Author Archives: David Boles

Never Speak to the Actors!

There’s an old, weary, chestnut in the theatre — that deserves to be burned alive, eaten whole, pooped out and buried in the deep blue sea and then never spoken of again — that goes a little something like this, when directors say to Playwrights: “Never Speak to the Actors!”

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A Hopeless Whipsaw Cascade of Warping and Woofing: Managing Your Own Feels

In the Rise of the Millennials, feelings are given a whole new status above and beyond any shared fact or shred of righteous communal reality. Today, “feels” are peculiarly individualized, and non-universal, and they are now powerful cudgels used against the unwashed and unwitting others.

Instead of honoring every whim and ninny, we need to be in control of our own feelings, evaluate the reality surrounding them in context beyond the self, and then make a rational, logical, decision on what to do next based on perceptive thinking and not on implied — explicit or otherwise — slights and insights and invented microaggressions and their ilk.  We must not only keenly know the difference between purposeful cruelty and interpreted, environmental, intention, we must proactively act upon the right result.

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The Path of Anathema: First, Always Do Harm!

First, we had Unethical American Dentistry, and now — perhaps thanks to Obamacare — we have certain American physicians who are playing loosely with the truth when it comes to telling patients if they are “in-network” with their insurance plan, and providing the right, covered, care for their patients. “First Do No Harm” is not an oath to these doctors, it’s a cue down the path of anathema!

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The 1968 Columbia University Riots

The 1968 riot and takeover on the Columbia University campus is still a rotting sore that ruins the day.  The matter drowns in infamy and many wish it soon to be forgotten — much like the student strike of 1932 that took over the campus — but if we hope not to repeat the mistakes of the past, we must remember them, share the facts of the moment, and preserve the truth into the future.

It is interesting that, just as during the campus strike in 1932, the 1968 riot centered on athletics at Columbia university.

I was able to purchase the historic images you see in this article, and I’m sharing them all with you now to help set the definitive timeline of what happened in Morningside Heights in the Spring of 1968 — and why the riot happened, and how Columbia, still to this day, wrestles with the hard matters had at hand half a century later.

Some of the dates and captions may seem off — I offer them to you directly as they appear in situ — no editorializing or changing of the information has occurred.

Some ghosts never die — they remain, haunting you, forever; not from the shadows — but from the bright sunlight of College Walk.

4.14.68

SCHOOL DAY
New York: Statue of Alexander Hamilton looms above students outside Hamilton Hall during a protest rally at Columbia University April 24th.  Hanging from the balcony are photos of Stokely Carmichael and a Viet Cong flag.  Acting dean Harry S. Coleman and two other Columbia officials have been barricaded inside the building since April 23rd. One target of the student sit-ins is the university’s plan to construct a gymnasium in a Harlem park, which Negro students contend will deprive residents of a recreation area.

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Columbia University in the City of New York 1931-1946

Columbia University in the City of New York was founded in 1754 as King’s College by royal charter of King George II of England. Columbia is the fifth oldest university in America and the oldest living school in the State of New York. As a graduate of Columbia, you never tire of reaching back into history to pull out instances of living and of educational memeing and of the loving of a life that remains to haunt you today — because way back when is always more perceptive and pleasing than the now and again.

I was delightfully fortunate to be able to purchase a large cache of genuine Columbia University photographs. Columbia has a certain reputation in the history of America as being a seat of unrest, and a center of the human protest against the status quo, while also trailblazing educational concepts for teaching and learning.

We begin our photographic tour in 1930 with this caption:

COMMENCEMENT EXERCISES AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
New York — General view of the commencement excercises at Columbia University, showing the great assemblage of students listening to the address of president Nicholas Murray Butler of Columbia.  There were 861 diplomas and 4,895 degrees awarded during the ceremony.  More than 20,000 spectators witnessed the exercise. 6-3-30.

In you look closely, you can see a naked 115th Street from the Columbia green!  There’s no Butler library yet — named for Columbia President Nicholas Murray Butler mentioned in the caption — Butler Library would rise along the North side of 115th Street in 1931 and would be dedicated in 1934.

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The Columbia University Strike of 1932

Many may remember the infamous, and violent, Columbia riots of 1968 — but few know about the strike two generations previous that overtook the Morningside campus in 1932.  This is that story — told in authentic, historic, photographs and captions — that I was able to purchase and share with you today.

COLUMBIA STUDENTS STRIKE
Protesting the expulsion of Reed Harris, crusading editor of the “Columbia Spectator”, undergraduate daily, a one day strike was called on April 4th, by more than a thousand students at a mass meeting in New York. The students applauded speakers attacking Dean Herbert E. Hawkes, who expelled Harris, and President Nicholas Murray Butler, Harris first gained recognition when he attacked the conduct of Athletics at Columbia University as “semi-professional”. The photo shows a general view of the thousands at the mass meeting. 4/4/32

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Brander Matthews: Father of Dramatic Literature

Brander Matthews was one of the purist theatrical geniuses we’ve had in, and around, the intellectual American Stage.  Brander rightly believed a play only existed in performance and that the performance and the text must be evaluated separately. He was also one of the first professors at an American University — Columbia University in the City of New York starting in 1892 — to promote, and foster, the idea that Dramatic Literature was just as important a field of study as any historic cave wall painting or artistic sculpture or aesthetic structure. He believed in the power of the Playwright to form the world.

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