Cabaret Promises to Bring ‘Hedonistic Party’ to Campus

Two weeks from now, the Music Department and Theater, Film, and Media Studies Department will be premiering their new spring production, the famous musical Cabaret by John Kander and Fred Ebb, in the newly renovated Bruce Davis Theater of Montgomery Hall.

The production is being led by the Theater, Film, and Media Studies Chair Professor Merideth Taylor as the choreographer, Professor Jeffrey Silberschlag of the Music Department as the musical director, and visiting guest artist Bill Gillett as the director.

Gillett, a St. Mary’s College of Maryland alum from 1995, is teaming up again with the two professors, who all helped produce the school’s production of Hair four years ago.

“It’s a joy to return to St. Mary’s to direct another musical,” said Gillett. “Coming to St. Mary’s always feels like coming home.”

The musical, based on the stage play I am a Camera by John Van Druten, takes place in 1931 Berlin, Germany during the rise of Nazi power before World War II.

“With each rehearsal, we are progressing toward what we want audiences to witness and be a part of: a representation of a historical time, that of Nazi Germany,” said senior Julia Shatto, who plays the part of the spunky club dancer Sally Bowles.
Cabaret not only deals with the looming rise of Hitler’s Third Reich, but it also tackles various topics such as love, lust, poverty, drugs and alcohol, and prostitution of both sexes, as well as the presence of the nightclub in which Shatto’s character performs, named the Kit Kat Klub.

“I could go on and on about this show and how great the premise of Cabaret is,” said sophomore Jonathan Wagner, who appears as the master of ceremonies in the production. “But more importantly I just want to stress how I really feel people in the campus community should get excited for this.”

The show has been described as everything from political and emotional to mysterious and raunchy. It is also full with all of popular Cabaret songs such as “Money,” the ever-famous “Wilkommen Song,” and the show’s trademark song “Cabaret.”

“The cast, designers, and crews are working hard to create a world for audiences to actually enter into,” said Shatto, “a constant hedonistic party halted by the ominous beginnings of the hateful destruction of Berlin.”

Tickets for the production will be selling at $5 and $7 and the showings will be at 8 p.m. on Thursday-Saturday, March 4-6 and 9-11 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 7.

A Minstrel Show of Eastern Europe

Congratulations to the Department of Theater, Film and Media Studies and the students involved in the recently concluded production of George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man. The night I attended, the audience laughed with gusto at this anti-war comedy set in Bulgaria.  The actors performed wonderfully.

As someone who has devoted his life to the study of Eastern Europe, however, I would like to point out some of the shortcomings of Shaw’s play and hopefully raise awareness about its stereotypical treatment of the region.  In the process of undermining Romantic ideas of heroism, Shaw presents an all-too-familiar portrait of East Europeans (in this case Bulgarians) as bombastic, dirty, uneducated, and unconsciously funny Western wannabes.  One character decries his wife’s English habit of washing everyday; he declares that washing leads to sickness and therefore cleans himself only once a week.  His library, “the best in Bulgaria,” contains only a few books and sundries.  The hapless buffoon Major Saranoff shouts all of his lines.  The name of Sergius, upon Shaw’s specifications, is mispronounced.  (It should be with a hard g.)

Bulgaria is (and was when Shaw wrote the play) a real country with real people and a real language.  Since few in the west have bothered to learn about the reality of Bulgaria, it is understandable that Bulgarians in the past have reacted negatively to this play’s portrait of their country.  Imagine how we would feel if Shaw had written such an anti-heroic romance set in the Reconstruction-era south with white performers in blackface depicting bombastic and uncouth African-Americans claiming a veneer of civilization that their word and actions belie.

-Submitted By Tom Barrett Chair and Professor, Department of History

TFMS Film Series: “Outing the Home Movie: From the Backyard to the Big Screen”

TFMS’s Second Annual Film Series will explore how home movies inflect issues of gender in narrative, experimental, and documentary film. Internationally acclaimed, award-winning filmmakers Michelle Citron, Daniel Reeves, and Jennifer Hardacker will be joined by film scholars and archivists Patricia Zimmermann and Pamela Wintle to screen and discuss a variety of work that incorporates home movie footage. Topics include gender and family relationships, war and masculinity, and the home movie as sociohistorical document.
Screenings begin at Cole Cinema on Feb. 2nd and last until the 23rd in weekly Monday screenings beginning at 8p.m. Screenings are free and open to the public.

Patricia Zimmermann and Pamela Wintle:
Monday, February 16

Zimmermann and Wintle will present “Mining the Home Movie,” a program exploring the social, regional, national, textual, and historical meanings of home movies through screenings selected from the archival collections from the Human Studies Film Archives of the Smithsonian Institution and Northeast Historic Film in Maine.
Patricia Zimmermann is professor in the Department of Cinema, Photography and Media Arts at Ithaca College, and is the author of numerous books, including Reel Families: A Social History of Amateur Film (1995), States of Emergency: Documentaries, Wars, Democracies (2000), Mining the Home Movie: Excavations in Histories and Memories (2008), and the forthcoming Public Domains: Cinemas, Histories, Visualities, a work that explores the relationship among historiography, political engagements, and digital art practices.
Zimmermann has delivered invited lectures and plenary addresses across the globe and throughout the United States. Currently, she serves on the editorial boards of the journals Wide Angle, The Journal of Film and Video, The Sixties, and The Moving Image: The Journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists and as co-director of the week-long multimedia inter-arts festival, the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival.
Pamela Wintle is the senior film archivist for the Human Studies Film Archives (HSFA) in the Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, and founding board member of Northeast Historic Films (NHF), a regional moving image archives located in Bucksport, Maine. The HSFA collects, preserves, and makes accessible moving images and associated materials that document the world’s cultures and the history of visual anthropology. NHF collects, preserves, and makes accessible moving images of northern New England.

Jennifer Hardacker: Monday, February 23

A self-described experimentalist and structuralist who has worked professionally as an editor and assistant editor of television commercials, short films, and music videos, Jennifer Hardacker has been making short films and videos for over 13 years. Her work ranges from animation and abstraction to the personal essay and the home movie, and has been shown in festivals across the United States and Canada. Hardacker’s films are often personal in nature and are interested in re-imaging and re-imagining the meaning and context of images.
Hardacker currently teaches film and video production and studies at Pacifica University in Oregon.
For the film series, Hardacker will screen and discuss three experimental works—Ghost Stories, 24, For Summers to Come—and a work-in-progress, Nightgardener.
-Submitted by Mark Rhoda

“Polaroid Stories” Tries to Give Some Street Cred to Ovid

St. Mary’s Theatre, Film, and Media Studies department is hosting a play this year which promises to bring classic Grecian poetry to the world of pimps, prostitutes, and slum lords.

The play takes place on a pier in the outskirts of the play’s fictional city. According to Mark Rhoda, it is in this setting that “the characters’ storytelling has the power to transform a reality in which their lives are continually threatened, devalued, and effaced.” According to award-winning Director Jeremy Skidmore, the play’s greatest draw will be how the two seemingly unrelated subjects match up with one another. As Skidmore put it, “We’re taking mythical stories [from Metamorphoses] like Narcissus and Dionysis and pairing them with stories from the streets.”

“Polaroid Stories” was written in 1997 by Naomi Iizuka, is a combination of the classic narrative poem Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” and real stories from society’s underbelly. To prepare the play, Iizuka spent a year interviewing prostitutes and street children. The play won Iizuka the 1998 PEN Center USA West Award for Drama.

The play’s characters will also be transformed from immortal mythological figures to “dreamers, dealers, and desperadoes,” according to Rhoda. For example, the Zeus of “Polaroid Stories” will be a lord of the streets instead of lord of Olympus, but  he will remain an absolute commanding force; Narcissus also is no longer a God, but a pimp who falls in love with his reflection in a limousine. Characters such as these will pose quite a challenge to the play’s cast, who will not only have to exude the presence of such immortal figures but do so in some cases with little character background given to the audience.

Skidmore has worked in professional theatres from Virginia to Oslo, but says that working here with a play as poetic and non-linear as “Polaroid Stories” gives him the freedom to “play around with theatrical ideas I usually can’t” and tell “powerful tales of death, love, revenge.” The play is still in its early stages as of now, with a cast and opening day yet to be determined. Stage Manager Mary Donahue, however, already anticipates student interest. She said “I think it’s a show a lot of students will really like.”

TFMS Film Series – Outing the Home Movie

TFMS’s Second Annual Film Series will explore how home movies inflect issues of gender in narrative, experimental, and documentary film. Internationally acclaimed, award-winning filmmakers Michelle Citron, Daniel Reeves, and Jennifer Hardacker will be joined by film scholars and archivists Patricia Zimmermann and Pamela Wintle to screen and discuss a variety of work that incorporates home movie footage. Topics include gender and family relationships, war and masculinity, and the home movie as sociohistorical document.

Screenings begin at Cole Cinema on Feb. 2nd and last until the 23rd in weekly Monday screenings beginning at 8p.m. Screenings are free and open to the public.

Michelle Citron: Monday, February 2

For the film series, Citron will screen Daughter Rite, a ground breaking experimental narrative about mothers, daughters, and sisters, along with her work-in-progress, Leftovers.

An award-winning media artist, Michelle Citron has made numerous media pieces, including the CD-ROMs As American as Apple Pie, Cocktails and Appetizers, and Mixed Greens, as well as the acclaimed films What You Take for Granted (1984) and Daughter Rite (1980).

Citron’s work has been shown at museums and film festivals around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, The Kennedy Center, the American Film Institute, and the New Directors, Berlin, London, and Edinburgh film festivals. Her award-winning book, Home Movies and Other Necessary Fictions (1999), has been cited for its “extraordinary blend of autobiographical and film writing which offers a radical new way of thinking and writing about film.”

Recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Filmmaking Grants and a National Endowment for the Humanities Media Grant, Citron is chair of the Department of Interdisciplinary Arts, Columbia College, Chicago.

Daniel Reeves: Monday, February 9

Daniel Reeves has worked in sculpture, film, video, and installation since 1970. His works are held by numerous international collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Stedelijk, Amsterdam; and the San Francisco Museum of Art. Recipient of numerous national and international prizes, including three Emmy Awards for Smothering Dreams (1981), an autobiographical film that deals with the myths and realities of war through his experience in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive, his films and videos focus on personal, political, and spiritual themes, from socially condoned violence to the divine nature of existence.

Reeves will screen the award-winning Obsessive Becoming (1995), along with his work-in-progress, End-to-End, a time-based digital installation in triptych format. Obsessive Becoming is a film that combines family psychological and physical abuse with war and technological iconography, infusing the construction of masculinity in the twentieth century. Blending old technologies like family photos and home movies with new digital imaging systems, the film refutes the borders between media, families, nations, and identities, morphing them all into a continuous stream of history, memory, fantasy and political ethics.
-Submitted by Mark Rhoda