reed magazine logospring2006

into the limelight image


Although music, drama, and dance courses weren’t added to the official college curriculum until 1931, 1936, and 1968, respectively, drama and music clubs, as well as informal dance classes, flourished at Reed long before then. Reed students, if not some Reed humanities profs, seem to have understood since day one that the Athenians didn’t just read Sophocles’ plays—they performed them.

In fact, to fully approximate the Athenian experience, students in 1914 staged Antigone in the original Greek. Reed’s first yearbook (rendered in President William Trufant Foster’s favored “simplified spelling”), records their challenging undertaking: “To present in Greek . . . by inexperienst actors, before an American audience a play at once so fundamental and yet so remote from the motivs that stir us today seemd a task for supermen.”

Now, looking forward to its centennial, Reed also looks back to 1961, the year of its 50th anniversary, and also the year President Richard Sullivan (1955–1967) proposed plans to build a spectacular new center for visual arts, music, and drama.

Former Reed President Paul Bragdon (1971–1988) remembers that hopeful time in Reed’s history: “The early ’60s were a great growth period for American higher education,” says Bragdon. “Big dreams were being dreamt, some of which you wonder in retrospect how people ever could have had.” A newsletter published in 1965 by Educational Facilities Laboratories notes an undeniable trend toward improving fine arts centers, calling them hitherto “the Cinderella of campus facilities.”

Unfortunately for President Sullivan’s proposed arts center, the midnight hour struck just as Reed’s Cinderella was being fitted for her gown. “It all ended right around 1965, which is about when the college hit the wall financially,” Bragdon explains. In fact, the dream wasn’t totally abandoned until 1967; the 1965 and 1966 college catalog maps include dotted-line outlines of a state-of-the-art facility that never was to be (see “Big Plans”).

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Rehearsal of ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore


the Tables

worley imageLast year, theatre professor Kathleen Worley joined the cast of a professional production of Enchanted April in Portland, and found the traditional academic roles reversed. Instead of Worley sitting in the audience doing the critiquing, she was on stage as many of her Reed students watched her perform the role of Mrs. Graves, originated on Broadway by Elizabeth Ashley.

“I’m a member of Actors’ Equity and I still act when I can fit something in,” Worley says. “I think it’s important to keep in touch with what’s going on in your field, and to pit yourself against some of the problems that your students are facing. I need to do what I’m asking them to do.

“The first night, when one of my students was out there taking notes, I thought, ‘Am I really focused? Do I really know what I’m doing?’ One of my students told me later, ‘I was looking for some behavior that I would recognize as yours, that I had seen in acting class or when we talked, and I didn’t ever see it. And I realized that’s what acting is about, that you really step into another character.'”