Author: Emma Whitford

Reality blurred in “Twentieth-Century”

Where is the line between acting and reality?

That’s the question that Warren, played by Logan Luiz ’20, and Brown, played by Jeffrey Nolan ’20, grapple with in “The Twentieth-Century Way.” The one-act play was written by Tom Jacobson and performed on Oct. 27 and 28. The show was put on by Deep End APO, the St. Olaf theater honors society, and directed by Chaz Mayo ’18 and Ian Sutherland ’18. 

In what begins as an improvisation exercise amongst two actors auditioning for the role of “confidence man” – or con-man, for us laypeople – Warren and Brown take on a number of different characters that tell the story of two actors hired by the Long Beach police department to out and arrest gay men in 1914. 

Of Warren and Brown’s many characters, my favorites were the journalist and editor at the Sacramento Bee (obviously). The hurried speech, thick, old-timey accents, aggressive cigar smoking and disgusting clamor for the “truth” had Mayo’s style written all over it. In fact, I think I’ve watched him perform a similar improvisation in the Manitou Messenger office about once a week.

Despite the overwhelming number of transitions, Luiz and Nolan did a good job distinguishing between each scenario. Each new character was marked with a small costume change and a new accent. While the accents needed some work, they were at least different enough to distinguish who was who.

As the show continued, it became more and more difficult to determine which characters were on stage at any given time. It was an intentional choice by Jacobson to make it difficult to tell whether Warren and Brown were still improvising or if they were in fact in a bathhouse, a police department or a court room. The gradual, building fuzziness between scenes was brilliant, and it set the audience up for the I-don’t-know-what’s-real-anymore ending. Luiz and Nolan pulled it off beautifully.

The most impactful part of the play was by far the last twenty minutes, during which I was extremely confused, but enjoying it. Warren and Brown begin to blur the line between staging homosexual acts and actually enjoying them, and the real message of the show comes through – that acting sometimes isn’t acting.

“The line between the actor and role blurs and turns hazardous,” Brown said. “Have we become our parts? Gotten emotionally involved?”

What I also found compelling was the show’s more subtle commentary on love, intimacy, pleasure and morality. A specific physical tension between Warren and Brown was evident from the first scene, and while I originally interpreted it to represent clashing masculinity between the two men, the tension developed into a more panicked, sexual intimacy that both characters worked desperately to put on the other. The show also highlights how seduction can be used by one party to exercise power over another, and how the intimacy of less-gratuitous physical acts such as kissing can be incredibly revealing and intimate. The two characters spend the entire show doing anything but kissing, which makes their kiss at the end incredibly impactful. 

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

ADC and SGA will not censor music at events

After weeks of deliberation amongst the Student Government Association (SGA) executive team, student leaders decided that music at Pause dances and during other SGA-sponsored events would not be subject to censorship.

“We brought it up in an SGA exec meeting – we brought it up at three meetings, it was a super long discussion,” Music Entertainment Committee (MEC) Coordinator Kjersa Anderson ’18 said. “After a really close vote, we decided to not censor Pause dances.” 

Earlier in the semester, MEC and the SGA executive team considered a policy to censor the N-word in DJ sets during Pause dances. According to Anderson, SGA had been approached by a student of color who said that they were uncomfortable with the idea of white students singing the N-word at Pause dances. The comment sparked a conversation about Pause dance safety and possible language censorship was just one idea. 

SGA executives knew that a music censorship policy would need to be enforced across the board, but that posed potential issues for other branches of SGA.

“We can’t be hypocrites and censor one thing and not another, but that would include fall and spring concerts, and that just wouldn’t really work out,” Anderson said. 

After Dark Committee Coordinator Sam Brunclik ’19 agreed. 

“We were thinking that … as SGA, if we decided to censor music at Pause dances, we should hold ourselves to the same standards that we hold DJs to,” he said.

The conversation about how to ensure students are comfortable at Pause dances is ongoing.

“We’re definitely trying to think of ways we can address those concerns without sweeping them under the rug,” Brunclik said.

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

Students screen Iceland-made docs

25 days. That’s how long the Media and The Environment class had to write, shoot and produce four mini-documentaries that detailed the impact of climate change on Iceland. The result? A range of shorts that informed and inspired the audience to examine their role in climate change and their responsibility as an international traveler. 

Led by Director of Film Studies Linda Mokdad and English professor Bjorn Nordfjord, the class spent the month of June travelling through Iceland, talking with locals and environmental experts to hear their concerns about the ever-changing climate. The final projects were screened in Tomson Hall on Thursday, Oct. 19 to a full auditorium. 

The first film was produced by Chaz Mayo ’18, Henry Miller ’20, Samantha Roback ’19 and Kathryn York ’19 and called “What We Live On.” In ten minutes, the group introduced us to two characters: Filipp, a young, humble sheep farmer and Páll, an abrasive yet endearing fisherman. Both characters relied heavily on the land for their livelihoods, and both are at risk of losing their jobs if climate change continues. What I appreciated most about “What We Live On” was that it was character-driven, and because I was invested in the lives of Filipp and Páll, I was motivated to do something about climate change. The film was interview heavy and the editing could have been smoother, but the choppy transitions and commentary from the cameraperson made the entire film more human, adding to its appeal.

While “What We Live On” was character driven, the second film, “Ferdamadur,” produced by Ali Griffin ’20, Kierra Lopac ’19, Leni McAlister ’18 and Xandi Swedberg ’19, took a more big picture approach. The film focused on the impact of the tourism industry on Iceland’s cities and landscapes. The unanimous conclusion was this: the influx in careless tourists is damaging to the land, and the country does not have the infrastructure to accommodate and control the swell in tourists. While the message was clear, I wasn’t motivated to really do anything about the issue. The interviews portrayed the locals as crotchety and I felt as though the only way I could help was to not visit the country, period. 

Johnny Goodson ’20, Cookie Imperial ’19, Erika Malpass ’19 and Suzanna Liddle ’18 produced by far the most educational film, titled “The Canary in the Coal Mine.” The film detailed the impact of climate change on one of Iceland’s greatest natural wonders: glaciers. The interviews and careful selection of information made the piece extremely informative. My only critique is that the producers made incredibly safe editing choices, and if the film had been any longer it could run the risk of being too dry. 

The last film was my favorite. It was produced by Jack Schoephoerster ’19, Kelsey Halverson ’20, Hannah Martens ’20 and Sam Carlson ’19 and titled “Gluggavedur” – Icelandic for “window weather.” The editing gave the film an experimental feel, and Carlsen wrote the music to go along with the film. Near the middle of the film, the picture jumped back and forth between shots of tourists and empty landscape to the rhythm of a chaotic piano soundtrack. It was all very stressful, but I’m pretty sure that was the filmmakers’ intention. Also, I was a sucker for the ending, in which the filmmakers interviewed other members of their class about why they were motivated to make documentaries about climate change. The uplifting music, hopeful message and familiar faces in the B-roll left me feeling pretty inspired about the entire project. 

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

St. Olaf signs deal with Under Armour

Last May, St. Olaf Athletics signed an agreement with Under Armour giving the athletic apparel brand exclusive rights to outfit 27 St. Olaf athletic teams with uniforms and athletic wear. The partnership will last for five years – until the spring of 2022 – and St. Olaf will purchase Under Armour products at a discounted rate. 

The deal only applies to St. Olaf Athletics, meaning other St. Olaf gear, such as the T-shirts and hoodies in the St. Olaf  Bookstore, are unaffected. The deal is facilitated by BSN Sports, who will serve as a liaison between St. Olaf and Under Armour, and St. Olaf teams will transition from their previous brands to Under Armour over the next couple of years. The only exception to this agreement is that St. Olaf may purchase apparel from another brand if Under Armour cannot provide it.

“If there’s something that we need that Under Armour can’t provide, we would purchase it through another vendor,” Athletic Director Ryan Bowles said. “So – swim team swimsuits. [Under Armour] doesn’t do swimsuits, so we will continue with Speedo.”

Previously, St. Olaf teams purchased uniforms and apparel from a variety of brands, including Nike and Adidas. 

“[The deal] allows us to get a little more bang for our buck, if you will, because we’ll be buying exclusive to one brand,” Bowles said. “It also allows us to get a better handle of our brand, meaning that the logos and those types of things will look universal across the stuff that we have.”

Bowles hopes the perks of the deal will extend beyond student athletes. 

“Within the contract, we’ll hopefully be able to do more for our student athletes and just enhance what they’re able to get,” he said. “And then there’s going to be some fun things. We’ve got these Ole Pride events, maybe raffling off different Under Armour gear to students that come.”

In true St. Olaf style, Under Armour was chosen by an “Apparel Task Force” made up of Bowles, Associate Athletic Director Mike Ludwig and a number of men’s and women’s coaches. 

“We looked primarily at Under Armour and Nike,” Bowles said. “Financially, the deal with Under Armour was better for the College … customer service was a big part of it as well, the ability to deliver the products on time, and high quality.”

The group convened to first determine what St. Olaf Athletics was looking to get from a potential partnership, and then put in a request for an RFP – a Request for Proposal. BSN Sports then worked with brand representatives to pitch possible options to the Apparel Task Force, who chose three finalists and eventually settled on Under Armour.

“I think [the deal] is still kind of in its infancy – things are good so far,” Bowles said. “We really just want our student athletes to feel a positive benefit from this move, and I’m confident that this will allow us to do more for them, and I’m confident that the whole campus will see a benefit from it.”

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

Newly renovated Holland Hall reopens for fall semester

Holland Hall – dubbed “Hogwarts” by many on the St. Olaf campus – reopened in late August, almost three months after the projected completion date of May 31, 2017. Academic departments have moved back into the new office spaces, now located around the building’s perimeter, and classes are being held while landscaping work on the east end is being finished.

The new space boasts open staircases, gingham wingback furniture and vaulted ceilings with exposed iron beams. Holland had previously lacked student study spaces, but the new design incorporates multiple lounges and waiting areas for professor office hours. The sixth floor previously housed small offices, but is now a large, open loft space, rivaling the fourth floor of Regents Hall of Natural Sciences.

This loft space is called the Carol and Ward Klein Learning Loft, after the donors who gifted $1 million to the project during St. Olaf’s For the Hill and Beyond fundraising campaign.

One of the primary goals of the year and a half long renovation was to “maximize natural daylight and views throughout floor,” according to the original design team presentation. The previous design inefficiently carried light through the building, leaving the exterior classrooms bright and the interior space dimly lit. The new interior resembles Regents in that it carries light effectively from one end of the building through to the other. The white walls provide a reflective surface which brightens the entire building.

St. Olaf partnered with the Minneapolis-based architectural firm Perkins+Will to complete the project, estimated to cost about $13 million. The firm has taken on a number of notable projects in the Minneapolis area, including the renovation of the Capella tower lobby in downtown Minneapolis and has also completed higher education projects at the University of North Dakota.

Originally built in 1992 to house the administration and sciences, Holland was renovated in 1968 to include the academic departments it currently holds – political science, history, sociology/anthropology, economics and philosophy. According to the St. Olaf website, academic buildings are on a forty year rotation for renovations (for reference, residence halls are renovated every nine years). Holland missed its turn after the College’s Strategic Plan placed an emphasis on revamping residence halls, but the project was made possible after the College refinanced its debt to afford the cost of the renovation. 

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote