AROUND THE QUADS
Midnight's Children Takes Apollo Stage
Humanities Festival To Accompany Royal Shakespeare Company Production
of Salman Rushdie Novel
BY ALEX SACHARE '71
The Royal Shakespeare Company production of Salman Rushdie’s
Booker Prize-winning novel, Midnight’s Children, will take
over the stage at Harlem’s historic Apollo Theatre for 12
performances from March 21–30. The play, written by Rushdie,
Simon Reade and Tim Supple, debuted in London in January and will
visit the University of Michigan from March 12–16 before coming
to the Apollo.
A scene from Salman
Rushdie's Midnight's Children, which opens at the
Apollo Theater on March 21.
PHOTO: MANUAL HARLAN
The evening performance on Saturday, March 22, has been designated
as Alumni Night. Alumni are being offered a 20 percent discount
off regular ticket prices, which range from $20 to $80, plus a $2
per ticket Apollo Theater restoration fee, for this performance
or the evening preview on Friday, March 21. Alumni only can receive
this discount (or a 10 percent discount to any other performance)
by calling the special Alumni Hotline, (212) 870-2537. Tickets,
including student prices of $10 with CUID and $20 for others, also
are on sale at the Apollo Theater box office, at the Miller Theatre
box office on campus and through Ticketmaster.
To enhance the theater-going experience, the University is conducting
a month-long Humanities Festival throughout March, with events including
dialogues, debates, readings and roundtables. The idea behind the
festival, most of which will take place at venues on and around
campus such as Miller Theatre, Altschul Auditorium, Casa Italiana
and Riverside Church, is to deepen the experience of viewing the
performance through an exploration of the ideas embedded in the
play with scholars, writers, theater artists and cultural commentators.
The festival will draw upon people in many fields, including law,
history, comparative literature, anthropology, cultural studies
and the performing arts.
Tickets for nearly all the Humanities Festival events are priced
at $5 and are available through the Alumni Hotline or at the Miller
Theatre box office. There also will be a panel discussion at the
Asia Society (Park Avenue and 70th Street) on Monday, March 17 (tickets
$10, $7 for society members), as well as exhibitions at the Leroy
Neiman Gallery in Dodge Hall and at the Apollo Theater.
Log onto www.MidnightsChildrenNYC.com
for the latest information regarding the stage production or the
In addition, Columbia’s Double Discovery Center is bringing
the excitement of the production to neighborhood high schools. The
DDC is coordinating visits by instructors in the Core Curriculum
and members of the Midnight’s Children cast to school classes
for in-class workshops about the play and the creative process.
Students then will attend a matinee performance of the play on Tuesday,
March 25. For more on the DDC component, please see page 15.
Columbia’s sponsorship of the RSC’s New York production
as well as the accompanying Humanities Festival, and the DDC’s
involvement, is the beginning of what President Lee C. Bollinger
envisions as an expanded role for the University in the arts.
“It is the responsibility of great universities to support
the arts. This unparalleled partnership among Columbia, the Royal
Shakespeare Company and the Apollo Theater will yield a unique educational,
artistic and community event,” said Bollinger, who will conduct
an interview with Rushdie on March 22 as part of the Humanities
“This is not simply a performing arts organization saying,
‘Watch this performance,’ ” Bollinger noted. “It
will be much more: the integration of the arts organization and
the University, great for the cultural institution and great for
“Universities and cultural institutions are natural allies
in seeking to understand the human condition. When they work together,
the best of both worlds are integrated and intellectual growth is
fostered through panel discussions, academic courses and lectures
that complement the artistic endeavor. Both art and the entire academic
community — including students, faculty and our neighbors
— benefit dramatically.”
Promotional material describes Midnight’s Children is described
in as a “kaleidoscopic tale of modern India, told through
the eyes of Saleem, born at the stroke of midnight on August 15,
1947, the moment of Indian independence from Britain. Swapped at
birth, his life becomes magically entwined with the destinies of
the twin nations — Pakistan and India — and he becomes
a symbol of his homeland.”
Dean Austin Quigley attended a performance of Midnight’s Children in London in January and returned enthusiastic about the
scope of the play and the performance of its star, Zubin Varla.
“As a theatrical event, it is exhilarating and fascinating,”
he said, noting that the production is every bit as rich and complex
as the Rushdie novel.
There will be evening performances from Friday, March 21, through
Sunday, March 30, with the exceptions of Sunday, March 23, and Wednesday,
March 26. In addition to the student matinee, there will be matinee
performances on Sunday, March 23, Saturday, March 29 and Sunday,
Rushdie is scheduled to participate in two Humanities Festival
events: the interview with Bollinger and a discussion with co-playwright
Reade about moving the novel to the stage, both on Saturday, March
22. Cast members will participate in an open table rehearsal on
March 26 at the Black Box Theatre in Alfred Lerner Hall.
Among those scheduled to participate in festival events, in addition
to Bollinger, Rushdie, Reade and cast members from the play, are
Pulitzer Prize-winner writers Michael Cunningham and Margo Jefferson;
faculty, including Edward Said, Manning Marable, James Shapiro ‘77,
Nicholas Dirks, Eduardo Machado, Peter Awn, Todd Gitlin, Coco Fusco,
Partha Chatterjee, E. Valentine Faniel, Gauri Viswanathan, Patricia
J. Williams, Sreenath Sreenivasan and Akeel Bilgrami; and many other
Topics will include the creative process, theater and writing;
colonialism, independence and beyond; contemporary culture; censorship,
race and civil rights; and literature and literary traditions.