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SYNERGY AND SERENDIPITY: A Princeton home captures the spirit of its owners

M AY 2014


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26 34

may 2014



42 ..... HERE & THERE .....

..... FEATURES .....


synergy and serendipity

by Linda Arntzenius

by ellen gilbert

Portraiture Examined at Zimmerli

A Princeton home captures the spirit of its owners




princeton’s wildlife



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Graduation gifts 66

Setting the Stage at McCarter Theatre by ilene dube

Behind the scenes with Technical Director Chris Nelson and Prop Master Michele Sammarco 76

ON THE COVER: Art and energy efficiency meet to good effect in the remarkable home of Princeton residents Ilana and Mauricio Gutierrez and their three children. Photography by Jeffrey E. Tryon.




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MAY 2014 PUBLISHER J. Robert Hillier, FAIA EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Lynn Adams Smith CREATIVE DIRECTOR Jorge Naranjo ART DIRECTOR Jeffrey Edward Tryon GRAPHIC DESIGNER Matthew DiFalco

601 Ewing Street, Suite B-4 Princeton, NJ 08540 609.924.1975

Steven C. Isaacson, DMD Spec.Perm. No. 3517 Suzanne B. Reinhardt, DMD Spec.Perm. No. 5543

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Stuart Mitchner Ellen Gilbert Linda Arntzenius Anne Levin Ilene Dube Wendy Plump Gina Hookey Taylor Smith ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Robin Broomer SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER Jennifer McLaughlin

For more information:

ACCOUNT MANAGERS Sophia Kokkinos Jennifer Covill Erin Toto OPERATIONS MANAGER Melissa Bilyeu PHOTO EDITOR Andrew Wilkinson PHOTOGRAPHERS Charles R. Plohn Jeffrey E. Tryon PRINCETON MAGAZINE Witherspoon Media Group 305 Witherspoon Street Princeton, NJ 08542 P: 609.924.5400 F: 609.924.8818 Advertising opportunities: 609.924.5400 Media Kit available on

eastridge design Elegance And Simplicity For Life Today

Princeton, New Jersey (609) 921-2827

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Princeton Magazine is published 7 times a year with a circulation of 35,000. All rights reserved. Nothing herein may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher. To purchase PDF files or reprints, please call 609.924.5400 or e-mail ©2014 Witherspoon Media Group




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Dear Princeton Readers, Aside from the students, politicians, and all sorts of interesting characters that make up the”wild life” of this wonderful town, did you know that Princeton has a real wild life of bears, coyotes, foxes, butterflies, birds and bees? Photographer Charles R. Plohn has graced this issue’s pages with a beautiful photo essay of some of our more interesting animal friends. In describing this article to a friend, I learned that, in addition to Princeton’s collection of black squirrels, there was a family of white albino squirrels living on the golf course at Jasna Polana. They were too camera shy for Charles’s good work. Now that spring is upon us, it is time for track and field events. Our immediate Princeton region is this year’s site for New Jersey’s Special Olympics. In mid-June, no less than 270 athletes will be competing on various campus venues as well as at Mercer County Park. Anne Levin gives you a heart-warming preview of an important happening that will bring thousands of visitors to our area. Yes, I mentioned “spring,” but did you happen to notice the snow and freezing temperatures that we had in mid-April? Our story on Nobel Peace Prize recipient Michael Oppenheimer may not explain the April snow, but it will give you a perspective on the realities of global warming and the climate of the future. In his discussion, Michael also touches on the continuing effects of Hurricane Sandy on the Jersey shore. A recent project in my “day job” as an architect is a house on Random Road which was designed as “sustainable” with its sod roof and intelligent capturing of sunlight. Then, along came Mauricio and Ilana Gutierrez in their electric car, and they took the house to a whole new level of sustainability with a host of energy-saving systems and devices. And to top that, they moved in their spectacular, museum quality modern art collection. I hope you enjoy your visit with this wonderful, forward-thinking couple in their “cool” environment. With spring comes Princeton’s Reunions Weekend and the invasion of some 30,000 “wild life” characters all decked out in orange and black. This also marks a passage for the senior class into the ranks of the University’s alumni. With them will come their “senior jackets.” These were once known as “beer jackets” with each class having a symbol of their time emblazoned on the back. For instance, the Class of 1957 had a Sputnik on its 10


Photography by Andrew Wilkinson

gh on’t at


beer jacket. My class of 1959 had a design competition for the best symbol to represent us, and the one chosen was absolutely perfect for our “Silent Generation” class. It was created by Phil Markwood and became known as the “Tipsy Tiger.” After enduring all 55 years of our silence, it has actually achieved the status of the “logo” for our class. So, with “Tipsy” as part of my signature for this issue, I sign off, and with my business partner, Lynn Smith, hope that you will enjoy this issue as much as we have enjoyed bringing it to you. Respectfully yours,

J. Robert Hillier, FAIA Publisher


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Byron Galvez. Wedding invitation, oil on canvas 1998. 61x65 in


rt and energy efficiency meet to good effect in the remarkable home of Princeton residents Ilana and Mauricio Gutierrez and their three children. “We’re fortunate to have a lot walls,” observes Ilana as she leads a visitor into the ultra-modern house they have occupied for 18 months. The welcome wall space, which includes an actual art gallery, is used to display the couple’s growing collection of modern Mexican art, mostly acquired through Eva Beloglovsky, a Mexican art dealer who also happens to be Ilana’s mother. Some of the art is for sale; the rest has a permanent place, at least for now, here in Princeton. The collection is comprised mostly of paintings on canvas and prints; sculptural pieces include a large outdoor work on the front lawn.


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(Clockwise from top left) Sedum-covered green roof; Windows in gallery space let in abundant natural light; Rain chain channels rainwater to underground cistern for later use; Bamboo flooring throughout home; NRG eVgo electric car charging station. (Bottom) Mauricio can monitor and change his home’s climate from any mobile device, at home or on the road, with the Nest Learning Thermostat.

Green Living

Byron Gálvez

In addition to housing the unusual art collection, the house also boasts some exemplary sustainable features, including a sedum-covered green roof. Solar panels are on the way. Mauricio, who is the executive vice president and chief operating officer at NRG Management, is delighted to have found a home that speaks so directly to his work. NRG, a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 Company with headquarters in Houston and Princeton, is one of the country’s largest power generation and retail electricity businesses. As he describes it, he is responsible for “making sure that the trains run on time,” keeping that NRG’s entire generating and thermal operation fleet operate at top levels of safety, performance and environmental sustainability. (For more on NRG, see the article about CEO David Crane, “Leading the Clean Energy Charge,” in the October 2011 issue of Princeton Magazine.) Mauricio regards the house as a kind of unofficial laboratory for the company. The first utility bill they received after moving in turned out to be almost half of what they had paid in their previous home in Lawrenceville.

The heart of the art collection is comprised of works by Mexican artist Byron Gálvez (1941-2009). After collaborating in a business relationship, Gálvez and Ilana’s mother fell in love and married. A child at the time, Ilana was already steeped in the art world as a result of her mother’s business. Now Gálvez became an important influence. Her knowledge of his evolution as an artist is apparent as she speaks of his work, which includes larger pieces for public and corporate spaces. Although originally interested in abstract imagery, Gálvez was drawn to more figurative painting and sculpture in the 1980s. The influence of Picasso is evident in the artist’s depictions of toreros; acrobats performing in the Cirque du Soleil; and some erotically themed pieces. His larger works include an 80 by 100 meter mural installed in the Pachuca, Hidalgo cultural park. Other artists featured in the collection are modernists like Francisco Javier Vázquez Estupiñán, who goes by the professional name “Jazzamoart,” a reference to his favorite subject. Jazzamoart’s saxophone-player is an eye-catcher,




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(LEFT) Byron Galvez. Toreros 2009. Oil in Canvas. 41x47 in (ABOVE) Byron Galvez. Untitled 2007. Cast Bronze. 47x26x80 in (BELOW) Ilana with her 1998 wedding invitation by Byron Galvez. Etching on hand made cotton paper. 9.5x14 in

as are other artists’ renderings of an acrylographic image of watermelons, and a completely black, but highly textured off-center canvas covered in small fabric squares. Byron Gálvez left Eva the means to continue supporting the sale and preservation of his art. Ilana’s focus right now is on collaborating with her mother (who visits often) to buy and sell Gálvez’s and other artists’ works around the world. As soon as the children get home from school, though, she enjoys being a full-time mother. FATE

The couple uses the word “destiny” in describing their relationship with the house, and compare finding it to “a second marriage.” With just the outside of the main building completed when they “stumbled” on it, they were able to work with architect/developer J. Robert Hiller, FAIA, and builder Peter Edwardson on design details that followed. Natalia, 13; Alex, 10; and Sebastian, 6 each have their own bedrooms and bathrooms, but Ilana makes a point of emphasizing that “we all live here,” and that the house in its entirety is child-

(ABOVE) Jazzamoart. Electroencefalo Sax 2011. Oil in Canvas. 46x36 in


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(left) Mauricio and Ilana enjoying their cement outdoor fire pit. (top-right) Custom dining room table by Willard Brothers Lumber features a natural edge and all the cracks and knots in the lumber. (above) View of gallery toward dining room. (opposite) Ilana with her sons Alex and Sebastian.

friendly. Built-in shelves and seating spaces are plentiful. The furniture is in quietly muted earth tones, like teal, that allow the art to take pride of place, along with numerous groupings of family photographs taken over the years. Which is not to say that the children are impervious to the dramatic canvases all around them. They acknowledge being scared of skeletal “day of the dead” depictions, but served as stalwart, informed guides during a recent art show held by Ilana in the house. A large abstract painting, created by the children and Childrens Portraits. Pop Art some classmates, has been framed and matter-of-factly hung like any other painting in the collection downstairs. Settling down

Ilana, 39, and Mauricio, 43, are both Mexicanborn and have been married for 16 years. Before



coming to the Princeton area they lived in Paris, Colorado, Houston, and Minneapolis. Natalia and Alex were born in Houston, Sebastian was born in Princeton. The children attend the Princeton Junior School, where the couple was impressed with the

degree of environmental consciousness reflected in the curriculum, and Mauricio currently serves as treasurer of the Board of Trustees. The pleasures of living in Princeton include its proximity to New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. On a recent late-winter morning, workmen from Willard Brothers Lumber were delivering a custom-

made dining room table created out of a black walnut tree that had been split in half. The square shape is deliberate; Ilana and Mauricio like the idea of an inclusive conversation among all their guests, rather than the usual tête-à-têtes that occur at long rectangular dining room tables. An elongated oval in the middle of the table exposes the edges of both sides of the tree, and Mauricio made sure that the tree’s natural knots and gnarls were left just as they were. In the meantime, overseeing both nature and artifice are three Andy Warhol-like pop-art portraits of each of the children, which seems entirely appropriate. “They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself,” Warhol once observed. The Gutierrez household is very much a work in progress.


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| art scene Portraiture Examined at Zimmerli


by Linda Arntzenius

abies, it is said, are pre-programmed to respond to the human face. Even the most minimal of representations, a smiley face, a triangle of dots for eyes and nose together with a line for a mouth will do. And the mind will make a face out of almost anything, as witnessed by those books of quirky photographs showing faces in the unlikeliest of places: car fronts, clouds, burnt toast, storm drain covers. Striking Resemblance: The Changing Art of Portraiture at the Zimmerli Museum though July 13, offers much to think about when it comes to faces, and the way in which images of individuals have become ubiquitous in contemporary life, from “selfies” to snapshots identifying callers on Smart Phones and the aptly named Facebook. Portraits, as understood even a century ago, were representations that one had to “sit for,” to visit a studio for, and “undertake.” No more. Photography has democratized the portrait. Fashion and advertising have made us savvy and collaborative manipulators of content in a world awash with images. Organized by curator Donna Gustafson, Zimmerli’s Andrew W. Mellon Liaison for Academic Programs and Susan Sidlauskas, professor of art history at Rutgers University, Striking Resemblance is a chance to take stock of what we expect from portraits of ourselves and others. Together with the 175-page exhibition catalog with some 130

Jackie Gleason, 1955 by Phillip Halsman.



(Above) Dido Elizabeth Belle (later, Mrs. Davinier) and Lady Elizabeth Murray (later, Lady Finch-Hatton) by an unidentified artist (formerly attributed to Johan Zoffany), late 1770s, oil on canvas.

illustrations, it examines portraiture from the 18th century to the present. To achieve such enormous scope, the curators have drawn upon painting, photography, sculpture, print media, film, and video from the museum’s own collections as well as items on loan from private and public collections. They have shaped their material around the distinctions of individual portraits, double portraits, and group portraits. Each section examines the ways in which people view themselves, their personal relationships and their own social contexts. Individuals, for example, are identified by face, by figure, or by fragments of images; double portraits naturally lend themselves to questions of similarity and difference; groups convey the tension between fitting in and standing out. There is so much in this eclectic multi-media mix that it’s a challenge to single anything out, but there are a few not-to-be-missed items such as Philippe Halsman’s delightful 1955 gelatin silver print of Jackie Gleason in mid-air jump; the famed photographer Weegee, taken by an anonymous photographer; Weegee’s 1950 self portrait with budgie on head and cigar in mouth; and Gennady Gushchin’s photo collage blending of Mikhail Gorbachev with Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, titled Renaissance Portrait. Stepping into a century’s gulf between formal oil-on-canvas painting and modern day selfies is Carte de Visite, Gary Schneider’s 1990 largescale printings of nine small glass

Lover’s Eye II: #7 (after Jack Pierson), 2013 by Tabitha Vevers, oil on ivorine.

Lover’s Eye Eleonora II (after Bronzino), 2012 by Tabitha Vevers, oil on ivorine.

Lover’s Eye Virgin (after Cranach), 2013 by Tabitha Vevers, oil on ivorine.


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(BELOW) Andy Warhol’s Factory-era portrait of Edie Sedgwick.

negatives dating to 1870 that he discovered in a New York City flea market. The nine photographs, all of women in similar poses, are installed in a row at eye level, just a few inches apart, conveying an intimacy with the viewer that is undermined by the similarities of their pose and demeanor. Andy Warhol’s Factory-era screen tests of Edie Sedgwick, Ann Buchanan (crying), Lou Reed, and Dennis Hopper are worth pausing over, as is the face reflected in a handful of water by Oscar Munoz, titled Line of Destiny, 2006, and shown on an iPad for 1.56 minutes before the water disappears and the image with it. Among the more traditional canvases, standouts are Portrait of a Lady with Parakeet, 1856 by Agost Canzi and Cecilia Beaux’s 1884 portrait of Ethel Page, in which the subject’s face shines like lampglow against its dark background. For social commentary, see the 1983 oil on canvas of Stalin by Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, titled The Origins of Social Realism. One section reveals the little known genre of eye portrait miniatures, surprising watercolor or oil on ivory works of individual eyes. Many date to the early 1800s. Some are contemporary pieces by the New York artist Tabitha Vevers. Even if this painting had not inspired a movie, it would be a show-stopper. The film is Belle and the painting is a classic 18th century portrait of “sisters,” but in this case, the differences and similarities between them are highlighted by skin color. Both young women are depicted as aristocrats in gorgeous silk

gowns and pearls. One is dark skinned, the other light. Because of its period, the viewer’s thoughts are immediately and reasonably drawn to slavery. Dido Elizabeth Belle was the illegitimate daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay and a possibly enslaved African woman known as Maria Belle from the West Indies. Sent to live with Lindsay’s uncle, the first Earl of Mansfield, she was brought up at Kenwood House in Hampstead, alongside her cousin Elizabeth Murray. The 2013 British film now being shown in the United States was inspired by this portrait from the late 1770s. According to the exhibition catalog, the painting was formerly attributed to Johan Zoffany. It is on loan from the collection of the Earl of Mansfield in Perth, Scotland. As is typical of the Zimmerli’s thoughtful curators, a table of books offers visitors a chance to sit down and examine the exhibition catalog and other relevant titles, including Eric R. Kandel’s The Age of Insight, Gary Schneider’s Portraits, and the disconcerting and charming Mirror, Mirror, selections from a unique collection of daguerreotypes amassed over decades by Stanley B. Burns, a New York ophthalmologist. It is charming for portraits of children and domestic scenes, and disconcerting for two unforgettable photographs, a dead infant “sleeping,” and “Man Holding Dead Wife,” circa 1845. One other local exhibition of portraits expands the offerings on view at Zimmerli by showing a collection of earlier pieces by the itinerant New Jersey portraitist Micah Williams (see below). Striking Resemblance: The Changing Art of Portraiture will be on view through July 13 in the Voorhees Galleries on the lower level of the Dodge Wing of the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum on the Rutgers campus in New Brunswick. Also on view: Diane Burko: Glacial Perspectives through July 31; Odessa’s Second Avant-Garde: City and Myth through October 19; Stars: Contemporary Prints by Derrière

L’Étoile Studio through July 31; and “Never such innocence again:” Picturing the Great War in French Prints and Drawings through July 31. For admission and hours, call 732.932.7237, ext. 610 or visit: AREA EXHIBITS Arts Council of Princeton, 102 Witherspoon Street: Princeton Artists Alliance 25th Anniversary Show celebrates the founding of this local group with an exhibition of work by its members from June 17 to June 21 with a closing reception on Saturday, June 21, from 3 to 5PM Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9AM to 5PM For more information, call 609.924.8777, or visit: Grounds for Sculpture: Seward Johnson: The Retrospective, the largest and most significant exhibition in the park’s history is a presentation of work by its 83 year-old founder and featuring more than 150 of his sculptures, including Forever Marilyn, The Awakening, and Unconditional Surrender, through September 21. For more information, visit James A. Michener Art Museum, 138 South Pine St., Doylestown, Pa: The People's Choice: Celebrating Michener's Top 25 through July 20. A community-curated interactive exhibition for the museum’s 25th anniversary includes contemporary, modernist, impressionist works and sculptures. For more information, hours and admission, call 215.340.9800 or visit: Morven Museum and Garden, 55 Stockton Street: Micah Williams: Portrait Artist presents an unmatched look at New Jersey’s itinerant portrait painter Micah Williams (17821837) through September 14. For more information, hours and admission, call 609.924.8144 ext.106 or visit: www. Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, 5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, Del: Costumes of Downton Abbey, designs from the award-winning television series through January 4, 2015. For more information, hours and admission, visit:

(BELOW-LEFT) Sarah Hendrickson Holmes (1767-1824) by Micah Williams (1782-1837), pastel on paper. Monmouth County Historical Association, gift of Joseph H. Holmes and Mrs. Kathryn Holmes. (BELOW-RIGHT) Low Tide-Vinal Haven, by Charles McVicker of the Princeton Artists Alliance, acrylic. MAY 2014 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

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Mark Rothko, American, 1903–1970: Untitled, 1968. Oil on paper laid down on canvas, 100 x 63.5 cm. Collection of Preston H. Haskell, Class of 1960. © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

M a r k Yo u r


m u s i c | b o o k s | t h e at r e | l e c t u r e s | s p o r t s May 24

Devon Horse Show Credit: By R. Kennedy for GPTMC

may 17

may 22

May 13

may 12

Saturday, May 10

Tuesday, May 13

Tuesday, May 20

9AM Mother’s Day Brunch at Wintherthur Museum, Gardens, and Library (also, on May 11). www.

7PM Author Joyce Carol Oates delivers a reading from her latest novel, Carthage, at the Princeton Public Library.

7:30PM Nine-time Grammy Award winning artist John Legend performs at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.

Thursday, May 15

Wednesday, May 21

4PM Girls Night Out, an evening of exclusive discounts and promotions at the many shops and restaurants in Princeton’s Palmer Square. www.

5:30PM 2014 Louis I. Kahn Memorial Lecture presented by the Philadelphia Center for Architecture. This charitable event raises funds for the Charter High School for Design and Architecture, a legacy project of the Philadelphia chapter of the American Institute of Architects. This year’s speaker will be New York-based architect Steven Holl. 215.569.3188.

2PM American Boychoir School of Princeton performs a series of musical selections as they move through the Princeton University Art Museum. Related art themes will be discussed along the way. 6:30PM 2014 Philadelphia Wine and Food Festival at The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum. Includes 600 samplings of exclusive wines from around the world and cuisine from Philadelphia’s most popular restaurants. There will also be a silent auction benefiting The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 215.365.7233.

Friday, May 16

7:30PM Cher performs at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ as part of her Dressed to Kill tour.

6PM The Mother of All Baby Showers expo at The Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University in Philadelphia. This event features top-of-theline baby products, services, free giveaways, educational sessions, and spa treatments. Also, featuring Rosie Pope, pregnancy guru and star of Bravo TV’s Pregnant in Heels. www.

Sunday, May 11

Saturday, May 17

10AM Enjoy a day of fun with the kids at Sesame Place, the only amusement park based on the award-wining children’s TV show. Later in the month, Sesame Place is planning on opening Cookie’s Monster Land, a brand new section of the theme park featuring new rides, play area, and food market.

Monday, May 12 11AM The 2014 Golf and Tennis Outing sponsored by the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce at Bedens Brook Club in Skillman, NJ. The event includes a silent auction, wine tasting, tennis matches, golfing, and a multi-course dinner. 609.924.1776.



8AM Observe early-spring migratory birds with the Edgar A. Mearns Bird Club at Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, NY. Guests should bring their own binoculars. 10AM Moravian Pottery and Tile Works Festival in Doylestown, PA. Beautiful and rare examples of handcrafted tiles available for purchase. There will also be free tours of Tile Works, a “working” history museum built by Henry Mercer around 1911 (also on May 18). 215.348.6098. 8PM Get jazzed! An evening with American jazz drummer Winard Harper at the West Windsor Arts Center in West Windsor, NJ. www.

Thursday, May 22 11AM The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair in Devon, PA, the oldest multi-breed horse competition in the country. The event draws international competitors and trainers (runs through June 1). 6PM Fifth Annual Wild Mushroom and Wine Dinner at Rat’s Restaurant at Grounds for Sculpture. Experience the finest pairing of exotic and local mushrooms with the great wines of Burgundy, France.

Saturday, May 24 9AM Stand before towering fountains and watch fireworks light up the sky at Longwood Garden’s Festival of Fountains. Also, be sure to wander the Flower Garden Walk, which is bursting with color and scented blooms (on view through September 1). 10AM Annual Antiques Show at the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, PA. The show features a variety of English and American made furniture, ceramics, glass, porcelain, quilts, folk art, and fine collectibles (runs through May 26). www.


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may 30

june 22

may 22 may 29

june 22 Opening of Rothko to Richter: Mark-Making in Abstract Painting from the Collection of Preston H. Haskell at the Princeton University Art Museum (through October 2014). www.artmuseum.

Sunday, May 25 10AM 2014 Memorial Day Parade sponsored by the Spirit of Princeton. The parade route begins at the corner of Princeton Avenue and Nassau Street and traverses to Princeton Borough Hall. www. 9:30PM Sit back and enjoy the Friday Night Fireworks display over the Delaware River. This weekly event can be viewed from both Lambertville and New Hope (continues through August 30).

Thursday, May 29 The Alumni Association of Princeton University welcomes back generations of graduates for Reunions Weekend. Nearly 20,000 former Tigers descend on Princeton for this nostalgia-filled celebration. The event culminates with a parade through downtown Princeton (runs through June 1).

Friday, May 30 8PM Princeton’s Famous Triangle Show blasts off for the final frontier with singing pirates, robots, and the classic all male kick-line (also, on Saturday, May 31).

june 26

Wednesday, June 4

Friday, June 20

7:30PM New York Times best selling author David Sedaris’ annual visits have become a McCarter Theatre tradition. Hear him read from his latest book, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. www.

The inaugural New Hope Liberty Festival hosted by the Greater New Hope Chamber of Commerce and Coryell’s Ferry Militia. Events include multiple Revolutionary War reenactments, military and veterans parade, Patriots’ Ball, and 5K Fun Run. Through June 22.

Thursday, June 5 8PM Celtic Woman performs Irish anthems, pop standards and original music on “The Emerald Tour” at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ (also, on June 6).

6PM JaZams Summer Block Party and Movie on the Green. Princeton’s favorite local toy store celebrates summer with an evening of crafts, activities, food, and fun on the Palmer Square Green.

Saturday, June 7

Sunday, June 22

2PM Kick-off event at Hinds Plaza in Princeton for the 2014 Princeton Festival, which includes opera, orchestral, jazz, and vocal performances throughout the month of June at locations in and around Mercer County (runs through June 29). www.

Friday, June 13 7PM Dave Matthews Band performs at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ (also on Saturday, June 14). 856.365.1300.

3PM Opening performance of Porgy and Bess, an opera first performed in 1935 with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin (runs through Sunday, June 29). 4PM The Firefly Festival at Terhune Orchards in Lawrenceville. Expect art activities, games, delicious food, and of course, firefly hunting.

Wednesday, June 25

8PM Santana performs at the Borgata Hotel, Casino, and Spa in Atlantic City, NJ (also on June 14). www.

10AM The Garden Club of Spring Lake’s Annual Garden Tour in Spring Lake, NJ. www.

Saturday, June 14

Thursday, June 26

12PM Annual Flag Day Ceremony on the plaza at Princeton Township Hall. This national holiday commemorates the adoption of the American Flag on June 14, 1777.

6PM Long, summer evenings signal the return of the Summer Courtyard Concert Series at the Princeton Shopping Center. This free, outdoor event will begin with a performance by singer-songwriter and acoustic guitarist Vicki Genfan (continues through August 28). www.


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MONTEVERDI CHOIR ENGLISH BAROQUE SOLOISTS Sir John Eliot Gardiner Sunday, June 15, 2014 • 3:00 p.m. Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall, Princeton University visit or call University Ticketing at 609.258.9220 J.S. Bach “Singet dem Herrn” Motet BWV 225 “Christ lag in Todesbanden” Cantata BWV 4 G.F. Handel Dixit Dominus (Psalm 110) HWV 232 Ads template 10x12.indd 1

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Classically Russian Sunday, November 2, 2014, 4 pm Rossen Milanov

Zuill Bailey

Natasha Paremski, piano Works by: Bolcom, Tchaikovsky, and Stravinsky

Scenic Rhythms Sunday, January 18, 2015, 4 pm Daniel Boico, guest conductor Robert Belinić, guitar Works by: Respighi, Rodrigo, and Beethoven

Soulful Reflections Sunday, March 15, 2015, 4 pm Bella Hristova

Natasha Paremski

Zuill Bailey, cello Works by: Currier, Schumann, Massenet, and Sibelius

Viva Verdi! Sunday, May 17, 2015, 4 pm Guest Singers to be announced Verdi Opera Excerpts: Il Trovatore, La Traviata, and Aida A season that is not-to-be-missed! JOIN US!

Daniel Boico

Robert Belinić


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irders have long appreciated Princeton because of its position on the flight path for migrating species. But the local environment is also home to a number of wild creatures year-round. Besides the ubiquitous white-tailed deer and groundhog, there are signs of beavers by Lake Carnegie, river otters in the Delaware & Raritan Canal, foxes, coyotes and wild turkeys. All of them live in and around Princeton. Some, however, are just passing through, like the American black bear spotted on the University campus last year and the mountain lion that left tracks in the vicinity of Mt. Lucas Road. Local photographer Charles R. Plohn has been intrigued with wildlife since he observed an “unbelievably tall bird” making a meal of the goldfish in his backyard pond. Since then, capturing the Great Blue Heron has become a photographic passion. “It took me four years to get a picture that I was really satisfied with,” says Plohn, who honed his skills while attempting to show the bird in its natural watery habit. “I shoot full frame and strive for a well-thought-out composition, best angle and best light.” “Photography literally means writing with light, and seeing something pleasing to the eye is what makes me raise my camera. Wild animals can be challenging; they are unpredictable and often moving, which is where the technical aspect of photography comes in; the right shutter speed,

aperture and lens allow you to be more responsive and creative.” Subsequently, Plohn photographed heron along the towpath of the Delaware & Raritan Canal between Harrison Street and Kingston Lock and off Mapleton Road. Whatever the bird, he always thinks of his first backyard encounter. Far from being angry with the bird that stole his ornamental Koi, he admits to having soft spot for the Great Blue. “And for some reason, I associated the heron with a young friend who had died. Jed was such a prankster and I had a feeling that he had come back in the form of a heron to continue to play tricks on me.”


Plohn favors a Nikon full-frame camera, which, although expensive, is well-worth it for sharp clear images. He uses 300 mm or 600 mm lenses to maintain an unobtrusive distance between himself and his wild subjects. A tripod is a must. It was while trying out a new tripod that he “lucked” into a shot of a coyote. “The coyote was totally unaware of me as it hunted for mice in a field bordering the Institute Woods. It was just before sunset, always a good time. I positioned myself low down and got several action shots. But then he heard the click of my shutter and looked straight at me. I caught that moment.” Photographing an animal behaving like an animal is particularly satisfying to the photographer, who has found that the early evening is also a good time to spot Princeton’s famous Bald Eagle pair. The birds have such a presence that it’s hard for Plohn to

shake off the idea that they are “going out to dine,” when other animals and getting ready to turn in for the night. Plohn has followed them since their arrival in the Princeton area, and observed as they relocated their nest after the tree it was in came down during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Each year, he photographs their fledglings, and the juveniles whose heads have yet to turn fully white. “Animals are creatures of habit; they often have places where they like to perch or to hunt and if you observe them for some years, you get to know their secrets.” To get great shots, however, the photographer doesn’t have to go too far from his home on Library Place, where he sees a Red-Tailed Hawk almost daily. At night he can hear, but hasn’t yet photographed, a Great Horned Owl. The Springdale Golf Course, is also a miniature nature preserve where he’s seen hawks and egrets. He’s gone a little farther afield for Bald Eagles and Osprey on the Manasquan Reservoir and to Long Beach Island for piping plovers, those sparrow-sized sandcolored shorebirds that nest and feed along the New Jersey Shore.


Backyard flowers attract bees and Monarch butterflies, a particular challenge for the camera lens. Plohn uses a macro specialty lens with no magnification for a one-to-one ratio image with very limited depth of field. Monarch butterflies reach Princeton each year after a long journey from Mexico and their numbers have been dwindling in


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recent years due to habitat loss and herbicidal attacks that have reduced the milkweed their caterpillars need to survive. The results of Plohn’s efforts have earned awards from a number of juried group and special exhibits, such as the visual Arts Exhibitions at The Gallery at Mercer County Community College (MCCC), the 2012 EarthShare New Jersey Photo Exhibition, and the Arts Council of Princeton’s annual spring Pinot to Picasso fundraiser. He will receive an AFA in Photography from MCCC this year. Plohn has never felt threatened by a wild animal. And the one time he photographed a bear in Princeton, it was snoozing in a tree. “Mark Johnson, Princeton’s Animal Control Officer was on hand to make sure it remained undisturbed.” Johnson has been keeping tabs on Princeton’s wildlife for some two decades. He’s seen bear, coyote, fox, and those mountain lion tracks in the vicinity of Mt. Lucas Road last year. But although he receives reports of sightings from time to time—usually in Rocky Hill and Franklin Township it’s unusual to see a big cat, he says. “It’s my guess that the animal was just passing through.” That’s also his assessment of the five bears seen in Princeton last year. Although it was thought that one young juvenile might make his home here, in the end, all of them moved on.


As for coyotes, the most visible pack now in the area is the “Quaker Road pack.” In the past, Johnson has noted up to 12, but recently numbers are down to about four. Two that he knows of were killed by cars on Princeton Pike and one was shot by an officer last spring. That’s something that Johnson finds regrettable. “When they interfere with humans that’s a problem, but some people make mountains out of mole hills, seeing a coyote or other wild animal cross your yard doesn’t mean that it’s rabid, nasty, or aggressive, it’s just going somewhere.” Still, he likes to be notified, because his job is to know what is where. When wild animals and humans come into conflict, Johnson’s rule of thumb is to let wildlife be wildlife. Sometimes there are unfortunate incidents, as when a pet dog was killed by a coyote in the spring of last year in Herrontown Woods.

Foxes, which Johnson describes as rather shy and timid, are easy to move on, should one entertain the idea of taking up residence in an inappropriate spot, say in a someone’s back yard. “They are easily repelled by noise and human activity,” says Johnson, who gets called out for problems relating to anything from squirrels to deer.


His strangest emergency was to recover a pet python that had escaped in one of the Princeton University Eating Clubs. It was successfully returned to its owner. Another python met a different fate. Somehow released in Smoyer Park, it was sighted when it attacked a small dog. Johnson estimated that the snake was between 10 and 12 feet long. He never did catch it, though, and predicts that it is probably dead by now, unless its owner happened to retrieve it. Sadly, Johnson reports a decline in the number of wild turkeys in Princeton. “We used to have huge flocks of these birds but not now. Fish and Game says it’s because their eggs have been destroyed because of bad weather but I suspect the coyotes might be to blame.” Even so, Johnson admits to a fond respect for the wild coyote. “They are amazingly smart and sly, as wily as their cartoon namesake. They always know where you are and it’s rare to see one.” As rare as a Princeton swan, you might say, since these beautifully elegant birds, have yet to find a home here, although Johnson notes that a pair was brought in to discourage geese on one of the retention basins at the Carnegie Center in West Windsor.


Naturalists Charles and Mary Leck have spent their lives exploring the wilder parts of Princeton. The author of Birds of New Jersey, Their Habits and Habitats (first published by Rutgers University in 1975), Charles grew up in Princeton and is a retired professor of ecological studies at Rutgers. He was New Jersey’s State Ornithologist from the 1970s until the turn of the century and there’s not much he doesn’t know about his special interest. Not only that, he can tell you where to look for beavers, where the otters raise their young, where you will seen snapping, painted and spotted turtles, and

where the best places are for sighting pileated woodpeckers and eagles. “One good place for signs of beaver is along the towpath just north of Kingston, where you can see signs of their chewings,” says Leck. “They are nocturnal animals and usually come out late in the day; otter tracks have been seen there too, and there are holes in the bank along the canal where they live and raise their young at this time of year; watch for the remains of the fish they eat.” Mary Leck is a botanist and photographer who leads botanical and birding trips of the Abbott Marshlands, where beavers have made their lodges almost smack in the middle of Trenton. As for Princeton, spring brought migrating Mergansers and ringneck duck back in time for the mating season. In May, up to 30 species of warblers, some of the prettiest of birds, will find their way from the tropics to the Institute Woods. Both Lecks recommend the look-out tower accessible from the Charles Rogers Refuge as the best place to watch for them. Beyond the common black and white warblers, yellow warblers, and ovenbirds, you’ll see Blackburnian warblers, orioles, and rose breasted grosbeaks. For migrant visitors as well as year-round wild residents, Princeton has much to offer. One all-year resident, Princeton’s famous black squirrel is pretty rare and found in just a few geographical regions of the east coast and in the mid-west and Canada. They are actually Eastern Gray squirrels in superior garb a befits the locale. The Leck’s advice for seeing birds or other wildlife is to get out there and you’ll see all sorts of things!


The Plainsboro Preserve, NJ Audubon Sanctuary: SectionPlainsboro/AboutPlainsboroPreserve For canoe/kayak trips by the New Jersey Sierra Club, and wildlife walks of the Abbott Marshlands, visit: For field trips and other bird-related events organized by the Washington Crossing Audubon Society, visit:


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by Stuart Mitchner

hen we lived in Hoosier Courts, a post-war housing project for married graduate students, Indiana University junior faculty, and veterans on the GI Bill, the garbage cans were in pits with heavy lids because we were on the edge of the wilderness, or so I was told by my parents. Older kids claimed there were mountain lions, bears, and wolves in the woods nearby, where my parents allowed me to explore during the day, in spite of the rumored wildlife. You could walk out your door and within a minute be hiking on the rocky cliffs overlooking the Illinois Central tracks. The pale green clapboard buildings were heated by pot-bellied stoves I got dressed in front of on cold winter mornings. It was at Hoosier Courts, between grades 4 and 6, that I began reading “real books.” In the dawn of a reading life the pictures are the story: trees with angry limbs and scary faces in the Classic Comic Legend of Sleepy Hollow; Hansel and Gretel wandering through the woods to a house made of sweets; Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest; Reddy



Fox and Jerry Muskrat among the many Thornton Burgess books; Donald Duck and his nephews having comic book adventures in the frozen north and the Andes and all around the world. Pictures were no longer needed by the time our 4th-grade teacher was reading The Little House On the Prairie to us in a two-room country schoolhouse with the wind howling outside. The first adventure books where the words formed the story were Jack London’s White Fang and Call of the Wild; still later came the wild Highlands of Robert Louis Stevenson; then the enchanted forests and islands in Shakespeare and The Winter’s Tale with the memorable stage direction, “Exit, pursued by a bear.” And still later Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, the great white whale smashing the Pequod to splinters in a book where the real excitement is what’s going on in the author’s exploding mind, same idea in William Faulkner’s “The Bear,” where “the shaggy tremendous shape” moved “with the ruthless and irresistible deliberation of a locomotive” in “the unaxed woods where it left its crooked print.” And where else but in the language-haunted wilderness of Faulkner would “woods” and “words” seem to become one element. The English wild was another world in books like Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter: His Joyful Water-Life and Death in the Country of the

Two Rivers and J.A. Baker’s dense and elaborately articulated The Hill of Summer, both of which made an implicit corrective to the anthropomorphic “wild” of A.A. Milne, Thornton Burgess, and of course Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows. At the end, Tarka dies dispatching Deadlock the hunter’s most illustrious warrior hound, his arch enemy, the Javert to his Jean Valjean (an analogy that would probably make Williamson cringe). When Deadlock sees “the


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small brown head,” he bays “in triumph,” jumps down the bank, bites into the head, lifts the otter high, flings him about, falls into the water with him, Tarka at his throat as they sink together “into the deep water.” The hunters pull the dog’s body out, looking down “in sad wonder” at the dead hound. Tarka’s end has a transcendental purity, beyond the humans, as befits his ultimate escape from the world of companionable pets, hunting dogs, and talking animals. While the hunters watch, they see only “a great bubble” rising out of the depths, then another bubble “shook to the surface and broke,” and then a third bubble in “the sea-going waters, and nothing more.” Some consider Tarka a children’s book, but I didn’t read it until I was in my thirties. I would have found it too strong and too “written” at ten. Compare Williamson’s ending to Milne’s in The House at Pooh Corner when Christopher Robin tells Pooh he’s moving on (which in their private language means “not doing Nothing anymore”), and the book ends happily ever after “in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest,” where “a little boy and his bear will always be playing.” THE BEAR IN MANHATTAN

As I laughed my way through The Bear Went Over the Mountain, I could imagine the author of “The Bear” laughing, too, if Faulkner had lived long enough to read William Kotzwinkle’s tale of the big black bear who found a manuscript in a briefcase, and after making some sartorial adjustments, took Destiny and Desire to a New York publisher and became a best-selling author with literary clout. Call it an adult fairy tale in the fantasy genre or a fable, the novel maintains the suspension of disbelief necessary to get a reader to go along with the notion of a bear meeting a publisher, an agent, an editor, going to a publication party in the Village and bedding a movie agent named Zou Zou who sells the rights to Hollywood. Best known for his novelization of E.T., Kotzwinkle simply forges ahead with his premise, his attitude being, yes, of course the idea’s preposterous but let’s have some fun with it, let’s take it and run with it and do what comes naturally by finding simple real-life equivalents for the bear’s love of sweets (the shelves of his Manhattan apartment are stocked with a gourmet’s paradise of honey), his enormous strength, his distinct and occasionally catastrophic sensitivity to certain sounds and scents, and his tendency to roll on his back when he’s feeling good after sharing lunch and drinks in a Manhattan restaurant with his agent. Kotzwinkle has no fear of saying or doing the obvious with the situation he’s invented (it’s based on a true story: a bear did make off with a briefcase containing the manuscript of his wife’s novel). The satirical possibilities are obvious but it never feels as though Kotzwinkle is straining to find them; since the situation is ripe for it, he shamelessly exploits all the possibilities, and most readers will be no more disposed to question what he’s up to than the publishing people who accept this

Hemingwayesque writer called Hal Jam at “face value,” unable or unwilling to make the perceptual leap that would reveal that the literary sensation they are working for is a bear. Meanwhile Kotzwinkle is playing fast and loose with politically correct readers ready to wave flags labeled misogynist, homophobe, racist, as when the bear rides too far on the subway and surfaces in Harlem. The ensuing scenes and caricatures have a careless brilliance reminiscent of Terry Southern and R. Crumb, except that the nature of the protagonist lends a primal innocence, at once humorous and lovable, to everything he sees, smells, touches, thinks, and says (his vocabulary limited to the objects of his appetite and the few sometimes hilariously unfortunate phrases he learns from his human friends). Kotzwinkle wants you to laugh at what happens when a force of nature invades the publishing and celebrity culture, but as he says in an interview, “if comedy is hurtful, it’s no longer giving people release. The goal of comedy should be to improve somebody’s disposition, cheer them up and make them feel better. Cruelty is just never good; it always hurts.” The chapters about the bear in New York alternate with shorter ones concerning the fate of Destiny and Desire’s actual author, Arthur Bramhall, who, despairing at the loss of his manuscript, retires to a cave that turns out to be, wouldn’t you know, the bear’s former habitat. It’s a two-way happy ending as Bramhall thrives in the wild and the bear finds another manuscript. The real-life film rights were purchased by the late Jim Henson and you can see why, but a Muppet version of Hal won’t cut it. You need a force as hugely human as John Goodman made up to resemble a middle-aged Hemingway, and you need a director with Frank Capra’s humanity and Steven Spielberg’s knack for making bedtime stories for grown-ups. THE REAL THING

Imagine William Faulkner circa 1954, hung-over but lucid, pacing under the looming sycamores of Hodge Road in Princeton with Old Ben the giant bear and the Big Woods looming in his mind, and his editor, Saxe Commins, by his side. Later, the author, by then severely sober, sits in the super-civilized comfort of the Commins living room on Alison Road watching squirrels and occasional rabbits come to life in the backyard, beyond which could be seen those same lofty leafy Hodge Road sycamores. He’s preparing

a shorter version of “The Bear” for a place in The Big Woods, the book he will dedicate to Commins in the form of an author to editor memo (“We never always saw eye to eye but we were always looking at the same thing”). Still distracted by the sunny yard, he’s working on the passage where “the wilderness coalesced....Then he saw the bear. It did not emerge, appear: it was just there, immobile, fixed in the green and windless noon’s hot dappling...Then it moved. It crossed the glade without haste, walking for an instant into the sun’s full glare and out of it, and stopped again and looked back at him across one shoulder. Then it was gone. It didn’t walk into the woods. It faded, sank back into the wilderness without motion....” Then, the length of two short (for Faulkner) paragraphs farther on, he brings civilization and education into his woods of words, “the backyard rabbits and squirrels his kindergarten, then the wilderness the old bear ran was his college, and the old male bear itself... was his alma mater.” All this being readied for the printer where else but in the western district of this wood-wild college town we live in.


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f Michael Oppenheimer has told the story once, he has told it a hundred times: Where he stayed, what he saw, and what he was thinking on that night in October 2012 when Hurricane Sandy turned the East Coast into a blast corridor. Where he stayed—at his home in New York City with his family, at one point walking over to Pier 40 to look at the Hudson River from the pier. What he saw—the river already risen to just below the height of the pier, hours before the hurricane peaked. What he thought—well, that is another question altogether. Oppenheimer’s impressions are the sum of several decades of scientific inquiry into climate change, and they require more than a simple answer. They require a little background. At his Princeton University office one spring morning, surrounded by the detritus of someone else’s research (a graduate student is sharing his space), Oppenheimer is relaxed, chatty, and surprisingly free of animosity for a man who has been called all manner of names by global warming “denialists.” He talks freely about climate change and his long professional life articulating it, first as chief scientist at The Environmental Defense Fund, and now as Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School. He has authored a staggering list of books and papers on climate change, and edits the Climatic Change journal. He is associated with the faculty of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, and a myriad of other programs. He was a Guggenheim Fellow. He provides counsel to New York City’s panel on hurricane and storm surge mitigation. Most notably, he was in a team of scientists participating in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. An engaging conversationalist, Oppenheimer has a kind face and sometimes sports one of those large mustaches that puts you in mind of the actor Sam Elliott. Regardless of the claims of his blustery critics, however, Oppenheimer is no actor. He is an advocate on behalf of the climate and, to be frank, of the entire planet. It’s a rough job these days but he seems quite willing to do it. And keep doing it, and keep doing it until the essential point is sufficiently made and even the denialists accept the ominous evidence of global warming.


“I don’t find it exhausting to talk about this all the time, no. I’m an optimist. So anytime I find anybody who is really willing to listen, it makes me happy,” he says. “And frankly, who needs a bad news story? You pick up a newspaper and you could throw up. I mean, things are just terrible in a lot of different ways, and so, Poof! I don’t want to read about that. “And then the average person—their jobs are not secure, they don’t have healthcare, they’re running into problems. So where does the climate fit in? For most people, it doesn’t. So if it is not in their faces today, they’d rather put it on the back burner. And I



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don’t blame them. You have to deal with life, frankly. “Anyway, although there appears to be a struggle over people’s thinking on the climate right now, the debate probably would not exist at all had scientists not been pounding their fists loudly over what they know. We wouldn’t have enough observations. No one would understand. And then one day, someone would wake up and say, ‘Hey, some really bad shit is happening with the climate. Why didn’t somebody tell us about that?’ So I’m just one of a lot of people who are doing that.”


Oppenheimer sees himself as following in the wake of that early generation of World War II scientists who “got their hands dirty” building the atomic bomb. (He is no relation to theoretical physicist and atom bomb scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer.) Many of them later came to regret that involvement, says Oppenheimer. But they also realized it created new opportunities to take part in public policy debates raging, then and now, about matters that affect us all. While most scientists still prefer to be in their laboratories, he says, they cannot ignore an almost evangelistic sense of their larger duty. That thinking would explain Oppenheimer’s very public, very outspoken profile. Born and raised in Queens, New York, Oppenheimer came of age in a household brimming with political awareness. His mother was a chemist, and her father in turn had been a politician. “I was very alive politically,” he says. Oppenheimer’s father was a diamond expert, and managed a jewelry firm in the Empire State Building. “My brother used to be a gem runner in the small hours,” he says, laughing at the memory. “I still can’t believe this. They would give him, like, thousands of dollars of gems to take up to the guys on 47th Street.” That brother, he adds, later earned a Ph.D. in chemistry. Oppenheimer chose the maternal family business as well, going off to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at the age of 16, his academic prowess already apparent. He was uncertain about whether he

wanted to be a scientist. A career in law had an equal, early appeal. So instead of deciding, he took the “path of least resistance,” quite possibly the only individual in history to call MIT a path of least resistance. “The atmosphere at MIT was suicidal. They set it up so that it was unrelenting pressure,” Oppenheimer says. “My grades were mediocre through my junior year, but I didn’t care. The chance to learn was incredible. It was like being in a candy store—all this new stuff that I had no idea existed. My courses were in philosophy, religion. There was a guy I took a course on Shakespeare with. The ‘Modern Language Association’ just exploded there during the Vietnam War. I took a course in that. It was really inspiring.” After MIT, Oppenheimer got his Ph.D. in 1970 in chemical physics from the University of Chicago. He worked with a chemist there on issues surrounding air pollution, his first real step into science and advocacy. Partly because one post-doctoral grant fell through and partly because there happened to be a Harvard astrophysicist standing next to him when he found that out, Oppenheimer ended up at Harvard, as an astrophysicist in the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Years later, an eye-opening, one-month backpacking trip through the pristine splendor of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge convinced him to seek work on behalf of the environment at the Environmental Defense Fund. He spent the next two decades there. Oppenheimer came to Princeton University in 2002 after receiving “a fabulous offer,” allowing him to think deeply, train a new generation of young scientists, and be a “good dad.” Oppenheimer and his wife, Leonie Haimson, who runs her own educational advocacy group, have two children, ages 23 and 15. Oppenheimer says the kids spent their first few summers and many holidays since on Block Island off Rhode Island, leaving them with an appreciation of nature in its untrammeled beauty. Oppenheimer himself loves the island’s rolling meadows, wild coast and beautiful beaches. “It’s a peaceful place,” he says.

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Oppenheimer fields a lot of questions about the climate, many of them from the average citizen who puzzles over why an estimated three- or four-degree increase in the average global temperature due to climate change is something to worry about. One MSNBC television reporter recently told Oppenheimer during an on-air interview that he experiences that differential every time he adjusts his thermostat. What, then, is the big deal? “One measure of miserably hot days is if you take the 10 percent hottest in any year. Keep that in mind as a benchmark,” Oppenheimer says. “It turns out that the days that used to occur only 10 percent of the time historically are now occurring 15 to 20 percent of the time. And by 2040, if the projections are correct, should be occurring about 30 percent of the time. “So days that were rare—days that make people sick or kill people—are just going to keep increasing. And that’s for only a modest global temperature increase.” This does not take into account, Oppenheimer adds, the consequent rise in the sea level; larger, more violent storms; droughts, food shortages, water and infrastructure problems, and the vast, frightening possibility of an irreversible decline in the planet’s climate balance.

It is no wonder, Oppenheimer says, that denialists, and regular people, turn away from the specter of global warming. “The research suggests that people don’t make decisions based on the facts. They’re guided by looking to others whom they trust, either in their small social circles or in the larger world. And that might be anyone from Al Gore to Rush Limbaugh.” As the world quickly approaches the threshold of no return, beyond which the efforts to reverse global warming will have little impact, Oppenheimer believes there is one entity above all others that is crucial to the battle. “Personally, I’ve always thought that the people are open to the idea that something has to be dealt with,” he says. “What is missing is the governmental leadership. People are only going to deal with problems like this if they feel everybody else is going to deal with them, too, and if they think that governmental leaders are serious. “So the only way people can be brought around to acting now on something that’s going to affect them later is political leadership. For the first time, we’re seeing a coherent regulatory response to greenhouse gases coupled with a public message. Now, it ain’t perfect. But I detect a level of seriousness that I haven’t seen before.”


So what, after all, were his thoughts during Hurricane Sandy? The question has to be phrased the way most people phrase it, as one that bedevils all scientists trying to explain the issues: Was the hurricane a result of global warming? Oppenheimer gives the kind of slow, deliberate answer that irritates news outlets like CNN and MSNBC, and goes to the heart of the skepticism over global warming. “Was this snowstorm or hurricane due to global warming, or was that tornado due to global warming?” Oppenheimer asks rhetorically. “Those are connections that are difficult if not impossible to make. So when scientists start saying, ‘On the one hand...,’ or ‘On the other hand...,’ and, ‘maybe statistically...,’ the reporters go, okay, stop talking. It’s a story that doesn’t fit the media mold. To really understand and get to the real information that the experts are trying to deliver takes homework. It’s technical. And the stories can’t be done superficially.” But as for that night in October 2012 waiting for Hurricane Sandy’s approach, Oppenheimer and his family stood on Pier 40 looking out at the river. And he drew a conclusion analogous to the larger issue of global warming, and what we are likely to face. “It gave you the feeling,” he says about watching the river rising, “that if you didn’t get out of there quickly, you weren’t going to get back home.”


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Divesh Ramani, from West Windsor, is among the local athletes who will be competing in the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games.





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Photography courtesy of Special Olympics New Jersey.


or one week in the middle of June, Mercer County will be overrun with athletes. Some 3,500 of them—swimmers, golfers, bowlers, cyclists, runners, gymnasts, tri-athletes; softball, baseball, basketball, bocce and tennis players—will descend on the gymnasiums, arenas and playing fields of Princeton University, Rider University, the College of New Jersey, area private schools, and Mercer County Park. They will come from 50 states to compete in the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games. Four years in the planning, this gathering June 14-21 is a major coup for Special Olympics New Jersey, the Lawrenceville-based organization that provides year-round training in Olympic-type sports for youngsters with intellectual disabilities. Tens of thousands of spectators are expected in the stands to witness these athletes in action. As with any sports competition, there will be triumph and disappointment. But through it all, the spirit of encouragement that defines the Special Olympics, and has changed the lives of children all over the world, will be the focus. “The confidence gained in playing sport is amplified for our athletes, because they may not have the same opportunities to excel in academics or the arts,” said Marc Edenzon, CEO of Special Olympics New Jersey. “We’ve had athletes train and compete, and then be invited to join their high

school swim teams. Others have gotten jobs with coaches. We’ve had athletes invited to participate in membership organizations. And this can all start with that confidence that comes with athletics.” On a rainy weeknight in March, the sports complex of Special Olympics New Jersey’s headquarters on Princess Road was buzzing with young athletes training on treadmills and lifting weights. Some were paired with area college and high school students who are part of the organization’s Unified Sports program. Among the athletes was Divesh Ramani, a tall, handsome 18-year-old from West Windsor who will represent Team New Jersey in cycling during the USA Games. Diagnosed with autism but high-functioning, Divesh has come a long way since his parents brought him to Special Olympics New Jersey five years ago. “People who saw him then and see him now are amazed,” said his father, who was waiting in the lobby outside the gym while Divesh worked out. “He has transformed. His self-esteem has been built up. He has learned skating, rowing, baseball, an indoor triathlon, and other sports. He has really come into himself.” Last Christmas, Divesh delivered a speech to the Princeton Toastmasters’ club about the difference that organization and Special Olympics New Jersey have made in his life. “He couldn’t have done this without Special Olympics,” said his father, watching

a video of the speech on his Smart Phone. “The sports, the people here, have given him so much confidence. It is wonderful to see.” Other parents testify to remarkable results. “One of our proudest moments we’ve had with Colin was when he stood up independently for the first time,” said parent Kelli Tobin in Special Olympics New Jersey’s 2012 annual report. “He participated in his first Summer Games this past June and we couldn’t be more proud than to watch our little boy RUN down the track and cross the finish line.” Edenzon, CEO of the organization since 1995, is himself the parent of a 16-year-old son with intellectual disabilities. “I started volunteering here in the 1970s” he said. “Having my son, I have a greater appreciation for how the organization can bring families together and provide opportunities for celebration. I watch the kids, and I watch their parents. Sport is the point of entry for so many things.” The Special Olympics movement was the brainchild of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who opened a summer day camp in her suburban Washington back yard in 1962. Shriver was inspired by the tragic life of her sister Rosemary, who had been diagnosed as mentally retarded and subjected to a frontal lobotomy. Shriver had noticed, when Rosemary was young, that she was able to be an enthusiastic participant in sailing and other sports in which the athletic Kennedy family took part.


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Photography courtesy of Special Olympics New Jersey.

“Because of her sister, Eunice Shriver believed that persons with intellectual disability could excel in sport,” Edenzon says. “She always wanted to identify individuals who were underserved. She knew that there is no correlation between a person’s disability and what they can achieve in sport. There is a fraternity of sport, and participants are included in that.” Shriver’s efforts took root, and the first international Special Olympics Games were held in 1968 in Soldier’s Field, Chicago. Three years later, the U.S. Olympic Committee gave the Special Olympics official approval as one of only two organizations authorized to use the name “Olympics” in the country. The first International Special Olympics Winter Games were held in February 1977, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. More than 500 athletes competed, in front of the cameras of CBS, ABC, and NBC television networks. Today, the Special Olympics is the world's largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, providing year-round training and competitions to more than 4.2 million athletes in 170 countries. Special Olympics New Jersey, which started in 1968, is one important cog in the wheel. “We submitted a bid to host the 2014 games because we know New Jersey Special Olympics is a solid organization and we could provide the

resources,” says Edenzon. “We thought we could win the bid, and we did. We won over Boston. So this is a wonderful opportunity for us. We don’t have a chance to tell our story every day, and this means heightened awareness. It will be a vehicle not only to raise funds, but for our athletes to gain acceptance into the community, beyond the playing field.” High on the list of priorities at Special Olympics New Jersey is the Unified Sports program, which recently launched a new initiative pairing the athletes with students at Rowan University and has continued with Rider, Montclair State, The College of New Jersey, and high school and middle schools. During the USA Games, athletes from the program will be joined on the playing fields at TCNJ as a demonstration of how barriers can be broken down by sports. “At Rowan, it’s now woven into the fabric of the community,” said Edenzon. “We look at unified sports as an entry into acceptance into the community. We’re trying to provide opportunities for inclusion in all levels of play. We believe that’s the future of the movement.” In both individual and team sports, Special Olympics athletes follow the same rules as in a regular sports program. “This is so the athletes can transition into actual play,” Edenzon said. “And it also allows them to play with their cousins when they come over.”

Edenzon has a $600,000 budget for transportation, accommodation, and other necessities. Area hotels are booked. Somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 volunteers will be coaching, keeping score, and helping with meals. As part of a program called Healthy Young Athlete, pediatric specialists will be on hand to provide free consultations. Teenagers from all over the country are scheduled to attend to learn strategies for creating inclusive sports programs in their schools and communities. They’ll be bunking on the campus of The Lawrenceville School. “We think attendance is going to be particularly high because so many states are within driving distance of New Jersey,” Edenzon said. “There will be an incredible level of festivity in the area that week. The games will begin June 14 with an opening ceremony at Newark’s Prudential Center before moving to Mercer County. The closing ceremony on June 21 will be at Sun National Bank Center in Trenton. But once the celebrations are over and the athletes from outside the Garden State have returned home, the training will continue at Special Olympics New Jersey’s facility on Princess Road. “This place is always hopping,” said Edenzon. “It’s open to everyone. It’s a great way to educate the community. We’re the best-kept secret in Mercer County.”


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Summer Fun on “The Little Grey Island”


By Taylor Smith

antucket is a storied island off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The island’s maritime history is legendary. Whaling was at the heart of Nantucket’s culture and livelihood until the mid19th Century. Many of the original islanders were connected to the sea in some way, and all of them lived by it. Spontaneous storms, fog, and strong currents often caught sailors and visitors to the island off-guard. According to the Nantucket Shipwreck Museum (www.nantucketshipwreck. org), some 700 vessels litter the waters surrounding Nantucket Island. History has not quite faded into the background of Nantucket life. Centuries old buildings still stand and are now inhabited by upscale stores and restaurants. The cobblestone streets and buckled brick sidewalks often lead to seaside pubs where one can linger over a pint of beer or a glass of champagne. While the glitter of wealth is the hallmark of the summer season, the natural splendor found in Nantucket’s windswept beaches, dunes, wildflowers, seal sightings, and cranberry bogs, hardly goes unnoticed. First-time visitors will inevitably feel pulled back to “the little grey island,” as is evident by the generations of vacationers who return year after year.



When to Visit

Nantucket’s climate is heavily influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. With horizontal winds, steep snowdrifts, and freezing temperatures, the winter season is not for the faint of heart. During the spring and fall, lodging and dining prices are relatively low and guests will have the beaches, dunes, and bike paths all to themselves. Just remember to pack warm clothes, since you will most likely experience more cloud-cover than sunshine. The island finally begins to warm up in June and the summer weather conditions are absolute bliss. Daytime temperatures hover around 75° F and the sunlight is always bouncing off of the waves and sailboats. How To Get There

You cannot drive directly to Nantucket, but you can easily drive to Hyannis, Mass. where you can then board a ferry. Steamship Authority and Hy-Line Cruises offer transportation to the island. Vehicles are not allowed on the high-speed ferries, so book accordingly. You can avoid Hyannis and park for free in Harwich Point, Mass. where you can board the Freedom Cruise Line. This ferry service operates multiple times per day after Memorial Day. If you prefer to arrive in Nantucket at the snap of your fingers, flying is a great option. Boston Logan International Airport operates direct flights to Nantucket, as does Provincetown Municipal Airport, Barnstable Municipal Airport, Island Airlines, and Cape Air.

If you are coming from New Jersey or New York, your best options are to fly Cape Air or JetBlue Airlines. Both operate frequent flights from New York City to Nantucket during the summer season. Lodgings

Wade Cottages: These classic New England cottages were once part of a private estate owned by the Wade family. Located on ‘Sconset’s North Bluff, the cottages are surrounded by nature and ocean views. They are rented for a 2-week minimum. An apartment is also available for rent for a minimum of 1-week (www.wadecottages. com). White Elephant: Situated directly on Nantucket Harbor, the White Elephant offers luxurious hotel rooms, suites, and cottages. There are many resortlike amenities including a swimming pool, fitness center, complimentary bicycles, complimentary beach chairs, the White Elephant Spa, and daily afternoon wine and cheese. The White Elephant is also a popular wedding venue (www. The Cottages & Lofts at Boat Basin: A unique island experience, The Cottages at Boat Basin consist of 24 waterfront cottage rentals and 5 deluxe lofts. Each lodging includes comfortable furniture, a full kitchen, and pet-friendly accommodations (


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Union Street Inn: This intimate boutique hotel is conveniently located in the town of Nantucket. The Inn serves gourmet breakfasts and delicious afternoon snacks. Coffee, tea, and springwater are always available. There are 12 stylish rooms to choose from ( Rentals

Renting is always a popular option, especially if you are planning a family get-together or an extended stay. Congdon & Coleman (www.congdonandcoleman. com) rents everything from sprawling estates with tennis courts, to tiny, beachside bungalows. Windwalker Real Estate (www., Great Point Properties (, Killen Real Estate (, Maury People (, and Coffin & ‘Sconset Real Estate ( are also great choices. Be aware that rentals book up quickly and reservations are often made at least one-year in advance. Attractions

Every visitor must enjoy Nantucket’s Beaches, which vary in terms of surf and shoreline depending on where you are staying on the island. Located closest to the town of Nantucket, Jetties Beach is child-friendly and has many amenities like restrooms, casual open-air dining, and sailboat

rentals. The east coast beaches near Siasconset tend to have rougher waves. Surfers should head to the south-shore beaches like Cisco, Miacomet, and Surfside. The Nantucket Island Surf School is located in Cisco ( For fewer crowds and fantastic sunsets, head to Madaket on the island’s far west coast. Endeavor Sailing Adventures offers exciting sailing events for children and families. Captain Jim has over 30 years of sailing experience and can acquaint you with the maritime history of Nantucket. Sailing excursions are offered from May through October ( The Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum has one of the most extensive collections of lightship baskets anywhere. These baskets were originally made by crew members aboard the Lightship Nantucket. Lightships or light vessels acted as floating lighthouses and patrolled the Shoals south of Nantucket Island. To pass the time, the men aboard these ships began to construct oval shaped baskets out of rattan. They were then used as multi-purpose objects, carrying food to and from the market, or as gifts for their sweethearts. Beginning in the 20th Century, Nantucket women began to fashion them as purses. These more modern baskets were outfitted with a lid and decorative ivory pieces (www. The trek to Sankaty Head Lighthouse makes for a great bike ride. The brick lighthouse was built in 1850 and has weathered some of Nantucket’s fiercest

storms. The Milestone Road path will take you past miles of pine, heath, bayberry, and wildlife and leads right-up to the lighthouse. Shopping

North River Outfitter (www.northriveroutfitter. com) carries attractive outdoor and sporting gear that is difficult to find anywhere else. Their Boston and Nantucket locations can outfit you in Helly Hansen sailing jackets, Maui Jim sunglasses or a Vineyard Vines bow tie. Blue Beetle ( is the place to shop for monogrammed accessories. They offer monogrammed jewelry, iPhone cases, tote bags, and home products. Milly and Grace ( is a fabulous, feminine boutique that will have you lingering over cashmere throws, charm bracelets, and linen pillows. Murray’s Toggery Shop (www.nantucketreds. com) produces a famous style of chino known as “Nantucket Reds.” The salmon red color (which fades to an attractive pink overtime) was originally adapted from the uniforms worn by the New York Yacht Club. Today, Nantucket Reds are seen on visitors to the island in the form of canvas hats, shorts, sweaters, and more. They are the perfect island accessory and are recognized throughout New England.


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Images courtesy of

Jessica Hicks ( is a young jewelry designer who opened her own shop in Nantucket following college graduation. The store is now an island staple. Jessica handmakes each piece of jewelry and is a year-round resident of Nantucket. Nantucket Looms ( has been producing and selling beautiful handmade textiles since 1968. They showcase the best that Nantucket has to offer in terms of home décor. Butler’s of Far Hills (www.butlersoffarhills. com) is an interior design and decoration firm with locations in Nantucket and Far Hills, NJ. Interiors by owner and designer Jeffrey B. Haines have appeared in homes from Boston to Palm Beach, FL. Their Nantucket boutique features furniture and home accessories hand-picked by Jeffrey himself. Every summer the store includes new looks and inspiration for the home. The company is also well versed in event planning and will design the perfect setting for your family’s summer reunion, birthday or graduation party. Jetties Beach


Dune ( serves seasonal fare that utilizes the bounty of fresh seafood, vegetables, and organic meats harvested on the island. Typical dishes include sautéed local cod, vegetable risotto, and day boat sea scallops. Galley Beach ( began as a clam shack and has evolved into one of New England’s premier restaurants and dining experiences. A favorite of celebrities, the restaurant offers beachfront dining and delicious cocktails in combination with sophisticated food. Summer House Restaurant (www.summerhouse is owned and operated by three-time James Beard award winning chef Todd English who curates a delicious menu of seafood, pasta, and grill items. Enjoy a pre-dinner drink at the restaurant’s piano bar. Club Car ( A Nantucket favorite for decades, the Club Car serves hearty, homemade food for lunch and dinner. Clam chowder is a house specialty. They also have a great bar and extensive wine list. Straight Wharf Restaurant (www.straighwharf uses all locally sourced ingredients and, depending on what is available, the menu changes daily. The restaurant has played host to many wedding and rehearsal dinners and is a great place to throw a private event.




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By Taylor Smith

pirited devotion has been a trademark of Princeton University alumni dating back to the first official post-graduate gatherings in the late 1850s. Today’s P-rade evolved from late 19th century Commencement Day dinner meetings and Princeton vs. Yale athletic competitions during which alumni marched (according to graduating class) down to the baseball field for the highly competitive and wellattended games. The athletic match-up of Tiger vs. Bulldog always took place the Saturday before Commencement. Soon enough, this procession down to the baseball fields took on the look and feel of a parade. At that time, class members distinguished themselves with patches and pins indicating their class year. Princeton graduates didn’t begin donning a “uniform” until 1912. That year’s graduating class decided to wear matching denim overalls, which served the purpose of protecting their Commencement Day outfits from beer stains. The class of 1913 continued the idea with their decision to wear white “beer jackets.” By the 1920’s the beer jackets had become a hallmark of the returning alumni, each graduating class designing their own unique style of jacket. Until the undergraduate body became coeducational in 1969, women were not permitted to participate in the P-rade and thus, did not don beer jackets. Princeton University students receive their beer jackets at graduation. During the P-rade, they join their fellow alumni in a march through the town of Princeton and the University grounds. The result is a sea of outrageous patterns in orange and black accompanied by huge smiles and brass band music. New beer jacket designs are created for every fiveyear reunion. A significant and enduring feature of the P-rade is the presence of the “Old Guard,” a group of alumni who represent the oldest classes (beyond their 65th reunion). These alumni parade through the campus of Princeton (often in golf carts) and carry the notable Class of 1923 cane, a wooden staff decorated with a leaping tiger. The P-rade ends at Poe Field, but the fanfare and celebration continue well into the night.



Members of the classes of 1944 through 1950 on the steps of Clio Hall. Photo courtesy of Princeton University Archives.


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(top, middle, bottom-left) Seniors cheer and applaud the accomplishments of their peers, while showing their spirit as “the great Class of 2013.” Class of 2009, 2011, photos courtesy of Princeton University, Office of Communications, Denise Applewhite.

(above) Brooke Shields, actress, author and advocate, delivers the Class Day keynote address wearing the class jacket of her 1987 Princeton graduating class—and orange-and-black sunglasses. Photo courtesy of Princeton University, Office of Communications, Denise Applewhite. may 2014 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

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| the last word

(l-r) Derek Smith, Burton Curtis, Naomi O’Connell, Adam Green, and Jeanne Paulsen in The Figaro Plays, Barber of Seville. Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Setting the Stage at McCarter Theatre By Ilene Dube Photography courtesy of McCarter Theatre


o matter what McCarter Theatre audiences think of the play, one thing they all seem to agree on is the set. As soon they enter the Matthews or Berlind theaters, the oohs and ahs begin. A recent standout was Eugene Lee’s design for Proof in September 2013, a bedazzling and detailrich façade of a Chicago house against a backdrop of an enormous blackboard on which mathematical equations take over. McCarter has employed Lee no fewer than 10 times. Also the production designer for Saturday Night Live, Lee has won numerous Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Wicked, Sweeney Todd, Candide, and Showboat. But even when Lee is tied up with commitments as resident designer at Trinity Rep in Providence, R.I., or adjunct professor at Brown, his sets stand out. Working under Director of Production David York, Technical Director Chris Nelson and Prop Master Michele Sammarco, along with their team of nine staffers, make sure all the moving parts come together. On a recent spring day, in the McCarter production shops at 744 Alexander Street, West Windsor – an old Bohren’s Moving and Storage facility re-outfitted since 2003 – Sammarco and Nelson are juggling demands for The Figaro Plays.



With The Marriage of Figaro and The Barber of Seville scheduled to open in repertory, there is little time between productions to change sets – in some cases as few as 94 minutes. A props artisan is busy making luggage, purchased on eBay, look appropriately vintage, and a carpenter is building a jury box. With perfectly mitered corners and softly sanded sides, the inexpensive plywood will be painted to look like fine walnut with trompe-l’oeil moulding and panels. Also in production are castle doors for the main house of The Barber of Seville, finished to look like 100-yearold doors. Large fabricated butterflies from A Winter’s Tale flutter up above, and the costume shop is abuzz with people sewing and ironing. Describe the process of designing a set at McCarter. How much lead time do you have? Chris Nelson: Once the season is established, Emily Mann and the director select the designers and we plan the design calendar. We look at drawings to see if it is viable for us to produce. We usually get five to six weeks to build the set and put it in place. Michele Sammarco: And during four of those weeks they’re rehearsing. We know most of the props, but important information about the props comes out of rehearsal. We know the basic design ahead of time so we start shopping and putting it together. During rehearsals we may find out a chair is the wrong style or the director doesn’t like the upholstery, so we can’t get real far ahead. But we can do the research ahead of time.

things that aren’t faked. He has no affinity at all for realistic backdrops. He doesn’t have any desire to deny we’re in the theater. He’s an artist, thinking about how to tell the story. CN: With Eugene I spend a lot of time going to salvage yards. For the trailer in Last of the Boys we found something that had been sitting around for 30 years, covered in mold and dirt, but it was so interesting and real and had character to it. Eugene knew the trailer would be the centerpiece of the play, so we worked on it ahead – that’s the kind of thing you can’t build. Eugene Lee, with a model from the world premiere of‚“Last of the Boys,” by Steven Dietz, which had its World Premiere at McCarter in 2004. Photo by Jim Hooper.

What has it been like working with Eugene Lee? MS: Eugene wants objects to be natural and real and raw, he likes that feeling of found objects and


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Michele Sammarco and Chris Nelson on the set of The Marriage of Figaro. Photo by Matt Pilsner.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, with Weaver, Magnussen, Nielsen, Pierce, and Angelson.

Views of the prop room. (front row, l-r) Betsy Hogg, Adam Green, and Maggie Lacey, with members of the company in The Figaro Plays, Marriage of Figaro. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Proof took place in Chicago so he designed architectural details that mimicked Chicago. I would try to find the right size prop windows, e-mailing him digital pictures of what I would find. How do you determine if you’ll search for something that already exists or build it in house? CN: You can’t find a rolling jury box online. How is the decision made to do a complex or a simple set? CN: At every design meeting, we hear, “don’t worry, it’s going to be simple, it will feel like magic,” but sets that look simple are the hardest to build. MS: Romeo and Juliet was stark, with giant white walls, a chandelier and a fountain in the middle, but it was expensive to build those fabric walls. Sometimes the visually complex is simple to do. For Into the Woods we had 4,000 feet of rope. For Athol Fugard’s Valley Song we just had crates. CN: For The Iliad, performed on the Matthews stage, the actor walks out on a deserted set to talk to the audience. The back wall of the Matthews has only been minimally altered since the very first production of Our Town was performed there in 1938. The set designer had us build a replica of the back wall because the stage was too big. We replicated the drainage pipes and insulation, and when the University maintenance department guy came in to fix a leak, he looked at our replica and was so confused: “Why did you do this?” The audience must have thought we had nothing to build.

What are the unique challenges you face in your work? MS: Listening to the designer and making the design become a reality. We have to make sure we understand what the director wants so we can pass it along to our staff. We’re caretakers of design, going between the nuts and bolts. CN: We have very talented folks working for us who can make this happen. How did you get into this line of work? MS: I studied theater at Northwestern but didn’t like acting. I studied all aspects, from costume and lighting design to set construction and props. I’ve known since high school I wanted to do theater. CN: In 9th grade, when I auditioned for a play, I knew I was not meant to perform – it was the most embarrassing moment of my life. Still, I knew I wanted to be involved in theater so I did lighting throughout high school. I didn’t see theater as a career, so I started out as a pre-med psychology major at Penn, but I couldn’t wait to hang lights and build scenery. It’s a way to use math and science every day. What happens when the show is over? MS: The built items may be sold on Craig’s List, saved for another production or disassembled for raw materials. CN: With shows like Fences, which was performed at the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, we built it and sent it to them, splitting the cost. If the show goes to Broadway or Lincoln Center (like Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike), the space may be different so adjustments will be built. White Snake was built for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, then

sent to Berkeley Rep, and we got it from them and did modifications before it was send to the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. What are some props you’ve repurposed? MS: A chaise from The Odyssey, for example, was painted and reupholstered and used in a production the following season. Sometimes we put items in a set that are not part of the design but will fill bookshelves – a bird’s nest, jaws, a chicken – silly things that make it more entertaining. Are there special items you keep in storage? CN: We do Christmas Carol every year, so upstairs is an entire closet of Christmas Carol costumes, freshly dry cleaned. Fezziwig changes sizes every year, so we need several Fezziwig costumes. The Christmas Carol set and props are stored in four trailers on the lot, and there’s a warehouse on U.S. 1 we use for larger furniture. MS: Also up there are rows of shelves of teapots, samovars, wine and beer bottles, silver service, record players, spices, cookie tins, law books and fake books, chandeliers, fabric bolts, and more suitcases and chairs. This chair you’re sitting in was used by Humpty Dumpty. Is it comfy? CN: I bought this chair. Props often look comfy but they’re not. MS: Actors don’t like squishy chairs. Eugene Lee will return to McCarter Theatre Center in October of 2014, designing The Understudy.


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