Smart People: What We Talk About When We Talk About Race

“Maybe it’s a fact we all should face / everyone makes judgments based on race”. This lyric, from the musical Avenue Q, was one of the first things that popped into my mind as I walked out of Smart People at the Kitchen Theatre — a play that delves unreservedly into the difficult, yet ever so relevant conversation of race, prejudice and, most importantly, our fear of that conversation itself. Written by the award-winning playwright Lydia R. Diamond and directed by the talented Summer L. Williams from Company One Theatre in Boston, Smart People is wildly funny, gripping and remarkably thought-provoking at its core. It dares us into the daunting task of thoroughly reevaluating ourselves and the world around us. With an innovative opening sequence involving projections of various news headlines and the voice recording of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign announcement, the play unfolds around four main characters: Brian, a white neuroscience professor at Harvard who has dedicated himself to finding a neurological explanation for racism and prejudice; Ginny, Brian’s fellow psychology professor at Harvard who studies and counsels Asian American women suffering from anxiety and depression; Jackson, Brian’s best friend, a black surgeon in residency; And Valerie, a young black actress who participates in Brian’s study and later works for him as a research assistant.

Peter and the Starcatcher: A Magical Experience

During the opening night of Peter and the Starcatcher, the Kitchen Theatre Company once again proved its ability to transcend the intimate confines of a performance stage and draw the imagination to the most distant and dazzling settings: faraway lands with vibrant, animate characters. On this particular evening, the audience was invited to imagine 19th-century British sailing ships containing noble statesmen, rugged sailors, sinister pirates and adventurous children, as well as a tropical island complete with its own boisterous inhabitants. Peter and the Starcatcher is based on the novel by Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson, which tells the backstory of Peter Pan and serves as a prequel to Peter and Wendy. Lord Leonard Astor and his daughter, Molly, are starcatchers — a secret group appointed by the queen to protect “starstuff,” a magical, extraterrestrial substance that grants those who touch it their fondest dreams, whether good or evil. Starcatchers must destroy starstuff when it appears on Earth to avoid the havoc that could be created should the magical substance fall into the wrong hands.

GUEST ROOM | Being an Actor of Color at Cornell

I’m confused. Why is a decidedly white English man portraying Michael Jackson in a new television movie entitled Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon later this month? Can anyone provide any insight? Maybe this is where you stop reading. Haven’t I been subjected to enough media about #Oscarssowhite, #Cornellsowhite, #WorldSOGODDAMNwhite already?

EDITORIAL: Don’t Betray Cornell Cinema, Again

Last week, Cornell Cinema was unable to secure the number of votes needed from the Student Assembly to raise the amount of byline funding the organizations receives each year. The vote follows a recommendation from the Student Assembly Appropriations Committee that urged the S.A. not increase the Cinema’s funding. While the committee suggested that Cornell Cinema further reduce its costs, additional cuts adversely affect the programming and benefits the organization provides for the campus community. We urge the members of the S.A. to reconsider their decisions to ensure the vitality of Cornell Cinema for future Cornellians. In its recommendation, the Appropriations Committee argued that Cornell Cinema should not be granted an additional $1.40 per student increase, raising its byline funding amount from its current $10.60 to $12 per student.

A Critical Mass

In order to portray a hope-filled celebration of faith that doesn’t seem hopeless naïve, Bernstein’s Mass confronts the social upheavals and secular pluralism that have torn apart established beliefs. Now playing at the Schwartz Center through April 26, it is a deliberately unwieldy hybrid, intermingling diverse musical and theater traditions to interrogate each other. Originally commissioned for the inauguration of the Kennedy Center in 1971, the demands of its massive cast — which includes a chorus of over a hundred student singers as well as a children’s choir, dance troupe, pit orchestra and several soloists — have prevented it from being widely staged as it was conceived, as a “theater piece for singers, players, and dancers.”

Making Waves in Feminism at Risley

All male playwrights are necessarily chauvinists. On the one hand, if they write plays without leading female characters, they are obviously enthralled with perpetuating the imbalance of roles in favor of men in a profession where the number of actresses outnumber their male counterparts. On the other hand, if they do write leading female characters, those characters are inevitably neurotic, damaged, benighted, angry, difficult and depressed.

Singing the Body Eclectic

Directed by Emily Ranii ’07, the play is inspired by a book by Prof. Emeritus Joan Jacobs Brumberg, human development, of the same name. With humor and incredible poignancy, The Body Project initiates a much needed dialogue on body image issues by exploring how contemporary women’s negative views of their bodies can have an increasingly toxic effect on their relationships with other people.

Shakespearean Mood Swings Confound Performance

Love’s Labors Lost is one of Shakespeare’s wordiest and most intractable plays. Ostensibly a comedy — if we trust the original folio’s title page — it yet fails to end with any marriages. The play is more of a learned satire, pillorying debates from the Elizabethan period about issues of rhetoric, law, and questions of sovereignty. And yet again, as intellectual as all that sounds, Love’s Labors Lost has more penis jokes than one can shake a stick at. The play is essentially about words and about word play — about how there is no about when words come unhinged from what they seek to signify.

Schwartz Center Auditions: Taking A Shot at the Big Time

There were several reasons I thought I could be a successful actor.
First, Keanu Reeves. He just sort of stands there and looks pretty, both of which I’m good at, and he’s a star. Plus, he plays Ted in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, so …
Second, my impromptu performances in front of the bathroom mirror have garnered rave reviews. Amidst the fog of just-finished hot showers, I’ve done everything from remorseful sinner to dying soldier and, let me tell you, I bring down the house every time.