Synetic theatre’s “Phantom” lacks catharsis

Elena Morey

Washington D.C.’s Synetic Theatre is no usual performing arts company. In Synetic’s own words, their name comes from “synthesis: the coming together of distinct elements to form a whole, kinetic: pertaining to or imparting motion, active, dynamic” which equals “Synetic Theatre: a dynamic synthesis of the arts.” It was founded in 2001 by the husband and wife team of Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili, who dedicated their work to creating art from text and drama, aided by movement, acrobatics, dance, film and music. In the span of almost 20 years, they have received 134 Helen Hayes nominations and 34 awards.

This unique blend of styles creates a truly new form of theatre. Most of their more notable works are done without words, and rely on artistic movement, original scores and the dedications of the actors to carry the plot. Such works include “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Tempest,” “The Taming of the Shrew,” “Dante’s Inferno” and “Phantom of the Opera.”

As a theatre company and concept, Synetic Theatre is well-respected and renowned in D.C, and rightly so. I have been a fan and in attendance since I first saw their wordless “Romeo and Juliet” many years ago. I have attended every show since, wordless or not. I have even become very familiar with the regular cast members and sit in the same seat every time I see the show. To see their “Phantom,” I flew back to D.C. this past weekend.

Usually, Synetic leaves their viewers in awe of such a special performance, from the set, costumes, act- ing quality, storyline and movement. However, with all of the potential of “Phantom of the Opera,” Synetic failed to even come close to the infamy of the characters, score and set. Even if the original was not a musical, and was merely a drama, Synetic failed to come close to the depth of the plot. There were many ways Synetic could have adapted their version to retain the emotional depth and significance that the original possesses. There were many ways they could have used their creative angle to create something truly inspiring and new, even though they were using the famous opera by Andrew Lloyd Weber. Yet, I. Tsikurish- vili took center stage, and brought the entire show down with her and the chandelier in an anti-climactic and boring fashion the original phantom would be ashamed of.

Director P. Tsikurishvili and choreographer I. Tsikurishvili attempt to breach the famous opera without music, incorporating dance and their original score to transform a singer named Christine into a ballerina. The infamous “Phantom of the Opera” is more of a ghost who likes dancing.

This “Phantom” interpretation is far from Synetic’s usually dazzling and breath-taking performance. Instead, I. Tsikurishvili drags her audience through her slow two- hour, often painstakingly boring, rendition of the opera ghost’s ob- session with a younger ballerina who reminds her of herself before she suffered horrific burns dur- ing one of her own performances.

With this basis for the character of the Phantom, I. Tsikurishvili takes away the love between Christine and the ghost, which is arguably the strongest part of Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom.” With plot hole after plot hole in Synetic’s “Phantom,” the overall relationship between the infamous shadowy character and his Christine is weak and confusing. I. Tsikur- ishvili’s “Phantom” lacks any sort of emotional cathartic release.

Economics doesn’t hold all the answers

Ian Ricoy

In American academia, there is a tendency to move many social sciences towards quantitative analysis. It started with economics, originally a branch of philosophy, trying to rebrand itself as a hard science and has been spilling into political science for almost 30 years. Economists really want to be mathematicians; political scientists really want to be economists. I could tell you how bad of a leader Trump is (granted, I could define “bad” without using philosophy), but why he is bad, or how to fix him? Yeah, sorry, no-can-dosville baby-doll. I was trained as a political scientist, notapolitician. Economists claim to have all the answers because society loves how they combine statistics with money theory.

Disclaimer: I’ve taken economics, stats and math courses here at the College, abroad, in high school and at The University of Michigan — the policy school most famous for its use of quantitative methods. My I.S. is all quantitative analysis. One of my favorite podcasts is “Freako- nomics.” I’m not saying we need to flush out math people and economists from policy circles or abolish the use of statistics in social science. I am not saying all economists and financiers think this way or are bad people either. I don’t even necessarily blame them for making normative claims. I blame the society (that we live in) for putting them on a pedestal. My main claims are that economics is overvalued in society and economists are given authority over areas that aren’t economics.

I find, in my experience, that economists feel that their status as the chief social scientists gives them authority over topics outside of economics, namely ethics. A basic example: the philosopher claims that the wage Foxconn pays its workers is too low to sustain a decent living and therefore, immoral. An economist would respond that the worker voluntarily agreed to the wage offered by Foxconn, both are mutually benefitting from this arrangement, it is irrational for Foxconn to pay higher than they need to and that an unskilled worker can only get so far in a saturated labor market. All of that is 100 percent true, but guess what? That has absolutely no bearing on the morality of the wage and living conditions of the worker. Efficiency does not equal moral permissibility nor is a system built on rationality and voluntary association infallible. Now, one must decide if they value efficiency or morality over the other. Just because some- thing exists or is rational or is optimal or is arrived at via a market system does not mean anything about the morality of that thing.

In my humble view, I think economics needs to look in the mirror and decide if it really wants to be like a hard science or take a step back towards its philosophical roots. If economics is a hard science, as it wishes to be, then its ability to make moral claims is very weak. But if it moves back to its roots in utilitarianism, then it has some ground to stand on. I think it’s high time economics goes back to its utilitarian roots or incorporates other philosophers like Marx into its canon. Marx, though not right about everything, pretty much predicted how capitalism would destroy our planet, divide our society and fail to serve the common people — but nobody wanted to listen to an economist who wasn’t a mathematician. Or perhaps it was because he was a wee bit radical. You decide.

So often, what is true is conflated with what is right, and that just ain’t it chief. When all you have are economists advising you, every problem starts to look like a matter of supply and demand. We will always need economics, and I think it’s a valuable discipline that I want to continue studying after undergrad. It’s like the famous economist Jim Burnell PhD. of America’s Premier College for Mentored Undergraduate Research often says, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Economics is theory. Theory is an abstraction. Theory is not truth.”

Take caution when dyeing your hair blonde

Dzifa Adjei

In my last year and a half here at The College of Wooster, I have begun to notice a trend. Everywhere I looked, edgy brunettes were slowly making their way to the much riskier side of the hair color spectrum: bleach-blonde. Now, I am going to start by saying that I ended up bleach-blonde on accident. I wanted to dye my hair purple, and asked my friend to help me lighten my hair, which did not go immediately as planned. When I tried to cover the patchy orange with a mix of purple dyes, it only got worse and it became clear that desperate times were going to call for desperate measures. So, I marched into Sally Beauty for the third time that week, bleached my hair a second time and used as much

Wella toner as I could fit onto my head (if it’s good enough for Sophie Turner, it’s good enough for me). The result was a pale grey-blonde, and it kind of slapped, if I do say so myself. I did dye my hair purple eventually, but it seemed that blonde was my hair’s final form, and who am I to argue with destiny.

The issue I’m seeing on campus is, that although we attend America’s Premier College for Mentored Undergraduate Research, our peers are failing to utilize those research skills when it comes to hair care and color. Though it could be said that blondes have more fun, stiff, lifeless, uneven and/or orange hair is less than enjoyable. For the wearer, yes, but also for my eyeballs. You don’t want to stand out because your hair is a trainwreck nobody can look away from, you want to stand out because your new ‘do looks shiny and cool, and because you clearly are an interesting person who takes risks with their life, evidenced by the risks you’ve taken with your head. I can’t guarantee that the latter is fully achievable, especially since I have gotten no more stylish or fascinating since I started chemically burning my scalp repeatedly, but at the very least the former could be avoidable.

So in conclusion, I am including below a “Do’s and Don’ts” of going blonde (from painful experience). DO try to figure out what tone of blonde will look best with your skin tone. Cool blonde doesn’t look good on everyone, but — especially if you have very dark hair originally — the natural color your hair will go to after only being lightened is likely to be very yellow, or orange, and that doesn’t look good on anyone. DON’T try it without an experienced friend or hair colorist. Bleaching your hair is the “cutting your own bangs” of this decade: it seems like a great idea alone in your bathroom, but maybe not in the harsh light of Lowry. DO be willing to spend money. Even if you aren’t dropping stacks on a professional, please (and I mean please) Google the best lightener for what you’re trying to do, and be willing to invest in getting the correct developers for your lightener and toner (unlike with cereal, the matching name brand does actually make a difference). DON’T mistake blonde hair for a personality trait; you have to get at least one literary tattoo before you can rise above the pink- and blue-haired dream girls of the world. Lastly, DO be prepared for it to sting. Beauty may not necessarily be pain, but broadcasting that you listened to Halsey in high school definitely is.

SGA and CC continue discussions about a joint student govt.

Olivia Proe

Features Editor

On Tuesday, Feb. 18, representatives from the Student Government Association (SGA) and Campus Council (CC) met in the Lowry Pit to discuss the possibility of dissolving and creating a new joint student governing body. Members of the Oversight Committee, comprised of both members of SGA and CC, presented their changes to the proposed constitution of this new body after student feedback from the prior week’s panel. The forum last Tuesday allowed students to ask questions and provide feedback on the latest draft of the constitution.

The discussion was led by Co-Chair of the Oversight Committee Matt Mayes ’20, who opened the meeting by providing updates from the Feb. 11 panel. According to Mayes, he and Treasurer of SGA Isaac Weiss ’20 had expanded their outreach efforts to student groups and other members of the student government for feedback. Per their suggestions, Charter Committee has been added back to this new draft of the constitution, transferring some responsibilities from the Student Activities office to this governing body. The Oversight Committee has also created a mission statement for the body with feedback from administration.

Once Mayes gave updates on the latest draft of the constitution, students were able to raise their questions and concerns. One Student asked if this new governing body would have the same power as CC to recommend policy changes to the Scot’s Key and other governing documents. Mayes affirmed that the new body should have this power and would be acknowledged in the Scot’s Key if the vote to create the new governing body is approved by the Board of Trustees.

Other students expressed concerns that allowing first-year students to run for office in their first semester was too early in their time at Wooster. This proposed change is in contrast to the current system of having First-Year Governance Council (FYGC), where students are selected via application rather than election and learn about student government from members of SGA.

One student, Shankar Bhat ’22, worried that this restructuring could eliminate potential first-year candidates. “Many students who may not have held leadership in high school will develop leadership skills throughout their first year, gaining confidence as they go,” said Bhat. “If elections are in fall semester, we will only have students who are a small subset of potential leaders on campus.”

Members on the panel, however felt that restructuring student government to include first-years in the election process during their first semester would be a positive change. At-large SGA Senator Marco Roccato ’20 said that it would be valuable to include first year students in the proposed governing body. He felt that his time on FYGC was impactful and that first-year students are most connected to the issues students face when first arriving at the College. Because FYGC does not have the same leverage as SGA and CC, he felt that it would be crucial to include first-year voices in decision-making under a new student governing organization. Former Chair of FYGC Nick Shereikis ’20 echoed Roccato’s sentiment. Shereikis did not feel that FYGC adequately addressed first-year student concerns. Additionally, he did not see much turnover, and saw that many students who served on FYGC then ran for SGA or CC the next yea.r

Members on the panel floated several compromises to ease concerns about first-year students running for student government in the fall semester. Chair of CC Halen Gifford ’21 suggested that the election could be held after fall break so students would have some time to reflect and decide if running for office would be the right decision for them. An audience member proposed the idea that elec- tions could happen after the drop date for classes so students would have time to find their academic footing before expanding their extracurricular commitments. Current members of SGA and CC could also visit First- Year Seminars (FYS) to give students more information about running for office so they would have some guidance in the process.

Throughout discussions of compromises, Mayes mentioned the fact that there would be a rigorous onboarding process for all students joining the governing body for the first time. Panelists expressed that this onboarding process would aid first-year students in their transition onto student government, but also allow for greater inclusion of first- time candidates of all class years. Offering training for the governing organization would make it more accessible to any student without prior experience. The current proposal calls for interested students to sign up for student government on Scot Spirit Day. Then, they would attend a number of workshops to understand the basics of school structure, the powers of the governing body and how to draft policy. This onboarding process would give students a greater idea of how the governing body works and some skills to work on student government, even with little to no relevant experience. The bylaws would man- date these onboarding sessions for students to be eligible to run for the new governing body.

The last half of the panel was spent discussing the structure of the new governing body. Mayes informed the audience that there would be diversity chairs similar to those of CC based on the current branches of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI). These new seats are intended to represent identities of students rather than organizations, hopefully centralizing resources, guidelines and constituencies for diversity representatives.

“I’m excited about the first generation/low income representative seat, because it’s not really been included in the past,” said Emmy Todd ’22, a member of the Oversight Committee. Though this shift would lead to the loss of the service and civic engagement and selective organization seats, one audience member suggested that representatives may have service requirements to ac- count for this change. The new by- laws would require each representative to complete three service hours doing activities such as tabling, running shuttles, working at ScotLends and completing other initiatives. The new chief of staff would be responsible for enforcing this policy.

Another audience member was concerned that the proposed size of the new student governing body was too large at 25 members. Some worried that a larger student governing body may lead to decreased accountability. However, Mayes felt that shrinking the organization would not improve efficiency. The proposed body would have seven standing committees, each with three to four members, so a large number of student representatives would make this workload more manageable. To increase accountability, Amber Rush ’22 suggested solutions such as a website for constituents to anonymously submit complaints about their representatives. Most of the panelists agreed that even though a smaller governing body would be ideal for efficiency, the proposed number of seats would allow for a fairer workload among members.

The Oversight Committee took the recommendations from students at the Feb. 18 panel into consideration and drafted another version of the constitution for the following week. “I am really excited about the constitution and especially the bylaws because those are where the specifics are that the student body will care about,” said Todd.

Weiss echoed Todd’s sentiment. “I think that the continued effort of the Oversight Committee to hear from students and make important changes to our governing documents is something to be proud of,” he said. “Very rarely do we see members of SGA or CC reach out to student leaders and make actionable chang- es based upon those conversations. These bylaws and constitution are an important first step in building a governing body that represents all students equitably.”

A final panel was hosted on Feb. 25 to get student input before SGA and CC moved to vote on whether or not to enact the new body.

CDI movie viewings promote representation

Brian Luck

Contributing Writer

On Tuesday, Feb. 18, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), Dean of Students Office and Allen Scholars provided College of Wooster students with the opportunity to see a free, private screening of the new movie “The Photograph.” CDI provided free transportation to the Wooster Cinemark for this event as well.

“The Photograph” follows the story of Mae Morton (Issa Rae) as she uncovers aspects of her deceased, estranged mother’s early life thanks to a photograph found in a safe-deposit box. On her jour- ney, she and journalist Michael Block (LaKeith Stanfield) begin their love story. Two parallel plots in different time periods follow Mae and Michael, as well as Christina, played by Chanté Adams. The film is rated PG-13 and received a 76 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Amanda Anastasia Paniagua, director of Multicultural Student Affairs in CDI, noted that “The Photograph” was a great choice for a Wooster private screening.

“Representation matters,” she said. “A film starring two black leads is significant. It is Black History Month, and the film screening was after Valentine’s Day weekend. Love is universal.”

Paniagua also emphasized the importance of providing students with opportunities like free movie screenings as a means of strengthening the campus community. “I have background in the arts and truly believe that art — in its many forms — is a means to bring people together from different backgrounds,” she said. CDI and the Dean of Students Office work together frequently, putting on different events throughout the year and placing emphasis on the students themselves. The private screening of “The Photograph” represented a partnership of these two groups, along with the Allen Scholars, in order to create an accessible experience for the entirety of the Wooster student body.

“The event idea came out of an Allen Scholars meeting as a way to create visibility for the Allen Scholars, but also provide the larger student body an opportunity to share a common experience — what better way than a movie?” Paniagua said. “I have been working very closely with Allen Scholars since my arrival in November 2018 and am ex- tremely grateful for the support from CDI and the Dean of Students Office.”

The Allen Scholarship acted as a direct response to the 1989 Galpin Sit-In to increase the African-American student popu- lation of Wooster. Named after Clarence Beecher Allen, the first African-American student to graduate from The College of Wooster in 1892, the scholarship awards up to $37,000 to African-American students each year they attend The College of Wooster.

Paniagua encourages all students to email cdi@wooster. edu or visit CDI in Babcock Hall if they have questions, ideas or suggestions for other events. She also suggests that students “Slide into [CDI’s] DMs” on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Our priority is to defeat Trump

Samuel Casey

I don’t know about all of you, but I’ve been losing sleep — losing sleep over the start of primary (or caucus) season. It started when a number of candidates larger than my biggest political science class decided to run. The field started to narrow slightly when most of the ambitious white guys dropped out, but then two old white-guy billionaires jumped in the mix while the most promising candidates of color dropped out. Then the moderate old white guy front runner was replaced by the most liberal candidate who happened to be an older white guy. And all of this was before the lead-off Iowa Caucus which really put the “IA” in disaster. What is happening?

The Democratic Party and their candidates claim to have the same main goal: “Beat Donald Trump!” However, I can’t help but feel a total lack of cohesion. Sanders has (pretty much) won the first three states, so I think maybe that means he will drive people to the polls, but then I go on Twitter and see some of his supporters stoop to Trump-like levels of antagonization against other Democrats. Warren is fishing from the same pond as Bernie, and it seems like most of the fish are taking his bait. Buttigieg lacks support amongst minority voters, which is a major red flag. Biden does better in this department, but are voters really going to mobilize around him in November? His showing in early states has not been all that convincing. Klobuchar seems the most reasonable moderate in my eyes, but her national polling average is so low that a come- back seems unlikely. Don’t even get me started on Bloomberg. Every anti-Trump conservative newspaper columnist think he’s the best thing since New York sliced rye bread. Yeah, that’s what I want — to replace an old, white, racist billionaire with an old, white, racist billionaire. No thanks!

But this election isn’t about what I want, it’s about nominating the candidate who can beat Trump no matter their flaws, right? It would be less of a problem if I didn’t read an article everyday about how the Democratic Party is terrified of Sanders and how he must be stopped at all costs; or reading about how “Bernie Bros” will defect to Trump if their can- didate isn’t nominated. This is ridiculous. How the hell are we supposed to make a decision?!

As a straight, white, upper- middle-class 20-something male, my life doesn’t change that much based on who’s in office. There- fore, it is my responsibility to cast my vote for the lives that are affected the most and who cannot afford to face four more years of Trump in power. Tbh, this is how everyone should vote. But this year must be weighed differently because the incumbent has really gotta go. So far, that candidate seems to be Sanders, but if I’ve learned anything this election it’s that anything is on the table. All I want is the assurance marketed before this wacky situ- ation — whoever the Democratic nominee is must be supported.

Every candidate has flaws, but we cannot afford a repeat of 2016 where a voter refuses to vote for either. You may think both nominees are evil (boo corrupt U.S. politics), but the guy running for reelection will always be worse. The reason I’m losing sleep is because I feel the need to pick the right person; I’m not convinced that people and the Party will rally around the nominee. The solu- tion? Look at the bigger picture. Support the candidate who gives the most hope to voters and keep supporting them till November

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