Welcome back, Jumbos! It’s going to be quite the week, so let’s keep abreast of what’s happening on campus.
IN NEWS: Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate on Nov. 17 unanimously passed a resolution calling for late-night dining options in the Dewick-MacPhie or Carmichael Dining Hall between the hours of 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. As a result of the resolution, the Commons Deli and Grill will accept the meal plan on Friday and Saturday evenings as of next semester.
IN FEATURES: On Friday, President Obama paid a visit to activists who have been fasting on the National Mall for weeks in an effort to move progress on an immigration reform overhaul. On the Hill, a new student group called United for Immigrant Justice (UIJ) has sprung into action this semester to reinvigorate the discussion of these issues on campus.
IN ARTS: Simulcast in 94 different countries and in more than 1,500 theaters to millions of viewers around the world, the BBC’s “Doctor Who” 50th Anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor,” was an absolutely spectacular treat for the show’s dedicated fans. This record-breaking special has certainly earned its place as one of the greatest science fiction episodes of all time.
IN SPORTS: After a successful season opener against BU in mid-November, the Tufts men’s squash team has struggled to find its stride. Prior to Thanksgiving break, the Jumbos played MIT before taking on Bowdoin, Brown and Bryant a few days later on Nov. 23. The Jumbos kept the match close against MIT and Bryant but fell decisively against the rest of the field.
And here we go again. This time, however, there’s half the rehearsal time, twice the number of plays, two directors, two playwrights, and a quarter of the pages to be memorized in comparison to Lend Me a Tenor. Bare Bodkin’s Play by Play is officially under way and I could not be more excited.
Obviously it’s hard to compare a full-fledged farce to smaller student-written pieces, but the cycle of rehearsals has started again. From the first read through to finally having the show blocked and even delving into costume design, the same steps are being taken even though these two theatrical pursuits are radically different. Play by Play, however, happens in rapid succession. After only three rehearsals, I’m bringing costumes in to try on and getting myself off book. It’s been fast, but it’s been wildly fun. Though most of the theatre at Tufts is student-run, this really feels like it’s totally in our control and the creative license has been incredible. Plus, we have the opportunity to bring student-written work to life for the first time and even though it’s a worldwide debut in Balch, it’s a worldwide debut nonetheless.
Having performed in quite a few new works festivals and participated in student-run workshops in high school, I have to say it’s one of my favorite things to do. Beyond introducing the world to new pieces, there are no rules. No one has played this part before you and you have the freedom to make artistic choices separate from any sort of prior influence. There’s no pressure to outdo the previous production of the play because there has never been one. Every aspect of the show is completely yours, along with your fellow cast members and production team. You’re creating something new and fresh. This isn’t a chance actors get very often and it’s always an extreme pleasure to be able to work in these circumstances.
As I traversed the country last week, destined for the high desert plains of Albuquerque, I carried both of my newly minted scripts in my backpack, along with some notes for a few papers and my trusty computer. No one in the airport knew what I was holding onto two brand spanking new plays with two characters that I get to call my own. I kept a creative secret stored away between the pages of sheet music, textbooks, and whatever else I managed to fit in my carry-on.
Now that I’m back from feasting endlessly during break, we launch ourselves into the third week of rehearsal, which for us happens to be tech week. Though it has been a whirlwind experience, I cannot wait to see and perform the premiere of these plays. It’s all quite riveting.
In case I’ve piqued your curious side, these theatrical mysteries will be revealed Friday December 6th in the Balch Arena Theatre at 8 pm.
Six original plays and one freshly baked pizza musical all during one fantastic evening. You know you want to.
“Western societies have established the confession as one of the main rituals we rely on for the production of truth.” – Foucault, French Philosopher and Social Theorist
Confessions, as Michel Foucault understands them, were the first way people began to speak the seemingly unspeakable: to speak about sex. They turned to priests (as symbols of the church) and to doctors to find out the intangible, to find a way to make sense of their desires. The inherent issue, however, was that the clergy and doctors, in many respects, knew just as little about sex as those behind the veil. Quite figuratively, it was the blind leading the blind. So sex, and moreover desire, became taboo. Desire and questioning became shameful. The one place constructed to negotiate such unknowns was now riddled with guilt.
The influx of psychiatry, psychology, and therapy began to undo some of this constrictive work, but there was still a conflation of shame connected to speaking about physical desire. Without unpacking the stigma around mental health, we still have a problem with confession; with confessing desire. This stigma has taken the form of ridiculing confession in parody and exaggeration. But in doing so, we lose the ability to see the power of real confession. To reference the epigraph, what productions of truth are we gaining from Tufts Confessions? People don’t like certain foods, a cute redhead was spotted in the campus center, but also that we don’t know how to talk about very serious things.
We are all familiar with the Tufts Confessions phenomenon. Seedy and revelatory tales about weekend exploits, taboo desires, and personal quirks seep through our social media consciousness. But what is it to confess? How can we understand the potential power of confession? And what can we learn about ourselves?
It is so easy to disregard Tufts Confessions as a hot bed of trolling and white guilt, or as yet another platform for “bleeding hearts” who fall victim to pejorative distancing and invalidation. But what do even the least controversial posts (“I’ve never tried bacon”) say to us? I’m reading too much into this, I self-referentially reflect. But the curiosity motivates me. Can we conflate a lack of understanding of angry people of color and a distaste for nutella? In short, no, but the attempts to do so problematize our understanding of confession.
Sexuality, as well as race, class, and inequality are somehow taboo on this campus. There is no way to air ignorances, defend injustices, or question intention. At some point, to be the most “liberal,” “diverse,” “globally conscious” school, we have fostered this false idea that we are unable to question ourselves. Though data may suggest we are doing “so much better” than other schools in terms of racial issues, LGBT issues, or sexual violence prevention, we have pushed ignorance to this hyper-stigmatized space where conversations and actual education on these areas falters.
My mentor and professor once told me that sometimes you still have to hear the craziness people say to at least know where they are coming from. This is not saying to not hold problematic language and hate speech accountable for their wrongness, but there are those who do not know where to begin. There are those who have the potential to reevaluate their perspective, but are shamed into silence, letting their ignorance fester. These back and forths on Tufts Confessions show us how far we are from productive conversations.
If you use Tufts Confessions, I only ask that you consider what your confession says about you. What truth about yourself are producing, interrogating, or revealing? I can’t ask the trolls to stop, but I hope people can read through confessions and see their concerns and fears and joys validated, even anonymously. If confessions speak to you, read through the comments, question the discourse, and learn something about yourself. Not all fads are created equal and I think it’s time we use the act of confession to gain some self-awareness.
Though feel free to keep congratulating our talented artists after all our shows. We love that sh*t.
By Jehan Madhani
The Tufts Beats hosted an open jam session at the Art Haus two weeks ago
Excited for Thanksgiving?
IN NEWS: Beginning last Sunday, Tufts’ first Black Student Union (BSU) hosted a week-long series of events in hopes of gaining official Tufts Community Union (TCU) recognition next semester.
IN FEATURES: When the strategic plan initiative was announced last October, University President Anthony Monaco declared it a process of identifying the priorities and values of Tufts that will create a road map for the university’s next 10 years. On Nov. 2 of this year, the Board of Trustees officially approved the T10 Strategic Plan.
IN ARTS: Dev Hynes — recording under his latest moniker, Blood Orange — has set out to capture the spirit of the streets of New York in his latest album, “Cupid Deluxe.” By combining musical influences from the ’80s with innovative, forward-thinking pop, the album embodies the feel of the city — where anything and everything can happen after sundown — with style and poise.
TODAY’S EDITORIAL: Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president and founder of J Street, the pro-Israel, pro-peace national organization, spoke last week to a group of students about America’s role in the recent peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. J Street aims to change the political dynamic surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, specifically by mobilizing broad support for a two-state solution.
IN SPORTS: One day after dropping their first game of the season at Emerson, 78-71, the Jumbos appeared destined for back-to-back losses Saturday as they took on the Wentworth Leopards at Cousens Gym. Tufts fell behind big in the first half and again in the second, but an explosive offense showed up eventually to score 57 second-half points and win 84-73.
Every year for the past five years or so, my mother and I have spent Thanksgiving on the couch eating turkey and marathoning movies. It’s a glorious tradition, one that we will undoubtedly continue this year. We usually have a theme as well: last year we watched Academy Award-nominated movies that did not win Best Picture.
So, in case you want to escape your family and are totally sick of everyone this Thanksgiving, I’m going to recommend a bunch of movies that are always fun to watch. I tried to find some Hanukkah movies to recommend for all my Jewish readers celebrating Thanksgivukkah, but there isn’t a single good mainstream Hanukkah movie out there, so I stuck with movies pertaining to Turkey Day. Disclaimer: they might not all actually be Thanksgiving movies, but every one of them will at least involve food, fighting, and/or football, all of which are holiday traditions anyway.
Addams’ Family Values, starring Anjelica Huston and Christopher Lloyd. It may take place during the summer, but there is one memorable Thanksgiving-themed scene that will have you falling off of your couch from laughter. This is one movie where the sequel is actually better than the original. The Addams family is hilarious and intensely weird, and yet somehow more functional than my own. Wednesday Addams is a national treasure, and should be appreciated by all on The Day Before Black Friday.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. It has the word “hunger” in the title, and there’s lots of fighting! And dudes, it is really awesome. Engaging, fast-paced, and (mostly) faithful to the book, Catching Fire is definitely the movie to see this week. Sam Claflin is perfect as my favorite character, Finnick. If I ran an awards show, I would give him the Robb Stark Memorial Award for Excellent Portrayal of an Attractive Side Character. Go see it!
We all know that the real star of the movie is Effie Trinket, fashion icon. Photo courtesy of Murray Close/EW.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, starring Steve Martin and John Candy. It’s a John Hughes movie sans Molly Ringwald or angsty teenagers, and it’s hilarious. I’m sure students can relate to the protagonist’s plight of trying to get home before Thanksgiving, and the annoying people you can meet along the way. Actually, you can meet annoying people anywhere. It’s not just a travel thing. But I digress.
You know it’s an old movie because Steve Martin’s hair isn’t completely white yet. Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures/celebuzz.com
Every single Thanksgiving episode of “Friends.” It’s technically a T.V. show, not a movie, but whatever. Come on, the Thanksgiving episodes of “Friends” were the best episodes! Relive the 90′s, back when broadcast T.V. was more popular than cable and everyone had a V.C.R. My personal favorite is the one where Monica dances around with the turkey on her head.
Remember the Titans, starring Denzel Washington. You could watch actual, real live football on Thursday, but if you’re anything like me, you don’t understand how football works no matter how many times your mother has tried to explain it to you. But, if you are anything like me, you can appreciate a good movie about football that doesn’t require knowledge of how the game is actually played. So watch a high school football team beat the odds while you eat your turkey this Thursday, and don’t be ashamed when you cry. It’s Remember the Titans, man, everyone cries.
L.A. Confidential, starring Kevin Spacey and Guy Pierce. This has absolutely nothing to do with Thanksgiving. I can’t even make a vague connection to it. My mom and I just watched it last year, and it’s a really freaking awesome movie. It’s the L.A. gangster movie that all L.A. gangster movies rip off today, complete with mystery, great dialogue, and violence. I seriously cannot recommend it enough.
So that’s all, folks! I hope you all have very happy holidays and not very much homework. See you in December!
On Friday, November 15, the Tufts Muslim Student Association hosted their annual Eid dinner to celebrate the religious holiday and fundraise for a charitable organization. The MSA raised money for the charity Global Deaf Muslim this year, an organization that seeks to help deaf Muslims to learn about their faith through sign language. The event, co-hosted by sophomore Imtiyaz Hossain and freshman Nazifa Sarawat, featured catered food and entertainment by an Islamic vocal group called the Moroccan Nasheed Group. The keynote speaker at the event was R. David Coolidge, the Associate University Chaplain for the Muslim Community at Brown University.
Mr. Coolidge spoke about the nature of Islam in the United States and how the religion has adapted to match American culture. He also discussed the diversity of Muslim adherents in America and the importance of the acceptance of different traditions among believers. Mr. Coolidge brought an interesting perspective to the discussion, as he converted to Islam in college. He discussed his own challenges as he adjusted to the rules of his chosen religion, from not eating pork to not drinking alcohol. He also talked about the things he has learned since converting and how Muslim culture has enhanced his own life.
After Mr. Coolidge spoke, the Nasheed Group performed traditional songs while guests had dessert. The food was delicious. Bravo to the hosts of the evening and to the Muslim Student Association, who put on a wonderful event with good food, education, and entertainment.
MBTA by Jehan Madhani
Photo Credit: Nicole Chan