Living In “Schmigadoon”!

This week, we continue our conversation with Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, a tenured professor who has been fired from, and is now filing a lawsuit against, Linfield University, which would prefer to try to silence its critics rather than address the serious accusations of sexual misconduct against current and former members of Linfield’s board of trustees. Featuring: a special appearance from Washington Post theatre (and “Shipoopi”) critic Peter Marks; comic bestiality, William Goldman’s observation about what the real drag of a story can be; nostalgia for ancient things called “video stores;” shout-outs to In The Heights, Brigadoon (and its modern counterpart Schmigadoon!), Fiddler on the Roof, The Music Man, Ben Franklin in Paris, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lerner & Leowe, Cabaret, and Sweeney Todd; and most fundamentally, important childhood connections to great musicals of the past. PART ONE OF OUR CONVERSATION CAN BE FOUND HERE. (Length 16:00)

Firing The Messenger

Cultural observer and embattled professor Daniel Pollack-Pelzner (who has appeared on the podcast before discussing Mary Poppins‘ racist imagery and the queer narrative of West Side Story) discusses his $4 million lawsuit against Linfield University, which fired him for publicizing the serious accusations against…four members of the Board of Trustees at Linfield University. Featuring the disgusting nature of “himpathy;” how the helpful acronym “DARVO” articulates the process by which institutions betray their trust; the risks of telling truth to power; Shakespearean (and musical theater parallels) in real-life social justice dramaturgy; the dangers of boards of trustees who account to no agency; whether we’re in a Tragedy, Comedy, Romance, or Musical; the possibilities of a happy ending; and why the people who shine a light on the problem are never the problem. PART ONE OF OUR CONVERSATION CAN BE FOUND HERE. (Length 25:54)

West Side Story

Remember live theatre? Remember when the big story back in late February was the controversial Ivo Van Hove production of West Side Story on Broadway? Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, a professor of Shakespeare, English, and Gender Studies at Linfield College in Oregon, and a contributing writer to the New York Times and Atlantic magazine, wrote an article for the latter entitled, “Why West Side Story Abandoned Its Queer Narrative,” and, in this interview recorded on March 3, 2020, discusses the merits of the van Hove production and his insights into the original narrative. Featuring the peril of picking one’s prepositional poison; how a dorky 50s musical speaks to modern concerns about racism and police violence against communities of color; the struggle for Tony’s body; the problems with “I Feel Pretty;” Jerome Robbins’ lost play; expressing Jewish identity in the 1950s through ethnic minstrelsy; how Arthur Laurents “improved” on Shakespeare in particularly troubling ways; the rightness of questioning problematic aesthetics; the casting controversy in the recent Broadway production; and, most importantly, the feeling that when you love something you want to know and discuss everything about it. (Length 34:51)

Mary Poppins Kerfuffle