Literary NewsFall 2017

Ohio State University's Comedy of Errors
Sept. 29-Oct. 1; Columbus, OH: Ohio State University PhD students adapt for young audiences Shakepeare’s comedy into a 60-minute version staged at the Lincoln Theatre. A farce, the comedy features two sets of twins (servants and their masters) accidentally separated at birth, who unwittingly come into present-day contact with one another. Hilarity ensues. Click here for performance details.

Ballyhoo at Columbus State University
Sept. 29-Oct. 7; Columbus, GA: Columbus State University stages Alfred Uhry’s 1997 Tony Award Winner The Last Night of Ballyhoo, about intra-ethnic bias in the Atlanta, Georgia, Jewish community in 1939. For details, click here.

Glass Menagerie
at University of Arkansas

Sept. 29-Oct. 8; Fayetteville, AR: University of  of Arkansas Theatre performs Tennesse Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, about tenement-dwelling Amanda, a one-time Southern belle, and her limp-ridden, painfully shy daughter, Laura, and stifled son, Tom. Chafing to move out, Tom nevertheless listens to his mother about Laura and one day brings home a gentleman caller for her—with unhappy results. Click here for more details.

The Crucible at University of Texas
Nov. 8-18; Austin, TX: The University of Texas at Austin stages Authur Miller’s 1953 Tony Award winner, ostensibly about the 1692 witch trials in Salem, Massachussetts. An allegory, the drama is a veiled attack on McCarthyism and the victimization of Americans accused by Congress of being communists or communist sympathizers. Click here for details.

Harvard University's New Find
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A second variation in the Sussex Declaration, Professor Allen points out, involves its version of Sentence 2:  The Sussex manuscript—properly, in her view—leaves out a period after “pursuit of happiness” (in contrast to the Matlack Declaration, which includes a period there). And we writers understand how significant-to-the-meaning a punctuation mark can be.  See the Gleeditions C-SPAN video on this variation (Allen herself elaborates) for more details.

 

Oslo: American Drama and the Middle East
Norway’s Henrik Ibsen rocked the world in 1879. He wrote and staged A Doll’s House, in which a disaffected wife leaves not only her husband but also her children in search of personal happiness, of a more hopeful tomorrow. Unheard of then, her action stirred controversy, still stirs it today, 138 years later. Certainly the play’s excellence as drama has much to do with this. Will the same happen to J. T. Rogers’ Oslo? It opened this week in London (at the National Theatre) after a year off-Broadway and on (July 11, 2016-July 16, 2017), which led to its winning this year's Tony Award for Best Play. Audiences and critics alike hail Oslo as a modern-day classic, a riveting, three-hour, edge-of-your seat thriller on Middle East negotiations, featuring neutral Norway as go-between.


More exactly, Norwegian diplomat Mona Juul (played, in London, by Lydia Leonard) and husband Terje Rød-Larsen (Todd Stephens) propel forward the negotiations, insisting that their role is to facilitate, not to intervene. The play capsulizes the nine months of secret negotations between a handful of Israelis and Palestinians that led to the Oslo Accords—and the remarkable Sept. 13, 1993, handshake between Yitzhak Rabin of Israel and Yasir Arafat of the PLO. Neither was a major presence in the dangerous, tension-fraught negotiations themselves; Oslo shows us the few who were. For Israel: first Professors Yair Hirschfeld and Ron Pundak, then foreign ministry director Uri Savir and lawyer Joel Singer. For the PLO: Hassan Asfour and finance minister Ahmed Qurei. Like A Doll’s House, Oslo stirs controversy: about how fruitful or fruitless their negotiations were, how genuine or crafty the motives on either side, how true-to-life the mannerisms assigned to historical personages. Clear-minded about creating drama, not documenting history, the playwright takes poetic license yet genuinely captures the big picture: the spirit and secrecy of these negotiations at a castle outside Oslo, the vital agency of Norway, the success of Rød-Larsen’s gradual approach to productive communication between intractable foes.

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