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November 16, 2005:

It happened one night

By Amy Sennett ’06

When you see a naked man on stage before 9 p.m., it’s going to be an interesting night. That’s how an attempt to discover thrills outside of Princeton’s bipolar Thursday-Saturday social scene began on a rainy Friday night in October.

The daredevil exhibitionist appeared in a performance of “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” at Theatre Intime. Created by the Neo-Futurists, an experimental theater company in Chicago, the show was an outrageous attempt to perform 30 short plays in 60 minutes.

The spectacle began even before the house lights dimmed as the house manager stuck audience members with absurd nametags like “Her sister is the pretty one.” Two emcees then guided the audience through the selection of plays from their “menu,” producing a unique collage of performances.

“Everything is much more organic because you have to go with what the audience is giving you at that moment,” said cast member Rebecca Gold ’09.

The show’s tone ranged from ironic in “It’s a breeze,” in which four actors celebrate the joys of being “young, white, straight and male”; to riotous in “No Tech! No Tech!” in which the actors turns guns on the enraged director; to simply silly in “Bright Region of the Heavens,” which features the pale, white behind of a female cast member.

Between moments of slapstick humor and riotous laughter, the show made powerful statements about race, homosexuality, AIDS, and war. The result can be an uncomfortable arrangement of very serious plays following extremely funny ones.

“I could have done completely funny, but I tried to get a diverse array of styles and messages,” said first-time director Alex Limpaecher ’08. “To attract the audience to listen to your deep message, you have to attract them at a superficial level.”


THE NIGHT’S DAMP and foggy weather created the perfect atmosphere for the 11th annual presentation of the silent movie Phantom of the Opera by the University Chapel Choir. The crowd of nearly 400, mostly freshmen and their parents visiting for the weekend, were treated to viewing the 1925 film on a 15- by 20-foot projection screen, accompanied by organist Michael Britt.

Arriving audience members were greeted by members of the University Chapel Choir dressed as Halloween spooks. At show time, lights in the chapel were completely extinguished and choir members, dispersed among the pews, recited an eerie, almost unintelligible chant from the time of the Plague. A piercing scream echoed from the balcony, and the organ erupted into Bach’s Tocata in D Minor. As the piece finished, the Phantom came to life on the big screen.


LATER THAT NIGHT, Santana-inspired rifts floated out of the front door of Terrace Club as students slipped inside to hear the sounds of The Friendship, perhaps Princeton’s most eclectic band.

Taking extended solos on hits such as Santana’s “Black Magic Woman,” the band used a mélange of classic rock – “California Dreamin’ ” crossed with “Stairway to Heaven” – to showcase their talent. But their set list also included a diverse group of tunes including a cover of a recent hit, “Feel Good Inc.,” by the animated British group Gorillaz.

The Friendship’s strength lies in its differences. Members hail from Morocco, Australia, Pakistan, Los Angeles and the exotic state of Indiana, and while some are classically trained, others never played an instrument before reaching Princeton.

“We all like the music we play, but we also like different types of music, so we bring different tastes together,” said Sean Gleason’08, The Friendship bassist.

Kieran Ledwidge ’08 and Miles Miller ’08, who play violin and guitar, respectively, jammed together with Gleason for the first time last spring. Soon they had picked up Tofik Kolade ’08 on the saxophone and Hicham Alaoui ’08 on the darbouga, a Middle Eastern drum. The group discovered Alaoui when he unexpectedly added rhythm to Ledwidge’s violin performance at a Forbes College open-mike night.

“It was more magic,” remembered Gleason. “He put the most incredible beat behind classical music, and suddenly everyone was vibing.”

That kind of inventive fusion of styles also attracted trumpeter Malik Saunders ’08 and vocalist Emad Atiq ’09.

This fall the band has played at Forbes brunch, a Quadrangle Club semiformal, Café Vivian and finally Terrace – their “make or break show.”

“At brunch people are eating and at Quad people are mingling, but with this people were here for us,” Gleason said. “It was incredible.”

Amy Sennett ’06 is a Woodrow Wilson School major from Milwaukee, Wis.