An ex-girlfriend, after the odd tête-à-tête, revealed to me that the first man she had ever kissed was now acting in the play in which we were both performing. My co- star. Not best pleased, I watched the two cavorting on stage (and increasingly enjoying themselves, I thought) and eventually asked my director to cut the scene from the script. ‘It’s not really necessary,’ I claimed, ‘it’s making obvious what should be felt as a undertone. And, well, they look really awkward.’ The last part wasn’t true. Worried though I was, our relationship lasted past the final curtain, since she could separate her acting from her life rather better than I gave her credit for. But the first part may have held some water. The Stage Kiss is usually the most sexually explicit action to take place on stage. Equus aside, most productions don’t go in for full-on nudity or sex; it gives the game away, reveals something that should be intimate, private. In Edward II, which was recently performed in Oxford, Gaveston’s affair with Edward is referred to obliquely using the snide comments of peers and the tearful lamentations of Isabella. At first the audience take these treacheries and tears with a pinch of salt – a king and his male courtier having an affair? Surely not! But add a kiss, and any ambiguities are lost. These people are clearly shagging. And this is about as explicit as we’re going to see. The kiss then does what any action in a play does; it reveals, makes explicit, adds to our understanding of the characters, and their relationships. But very directly. The onstage kiss is overt, removing any subtlety. When we see two characters brushing lips, we rarely imagine anything beyond the obvious. The passion can be varied, the location, even the length – but just as in real life the kiss is, to an observer, an entirely one- dimensional act. It’s a kind of shorthand for: ‘Yes, they like each other.’ This can be potent. A character coming upon two other characters kissing can be led down all sorts of erroneous paths by the cackling spectre of misinterpretation. But more often the Stage Kiss is little more than soft porn to spice up the action. Directors use the kiss as something shocking and visually explicit to rouse the audience’s interest. To see a play where the writer, or director, feels he can do without a kiss is rare; it can be conducive to a fuller and more complex picture. Without the obvious, our various interpretations of the subtle can blossom. What’s more, I won’t have to worry any more about of my girlfriends and their onstage romances.By Timothy Sherwin
In September, the Forward — a weekly publication widely regarded as the essential, independent source of news, arts, and opinion for American Jews — asked readers to nominate Jews, age 21 and younger, who are working to make a difference locally or globally. Forward pared the nominations down to 10 young people, including Harvard student Rebecca Kantar ’14.Kantar is founder of Minga, a nonprofit organization that aims to combat the child sex trade in the United States. “When we were 14 and high school freshmen, my friends and I learned that the average age of entry into prostitution in the United States was estimated to be just 13,” said Kantar. “The fact that any teenagers were trapped in the sex industry sickened me.”After raising more than $35,000 for an organization helping exploited teens in the Philippines through “small community events” like yard sales, the Newton, Mass., native and her crew decided to form their own advocacy group. Dubbed Minga — which means “the coming together of a community to work for the betterment of all” in an indigenous South American language — the nonprofit dedicated itself “to combating the child sex trade in the United States,” Kantar said. “We began speaking at local schools and encouraging students to hold awareness-raising events in their communities.” From those beginnings in 2007, Minga has grown into “the only nonprofit organization dedicated to combating the child sex trade by harnessing the power of teens,” she noted. Since its inception, Minga has raised $110,000 “to educate and empower 10,000 youth.” Next for Minga: a 2012 campaign aimed at enlisting the travel industry in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation of children.For more information.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today announced a $5 million grant for the Vermont National Guard that could result in the largest solar energy project in the state and one of the largest in New England.“This project will not only help the Vermont National Guard reduce its electric bill and carbon footprint, but will be a major step forward in moving our state toward a greener economy which relies more and more on sustainable energy,” Sanders said.“There is little doubt in my mind that in the years to come the energy mix in this state will be very different than it is today – with a far greater reliance on sustainable energy. I hope that this project becomes a model for what can be done and a catalyst for further action,” he added.Sanders is the chairman of the new Senate Subcommittee on Green Jobs and New Economy. He secured the $5 million in the 2009 Department of Defense appropriations bill.Sanders thanked Major General Michael Dubie, the Vermont adjutant general, for the guard’s support of the project and for its “willingness to help make the Vermont National Guard a leader in this state in sustainable energy.”Although the project is still in the design phase, it is likely that the centerpiece will be a large array of solar photovoltaic cells at the Vermont Air Guard’s facilities at the Burlington Airport to generate a significant amount of the facility’s electric power.“As President Obama has made clear, and as many political leaders have stressed for decades, we must fundamentally transform our energy system. We need to move aggressively to energy efficiency so we use less fossil fuel, and we need to develop such sustainable energies as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and others,” Sanders said.“As we make that energy transition we will not only improve our geopolitical position in the world and reverse global warming, we also will create, over a period of time, millions of good-paying jobs throughout our country.”
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