Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

The McKelvy House Scholars invite the campus to join a dinner discussion of the value of performing arts Sunday evening.

The meal will begin at 6 p.m. at McKelvy House, 200 High Street. Charles Felix ’08 (Brooklyn, N.Y.), a double major in biology and English, will lead the discussion at 6:30 p.m.

Felix wishes to examine how performing arts, specifically theater, are received at Lafayette and in America.

He favors Artistole’s definition of art, which states that art is an imitation of nature, but “for the sake of the discussion, let’s redefine this definition to mean that art re-creates the creative principle of created things,” Felix says. “Let’s briefly explore how this definition can be applied to the different types of performing arts offered at Lafayette.”

To begin the discussion, Felix asks:

  • How does exposure to art differ among varying economic statuses?
  • What motivates people to experience performance art? How does culture influence our attitudes toward live performance art?
  • What is the purpose of theater in our culture? Of art?

He offers this excerpt from Augusto Boal’s book, Theater of the Oppressed, and questions, for consideration:

“Should art educate, inform, organize, influence, incite to action, or should it simply be an object of pleasure? The comic poet Aristophanes thought that ‘the dramatist should not only offer pleasure but should, besides that, be a teacher of morality and a political adviser.’ Eratosthenes contradicted him, asserting that the ‘function of the poet is to charm the spirits of his listeners, never to instruct them.’ Strabo argued: ‘Poetry is the first lesson that the State must teach the child; poetry is superior to philosophy because the latter is addressed to a minority while the former is addressed to the masses.’ Plato, on the contrary, thought that the poets should be expelled from a perfect republic because ‘poetry only makes sense when it exalts the figures and deeds that should serve as examples; theater imitates the things of the world, but the world is no more than a mere imitation of ideas—thus theater comes to be an imitation of an imitation.”

  • Whom do you align yourself with? What’s your opinion? Why?
  • How successful has recent theater been in promoting and creating social and political change?
  • Consider how Bread and Puppet Theater’s performance at Lafayette was received. What did the audience get out of it? How did you react while you were watching it? Did it anger you? Did it motivate you?
  • What is your experience with theater that promotes social and political change? How prevalent is this form of theater? Have movies and documentaries such as Fahrenheit 9/11 and Crash overshadowed such theater?

Links to websites on the discussion topics as well as more information about the McKelvy House Scholars program are available on the group’s blog website.

Since 1962, the McKelvy House Scholars program has brought together Lafayette students with a wide range of majors and interests to reside in a historic off-campus house and share in intellectual and social activities. Sunday dinner discussions that engage the students in debate and exchange of ideas are the hallmark of the program; several Wednesday discussions take place each semester as well. Most members also contribute to the annual McKelvy Papers, written on a topic of each person’s choice. McKelvy Scholars participate in activities together such as field trips to plays, concerts, and exhibits, and sponsor events for the campus as well.

Previous discussions:
Nov. 13 – Blogging
Nov. 9 – Neoconservatism
Oct. 30 – Christian Right
Oct. 26 – Social Groups
Oct. 23 – The Shape of Things
Oct. 19 – Women in Creating and Sustaining Peace
Oct. 16 – “Slow Food” Movement
Oct. 12 – Hugo Chavez
Oct. 9 – Molecular Nanotechnology
Oct. 5 – Folk Music as Vehicle for Social Change
Sept. 25 – Freedom and Other Remembrance Issues
Sept. 20 – The Powerful Thrust of Language on Civic Arousal
Sept. 14 – Apathy
Sept. 11 – Why Do We Care about One Another?

Categorized in: Academic News