Category Archives: School Papers

Zelda Fichandler

Dominant Voice in Regional Theatre

Zelda Fichandler has been honored with the creation of the award named after her. She was a dominant voice in regional theatre whose company was mixed race. Fichandler started three theatres and excelled in a variety of subjects.


Zelda Fichandler was a dominant voice in the regional theatre movement in the 1950’s. Her work includes oeping a stage with a mixed-race resident company during “a time when the National Theatre closed its doors rather than integrate” (Glabraith). Arena Stage was planned and built with a classmate, starting from an abandoned movie house to its permanent home as two parts-the Arena and the Kreeger (Fichandler). Fichandler’s company was the first to have toured the Soviet Union and “Arena won the first regional Tony Award” (Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance: Zelda Fichandler).


Fichandler was born in Boston and was raised in Washington, D.C. since she was four. She was Helga in Helga and the White Peacock when she was eight and when she was eleven she won an essay contest in the Washington Star on how she wanted “’to be different people.’ It wasn’t really to be famous or rich, I said, but it was to show people ‘what other people could be like’” (Fichandler). Her father died without ever seeing the Arena and Fichandler says that “I don’t think he knew that I was going to land in theatre.”


Zelda went to Cornell where she excelled in piano and learned Russian. She made money translating Russian to English. She read Chekhov and took classes about Soviet civilization. It was a class when Edward Mangum said to her, “Do you all know that the professional theatre in America consists of [ten] blocks on Broadway and nothing more? Touring shows, a lot of community theatre, nonprofessional. How does this sound to you? How does this seem to you” (Fichandler).


In Washington they found an abandoned movie house that the converted into a 247-seat arena. Mangum and Fichandler had to raise $15,000 dollars to renovate the old movie house. “There was this economic  fallacy which we bought into—that it would be cheaper because it didn’t have flats and drops” (Fichandler).

They started planning their permanent location while they were in their second “home” called the Old Vat by their costume designer, Jane  planning their permanent location while they were in their second “home” called the Old Vat by their costume designer, Jane Stanhope. She had just been to England and seen the Old Vic and so name it the “Old Vat” because it was a “brewery and there were all these beer-making kettles lying around” (Fichandler). Mangum was intrigued with the arena stage because he saw Margo Jones’. “[I]t  was the intimacy of the form that caught his imagination” (Fichandler).  The Old Vat sat 500 people and was not air-conditioned. They were there for five years (Fichandler).

In October of ’61 the Arena was built and in 1970 the Kreeger joined it. “I prefer the Arena. I think I can do anything in there and it invites a more expressionistic, a more poetic discovery of the play” (Fichandler). In 1973 the company toured the Soviet Union.  She realized that “you can’t do everything in the Arena” because of one of the plays she saw there (Fichandler). “So the Kreeger serves its purpose,” Zelda Fichandler says. “It allowed us also to do plays where only 500 people a night need come, instead of 832, so maybe we could do our riskier plays in there” (Fichandler). In 1990 she stepped down from the Arena to be the “director of New York University’s graduate acting programme” (Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance: Zelda Fichandler).

The Arena won a Tony in 1976. In 1968 her production of The Great White Hope was “the first regional theatre to transfer a show to Broadway” (Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance: Zelda Fichandler).

The Fichandler Award

The Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society created the Zelda Fichandler Award.  It was established “to recognize an outstanding director or choreographer who is making a unique and exceptional contribution to the theatre through work in the regional arena” (Stage Directors and Choreographers). The first recipient  was “Jonathan Moscone of California Shakespeare Theater in Orinda, California” (Stage Directors and Choreographers).


Zelda Fichandler’s accomplishments as a director and a woman is best described by the woman herself. “I get asked quite a bit why women excel at running theatres. I don’t think that’s so much the case [anymore]. In the beginning of the movement, maybe, but I think there are more men than women now. Perhaps ‘we girls’ started our own because men wouldn’t hire us, didn’t trust us as leaders, or to manage money” (Fichandler). “As the director/producing director of Arena, Mrs. Fichandler has directed more than 50 plays herself” (Sweeney). These include The Crucible by Arthur Miller, The Seagull by Chekhov, and A Doll House which was written by Henrik Ibsen (Sweeney).




Works Cited

Faculty Directory. n.d. November 2012. <;.

Fichandler, Zelda. Zelda Fichandler is the founder and long-time producing director of Washingon, D.C.’s Arena Stage. She currently heads the graduate school of acting at New york University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She served as TCG president from 1993 to 1995. 2001. November 2012. <;.

Glabraith, Susan. Zelda Fichandler galvanizes artist directors at the Zelda Fichandler Awards. 31 10 2011. November 2012. <;.

Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance: Zelda Fichandler. n.d. November 2012. <;.

Stage Directors and Choreographers. 2012. Novemaber 2012. <;.

Sweeney, Louise. Zelda Fichandler Looks for `Main Event’ In Each Play She Directs. 4 April 1990. Article. 26 November 2012.


Benjamin Britten and the “Ceremony of Carols”

This is another paper I had to write, but this one was for my Choir instructor because I missed two concerts from being sick. Please enjoy!


Ceremony of Carols, everyone knows about them or at least heard of them, but how much do we know about their creator. We don’t often think about the life of the composers, taking the time to listen to the music and that is all. Benjamin Britten was an interesting figure whose childhood did not suggest his genius and school experiences that bothered him. With this paper I hope to explore his life and then compare and contrast two choirs performing the Ceremony of Carols.

Benjamin Britten was born in 1913 and was the youngest of four children. His parents were a dentist and a singer/pianist. His controlled his life until she died in 1937. Britten composed numerous songs before he was ten, though his school days were standard for the time period. It appeared that he was not bullied in school because “he was a keen cricketer” (Benjamin Britten, Brett, Phillip). He passed the Associated Board Grade eight when he was thirteen after beginning viola lessons at the age of ten. His teacher, Edith Alston, encouraged concert attendance in Norwich.

He had one hundred opus numbers under his belt by the age of fourteen, but his mother failed to bring his accomplishments to a wider audience. His teacher had two beliefs the first of which was “that you should find yourself and be true to what you found. The other was his scrupulous attention to good technique” (Britten, Sunday Telegraph, 17 Nov 1963). He entered a public school in north Norfolk during the month of September during 1928. He was known to be outraged by the bullying the other boys went through. His music master also “disparaged his composition” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). He coped with several mechanisms including letters to his mothers, suicide talks in his diaries, and psychosomaticism. This would follow him into the rest of his life.

He attended the RCM with a scholarship due to The Birds, A Wealden Trio and several more pieces. Britten was dismayed “at the ‘amateurish and folksy’ atmosphere he encountered” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip) while at school. He was taught piano by Arthur Benjamin and composition lessons from John Ireland, but seemed to cause defensiveness in Ireland and the lessons were “portrayed as a dismal failure” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). Though later he admitted “Ireland nursed me very gently through a very, very difficult musical adolescence” (Letters from a Life, A1991, p.147). Britten did manage to increase his knowledge of repertory while he was in London. He won the Cobbett Chamber Music Prize in his second year with Phantasy in F minor for a string quintet. In 1932 it was performed professionally for the first time at a Macnaghten-Lemare concert along with “two-part songs on poems of de la Mare” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip) which was his first published work. After Phantasy and Sinfonietta he wrote Soirees Musicales and Rossini among others. Soon he heads off to North America.

He left to head to Northa American in 1939 to try his hand. Britten had several reason to go abroad such as the fascism that was growing over Europe and the war that “seemed inevitable” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip) as well as two people leaving in January and the pace of the career he was trying to determine his direction. He visited Canada, New York, and Catskills where they visited Copland. They also visited Elizabeth Mayer on Long Island and she became a surrogate mother for Mr. Britten. Young Apollo reflected Britten’s emotional issues while he was in America. He also wrote several pieces that showed the confusion he was feeling about his homosexuality.

A year later he wrote Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo which he dedicated to Pears and “can be taken as a further gesture towards this reclamation of the physical” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip) and “the official inception of their partnership” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). The Musical Times said that it had “no thematic connection” to the other songs (Benjamin Britten; Mason, Collins). During the time in 1939 Britten finished the Violin Concerto while Britain went to war. The work has a ominous feeling in the beginning and ends in nostalgia which was “so different from the ebullient Piano Concerto of little more than a year earlier” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). Britten completed many works by the end of 1942 and he matured as a person as well as an artist. He also found a “certain level of acceptance among others and, more important, in himself about his sexual orientation” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip).

In April of 1942 Britten returned to England only to realize that he had to contribute something that was not only new, but powerful to Brittan’s musical culture. His choice was to use opera. The opera was used “to locate the problem as one of society’s vicious treatment of difference” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). However his return was anticlimactic, though it could have been worse. He was called up for non-combatant duties, though he was set free because of appeal, possibly because of “Britten’s continuing work for the BBC” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip).

Because he had a case of the measles Britten did not have as many compositions made, nor published around this time. After abandoning some projects and being off work he composed the Serenade for tenor as well as horn and strings. He kind of invented his own form of pastoralism with a bit of the “darker side of medieval experience” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). Serenade was a solo vocal piece. In Peter Grimes “lies a chilling choral recitative rehearsing the theme of opressioon” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). Because of the success of Peter Grimes he wrote The Holy Sonnets of John Donne, which was “another cycle written for Pears” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). This piece was for tenor and piano, but since it was unprinted when The Musical Times Mason said that he “forbear to criticize on the mere strength of the dim memory of an unfavourable impression of one performance” (Benjamin Britten (Continued); Mason, Colin). It is also a rather dark piece that was written while Britten was ill.

Britten worked on a variety of operatic work where he even conducted his own. By doing so he created a family or a clique that “was often, and sometimes brutally, disturbed when members were suspected of giving less than their best” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). This family became a very positive music force in Britain that “encouraged Britten’s work immensely” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). After quite a few works, some of which were well received, Britten worked with Cozier on Let’s Make an Opera that had a grand total of “four audience songs” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip) in 1949.

Britten’s success as a composer drew the Arts Council to him, commissioning an opera from him. Billy Budd showed him exploring and toying with changing the output of his operas from a “focus on oppression” to an “exploration of authority” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). This authority and its issues was a point of “importance and also confusion to homosexual people” including his issues over parents who are just like society in the censorship of homoeroticism (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip).

Britten and Pears had an idea almost a year before the very first performance to turn A Midsummer Night’s Dream into an opera. They arranged the play “as a libretto” and used the play to pursue “his interests in the difficulties and dangers in human relationships” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). The play was unconventional in the casting and setting. Instead of Athens he chose Nocturne to set the play as well as many other changes.

During his 50th year on the earth he visited Moscow and conducted Sinfonia da Requiem as well as some others at a Prom concert in 19623. He was proclaimed as the “greatest composer alive” by Hans Keller in public as a tribute. He visited the kabuki theatre as well as attended the gagaku orchestra “whose sounds were to reverberate in Curlew River” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). In 1959 he made a drama set in East Anglia. He wanted to remove harmonies from Western music in order to get back to its roots in Curlew River.

In 1964 Britten’s doctors ordered rest. He decided in 1969 that he would make a televised opera based on a lesser known James ghost story. In 1976 he received a life peerage and people have either felt that his acceptance was either ironic or puzzling. However he was ill and had to be visited by a bishop in order to take communion. In November he “took leave of his closest friends” and died in the night between the third and fourth of December in Peter Pears’ arms.

For the compare and contrast portion of this essay I have chosen to review Merbecke Choir and the Antioch Chamber Ensemble’s rendition of the Ceremony of Carols.

I shall start with Merbecke Choir, whose diction was appalling. They are a mix choir of men and women that stood in two lines across the stage. The only two songs from Ceremony I understood what they were singing in were “Wolcum Yule” and “This Little Babe.” The only reason I understood the lyrics of those two were because I have sung them before. I understood that they were in a setting similar to that of DuPont Chapel, but that is where diction is the most important. Also, not everybody pronounced “wolcum” the same. I heard one girl in the first row sing “volcome” instead of “volcume” as it should have been pronounced like the others. No one was off pitch, however, which was a good thing.

Next is the Antioch Chamber Ensemble’s performance. The Antioch Chamber Ensemble is an all female vocals choir with six members. I found that their diction was phenomenal. I could understand almost everything they sang. During “Wolcum Yule” I did notice someone go sharp.  There were other little pitch problems that, had I not been in choir I would not have noticed. I was glad that I could understand everything. It does make everything quite a bit easier to handle.

Over all they both did a good job at certain parts of Ceremony of Carols.  They were both beautiful to listen to; it was just the two main issues I had needed to be voiced.

Benjamin Britten was an amazing composer who did so much and had such a talent for “his harmony, which is often commonplace, but so brilliantly handled that it becomes original” (Benjamin Britten (Continued); Mason, Colin). The Ceremony of Carols is only one of the great man’s accomplishments to British music. If he had not died in 1976 he would be ninety-nine years old and would have been able to witness the Holiday Pops concert with pride.





1)      Philip Brett, et al. “Britten, Benjamin.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. 28 Dec. 2011 <>.

2)      Benjamin Britten

Colin Mason

The Musical Times,

Vol. 89, No. 1261 (Mar., 1948), pp. 73-75

Published by: Musical Times Publications Ltd.

Stable URL:

4, January, 2012


3)      Benjamin Britten (Concluded)

Colin Mason

The Musical Times
Vol. 89, No. 1263 (May, 1948), pp. 139-142

Published by: Musical Times Publications Ltd.

Stable URL:

7, January 2012

4)      Benjamin Britten (Continued)

Colin Mason

The Musical Times
Vol. 89, No. 1262 (Apr., 1948), pp. 107-110

Published by: Musical Times Publications Ltd.

Stable URL:

7, January 2012

5)      Ceremony of Carols, Sheet Music Plus. Copyright 1997-2012

7, January 2012



6)      Photo by: Coster, Howard, 1930s-nitrate negative (NPG, London)

7, January 2012


7)      A Ceremony of Carols (Benjamin Britten) Part 1,

 Merbecke Choir, 15 December 2011; Youtube.

7 January 2012


8)      A Ceremony of Carols (Benjamin Britten) Part 2,

Merbecke Choir, 15 December 2011; Youtube

7 January 2012


9)      A Ceremony of Carols (Benjamin Britten) Part 3,

Merbecke Choir, 15 December 2011; YouTube

7 January 2012


10)  The Antioch Chamber Ensemble- Ceremony of Carols, Part 1- Benjamin Britten

Antioch Chamber Ensemble, 10 February 2010; YouTube

7 January 2012


11)  The Antioch Chamber Ensemble- Ceremony of Carols, Part 2-Benjamin Britten

Antioch Chamber Ensemble, 10 February 2010; YouTube

7, January 2012



Cultural Similarities and Differences in Oroonoko

This is a paper I wrote for my 17th and 18th Century Lit class. Since, I am proud of this paper I figured I’d put it up on my portfolio.

As we read Oroonoko we noticed that Aphra Behn drew from what she witnessed and was a part of in South America. I would like to use the focus of this paper on the cultural differences between the African slaves and the slave owners when Oroonoko and Imoinda are sent to Surinam. Then I would like to provide you, dear reader, with my reaction to the blatant differences and similarities.

First, the struggle between Oroonoko and his grandfather over Imoinda, the lovely lady that both of them had fallen for. There is a blatant similarity between Oroonoko and his grandfather and the king’s relationship with his son(s) in England. It is common knowledge that the king would get the woman because he is king and so Oroonoko’s grandfather got Imoinda to join his harem. Oroonoko was stonewalled and his beloved had to give herself to his grandfather, though she felt that her virginity had been given to Oroonoko.

This is something that we do see rather often in monarchies when there is a struggle between father and son, so it was pretty accurate. The only issue is that it hits a little to close to home. The king pretty much gets whatever he wants.

The second item on my list is the naming of possessions. When Oroonoko arrived in Surinam he was renamed Caesar by his owner. This was a way of taking away his rights as a human being. Imoinda was not renamed, as if her humanity didn’t matter because she was a woman. It is not a common instance in our culture in America to rename humans after they’ve already had one for their entire life. We do it with pets, but not with humans. Oroonoko became nothing more than a possession to be bought and sold over and over again. He wouldn’t make it that long, but that is what would have happened. There also seemed to be a lack of a language barrier, because in the first part Oroonoko would not understand being cunning, so it would not be that easy for him to understand the people of Surinam.

The third object on the list is the clear difference in the two cultures is the relationship between men, women, love, and death. The African belief is that if a man loves his wife and he believes that she would not be taken care of he would kill her himself, or if he tired of her he would kill her himself. If he did not love his wife, the man would have someone else kill her or leave her in a worse situation. The white owners would just leave him or her be. The wife may be bruised (until she died sometimes) but she would still be around when he died. It would not matter whether she would be in a good situation or not.
This is most potent when Imoinda begs Oroonoko to kill her when she does not think that she could escape with her man and her child. He was shocked that she suggested it before he did, but they were going to go through with it. I personally did not expect it. Often times in slavery the slaves would adopt the master’s beliefs. It was obvious that he did not do this, despite the fact that it would make it easier for them all.

This was one of the more unusual books than what we had read previously, though I greatly enjoyed it. The writing was easier to handle than Jonson and it went smoother than Evelina, so I almost wished I could go back in time and read it again with the class. The substance of Behn’s characters combined with her vague beliefs in slavery made for an interesting read. It seemed like she was giving the pros and cons of it, though we’d say that the cons outweigh the pros. The novel worked because it made you think and question things without being obvious. It also helped the people of its time understand other cultures. This is definitely one of the highlights of Behn’s career.

Sparknotes; Oroonoko Characters; 19 December, 2011
Sparknotes; Oroonoko; Study Guide; 19 December, 2011
Oroonoko; Aphra Behn.