Saint Mary’s kicked off “Love Your Body Week” with a presentation by Michele Dahms, a certified raw food chef and lifestyle instructor, who spoke to students about the importance of healthy eating in everyday life, especially in relation to women’s health. “Women are the ones that have to take care of themselves first before taking care of their families,” Dahms said. “That is why having ‘Love Your Body Week’ on your campus is so great.” Dahms said people have strayed from the real purpose of food as a source of nutrients, and obesity and other chronic health issues stem from the body’s lack of nutrients as a result of an unhealthy diet. Dahms presented the audience with a 10-year-old McDonald’s burger and an order of fries that showed no signs of mold. She also held up a 7-Eleven Slurpee cup containing more than 20 packets of sugar inside, the equivalent of the Slurpee’s sugar content. “An average teenager eats a cup of sugar a day currently,” Dahms said. “Our bodies are getting more and more calories without the nutrients because of the foods we eat, which is not helping our systems.” Adhering to a healthy diet can improve a person’s overall lifestyle, from increasing mental clarity to maintaining a healthy weight and improving skin quality, Dahms said. “As you start eating healthier, you can get to know your body better, the things it likes and doesn’t like, and what healthy options are a good fit for you,” she said. In a PowerPoint presentation, Dahms outlined the basic principles of vegetarianism and veganism and different types of raw foods to demonstrate some methods of healthier living. “Some of the main food groups of raw foods are fresh fruit, vegetables, natural fats and grains,” Dahms said. “Nutritional benefits from raw foods include vitamins, which are complete nutrients in whole foods and isolated nutrients. Raw foods also contain enzymes, which are catalysts for all of our bodily functions.” The digestive system functions more regularly when it receives the enzymes it needs to break down foods, Dahms said, and raw food provides a good source of these enzymes and other substances involved in basic functions of the body. “Water, protein, natural fats, digestion aid and acid-alkaline balance are all attributes of raw foods,” Dahms said. “Cells function better when balanced, and being acidic weakens the immune system, so it is important to have a balance between acid and alkaline.” Contrary to popular belief, people do not have to make dramatic changes to improve their diet and lifestyle, Dahms said. Drinking more water, eating salad before lunch and dinner and consuming raw fruits and vegetables as snacks can improve diets, she said. “You have to be the ones that take the responsibility. It’s the choices that you make that no one can make for you,” she said. “Have your friends join in with you.” In conjunction with the Real Food Campaign on campus, Saint Mary’s will dedicate the week of April 16-20 to food, with each day focusing on a different aspect of food. “This is the first generation that will not outlive their parents in age,” Dahms said. “If you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?”
On Friday in South Dining Hall’s Oak Room, AnnaLee Rice, a Tocqueville Fellow and senior political science major who will work at Red Edge Digital Advocacy, organized and moderated a “Seniors for Lunch” panel to give seniors a chance to look back and share advice on the undergraduate experience.The four seniors comprising the panel – Sarah McGough, a senior anthropology major who will be going to Harvard University for a Masters in Public Health, Will Miller, a senior political science major who will work at Bain & Company, Tori Roeck, a senior classics major who will be going to the University of Oxford for a MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, and Luke Pardue, a senior economics and philosophy major who will work at the Federal Reserve in Washington — have “navigated the tumultuous weather of undergraduate life,” Rice said. Editor’s note: Roeck is a senior news writer for The Observer.Rice asked, “What advice have you been given at Notre Dame that you have listened to or ignored worked out for the positive?”McGough said not listening to her advisors on following set criteria in a given major was beneficial. “I didn’t listen to that because I didn’t want to check all the boxes off to graduate with X, Y or Z,” she said. “It’s tricky because obviously you have to graduate with things, but it’s gratifying because I organized my choices to build a cohesive narrative. Don’t check boxes; build a framework.”Miller said he benefitted from learning outside the classroom as well as inside of it.“Oftentimes we let ourselves be constrained by what’s available in classes or clubs. That can be as inhibiting as it can be freeing,” Miller said.Roeck said a mentality or pressure exists which makes kids feel like they have to do everything and overextend themselves.“I came in being too ambitious and zealous,” Roeck said. “If you’re biting off more than you can chew, you’re not going to be successful. Don’t let people push you to do too much.”Pardue said he recommends for students to take classes they are interested in, not just because they fit inside a major requirement.“I came in being interested in all these different subjects and thinking that the only way I could engage these interests is taking the major or minor,” Pardue said. Rice specifically addressed Pardue and Miller who will be pursuing business interests after graduating. She asked, “Can you be Arts & Letters and still be successful in business? And if so, how?”Pardue said, “People want to see you’re well rounded and have analytical skills. You can get [business] skills outside the classroom. The idea is to focus on you to take the initiative.”Miller said, “I think it’s a shame that people feel forced to go to business right away. If you’re Arts & Letters and want to go into business and consulting, make sure you supplement your experiences in the classroom with clubs and organizations that train those skills.”Rice asked McGough and Roeck about the benefits of studying abroad.McGough said her experience abroad allowed her to engage with the community and culture they studied on campus.Rice asked, “Has there ever been a moment where you didn’t think you were going to make it? How did you deal with it?”Pardue said failure is inevitable at some point at the University.“Everyone has those moments. In high school, we all did well. You have this moment when you fail a test at Notre Dame and you’re like, ‘they found me out, I’m a fraud’,” Pardue said. “Take a deep breath. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. You will come back from that.”Rice asked how the seniors justified fitting in social lives.Roeck said balancing productivity with some unproductive fun would make you better at your work.“They’re sanity breaks.” McGough said. “We overextend ourselves in every area.”Rice asked, “What is the best advice you have been given?”Roeck said, “David O’Connor in the philosophy department … gave us his version of a commencement address. He said, ‘If you’re spending more than half your life on things you hate, then you’re doing something wrong.’”Miller said, “This isn’t exactly from a professor so I’m breaking the rules. Put work on the x-axis and success on the y-axis and you’ll see your success. We have a lot of agency and control on how we do.”McGough said she once jokingly worried about having a typo in her senior thesis to her thesis advisor, Carolyn Nordstrom. McGough said Nordstrom looked at her and said, ‘Sarah, do you know what happens when there’s a typo? You look at it and go ‘oh, isn’t that cute. It means I’m human.’”McGough said, “Letting those tiny shortcomings consume you is a waste of energy.”Pardue said, “Steven Reifenberg said, ‘You should do one thing in college that takes you out of your comfort zone.’ So many kids get caught up in what they want to do. Take a leap and do something that will push you.”Tags: Advice, Notre Dame, Seniors
Catherine (Cathy) Pieronek, associate dean for the College of Engineering, director of the Women’s Engineering Program and faculty advisor to the Notre Dame chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), was named a SWE fellow in October at the national society’s annual conference in Los Angeles.“We are all very proud of Cathy for her recognition,” senior Jillian Montalvo, president of the Notre Dame SWE chapter, said. “Cathy is a huge advocate for women in engineering, and she has been an extremely active member in SWE. … Her success reflects highly on the Notre Dame section and it brings even more attention to the University’s dedication to increasing the number of female students in engineering.”Peironek received the accolade for her “dedication to the SWE mission, for a lasting and positive impact on engineering education and for illuminating public discourse on gender equality in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields,” according to a College of Engineering press release. Her award of Fellow Grade is the society’s highest category of membership.“What the award recognized is my contributions toward helping SWE become a national leader in the discussion of how to make engineering education more accessible to women,” Pieronek said.Pieronek also has served as Title IX lead and chair of the society’s Government Relations and Public Policy Committee, helping shape SWE’s position on how Title IX should be applied to engineering and science programs and giving presentations to federal agencies on this topic.Pieronek, a Notre Dame alumna with a degree in aerospace engineering, joined the Notre Dame engineering faculty in 2002 and established the Women’s Engineering Program.“When I started working with these students, our retention in engineering from first year to sophomore year was 45 percent for women and 62 percent for men,” Pieronek said. “Within three years, through strengthening SWE and through using those students’ feedback, we increased the retention rate of both genders to 72 percent. Today, we have an 85 percent retention for that same period for both men and women.”Last year, female engineers made up one-third of Notre Dame’s graduating engineering class, compared to a national average of 18 percent, Pieronek added.“Although Notre Dame SWE is a student organization and completely student-run, it owes a huge amount of success to Cathy,” Montalvo said. “With her guidance, our membership has seen a dramatic increase in the last few years … and it doesn’t look like this trend will change anytime soon.”SWE serves as a resource for female students to find ways to make a traditionally male-dominated profession work for them, Pieronek said.“Our goal is to make sure that women never feel pushed out of engineering, but that they choose to stay because they know that they can thrive here,” she said.Tags: College of Engineering, engineering, Society of Women Engineers, SWE
Over the past decade, Action Books has established itself as the press for both “authors that go too far” and “international superstars” who never expected to have a large American audience. Founded in 2004 by Joyelle McSweeney and Johannes Goransson — current Notre Dame professors who at the time were both teaching at the University of Alabama — Action Books has helped to introduce Americans to writers from around the world, including Tao Lin, Aase Berg, Kim Hyesoon, Hiromi Ito and Raul Zurita. “We felt there was an appetite for a type of work that wasn’t being accepted at the publishing houses,” McSweeney said. “This is the sort of stuff that’s stylistically exuberant, vocally exuberant, often in translation, coming from feminist women, at times. We found that work was met with the response ‘this just goes too far.’ So we decided we would start this press and we would be the press for authors that go too far.”The press publishes six to eight books — most of them poetry — a year, with authors who hail from Japan, Korea, Uruguay, Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, Chile and the Ivory Coast, amongst others. Goransson said Action Books was part of a wave of small publishers that moved American poetry so it “didn’t need the traditional gatekeepers of the established university presses.” “They could be open to younger poets or poets in translation who, at that point, didn’t have this ability,” he said. “ … Now, I think poetry is much better. It’s much improved.” Action Books’ website features the press’s manifesto, another shift from more traditional presses. “We’ve done several manifestos,” Goransson said. “The established way of running presses was to say ‘we just pick what’s best.’ It would make me furious. … We didn’t want to be a press like that. We wanted to say this is what we’re interested in, this is the conversation we are having.” According to the manifesto, that conversation is “transnational,” “feminist,” “political” and “for noises.” McSweeney said another reason for the manifesto was to emulate some 20th-century modernists, who frequently wrote manifestos themselves. “In a way, writing our manifesto was a way to say we’re aligning with this moment 100 years earlier that was totally revved up with the energy of the contemporary world,” she said.“ … We wanted that subliminal message that this is our tradition; our tradition is not the Norton Anthology that separates everyone by nation and is mostly interested in the English speakers. We’re going to claim a different tradition that is polyglot and is based on immigrants and refugees and moving around.” Both Goransson and McSweeney said they see Action Books as a part of something larger, rather than just one press trying to shape what Americans are reading. “We see ourselves as working alongside other presses, other translators, other platforms, other organizations to make this conversation as expansive — but also trenchant and exciting — as possible,” McSweeney said. “We’re part of a network or a wave of people reaching out and working together and moving forward and changing the conversation to make it more lively and diverse, both aesthetically and in where it’s coming from.” Tags: action books, publishing
The new student body leadership took their oaths of office during student senate Wednesday night.Student body president and junior Gates McGavick, student body vice president and junior Corey Gayheart and the student senate recited their oaths of office in front of Judicial Council president and sophomore Shady Girgis.The senators then approved 20 positions in the new administration’s cabinet, including freshman Halena Hadi as parliamentarian, junior Briana Tucker as chief of staff, freshman Isabel Edgar as secretary and junior Dylan Jaskowski as Executive Controller. The positions were approved unanimously.When Gayheart presented the nomination for Tucker, he said her experience as a commissioner in Flaherty Hall and as a former member of the department of diversity and inclusion made her a good fit for the role.“Briana also is extremely level-headed and fair in her application of rules, accountability and the Student Union Constitution,” Gayheart said.The senators discussed the nominations very little, which drew a comment from, Alyssa Ngo, a junior and the president of Diversity Council.“I do find a bit of concern that you guys are motioning to end discussion so earlier,” Ngo said. “These positions are important. They are not just nobodies who are being nominated to these positions.”The other 16 approvals were for cabinet positions including the director of academic affairs and the director of university policy, among others.The only nomination that incited controversy among the group was the nomination for the director of social concerns, junior James Deitsch.Sophomore and Duncan senator John Cresson said one of his constituents had raised concerns regarding Deitsch’s nomination for the position.Deitsch, a former Fisher Hall senator, had allegedly been present during election allegation and appeal hearings, Cresson said.“Because of this, there was some concern that he might have been promised a position before the election had concluded, and [the constituent] wanted that addressed in [student] senate,” Cresson said.However, the attendance and proceedings of the election hearings could not be discussed with the student senate, Girgis said.“That whole space, whoever was in there, whatever was discussed, is confidential,” Girgis said.Gayheart said the rumors circulating during the election that he and McGavick had promised cabinet positions to students were false.“The generic question of if we promised positions, we did not and we are being 100 percent honest,” McGavick said.The senators went on to approve Deitsch’s nomination with two oppositions and two abstentions, with Cresson among those abstaining.The nominations were the result of a lengthy interview process to assure the best people for each position, Gayheart said.“We had literally a marathon of interviews from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. one Sunday, and 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on a Saturday. And they were 15-minute interview slots, so that’s a lot of people that we interviewed,” Gayheart said.The director of creative strategy and design in the department of development Matt Gelchion also presented to student senate regarding the upcoming Notre Dame Day. Gelchion, a Notre Dame alumnus, has been working for the University for about five years and began working for the annual giving department last year.“When I saw it close, first-hand last year, I actually came to the conclusion that [Notre Dame Day] is a pretty awesome thing,” Gelchion said.Notre Dame Day is a one-day event that encourages supporters of the University to donate to their favorite clubs or groups on campus.The University has a stake in the number of donors on Notre Dame Day because a large number will help their ranking on websites like U.S. News, Gelchion said.“The percentage of undergraduate alumni who make a gift back to their alma mater is one of the seven criteria that goes into college rankings,” he said.Gelchion said Notre Dame Day stands out from other college and university donation days because of the voting aspect, the hundreds of groups a voter can choose from, the 23-hour live broadcast and the events for students throughout the day.“There’s some really cool stuff that’s been put on the calendar, actually specifically for this year,” Gelchion said. “Notre Dame Day is a pretty big, involved thing.”Tags: cabinet positions, Corey Gayheart, Gates McGavick, Notre Dame Student Senate, student senate
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan spoke at a moderated discussion hosted by the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy about evidence-based policymaking in a Friday lecture at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. The Wisconsin Republican, who was speaker from 2015 to 2018 and will serve as a guest lecturer at Notre Dame for the 2019-2020 academic year, argued that a more robust means of collecting data could improve the efficiency and efficacy of Federal programs.“In lay terms, it means what it sounds like. We now, in this day and age of data and analytics, have the capability of actually studying programs — whether government or non-government programs — to measure their effectiveness,” Ryan said. “Evidence-based policy basically means looking at the evidence of whether or not you are achieving an intended goal, or not. Track that evidence, and then change the conduct of your program … in order to, based on evidence, facts, data and figures, achieve your goal.”Anna Mason | The Observer Ryan said his interest in this subject was piqued in the aftermath of the 2012 presidential election, in which he served as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential running mate. He said his travels across America—coupled with his previous work for former Congressman Jack Kemp — left him with a sense that the Republican Party needed “fresh” ideas about fighting poverty. He said data about Federal anti-poverty programs was difficult to come by and decided to change that reality in a bipartisan manner.“I went to a buddy of mine — I wanted to make this bipartisan — a [Democratic] senator from Washington state, Patty Murray,” he said. “She and I had just done a big budget deal the year before…and I asked her to do this commission with me, because this should be bipartisan.“This has nothing to do with right or left, liberal or conservative, but just with what works, what’s data, what’s evidence, how to actually prove outcomes and things like that. We proceeded to put together this wonderful commission. We took the results from the commission … and put it into a bill. We passed that bill into law in December.”Discussing why statistical data about Federal programs was so hard to access, Ryan said bureaucracy and the status quo were the primary obstacles in making the data available to policymakers.“It’s a classic ‘twentieth century bureaucracy wasn’t ready for the twenty first century,’” Ryan said. “Science and data analytics have moved so far, and government is way behind the times. In 2013, I conducted a study in the Budget Committee. I wanted to understand all the Federal government does in the area of fighting poverty.“I thought it was a pretty simple question to ask. No one knew the answer to this question. … It took us a year, an entire committee. We found out that there were about 92 Federal programs that qualify as poverty fighting programs, spending a little over $800 billion a year. About 1% of them — 1% — we measured whether they were effective or not. That gave me the impetus to say, ‘We have got to get the federal government up to speed here.’”Furthermore, Ryan said since the launch of the federal government’s so-called “war on poverty” 50 years ago, few people had been interested in measuring the programs in terms of their success of lifting people out of poverty.“Our onus, our mantra was — and Patty would agree with me on this — rather than measuring success in the war on poverty … based on effort, or input — how many programs do we have, how much money are we spending on them, how many people are on the programs — how about we do this novel thing and measure success in the War on Poverty based on outcomes? On results? Are we actually getting people out of poverty? Is it working?” Ryan said. “Because what had happened over this fifty-year period is the poverty rates basically stayed the same.”Regarding examples of evidence-based policymaking’s success, Ryan cited a prenatal motherhood support program aimed at helping expectant and new mothers living in poverty care for their children by sending nurses into these women’s homes and teaching them how to care for children.“It’s a program we call MICV — Mother and Infant Children Visitation program — and George Bush created this as president as a pilot project,” Ryan said. “Barack Obama put in permanent law in the Affordable Care Act. Under my speakership, we made it permanent and reauthorized it, and Donald Trump signed it into law.“Here is a Bush-created program that Obama took from a pilot and made it an authorized program and then Trump expanded it. Why is that? … We used great data to figure out that it was extremely effective. The data told a story, the effectiveness told a story, and it was bipartisan.”Using data to determine a program’s effectiveness can take some of the partisan rancor out of debates regarding a program’s utility, Ryan said.“You can get rid of ideological fights, you can get rid of partisan fights, you can get rid of funding fights when you have unassailable evidence to be able to make the case and achieve a social good,” Ryan said. “Those few pockets of success stories is what we were able to point to and say ‘Why don’t we do this with the rest of the Federal government?’”At the conclusion of the moderated discussion, Ryan took questions from students. The questions covered a range of topics, including health care and the United States’ polarized political culture.Senior Sheila Gregory, co-president of College Democrats, challenged Ryan over his role in attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Gregory said Ryan had not lived up to his own self-set standards when it came to the use of evidence in policymaking.“In 2009, you said that, ‘I don’t think we should pass bills that we haven’t read and that we don’t know what they cost,’” Gregory said. “Yet the American Health Care Act of 2017, which passed the House while you were speaker, was called to a vote before the Congressional Budget Office could analyze its costs and effects. Furthermore, many representatives from your party admitted to not having read the full bill. Why did you change your mind when it came to the passage of your own health care legislation, and when is it ever appropriate to pass major legislation without a CBO score?”Ryan responded that his handling of the bill was consistent with the standards he had laid out.“I didn’t change my mind, did read the bill, did know the bill, helped write the bill and had continuous scores from the CBO all along. We had been scoring the same policy as CBO for months,” he said. “Their final score came out the same way as their preliminary score, based on their last preliminary score. We knew where we were with CBO all along.We would call CBO and they would tell us, ‘We just can’t give you an official letter yet, but here’s what it is.’ So we knew what the cost effects were, and we knew exactly what was in the bill.”At the close of Ryan’s answer, Gregory criticized the effects of the bill that Ryan had just referenced.“And the effects were 23 million people who would be uninsured, thank you so much,” Gregory said as she left the microphone.In response, Ryan asked Gregory if she was a member of the College Democrats.“Head of the College Democrats, right?” Ryan asked Gregory as she walked away. “This ain’t my first rodeo.”Brigid Harrington, a sophomore, asked the former speaker about the best approach of reaching the country’s political center.“In an age of heightened partisanship, what are some of the challenges you have faced as speaker in being responsive to the ideological center of the nation?” Harrington asked.Ryan said that whereas in the past success in national politics was dependent on policymaking prowess, success is now largely measured through entertainment value.“You can leapfrog this meritocracy immediately, become famous fast and then you’ll a brand to maintain,” he said. “What this has done is it has given rise to what I call the ‘entertainment wings’ of our parties. The Democrats have an entertainment wing of their party, the Republicans have an entertainment wing of our party. You can scale the heights of the entertainment wing of the party without really paying your dues, proving your worth and being a good policymaker.“Because being a good policymaker ultimately means getting consensus. Getting consensus ultimately means compromise. If you’re going to compromise … you won’t be pure, you won’t be perfect, you won’t have a good brand that you’ll be able to maintain. What this has done is ripped us into poles. It has made primary politics really where the action is. …To your question, you have to convince members of Congress this is the right thing to do, even if it’s bad for [their] election.”Tags: American Politics, Evidence-based policymaking, Paul Ryan, Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy
Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) MGN ImageALBANY — An additional $300 in unemployment benefits from the federal Lost Wages Assistance Program will eventually be rolling out to New Yorkers, but the wait for claimants to receive them continues in the state. The states of Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas have started Lost Wages Assistance Program payments. In total, they have 2.6 million claimants. New York State, which has not started the program payments yet, has had about 2.8 million alone.According to NYS DOL spokesperson Deanna Cohen, New York has paid about “19 years’ worth of benefits in just five months” due to the pandemic. In a statement, she says in part, “… Administering the Lost Wages Assistance program is made even more complex by the federal administration’s inability to work with congress and the President’s attempt to cover for this failure with a haphazard executive order…”New York State did not immediately apply for the LWA program until after states were not required to provide funding for it. There’s still no set date for when the LWA payments will start heading out to unemployed New Yorkers, but the Department of Labor says they will “continue to work as quickly as possible to get New Yorkers their benefits.” Nineteen of the 41 states that have been approved for the program do not have set dates for the program payments to start heading out, either. The payments will be retroactive to August 1 when they are made available.At this time, it’s also still unknown how long the LWA payments will go on.
Get up close and personal with Christian Grey! 50 Shades! The Musical – The Original Parody of E.L. James’ erotic bestseller, will begin performances off-Broadway on February 21. Directed by Al Samuels and Rob Lindley, the lampoon musical will officially open March 12 at the Elektra Theatre. Since author E.L. James’ novel was published, more than 70 million copies have been sold worldwide. Universal Studios is scheduled to release the film on February 13, 2015 starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan and Tony winners Jennifer Ehle and Marcia Gay Harden. Related Shows 50 Shades! features a book by Samuels, Amanda Blake Davis, Emily Dorezas, Jody Shelton, Ashley Ward and Dan Wessels and music and lyrics by Samuels, Davis, Shelton, Ward and Wessels. The musical opens with a ladies book club deciding to read Fifty Shades of Grey. Through their interpretation of the novel, the audience is lead on an amusing ride through Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele’s kinky relationship. The show features dance numbers and original songs delivered by a live, on-stage band accompanying the cast. The 50 Shades! creative team features set and costume design by John Dunnett, lighting design by Herrick Goldman, and sound design by Matt Kraus. This show is not to be confused with Cuff Me: The Fifty Shades of Grey Musical Parody, which featured parodies of hit songs and is also appearing off-Broadway. View Comments 50 Shades! The Musical Show Closed This production ended its run on April 26, 2015
Warning: too much theatrical greatness in one room! Stage and screen legend Julie Andrews and If/Then star Idina Menzel stopped by the Watch What Happens Live clubhouse with Andy Cohen on May 1, and our theater nerd brains more or less exploded. A lot was revealed during their time on the show, including how Menzel would do the Wicked movie either as “the mother of Elphaba” or if she got some Avatar-esque CGI treatment, who makes Andrews a “bad girl” and yes, their takes on the infamous “Adele Dazeem” flub and the The Sound Of Music Live! broadcast. Take a look at clips from their appearance below, and catch Menzel in her Tony-nominated performance in If/Then and at Radio City Music Hall! View Comments Related Shows If/Then Show Closed This production ended its run on March 22, 2015 Star Files Idina Menzel
Congrats on making your professional theater debut—why was The Village Bike the play for you? I really love and respect [director] Sam Gold—well, now I love him. Before, I was just a fan. He’s singlehandedly brought me my favorite theater experiences as an audience member. The Annie Baker plays [Circle Mirror Transformation, The Aliens, The Flick] were hugely important for me, and Fun Home destroyed me for a week. So I felt like I would give my eye teeth to work with him. Then when I started reading the play, it sounds ridiculous to say this, but I knew two pages in that it was really good. Instantly, I could hear it in my head. Well, what about now? Yeah, I’m gonna force someone to dream up some musical for me. [Laughs.] If it was the right musical and I felt like I wasn’t going to do a disservice to it, I would love to do one. But if the right thing never happens, I’m just happy to see them. Your character Becky has a lot of pent-up sexuality. What is it like to unleash this side of yourself in front of an audience? I started wearing a nightie in rehearsal very early, because I knew that I would have a degree of embarrassment about my body and that I had to get over it. I got used to all of the actors seeing me like that, and then the set designers came and the producers came for run-throughs. I wanted to ease myself into feeling comfort with the high degree of emotional exposure but also physical, sexual exposure. For me, it’s terrifying but it also feels like it has its own reckless momentum, and in the second act, there’s a current that I can get into where it almost feels cathartic. What kind of chocolate? If I tell you about it, I’m worried I’m going to make an addict out of you, and it’s expensive. I’ve made the entire cast addicts. It’s called Fine & Raw chocolate and it’s made in Brooklyn, and I like their cacao and coconut bars. I can’t even explain it, it’s like fudge, it’s like butter, it’s so good…but they’re $7 a bar. So we were all joking that our entire paychecks are going to our chocolate addiction. View Comments You initially wanted to major in musical theater in college. Were you a fan of musicals growing up? I didn’t grow up with television, but I could rent VHS tapes from the library. I would watch Gene Kelly musicals and The King and I and Oklahoma! I just love musicals, and I’m a huge Sondheim nerd. The documentary of the cast recording of Company is one of my favorite things ever made. And I was into Floyd Collins and Parade when I was in high school. But the truth is I never had a great enough voice to really go for it, and my mom wasn’t super excited about me pursuing a full-time musical theater career. She wanted me to get a liberal arts education and maybe have the potential to be a lawyer one day. So I gave up my NYU and musical theater dream. Show Closed This production ended its run on July 13, 2014 I’m so sad about How I Met Your Dad not getting picked up. The saddest part about it for me is I loved the people I was making it with—Carter [Bays] and Craig [Thomas], who made How I Met Your Mother and Emily Spivey, who was creating this new show with them. I loved the process of both acting in it but also sitting in the writers’ room and pitching jokes—it made me feel like I was an old-timey joke writer on a Sid Caesar show. I’m bummed out that we can’t have the experience of doing it, but at the same time, you have so little control over these things. If it’s meant to be, it’ll be, and if it’s not, it’s not. I think that what gives me the right to call myself a show person, which is all I’ve ever really wanted to call myself. With her delightful ability to be equal parts awkward and charming on screen, Greta Gerwig has taken the indie film world by storm with her stellar performances in Frances Ha, Greenberg and Lola Versus. Aside from school shows, the world premiere of Penelope Skinner’s humorous and haunting new play The Village Bike is the first time the actress/writer/filmmaker has appeared on stage, but Gerwig insists that she’s no theater newbie. Below, the lifelong theater fan chatted with Broadway.com about her Sondheim obsession, the unfortunate demise of How I Met Your Dad and getting comfortable enough to strip down emotionally and physically in the new MCC Theater production of The Village Bike. See Greta Gerwig in The Village Bike at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. You go on a wild ride—how do you unwind after the show? Well, we have a lot of whiskey in the dressing room. [Laughs.] And I have this kind of chocolate I like, so I take off my [prop] wedding ring, I have a shot of whiskey and I eat some chocolate and then I’m ready to go out into the world. Related Shows The Village Bike Do you have a musical theater dream role? Well, I wish I sounded just like Audra McDonald. And this sounds like I’m being tongue-and-cheek, but anything Elaine Stritch played, I could maybe have a shot at doing OK with, because there’s something about her and the way she is that I always felt connected to. That could maybe work out for me. The Sondheim women are the parts that I would love to play. They’re just so complex and not cliché. They’re so dark and spiky and complicated. They make mistakes and they sing about them. That’s what I would wanna do.