All posts by Coral Ciupak

“The Band’s Visit” explores depths of life and love

Brian Luck

Contributing Writer

“Once not long ago, a group of musicians came to Israel from Egypt. You probably didn’t hear about it. It wasn’t very important,” opens the musical, “The Band’s Visit.”

Though the events of “The Band’s Visit” seem unimportant, the musical itself is anything but. The musical, based on the film version, opened on Broadway in 2017 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. It won 10 of the 11 Tony Awards for which it was nominated in 2018.

“The Band’s Visit” begins with the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra attempting to board a bus to Petah Tikvah. They mistakenly end up at the similar-sounding Bet Hatikva, not exactly the cultural hotspot for which they were aiming. Coming upon a small café, the band meets Dina (Katrina Lenk), the owner who invites them to stay the night so they can catch the first bus to Petah Tikvah in the morning. 

With not much to do in town, Tewfiq, the conductor of the band (Tony Shalhoub) and womanizer Haled (Ari’el Stachel), have dinner with Dina and stay at her home. They discuss her former husband and Tewfiq’s wife and son in Egypt. Though Tewfiq is reluctant, he lets Dina show him around Bet Hatikva. He demonstrates his conducting and sings for her in the local park and she begins to fall for him.

Meanwhile, clarinetist Simon and his bandmate Camal (Alok Tewari and George Abud) stay with Itzik, his wife Iris, their baby, and father-in-law Avrum (John Cariani, Kristen Sieh and Andrew Polk). As Avrum sings the story of how he fell in love with Iris’s mother, she gets frustrated with Itzik. The couple has not been getting along for some time, and at this point, Iris cannot take Itzik’s immaturity any longer. Simon helps calm their baby as they fight and eases the tension between the couple through the power of his playing.

Papi (Etai Benson), a nervous local, receives advice from Haled on his date at the skating rink. After mild disaster, he and Julia (Rachel Prather) drop their awkwardness and enjoy their date. At the only payphone in town, Telephone Guy (Adam Kantor) has been patiently waiting for his girlfriend to call all evening and every day for months. At the end of the night, she finally calls.

“The Band’s Visit” closed on Broadway on Sunday, April 7 and will begin their national tour later this spring. Playhouse Square in Cleveland will host the musical in November of 2019. All of the names included here represent the Original Broadway Cast for each role, many of whom have stayed with the show since its Off-Broadway run in 2016.

The musical does not include an immense amount of action, but the emotions of the characters drive the songs and plot forward. Dina is desperate to make a connection with a man after her former marriage. Itzik and Iris try to heal their relationship and Papi struggles to find his confidence with women. Telephone Guy stands as a representation for all the residents of Bet Hatikva: waiting and waiting for something to happen.

EarthFest expands programming and opens up to new organizations

Zoe Covey

Features Editor

It’s time for EarthFest at The College of Wooster, and this year it’s going to be bigger than ever. The event is hosted by Greenhouse and will be this Friday, April 19 on the Lowry back patio. It focuses on raising awareness of ways to increase sustainability here on campus through interaction with both student and off-campus groups passionate about the environment. According to Mackenzie Goltz ’20, president of Greenhouse, this year the group has attempted to invite other clubs to think about their role and ability to increase sustainability on campus.

“This year we really focused on reaching out to other campus clubs. We want sustainability to be inclusive, and we really believe it can be added to any organization. Some clubs were unable to join us this year, but we hope that by reaching out we have opened the door to future collaboration,” said Goltz.

Greenhouse, as well as the other clubs who were interested in working to be more environmentally conscious on campus, will be present at EarthFest to discuss their connection to sustainability. “We have a bunch of tables hosted by various Wooster clubs, departments and a few off-campus groups. We will have campus dining, Free Store, Vegan Club and many other groups that have somehow incorporated environmentalism into their activities. Some clubs will have information about what they do or games for students to play. Additionally, there will be food and music,” Goltz said

Vice President Olivia Hall ’19 said that “what’s new this year is the larger context [EarthFest] is situated in. My first two years we only had EarthFest. It was great, but felt kind of just an isolated, one-off event. So then last year we piloted doing Earth Week, which took place the week leading up to EarthFest and integrated more events, both put on by Greenhouse, as well as other groups. This year, we decided to expand upon last year by doing EnviroMonth, which we conceived as a broader swath of environmental programming spanning the first four weeks of April. In the first two weeks we just had one or two events each week, but this week — which is still Earth Week  — we were able to pack in events almost every day of the week.”

The hope is that making environmentally friendly practices visible and accessible will inspire students to make small changes in their daily routines that are beneficial to the environment. “One of our major goals is to introduce students to the flexibility of sustainable thinking. We aren’t asking everyone to put solar panels on their roofs. It can be a simple thing like making your own make-up or reducing water usage. EarthFest is a cool and interactive way to pick up on these ideas. We also want students to learn about how inclusive environmentalism is. Every student, regardless of gender, political party, animal ethics and race, can find some niche in the realm of sustainable thinking about the environment,” said Goltz. Hall added that, “Obviously there are student groups like Greenhouse, EARTH House, Organic Farming Club, WOODS and so on that are all open for students to join, and students can also engage with the environment through classes. But by holding events for EnviroMonth, we’re trying to provide just another, somewhat lower commitment avenue for people to come interact with and learn about the environment.”

Having an awareness of what is happening on campus surrounding the care of the environment is something that constantly needs to be updated. Hall said, “EarthFest and EnviroMonth are important specifically at C.O.W. for a number of reasons … C.O.W. is pretty far behind with regards to the environment and sustainability. While most other schools have had some sort of environmental major available for years, at C.O.W. it’s debuting next year. Similarly, it’s been years since we had a Sustainability Coordinator or just any staff member whose sole job was to focus on these issues. So a lot of the work of holding events and educating the campus about sustainability has fallen to students and student groups.”

According to Goltz, “EarthFest is one of the few times sustainability is brought up on campus. It’s even more relevant since the sustainability committee is finalizing its five-year plan to make the campus more sustainable and environmentally-friendly. Wooster prides itself on its collaboration and scientific achievements, but we are behind most of the Ohio 5 schools in terms of how eco-friendly we are. EarthFest is a celebration of what students can do to make a difference, and we hope it drops a thought in every student’s mind about their roles in protecting our planet.”

Check out EarthFest this Friday on Mom’s Patio!

FOEIT holds forum after year-long discussions

Campus Council held an open discussion on the work of the taskforce and allowed a chance for students to provide feedback

Samuel Casey

News Editor

On Tuesday, April 16, Campus Council hosted the Freedom of Expression and Inquiry Taskforce (FOEIT) forum to serve as an opportunity for students to learn and give feedback. According to an email from Campus Council, “FOEIT was tasked with creating an official statement on freedom of expression and inquiry on campus.” The email included attachments to the FOEIT statement and the 16-page taskforce report.

The report starts by introducing the taskforce and providing a brief overview. FOEIT was created by President Sarah Bolton in the first semester of the 2017-18 academic year and was charged with promoting “more sustained, subtle and widespread campus consideration of the meaning, value and justification of freedom of expression and inquiry and of its status at The College of Wooster.” It was also charged with creating a statement that would be less like a policy document or code, but more of an articulation of the College’s understanding and commitment to the freedom of expression.

Before the creation of FOEIT, President Bolton, Dean of Students Scott Brown, Campus Council members Marina Dias Lucena Adams ’18 and Jordan Griffith ’19 and John Rudisill, associate professor of philosophy and chair of FOEIT, created a general work schedule that the taskforce could adhere to. Additionally, the taskforce would include administration, faculty, staff and students.

Creating a freedom of expression statement was necessary given the controversies that occurred throughout the country, such as the backlash surrounding right-wing speakers Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos being invited to speak at the University of California at Berkeley, and in Wooster itself. “The College of Wooster experienced its own freedom of expression upheaval when one of our own students posted offensive and deeply disturbing racist messages on social media that then spread virally throughout the campus community,” the report said.

FOIET acknowledged that the relationship between the freedom of expression and promoting equality is “complicated and messy” due to an overlap between the two, but there should be a separation to ensure that deliberately speaking or writing with the intent of harming an individual and group should not be tolerated. As enrollment of international students and students of color increases, this conversation has become more necessary.

The taskforce’s work has occurred in two stages. The first phase began in November 2017 and consisted of discussions of case studies, including free expression controversies and a book about the freedom of speech. The second phase that followed featured different forms of outreach, including discussions with focus groups and a formal survey that was sent to students electronically.

FOEIT asked questions to each of the six focus groups, which consisted of representatives from 21 student groups on campus. The taskforce found that students understand the complex relationship between freedom of expression and an equitable environment; they were aware that the level of comfort in speaking freely varies between individual and groups of students and the focus groups wished for communication in various campus setting to be more respectful and in good-faith.

The results of the survey completed by 628 students showed that there was not a free speech crisis at the College, but according to the report, “… there is ample evidence of the need to pursue concerted efforts to improve the climate and culture in ways that better promote inclusiveness and broaden the scope of the population that feels comfortable participating in the crucial, educative exchange of ideas and opinions.”

The results show that students who identify as either liberal or conservative agree or strongly agree that it is important to be exposed to ideas and opinions that are different from their own and 80 percent of students agree or strongly agree that they are comfortable sharing opinions in the classroom.

Several recommendations were made by FOEIT based on their findings from the focus groups and survey. They found that the College should not “call for civility” as a form of combatting injustices but find a level of resistance that is required to stop an injustice constructively.

FOEIT added that learning and growth are a part of dealing with freedom of expression incidents. The report states, “An institution such as The College of Wooster would hardly be needed if it were the case that all persons already knew all that is needed to know and acted justly all the time.”

FOEIT recommended that the College “should work to promote a shared understanding of which spaces and contexts are for, at least in part and sometimes, the contestation of one another’s ideas and which spaces and contexts can reliably be safe for various identity and affinity groups.”

The taskforce emphasized that the one-fourth of the student population is new to the College every year, so there should be an ongoing focus on free speech and its relation to inclusion and equity.

The final approach that FOEIT took was the forum hosted by Campus Council. The panel conisted of Rudisill, Griffith and Susan Lehman, professor of physics and was moderated by Campus Council Chair Annabelle Hopkins ’19.

“Out of the taskforce, including the focus groups, we determined that we would produce a statement,” Rudisill said. “It would be worded in first person plural … to reflect the entire campus community.”

Hopkins made it clear that this statement is different from a policy that is in the Scot’s Key.

“This is not a policy or something that will dictate your life,” Hopkins said.

Griffith added that no students could be prosecuted by the Director of Student’s Rights and Responsibilities via this statement.

Rudisill stated that the forum was meant as the last opportunity to receive feedback from students before the statement goes through a ratification process.

One student felt that some of the language was vague, including the phrase “speech does things.”

The panel responded that they did not want to be so specific that they only included certain phrases or direct attacks because it would create a slippery slope with many loopholes.

Rudisill and Griffith explained that even if there are no physical threats, certain speech can still make students uncomfortable inside and outside of the classroom. They said that speech is nuanced and means different things in different contexts, which is their reasoning behind the vagueness in the statement.

Students also felt that even though this is not a policy now, it could lead to future policies that inhibit free speech.

Hopkins and Griffith made it clear that the absence of any kind of a statement would more likely lead to policies that infringe on this right because there is nothing for a possible future policy to rely one.

“In addition to these [freedom of expression] values, there are other things that we recommend … to promote a better community regarding things that divide us,” Rudisill sad. “I think that Wooster, far from perfect, fairs better that what happens at other college campuses.”

(Photo by Samuel Casey)

Heartbeat Bill restricts abortion

Last Thursday, April 11, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed the Heartbeat Bill, making Ohio one of the five states in the U.S. with the most restrictive abortion laws. As he signed, supporters stood behind him smiling while holding their own infants and children. As they celebrated, their joy over stripping women of the right to make decisions regarding their own bodies filled me with disgust. I am not alone; a recent study by Baldwin Wallace University indicates that more Ohioans oppose the bill than those that support it.

The bill makes it illegal for a woman to have an abortion after six weeks, and those found receiving or performing the procedure can be found guilty of a fifth degree felony. The bill demarcates six weeks as when the heart of a fetus begins to beat, but at six weeks most women do not even know they are pregnant.

This law is an even stricter addition to preexisting legislative barriers to abortion that discourage women from having the procedure. Currently, there are almost six million women living in Ohio, and only nine clinics that provide abortions in the state, with most clustered around city centers. If a woman is even able to have access to a clinic in time, she then must have two appointments to have the procedure. During the first, the doctor performing the abortion is legally required to offer booklets on fetal development and getting help with continuing pregnancy at least 24 hours before the procedure in order to sway the woman towards keeping the child. The Heartbeat Bill means that even if a woman were able to realize she was pregnant by six weeks, she would also have to jump through the hoops already in place in an even smaller window of time to safely access an abortion.

Imagine a rural, poor woman who discovers she is pregnant after five weeks. She would have only seven days to save up $350-$1000 dollars for the procedure, get time off of work, procure transportation and housing and schedule the two appointments. If a minor found herself pregnant and neither of her parents give their consent for her to have an abortion, she would have at most only six weeks to navigate an intense legal process to bypass this constraint.

While there are minor exceptions in the case to save the life of the mother, there are not even exceptions for victims of rape or assault. Representative Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo) and State Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) emotionally opened up about how while in the military, both of them were victims of sexual assault and sought abortions to end  pregnancies forced upon them, a choice neither of them would have been able to make if this bill had been in place.

However, a woman should not have to be financially downtrodden, too young to care for a child, or a victim of assault to justify her right to choose if she wants to continue a pregnancy. If a woman does not want a child, she should not be forced to have an unwanted pregnancy. In looking at other countries that have banned abortions completely, increased legislation does not result in decreased abortion rates. Instead, women seek increasingly dangerous means to terminate their pregnancies since they have no access to safe and sterile procedures. Those in support of the Heartbeat Bill argue that it prevents living, beating hearts from being murdered when really all it does is prevent women with living, beating hearts from safe abortions. This bill will not stop abortions, it will only stop safe ones.

Collier Summay, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at CSummay19@wooster.edu

Scotlight: Rachel Lau

Rachel Lau ’19 talks about her dance and economics I.S. project and her journey as a choroegrapher and dancer.

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Rachel Lau, and I’m from Hong Kong. I’m a double major in economics and theatre & dance. I’m most active on campus with the C.O.W. Dance Company, but I’m also involved with other organizations here and there.

How and when did you start dancing?

I grew up doing rhythmic gymnastics because honestly, my parents wanted me to do exercise. Rhythmic gymnastics is also primarily where I got my background in movement. Although I took some ballet and breakdancing classes, I was not formally introduced to dance until my first year of college when I participated in the Fall Dance Concert as a dancer. Since then, I became more and more involved in modern dance by choreographing, lighting design and becoming a co-coordinator of the C.O.W. Dance Company. I even decided to major in theatre & dance.

You did a piece in this year’s Spring Dance Concert, as well as other concerts in the past. What is usually your thought process as a choreographer?

Before going into the studio, I try to have a plan and a checklist of what I want to accomplish with my dancers. To come up with a range of movement ideas, I sometimes record myself improvising to different genres of music and watch the recording to select what I like. What also works for me is to give my dancers prompts to follow in order to come up with movement phrases. I find that this gives them the chance to develop their artist minds and to create movement that works best for their bodies.

How did you realize a connection between economics and dance?

As a double major completing two separate theses, I came up with two approaches to fuse the two together. The thought did not just occur to me. I actually thought (very very) long and hard about it. On the one hand, my dance I.S. aims to represent economic concepts through dance. This allowed me to do what I love, to choreograph. On the other hand, my economics I.S. gave me the opportunity to explore the economics of the dance industry, allowing me to use economic theory and quantitive techniques, as most economists do.

Your I.S reflects a merger of economics and dance. Could you tell us a bit about your project and what went into putting it all together?

The main goal of my I.S. is to use econometrics, specifically the regression model, as a source for choreography. In other words, I wanted to physicalize a mathematical branch of economics called econometrics. Obviously, I did my research on dance choreography and econometrics. This endeavor also required some background research on mathematics, an overlap between dance and econometrics. With my research and choreographic ideas, I started rehearsals at the beginning of the spring semester, and presented my choreography in the Spring Dance Concert.

Can you talk about your experience with your APEX fellowship?

The two parts of my APEX Fellowship merged my interest in dance and economics. First, I interned with a yoga and pilates freelancer in Hong Kong where I gained experience in the business side of managing a sole proprietorship. The second part of my fellowship took place on the campus of Duke University in North Carolina, which focused more on the physical aspect of dance. I took dance classes, participated in discussions revolving dance, performed in the International Choreographers in Residency Concert and watched professional dance companies perform.

What were you most hopeful about and most scared about with your I.S.?

Since the first half of the [dance] I.S. process was all research and writing, I was afraid that my ideas and visions would be impossible. Fortunately, working in the dance studio with my talented dancers and seeing my ideas brought to life reassured the value of my work.

What would you like to tell any member of the Wooster community reading this?

Being called crazy is a compliment.

Interview by Lesley Chinery, a Features Editor for the Voice (Photo courtesy Rachel Lau).

Artist Jules Davis ’19 explores spaces in Wooster

Claire Wineman

Senior Staff Writer

The first thing I noticed upon walking into Jules Davis ’19’s senior Independent Study (I.S.) exhibition, “Making Space,” was the large black and white drawing taking up one of the walls. While it is the quietest aspect of the multi-media project, it is also the most detailed, pulling you in for a closer look. I soon realized that the huge drawing was a map — specifically, a map of Wooster — which Davis spent the year illustrating in ink pen and entirely from her own memory. “I started out wanting to draw all my memories of this place … I’ve spent a lot of time driving and walking around this town, and it’s one way I’ve been able to make a personal connection with the community,” said Davis. “I want people to feel as though they’re occupying the space, so everyone can find their own little part of Wooster. I think I’ll keep on drawing it as long as I have memories of this place, and they’ll always change.”

Davis identifies the themes weaving the four parts of the project together as “community, space and scale — the pure amount of space one occupies. I think a lot of humans don’t quite know how to express ourselves, and what I’ve aimed to do with this project is show that we all deserve to express ourselves and ought to make room for each other and for self-expression beyond the norm of our everyday lives.” On the wall opposite the map, there are eight photographs depicting various groups of students dancing together, each in their own individual way and with a joy that’s infectious, even to the viewer. They were all taken with disposable cameras at dance parties. “I love those spaces because I feel like people are able to express themselves in a way that appreciates and exchanges each other’s energy … When we’re dancing, we’re so much more aware of the space we occupy,” said Davis.

To elaborate on the ideas conveyed by the photographs, Davis created two videos, “What do you love to do?” and “Dancing Alone Together.” The former is a compilation of Wooster students dancing alone in Davis’ studio, where she interviewed them about what they love to do and the feeling they get when they’re dancing. “I wanted to make a space for people to feel like their individual and unique expression is beautiful and something in common with others, even if they’re not dancing at the same time or in the same space,” Davis said.

“Dancing Alone Together” also consists of clips of students dancing, but Davis took the footage a step further and synced it up with a soundscape she created from sounds collected around the city of Wooster. As with the map, the sounds form an image of the community unique to Davis’s memories of Wooster during the time she’s been here.

“Doing this project has allowed me to really love this place and this community,” said Davis. “We spend a lot of time trying to set boundaries because you have so much schoolwork and so many responsibilities, but I wanted to highlight why the time I’ve spent with the people I love has been so worthwhile. I do feel like this map is a unique record of this specific time and place and my experience. And the same with these photos. This is how I navigated this space with these people. I want to assert how beautiful it’s been.” 

(Photo by Jules Davis)