Yale Takes Bold Stand Against Pretend Fighting

The Star Wars KidAs with any tragedy, organizations have responded to the Virginia Tech massacre with heightened sensitivity to violent images. NBC released only a few of the nearly two dozen videos Cho Seung-Hui recorded and sent to the network, while other networks refused to show any of them. SNL tastefully pulled its brilliant OC parody from YouTube, seeing as it ends with six bloodied bodies littering the floor. (Rather, the network tried to pull it. You can still find the video, the original OC clip, and various parodies of the parody.) Both of these moves seemed the smart, polite things to do.

And then there’s Yale’s response. In the wake of the VT shooting, Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg has banned the use of realistic stage weapons in Yale theater productions. The rule doesn’t apply just to guns. Now, instead of using mean-looking swords, actors will have to fight with plastic or wooden swords. Presumably, the duel scene in Hamlet will be performed with two of those plastic fold-out light sabers that glow and make noise when they clash: “A touch [wuuoow], a touch, I do confess! [ksshhh!]”

Student director Sarah Holden, ’08, gave a short speech before the Thursday night performance of her play, “Red Noses”:

“Calling for an end to violence onstage does not solve the world’s suffering: It merely sweeps it under the rug, turning theater — in the words of this very play — into ‘creamy bon-bons’ instead of ‘solid fare’ for a thinking, feeling audience,” she said. “Here at Yale, sensitivity and political correctness have become censorship in this time of vital need for serious artistic expression.”

Clearly, institutions need to respond appropriately to tragedy. Insulting the intelligence of Yale theatergoers doesn’t quite count. Until the ban’s reversed, Yale productions will probably look something like this.

Trachtenberg did not respond to an e-mail sent late Sunday. This isn’t the first time she’s pulled amateur hour on the Yale performing arts, as the Suite 13 guys know — so if anyone has Betty T stories, we’re collecting.

22 Responses to “Yale Takes Bold Stand Against Pretend Fighting”

  1. Columbia 08 Says:

    Why, in times of tragedy, do people always claim that it is a vital time for artistic expression? It seems to me that it’s more a vital time for self-analysis.

  2. Columbia 08 Says:

    Why, in times of tragedy, do people always claim that it is a vital time for artistic expression? It seems to me that it’s more a vital time for self-analysis.

  3. Yale 10 Says:

    Why, at any time, do people always claim that free speech isn’t THAT important? Why, for that matter, is any time more or less “vital” for artistic expression?

  4. Yale 10 Says:

    Why, at any time, do people always claim that free speech isn’t THAT important? Why, for that matter, is any time more or less “vital” for artistic expression?

  5. y09 Says:

    Incidentally, it’s Holdren.

    The funniest thing about this is that the onstage hangings and crossbow massacre that ended the play were allowed to stay in.

  6. y09 Says:

    Incidentally, it’s Holdren.

    The funniest thing about this is that the onstage hangings and crossbow massacre that ended the play were allowed to stay in.

  7. y09 Says:

    Also the Betty T quote in today’s YDN calling anyone who opposed the ban “selfish” and “not using their own intelligence.”

  8. y09 Says:

    Also the Betty T quote in today’s YDN calling anyone who opposed the ban “selfish” and “not using their own intelligence.”

  9. 09yalie Says:

    i heard she went batshit over something that happened at the BD concert the other night.

  10. 09yalie Says:

    i heard she went batshit over something that happened at the BD concert the other night.

  11. y08 Says:

    she is just a crazy old woman on a power trip. the entire student affairs office is one big black hole for both joy and logic.

  12. y08 Says:

    she is just a crazy old woman on a power trip. the entire student affairs office is one big black hole for both joy and logic.

  13. pissed and baffled Says:

    They reversed the policy via a press release sent out late last night to outside press sources, not to the YDN or any other announcement to students themselves, and the press release in question isn’t up on the Office of Public Affairs website.

    Are they really more concerned with stopping bad press than with actually informing students about what’s going on???

  14. pissed and baffled Says:

    They reversed the policy via a press release sent out late last night to outside press sources, not to the YDN or any other announcement to students themselves, and the press release in question isn’t up on the Office of Public Affairs website.

    Are they really more concerned with stopping bad press than with actually informing students about what’s going on???

  15. Y'07 Says:

    http://yaledailynews.com/articles/view/20913

    all better… now people just need to explain that they’re using fake weapons. i can see it now:

    “hi, we’ll be fighting later in the play. the sword will be fake. when this guy pretends to die, don’t worry, he’s not actually dead.”

  16. Y'07 Says:

    http://yaledailynews.com/articles/view/20913

    all better… now people just need to explain that they’re using fake weapons. i can see it now:

    “hi, we’ll be fighting later in the play. the sword will be fake. when this guy pretends to die, don’t worry, he’s not actually dead.”

  17. SmackEm Says:

    Want to wack real people on the head with swords and feel inspired by ancient techniques of slicing a skull open into two parts? You just missed the Harvard-Radcliffe Kendo 2007 Shoryuhai that took place last weekend. http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~kendo/

  18. SmackEm Says:

    Want to wack real people on the head with swords and feel inspired by ancient techniques of slicing a skull open into two parts? You just missed the Harvard-Radcliffe Kendo 2007 Shoryuhai that took place last weekend. http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~kendo/

  19. nox Says:

    y08 – could not agree more. And don’t even get me started talking about people like Edgar Letriz, who in my opinion is the perfect incarnation of a Kafkaesque bureaucrat. “You know, I would really like to help you, because that’s my job, but my hands are tied by the system. It’s really too bad, because I would love to help. Really. I hope you understand. And now fuck off.”

  20. nox Says:

    y08 – could not agree more. And don’t even get me started talking about people like Edgar Letriz, who in my opinion is the perfect incarnation of a Kafkaesque bureaucrat. “You know, I would really like to help you, because that’s my job, but my hands are tied by the system. It’s really too bad, because I would love to help. Really. I hope you understand. And now fuck off.”

  21. ANP Says:

    It’s Betty T.’s last year! Let her have some fun. And anyway, when I was there there was an argument about Hegel and reality that ended up with some schmuck getting his foot shot. “There! Is that real? Would Hegel say that was real?!?!”

  22. ANP Says:

    It’s Betty T.’s last year! Let her have some fun. And anyway, when I was there there was an argument about Hegel and reality that ended up with some schmuck getting his foot shot. “There! Is that real? Would Hegel say that was real?!?!”

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