Safety’s legacy

“Thirteen-year tradition ends”?

I don’t know about “consecutive years,” but my friends and I danced Safely, and rather more safely, as far back as 1995, my junior year at Yale. If recollection serves, the Safety Dance is even older; I think it was around my freshman year, 1992. It’s hard to tell from your article if the Safety Dance has in recent years been an ’80s-music nostalgia dance, but that’s what it was then (the name is, of course, an homage to a Men Without Hats song from 1983). We partied like it was 1999, under 99 luftballoons.

Mark Oppenheimer

Oct. 3

The writer is the director of the Yale Journalism Initiative.

Sounding off on American Night

American Night puts our country and its history, flaws and all, on stage, including more than 80 characters and 15 distinct locations, historical and contemporary. What the play says about race, class, and more in America is open to interpretation. That’s its point — which last Tuesday’s reviewer missed when he chose to focus on one (intentionally) provocative character, and, ironically, employed racially charged language to do so (“No way ‘Juan Jose!’ Oct. 3).

This play is about and intended for all, not any one group of, Americans. (It was also written by Richard Montoya, and Shana Cooper directed our production. The review should have mentioned them.) At every performance I’ve attended, I’ve seen people of a wide range of ages, races and experiences rise to enthusiastically applaud Juan José, a Mexican immigrant — one of the most vilified figures in our culture today, now humanized.

American Night pulls its audience into a huge, hilarious grizzly-bear hug in order to to hold us accountable for our American past, present and future. It hopes to encourage our active citizenship and ultimately, the nation’s progress. In our divided political age, this play brings real, honest and unafraid civic dialogue back into the theater, where it belongs. American Night is radical, not racist.

Lauren Dubowski

Oct. 7

The writer is a student at the Yale School of Drama and the production dramaturg for American Night at the Yale Rep.