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DUNSTER HOUSE--The quiet past Thursday evening was punctuated, as usual, by quiet, melliflous voices and the strumming of a guitar. It was The Coffeehouse in its newest incarnation: the folk gathering. Dunsterites collected like dustballs in the Junior Common Room, blowing onto the minimalist couches, blowing off into the night. But while they were present in a room colored by the dimmed moose-head chandeliers and cloaked by student art reminiscent of one's fifth-grade painting class, they experienced voices untainted by recording.
The scene appeared soothing, and reassuring. It is the same way with live jazz--that sense of happening and human expression which is so often felt to be absent from man's daily run. The singers, who might just have been spotted in the dining hall a few hours earlier, were certainly not celebrities, even on the College scene. They were, however, lionized (or more plausibly, appreciated) by their peers who spotted in them what they cannot see on the television, what they cannot hear on the radio. They glimpsed humanity, and were happy to.
Humanity, in fact, appears to be a recurring theme of the fall term. Two new plays, which are appearing together for a limited showing this weekend and next at the Loeb Experimental Theater, highlight through acute satire the numbed, mediated culture in which students live today. The first, called "Small World Order," is written by Douglas B. Rand '98 with music by Adam J. Levitin '98. The place is Disneyworld. The ride is a version of company history, only the company has overwhelmed the country. New England, for example, is fondly known as "Puritan Land" and Texas goes by "Lone Star Land." The world is high on the opiate of Celebration, and perception is sugar-coated and mouse-eared. Information is doled out by such outrageous characters as a Mary Lou Retton (Kate E. DeLima '97) who cartwheels cross stage and an Albert Einstein (Scott M. Brown '98) who can't manage to maintain his mustache.
The interactive and quite disturbing ride of the first act looks like the Tea Cups compared to "Monkey Town," which might rightly be compared to Space Mountain. The act opens as a television broadcast hosted by a absurdly drunk Santa Claus (Lorenzo J. Moreno '00) and an amazingly facile and supinely cynical Rosemary Kennedy (Samantha S.B. van Gerbig '98). The applause signs signal the audience to cheer for Santa's anti-communist doings and Rosemary's front-lobeless plottings. Most of the rest of the show is reserved for an LSD-induced communist "Fantasia" which actually seems like a directorial reverie by Leeore Schnairsohn '97. In any case, the Reds are no less possessed by the other-wordly than the conniving Claus and the freaky Kennedy.
Humanity. Right. Getting back to the theme. Yes, humanity these days appears to be on the upswing in our fine hamlet of Cambridge. People...people in the houses and on the stages are suddenly getting it, suddenly and thankfully. Good night, America.
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