Michael Preston Announced as New Scrooge at Hartford Stage
Broadway World Connecticut
Hartford Stage announced today that Michael Preston will be taking on the role of Ebenezer Scrooge for the 20th anniversary of Michael Wilson’s beloved production of A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas. Well known to Hartford audiences from his six seasons with the company playing the larger-than-life Mr. Marvel, Michael Preston has performed on Broadway and internationally with the Flying Karamazov Brothers and is on the faculty at Hartford’s Trinity College. Preston follows in the footsteps of Bill Raymond, who retired last Christmas after 17 seasons in the role.
“Playing Scrooge is really a dream come true for me,” Preston said. “I get to pay homage to Bill but also make the role mine. I’m completely honored and humbled. A Christmas Carol is at the very generous heart of the Hartford community. With the 20th anniversary of A Christmas Carol, Michael Wilson’s adaptation is even more important in this particular world that we’re in – the idea that change is possible and that the spirit of humanity resides in even the most troubled being…
Preston, an Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance at Trinity College, served as co-director of Doug Elkins’ Fräulein Maria, a playful dance-imbued love letter to The Sound of Music, performed in New York, at Jacob’s Pillow, around the country and at Hartford Stage in June 2011. He also portrayed Egeus/Peter Quince in Darko Tresnjak’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in collaboration with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra in January 2014.
Preston is a member of the Shaliko Company, founded by Leonardo Shapiro, in New York City. He has also worked with John Sayles (including the films Eight Men Out and Matewan), David Cale, Wynn Handman, and Theodora Skipitares. From 1991 through 2000, Preston toured internationally as one of the Flying Karamazov Brothers, including in three different runs on Broadway. He collaborated on and performed nine different shows with the Flying Karamazov Brothers, ranging from the post-modern tragedy Le Petomane to an update of Room Service (winner of an L.A. Critic’s Award in 1998). They were nominated for an Olivier award in London for Best Comedy in 1994. Preston directed their show Life: A Guide for the Perplexed and co-directed Peter and the Wolf with Barbara Karger, which was choreographed by Doug Elkins, in Amsterdam in 2001.
Trinity’s downtown campus debut set for Dec.
Hartford Business Journal
Hartford’s Trinity College will open its first of two downtown campus sites in Constitution Plaza in December.
The private liberal-arts college said Friday it will occupy 10 Constitution Plaza, formerly home to the defunct Back9Network golf-lifestyle television network.
About a year after opening downtown, Trinity plans to house graduate studies and certificate programs on the third floor of adjacent One Constitution Plaza, the school said. Trinity’s main campus is located in the city’s South End.
Hartford’s JCJ Architecture is the project designer and Enterprise Builders is general contractor.
As part of its downtown campus, Trinity also announced a collaboration with state-run Capital Community College in which faculty and pupils of both schools will conduct research to address local challenges.
Trinity Dean of Faculty Tim Cresswell chairs the programming/planning committee that created the Liberal Arts Action Lab (LAAL) to mobilize liberal arts-based skills and knowledge about Hartford to drive social innovation and deepen civic engagement.
Jack Dougherty, Trinity professor of educational studies, will be LAAL’s inaugural faculty director. A full-time LAAL director, Megan Brown, will come aboard in August from the University of Washington, where she is a doctoral student…
Future Nostalgia and the Unicorn of Left Unity
Economic & Political Weekly
Once upon a time, there was a Left Front government in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal. It was in power from 1977 to 2011, witnessing and surviving the slow decline of the Soviet Bloc and the transformation of the People’s Republic of China into a capitalist state with authoritarian characteristics. The survival of the Left Front, its continued relevance in Indian politics, its resilience in West Bengal and in the smaller state of Tripura, even as it oscillated from ruling coalition to opposition in its other “stronghold,” Kerala was the lifeblood of political discussion on the left for a long time, especially after the fall of the Soviet Bloc, and the alleged discrediting of communist or quasi-communist parties the world over…
The occasion for these reflections is provided by two books, both effectively dealing with the beginnings and ends of the Left Front in West Bengal. One is straightforwardly and directly personal, Debraj Bhattacharya’s Exploring Marxist Bengal c 1971–2011, a good-humoured, if at times self-indulgent, memoir that narrates a progressive disillusionment with the CPI(M), the “left,” and with claims to “progressive” politics among his generation (and mine; Debraj was in my cohort in the history class of 1993 at Presidency College, Kolkata).
The second, No Free Left, by Vijay Prashad, promises no less than a narrative and analysis of “the past of Indian Communism and an assessment of its future,” which again cannot be written, as he tells us, invoking Antonio Gramsci, “without writing a ‘general history of a country’” (p 15). Prashad’s account comprises a series of banalities written in prophetic tone. His self-appointed task, then, is by far the more ambitious of the two exercises in left-leaning (self-)analysis. He has been “involved in the Communist movement for more than a quarter of a century” (p 15), and therefore has served enough time to write about his beloved movement and party. Prashad makes a pretence of dealing with other points of view: he argues with popular histories that were intended to introduce India to first-time readers; cites outdated texts and castigates their authors for their inadequacy while ignoring more recent work; and he sprays guilt-by-association graffiti on the reputations of fellow populist authors: “Both [Sunil] Khilnani and [Ramachandra] Guha are Nehru’s men” (p 13). Are they, really?…
10,000 Comic Books Donated To Trinity Library
For more than 150 years, Hartford’s Watkinson Library has been a research hub. Today, the collection housed at Trinity College includes 200,000 volumes dating back 10 centuries, including an 11th-century Greek Bible, a first edition of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” a book about Egypt commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte, John James Audubon’s “Birds of America.”
Now a few more legendary characters fill the shelves at Watkinson: the Silver Surfer, the Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
The library recently received a donation of about 10,000 comic books, 200 graphic novels and several comics reference books from a Minnesota collector. Richard Ring, Watkinson’s head curator and librarian, said these are the first comic books in the library’s collection.
“This is a nice starter set for us. It’s exciting. We hope it’s the tip of the iceberg,” Ring said. “I hope they inspire people connected to the college to think, if they have a collection, what they are going to do with it. … If they don’t, it’s still a nice thing to dig into.”
Ring said another promised gift, of several thousand science-fiction novels from a Connecticut collector, will enhance the comic-book collection. “Comic books and science fiction have similar reading cultures,” he said. “I view these as documents of the pop culture of its time…
When Universities Swallow Cities – By Davarian L. Baldwin
The Chronicle of Higher Education
In March 2016, as New Haven struggled to balance its shrinking budget, Mayor Toni Harp joined alders and local unions calling for a State Senate bill to help fine-tune Yale University’s property-tax-exempt status. Universities and their medical centers are registered with the Internal Revenue Service as 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit groups. Because of the public services that higher-education institutions provide to surrounding communities, their property holdings are exempt from taxation in all 50 states. The Connecticut bill, SB 414, would allow the state to tax university properties that generate $6,000 or more in annual income. Another bill, SB 413, which died in committee, sought to tax unspent returns on Yale’s endowment.
Over the past 40 years, Yale had become the single largest commercial power in New Haven, as part of a national urban economy largely driven by universities and hospitals. Harp celebrated Yale’s central role “in the city’s transformation,” but she warned that while cities rely “more and more on eds and meds,” New Haven leaders must “be clear as a policy matter about the fiscal impact of this transition.” New Haven felt the need to adjust its relationship with Yale University, which had gone from an influential urban stakeholder to a tax-exempt municipal powerhouse…
Davarian L. Baldwin is a professor of American studies at Trinity College, in Hartford, Conn. He is working on a book version of this “UniverCities” research.