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WEEKEND // FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012

? S E M I T D L IKE O

L S s M e g a e h t SEE h la throug l e p p a C Yale A A ROLYN LIPK

CA INSHI AND // BY JACK L

GENTLE(WO)MAN

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OCCUPYALE

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AND ALSO A SCHOLAR?

YALE FOR OCCUPY NEW HAVEN?

Baobao Zhang on her Southern roots, gender norms and scholarly pursuits.

Akbar Ahmed looks at the dwindling support of Yale students for the Occupy movement — and what this means for the eviction on the Green.

SLAVS

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A ‘STRONG VILLAGE WOMEN’ CULTURE Caroline Tracey profiles the Yale Slavic Chorus, the first all-women’s musical group on campus.


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YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012 · yaledailynews.com

ZHANG

WEEKEND VIEWS

A SCHOLAR AND A GENTLEMAN // BY BAOBAO ZHANG

// ILANA STRAUSS

NIARCHOS

One hundred years ago, Owen Johnson’s novel “Stover at Yale” was published. An American version of “Tom Brown at Oxford,” the book recounts Dink Stover’s transition from the Lawrenceville School to Old Campus. As expected, his classmates, professors, and coaches groomed him into the Yale gentleman — a class leader, a football star and a member of Skull and Bones. On the surface, we have come a long way since Dink Stover’s day. Yale admits women. Men don’t all rush out to the gridiron. LGBTQ students have institutional support. Yale College’s mission statement reflects these changes; it states: “The aim of [Yale’s] education is the cultivation of citizens with a rich awareness of our heritage to lead and serve in every sphere of human activity.” Yet, there is something old-fashioned about this mission statement. Note the words “our heritage to lead.” Below the surface, you can still find plenty of heritage that represents Dink Stover’s Yale. Just look at the rituals of Mory’s, the formal dinners hosted by Grand Strategy, or the tuxedos worn by the Whiffenpoofs. At the “bourgeois” corner of York and Elm, two stores cater exclusively to men. (Though women can buy scarves at J. Press, I am told.) If you want further proof that this culture is worthy of conversation and perhaps light mockery, just take a look at Jack Schlossberg’s satiric column “How to be a gentleman,” which appeared in the March 2 issue of WEEKEND. Although I try to resist the gentleman’s Old Yale, I am involuntarily sucked into it. Once, at a birthday party, I struck up a conversation with

a sophomore that led to our discovery that we both went to school in the D.C. area. “So you want to Episcopal? No way, I went to St. Albans! Do you know this kid Gift Maworere who played on the soccer team?” he asked. I nodded my head, though I never felt comfortable with the old boy network, even if it’s merely a cocktail conversation. When people at Yale ask me whether I enjoyed boarding school, I usually shrug my shoulders, as if saying, “Hey, let’s talk about something else.” Yet upon arriving at Phelps Gate, I heeled the Yale Daily News, joined Grand Strategy and wondered about senior societies. Even though I am a girl and a feminist, I clung to the old ideals of being “a scholar and a gentleman.” Since then, I’ve wanted to shrug off that “Stover at Yale” identity. My gender troubles started in high school. For many of us, during those adolescent years, we wrestled between developing our own identity and following the herd. I had an especially difficult time because I was an Asian and a scholarship kid at a Southern prep school that had only started coeducation in 1991. Although its faculty and administrators tried to “empower” girls, a smog of patriarchy pervaded the student culture. “Weren’t students at your school all members of the Southern aristocracy?” a wisecrack once remarked. My smart-aleck friend is partly right. Just as the liberal elites of New York sent their kids to Dalton or Trinity, the not-so-liberal elites of Richmond, Charlotte, and Charleston sent theirs to Episcopal. Many of my female classmates were expected to become latter-day South-

ern belles. They would go to decent — but not top-tier — universities, where they would join sororities. Afterwards, these polished young ladies would marry promising young gentlemen. They would work to support their husbands through law school, medical school, or business school, and once their husbands launched their careers, these women were expected to become homemakers/socialites/ charity-fundraisers. Since I didn’t have the pedigree or luxury to become a Southern belle, I resolved to become a “scholar and a gentleman.” I was competitive in ways girls were not expected to be. I took hard science classes, I was outspoken on political issues and I refused to wear high heels. Rumors spread that I was a lesbian, which I’m not. Some of these old “masculine” habits followed me to Yale. I still wear boys’ clothing, an aggressive competitive strike occasionally surfaces in me (like the time I raced my Yale-PKU group to the top of Mount Tai to only realize I had left my friends behind), and at the Yale Daily News I often (playfully) threaten to punch our city editor. Perhaps my drive to join the “boys’ club” led me to study international security, a field that has historically been dominated by men. But at Yale, I also learned to question the supposed virtues of manliness. During the first weeks of Directed Studies, my professors praised the heroism of Greek warriors and the glory they achieved in battle. Even Odysseus, who rejected the life of adventure for his hearth and home, marked his return to Ithaca with revenge killings. Why was such violence necessary? Even

these days, I still question the books and articles I read in Grand Strategy (shocker). While I appreciate Machiavelli, Hobbes and Clausewitz as much as my classmates, I often wonder why the emphasis on the state’s security sometimes renders human rights or social justice unimportant.

numerous reported and unreported sexual assaults and harassments that have occurred in our community. But the idealization of the “Yale gentleman” has more subtle consequences. It compels some of us to wear suits when we would rather wear sweatshirts (or hoodies); it drives some of

SLOWLY, I CAME TO REALIZE I DON’T HAVE TO BE A GENTLEMAN TO BE A SERIOUS SCHOLAR. Slowly, I came to realize I don’t have to be a gentleman to be a serious scholar. “Gentleman,” though meant to praise someone’s sophistication, is a constraining social construct. The original definition of “gentleman” in the Oxford English Dictionary is “a man of gentle birth, or having the same heraldic status as those of gentle birth.” It gives off an air of elitism and demands a rigid social code. In short, it evokes the “wholesome,” heterosexual, bourgeois male from Stover’s days. At its extreme, masculinity on college campuses can turn into misogyny, as seen in the DKE’s offensive chants on Old Campus in 2010 or the

us to high-power corporate jobs when we would rather go into public service. Inside the ivory tower, some of us cling to our elitism and forget the poverty and injustice felt by our New Haven neighbors. In short, some of us become self-important, looking at the world nonchalantly through a monocle like Eustace Tilley, the New Yorker mascot. Yale College’s mission states that its students should “lead and serve in every sphere of human activity.” Perhaps more emphasis should be pleased on the second verb.

Class of 2012: get a job as quickly as you can. If you wait, you’ve nothing to fall back on. Case in point: my first ‘job’ interview came in October, after months of emails without reply and the occasional rejection letter (“times, as you know, are tough … ”). It was for Monocle magazine, a fashion/lifestyle magazine that I had applied to as a last ditch attempt. Ushered into a sleek room in their stylish minimal offices off Baker Street in London, I realised that my attempt to dress like a minor politician had been in vain; I was in the land of skinny jeans and skinny ties and skinny people. Informed that the job would be two months of coffee-making and that I would receive a 20p (about 30 cents) a day (I’m still not sure if that’s legal or counts as slavery), I asked whether, as an intern, I might possibly pen or contribute to an arti-

cle. The answer I received: “We’ve got really good writers writing for the magazine, so I don’t think so.” Well, I’ve found a job now and I’m working towards greater goals within a dynamic theoretical framework. Perhaps Shelley, after all, was right when he finishes a sonnet on the rotting state of England and the English in 1819: “All these are graves from which a glorious Phantom may Burst to illumine our tempestuous day.”

Contact BAOBAO ZHANG at baobao.zhang@yale.edu .

Towards a practicable Marxism // BY NICOLAS NIARCHOS

Pragmatism and Marxism are two states that, we learn at college, are not necessarily commensurate. A pragmatic approach involves a response to stimuli; a Marxist one, on the other hand should only respond to problems (and, indeed, formulate problems) after a thorough investigation. As Mao (following Confucius) writes in his 1930 dictum “Oppose Book Worship”: “Investigation may be likened to the long months of pregnancy, and solving a problem to the day of birth. To investigate a problem is indeed to solve it.” In an academic environment, the ‘Marxist’ approach of allowing a thought its proper gestation period is key. Immediate action, a mere response to stimuli seems to fly in the face of everything that higher education stands for, and even classes that flaunt their ‘practicality’ in the real world (think, for example, of ‘Studies

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in Grand Strategy’) have as their central emphasis a considered and investigative approach to problem solving. At university, ‘pragmatism’ smacks of Neoconservatism (or Neoliberalism on this side of the Atlantic); but once you leave the New Haven bubble, it hits you that this is how most of the world operates. To be able to achieve ideological goals, I have realised, as I near the completion of a year in the ‘Real World’ after Yale, one must be ready to react as well as inquire. While the term ‘pragmatic Marxism’ seems a bit silly to me, a ‘practicable Marxism’ (or, indeed, whatever theory you have admired throughout your University career) is necessary to implement good in the world. Theoretical aloofness ignores suffering and struggle, while a dogmatic adherence to set parameters defeats the spirit of enquiry.

NIGHT MARKET

Old Campus // 7:00 p.m. Kick off this year’s Asian-Pacific American Heritage month with free food, games and crafts. Hopefully there will be dumplings.

Do not believe, like me, that the “long months of pregnancy” were the countless hours you spent in Connecticut Hall or poring over manuscripts in the Beinecke, and that the birth will come to you in the form of a meaningful and useful job or mission after graduation. Graduating requires you to continue your investigation while reacting, and by reacting in whatever job you choose, you must have projects and read and remain creative, despite the legions of patronising interviewers and the inevitable period of self-catechisation followed by self-condemnation after every failed job interview. A theory will not withstand the heavy weather over tumultuous seas you will have to cross if you do not remember to continue your investigations while occasionally allowing for practical reality. And a final piece of advice for the

Contact NICOLAS NIARCHOS at nicolas.niarchos@gmail.com .

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: “Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: Inside Dartmouth’s Hazing Abuses” in Rolling Stone. C’mon bro, you know you want that vomlet.


YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012 · yaledailynews.com

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WEEKEND COVER

BRIGHT COLLEGE YEARS // BY JACK LINSHI AND CAROLYN LIPKA

1945

On a hot Sunday afternoon in 1945, 17-year-old Kemerer Edwards ’49 hurried across Old Campus. He stood at a staggering 6-foot-4, his brown hair waving in the August breeze over handsome cheekbones as he entered Dwight Hall for a startof-the-year mixer. Girls from Smith, Wellesley and New Haven squeezed through the crowd, coquettishly introducing themselves to the hundreds of new Yale freshmen. Edwards dressed sharply in a new J. Press shirt and khaki pants and was ready to impress. The short commute to these women’s colleges would be only a small price to pay for a date. And so, Edwards readily outstretched his hand. “I’m Kem, pleasure to meet you,” he said. But conversations were eventually cut short, as eyes turned from Edwards and the rest of his classmates to the dashingly mysterious men who stepped on stage. Uniformly outfitted in black tails and white shirts, the men began singing as the pitch pipe nodded his head. In perfect harmony, they sang. “Seems like old times, having you to walk with. Seems like old times, having you to talk with.” The singers looked out at the girls in the crowd as though they were singing just for them. “Just like old times, staying up for hours, Making dreams come true, doing things we used to do. Seems like old times, being here with you.” It was unsettling, hearing “Seems Like Old Times” in this very new time for all of the freshmen. For that moment, the ephemerality of Yale became all too real, as Edwards and his young classmates toyed with the idea that one day, Yale would be only a distant memory, and their spell of invincibility would one day fade into mortality. But the girls’ applause slapped them back to reality. For now, Edwards was sure of one thing — he wanted to be the center of the girls’ starry-eyed admiration, currently directed at the suave men in tails before them. It was simple, really: Edwards and his classmates wanted to be them, and the women wanted to be with them. They were the popular men on campus. They were the Whiffenpoofs. “All the young ladies were swooning — what prospects that held!” Edwards, now 84, exclaims to me with a wide grin from across the table at Willoughby’s. He laughs,

gently adjusting his new hearing aid as if his own exclamation had been unexpectedly loud. “I knew immediately that was what I wanted to do.” Yet there was no singing dessert, no rush, no auditions. Instead, Edwards readily joined the Freshman Glee Club, the most prestigious first-year singing group, and shortly after was asked to join the one of the singing groups — as they were then called — the Spizzwinks(?). Previous Whiffenpoofs, such as Bob Johnson ’42, whom Edwards would later meet, tended to be parts of selfformed octets and quartets that had made themselves well known. Back in Dwight Hall, Edwards felt his World War II draft card in his wallet — 4F, so his conscription was unlikely — and hoped that in two years, he might join the ranks of the elite. “[The Whiffs] knew who could sing and who was fun to be with,” Edwards tells me. “It was a simple process … you were really just asked to come sing with the group.”

2010

It’s not that simple anymore. It’s sticky and hot as overwhelmed students pack into Payne Whitney Gymnasium for Camp Yale’s Freshman Extracurricular Bazaar. Freshmen have a minute to compose themselves as they walk down the stairs, preparing to be bombarded by every registered club, from the cultural houses to the publications to the political groups. Before they arrive at the tables, the freshmen are accosted by people in matching T-shirts who ask if they can sing. “I had to face the inevitable ‘Do you sing?!’ to which I replied ‘Um … yup … I guess … but I’ve only done —’ I quickly learned to save my breath, to just say yes, take the flyer and keep walking,” Max Pommier ’14, a member of the Society of Orpheus and Bacchus, said. “I ended up joining the SOBs, still wide-eyed and clutching the bazaar flyers, exhilarated but quite confused.” Pommier’s experience is characteristic of many of the freshmen who spend a majority of their Yale career with these a cappella groups. The bazaar represents the beginning of a cappella rush, a process guided by over 50 rules and regulations that lasts nearly all of September. The Singing Group Council at Yale controls the rules and disciplinary actions during rush, mandating in their lengthy rulebook that “singing at all freshperson functions, including the Fresh Person Conference, FOOT, Harvest, Cultural Connections, the Orientation for Interna-

tional Students, and Freshman Dinners and Picnics will be regulated by the Council.” “I’ve heard that the reason why these rush rules exist is because these groups used to do crazy things for the rushees,” says Nate Barnett ’14, a member of the Spizzwinks(?). “This might just be rush lore, but there are rumors that groups once took rushees to Vegas and put them on yachts.” A cappella hopefuls then audition for groups and get assigned one to three rush meals — and at least one is guaranteed by the Singing Group Council. To accommodate rush meal schedules that sometimes include three lunches and three dinners, some group members decide to upgrade to the unlimited meal plan. Rush trudges on, and groups put on their Singing Desserts, during which they put on a concert for potential rushees. Unless they are explicitly extended an invitation from the performing group, other groups are strictly prohibited from attending. The successful auditioners get a callback, which includes yet another rush meal. Pre-taps and “kill calls” — in which a group notifies a rushee whether or not they will be tapped — are common and regulated by the Singing Group Council. Despite these regulations, rush can get dirty. “Pretty much every group does ‘sketch walks’ … where they [illegally] contact the rushees before tap night, typically after they’ve been pre-tapped, and meet with them outside of rush meal times,” said an a cappella member who requested anonymity to protect groups that had violated SGC regulations. This desire to attract the best group members can be mentally draining, said McKay Nield ’13, a member of Mixed Company and a future Whiffenpoof. He recalled witnessing rush managers break down into tears one year after a particularly hectic rush. “Everyone’s so preoccupied with impressing each other during those few weeks that I think genuine human connection and fun is sometimes lost in the mess of it all,” he added. “Those are the moments when a cappella is a lot less glamorous than world travel and CD-making.” Despite the pressure and competition, most people end up where they want and with the group that makes them feel most comfortable. Stephen Feigenbaum ’12, for example, said he chose to become a member of The Baker’s Dozen because of their emphasis on friendship and

social life. Even then, Jeremy Weiss ’15, a member of the Spizzwinks(?), said he was sad to have to discontinue some of the friendships he made during rush after the process was over. “Once the tap process is over, that’s the most liberating feeling,” future Whiffenpoof and The Baker’s Dozen member Brad Travis ‘13 said. “We got through the process.”

1948

Sixty-four years ago, and two and a half years after first hearing the Whiffenpoofs sing, Edwards sat reading under the dim light of room 729 in Jonathan Edwards College. Varsity Glee Club practice was over, and Edwards was deep into his English homework. He had no reason to believe that this day would be extraordinary. But it would be. Just outside, the 1948 Whiffenpoofs excitedly burst through the JE gate by York Street, into Edwards’ entryway, now entryway D. They sprinted up toward Edward’s second-floor single, and immediately started banging on his door. “It wasn’t a campus-wide tap night, and you had no idea whether you were going to be tapped or not,” Edwards recounts, eyes widening as he recalled the moment. “When they burst in, I knew who they were and what it was all about.” Are you with us? they yelled. Oh, yes, yes! Kem yelled back. “We didn’t do the cup and song back then, not like they do now [during tap night],” Edwards recalls. “After, we went to Mory’s and drank and sang — I didn’t get any more of my work done, of course.” That grand night at Mory’s, toasting with Green cups and Ballantine’s scotch, Edwards united with the three other basses in his tap class. He had already sung in the Glee Club with one of them, Richard Mapes ’49. Another, David Lippincott ’49, the late American composer and lyricist, would eventually write the famous song “Daddy was a Yale Man,” which is still performed today. “David wrote a lot of songs; he was a natural,” Edwards praised him. “They had to take him in.” “The other bass, Ted King ’49, had a car and a place up in Cape Cod where we could go for retreats,” Edwards recalls. “It wasn’t known how well he could sing, but these were good things — beautiful singing was not a hallmark of the Whiffenpoofs in the early days.” Connor Fay ’51, a freshman when Edwards was tapped, had always idolized Edwards, whose bass voice

was as vibrant as his personality. In another two years, Fay would be quietly working an evening shift in the Glee Club office when his Whiffenpoof dream would be fulfilled by receiving the unexpected, glorious tap. Later that night, I received a call from Fay, who revealed more of the materialistic criteria in Whiffenpoofs’ selection criteria. “In my time, we made our own criteria,” Fay tells me over the phone, his voice raspy and low. “First was if they could hold their liquor well, second was if they could be a good representative of the University, and third was if they were good singers.” For now, though, as a joyous evening in Mory’s turned to a hazy night and Edwards’ revelry came to an end, he returned to JE room 729, not as Kemener Edwards, but as Kemener Edwards, Whiffenpoof class of 1949. And that was it — initiation and celebration all accomplished in one joyful breeze.

2011

It’s drizzling on Old Campus as the clock strikes 10 on Sept. 21. Whim ’n Rhythm, the all-female senior a cappella group, begins to sing as 200 singers stand behind the High Street Gate, faces painted, goblets filled with alcohol, anxious to sprint to tap their new members. It seems like everyone is there, from residential college deans to college freshmen, enticed by the commotion. As the broom drops and the gate opens, battle cries of a cappella groups are heard ringing through campus. This is tap night. The freshmen knew this was coming. They’ve been heavily courted for weeks,ready to join the groups that have spent a month explaining how awesome they are. Suddenly, they’re part of a new world. “It all starts with rush,” Barnett said. “You just put your heart and soul into rush as a rushee and you have to believe there was a reason for you. The second you get in the group, you go on retreat, and it’s amazing. The group just takes you in. You start to get more involved, you start rehearsing right away, you’re always working towards something.” While a cappella used to be about singing with your friends, today, groups focus more on the sound of the music and executing complex arrangements. Most groups have three big on-campus concerts during the year: Singing Dessert, Family Weekend, and Jam. When they aren’t directly preparing for these events, groups typically rehearse six SEE A CAPPELLA PAGE 8

“IT WAS A SIMPLE PROCESS … YOU WERE REALLY JUST ASKED TO COME SING WITH THE GROUP.” TIVE CO // CREA

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A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM: A BALLET Co-op High School, 177 College St. // 8:00 p.m.

Based on Shakespeare’s play and set to a Mendelssohn score.

MMONS

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: Nicholas Kristof’s op-ed, “From South Sudan to Yale.” Paul Lorem, you are truly inspiring.


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YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012 · yaledailynews.com

WEEKEND ARTS

A NEW HOME FOR ART AT HIGHWOOD SQUARE // BY YANAN WANG

// YANAN WANG

Hamden is taking steps to revive with art the 54,000 square feet of land destroyed in a fire a decade ago

“It’s between Burger King and AutoZone.” Those are the instructions that Kristina Zallinger, 66, gives for the location of her home at Highwood Square. Situated at 953 Dixwell Ave., the affordablehousing complex in Hamden appears to be an unlikely place to find inspiration. Around it are empty storefronts and dilapidated office buildings, old casualties perhaps from the fire that ravaged the street a decade ago. It is the kind of place that compels a taxi driver to wonder why on earth you might be going there, and to ask whether you know that “this area’s not so great.” What the taxi driver does not know is that, while the area has been in decline for the last 25 years, the town has recently taken action to revive it. It is trying to reinvigorate the 54,000 square feet of land destroyed in the fire, starting with Highwood Square. Since it finished construction last June, Highwood Square has been home to a cooperative of artists like Zallinger, who is a painter. Filmmakers, musicians and poets have come together in the apartment complex as neighbors who share a deep appreciation for each other’s art. *** Zallinger is a broad-shouldered, stout woman with yellowrimmed glasses and kind eyes. She comes from a long line of artists: her parents and siblings are all artists. Her father, Rudolph Zallinger, is famed for his mural “The Age of Reptiles,” which is featured on the exterior of Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History. But Kristina Zallinger insists that her art is different from that of the rest of her family members, who are mainly realist painters. Meanwhile, Zallinger paints abstract expressionist art, using acrylic paints and mixed media

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to create colorful, textured canvases. After a year of not painting, Zallinger said that she moved into the building last May in the hope of establishing herself in the art world. The building is managed by NeighborWorks New Horizons, a local organization that provides affordable housing to those in the low income bracket. The idea of a living community for artists was conceived by Executive Director Seila Mosquera. “This project has been 12 years in the making,” said a NeighborWorks representative over the phone. While not everybody who lives in the building is an artist, artists who wanted to qualify for the subsidized housing had to undergo an extensive application process. Over 400 people submitted applications, and the building’s management chose tenants based on their artist’s statements, their work samples and the impressions that they left during the interview, said Shaunda Holloway, a print and textile maker. For Zallinger, moving into the building is an act of devotion to her art. “What I’m trying to do is to make it in the art world,” she said. “I’ve finally decided to make that commitment. Now is timely for me, because I have goals and this studio space that’s the first studio I’ve ever had.” In addition to apartments, Highwood Square also rents out studio space to the artists at a subsidized cost. For Holloway, the appeal of the building is a combination of its comfortable living environment and the opportunity it affords her to interact on a frequent basis with other artists. She said that she hopes to collaborate with neighbor and filmmaker Nikki Chavoya.

“We’re constantly trying to figure out how to make things happen,” Holloway said. “[Chavoya’s] just across the hall from me, so it’s not that difficult for us to brainstorm.” *** While it is located north of the city, Highwood Square has strong ties to New Haven. The design for the building, which features bright pastel colors and a geometric exterior reminiscent of Tetris, was conceived by New Haven-based architect Ben Ledbetter. Part of the structure reused the framework of the former Johnson Wholesale Perfume warehouse, converting the brick building into artistic studios and commercial office space. Adjacent to this building are 27 units of housing, a dozen of which house artists who are part of the cooperative. Fitted with bamboo floors and other “green” design elements, the work won first place in the Connecticut Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors Excellence in Construction Awards in 2011. Many of the artists interviewed also travel into the Elm City often to work or display their art. Holloway, who sells textiles and prints, exhibited her pieces at the “New Haven Spontaneous Artist Collective” in 2010. She has also worked with the Creative Arts Workshop on Audubon Street, and her latest work is featured in the city’s “Project Storefront” initiative. For Holloway, moving into Highwood Square has brought her back to her roots, as she attended Hamden High. “It’s coming full circle because this is my old neighborhood,” she said. Zallinger also grew up nearby, having attended college at Hartford Art School. She said that she owns a Yale hoodie because she feels strong ties to the University,

HIPS AGAINST HUNGER: YALE BELLY DANCE SPRING SHOW

Harkness Auditorium, Sterling Hall of Medicine // 8:00 p.m. Help raise money for the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen! And you know, their hips don’t lie.

as her parents both attended the Art School and her brother, Peter Zallinger ’65, is a graduate of the College. *** With rent adjusted for each artist’s individual income, Highwood Square affords its residents a space to practice their art, an opportunity that few of them have been offered before. In addition to residential housing and commercial office space, the complex also offers studio space for rent. In the apartment beside Zallinger’s lives Tony Ramirez, an instructor of Zumba, a type of dance that combines Latin and international music with fitness training. Ramirez remarked that the painter is just one of the “good people” that he has met in the complex. While he currently teaches four days a week at the All-Star Studio in Meriden, Ramirez hopes to rent out one of the complex’s spaces in the future.

Adorned with her paintings and decorated with strange, eclectic artifacts that she has collected in her travels, Zallinger’s apartment is like a studio in its own right. Her tables are littered with figurines in the form of Egyptian icons, prehistoric animals, Native American totems and one plastic rendering of a moose riding a bicycle. Zallinger is an avid collector because she is drawn to certain things that she finds on her travels, she said. While studying for her master’s degree in painting at the University of Montana, she visited seven different Indian reservations and became “enamored by Native Americans.” According to Zallinger, she is never lacking in inspiration. “How do I get inspired?” she mused. “Well, I just am. All the time.” During her art education, Zallinger said, she practiced traditional art forms such as figure

drawing, head painting and still life. It was not until 10 years ago, when Zallinger was treated for manic depression, that she began pursuing abstract expressionist painting. Since then, art has been an outlet to express her emotions and to capture the beauty of life’s otherwise mundane moments. “I look at the cars that go by, and sometimes there are five cars in a row that are the same color,” Zallinger said. “I find that very interesting.” Ultimately, she hopes to exhibit her artwork in New York City. For now, though, she is thinking about collaborating with her neighbors — perhaps on a short film with Chavoya or a book of poems with Holloway. The Big Apple may be a long way away, but Zallinger knows that she can always come home to Highwood Square. Contact YANAN WANG at yanan.wang@yale.edu .

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: “The Hunger Games.” Have you heard of it?


YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012 · yaledailynews.com

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WEEKEND OCCUPYALE

A FRACTURED OCCUPATION: WHY AREN’T YALIES ON THE GREEN? // BY AKBAR AHMED

When Sophie Nethercut ’14 arrived at the now-infamous Occupy Morgan Stanley protest on Nov. 16 last semester, the chants had already started. “There’s something so powerful about being in a place where 50 people are reciting the same thing over and over,” Nethercut said. “‘Twenty-five percent is too much talent spent!’ – to join in and be a part of that was inspiring; it mobilized people.” That protest was the high point of a budding movement comprising Yalies who sympathized with the Occupiers on New Haven Green. It seemed like a clear statement to this campus: We will question your systems, your choices; we will not be silenced. Last Wednesday, March 21, the Yale Working Group for Occupy New Haven held its first meeting in over a month. Four people attended. Organizer Marina Keegan ’12 said she was impressed with the turnout – the meeting a month prior had an attendance of just one: her fellow organizer, Alexandra Brodsky ’12. “I couldn’t make the time,” Keegan explained. Neither, apparently, could the other 50 volunteers who swelled the ranks of working group meetings only four months earlier. “At this point, to call the working group an organization would be somewhat misleading … This organization really hasn’t existed this semester at all,” Keegan said, her tone flat and factual. With Occupiers and City Hall awaiting the decision of U.S. federal Judge Mark Kravitz on whether the protesters must leave the upper Green, what happened to the Occupy movement on this campus is unclear at best, a murky tangle of volunteer fatigue and failing support for Occupy as a movement.

TO THE STREETS; TO THE GREEN

Where it all began was, inevitably, a talk. According to Brodsky, students who wanted to help out, members of the Democrats and volunteers with Dwight Hall, became increasingly curious about the encampment staring Phelps Gate in its Gothic face. Yale students needed an outlet to discuss their feelings and Keegan wanted to provide one. She and Thomas Smyth ’12 organized a panel called “Occupy Wall Street?” The question mark at the end, she added, was deliberate. Attendees had the option to place their names and contact details on a sign-up sheet at the end, and scores did. Soon, Keegan said, Working Group meetings were being held in Dwight Hall, with a regular group of around 40 students across Yale College, Yale Law School and the School of Forestry & Environmental Science. Volunteers began to participate in the consensusbased decision-making process that defined Occupy, and that Keegan and Brodsky both said they wanted to implement in the working group itself. “So now we have this panlist that has a couple hundred people on it,” said Brodsky. “It was a really interesting group – we both had people who were upperclassmen involved for a number of years with social justice issues at Yale, and some students who had found that the Yale approach to social change wasn’t a model they found compelling.” But what this newly galvanized group could focus its energy on was unclear. Brodsky said that, in her position as co-coordinator of Dwight Hall, she liaised with campus groups like the leaders of the Harvest pre-orientation program to gather tents for

WITH OCCUPY NEW HAVEN’S CURRENT LEGAL STATUS ALLOWING THEM TO REMAIN ON THE GREEN UNTIL APRIL 9, PENDING A FINAL DECISION, ANY INVOLVEMENT COULD BE KEY. “We’re still engaged,” said Brodsky. “A big problem we’re dealing with is just dwindling numbers – there’s been some discussion with people on the Green about a Yale rally in support of the Occupiers, but we’re scared a lot of people wouldn’t show up.” Keegan, a seasoned organizer who served as president of the Yale College Democrats from 2010-’11, said she believes the Occupy brand is now more a hazard than a rallying point. If one were to organize a protest, she added, she feels certain that an invitation email without any mention of the word would receive better feedback than one with stated ties to the national movement and the encampment on the Green. “There was a period of time where the risk-averse Yalies that we are sort of said this is something it’s okay for us to support,” Keegan said. “Now, we’ve shifted back into the category of, ‘If you are supporting Occupy, you’re dumb; you don’t know anything about the economy.’”

Yalies who sought to stay out on the Green. On the other hand, she added, identifying how exactly to bring Occupy values from the Green to campus was difficult. “A lot of the things that people on the Green were focusing on was community-specific and made sense, but didn’t resonate with Yale students who didn’t have jobs, and didn’t know about minimum wage,” Brodsky said. “The challenge was to stay rooted to the larger New Haven and national movement, while addressing concerns we felt we were in a position to speak to.” That ‘challenge’ is at the root of a larger identity crisis for the group, which seemed uncertain about whether it wanted to be an ‘Occupy Yale’ group or an organization in support of the camp on the Green, said Martina Crouch ’14, who became involved in Occupy New Haven after being put in touch with some of the protests’ initial organizers. Brodsky and Keegan both maintained that the group consciously chose to define itself as a the Working Group for Occupy New Haven.

S AT U R D AY MARCH 31

Crouch said the working group emerged after some weeks of individual Yale students coming down to the Green to have conversations or set up their own tents. “They were not a separate entity; they wanted to merge with Occupy New Haven,” she added. Yet when members of the group came to a general assembly on the Green, Crouch said, the “mixing” between them and Occupy New Haven-ites (a phrase Crouch said she prefers because it is more specific) was “minimal.” Brodsky said the two groups were enthusiastic to work with each other, but that the specific interests of Yalies and Occupiers soon began to diverge. “It was interesting to see that happen - for intsance, we didn’t use the ‘99%’ language in our own protesting, because that would be a lie,” she added. “It’s not true that everyone protesting comes from very wealthy families, but we have to acknowledge that Yale students are, by many standards, privileged.”

CAN YALE STUDENTS WORK WITH OCCUPIERS?

On Nov. 16, two rallies ran into each other on Chapel Street. One was made up of Yale students demanding that their peers rethink their decision to attend an information session for one of the most powerful financial service firms in America. The other comprised residents of the makeshift tent camp on the Green, staging one of the direct actions they see as as critical part of their movement. Both marches had Occupy in their name. But, according to Crouch, they didn’t have the same information. “It seems really fucked up that we didn’t talk to each other, and we started to realize that they were separate,” said Crouch, who served as a liaison between the Occupiers and the working group for some time. Sarah Cox ’15, who attended the Occupy Morgan Stanley protest, said she felt that the extant distinction between the two groups was a “setback” for the Yale working group. “Students didn’t participate, and we could have done more to bridge that than we did,” she added. “There was some discussion about whether we were ‘Occupy Yale’ or the Yale Working Group of Occupy New Haven, but it felt more to me like Occupy Yale – we worked with Occupy New Haven, but it felt like that was failing.” Still, to the actual founders of the group, causing Yalies to think about what Brodsky calls “their complicity in these issues, and the ways in which Yale contributes to economic inequality” was a key marker of success. “There have always been selfselecting groups talking about finance, and we took these private conversations and made them public,” Brodsky said. “Four hundred fewer people applied for finance and consulting internships this year than in the past, and I think that shows we did have some effect with our attempts to advance a critical project to the whole campus.” Keegan said the success of the Occupy Morgan Stanley protest, which received significant coverage in national media outlets like The New York Times and inspired similar events at campuses such as Princeton’s, left her hoping that that challenge to the finance and consulting business could become an annual event. Such a future is far from assured, considering how the working group has fared over this semester. Nethercut said she appreciated the protest and the Working Group’s recognition

MOZART REQUIEM, YALE GLEE CLUB

Woolsey Hall // 8:00 p.m. Oh Mozart, you get us every time.

// ILANA STRAUSS

that people going into finance “aren’t evil,” but questioned how much commitment protesters have beyond the event last November. “The march was an hour of someone’s time, but are people willing to devote weeks and weeks of action?” she added, becoming increasingly animated in her chair at Blue State Coffee. “I think that question is critical. Look at the students involved in Yale for Occupy – that’s what happens: people aren’t willing to commit.” Nethercut is now involved with the activist group Students Unite Now, a reincarnation of the former Undergraduate Organizing Committee. Crouch is fairly disappointed with Yale students as well, portraying the Occupy Morgan Stanley protest as a definitive moment when she felt that the working group and its volunteers failed to engage the Occupy New Havenites. “Obviously, if people on the Green are doing an occupation movement and you’re doing something about occupation, I don’t see how you would conveniently forget. I don’t think it was a conscious decision to divide themselves, but I think they were interested in pursuing their own agenda,” Crouch said. This month, with Occupy New Haven’s legal status in question and a number of rallies planned in support of the camp, the absence of Yale students in what has become a significant city news story is striking. Could a Yale Working Group for Occupy New Haven that embraces their fellow activists on the Green have helped the protesters extend their occupation? “It’s a pretty subversive thing to be involved in, and I can see why people who don’t see themselves as subversive don’t want to be seen as part of it,” Crouch said. “I personally think it’s too much of a maintenance of a comfort zone, just because of a fear of how they’ll be publicly received. I don’t know if that’s an excuse enough.”

Meanwhile, back on campus, Keegan responded to my question about what went wrong with a pause and then a definitive statement that suggests part of what differentiates Yale students’ approach from that of the Occupy New Haven-ites they seem uninterested in protecting. “It’s really hard to have an organization without leaders,” she said. “Alexandra and Joe [Breen ’12, another co-coordinator of Dwight Hall for 2010-’11] and I, three of the people doing Occupy, were used to being in charge, and leading our organizations that are really productive and efficient. We didn’t do a very good job of being in charge because we weren’t in charge – nobody wanted to kind of take on that role, because it was seen as being against the movement.” Keegan’s prescription is clear: “It would have benefited from somebody being in charge; sending emails, doing outreach. My instinct the whole time was to institutionalize the whole thing.” At the same time, Brodsky said, it is possible that Yale students simply could not relate to the Occupy movement enough to be active, committed members of an organization like the Working Group. “I don’t think that Occupy fits the Yale structure of disagreement, which is this idea of having quiet arguments over dinner where everyone leaves as friends,” she added, also citing the idea that Yale students could be made to feel uncomfortable by the movement. “Occupy doesn’t like us,” Brodksy said. “We like, as a campus, to think that we’re on the right side of things, and we’re good liberal group – it’s really scary to think that maybe that’s not true.” Crouch, who remains involved with the protesters on the Green, said she believes the key factor is that Yale students are “much more socially concerned than they are socially involved.” With Occupy New Haven’s current legal status allowing them to remain on the Green until April 9, pending a final decision, any

involvement could be key.

WHAT’S LEFT: TAKING THE BATTLE TO UCS

The working group may not be on the Green; it may not be drawing droves of new volunteers. But Yale’s campus is already seeing at least one more tangible result of the group’s waning presence — last Wednesday marked the first panel in a new collaboration between Undergraduate Career Services and Dwight Hall, suggested by Keegan and Brodsky in a meeting with UCS Director Allyson Moore. “We discussed additional ways to heighten student awareness and increase the visibility of less moneyed fields, such as the nonprofit sector,” Moore said in an email. “[At the] Careers in NonProfit Alumni Panel, the alumni panelists were positively wonderful; they represented a good cross-section of nonprofits, and shared a great many insights and tips with students.” Brodsky said she’s aware that Yale is never going to stop corporate recruitment. She plans, however, to work with UCS to to inform students’ understandings of the ways financial services recruiters work, and boost opportunities for alternative careers. “Occupy Morgan Stanley, I think, came off as really aggressive — an in-your-face kind of activism,” said Nethercut. “I think that has its place, but there need to be less aggressive ways to get the message out — but who wants to attend an informal debate, or even a more interactive panel about this? There are certainly those [events], but it’s the people who are already involved [in social justice] that go.” “A very positive outcome of our meeting is the new collaboration between UCS and Dwight Hall,” Moore said. “I do wish that more than 30 students had attended, though.” Contact AKBAR AHMED at akbar.ahmed@yale.edu .

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: Cuba. We follow the Pope.


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YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012 · yaledailynews.com

YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012 · yaledailynews.com

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WEEKEND THEATER

Step into the ‘Funnyhouse’: check your sanity at the door

Delicious “Liaisons”

// BY JOY SHAN

// BY DEVIKA MITTAL

There are two types of people at Yale — those who have read the original novel “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” and those who have seen “Cruel Intentions.” Either way, everyone has their own clandestine love affair with this story of passionate ardor, scandalous secrets and the price of revenge. For it is a story that reels you in: both engaging and troubling, at times quickening and at other chilling the blood. The undergraduate production of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” which premiered this Thursday at the Yale Repertory Theatre, brings the story of two devious ex-lovers blazing back to life, tantalizing in its quickwitted dialogue and coquettish charm. Set in Paris in the final days before the French Revolution, the play reveals a side of Paris that is “already burning,” hidden away in the chateaus and bedrooms of the aristocracy. Merteuil (Sarah Rosen ’12) and Valmont (Alex Kramer ’12) are on a quest of seduction and manipulation, luring in unknowing innocents for their own amusement. The winner will be the one who triumphs in the most elaborate deceit. A scorned Merteuil wishes to taint the purity of her cousin Cecile (Calista Small ’14), the fiancée of a former lover, to embarrass him throughout all of France. To do so, she needs the help of the devilishly handsome and cunning Valmont. But Valmont has his own plans to seduce the virtuous and married Madame de Tourvel (Willa Fitzgerald ’13). This seemingly simple narrative thickens when Cecile falls in love with her music teacher Danceny (Cambrian Thomas-Adams ’14) and Valmont — playing the part of a tortured and dedicated lover — similarly falls for Madame de Tourvel. As the rivals challenge each other to greater and greater heights, morality is thrown to the wind and spectators find themselves enraptured in a twisted but deliciously sexy game. The play crescendos into a forte of opulence, vanity and jealousy, tinged with regret. The banter is skilfully delivered and tensions are subtle, manifesting themselves in Madame de Tourvel’s sobbing pleas that Valmont leave her alone and Cecile’s naïve desire to gain the (carnal) knowledge that will please her lover Danceny. Under this seemingly shallow façade, “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” explores the complex and often over-

Enter “Funnyhouse of a Negro,” and you enter a nightmarish world within the disturbed mind of Sarah, the daughter of an interracial marriage. Like many other works, “Funnyhouse” deals with racial tension in mid-20th century America: the identity issues, the question of colonialism, the strain on family relationships. What’s unique about “Funnyhouse” is that its power does not lie in its storytelling or its characters — instead, its visual and verbal poetry pulls us into the vortex of a disturbed psyche (while causing a few heart palpitations along the way). Sarah, the play’s unreliable lens, is an articulate college student. Near the beginning of the play she describes her past: Her father was black and her mother white. The actress manages to balance self-awareness with strains of madness in this monologue. She comments on the cultural dislocation and stereotypes surrounding colonialism and black heritage, but with an added twist: Sarah herself obsesses over “whiteness” (“I write poetry and fill white page after white page … [I want] to eat my meals on white glass tables.”). This is our one glimpse of her mental cohesion before we dive into the recesses of her insanity. Sarah’s alternate persona, the Duchess of Hapsburg, and her idol-come-alive, Queen Victoria, provide further insights into the inner workings of her mind. They are a duo of white faces in hoop skirts who echo Sarah’s sentiments (“My mother looked like a white woman … And at least I am yellow,

looked issues brewing in eighteenth-century France. Glimpses of feminism reveal themselves in Merteuil’s character, as she haughtily proclaims to Valmont, “I will avenge my sex and dominate yours.” While Rosen’s depiction of Merteuil enthrals and captivates, the constant hysteria of Madame de Tourvel grates the nerves. Kramer is entertaining — adding a certain flightiness and fervency to Valmont’s mannerisms, while Small and ThomasAdams present a beautifully saccharine young love. The audience will thoroughly enjoy the provocation, wit and eloquence expressed in the inconsistencies of the characters and the frenzied passions that dictate their lives. The psychological thrills and the trying dilemmas are palpable to the audience. “Oh, the threat of suicide, the promise of reform,” he titters when describing the process of the ultimate fall from grace of Madame de Tourvel. Who is sincere? What is true? There is no knowing. But one thing is for sure: revenge is a dish best served cold. “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” will run at the Yale Repertory Theatre will be showing this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

but [my father] is black, the blackest one of them all.”). Other characters, such as the ghost of Sarah’s father, parade in and out as figments of Sarah’s imagination. The sound design of “Funnyhouse” ensures that the audience never catches its breath between jolts of terror. A steady, loud drone does not overpower the speech but keeps heartstrings pulled taut. Scenes end with offstage shatters whose starkness echoes the spliced thoughts of the insane. Identical speeches are repeated by the different characters of Sarah’s imagination, each rendition adding a new layer of meaning. The raving authority of the actors’ voices grows throughout the play, and the sound design’s drama elevates this power. Eventually, we begin to experience the show as a collage of manic poetry and chilling images. The play’s beautiful and disturbing visuals latch onto the mind long after the curtains close. The audience’s first image to absorb is of the jagged silhouette of a woman behind a translucent curtain who begins thrashing and screaming. We see the lines of bodies that pin her to a bed, while a noose subtly hangs overhead. In another moment, Queen Victoria, resembling a gothic bride, sits before an arrangement of mirrors, her fractured reflections scattered across the back of the room evoking a nightmarish carnival fun house. “Funnyhouse”’s nonlinear structure aims not to tell a story but to swallow the audience into Sarah’s self-loathing.

It is a tight production, and the flurry of lights and bellows risk confusion. But the chaos is mostly controlled, and even if we momentarily feel lost, the impact of the visuals makes Sarah’s turmoil obvious. The drama is period-specific, but while it speaks of the dangers of internalizing racial values, it also appeals to a more primal terror. The moments of intense hysteria speak of an obsession and self-hatred all can relate to. The most jarring moments occur when the actors look up and directly stare into the eyes of the audience — we are sucked into Sarah’s madness. We agree as she observes, “I find there are no places, only my funnyhouse.” “ F u n nyhouse of a Negro” is showing at the Yale Cabaret this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Contact JOY SHAN at joy.shan@yale.edu .

// JOY SHAN

Funnyhouse of a Negro // VICTOR KANG

Contact DEVIKA MITTAL at devika.mittal@yale.edu .

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Out of their medieval minds // BY CAROLINE MCCULLOUGH

Near the end of Act I of “Once Upon a Mattress,” Prince Dauntless (Andrew Bezek ’13) turns to the audience, finding the words to confess his love for Princess Winnifred (Molly Sinnott ’15). She shrugs it off, singing, “He is out of his medieval mind.” Princess Winnifred is right. Everyone in the Yale Drama Coalition’s production of “Once Upon A Mattress” is crazy, in the best way. The show begins with a quick summary of the Princess and the Pea. The Minstrel, played by Jeremy Weiss ’15, enters a stage with a backdrop reminiscent of a puppet show theater decorated in primary colors. He sings a song about a prince in search of a bride, the princess who arrives at his castle door one stormy night and the insomnia, induced by a mere pea, that proved the vagabond was a genuine princess. The Minstrel’s song warns the audience not to be fooled by the semblance of simplicity; he will reveal the complicated truth behind the familiar

// SARAH ECKINGER

Once Upon a Mattress

fairy tale. What ensues definitely outgrows any childish tale the audience hitherto may have been expecting. As the title might suggest, “Once Upon a Mattress” is fraught with sexual tension. In the opening scenes, the lords and ladies of the court paw at each other as they lament the law dictating, “no one may wed until Prince Dauntless shares his marriage bed.” The frustration of denied desire is soon broken when Sir Harry (Nathaniel Dolquist ’14) and Lady Larkin (Mary Kleshefsky ’13) leap into one another’s arms in a soap-opera worthy moment of private passion. The emphasis on sexual tension manifests itself in the central problem of a premarital pregnancy, the reverse Oedipus complex of a self-impressed Queen Aggravain, played by Steffi Weinraub ’12, and the hilariously awkward Father-Son-birds-andthe-bees talk spelled out through charades. The actors shine in moments like these when they turn to hyperbole, when they make a character into a caricature. Bezek successfully plays Prince Dauntless as a naïve and loveable boy in a man’s body. Sinnott arrives on stage as Princess Winnifred with all of the grace of Jersey’s Shore’s Snooki — a Snooki who has been sufficiently dragged through a nasty swamp. And although he is mute, the

mischievously horny King Sextimus (Seth Lifland ’15) exaggerates his body language to become one of the most entertaining figures in the entire play. The show is at its most ridiculous — and therefore its best — during the big and boisterous song and dance numbers. One of the highlights of the show is a tap dance preformed by the Jester (Brady Ward ’14). “Once Upon a Mattress” is not afraid to have characters hold hands and skip in a circle or playfully whip one another with the ribbons of their twirling batons or come into the aisle and dance among the audience. The show’s weaker moments arrive when the sincerity of the characters’ feelings becomes ambiguous, but these moments are quite brief and few and far between. Most of the time, the show is just deliciously silly, so much so that most of the cast collapsed into giggles by the end of dress rehearsal on Wednesday night. The show begins and ends with the chorus singing, “You can recognize a Lady by her elegant hair, but a genuine princess is exceedingly rare.” So is a genuine laugh, so go see “Once Upon A Mattress.” “Once Upon a Mattress” is playing at the Saybrook Underbrook Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.

‘A blank page of canvas’ // BY JULIA ZORTHIAN

Contact CAROLINE MCCULLOUGH at caroline.mccullough@yale.edu .

// TORY BURNSIDE-CLAPP

Sunday in the Park with George

S AT U R D AY MARCH 31

YSO PLAYS THE CHAMBER MUSIC OF BACH, WEBER AND STRAVINSKY Battell Chapel // 8:00 p.m.

In honor of J.S. Bach’s 327th birthday. Bach, you don’t look a day over 21!

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: Pastel-colored shorts. What Yalie dreams are made of.

S AT U R D AY MARCH 31

For much of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s “Sunday in the Park with George,” Noah Bokat-Lindell ’12 as Georges Seurat is merely a silhouette behind a backlit canvas. “I am not hiding behind my canvas,” he says, “I am living in it.” And his words ring true when Seurat starts interacting not with his models for the famous “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” but with their painted figures. This is not to say the play’s unconventional and intellectual premise makes it especially strange. Rather, the audience can accept the storyline’s shifting reality like it accepts the setting, painted in a pointillism style to mirror Seurat’s masterpiece, as the representation of a real park. The story follows Seurat and his lover, aptly named Dot, before jumping ahead three generations to the couple’s great-grandson, and examines (among other things) the relationship between art and life. The script is cogent, and Sondheim’s music, unsurprisingly, is fantastic. Director Spencer Klavan ’13 took on a challenge with “Sunday in the Park,” a musical as grand in its score and script as it is in its philosophical undertakings. This was certainly more stripped-down than the last Sondheim musical performed on campus, the Yale Dramat’s grandiose production of “Sweeney Todd.” Yet Klavan’s production, in the black box Off-Broadway Theater, was an intimate reinterpretation of the cinematic original Broadway production. The effect can be pleasant; instead of singing at you, the actors sing to you. At times, however, the musical is perhaps too wide in scope for the

FROM HIGH ST TO UP TOP: YALE NEW HAVEN RAP SHOW

production to handle. Sondheim is big and almost cinematic, and the music is central to the plotline, yet members of the ensemble are sometimes drowned out by the musical accompaniment during their solos. Since the musical centers around the composition of a painting, the staging is especially prominent in this production and very well done on Klavan’s part. The actors and the setting meld together to create a very aesthetically pleasing three hours. While the full cast on occasion makes the stage seem crowded, some of the most striking positioning features Sara Hendel ’14 as Dot, singing from center stage to Bokat-Lindell, who is off to the side and obscured by the canvas. A memorable feature is the fullness of the musical accompaniment, directed by Micah Hendler ’12. The score reflects Seurat’s pointillism, and brings dissonant notes together to create a pleasing effect. The actors, led by Hendel and Bokat-Lindell, hold their own in the face of the musical challenge. Hendel in particular vocally carries the cast with her strong singing, which skillfully conveys her exasperation with the preoccupied character of Seurat. BokatLindell remains somewhat closed off throughout the show, showing little excitement and emotion that aligns with his uncommunicative character, but has moments of emotional tenderness in scenes with his mother that showcase his acting abilities more than his performance as a whole does. His singing seems similarly restrained at times, but comes out in full force for the more dramatic points of the show. Kyle Picha ’14 commands stage presence as Jules, representative of the strong acting to be found in most of the ensemble roles. “Sunday in the Park with George” is a delightful musical, one that would be difficult for even a Broadway cast. This smaller-scale version loses some of the intended theatricality, but is still an enjoyable theater-going experience. Contact JULIA ZORTHIAN at julia.zorthian@yale.edu .

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS:

Afro-American Cultural Center // 9:00 p.m.

The New York Times Magazine profile of Peter Dinklage,

Rap City bitch, run the whole school yo.

“Peter Dinklage Was Smart To Say No.”


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YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012 · yaledailynews.com

YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012 · yaledailynews.com

PAGE B7

WEEKEND THEATER

Step into the ‘Funnyhouse’: check your sanity at the door

Delicious “Liaisons”

// BY JOY SHAN

// BY DEVIKA MITTAL

There are two types of people at Yale — those who have read the original novel “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” and those who have seen “Cruel Intentions.” Either way, everyone has their own clandestine love affair with this story of passionate ardor, scandalous secrets and the price of revenge. For it is a story that reels you in: both engaging and troubling, at times quickening and at other chilling the blood. The undergraduate production of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” which premiered this Thursday at the Yale Repertory Theatre, brings the story of two devious ex-lovers blazing back to life, tantalizing in its quickwitted dialogue and coquettish charm. Set in Paris in the final days before the French Revolution, the play reveals a side of Paris that is “already burning,” hidden away in the chateaus and bedrooms of the aristocracy. Merteuil (Sarah Rosen ’12) and Valmont (Alex Kramer ’12) are on a quest of seduction and manipulation, luring in unknowing innocents for their own amusement. The winner will be the one who triumphs in the most elaborate deceit. A scorned Merteuil wishes to taint the purity of her cousin Cecile (Calista Small ’14), the fiancée of a former lover, to embarrass him throughout all of France. To do so, she needs the help of the devilishly handsome and cunning Valmont. But Valmont has his own plans to seduce the virtuous and married Madame de Tourvel (Willa Fitzgerald ’13). This seemingly simple narrative thickens when Cecile falls in love with her music teacher Danceny (Cambrian Thomas-Adams ’14) and Valmont — playing the part of a tortured and dedicated lover — similarly falls for Madame de Tourvel. As the rivals challenge each other to greater and greater heights, morality is thrown to the wind and spectators find themselves enraptured in a twisted but deliciously sexy game. The play crescendos into a forte of opulence, vanity and jealousy, tinged with regret. The banter is skilfully delivered and tensions are subtle, manifesting themselves in Madame de Tourvel’s sobbing pleas that Valmont leave her alone and Cecile’s naïve desire to gain the (carnal) knowledge that will please her lover Danceny. Under this seemingly shallow façade, “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” explores the complex and often over-

Enter “Funnyhouse of a Negro,” and you enter a nightmarish world within the disturbed mind of Sarah, the daughter of an interracial marriage. Like many other works, “Funnyhouse” deals with racial tension in mid-20th century America: the identity issues, the question of colonialism, the strain on family relationships. What’s unique about “Funnyhouse” is that its power does not lie in its storytelling or its characters — instead, its visual and verbal poetry pulls us into the vortex of a disturbed psyche (while causing a few heart palpitations along the way). Sarah, the play’s unreliable lens, is an articulate college student. Near the beginning of the play she describes her past: Her father was black and her mother white. The actress manages to balance self-awareness with strains of madness in this monologue. She comments on the cultural dislocation and stereotypes surrounding colonialism and black heritage, but with an added twist: Sarah herself obsesses over “whiteness” (“I write poetry and fill white page after white page … [I want] to eat my meals on white glass tables.”). This is our one glimpse of her mental cohesion before we dive into the recesses of her insanity. Sarah’s alternate persona, the Duchess of Hapsburg, and her idol-come-alive, Queen Victoria, provide further insights into the inner workings of her mind. They are a duo of white faces in hoop skirts who echo Sarah’s sentiments (“My mother looked like a white woman … And at least I am yellow,

looked issues brewing in eighteenth-century France. Glimpses of feminism reveal themselves in Merteuil’s character, as she haughtily proclaims to Valmont, “I will avenge my sex and dominate yours.” While Rosen’s depiction of Merteuil enthrals and captivates, the constant hysteria of Madame de Tourvel grates the nerves. Kramer is entertaining — adding a certain flightiness and fervency to Valmont’s mannerisms, while Small and ThomasAdams present a beautifully saccharine young love. The audience will thoroughly enjoy the provocation, wit and eloquence expressed in the inconsistencies of the characters and the frenzied passions that dictate their lives. The psychological thrills and the trying dilemmas are palpable to the audience. “Oh, the threat of suicide, the promise of reform,” he titters when describing the process of the ultimate fall from grace of Madame de Tourvel. Who is sincere? What is true? There is no knowing. But one thing is for sure: revenge is a dish best served cold. “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” will run at the Yale Repertory Theatre will be showing this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

but [my father] is black, the blackest one of them all.”). Other characters, such as the ghost of Sarah’s father, parade in and out as figments of Sarah’s imagination. The sound design of “Funnyhouse” ensures that the audience never catches its breath between jolts of terror. A steady, loud drone does not overpower the speech but keeps heartstrings pulled taut. Scenes end with offstage shatters whose starkness echoes the spliced thoughts of the insane. Identical speeches are repeated by the different characters of Sarah’s imagination, each rendition adding a new layer of meaning. The raving authority of the actors’ voices grows throughout the play, and the sound design’s drama elevates this power. Eventually, we begin to experience the show as a collage of manic poetry and chilling images. The play’s beautiful and disturbing visuals latch onto the mind long after the curtains close. The audience’s first image to absorb is of the jagged silhouette of a woman behind a translucent curtain who begins thrashing and screaming. We see the lines of bodies that pin her to a bed, while a noose subtly hangs overhead. In another moment, Queen Victoria, resembling a gothic bride, sits before an arrangement of mirrors, her fractured reflections scattered across the back of the room evoking a nightmarish carnival fun house. “Funnyhouse”’s nonlinear structure aims not to tell a story but to swallow the audience into Sarah’s self-loathing.

It is a tight production, and the flurry of lights and bellows risk confusion. But the chaos is mostly controlled, and even if we momentarily feel lost, the impact of the visuals makes Sarah’s turmoil obvious. The drama is period-specific, but while it speaks of the dangers of internalizing racial values, it also appeals to a more primal terror. The moments of intense hysteria speak of an obsession and self-hatred all can relate to. The most jarring moments occur when the actors look up and directly stare into the eyes of the audience — we are sucked into Sarah’s madness. We agree as she observes, “I find there are no places, only my funnyhouse.” “ F u n nyhouse of a Negro” is showing at the Yale Cabaret this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Contact JOY SHAN at joy.shan@yale.edu .

// JOY SHAN

Funnyhouse of a Negro // VICTOR KANG

Contact DEVIKA MITTAL at devika.mittal@yale.edu .

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Out of their medieval minds // BY CAROLINE MCCULLOUGH

Near the end of Act I of “Once Upon a Mattress,” Prince Dauntless (Andrew Bezek ’13) turns to the audience, finding the words to confess his love for Princess Winnifred (Molly Sinnott ’15). She shrugs it off, singing, “He is out of his medieval mind.” Princess Winnifred is right. Everyone in the Yale Drama Coalition’s production of “Once Upon A Mattress” is crazy, in the best way. The show begins with a quick summary of the Princess and the Pea. The Minstrel, played by Jeremy Weiss ’15, enters a stage with a backdrop reminiscent of a puppet show theater decorated in primary colors. He sings a song about a prince in search of a bride, the princess who arrives at his castle door one stormy night and the insomnia, induced by a mere pea, that proved the vagabond was a genuine princess. The Minstrel’s song warns the audience not to be fooled by the semblance of simplicity; he will reveal the complicated truth behind the familiar

// SARAH ECKINGER

Once Upon a Mattress

fairy tale. What ensues definitely outgrows any childish tale the audience hitherto may have been expecting. As the title might suggest, “Once Upon a Mattress” is fraught with sexual tension. In the opening scenes, the lords and ladies of the court paw at each other as they lament the law dictating, “no one may wed until Prince Dauntless shares his marriage bed.” The frustration of denied desire is soon broken when Sir Harry (Nathaniel Dolquist ’14) and Lady Larkin (Mary Kleshefsky ’13) leap into one another’s arms in a soap-opera worthy moment of private passion. The emphasis on sexual tension manifests itself in the central problem of a premarital pregnancy, the reverse Oedipus complex of a self-impressed Queen Aggravain, played by Steffi Weinraub ’12, and the hilariously awkward Father-Son-birds-andthe-bees talk spelled out through charades. The actors shine in moments like these when they turn to hyperbole, when they make a character into a caricature. Bezek successfully plays Prince Dauntless as a naïve and loveable boy in a man’s body. Sinnott arrives on stage as Princess Winnifred with all of the grace of Jersey’s Shore’s Snooki — a Snooki who has been sufficiently dragged through a nasty swamp. And although he is mute, the

mischievously horny King Sextimus (Seth Lifland ’15) exaggerates his body language to become one of the most entertaining figures in the entire play. The show is at its most ridiculous — and therefore its best — during the big and boisterous song and dance numbers. One of the highlights of the show is a tap dance preformed by the Jester (Brady Ward ’14). “Once Upon a Mattress” is not afraid to have characters hold hands and skip in a circle or playfully whip one another with the ribbons of their twirling batons or come into the aisle and dance among the audience. The show’s weaker moments arrive when the sincerity of the characters’ feelings becomes ambiguous, but these moments are quite brief and few and far between. Most of the time, the show is just deliciously silly, so much so that most of the cast collapsed into giggles by the end of dress rehearsal on Wednesday night. The show begins and ends with the chorus singing, “You can recognize a Lady by her elegant hair, but a genuine princess is exceedingly rare.” So is a genuine laugh, so go see “Once Upon A Mattress.” “Once Upon a Mattress” is playing at the Saybrook Underbrook Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.

‘A blank page of canvas’ // BY JULIA ZORTHIAN

Contact CAROLINE MCCULLOUGH at caroline.mccullough@yale.edu .

// TORY BURNSIDE-CLAPP

Sunday in the Park with George

S AT U R D AY MARCH 31

YSO PLAYS THE CHAMBER MUSIC OF BACH, WEBER AND STRAVINSKY Battell Chapel // 8:00 p.m.

In honor of J.S. Bach’s 327th birthday. Bach, you don’t look a day over 21!

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: Pastel-colored shorts. What Yalie dreams are made of.

S AT U R D AY MARCH 31

For much of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s “Sunday in the Park with George,” Noah Bokat-Lindell ’12 as Georges Seurat is merely a silhouette behind a backlit canvas. “I am not hiding behind my canvas,” he says, “I am living in it.” And his words ring true when Seurat starts interacting not with his models for the famous “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” but with their painted figures. This is not to say the play’s unconventional and intellectual premise makes it especially strange. Rather, the audience can accept the storyline’s shifting reality like it accepts the setting, painted in a pointillism style to mirror Seurat’s masterpiece, as the representation of a real park. The story follows Seurat and his lover, aptly named Dot, before jumping ahead three generations to the couple’s great-grandson, and examines (among other things) the relationship between art and life. The script is cogent, and Sondheim’s music, unsurprisingly, is fantastic. Director Spencer Klavan ’13 took on a challenge with “Sunday in the Park,” a musical as grand in its score and script as it is in its philosophical undertakings. This was certainly more stripped-down than the last Sondheim musical performed on campus, the Yale Dramat’s grandiose production of “Sweeney Todd.” Yet Klavan’s production, in the black box Off-Broadway Theater, was an intimate reinterpretation of the cinematic original Broadway production. The effect can be pleasant; instead of singing at you, the actors sing to you. At times, however, the musical is perhaps too wide in scope for the

FROM HIGH ST TO UP TOP: YALE NEW HAVEN RAP SHOW

production to handle. Sondheim is big and almost cinematic, and the music is central to the plotline, yet members of the ensemble are sometimes drowned out by the musical accompaniment during their solos. Since the musical centers around the composition of a painting, the staging is especially prominent in this production and very well done on Klavan’s part. The actors and the setting meld together to create a very aesthetically pleasing three hours. While the full cast on occasion makes the stage seem crowded, some of the most striking positioning features Sara Hendel ’14 as Dot, singing from center stage to Bokat-Lindell, who is off to the side and obscured by the canvas. A memorable feature is the fullness of the musical accompaniment, directed by Micah Hendler ’12. The score reflects Seurat’s pointillism, and brings dissonant notes together to create a pleasing effect. The actors, led by Hendel and Bokat-Lindell, hold their own in the face of the musical challenge. Hendel in particular vocally carries the cast with her strong singing, which skillfully conveys her exasperation with the preoccupied character of Seurat. BokatLindell remains somewhat closed off throughout the show, showing little excitement and emotion that aligns with his uncommunicative character, but has moments of emotional tenderness in scenes with his mother that showcase his acting abilities more than his performance as a whole does. His singing seems similarly restrained at times, but comes out in full force for the more dramatic points of the show. Kyle Picha ’14 commands stage presence as Jules, representative of the strong acting to be found in most of the ensemble roles. “Sunday in the Park with George” is a delightful musical, one that would be difficult for even a Broadway cast. This smaller-scale version loses some of the intended theatricality, but is still an enjoyable theater-going experience. Contact JULIA ZORTHIAN at julia.zorthian@yale.edu .

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS:

Afro-American Cultural Center // 9:00 p.m.

The New York Times Magazine profile of Peter Dinklage,

Rap City bitch, run the whole school yo.

“Peter Dinklage Was Smart To Say No.”


PAGE B8

YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012 · yaledailynews.com

WEEKEND COVER

NO REGRETS // BY JACK LINSHI AND CAROLYN LIPKA

A CAPPELLA FROM PAGE 3 or seven hours a week and have one or two gigs that take at least three hours. “Gigs take up a lot of time. We once drove to Princeton, N.J., and Maine during the same weekend. Fourteen hours in a car for two 60-minute concerts is pretty insane,” Nield said. “You better like your group, because you spend a lot of time together.” This time commitment is the minimum for most members. Music directors will dedicate more time to the group to choose concerts, run rehearsals and shape the group’s arrangements. Current Spizzwinks(?) music director Boyd Jackson ’13 says that his role is about four extra hours a week. Tour managers organize the tours for the group, book gigs, choose hotels and plan social events on tours. Rush managers control the rush process for the group, organizing rush meals, or as Bolt described it: “[We] make sure everyone else in the group stays sane.” When preparing for big concerts like Jam, groups like Mixed Company and the Spizzwinks(?) rehearse every day for at least three hours a day. People in the group are designated to be in charge of humor and gags in the show, an integral part of the gigs. While these are the typical ways in which Yale a cappella groups perform for an audience, some groups strive for more. Last Saturday, members from Yale’s Out of the Blue stood as part of a shoe formation. The spotlight flooded the stage, blinding them as they huddled together hopefully. The booming voice of the MC broke the silence:

group,” Dec said. “We need to make sure every note, every dynamic is spot on. We even have to rehearse choreography, which is completely new for us.” This level of technicality is not exclusive to groups that compete. “The emphasis in rehearsals is largely on blend and creating a more uniform sound as an ensemble,” David Lim ’13, a member of the Spizzwinks(?), said. “To this end, we spend a good amount of time discussing and working on things like phrasing, dynamics and more abstract things, like the significance and feel of a particular song.” From traditional Yale a cappella gigs like Jam to the new competitions, singers at Yale have a variety of opportunities to showcase their hard work.

1948

“A lot changed,” the former Whiffenpoof Bob Johnson ’42, now 93, says over the phone. He pauses a bit, letting this obvious yet powerful statement fill the silence. It was September, and with the war long over, students who had served anywhere from one to four years in the army began trickling back on campus. Johnson’s stint as a Whiffenpoof was over, and like most other singing group members, he did not pursue a musical career. Instead, he first served in the army for four years, took a job at an engineering company and then went into finance. Edwards, part of the 25 percent of his class who were not not drafted or enlisted, was still on campus as a JE senior. JE and Timothy Dwight were no longer the two civilian colleges, and military training on campus slowed down. In 50 years’ time, Johnson and Edwards, along with

“HOW ABOUT THIS? SINGING GOES ON AND ON AND ON, JUST AS GOOD THINGS SHOULD.” “And the winners of the ICCA semifinals are Out of the Blue from Yale University!” Out of the Blue was now ranked the best a cappella group in the Northeast semifinal of the International Championships of A Cappella (ICCA), a first for the group. While most a cappella groups at Yale don’t compete on the college circuit, or at all, Out of the Blue decided to enter a different a cappella world. “There are 10 people in my tap class, and this year we all decided that we wanted to compete,” Thomas Dec ’13, Out of the Blue business manager, said. “We’re very in tune with the a cappella community outside of Yale.” Out of the Blue changed their rehearsal style to accommodate the competition, even rehearsing over break trying to learn a new song between quarterfinals and semifinals. Even though they are accustomed to learning new songs — they change their repertoire entirely every two years — the competition shapes their practices differently. “ICCA makes us a more technical

with Johnson’s brother Coddy Johnson ’39 and his friend Stowe Phelps ’39, would form an alumni group called the SLOT — Seems Like Old Times — Group. But in the meantime, it was Edwards’ turn to be part of the big men on campus, the same men who courted all the girls at the freshman mixer that seemed an eternity ago. He’d head to the short rehearsals every few days in the still-standing lounge in Berkeley’s basement after swimming practice, having enough time to manage singing, academics and a varsity sport. Rehearsal wasn’t as much about singing as it was about pure friendship and fun. “We talked about girls, not singing,” Edwards says. “There was some talk about our singing, but mostly in relation to what it meant for us socially — to get gigs up at Smith and Wellesley.” Every Monday night after rehearsal, they headed to Mory’s not to sing, but to socialize over beers and martinis. For once, the Whiffenpoofs were joyfully together and gloriously whole. Just a few

S AT U R D AY

“FUNNYHOUSE OF A NEGRO”

MARCH 31

Light fare and drinks will be served at 10 p.m.

The Yale Cabaret // 11:00 p.m.

years ago in the midst of war, conscription decimated the Whiffenpoofs to a single member. When singers sweetly reunited from service, they picked up where they had left off, many of whom had already met during their first term at Yale a couple of years earlier. The war made the Whiffenpoof classes in this era the closest classes in a cappella history. Edwards, like many others, was content just to breathe the Yale air, to be with everyone without fear of unexpected conscription. This was enough. “It was a lot more laid-back, with no drama between group m e m b e r s ,” Edwards says. “That was the whole point — we were good friends. But I don’t think singing was insular either in our time.” “I don’t know what you mean by stress and a cappella,” Fay later adds, as though shocked to imagine the same in the two sentence. Indeed, there was no reason to panic or overwork. Major gigs in Edwards’ time, including the first Whiffs television appearance, on the “Kay Kyser Kollege of Musical Knowledge Show” in 1949 — in which they sung one song — were in relaxed environments. Gigs were paid little to nothing, with representing Yale, community service, and, of course, girls and dates as primary motivations of traveling performances. “A cappella was just one of those other things that we were able to do,” Edwards reminisces, who remembers a time when the Whiffenpoofs went to Sarah Lawrence and he danced with a girl he would later see again 40 years later at a JE fellows’ dinner. When Edwards’ graduation approached in June, the Whiffenpoofs didn’t say goodbye. There was no need to. Immediately after Commencement, half of the Whiffenpoofs went to Virginia to sing at the wedding of another Whiffenpoof, Bill Wagner ’49. Even when Edwards took his first job at Pan American World Airways, he met fellow Whiffenpoof Prescott Bush ’44, brother of former President George H.W. Bush ’48. The end of their time singing together at Yale was filled by a timeless legacy of brotherhood. “I have so much to say about what a cappella singing has meant to me in my life that I don’t how to convey it in a reasonable amount of words,” Johnson wrote in a singleline email before calling. But back in Willoughby’s, Edwards decided to give it a try. “How about this? Singing goes on and on and on, just as good things should,” Edwards declares, offering up wisdom from the oldest living generation of Yale a cappella singers. “I hope this will be true for a cappella today.”

2012

In most extra curricular activities, Yalies make friends. In a cappella, the members insist, they also join a family. Where time on campus is spent rehearsing and performing for their friends, a cappella tour takes them skydiving in New Zealand, walking to the West Bank, driving six hours to see the Taj Mahal, sitting at a rotating restaurant of a tower in Iceland, sailing through the fjords of Norway, riding tut-tuts in Thailand, and performing in the world’s most lavish hotel in Dubai. Despite the glitz and glamour of tours, some feel that the culture is

limiting because of the heavy time commitment. “You are going to have to forgo other opportunities you might have engaged in otherwise, and it’s a huge trade-off,” Barnett said. “I know people whose only extracurricular is a cappella … [they] feel that in order to devote the kind of time they want to to academics, they can only really do one thing with that level of commitment. I know these same people love the fact that it removes the need to maintain a group of friends because you just have one.” “It’s super insular,” Bolt added. “We spend so much time together, and that’s great. I love everyone in a cappella, but you don’t want to be around people who do the exact same thing as you all the time.” Despite these reservations, the a cappella social scene is lively and large. With over 250 people involved, the community is different than most at Yale. Groups almost unanimously have nothing but positive things to say, constantly referring to themselves as “families.” Many choose to live with someone from their group later on in their Yale careers — the BDs and SOBs even maintained houses for years, with residents only from their groups. Some groups even take the time to attempt to visit every member’s hometown. The Spizzwinks(?) go to every person in the group’s hometown before graduation, taking them all over the United States — from Denver, Colo., to Duluth, Minn. “[The hometown performances] are some of the most electrifying and awesome concerts that we give every year,” Andy Berry ’13, a current Spizzwink(?) and future Whiffenpoof music director said. “I think that almost all Yalies are kind of ‘hometown heroes,’ and at the risk of sounding like a cheeseball, you can really feel the love from the audience during these concerts.” The huge time commitment to the groups is ultimately worth it, according to every a cappella member interviewed. There was no question in their minds that this was more than just a commitment at Yale — it’s for the rest of their lives. “Spizzwinks(?) for life is a very real thing,” Barnett explained. “We have alumni that come back to jams that are 80 years old. This is a lifetime commitment, and we know that.”

2012

For some, it already has been. On brisk Saturday morning in Chevy Chase, Md., the family of a member of the 1951 Whiffenpoofs, who had just passed away, prepares for his funeral service. All over the

// CRE

ATIVE C

OMMO

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country, several alumni of the Whiffenpoofs skip over their tails hanging in their closets and carefully pack black suits and ties into their suitcases. Fay, the former pitchpipe of the 1951 Whiffenpoofs, flew up on short notice from North Carolina. Another 1951 member flew in from Virginia, and a third from Florida. Another nine, ranging from the class of 1950 to the class of 2010, made the journey as well. Some of them hadn’t even met the man who was being honored. “Singing at each other’s funerals is a wonderful way to remember someone,” Edwards describes, who is planning a group to sing at a funeral on Saturday. “It’s better than sending flowers, weeping and mourning — it’s a joyful way to celebrate someone’s life.” Fay steps into the reception just in time, reuniting with his friends who, once upon a lifetime, stood scared when held at gunpoint on a Brazilian tour, laughed themselves breathless together, and skipped all their classes just to sing. Their shared love for a cappella was strong, but it was their loyalty to each other that brought a cappella past graduation and to reunions, weddings and now the ever-frequent funerals. Standing in a semicircle, the 12 Whiffenpoofs gather on stage and prepare to sing their spiritual “Steal Away,” arranged by Marshall Bartholomew 1909, the director of the Yale Glee Club 91 years ago. “It goes like a little like this,” Edwards whispers, eyes glossy with the sweet nostalgia of almost a hundred years. “Steal away … steal away … Steal away to Jesus, Steal away home. I ain’t got long to stay here.” At the reception, the Whiffenpoofs speak their final farewell in the song’s closing A-flat major third, the last ethereal chord that’s held one beat too long and released one beat too soon. “This is one of the best things we do,” Edwards says, gazing through the glass wall of Willoughby’s to his old room in JE, where it all began almost 70 years ago. “This, right here, is life-long.” Contact JACK LINSHI at jack.linshi@yale.edu and CAROLYN LIPKA at carolyn.lipka@yale.edu.

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: The Bulgarian National Chorus. You won’t regret it.


YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012 · yaledailynews.com

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WEEKEND PROFILE

HOW WE LEARNED TO LOVE THE SLAVS // BY CAROLINE TRACEY

On Feb. 25, I went to the Slifka Center for “Slavs, Klez, and Friends,” a joint concert by the Yale Women’s Slavic Chorus, the Yale Klezmer Band, the Yale Russian Chorus and no fewer than 40 (FORTY) of their friends, who were all dressed in white peasant blouses and red sashes. “The wildest concert of the semester,” an email had promised. Every chair in the room was full, and the space in the back reserved for dancing turned quickly into a standing-room throng. While taking my handfuls of Slifka cookies and grapes, I overheard someone say, “I think I know everyone here!” I went upstairs and watched from the balcony, where I stood on a chair to see above the people in front of me. Before long, everyone was dancing. Much of the audience had joined hands and were coming in and out of the doors of the auditorium like a long Slavic conga line. The Yale Women’s Slavic Chorus was founded in 1969 — the first year of co-education at Yale — and was the first all-women’s musical group on campus. The music sung by the group comes from Bulgaria, Croatia, Russia, Georgia, Macedonia and the Ukraine, and is marked, according to their website, by “dissonant harmonies, unusual rhythms, and distinctive vocal qualities.” One of the musical techniques most closely associated with the group is the “yik!” sound, a high squeak common in Eastern European vocal music. The sound carries, and is heard around campus when two Slavs see each other from far away and use it to call out to each other. Balkan and Slavic vocal folk music became popular in the United States with the help of two facilitators. The first was Filip Kutev, who, along with founding and conducting the Bulgarian National Chorus, arranged many of Bulgaria’s folk melodies to include the beautiful harmonies that we associate with the Slavs today. The other was Ethel Raim, who is credited with bringing Balkan women’s singing to the United States through recordings and workshops. The recordings of Kutev’s and Raim’s ensembles brought women’s vocal music into a Balkan craze that was beginning among folk dancers and music enthusiasts in the United States. “There were stories about people getting hypnotized by the rhythms, and rumors that if you sang certain harmonies, it could make your head vibrate,” says Nathalie Levine ’14, whose interest in a variety of folk music traditions has led her to learn about Balkan music in the United States and to work with Raim at the Center for Traditional Music and Dance in New York. (Levine is a copy editor for the News). That charming sound led to the founding of the chorus, and continues to give the group its mag// ANNA ROSE GABLE

The Yale Women’s Slavic Chorus

S U N D AY APRIL 1

APRIL FOOL’S DAY

Everywhere // All day Watch yourself.

netism. Chihiro Isozaki ’15, a firstyear Slav who grew up in Singapore, had never heard Slavic music before coming to Yale. She was looking to join a singing group, though, and was walking through Old Campus one day when she heard a beautiful harmony “unlike anything I had heard before.” It was the Slavs. She was approached by one of the members, who invited her to their concert that evening, and soon ended up a member herself. Anna Rose Gable ’13, the chorus’s current pitch, followed a different route to become a Slav. “During high school, I used to go to the library and listen to CDs and see what I liked,” she explains. “And one of the things that really took was the Bulgarian National Chorus.” She started watching that chorus’s videos on YouTube, and Yale’s chorus’s videos appeared on one of the sidebars. There were only three videos of the Slavs online at the time, Gable recalls, but she — having already applied to Yale — reacted passionately: “I have to be a part of this!!!!” she remembers, shaking her hands and head excitedly.

has been organizing its archives. “And a huge number of them said, ‘Singing in the Slavic Chorus.’ I was like, ‘How big was the Slavic Chorus?’ But then I realized that it says something that, of the people who felt connected enough to the women’s community at Yale to come back for an anniversary of coeducation and make this quilt, many were in the Slavic Chorus.” As more and more people become aware of the group, however, it has started to self-select not just for people attracted to the “curly-haired, loud Slavic women” ethic that Larsson says dominated the group her freshman year, but also people who are interested in the group from a primarily musical standpoint. “I think the group is getting more musical and less granola,” Gable says, explaining that the number of excellent auditioners for the group has increased greatly in the past few years, and that it seems like concerts have become more formal than they were in the past. “More and more of our members also sing in other groups,” she adds, saying that that extra musicality has advantages and draw-

ON TOUR, WE WENT AROUND AND TOLD FIRST-KISS STORIES... AND THE MAJORITY OF SLAVS INITIATED THEIR FIRST KISS. Being “a part” of the Slavs means more than just singing their music. “Saying ‘They’re a Slav’ about someone on campus is an implication about their personality,” explains Levine. “It’s like … ‘strong village woman.’” Isozaki elaborates: “there are a lot of vegetarians. The members are unconventional — a lot of them are interested in sustainability and human rights, and everyone has an appreciation for other cultures.” The “Green House,” located at 235 Dwight St., has had two Slavs living in it for each of the last three years. “On tour, we went around and told first-kiss stories,” Gable says. “And the majority of Slavs initiated their first kiss. I think that’s significant.” Sarah Larsson ’12 says that among themselves, the members often adopt the village-woman persona by using translations of their lyrics in conversation. “We say things like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to go to the dance tonight even if my boyfriend isn’t there,’” she says. The ‘strong village women’ culture of the group isn’t new, either. “During my work at the Women’s Center, I came across a ‘best times at Yale’ project made by alumnae from the ’70s,” says Levine, who, as a staffer at the Women’s Center,

backs — with busier schedules, it’s harder to schedule group dinners, for instance. The group’s strong sense of community and powerful, distinctive sound coalesce to create an immensely potent musical experience. While on tour in Minnesota this year, the chorus sang at a Bulgarian Sunday school. After the set, a Bulgarian woman approached them in tears. “She said it reminded her of home,” said Isozaki. On the other end of the spectrum, the Slavs’ power engenders the kind of fans who make concerts like “Slavs and Friends” so vibrant. One such fan is Michael Fraade ’13. Fraade originally started coming to Slavs shows during his freshman year just to support his friend Celia Rostow ’13, but quickly realized “they were really good.” So good, in fact, that he wanted to be a part of it himself. So this year, when audition season came around, “I put on a skirt and a Slavs T-shirt, used the name Fyodora Dostoevsky, and sang a solo in falsetto,” he says. “Unfortunately, I didn’t get called back.” Contact CAROLINE TRACEY at caroline.tracey@yale.edu .

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: Gawker’s “Your Guide to the Idiotic Racist Backlash Against Trayvon Martin.” Pretty self-explanatory.


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YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012 · yaledailynews.com

WEEKEND COLUMNS

PLAY JENGA, NOT PEOPLE Much of what I learned about love, heartbreak and the sex appeal of nerdy Jews (both middle-aged and teenaged) comes from watching teen melodrama “The OC.” Take the Anna/Seth/ Summer love triangle. Seth is hopelessly in love with Summer, who is the worst to him. And Anna is hopelessly in love with Seth, who only likes her as a friend, probably because she’s so nice and available. In the following conversation with Anna, Seth is confused by Summer’s disinterest. Seth: “I don’t see what her problem is, I’m nothing but avail-

MARIA YAGODA MARIA DOES YALE able to that girl.” Anna: “All right, right there. That’s your problem. Girls like to be chased by guys that aren’t into them.” Seth: “And that sounds a little bit like a game to me, Anna. And I don’t really like to play games, okay? Unless you’re talking about a little Saturday night Jenga. A little Magic the Gathering. Love Magic the Gathering.” Unfortunately, Anna is not

talking about fun-filled Saturday night Jenga, but rather some pretty terrible, often hurtful games. I find myself asking: Why do we play games when it seems like we all universally hate them? Why do we find someone who is uninterested so interesting, so delectable? It’s really alarming just how powerful the act of feigning disinterest, or being for real disinterested, can be in attracting someone. I was once involved with this guy who I decided I was no longer into, so I stopped responding to his texts. For the five months following this decision, he texted me incessantly, at all hours after 11 p.m., things like “Yo where u at?”, “Tryna kick it?”, or “Study break?” I didn’t respond to any of them, and this seemed to fuel his interest. Once, he even accosted me at SAE and asked why I no longer responded to his latenight propositions, to which I confessed that I preferred eating sandwiches, and he still persisted with the texts! I’ve never been the girl that was hard to get, and I became one by being legitimately uninterested. I once ironically picked up a copy of “The Rules: Time-Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right,” and ironically read all of it and ironically thought about it for a while. Though the premise is pretty sickening — proposing that a woman should be passive, dainty and elusive if she wants a man to give her the time of day — much of it resonates. Like the following suggestion: “Your job right now is to treat the man you are really, really crazy about like the man you’re not that interested in — don’t call, be busy sometimes! Do all of this from the beginning — from day one! Do it from the second you meet him — or should we say, the second he meets you!” While the incessant use of exclamation points fails to convince me that any of this is urgent, I am convinced that these are some valid, albeit depressing, points. Guys want girls that treat them like shit, or at least who don’t respond right away, or who

don’t initiate text conversations every time all the time. It’s hard to be elusive when you actually like the person, which brings me to wonder: How do you apply this to people you are interested in, people you want to trap into liking you? Some girls get crazy. I have a friend who, when she’s talking to a guy, always “accidentally” texts him regarding another guy that was supposed to go to a friend, to make it seem as though there are other guys after her. Another friend tells me she never, ever initiates textual contact with boys. “If they text me I will respond and not be rude but never initiate it. If a guy really likes you he will make the effort.” Other girls are more forward and scheming, but cautiously so. My one girl pal, a self-described master of gameplaying, tells me that she “facilitates situations such that what I want (the guy to kiss me or ask me out) will happen as a natural progression of our interactions.” While she makes a concerted effort to avoid initiating most of the time, when she does, she asks questions or brings up inside jokes, to achieve a healthy balance between coy and available: “I want to be the girl they want to befriend and hang out with, but I also want to be intriguing enough that they want to take off my pants.” Trying to be intriguing enough for someone to want to take off your pants is difficult, because often, this goes against our instincts. When I like a guy, my instinct is to text him constantly, things like “Hey what are you doing?” “Who are you with?” “When will I see you?” “What do you think of my face?” “I like your face.” “Want to settle down?” “I saw this leaf and I thought of you.” It’s a shame that we live in a world where we can’t just be open with each other about our desires (or we can, but can’t be attractive doing this) and it’s a shame that a book like “The Rules,” which has a chapter titled “Closing the Deal: Getting Him to the Altar,” says a lot of true things about how men

and women interact. I have this theory about traffic jams. If there were some way to coordinate everyone pushing down on their pedals at the exact same time, everyone would start moving, and there would be no traffic jam. But there isn’t a way to coordinate this, and it takes just one person, who’s distracted listening to Car Talk or blasting T-Pain, not pushing down the pedal to get smashed and ruin everything for everyone. I feel the same way about game-playing; if everyone stopped playing them, relationships and hookups wouldn’t be so complicated.

// MARIA YAGODA

Ex. of O.D. Texting

But there isn’t a way to coordinate this, either, and it takes just one person playing hard to get to maintain the competitive edge of game-playing, which ruins everything for everyone. This is unfortunate, because I’m sure we’d all rather be playing Jenga or Magic the Gathering. Contact MARIA YAGODA at maria.yagoda@yale.edu .

I’m not a witch, but I’ve dabbled Last semester, a sudden urge came over me that required immediate attention in the form of intensive Witch House research. Witch House, if the term eludes you, has been, for the past couple years, a genre of music born and raised in the back alleys of the Internet. Its output is full of somewhat scary-sounding drone noises, as one might expect from a cultural movement inspired by the occult, but also basks in the valley of chopped and

NINA WEXELBLATT PLAYING OFF THE BEAT screwed remixes of 90s R&B. It arrives soaked in supersaturated images of triangles and crosses, and pasty dudes making their own voices sound like Biggie. It encompasses everything absurd and wonderful about online culture: hyper-specificity, unquestioned comfort with cognitive dissonance, airtight attention to

personal branding and cats. I wanted badly to understand the Witch House community, and luckily a friend of a friend was himself a fine purveyor of the genre. Eagerly, I interviewed him about his musical project, the online forums and IRL meet-ups, and the role of symbols and signs in this form of artistic expression. The idea that a system so rich — at once rigidly defined and freely moldable — could come from a platform of social networking was fascinating, both sociologi-

cally and aesthetically. So, in love with all things Internet, I had to join in. My suitemate and I bought long black skirts and triangle earrings and fancied ourselves a Witch House band. We photoshopped eerie images of our cats with crosses for eyes and, for Halloween, threw a Witch House-themed party where we “released” the music we had been working on, which was, in reality, basically Kate Bush songs at a fraction of their normal speed. The problem, I suppose, is that I am admittedly not a particularly witchy person, whatever that means. I idolize bands with names like The Softies and Dressy Bessy and own several pairs of floral shorts. Consequently, I recently got in an argument regarding the sincerity of my foray into Witch House. Apparently, in what I thought was an exploration of a generative aesthetic, I was necessarily mocking the genre. It was not an “authentic” representation of a creation I truly wished to display as my own; in other words, my irreverence was making everyone uncomfortable and that was NOT okay. “Authenticity” in artistic production is a touchy subject among certain consumers of culture. In the case of Witch House v. Wex-

// NINA WEXELBLATT

The symbolism is ripe for MB‡GR∆M§

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FINALE: YEAR-END CARILLON CONCERT

Harkness Tower // 5:00 p.m. You’ve heard them all year — now come hear the best performances.

elblatt, lines of genre were drawn in the sand: indie pop girls can’t rightfully wake up one morning and decide to be in a band called MB‡GR∆M§. On one hand, this ultimatum is understandable; one doesn’t ever want something they value to be reduced to a series of meaningless stylistic gestures. The sort of essentialized and regurgitated creative process — in which we were admittedly engaging — crops up insidiously in the kitschiest and most propagandizing instances of art. On the other hand, the idea of a single genre defining the entirety of an artist’s desire to express herself is just about as artificial a constraint as is possible. My personal favorite example of this is the hilarious existence of Chris Gaines, the soul patch-donning alt-rock alter ego of country star Garth Brooks. Though originally the character was created in conjunction with a proposed film that never ended up seeing the light of day, Gaines was a legitimate outlet for Brooks to explore a type of music that would immediately have been considered a betrayal of Brooks’ persona by his fan base. In a strange and affirming turn, the Gaines project actually garnered Brooks his only U.S. Top 40 pop single. Of course, the phenomenon of wanting one’s art to move in unexpected directions isn’t only true of music. Booker Prize-winning author Julian Barnes writes crime fiction as Dan Kavanaugh and early Pollocks don’t look like anything spilled (and, of course,

the artist George Costanza moonlights as architect Art Vandelay) but we don’t say that these less-familiar forms are mockeries. Whether by taking new identities or simply revising one’s own, artists who desire to create usually are inspired by more than a single source, and are rightly respected in their alternate pursuits, even if these pursuits cross boundaries of style or even medium. In a talk David Byrne and James Murphy gave on campus last week, the two discussed the limitations they felt on their non-musical pursuits. Murphy divulged his loved for writing, but then expressed his concern that his work would be judged only on his celebrity — “Some guy in a band writing about being in a band” — rather than on its artistic merits. He mused that he would have to take a pseudonym if he ever wanted to publish. As someone named after a pseudonym myself — Rrose, my middle name, is culled from Rrose Sélavy, the female alter ego of Dada artist Marcel Duchamp — I firmly believe that veering from the expected trajectory of one’s artistic career (or, in my case, dabbling) is incredibly rewarding. There is no reason why Barnes can’t be Kavanaugh and Brooks can’t be Gaines. If the limits of a cultivated identity are restricting, shed them. Be on the lookout for more MB‡GR∆M§ release parties. Contact NINA WEXELBLATT at nina.wexelblatt@yale.edu .

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: The New Yorker’s “MONEY POL: Does Mitt Romney really love you?” Well, does he?


YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012 · yaledailynews.com

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WEEKEND TV

OBSESSION IS BACK: ‘MAD MEN’ TAKES OUT ITS TRASH // BY JACKSON MCHENRY

// AMC TV

In case the sudden uptick in Facebook activity from that one friend who fancies themselves to be yet another wise-cracking, well-suited account man at the gin-soaked, ever struggling Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce hasn’t tipped you off already, season five of “Mad Men” premiered on AMC this Sunday. Expectations ran high for the two hour episode, diehard “Mad Mennies” (think Trekkies, but with better taste in clothing) needed a quip from cynical partner Roger Sterling, a sassy dig from master secretary Joan Harris, and, of course, an emotional breakthrough mid-pitch from the man himself, Don Draper. When a show runs for four seasons, assumptions build around how the characters can and will act. The premiere defied those assumptions. Between the fall of 1965 and Memorial Day 1966, we see that Joan, weighed down by her baby, has left the office; that Pete Campbell is starting to bald; that someone in the costume department recently discovered the color orange — hidden some-

where near the shag carpets and leftovers from filming the first Pink Panther movie. As Peggy herself remarks about surprisingly still-married Don Draper, “I don’t recognize that man.” Much of this can be attributed to changes in history. Racial tension, once an ominous hum behind the character drama, explodes when civil rights protestors shout with pride on Madison Avenue. Perhaps the most painful reveal occurs when the stuffy British Lane Pryce steps over trash, out of his Taxi, and into an unkempt city street. New York is dirty. The clean swept, white washed, utopia that people like Don Draper sold doesn’t even exist on the show anymore. The early seasons of “Mad Men” had the dubious advantage of taking place in that utopia. Just as “Friends” operated on the semi-ridiculous premise that six 20-something’s could pay Manhattan rent, “Mad Men” stipulated that men could drink too much and abuse their wives, but that we would still identify with them because the logic of their

world just wasn’t the same as ours. Sure Don’s a bastard, but he’s just trying to find himself in a society where men were bastards. A lot of this is due to the finely articulated beauty that lies at the heart of Mad Men’s world. Everybody in Sterling Cooper looks good, is shot well and dresses impeccably. All the depravity in the show, though undeniably present, is tempered by its own aesthetic. Forgetting what they’re celebrating, people host “Mad Men” parties and choose favorite characters to imitate. The show is largely responsible for resurrecting 60s fashion and for championing the return of the skinny tie. Critics of “Mad Men” often target its style, arguing that focusing on appearance leaves gaps in character development, or allows the actors to get away with bad work, or even presents a vision of the 60s that never

A sigh of relief for “Mad Mennies”

existed. I disagree. These characters sell themselves for a living. Don Draper, formerly Dick Whitman, wakes up in the morning and asks himself, what would Don Draper wear? Clothing, style, everything in “Mad Men” is a weapon, a way of selling persona, one’s own way of life. It’s only a coincidence that we buy Don’s product as much as anyone else. If the season five premiere is any indication, this season, though maintaining that aesthetic, is going to question how powerful it can be. The episode was bookended by civil rights protestors, first being water bombed by a rival firm then

answering Don’s joke “equal opportunity” ad en masse. These problems matter. Compared to the delicate intrigue of office politics, they have weight. “Man Men” has always been about people who sell solutions rather than solve problems, and nowhere is that more present than in Don’s new life with his sexpot Canadian secretary, Megan. Her surprise birthday rendition of “Zou Bisou Bisou” at Don’s party (available on iTunes!) delivers on her promise that “after this party, everyone will want to go home and have sex.” Don has bought a new life with her, but both have yet to realize its flaws. The viewer, however,

// AMC TV

its constant snafus. Incidentally, the formula created the most adorable sitcom marriage of all time. Screw Jim and Pam, who took six seasons to get married — Andy and April hosted a dinner party that turned out to be an undercover wedding, planned completely on a whim. (Andy: “I cannot emphasize how little we thought about it.”) April is Ron’s sarcastic, unmotivated intern who claims to hate everyone; Andy’s an overgrown man-child whose tenure on the

has the privilege of Sally Draper’s perspective, who wanders disoriented through her new home, realizing the false promise — the bathroom door leads to dad’s new girl — of her new home. In a beautiful world, dirt is more fascinating than anything else. Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce may tell you that it doesn’t exist, that you can buy a life that’s squeaky clean, that beans do ballet, but the dirt will always creep in. Fans may not want to acknowledge it, but the dirty and ugly are everywhere — in race relations, city streets and even the knots of Megan’s formerly white shag carpet. Beauty, sex and style sell, but dirt, trash, loss and change matter. “Mad Men” knows that; that’s why it still works. Contact JACKSON MCHENRY at jackson.mchenry@yale.edu .

I’ll never hate you, ‘Parks and Rec’ // BY NATALIE COLLINS

I understand that the first season is underwhelming, the concept seems tired and the setting is unexciting, but “Parks and Recreation” is still my favorite show on TV right now. Yes, the skeptics have valid points, but they’re wrong: properly appreciated, “Parks and Rec” is a great show with a few entirely flawless episodes. (For your reference, they are “The Fight,” “Fancy Party” and “Li’l Sebastian.”) The first thing to understand about “Parks and Recreation” is that it is not “The Office.” It’s a fauxdocumentary, single-camera, Thursday night NBC workplace comedy with Rashida Jones, but it is not “The Office.” While “The Office” features the full spectrum of characters, from people you could meet in the real world to the over-thetop histrionic, pretty much everyone on “Parks and Rec” is somewhat cartoonish, albeit grounded by their circumstances (small-town bureaucracy). And while Scranton, Pa. is pretty remorselessly realistic, Pawnee, Ind. is a cross between satire of middle America (the town slogan is “First in friendship, fourth in obesity”) and straight-up absurdity. One of the strongest elements of the show is its cast of recurring secondary characters (shout-out to Jean-Ralphio), all

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of whom are flagrantly insane. Everyone in the main cast of the show is some kind of caricature, as well kind of a loser, stuck in the mechanics of small-town government. Most of them aren’t even especially likable (which is why it can take a few episodes to get into the show). With the exception of Ann Perkins, whose absence of quirks keeps everything somewhat lifelike, “Parks and Rec” is a collection of weird types and goofy ad-libs. And yet for all of its ridiculous, flawed, frequently flailing characters, what makes the show stand out is its depth. For such a silly city, Pawnee comes with a seemingly inexhaustible lore (the Fourth Floor, the murals at city hall, the infamous raccoon infestation). And while Leslie’s intense enthusiasm for her city is frequently satirized, it’s also deliberately admirable. Dumpy Pawnee, Ind. can be a great city; local government can transcend its role as what libertarian parks director Ron Swanson calls “a greedy piglet that suckles on the taxpayer’s teat.” More poignant still are the relationships between the characters. How a show so deliberately absurd can have such palpable emotional stakes I don’t know, but it makes “Parks & Rec” incredibly entertaining. My personal favorite epi-

sode of the show is about a horse funeral, the most perfect horsefuneral-themed half hour of television ever aired. Li’l Sebastian, a miniature horse mysteriously beloved by the entire population of Pawnee, has died. Each character’s reaction is pitch-perfect, somehow both loveable and insane. Man, myth and legend Ron Swanson: “I have cried twice in my life. Once when I was 7 and I was hit by a school bus. And then again when I heard that Li’l Sebastian had passed.” Hyperactive health freak Chris Traeger responds with terror at his own unavoidable demise, while Leslie and Ben are forced to scramble to hide their illicit relationship (with the bonus revelation of their role-playing preferences: “And this is how Eleanor Roosevelt would kiss.”) The characters rallying together to put on a funeral that the little horse deserves is, of course, entirely weird, but there’s something touching about it for each of them: real-world emotional stakes for a horse funeral that features a character getting his eyebrows burned off in a giant fireball. “Parks & Rec” uses its emotional power to create a wide range of successful comic duos (Leslie and Ron, Ron and April, Leslie and Ann, Ben and Leslie,

SCHUBERTIADE: AN EVENING OF PIANO MUSIC BY SCHUBERT Saint Anthony’s Hall // 7:30 p.m.

School of Music faculty members WeiYi Yang and Michael Friedmann will present a short program of piano music, solo + 4 hands

Parks and Rec: Not the new Office

Chris and Ben) with interesting and dynamic relationships. The fraught but affectionate dynamic between governmentloving Leslie Knope and her boss, avowed libertarian Ron Swanson, would be less funny without its accumulated mutual respect, and less heartwarming without

show began when he fell into a giant pit. Together, they have a completely functional, relatable marriage that doesn’t need willthey-or-won’t-they tension to stay aloft. So I’ll end with April’s wedding vows: “I guess I kind of hate most things. But I never really seem to hate you. So I want to spend the rest of my life with you, is that cool?” Contact NATALIE COLLINS at natalie.collins@yale.edu .

WEEKEND RECOMMENDS: Out Of The Blue’s winning number at the Northeast ICCA Semifinal. Check out their tumblr!


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YALE DAILY NEWS · FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012 · yaledailynews.com

WEEKEND BACKSTAGE

MILLICENT MARCUS

// CREATIVE COMMONS

Cineaste, Polymath, Cognoscenti of Italian Culture // BY SIJIA SONG

Q. As a brief introduction, what does the Italian Film Festival hope to accomplish?

Q. Apart from the linguistic significance, is there a narrative difference in regional films?

A. Ever since the death of the great Italian filmmakers — the ones who were so well known, like Fellini, Antonioni, Visconti — there’s this impression that Italian cinema is not producing anything worthwhile, and that impression is wrong. Our festival is a way of countering that view. It’s our goal to bring new Italian films, many of which are not distributed internationally, to the Yale community and to the greater New Haven community.

A. I’m not sure it’s a narrative difference, but I think it’s expressing a tendency in Italian culture to return to local roots and a local sense of identity. It could be a reaction against globalization and Europeanization, and a desire to reaffirm ancestral roots and local cultures. Not in the sense of right-wing refusal, though — it’s really a progressive sense. If you have a firm rooting in the local and regional, that rooting can then open you up to larger realms of identity.

Q. This year’s festival is titled “New Films with a Regional Accent.” Why is there an emphasis on regional accents? A. We have noticed in recent years that the greatest impetus in new Italian filmmaking is local and regional, and that is where the excitement is being generated. Interestingly, most of the films that we gathered for this festival are from the south of Italy. We’ve shown regional films in the past from the North and Central regions, but this particular grouping is focused on the South.

Q. You mentioned that Italian films are a source of identity. Is the film festival significant to the Italian-American community in New Haven? A. I would certainly like to think so. We’ve been reaching out to them. Over these seven years I think the word has gotten out, and this is an event the community really looks forward to every spring. Q. From a film perspective, what makes Italian films distinct from

American or other European cinema?

evolved very far from his roots as a neo-realist.

A. The postwar Italian cinema grew out of a movement called neo-realism. Neo-realism, which began right after World War II, was an attempt to return to the reality of Italian life. It attempted to awaken the war-torn nation that had just emerged from 20 years of fascism and blindness to the reality of social injustice. The idea was to just take the camera and go out into the streets, the factories, the fields, and film things as they are. Neo-realism had a huge effect on international cinema, and on the way Italy would be seen through international eyes. So you get cinema which is antispectacular, which feels homemade, which uses non-professional actors to a large extent and which is often low-budget. I feel that these new regional films are very in line with that tradition.

Q. Are modern Italian films, like the ones that will be showing at the festival this weekend, closer to neo-realism or to spectacle?

Q. You mentioned the great Italian filmmakers: Fellini, Visconti, etc. What was their tradition? A. Visconti was one of the first neo-realists. He begins with a very austere truth-telling mode, but he later moved into grand spectacle, with wonderful results. Q. Actually, I think I’ve seen an Italian film in that style: “Death in Venice.” A. That’s Visconti! 1971. Yes, so you see how glorious his filmmaking mode became: very spectacular, with gorgeous décor, lush costumes and a fantastic musical score. Visconti

A. I think that they’re hybrid films. They return to the regional, and to the sense of authenticity we get in local culture, but several of them are comic films, and that’s a whole separate tradition in Italy. Others have very serious social commentary, and that goes right back to the neo-realist tradition. Q. Could you introduce us a little to the films that you’ll be showing this weekend? A. Sure. Thursday night’s film takes place in Rome. The title is “Scialla,” which is Roman dialect for “take it easy.” It’s the coming-of-age story of a young man who speaks with a strong Roman accent. He discovers his father, who is a washed-up professor, and who speaks perfect standard Italian. It’s a comic film, with many touching moments. The Friday film, “Benvenuti al Sud,” is absolutely hilarious. It’s a spoof of the mutual stereotypes that pit Northern Italy against Southern Italy. It exploits stereotypes, it critiques stereotypes, and is altogether a wise and entertaining film. The Saturday film, “Terra Firma,” is much more serious. It’s the story of a woman and her children, who immigrate from Northern Africa to a little island south of Sicily, and deals with the collision between cultures. On Sunday, we have a matinee. At 1:30 p.m. we have “Basil-

icata Coast to Coast,” a story about a group of musicians who decide to go on foot to a music festival. That means walking across the narrowest part of the boot of Italy, which is the experience of a lifetime. “Focaccia Blues,” playing Sunday at 4:00 p.m., is a mockumentary about a true episode that occurred in a little town in the south, famous for “focaccia,” a kind of bread, which has to stand up to a McDonald’s that moves into town. Q. Globalization? A. Exactly. And I won’t give away

what happens. It’s absolutely delightful. Q. How are the films chosen? A. I have a committee of graduate students, and we screen a lot of films together, and we vote. This year it was difficult because we had a theme. In previous years we’ve been more open. This year we really wanted to focus on regionalism, so that narrowed the pool of films we could choose from. But I think we managed to come up with a great selection. Contact SIJIA SONG at sijia.song@yale.edu .

IF YOU HAVE A FIRM ROOTING IN THE LOCAL AND REGIONAL, THAT ROOTING CAN THEN OPEN YOU UP TO LARGER REALMS OF IDENTITY.

P

rofessor Millicent Marcus Ph.D. ’74 is a professor in the Yale Italian department, who focuses on Italian culture through literature, history and film. She is also the curator of the 7th Annual Yale Festival of Italian Cinema, which is running from March 29th – April 1st at the Whitney Humanities Center. WEEKEND sat down with Prof. Marcus to discuss the upcoming festival, Italian film and the importance of local roots.


This WEEKEND