drills and curfews and explosions that took the lives of many — my school was damaged by a bomb a few years before I enrolled — but none of us saw the kind of violence these girls saw on a daily basis,” she says. “It was a sobering visit for a 16-year-old to make.”

Last year, de Silva earned a master of science in architecture studies, a two-year research degree at MIT. Now, she is a first-year Ph.D. student.

In December, de Silva was honored with the Queen’s Young Leader Award for “Building Bridges,” a series of arts workshops for ethnically diverse children and youth in “recently rehabilitated communities” in northern Sri Lanka.

De Silva founded Building Bridges in 2012, with the support of a Princeton ReachOut 56-81-06 grant. She launched the program after graduating from Princeton with an A.B. in architecture and certificates in urban studies and theater. Continue reading

Tigers of the Week: Sean Mewshaw ’97 and Desi Van Til ’99 Collaborate on the Feature Film ‘Tumbledown’

Sean Mewshaw ’97 and Desi Van Til ’99 at the Napa Valley Film Festival. (Courtesy Sean Mewshaw and Desi Van Til)

Sean Mewshaw ’97 and Desi Van Til ’99 at the Napa Valley Film Festival. (Courtesy Sean Mewshaw and Desi Van Til)

Despite being English majors, active in performance groups like Theater Intime, and only two years apart at Princeton, Sean Mewshaw ’97 and Desi Van Til ’99 never crossed paths on campus. But the pair, who are now married with two children, share a common path: They both point to their experiences at the University as imperative to their success in the film industry.

Van Til and Mewshaw met in Los Angeles in 2000 through mutual friends and began dating soon after while starting to establish themselves professionally in Hollywood; during that time Mewshaw worked on Gangs of New York and Remember the Titans, and Van Til helped produce 13 Going On 30 and Drillbit Taylor.

After almost a decade of working in Los Angeles, Van Til began feeling homesick for her home state of Maine. She began to write — first a series of scenes between two characters, but it soon developed into a full-blown screenplay called Tumbledown, named after a mountain not far from Van Til’s hometown of Farmington, Maine.

“It was very much Desi diving into her own inquisitions about ‘why do I live in LA, could I live back in Maine, and what does it mean to live in the woods where it’s beautiful and you have time and space,’ ” said Mewshaw.

Tumbledown is a comedic love story about a woman named Hannah (Rebecca Hall) who lives in the woods of Maine and is struggling to move on with her life after the death of her husband. When she meets Andrew (Jason Sudeikis), a New York academic who has his own theories about her late husband’s death, the two collaborate to put together the real story. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Architect and Professor Douglas Kelbaugh ’67 *72

Douglas Kelbaugh ’67 *72 (Courtesy Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning)

Douglas Kelbaugh ’67 *72 (Courtesy Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning)

Architect and professor Douglas Kelbaugh ’67 *72 recently was selected to receive the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architecture Education in recognition of his efforts “to shape a generation’s thinking about the environmental aspects of architecture,” according to the award announcement from the American Institute of Architects and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Kelbaugh is a former dean of the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, where he continues to teach. Before coming to Michigan, he served as chair of the architecture department at the University of Washington.

Kelbaugh studied architecture as both an undergraduate and graduate student at Princeton, and he launched his career not far from his alma mater. One block away from Nassau Street, he built an innovative solar home in the mid-1970s, incorporating a Trombe wall, a south-facing glass wall backed by a concrete wall that collects and radiates heat.

“That house garnered a lot of publicity,” Kelbaugh recalled. “We stopped counting, but I think it was in over a hundred books, magazines, periodicals, newspapers, you name it. Even in magazine ads, it was showing up, for products that had nothing to do with the house!”

As a pioneer in passive solar architecture, Kelbaugh took a deep interest in energy conservation. He later partnered with Peter Calthorpe, a founder of New Urbanism, and pursued transit-oriented development projects. Continue reading

Tigers of the Week: 2015

tow_collage-1021PAW’s Tiger of the Week feature will be taking a break for the next two weeks, but we encourage readers to keep sending nominations of alumni doing interesting or notable things (see the form at the bottom of this post). About half of our 2015 honorees were nominated by PAW readers. Many have made local or national headlines, but thanks to your input, we’re just as likely to profile alumni who’ve made their mark away from the public spotlight. Follow the links below to read about the 53 alumni featured in the last 12 months.

Mike Condon ’13David Zabel ’88Mark Pavlyukovskyy ’13Randy Hobler ’68Daniel Velasco ’13Arron Melvin ’01 *07Chris Hamm ’14John Oakes ’83Monica Greco ’13Doug Emlen *94Luna Ranjit *04Allegra Wiprud ’14Vin Gupta ’05Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi ’00Christian Birky ’13Ajay Kapur ’02Patrick Ryan ’68Ross Tucker ’01Gavin Black ’79Grant Wentworth ’09Zachary Pincus-Roth ’02 and Eve Weston ’01Leonid Kruglyak ’87Jasmine ‘Jazzy’ Ellis ’10Anne Matlock Dinneen ’99Rick Hamlin ’77Ben Taub ’14Jay Xu *08David Billington ’50Veneka Chagwedera ’09 and Jared Crooks ’11Gevvie Stone ’07Mark Milley ’80Sarah Sherman ’08Valerie Vigoda ’87Lili Anolik ’00Landon Y. Jones ’66Stu Nunnery ’71Danielle Ivory ’05Mary Throne ’82Scott Clemons ’90Nick Guthe ’91Stephanie Flack ’92Jason Schwartz ’03Ellie Kemper ’02Andrew Jarecki ’85Mark Smith ’09 and James Burgess ’09Jodi Hauptman ’86Jonathan Mayer ’09Claire Max *72 and David Weinberg *89George Hawkins ’83

Nominate your top Tiger

Do you have a nominee for Tiger of the Week? Let us know. All alumni qualify. PAW’s Tiger of the Week is selected by our staff, with help from readers like you.

Tiger of the Week: Goalie Mike Condon ’13, A New Princetonian in the NHL

Mike Condon ’13 makes a save during a Nov. 27 Montreal win against the New Jersey Devils. (Ed Mulholland, USA TODAY Sports)

Mike Condon ’13 makes a save during a Nov. 27 Montreal win against the New Jersey Devils. (Ed Mulholland, USA TODAY Sports)

After going undrafted in the NHL following his time as a goalie on the Princeton men’s hockey team, Mike Condon ’13 was unsure of what to do next. He had played four seasons at Princeton but only started his senior year. When the Tigers’ season ended in March, Condon flew to southern California to try out for the Ontario (Calif.) Reign, a mid-level professional team then in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), while trying to finish his senior thesis about post-Cold War arms transfers.

Condon played well in California and was called up to play backup goalie for the Houston Aeros, the American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the Minnesota Wild. It wasn’t long before Condon caught the attention of the Montreal Canadiens, signing a contract in May 2013. After honing his skills during the last two seasons with the Canadiens’ ECHL and AHL affiliates, the Wheeling Nailers and Hamilton Bulldogs, Condon earned the role of backup goalie for the Canadiens. He has played in 23 of the team’s 36 games this season, filling in for the starting goalie, Carey Price, who is out with a lower-body injury until at least mid-January.

The jump from minor-league hockey to the NHL “is a challenge, and there’s a little bit of doubt in your mind,” Condon said. “At first it’s a little intimidating to be on the ice with [NHL players] because you don’t know how you’re going to fare. But the best way to do it is to jump into the fire, play with confidence, and trust your training.” Continue reading