New York Pride of the Past

Watermarked image of a written letter on a sheet of paper and business card admitting William Bordeau to the National Gay Alliance as a Charter Member

Now known as the National LGBTQ Task Force, the image above is of a handwritten note welcoming Bill Bordeau into the National Gay Task Force, and a business card sized membership card.

Authored by Kathleen Daly

At a time when there was a great deal of political and cultural turmoil there was one local New York City man who was a vocal activist for gay rights. Affiliation of any kind with a group like the National Gay Task Force was polarizing for some, especially when this was a time when the American Psychiatric Association, or APA, still had homosexuality classified as a mental illness. In the publication of the original Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, in 1952, as well as in the second version, “individuals were labeled sick because they did not fit in, not necessarily because they felt afflicted, in pain, or under any kind of mental stress” (Dunn 2017, 183). The stigma that homosexuals had to live under was codified under the guidelines of mental health diagnoses and it took a great deal of fighting back from many groups inside the APA, and a few outside as well, to get those definitions removed finally in late 1973.  Other legal definitions and laws changing, such as the case of 1964’s Civil Rights Act and the fallout within the homosexual community (Bruce 2016, 46-47) gave rise to many people within it wishing to take further action. Continue reading

Back on Their Feet: The Italian Welfare League and the Ragazzi

Authored by Kyle Randall

A boy with worn features and wrinkles under his eyes that do not belong on a teenager is posed smoking before the photographer.
A young Ragazzi smoking to try to curb his hunger in the aftermath of World War II

 

            Like most of the world, Italy suffered greatly in the first half of the 20th century, as a result of the two World Wars and the Great Depression devastating most developed nations. World War I caused distrust amongst many first world nations, and brought about a massive decrease in trade across the globe. “These policies took several forms such as import tariffs, currency control and quota restrictions” (Perri and Quadrini 2000, 4). The collapse of the economy and subsequent worldwide political strife made way for conflicts that would spark the second World War, sowing even greater turmoil and tragedy into an already struggling nation. After World War II came to a close, Italy’s infrastructure suffered massive damage, and its economy was in shambles.  Thousands of children were left homeless and orphaned.  While Italy would eventually recover, the initial years were difficult. “In the aftermath of World War II, Italy and France like the other European belligerents experienced persistent, rapid, disruptive inflation” (Casella and Eichengreen 1991, 1). With the country as unstable as it was, it was no wonder why the nation had to turn to outside help to care for their orphans. 

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Androcles and the Lion: How Theater Made an Identity for the Deaf

Authored by Kylie Feiring

Androcles and the Lion program
Marymount Manhattan College and St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf, Androcles and the Lion, 1971, Marymount Manhattan College, Collection #009, Box 2.

In 1971, Marymount Manhattan College and the St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf united forces to present “Androcles and the Lion,” written by Aurand Harris and adapted by Dorothy Dodd. Harris’ plays for children are remarkable, as he had a deep and real understanding of children’s interests and concerns, what they find funny, and what they find important (McCaslin 1984, 115).

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A play by William Harris “I Was Sitting on My Patio This guy appeared I Thought I Was hallucinating”

Authored by Kasey Correll

An Image presented by MaryMount Manahattan College that features a review by William Harris dated June 9 1977 on the play “I Was Sitting on My Patio This Guy Appeared I Thought I Was Hallucinating”

This object is a review of the play “I Was Sitting on My Patio This Guy Appeared I Thought I Was Hallucinating” (Harris, 1977). Mr. William Harris reviewed this play for the SoHo Weekly News in June 9, 1977, at the Cherry Lane Theatre. He was a famous writer and well known “contributor to The New York Times on dance and theater” (Harris, 2000, par 3). I selected this object for my AS-L project because it shows the beginning of a new type of play that Mr. Robert Wilson produced. It also represents the Vincentian core value of excellence, because of Mr. Wilson’s drive to not give up.

The famous producer was Mr. Robert Wilson who also stared as one of the main actors. He created this production in order to shape new way that plays are viewed, and believed he should take charge of one of the main roles in his play. This action would ensure that his audience would understand the message he was trying to provide, if he was able fully express it himself. Mr. Wilson wanted to show his dream through his play and also show his audience a new form of entertainment. When a producer is first forming a play they usually begin with forming the plot, characters, or dialogue. However, Mr. Wilson was interested in focusing on the setting first for this particular play, and his first ideas about the setting of the play were “I’ve had the idea for a long time of a room with lots of books, all placed neatly on shelves, and something slicing through the shelves. There is a telephone, and a telephone wire. There is a scrim or gauze over the front of the stage, and images are sometimes projected on it” (Kostelanetz, 1977, par 2).

This particular play was different than past plays Robert Wilson produced, simply because he wanted “to get rid of all the theatrical furniture” (Harris, 2000, par 7). This reasoning was referring to how his play’s setting contains zero dancing, little music, and only one small movie screen feed from a backstage projector. The setting was created without any distracting theatrical furniture, so the viewing audience would be able to focus on the vision and the importance of his Mr. Wilson’s play.

This review of Mr. Wilson’s play was a great object because it strongly reflects Vincentian core value of excellence of St. John’s University. This was Mr. Wilson’s first production that was the beginning of many ideas, on how to perform new ways plays were presented and portrayed. Even though theatrical critics including Mr. William Harris reviewed the play as not impressive and dreadfully boring, Mr. Wilson still had the drive and passion to continue creating plays in a different way. He took the criticism from the reviews about his play, learned from his mistakes and began to produce more productions that followed the different style. This particular play was the beginning of what influenced and created what American theater productions became to be, instead of script heavy European theater performances.

References

Barnes, Clive. 1977. “Patio Is Staged at Cherry Lane; One Must Suspend All Disbelief: Archives.” The New York Times, (May 23, 1977), https://www.nytimes.com/1977/05/23/archives/patio-is-staged-at-cherry-lane-one-must-suspend-all-disbelief.html

Cherry Lane Theater. n.d. “History: Mainstage History.” Accessed March 11, 2019, http://www.cherrylanetheatre.org/history/.

Gilbert, Ruth ed. 1977. “In and around town: A Critical Guide to Entertainment in the New York Area.” New York Magazine 10, no 23 (June 6, 1977): 21. https://books.google.com/books?id=QeQCAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA21&lpg=PA21&dq=I+Was+Sitting+on+my+Patio+This+Guy+Appeared+I+Thought+I+Was+Hallucinating+William+OR+Harris&source= .

Kostelanetz, Richard. 1977. “Robert Wilson Builds a New Play: Archives.” The New York Times. (May 8, 1977), https://www.nytimes.com/1977/05/08/archives/robert-wilson-builds-a-new-play-robert-wilson-builds-a-new-play.html

 The New York Times. 2000. “William Harris Writer, 49: Archives.” (July 29, 2000). https://www.nytimes.com/2000/07/29/arts/william-harris-writer-49.html.

Wilson, Robert. 1979. “I Was Sitting on My Patio This Guy Appeared I Thought I Was Hallucinating.” Performing Arts Journal 4, no. 1/2 (May, 1979): 200-18. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4623775.

Higher Education Opportunity Program: A Chance to Achieve Greatness

Authored by William Gorley

An early HEOP brochure utilized by MMC

An undated, early promotional and educational brochure utilized by Marymount Manhattan College to advocate their involvement with the Higher Education Opportunity Program. (Known formally as the Community Leadership Program at Marymount Manhattan College).

Prior to the late 1960’s, higher education in America was reserved for the affluent, bright and well connected. A trend that would continue until a visionary upstate New York politician stepped up to lead a campaign that would provide the underprivileged and underrepresented a chance to achieve greatness. Arthur O. Eve, a member of the NYS Assembly (1967-2003) and Deputy Speaker of the Assembly (1979-2013) representing districts in Buffalo NY (NYSED.gov 2019). Eve took notice of the plight faced by the underprivileged, especially the youth and proposed legislation that would become known as the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) (NYSED.gov 2019).

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Dance Genesis: Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Syvilla Fort

Authored by Reba Weatherford

The outside of the program for the concert honoring Syvilla Fort.

On November 3, 1975 the Black Theater Alliance held a concert in the Majestic Theatre at Marymount Manhattan College titled Dance Genesis: Three Generations Salute Syvilla Fort. Syvilla Fort, and influential choreographer and dance teacher, has been described as “an important figure in American dance” (Bocek 2016, 14) and as a “just plain good person” (McDonagh 1975, 34). The concert was hosted by choreographer Alvin Ailey and performer Harry Belafonte, both former students of Fort. Syvilla Fort herself was also in attendance. Continue reading

The Music Project at Marymount Manhattan College: An Opportunity for Greater Success

Authored by John Blodgett


This is an image of the program for the 1976 fall concert series for the Music Project, which would be held at the Marymount Manhattan College Theatre. It describes the numerous songs that will be played at the show, the order of the songs, and the members of the Music Project.

During the Fall 1976 semester Marymount Manhattan College differentiated from its growing dance, and theatre programs to introduce a concert series that brought classical music to New York City. Marymount Manhattan College was a religious college, and is a college that prides itself on diversity as its mission statement states, “Faithful to the vision of its founders, Marymount Manhattan has a long history of reaching out to diverse populations in need of higher education”(Marymount Manhattan College, n.d.). The Music Project was a key program in its promotion of Marymount Manhattan College’s goal to provide opportunities for diverse and underrepresented people. As the Music Project consisted of a group of musicians from across the world, and provided an opportunity for these musicians to start their careers.

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Class, Gender, and Race at the Center of Dutchman- William Harris Papers

Authored by Katie Ranno

Review of "Dutchman" by William B. Harris at the wellknown Perry Street Theatre in 1977. A one-act play with one location tackles the topics of race, class, and gender head on. Courtesy of Marymount Manhattan College
Review of “Dutchman” by William B. Harris at the wellknown Perry Street Theatre in 1977. A one-act play with one location tackles the topics of race, class, and gender head on.

My Academic Service-Learning (AS-L) project has been focused on gathering more information about the Dutchman review pictured above. The object was written by William B. Harris, a writer of many talents, including that of theatre reviews. He died in the year 2000 (Brown 2001, 2). Marymount College has since received a number of his works, and now it is their mission to keep his writings alive and accessible so that the general public can learn about part of New York’s theatre history through his writings.

This particular production of Dutchman took place at the Perry Street Theatre with performances beginning on February 10, 1977 (Salem 1984, 46). The one-act play was written in 1963 by LeRoi Jones (also known as Imamu Amiri Baraka) tells the story of a white woman named Lula and a black man named Clay who become interested in each other while sitting on a subway (Als 2007, 1). However, preconceived notions cloud their judgments, taking the play in a direction that tackles class, gender, and race head on.

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The Long Voyage Home – The William Harris Papers: An Avenue for Social Justice

Authored by William A. Slone

The Playbill for Tennessee Williams’ The Long Voyage Home by Eugene O’Neill collected by William B. Harris, who reviewed the play

Tennessee Williams’ play, The Long Voyage Home, by Eugene O’Neill was performed by Washington Market Playhouse, Inc. at Morgan’s Old New York Grill, a tavern, which supplied the perfect atmosphere for a play about the sea and sailors (Harris, n.d.). The Long Voyage Home was most likely performed in 1976 on Saturday, January 10th and Sunday, January 11th (MMM, n.d.). William B. Harris was in attendance during those dates and wrote a review of the play. His review is archived in “The William Harris Papers,” a special collection housed in the Marymount Manhattan College Library. The playbill and Harris’ review provide two examples of the Vincentian concept.

William Harris described The Long Voyage Home as one of the “best hours imaginable” in a waterfront bar where he stated that, “The performers themselves become as natural a part of the bar as the drinking patrons” (Harris, n.d.). He described what one would expect to hear in a bar of sailors – tall tales and songs of adventure, alcohol, loves lost, and the ferociousness of the sea. Harris pointed out that, “most significantly the play contained the spirit of all voyagers: men without purpose who are outcasts except from the cheap dives they frequent while in port” (Harris, n.d.). Harris emphasized that “loneliness and monotony are temporary, and the freedom of choice is limited – a male predicament” (Harris, n.d.). With his description of the sailors in the play, Harris conveys a voice for them who are under-and/or misrepresented. The sailors had demanding jobs and they had to be strong to endure their harsh life.

Harris mentions that, “Alexander Sokoloff directed the play quite admirably” but mentioned, “there was some problem with the handling of foreign accents” (Harris, n.d.). His statement is quite interesting! Listed on the playbill under the heading “Characters” several of the actors have an asterisk beside their name. The asterisk identifies them as actors appearing through the courtesy of the Actors’ Equity Association. The Actors’ Equity Association established on July 18, 1919 negotiated rules concerning bonding, which required producers to post sufficient advance funds to guarantee salaries and benefits; minimum salaries; rehearsal pay; restriction on the employment of foreign actors and protections in dealings with theatrical agents (History of Actors’ Equity Association, n.d.). The foreign actors had the support of the Actors’ Equity Association in The Long Voyage Home. This is a second example of the “Vincentian Perspective.” They were provided a voice by the Actors’ Equity Association because they were under-and/or misrepresented among other actors.

William B. Harris was multitalented. Among many talents, he was a writer for SoHo Weekly News, an advocate for new dance artists and an informal adviser to dance producers (New York Times 2000). Morgan’s Old New York Grill, at 134 Reade Street in lower Manhattan was close to home (New York Times 1976). His review which praised The Long Voyage Home and the playbill each provides an important example of social justice.

Bibliography

Harris, William. n.d. “The Long Voyage Home.” William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College. Accessed March 9, 2019.

“History of Actors’ Equity Association.” n.d. Organization. Actors’ Equity Association 1913. https://www.actorsequity.org/aboutequity/history/.

MMC (Marymount Manhattan College). n.d. William Harris Papers: Archives, http://www.mmm.edu/offices/library/archives.php.

The New York Times. 2000. “William Harris Writer, 49,” July 29, 2000. 2000. https://www.nytimes.com/2000/07/29/arts/william-harris-writer-49.html.

The New York Times. 1976. “Going Out Guide,” May 13, 1976. 1976. https://www.nytimes.com/1976/05/13/archives/going-out-guide.html.

Dr. Gurcharan Singh’s Legacy of Respect and Collaboration

Authored By Margaret Andracchi

Taken 1996, Dr. Gurcharan Singh lectures to a class of Marymount Manhattan College students interested in International Studies. His turban signifies him as a Sikh.

Joining the faculty of Marymount Manhattan College in 1980, Dr. Gurcharan Singh quickly became an integral part of community and created a legacy that still lives on today. He began teaching as an Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Studies, backed with a MA and PhD from the City University of New York (Marymount Manhattan College 1980). Dr. Singh is credited for founding the International Studies program during his first years there, and is still honored today for this contribution with the Gurcharan Singh Memorial Fund. For 25 years Dr. Singh served the community, until his tragic death in 2007 in a motor vehicle accident.

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