"The Play's the Thing"
After 61 Shakespeare Festivals, the Department of Drama and Dance found yet another way to put an inventive spin on Hofstra’s greatest annual tradition. March 10-20, The War of the Roses, A One-Evening Version of Shakespeare’s Henry VI Trilogy made its debut at the John Cranford Adams Playhouse. Professor of Drama and Dance Royston Coppenger was the creative force behind this new adaptation of the trilogy. He noted that the trilogy “contains some of [Shakespeare’s] greatest speeches and his most compelling characters, including Queen Margaret, Richard Duke of York, a hilariously slanted English take on Joan of Arc, and the young nobleman who emerges at the end as the future Richard III. And then, of course, there’s the character of Henry VI himself: hapless, devoutly religious, and horrified by the carnage that ensues as England implodes under his weak reign.” In another creative, yet bold move, by Professor Coppenger, Hofstra student Allie Rightmeyer, a petite young woman, was
cast as Henry VI. “It actually works very well,” said Ms. Rightmeyer before the premiere of the play. “The character of Henry is one of the most thoughtful and caring. In the eyes of many of the other court members he’s not ambitious or aggressive enough to rule.” Her portrayal of Henry served the play well in that Henry was certainly outsized in both appearance and demeanor by the other characters.
Also adding to the Shakespeare Festival’s imaginative qualities was its companion play, What Fools! – a one-hour version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – adapted by longtime English professor and Shakespearean scholar Maureen Connolly McFeely and directed by Associate Professor of Drama and Dance Jean Dobie Giebel. This was the fourth year the festival featured a short adaptation of a Shakespeare play, designed to introduce young theatergoers to the works of the Bard. What Fools! took young audiences into a modern high school setting. Set at “Athens High,” Professor Giebel described the adaptation as “Archie meets the X-Men.” The portrayals of Titania and Oberon were inspired by comic book superheroes, and Puck was Oberon’s sidekick.
Another major part of the Shakespeare Festival tradition is the Festival Musicale performed by the Hofstra Collegium Musicum, directed by Professor of Music William E. Hettrick. This year’s musicale was titled “These Mortals Be.” The Collegium Musicum includes ensembles of voices and historical instruments from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and this particular musicale presented selections from the 13th through 19th centuries, all about living creatures, both animal and human.
- Hofstra alumnus and New York Timessports columnist George Vecsey ’60 returned to campus in March as part of the University’s 75th anniversary celebration to speak to students about his storied career as a sports columnist and best-selling author.
- The student-run Hofstra Association for Graphic Arts (HAGA), in conjunction with The Career Center, presented a career networking event titled “Not All Artists Are Starving” — A Night of Networking on March 1. Hofstra alumni Mario Bakalov ’00, ’03; Linda Graceffo-Vorbach ’79; Christina Makrakis ’03; and Rodrigo Sanchez ’03 were among the professionals who participated in this panel discussion about career opportunities in the arts.
- Hundreds of Hofstra students and alumni put the finishing touches on their resumes, dressed in their finest business attire and attended The Career Center’s Spring Job and Internship Fair on March 2.
- Hofstra alumnus Alan Colmes ’71, nationally syndicated radio host, television personality, political commentator and author, returned to campus on March 16 to talk to students about his broadcast and literary career.
- A panel of journalists and political analysts dissected media coverage of President Obama on March 22. What’s the Message? Evaluating White House Media Coverage and Strategy featured Robert Siegel, senior host of NPR’s All Things Considered; Mark Jurkowitz, associate director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism; and Hofstra’s Kalikow Center senior presidential fellows, Howard B. Dean III and Edward J. Rollins.
- The School of Communication presented a March 23 conference titled Communication, Technology and Democracy: A Hofstra 75th Anniversary Symposium. What Happens to Democracy When Everyone Talks at Once?
- On March 26 Hofstra’s Joan and Arnold Saltzman Community Services Center presented a Community Services Day. Highlights of the day included free speech and hearing screenings, a concert for children, demonstrations of treatments that utilize virtual reality technology, and parent and family presentations.
- More than 150 alumni from the Department of Drama and Dance gathered at Hofstra on March 27 to pay tribute to Professor Emeritus of Drama Richard Mason, who passed away on November 26, 2010. Deborah Madison ’77, coordinator of the memorial, spoke of Dr. Mason’s profound impact on the lives of his students. Many graduates came from as far away as the West Coast to attend the service, and sometraveled from outside the country, including Russia and Iceland. Dr. Mason joined the Hofstra faculty in 1964 and retired in 1993. He received Hofstra’s Distinguished Service Award in 1979 in recognition of his dedication to his students, his colleagues and his community.
- On March 30 Howard B. Dean III, former Democratic presidential candidate and senior presidential fellow at Hofstra’s Peter S. Kalikow Center for the Study of the American Presidency, delivered the2011 Arnold A. Saltzman Lecture on the State of the Union.