The University News (Irving, Tex.), Vol. , No. , Ed. 1 Wednesday, October 31, 2001 Page: 1 of 8
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4 October 31, 2001
Arts & Entertainment
The University News
Sharp directing, acting accentuate comedic text
The Merchant of Venice opens successfully, highlights Shakespeare's wit
by Michael Lyons
A &E Editor
Allow me to begin by stating I know
nothing of the intricacies of theater; nor
will I feign knowledge of the lofty critical
terminology one might use to praise (or
decry) a dramatic performance.
I do, however, know this; The Merchant
of Venice is a marvelous production. Stu-
dents who take the time to attend a perfor-
mance of it will find rewarding.
Allow me to continue by stating that
those who laugh aloud when reading the
comical moments in a Shakespearean text
are only kidding themselves. He's funny,
don't misunderstand me, but is so in a
smile-to-yourself sort of way, (Take that,
lofty critical terminology.)
When viewing a live performance of
one of Shakespeare's works, however, the
shoe is on the other foot. One can't help
but laugh aloud when the comical mo-
ments are executed with skill and preci-
sion (as timing, it seems to me, is most
critical to Shakespearean comedy).
Both the directors and the players of The
Merchant of Venice adeptly grasped this
concept; thus, the performance incited all
sorts of audible laughs, chuckles, et al.
Directed by Kate Farrington and
Anjeanette Stokes, Merchant is technical ly
a senior studio; but it is presented m place
of the mainstage production usually per-
formed in the fall and directed by Patrick
Left to cast the production themselves,
Farrington and Stokes did a splendid job
choosing the proper actors for the appro-
First, a technical comment: costume de-
signer Mary McClung and set designer
Tristan Decker employed a minimalist ap-
proach to the production. Though simple,
the costumes and the sets nicely accented
the action on stage and allowed for unfet-
tered movement by the players.
And now, let us move on to the dramatis
The principal actors were superb. Sean
Lewis captured Shylock's vehement
Jewishness quite well. At the end of the
performance, however, I felt sorrow for the
old Jew, wrongfully slighted by hateful
Christians. What a shame; Jesus, after all,
was a rebel Jew, was he not?
The demure Meagan Burdette brought
the character of Portia to life. She deliv-
ered her lines crisply and carried herself
Justin Lemieux gave an earnest, polished
PHOTO COURTESY OF KRISTY M. FRIDGE
Bassanio (Justin Lemieux, leftj and Antonio (Terry Swiney, center) await Shylock's
(Sean Lewis) answer to a deadly contract in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.
performance as Bassanio. Terry Swiney
was equally polished; and he understood
Antonio's character well, portraying it with
The lesser actors proved the glue hold-
ing together an already drum-tight cast.
A few of the standouts: Angela
Conneran dominated the character of
Narissa, winning over the audience with
her coy glances and warm vocal inflec-
tions. Ross Olsaver was hilarious as
see Merchant on pg. 5
A farcical disgrace
by Terry Swiney
Hellenica, a farcical satire of The University of
Dallas' core curriculum, had its one and only per-
formance in Lynch this Wednesday and it was the
worst piece of tripe I have ever seen in my life.
The performances by Sean Lewis, Patrick David
and some freak named Fritz were so god-awful I
would swear they only had an hour to rehearse. The
play wasn't even funny; it was embarrassing; the
funniest part, I thought, was the clever heckling that
Mike Maiella was whispering under his breath at
the pathetic performers.
N ow Mike Maiella ...lie's a funny guy! He should
have been in this play! He would have made it rock'
Did you know that he does stand-up comedy?
Anyway, Hellenica is apparently atradition at UD,
started by its playwright and self-impressed star,
Peter Heyne. But in order to be atradition, does not
a performance have to be embraced by its commu-
This production was more like a drunk uncle ig-
nored at family reunions. Nobody who was any-
body showed up at this intellectual vacuum, and
those who did thought it was either in bad taste or
poorly executed. I thought it was both. Actually,
add to that list the adjectives moronic, sloppy, unin-
spired, childish and the work of the illegitimate chil-
dren of Satan himself. That more accurately de-
scribes the way I felt leaving this production
Peter Heyne, the Corky St. Clair of the UD drama
department, traveled half way around the world just
to try and upstage Kate Farrington and Anjeanette
Stake's stunning production of The Merchant of
He failed. The Merchant of Venice still continues
its run while Hellenica w as forced to close that very
afternoon. Mr. Heyne himself even came to see
Merchant twice. At least he can admit defeat
So, in summation, Hclletiica w as mind numbingly
bad, and its leader Peter Heyne is still wanted by
Campus Safety for some Beowulf \\\c\&qy& last year.
If you see him please call (972)- 554- 2921. Thank
character of Shylock
by Kristian Jaime
Martin Yaffe, professor of philosophy and
religious studies at the University of North
Texas, spoke as the keynote speaker at the con-
ference on Shakespeare's The Merchant of
Venice in conjunction with the university
Drama Department production in a speech
titled The Shocking Character of Shakespeare's
Merchant of Venice.
The conference, which included Dr. David
Sweet as moderator, and Dr. Scott Crider, Dr.
John Norris, Joyce Tarpley, Kate Farrington,
and Anjeanette Stokes as speakers, occured
Saturday, Oct. 27 in the Gorman Lecture Cen-
"Shakespeare is an actor's playwright;'
Yaffe, whose speech focused on Shylock and
his embodiment of the Jewish character in The
Merchant of Venice, said.
Yaffe, author of Shylock and the Jewish
Question, noted that central to the plot is the
longstanding hatred between the Christian mer-
chant Antonio and the Jewish moneylender,
"Shakespeare sees how both Jewish and
Christian teaching—both the To rah and the
Gospels—recognize need for both justice and
mercy, that is, for statesmanlike moderation,"
Yaffe, who was invited to see the perfor-
mance Saturday evening, affirmed that the
character of Antonio made Shylock the target
of his one-man crusade.
"In short, the serious teaching of the play
may be said to be the critique of Antonio's re-
ligion when it is understood—or rather, mis-
understood—as saying that all human beings
really need charity,'' he said.
Horror films class added
by Jodi Dickens
The spring semester will her-
ald an expansion in the offerings
of the psychology department Dr.
Scott Churchill, psychology pro-
fessor will teach a new course
titled Horror Films.
Students will view and discuss
such films as Frankenstein,
Nosferatu, The Birds, The Exor-
cist, and Alien.
Dr. Churchill hopes students
will learn a lot about the psycho-
logical and social subtexts of cin-
ema, as well as the aesthetics of
the medium itself.
"I very much anticipate good
class discussions, and I always
learn a great deal from the stu-
dents in the class, so this should
be an all-around great learning op-
portunity;' he said.
While the upcoming course has
not been formally announced, Dr.
Churchill has admitted to "leak-
ing" the news to a few of his cur-
Shawn Waugh, a freshman psy-
chology major, plans to audit the
"I really like horror films and
think it would be interesting to see
the psychology behind them;' he
Junior psychology maj or Katie
Loufus said the course sounded
extremely interesting, and she
hoped to relate the lessons in class
to her interest in clinical psychol-
The experience of film is psy-
chological to the extent that the
language of cinema is composed
of images and the subtext of just
about every horror film leads one
into psychosexual issues, Dr.
Churchill said. He added that the
literary aspects of film are there,
too, but true film analysis is not
the analysis of the story, but rather
of the film itself as a signifier.
Dr. Churchill is by no means
new to the movie world. He has
been doing film reviews for Irv-
ing Community Television Net-
work since 1984. He is the senior
film critic for the weekly show,
About Towne, which airs Wednes-
day at 6:30 p.m. on cable channel
Although Dr. Churchill con-
centrates on film reviews, he also
provides theater, opera, sym-
phony, and concert reviews for the
network and is currently the En-
tertainment Segment Producer.
The horror films class will meet
every Thursday from 6:30-9:50
p.m. and will run from January
Although the course is only a
two credit offering, Dr. Churchill
will also offer three one-credit
courses, any of which could be
combined with the horror films
course to make a total of three-
credits for an elective. Students
may choose from a French Film
class, a Zoo Habitat Research
class, or an Art Therapy class.
Dr. Churchill has opened the
class to all students in hope of
drawing many students whom he
would otherwise not get to meet.
"The only pre-requisite is an
open mind;' he said. "I promise
to provide the rest."
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Watson, Thomas & Danaher, Julie. The University News (Irving, Tex.), Vol. , No. , Ed. 1 Wednesday, October 31, 2001, newspaper, October 31, 2001; Irving, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth201349/m1/1/: accessed November 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Dallas.