Connecticut College Magazine · Winter 2011

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Floralia Founder

Floralia Founder
Tim Scull '79. Photo by Hunter Neal

Tim Scull '79 says the experience changed his life


It would surprise no one to learn that Connecticut College has changed since 1977. But current students and younger alumni might be confounded by the clowns, comedy, puppetry and percussion that filled the green between Cro and Shain one glorious May day that year.

It was the first Floralia.

“It was avant-garde, it was collaborative, it was a lot of work,” says Tim Scull '79, who created the now-annual spring party as an independent study project in theater.

The project grew out of a late-night conversation between Scull and the late Tracy Gilday '77, head of the Student Government Association's social board. Floralia, an ancient Roman festival honoring the fertility goddess Flora, offered a historical foundation for Scull's vision: music, theater and dancing to celebrate the start of spring.

“I didn't want Floralia to just be college kids partying — there was no shortage of that the rest of the year,” he says. “There was beer, but a large part of it was geared toward faculty children.”

Scull, who had never before produced an event, planned a program, hammered out performer contracts, recruited student volunteers, worked with Physical Plant to design and build the stage, and marketed the production to administrators.

“I'm still, to this day, amazed by the collaborative effort of the campus,” Scull says. “It's astounding that a small college would jump behind a sophomore fledgling producer.”

Perhaps more astounding is the entertainment lined up by that fledgling producer. Scull commissioned the Berklee School of Music's Percussion Ensemble and Jazz Quintet to write a custom composition, and the College's Dance Improvisation Laboratory to choreograph it. Puppeteers from the University of Connecticut's renowned puppetry program and a magician, Ben Robinson '82, performed; David Cruthers '78 told humorous “down-Maine” stories; and theater students in clown makeup entertained the audience.

“The whole thing was very diverse,” Scull says. “Almost 1,000 people showed up.”

Although Floralia II, which he produced as another independent study in 1979, was more of a spectacle, “it was still a bit avant-garde,” he says. “We repeated a great deal of '77, just more efficiently.” The audience more than doubled, attracting alumni and students from Trinity and Wesleyan.

Scull is unperturbed by how his brainchild has changed over the decades. “Creativity makes what was established new again,” he says. “It's the history of culture — we adapt these elements and make them our own.”

Though Scull, short a fraction of a credit, did not graduate, he says he has nothing but fondness for Connecticut College, because Floralia changed his life. Through a College connection in New York City, he landed a job in special events production, which after 17 years evolved into nightclub management.

“My career today is based on the management skills and arts administration that I learned at Floralia,” Scull says. After struggling to get funding for a small wooden stage, suddenly Scull was working on multimillion-dollar productions — a fast-paced life that he recently left to become a ceramics artist and teacher in Canton, Conn.

“At Conn, the arts were a major priority, which was a very unusual characteristic at a college 35 years ago,” he says. “My whole career was based on the College maintaining a liberal outlook and accepting that a student could produce something of real value.” — Tom Owen


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