In 1983, at the Honors Convocation of Marymount Manhattan College, Jacqueline Wexler was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. Wexler, former nun and President of both Webster College and Hunter College, dedicated her life to fighting for educational equity for students of all backgrounds. In 1967, she renounced her vows and successfully gained autonomy from church control of Webster College, proving to the world that she was willing to take on even the Vatican if it meant that she would achieve her goals (Vitello 2012).
Roy Cohn/Jack Smith is Ron Vawter’s depiction of two white, homosexual men who lead very different lives in the 1950s, but whom both died of AIDS related illnesses in the 80’s. Vawter (1994) uses his performance to focus on the “two powerful forces which shaped their lives: A Virus, and a society which sought to repress their sexuality” (0:10:36-0:10:45). This one-man show has been, thankfully, preserved with the help of filmmaker Jill Godmilow.
‘Gigi’ is a great example of how a story can be told in different formats to give the viewers unique experiences. The story of ‘Gigi’ originated as a novel by Collete (Barnes 1973). This was then turned into a play, which Lerner and Loewe originally decided to adapt into a movie musical in 1958 (Encyclopedia of World Biography 2020). From the movie musical, the pair then created the Broadway show with additional songs and flair. The above advertisement highlights these new changes. In this story, the main character Gigi is sent off to be taught how to be an elegant woman, but on the way she falls for a man for which an interesting arrangement is then made (Barnes 1973). The details from the original story might be lost in the musical production, but what is gained is an enchanting viewer experience.
Coretta Scott King devoted “a lifetime to raising public consciousness around issues related to human rights and social justice,” and although many know her primarily through her husband, Martin Luther King, Jr., she was a powerful force for change in her own right (Crawford 2007, 116). She earned numerous accolades and over sixty honorary doctorates, including one from Marymount Manhattan College, during her lifetime, but her story is still often overshadowed by her husband’s (Suggs 2006). Her own dedication to social justice arose when she was not allowed to student teach in the Ohio public schools, because despite the fact that the students were integrated, the faculty remained all white (Crawford 2007). It was this instance that spurred King into a life dedicated to social justice, both with and without her husband.
When Jonathan Larson’s musical Rent debuted in the 1990s, the small show quickly grew in popularity. Rent started as seven performances in late 1994 that led to an extended off-Broadway run, all presented by the New York Theatre Workshop (Heredia and Span 1996). It then spent over 5,000 performances between 1996 and 2008 at Broadway’s Nederlander Theater, telling its story of a diverse group of friends trying to live their lives while dealing with the horrors of AIDS (Grode 2015, 253).
August Wilson was a wildly lauded playwright in the 1970s and 80s, and used his abilities to share the stories of the struggles African Americans faced and the responsibility to make sure those voices were heard and that they had a place in the theater. Stories of Black Americans were told by Caucasians, which is problematic in of itself, as indicated in Wolfe (1998) “No people can gain authenticity by either accepting others’ judgment of them or looking to others for approval” (4). Wilson exhibited the Vincentian value of respect by giving a platform and awareness to struggles that were so often hidden and ignored (St. John’s University 2017). He also made sure to give opportunities to African Americans within the theater community with the creation of Pittsburgh’s Black Horizons Theater.
“Life changes fast. Life changes in the
instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends. The question of
self-pity” (Didion 2007a, 3). In December of 2003, Quintana Roo Dunne, daughter
of writers Joan Didion and John Dunne, fell into septic shock after contracting
pneumonia. On December 31, 2003, after visiting their daughter in New York’s
Beth Israel North Hospital, Didion and Dunne sat down to dinner (Didion 2007a, 6-7).
Shortly after they began eating, Dunne suffered from a major heart attack and
died. Dunne’s death marked the beginning of a year that would change Joan
Didion’s life. After a number of traumatic hospitalizations in 2004, Quintana
developed acute pancreatitis and died August 26, 2005 (Meter 2005).
Tartuffe by Molière was originally written in French and
first performed on May 12, 1664. It was performed at Palace of Versailles in
France. Being that it was Molière’s most famous theatrical comedy, it was
adapted and performed all over the world throughout the last four centuries.
The King and I is a musical theatre play, with music by
Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II that originally premiered on
Broadway at St. James Theatre. Mongkut, King of Siam (now Thailand), hired a
British tutor, Mrs. Anna Leonowens to teach his children English. A widow, Anna
tutors while simultaneously attempting to humanize their cultural difference
and broaden their world-view beyond Siam. Anna endeavors to remove Siam’s
perceived barbaric image by assimilating the family into Western culture and
customs. Anna and Mongkut engage in a short lived romance, and after subsequent
family turmoil with one of the King’s many wives, Anna wants to leave Siam. On
his deathbed, Mongkut asks Anna to watch over his son, Chulalongkorn, as he
begins his rule.
This newspaper clipping of two men, one of which was holding a guitar quickly catches the eye due to the overtones of potential Blackface. However, after reading William Harris’ review, I discovered the work of Trinidadian playwright Mustapha Matura who used his experiences to craft powerful political commentaries. Matura first began writing and directing plays in London often tackling the ways Black people have been mistreated and abused throughout the Caribbean and the UK.