Web Exclusives: On the Campus...

September 14, 2005:

Writing Triangle; Frist as host


Most campus groups took a break for the summer, but the Princeton University Triangle Club kept a small light of activity burning on campus through the recess. The club’s writing team continued work on the script for the fall 2005 Triangle Show even as its members scattered across the globe.

In June the writing team presented a first draft of its Hollywood themed script to alumni backers, whose feedback produced nine pages of suggested revisions. During July and August the writers rewrote skits, songs, and subplots; a core group of writers who remained in Princeton and New York directed the work of the others by e-mail.

Working on the script during the summer was not very different than writing during the school year, script coordinator Ben Fast said, since both jobs involve “sleeping a lot and sporadically e-mailing each other.” The absence of many team members from campus made communication harder, however.

“It’s not like at school where you can walk over to someone’s room and say, ‘Hey, can I read your scene?’ ” Fast said.

With a second version of the show in hand, seven writers took the script on Aug. 10 to a green rehearsal room at New York City’s Shetler Studios. A group of professional actors – most of them Princeton alumni – enacted the new script under fluorescent lights, then offered feedback. The writers compiled pages of notes to take to fall Boot Camp, an intense annual writing workshop planned for early September to whip the show into shape.

Unlike the revues of recent years, the upcoming production will be a book show, with a single story featuring one cast of characters. Art imitates life: Triangle describes the show, untitled as of the end of August, as “a race against time and studio politics as a producer and a director work to make a Best Picture film in only one month while also working out their differences.”


“NO FILIBUSTER, SORRY,” quipped Nick Allard ’74, former president of the Princeton Club of Washington, as he stepped up to address 150 undergraduate Princeton interns gathered for the opening reception of the Princeton in Washington summer program. Allard’s joke drew a groan from the students, not because they wanted long speeches but because they were attending a barbecue in Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist ’74’s backyard.

It was 33 days after the close of the so-called Frist Filibuster, a highly publicized student protest at Princeton against Frist’s proposal to ban Senate filibusters of judicial appointments. Many of the interns gathered in Frist’s backyard had taken part in the 384-hour protest – or in opposition to the protest.

Bill Richardson ’73, vice president of the Princeton Club of Washington, called the protest “the Princeton sense of humor at its classic best” and added: “That’s how I’ll always remember the University – very serious, but people had a lighthearted way of making a point.”

Frist said he would have moved on his proposed “nuclear option” if the Democrats had refused to compromise. But he insisted that the final Senate compromise, which allowed pending nominees to be confirmed but did not rule out a filibuster against future nominees, was a beneficial outcome for everyone.

The senator said he didn’t know much about the student protest at Princeton. “I didn’t really know what they were filibustering – I guess they were filibustering me,” he said.

Frist said he took an active role in national politics during his undergraduate years. He was part of the student group that campaigned for and initiated the University’s annual October break – created so that Princeton students could volunteer in political campaigns – and he spoke before the Board of Trustees on behalf of keeping ROTC on campus.

Courtney Mazo ’08, who had participated in the Frist Filibuster, said she had no qualms about attending the barbecue. Both encouraged students to become more engaged with politics, Mazo said. “This year, between the election and the Frist Filibuster, students were able to debate their political views,” she said. “But one of the good things about debate here [at Princeton] is it’s evenly divided.”

Alex Maugeri ’07, vice president of the College Republicans, said that although initial criticism of the student filibuster was muted, once a venue appeared for dissenting voices “there were tons of people who wanted to come out and support the senator.” Maugeri, who helped organize a counterprotest to the filibuster, said the campus “is fairly friendly to both political sides.”

Elyse Graham ’07 is an undergraduate fellow at Mathey College. She is studying art and nonfiction literature.