Tag Archive: Farce

  1. A FroShow Full of Fluff and Fun

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    “The Trouble with Summer People,” the Yale Dramatic Association’s annual Freshman Show, starts off with a bang. In this farce by Tim Kelly, a gruesome, inexplicable murder has occurred on the premises of Wind Chimes, a low-profile summer spot off the Massachusetts coast.

    Left dead is Morton Pitkin, played by Alex Swanson ’18, a local boarder hiding a hoard of rare coins and a trove of secrets. Soon, the small island-community erupts into a panic as convoluted as it is comedic. Rupert Baxter (Dillon Miller ’18), a disgraced army dropout newly married to the benevolent Janis (Emily Harburg ’18) leads the search for the culprit, helped along by a host of characters.

    In this dynamic cast full of comic foils, the audience scrutinizes every character’s potential to commit murder. The rambunctious Danny, an aspiring criminologist with a knack for annoying everyone who listens to his wild theories, investigates the crime with good intentions and humorous consequences. Sam Gurwitt ’18 gives a convincing performance, embodying the familiar archetype of the twerp as frustratingly immature as he is precocious.

    Danny’s antics rival those of Fluff (Erica Wachs ’18), a naive young girl who brilliantly lightens the dispositions of the dour adults in the room. The curmudgeonly grown-ups include the ever-somber aunt and lover of the deceased, Caroline Francisco ’18; the incompetent chief of police, Josh Toro ’18, who occupies the sweet spot between awkward and insane; Alex Swanson ’18, an exemplar of fine acting, who returns as the dead man’s long-estranged brother; and a sprightly cast of figures stumbling about in pursuit of the assailant.

    The summer people laugh, entertain, and seem to move beyond the multipurpose common room in which the work unfolds. Paying homage to the murder mystery tradition, director Emma Healy ’18 blends the cultural relevance of Arthur Miller with the fast-paced fun of Jonathan Lynn’s “Clue.”

    Kelly’s script brings little innovation to a familiar genre. The work proceeds along predictable lines by gradually piling the facts of the case onto the narratives of various interwoven characters. By the show’s end, the drama climaxes in a fiery revelation of whodunnit. The denouement, which almost too-perfectly ties together loose ends, closes an Agatha Christie-inspired plot with a fairytale ending.

    “Summer People” is a show for all ages. Children will enjoy a spectacle rife with playful shenanigans from the first scene to the last. Fluff and Danny, the resident youngsters of Wind Chimes, successfully connect to a younger audience with countless jokes.

    The script too helps anchor the audience. Simple dialogue and straightforward relationships comfortably steer an otherwise crowded stage of personalities. At times, the text relies too heavily on cliché, particularly in the one-line zingers that seem to close about every scene. But the actors take the banalities in stride, adding a layer of professional irony to the already-jokey script.

    In particular, the twin Puckle sisters, who finish one another’s sentences, walk in perfect lockstep, and represent a maddeningly hackneyed archetype of the genre, teetering on the fine line between fresh comedic material and stale foils. Erin Hebert ’18 and Sarah Householder ’18 elegantly push their characters toward something new, never taking themselves too seriously while delivering pitch-perfect performances of impressive style and grace.

    The two hours spent watching the Freshman Show at the Yale Repertory Theatre will tantalize eager vacationers. The summer people of a desolate Cape Cod lodge-town are causing all sorts of problems — murder, lost love, growing up, unfulfilled dreams. But the class of 2018 emerges unfazed. After perpetual New Haven winter, whatever trouble with summer people we see might just be worth the wait.

  2. Let’s Try Believing in People: Reading Privilege at Yale

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    Look around you at Yale any day of the week. Who do you see? People? Humans? Souls? The oppressive environment of Yale makes our personalities see each other like assignments, pages to be read and talked about in a classroom “seminar” setting. But what does this mean? How can we truly feel this way about peers whom we are supposed to love and touch their souls?

    Yale is a microcosm of the human world of societies. According to the National Studies, some of us can’t even look people in the eyes without seeing them as an objectification. What place is this? What does this say about us as people? We need to work on our skills of really connecting without thinking about social constructs like stereotypes and society. If you really think about your role in the community, you might grow to learn how common values like truth and sharing contribute to a meaningful discourse about campus life — just like when we were children.

    If you think about it, children are the only ones who can really appreciate one-to-one behavior between humans, as one. When a child looks at a book, he can’t read it, but he knows what it means. We as Yale students in the community of Yale really need to remember to know what things mean. We as Yale students, all in all, reach a point in each of our lives where we bear responsibility for ourselves and others in the noble endeavor of our lives. Can we trust ourselves as creators of the new generation of society to pave the way of true knowledge?

    Take the instance of iPhones, for example. When we look at a screen, it automatically means we cannot look at a face. When we read a “text” we automatically cannot “read” our friends. As we have become more and more a society that values material culture and the values that it discharges over a culture that values people and animals as they are and should be, are we not becoming what the famous Hemingway once called the Lost Generation? And after all, are we not just, like Hemingway, animals too?

    What the administration doesn’t understand is that students need room not only to learn and create but also to grow as people and believe. Yale is not a factory; it is a farm. Our professors should be concerned not with molding our plastic minds but nurturing the eggs of our souls. The administration should not be concerned with what method is most “efficient” or “productive” but rather with feeding us the freshest grains and oats.

    Another aspect that plays into the role of campus in society and vice versa is this overwhelming obsession with the culture of the hookup culture on campus. If we cannot make meaningful connections with each other, but like the proverbial preying mantis only eat our mates after making love, so to speak, we will fall into a deep pit of moral decay and failing as a society. Hook-up culture is only beneficial to those for whom hooking up benefits, and the rest of students who may not be comfortable with those social norms are put on the sidelines like the proverbial basketball players.

    This is not to say that we cannot know one another merely by the processes of looking and seeing; but, rather, to delve into one another in a new way that eliminates stereotypes completely. Preconceived notions can only be understood as a reflection of our deep-seated discomfort with hierarchies and the pressures they emit on each of us as Yale students. And that is why no one person can be held accountable for the actions and beliefs of our collective inner demons, but rather all of us, as a society, must take action to counteract the tide of isolation and make everyone feel at home. Think about that Peter Salovey!

    So the next time you’re walking on Cross Campus, or sitting in your class in a “seminar,” look around you. The world might be more complex than you ever give it credit for. All these people are more than interesting books; if you only took the time to read them, they might be interesting people. Maybe the really important reading isn’t on the syllabus at all. Maybe, for once, the Yale community can come together to realize that truth is more than just how much you “know,” it’s how much you are.