When I saw an email alert from Wellesley High about Wednesday’s “Power Puff” game earlier this week, I figured the “d” had been dropped from “Powder” on purpose to make the flag football contest sound less girly. But now I realize why the “d” was really dropped, after the Raider senior girls gave up almost three dozen points in falling 35-6 to Needham High in the annual pre-Thanksgiving game.
(For more background on the game, check out WHS Bradford Editor in Chief Olivia Gieger’s fine “Powder Puff: Past, Present, and Future”)
Regardless of the score, the game was a sight to be seen, with a huge crowd filling the sunny side of the stands at the new field under a bright blue sky.
The Wellesley Police-coached Raiders moved the ball well on their first possession, but Needham picked off a wobbly pass in the Red Zone and never looked back.
We streamed the start of the game on Facebook Live. We need a zoomier lens, but you’ll get a feel for the good spirit at the event in the video below.
On the surface The Waiting Room, Lisa Loomer’s dark comedy presented by Wellesley College Theatre, is about the practice/torture of Chinese foot-binding, the charming Victorian custom of corseting, and that most modern of body morphs, breast implants. All are ways women have sought to make themselves more attractive to men, all can make a girl lose her very self, or become downright physically unhealthy, which are the deeper themes the play explores through its commentary on the politics of pretty and the consequences of compartmentalization. Directed by Nora Hussey, and played to a sold-out house at the Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre, the play ended its successful run last Sunday.
Picture a room where three women sit, each from a different century, all waiting to hear those apparently timeless words, “The doctor will see you now.” Forgiveness from Heaven, played with humor and a housewife’s shrewdness and practicality by Wellesley College senior Christine de Jesus Ahsan, is an 18th-century Chinese woman. Her problem: her feet were bound as a child, re-formed through pain, blood, and pus into erotic objects designed to please the husband to whom she was promised. But as she sees it, that was just her mother’s way of making sure she married well. The real problem for Forgiveness is that after all that work, she’s losing a toe, and that just won’t do in the bedroom. It sort of ruins that de rigueur lotus flower look. The loss of an actual part of her body is almost an aside, since her mincing steps won’t be significantly shortened without the toe. The real problem is the lost eroticism, gone with the digit. Pity Forgiveness’ husband, who is completely sexually turned off by such a turn. After all, those feet belong mostly to him.
Victoria is a nineteenth-century woman, her waist coaxed with a corset into an impressively tiny 16″. Victoria has been diagnosed with hysteria. Victoria’s books have been taken away from her. Victoria has been given the rest cure, it’s reliance on the withholding of all intellectual and social stimulation nearly enough to drive her mad. She bites people. She sneezes. The sneezing becomes especially pronounced after she and her husband have marital relations, which seem none too enjoyable or even consensual. Oh well, after having a couple of ovaries removed and a nice hospital stay, she was just about as right as rain, but all too soon it was time to go home. It seems, her husband reported, that in her absence their young daughter had started sneezing rather often. He couldn’t say why. In her first production at Wellesley, junior Maggie Lees allows the audience to see Victoria’s inherent spirit and intellect beneath all that corseting and indoctrination, as well as her very real fear that her daughter is in great danger from daddy dearest.
Then there’s Wanda. Leave it to a Jersey girl to be tough but sensitive. She’s brassy, she’s outspoken, and thanks to silicone implants, she’s got big boobs. The boobs she’s always loved and used to her best advantage. It’s the recent diagnosis of breast cancer that she can do without. She doesn’t currently have a man in her life and her health insurance situation is dicey, but don’t tell Wanda what’s best for Wanda. She’ll decide that for herself, thanks very much. Wellesley College junior Juliette Bellacosa, who is carrying a double major in Art History and French, made the audience look beyond the double D’s her character carried and drew us into Wanda’s inner heart, a place where Wanda herself rarely ventured. Wanda was the character who changed the most, and Bellacosa showed us her courage, fear, sense of loss, and empathetic nature hiding beneath all that swagger and loud desperation.
The men in the play — husbands, doctors, and health industry executives — are duplicitous, conniving, manipulative, greedy, and as hysterical as the women they accuse of being so. One doctor is able to show what looks like empathy toward Wanda, but you wonder if it’s only because he, too, has been recently diagnosed with cancer. So does it even count as empathy, or is it really just empathy’s empty, copycat cousin, mirroring? Meanwhile, Forgiveness is left in the hospital literally to rot, her husband coming to visit her only in her dreams.
The set designs by David Towlun, three-time recipient of the NH Theatre Award for Best Scenic Design, were simple and spare, in contrast to the complicated lives of the three women. Hospital curtains, running on a simple ceiling track system, were whisked open to dramatize spilled secrets, and drawn to keep prying eyes from seeing everything that was going on back there, on the operating table, on the settee, in the examining room. The curtains at once obscured facts and revealed truths, their back and forth and brisk whoosh as they ran along the tracking lending a clinical air to the most private of moments in the play.
It was a dark comedy that never dared lighten up. How could it when taking on female subjugation and body shame, male privilege, and big pharma? The laughs were there, nonetheless, but The Waiting Room wasn’t written as a vehicle for laughs. Original and witty, Lisa Loomer’s The Waiting Room brought the audience into centuries of realization (horror?) that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Directed by Nora Hussey; sets by David Towlun; costumes by Chelsea Kerl; lighting by Bridget Collins; sound by George Cooke; stage manager Jaime Zhang; Choreography by Cordelia Zhong.
With: Maggie Lees (Victoria); Christine de Jesus Ahsan (Forgiveness from Heaven); Juliette Bellacosa (Wanda); Danny Bolton, Member of Actor’s Equity Assoc., (Douglas); John Kinsherf, Member of Actor’s Equity Assoc., (Larry); Jamaal Eversley (Ken); Woody Gaul, Member of Actor’s Equity Assoc., (Oliver); Yu Jin Ko (Blessing From Heaven); Kyiah Ashton (Brenda).
Ensemble: Alexandra Beem, Electra Carzis, Emma Johnson, Alexandra Shook, Joyce Wang, Maia Zelkind
This from roving reporter Will Lorion, Bates School student:
Hi, my name is Will. I am eight years old and I go to Bates. I am part of Cub Scouts Pack 185. Our Pack slept on a the battleship U.S.S. Massachusetts in Fall River this weekend. There were 72 kids and Dads that went. We slept on the same cots that the sailors slept on. It wasn’t that comfortable, but it was a lot of fun. Some of other interesting things were the ship’s brig, the barbershop, cobbler, machine shop, bakery, the wardroom, and even an ice cream fountain on board. There were also lots of displays about other U.S. Navy ships like the U.S.S. Arizona and U.S.S. Missouri.
We also met retired Petty Officer Armand Vigeant who served on the Battleship for four years during World World II. He’s the 94 year old guy in the picture with us in front of the awards.
I hope we go back again.
Wellesley High School junior Ashley Watts will perform in the role of Clara in the Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre’s 29th annual production of The Nutcracker. Ashley auditioned in September and earned the performance opportunity of a lifetime to join the professional cast at The Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston’s historic Theatre District (Nov.25 – Dec.4) and The Strand Theatre in Dorchester (Dec.9 – 18). Both theaters provide the perfect venue for a recently refreshed version of Mateo’s production of the holiday classic featuring wondrous sets and costumes by noted scenic designer Laura C. McPherson.
Choreographed by Artistic Director José Mateo, and inspired by Tchaikovsky’s glorious score, Mateo’s Nutcracker brings Clara’s dream world to life with festive sets, sumptuous costumes, and spectacular dancing. Over 200 children, ages 6-18 from throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire, join Ballet Theatre’s skilled company dancers for 23 performances as Clara, Party Children, Mice, Soldiers, Polichinelles, Cherubs, and Angels. It is the only professional Nutcracker production in the area to hold open auditions for students outside of its own school.
Tickets for both theaters are $75, $52, $40, $20 and can be purchased through on-line for The Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont St., Boston or by phone at (617) 824-8000; or The Strand Theatre, 543 Columbia Road, Dorchester or by phone at (617) 354-7467.
A team of 50 students, Wellesley Middle School teachers, staff and families participated in the Best Buddies 5K Gobbler road race on Saturday morning in Milton. The event raised funds for Best Buddies programs, which support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. For the second year in a row, the WMS team was the top fund raiser, bringing in more than $3,500, plus everyone had lots of fun.
This year we are pleased to welcome our guest artist, 2-time Grammy winning Lauren Kinhan of the New York Voices to our Fall Jazz Night at Wellesley High. Lauren is an incredible talent and is bringing her professional trio to perform with the Rice Street Singers, 2:00 Jazz Band, and her own solo set. Currently they are working on a CD project featuring the music of jazz great Nancy Wilson.
You don’t want to miss a highlight of the concert — Wellesley High School’s own senior Scott Johnson will perform a duet with Lauren Kinhan.
The Wellesley Scholarship Foundation (WSF) is now accepting applications for the 2017-18 school year.
WSF provides college scholarships to residents of Wellesley attending undergraduate programs in the United States. A four-member committee of WSF trustees oversees the annual review and selection of scholarship recipients.
In 2015, WSF awarded $278,750 in need-based awards to 89 students.
Need-based awards: Need is determined, in part, using the CSS/Financial Aid Profile. All financial information is kept strictly confidential. Scholarship amounts have ranged from $1,000 – $9,000 annually and are awarded in June. It is necessary to re-apply annually for all need-based awards.
Community awards: WSF also administers applications for the Wellesley Hills Woman’s Club, the Kiwanis Club, the Wellesley Hills Historical Society, the Wellesley Merchants Association, the Wellesley Cancer Prevention Project, Sprague School PTO, the Wellesley Patrolmen’s Association, and the Wellesley War Memorial scholarship, among others.
Merit scholarships: WSF also administers applications for two privately endowed merit scholarships, the Margaret Daniels Scholarship for women and the Donald P. Babson Scholarship for men. Each year, a $3,000 scholarship is awarded to one graduating woman and one man, and is renewable for each of the recipients’ four years of college.mRecipients are selected based outstanding academic achievement and citizenship.
Applications are now available on the WSF website at WellesleyScholarshipFoundtion.org or at the Wellesley High School Guidance Department and Selectmen’s Office in Town Hall. Please note that application materials must be received by February 1, 2017. For additional information, please visit our website or contact Laura Hockett by email at [email protected]
MassBay Community College is mourning the loss of Dr. Bruce Jackson, a long-time faculty member and a leading forensic DNA scientist who died Thursday.
Jackson joined MassBay in 1993 and had served as chair of its Biotechnology and Forensic DNA Science program. He had won numerous awards for his work as a scientist and scholar, including a 1995 National Science Foundation CAREER Award, a 2008 Fulbright Award, and a 2011 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, Engineering Mentoring that was bestowed upon him at the White House by President Obama.
Jackson is considered a leading expert in forensic DNA science and related fields. In the early 1990s, he began to experiment with DNA markers to determine if ethnic-specific genotypes could link his paternal (Y-chromosome) and/or maternal (mitochondrial) lineages to their African groups of origin. Together with Dr. Bert Ely from the University of South Carolina, he formalized this research as the “Roots Project,” a nationally acclaimed effort that has helped link African-American families with slavery roots to their ancestral tribes and families in West Africa using DNA analysis.
During his time at MassBay, he mentored, taught, and helped launch the careers of forensic scientists, marine biologists, biotechnologists, researchers and educators currently working in the field.
Jackson was born in New Haven, Conn., the eighth of nine children. He received his B.S. in biology from the University of Houston; his M.S. in genetics from the University of California, Davis; his M.A. in molecular and cell biology from Brandeis University; and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from University of Massachusetts, Lowell. He received post-doctoral training at Boston University School of Medicine, where he was appointed to the research faculty in 1993. He leaves two children, Corey and Leah.
The Bruce Jackson Scholarship Fund has been established in his memory at MassBay Community College.
Both the Wellesley High varsity boys and girls teams will be heading to the Boston Garden on Sunday, January 8th as part of the Good Sports TD Garden Invitational. The teams will play back-to-back, with the girls playing the Lincoln Sudbury Warriors at 11am and the boys taking on the Needham Rockets at 12:30.
To guarantee the support of a raucous crowd for these two great match-ups, players are responsible for selling 800 tickets. Right now, tickets can be obtained through any of the Varsity captains. After Thanksgiving, at which time team try-outs will determine the roster, all Varsity players will be selling tickets.
Tickets cost $15 each, and we have contact info for the boys’ and girls’ varsity captains who stand ready to hook you up: Max Guiffre ([email protected]); Will Jackowitz ([email protected]); and Jack Waisel ([email protected]); Dorian Cohen ([email protected]); Leonora Sperling ([email protected]); and Kelcie Zarle ([email protected]).
Profits from this event go to a Celtics charitable organization.