Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 15, No. 4. March 27, 1952
"The Rivals" Was—Very Good Fun — Drama
"The Rivals" Was—Very Good Fun
Top marks to Drama for The Rivals. Two years of serious dramatic art, Coriolanus and Lucrece, are enough. This time the choice of play even allowed for those philistines who did not bother to go and as a result missed a good evening's entertainment.
Sheridan can be played two ways: with a precise exquisiteness and with a cheerful gusto. Old Vic used the first method for "School for Scandal" and the Drama Club wisely chose the second. This gusto, obvious enjoyment and pace mude "The Rivals" good fun from start, to finish.
How easy it pick any play to pieces. Pauline Kermode arched an eyebrow overmuch and Mr Donovan's indecision and temerity was matched by his clothes and his wig which appeared likely to fall off any moment. Gavin Yate's profile is not quite absolute enough for the gallant figure he still managed to cut. This all suggests that the casting could have been more apt.
Lydia Languish (Anne Flannery) languished perhaps too much but the cast appeared to have been restricted in their own parts, to be wearing perhaps the character as thought out by their director, and Miss Flannery may have been under orders.
To pick out any stars would be a perilous undertaking. Squires Acres (Paul Treadwell) was the bucolic squire even from back view but the squire's heartiness is more natural than the Irish accent of that spurious gallant Sir Lucius O'Trigger which Gerard Monaghan maintained without fault. Who would chose between the Irate and doddery Sir Anthony Absolute and that pineapple of vigorous archness Mrs Malaprop? Minor characters Honest Thomas (Bill Sheat), Fag (Ian Free) and David (John Paterson) were characters not bit parts—not always a feature of Drama's productions.
A pity that the Concert Chamber was not packed each night but without reliable dramatic critics in our newspapers the public has no sound guide.
A Carp of Cavil
Next year would the Drama Club please note that the curtain of the Concert Chamber is a distraction when it is moved up and down during scenes.
The door to the Concert Chamber was shut violently at least four times, is this really necessary?
A Social Cocktail
Among those present: Professors I. D. Campbell and R. O. McGechan, executive member Paul Cotton and Miss Maloney, Salient's business and distribution managers John Cody and Michael Lenane, that well known philosophy student and University eccentric P. A. H., pupils from three Wellington Colleges, Bryce (in bandages) Harland, Pauline Hoskins, exstudass president K. B. O'Brien, ex-Salient editor and now staff member W. J. (Jan Austen) Cameron. There were others, of course, but what a galaxy.
For Mr Benda (and the Staff)
Because we are talking about the same thing from different points of view it is difficult to comment on Mr. Benda's letter. He sees truth subjectively ("who may hold their own views concerning truth"). Truth as an objective standard is not the same thing.
He first makes a point concerning the University as a corporate body. The University as a corporate body is supported because it may better avoid too deep a rift between a staff and student, it fosters the growth of common ideals and is related to Society as a unit and not as a College Council, a Senate, a Students' Association, individuals and organisations.
The failure of the University to retain its corporate life is probably explained but is not excused by the collapse of the surrounding corporate framework. This collapse is no reason to discard an ideal if that ideal is admitted as desirable.
Having decided that the University has little unity of life or learning it does not follow, as Mr. Benda appears to think, that the suggested solution in regard to learning is "decreed absolute truth." This becomes more clearly a confusion between objective and subjective truth when Mr. Benda implies that Salient's suggestions may imply that "the truth must be the same for all citizens." Subjectively each citizen must follow his own conscience but objectively, whether individually admitted or not, 2 plus 2= 4.
The point at issue is does the staff, or do the students, in fact have either an objective standard of truth or a subjective view of truth?
If we may judge by the historical approach to many speculative questions no truth is sought. No judgments are, in fact, made. This attitude can be contrasted with the empirical sciences where such judgments are forced on all who have anything to do with scientific theories.
Nor is the inculcation of absolute values desired but that is not the same thing as expressing an opinion as to the truth or falseness of any concept. It is, of course, impossible to be entirely impartial. Again it does not follow, as Mr. Benda suggests, that the expression of such opinion will mean a loss of impartiality.
He puts it better, and is quite right when he says that the failure is "perhaps in the direction of not making our choice more explicit to the students." The justification of a choice would, we agree, be essential. Salient's contention is, as he suspects, that no apparent choice is made, and we suspect that no choice has been made which could be made explicit or justified.
As to absolute values—not inculcation but acknowledgment, even of the view that there are no such things as absolute values would eliminate time-wasting controversy.
To suggest platitudinously that the University exists to seek the truth, or to seek knowledge, or to equip people for various walks of life is righteous cant. From Mr. Benda's letter it is clear that no one agrees why the University exists, and if that is so let us confess our confusion.
Does it not appear desirable to attempt to think our way out of the confusion? Our University gives no evidence of so doing and Salient suggested that most of the staff avoid such basic issues, if they do consider such issues, we the students, the other part of this Universitas, have little evidence of any such activity in the speculative portions of study and less in the field of University life, extra-curricular activity and administration.
—M. F. McI.
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