#FACON23!

The Fulbright Association Conference schedule is live! I’m honored to be jetting to Denver later this month to rep my alma mater NYU Tisch School of the Arts where I also teach part-time, and grateful to have received a Tisch Adjunct Professional Development Grant to attend. I’ll be giving a 60-minute talk entitled “Happy Accidents: How a Mistakenly Published Play Forced Reforms in British India”.

My abstract: In 1860s India, Bengali playwright Dinabandhu Mitra wrote the play Nil Darpan (Indigo Mirror), an exposé of violent abuses committed against malnourished Indian farm workers by powerful British indigo dealers. With help from a Christian missionary the play was translated into English and shared with the office of Bengal’s Lieutenant-Governor Sir John Peter Grant. Grant approved a few copies to be printed to share with colleagues; instead, hundreds were mistakenly printed and distributed to Parliament members in England, outraging and embarrassing the British Raj. But would the amusing debacle help bring positive change and food security to Indian laborers? These events are well-known but have often been mythologized and misrepresented. Stanley will provide his own findings from Indian, UK and US newspapers of the day.

Rise, Roar, Revolt

I’m so happy to share that my article “Calcutta 1908: Apocalypse Now” has been published in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed scholarly journal Democratic Communiqué as the featured critical commentary.

Can theatre and film help spark an armed revolt? I believe they can, and that they did, specifically Indian theatre artists and India’s first silent filmmakers, in the capital of British India in 1908, in response to the Partition of Bengal and the systemic sentencing of children to public floggings.

My article is, in my view, a timely exposé of crimes and human rights abuses committed by the British Empire that have largely gone unreported in the West, but which are increasingly coming to light in the news and in pop culture of late. I’m not condoning or condemning revolutionary violence. We all have our positions on that, usually on a case-by-case basis, and that’s okay. I’m eager to shine a light on this history.

I’m really excited to share this slice of my research as a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar in India. It is, I daresay, in-depth, yet it is only one part of a much larger story I’ve written.   

Democratic Communiqué focuses on “cultural artifacts, media and imperialism, media’s relatedness to social movements,  and the power of media to convey varying versions of the same event simultaneously.”  It’s housed on the ScholarWorks server at Umass Amherst

You can find it at the link below. I hope you’ll check it out. 

Continued at https://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1196&context=democratic-communique

Theatre History Needs You

Plays & Players turns 100 years old this season. We’ve gotten a matching grant of $10,000 from the Wyncote Foundation. Matching grant means — you got it — we have to match it in order to get it. So we need to come up with $10K in a hurry. Rather than pulling an NPR and demanding “any amount, even as little as $50” during their elitist pledge drives, which makes you want to permanently switch to WYSP for your morning drive, we figure we’ll just ask 1000 people to each give us just 10 bucks, one time. That’s why this campaign is called 10 for 100. That’s not $10 a year for 100 years or anything like that. We just want $10 from you. You can easily and quickly donate your $10 by going to this donation page.

I loved Plays & Players Theatre in Philadelphia from the moment I walked into the 1911 lobby of this former acting school turned theatre back in fall, 2008.  My first thought was, nice place but is there a ghost? Actors are highly superstitious people, and any good old theatre has a requisite benevolent ghost on staff.  I was delighted to learn that Plays & Players is blessed with not just 1 ghost but 3 ghosts.

I also love history; especially US history and especially film and theatre history, so I was naturally drawn to this historic institution first as a fan, then as a board member and now as one of its 3 current  playwrights-in-residence along with Jeremy Gable and Brian Grace-Duff.  Plays & Players has an illustrious history, including bringing the first works of Susan Glaspell (Trifles) and one Eugene O’Neill (Before Breakfast) to Philadelphia back in the 19-teens.  Bevan & Trzcinski’s Stalag 17, a comic drama set in a German POW camp,  premiered here in 1949 before moving to Broadway and then becoming a hit Hollywood film, and then becoming the inspiration for 1960s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes (yep).   Philly native Kevin Bacon also performed one of his earliest roles on this stage back in the 1970s.

Today another facet of Plays & Players that I love is its commitment to producing 1 world-premiere by a Philadelphia playwright every season along with the classics and modern classics you’d expect. This current season features the hit Pardon My Invasion by local playwright Joy Cutler (it got raves) coupled with upcoming hits by August Wilson (Joe Turner’s Come and Gone) and Tom Stoppard (Travesties).

Where was I? Oh right, Plays & Players turns 100 years old this season.  We’ve gotten a matching grant of $10,000 from the Wyncote Foundation.  Matching grant means — you got it — we have to match it in order to get it. So we need to come up with $10K in a hurry.  Rather than pulling an NPR and demanding “any amount, even as little as $50” like they do during their elitist pledge drives, which makes you want to permanently switch to the nearest corporate Top 40 station for your morning drive, we figure we’ll just ask 1000 people to each give us just 10 bucks, one time.  That’s why this fundraising campaign is called 10 for 100. That’s not $10 a year for 100 years or anything like that. We just want $10 from you.  Right now.

You can easily and quickly donate your $10 by going to this donation page.

Many thanks and Happy Thanksgiving,

Jeffrey Stanley