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One Act

Cap and Bells is looking for one act plays. My suggestion here:

A one act play about Nigaleian. Three actors: Professor Aida Laleian, Professor Layla Ali ’90 and one other professor, or perhaps a single actor playing several of the other professors present. (In a pinch, you could drop the last professor.) Setting is the meeting room in which the fateful phrase was spoken. Plot is to show several (3?) versions of the same event, presenting (virtually) the same dialog, or having Laleian say exactly the same words, or, at minimum, each version concludes with the same phrase about how she did not want her field to be “used as a nigger.”

If I were a playwright, I would write this myself. Alas, no talent means no script. The goal would be to show how, even if the words are the same, changes in the surrounding context can transform Laleian from socially awkward (the Rooney Defense) to profoundly evil.

Another idea so good that I’ll keep suggesting it until someone recognizes my artistic genius.

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#1 Comment By Kirsten On November 8, 2008 @ 5:36 pm

David, don’t you have anything better to do than trying to dredge up old scandals? Or are you hoping the resulting flame-wars will increase Ephblog traffic?

#2 Comment By sophmom On November 8, 2008 @ 6:07 pm

Very disappointing, Dave.

And way to put a damper on real suggestions for Cap and Bells.

#3 Comment By Larry George On November 8, 2008 @ 7:34 pm

“Another idea so good that I’ll keep suggesting it until someone recognizes my artistic genius.”

Gag. Just forget it, please, DK.

#4 Comment By old-timer On November 8, 2008 @ 8:34 pm

This kind of post causes substantial pain to people who have made mistakes and profoundly regret them – and to those who have suffered from others’ mistakes and would like nothing better than to forgive and forget.

To me, this looks like wanton petty meanness; something I’d expect from a member of middle-school clique, and not from a responsible adult.

#5 Comment By David Kane On November 9, 2008 @ 12:23 am

It may look like meanness, but it isn’t. Really! When I want to mean, I leave few doubts. I am sad that remembering this bit of Williams history causes “substantial pain.” I wish that were not the case, but this history is what it is.

Always forgive, never forget.

That’s my motto for Niagaleian. I am happy to believe that Aida Laleian profoundly regrets her actions. I do not think that she should (now) be fired or otherwise punished. I would welcome her presence at any Williams event I organized. I recommend that students take her classes since, by all accounts, she is a fine and rigorous teacher.

But she did what she did. Currents students have a right to know that history. Williams won’t tell them so I will. Don’t want people to know that you employed the phrase “used as a nigger” as a way of attempting to insult/intimidate a black colleague? Don’t do it!

Moreover, even if Laleian left Williams or retired from teaching, I would still bring up this history, over and over again, just as I do with other awkward moments from the history of the College. Remember Barnard/VISTA, QBE or the Foster rape trial? I do. And I am here to tell those stories too. How else are we to learn from history?

There is a pleasing conceit among the great and good that we don’t need to dive into the messy details of conflicts among the Eph to change “the hearts and minds” — in Dean Murphy’s phrasing — of Williams students (and alumni). Untrue. No one learns from platitudes like “Don’t be racist” or “Don’t commit sexual assault.” They learn — we learn — from considering and confronting real Eph controversies in all their complexity and confusion.

There is no doubt that this exercise causes “ubstantial pain to people who have made mistakes and profoundly regret them.” I wish it didn’t. I am sorry. But ignoring the sins of Williams past does nothing to improve Williams future.

#6 Comment By frank uible On November 9, 2008 @ 12:39 am

Aren’t good drama and good history separate, although not necessarily inconsistent, subjects?