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On the Radar

By Chris A. Kukstis, Crimson Staff Writer

Friday, February 18 and Saturday, February 19. Vagina Monologues. 8 P.M. Agassiz Theater. $10, students $6. Tickets available through the Harvard Box Office.

Go ahead, say it: “Vagina. Vah-gyne-ah.” Repeat. Now you might be ready: this weekend the Athena Theater Company brings to the Agassiz stage their annual run of Eve Ensler’s popular one-woman-turned-many-women play, recounting in plain words what in another age would have gone unsaid—that is, all in the world having to do with, yes, the vagina. An anti-violence message and some sad statistics save this from being the ribald comedy the name might cause one to expect, but either way you can anticipate upwards of twenty of your lecture- and section-mates participating in this frank talk, which Athena representative Tulita Papke claims “runs the gamut from comic to tragic and everything in between, in a way that can entertain and teach both men and women.” She went on to confess: “This show is very close to my heart. Each time I’ve been involved I’ve gained something new ... I think the process has taught me a lot about gender and society in Harvard culture.” Not just to Papke; the show has been close to the heart of the entire Athena Theater Company for five years, ever since its initial production at Harvard produced the impetus for the group’s founding, whose oeuvre has expanded greatly over the past five years, currently “ranging from student-written to Shakespeare.” This weekend’s production is set to follow V-day (Valentine, Victory, and Vagina), an annual day of awareness about sexual violence started by Eve Ensler, which falls somewhat tragicomically, like the play itself, on February 14. After each show various vagina-themed souvenirs will be available for sale, including T-shirts, scripts, and candies shaped like you-know-what, and representatives from several anti-violence organizations will be on hand for discussion. Proceeds from the show will benefit the Transition House, Elizabeth Stone House, Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, and Take Back the Night.

Monday, February 21. Colin Meloy of the Decemberists. 18+. 9 P.M. TT the Bear’s Place, 10 Brookline St. $10. Tickets available through Ticketmaster.

Since their break-up, no band has done more to channel the spirit of the seminal Neutral Milk Hotel than Portland, Oregon’s Decemberists, who have dropped two albums in the last three years packed with sea shanties, cautionary character sketches, and pure pop. Think Edward Gorey set to music. They also released an extended-play single retelling Irish epic Táin Bó Cúalnge in music. Now frontman Colin Meloy is taking a break to do a little touring on his own, and what kind of record should he be promoting? Yes, that’s right: a 6-track collection of Morrissey covers, only available at stops on the tour. All this quirkiness might be completely for naught if Meloy weren’t such a gifted songwriter. Meloy, who holds a degree in creative writing, pens tunes that are high on theatrical and story-telling effects, which you can tell even from a cursory glance at their titles: “The Legionnaire’s Lament,” “The Soldiering Life,” and “The Gymnast, High Above the Ground” all quickly prove that this isn’t a songwriter obsessed with any trite expression of young love. The band is set to drop their third full-length album, Picaresque, in March 2005, and all previewing copies have left excited reviewers in their wake: this band is on the rise. Set-lists from past shows have shown that Meloy is equally dipping into the band’s catalog as with the new collection of Mozzer tracks, including the EP’s closer, the epic “Everyday is Like Sunday.” When alt-crunchie Natalie Merchant covered it, Morrissey wrote a spiteful song in rebuttal—time will tell how he deals with this indie-pop update from a songwriter of more comparable talents.

by Christopher A. Kukstis

Crimson Staff Writer

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