Yale Students Assert Fake Sword Rights

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The Yale Daily News reports:

In the wake of Monday's massacre at Virginia Tech in which a student killed 32 people, Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg has limited the use of stage weapons in theatrical productions.

Students involved in this weekend's production of "Red Noses" said they first learned of the new rules on Thursday morning, the same day the show was slated to open. They were subsequently forced to alter many of the scenes by swapping more realistic-looking stage swords for wooden ones, a change that many students said was neither a necessary nor a useful response to the tragedy at Virginia Tech…

In a speech made before last night's opening show of "Red Noses," [Director Sarah] Holdren said that Trachtenberg's decision to force the production to use wooden swords instead of metal swords will do little to stem violence in the world.

Via Kip Esquire.

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  1. At some point a person can become so smart that they ’tilt’ and can’t think reasonably at all. It appears that this can happen to universities as well.

  2. Trachtenberg’s decision to force the production to use wooden swords instead of metal swords will do little to stem violence in the world

    Yes, but Betty feels better, and it shows that she’s doing something. And in the end, isn’t that all that matters?

  3. You gotta fight (dun dun)
    For your right (dun dun)
    To parry!

  4. In a speech made before last night’s opening show of “Red Noses,” [Director Sarah] Holdren said that Trachtenberg’s decision to force the production to use wooden swords instead of metal swords will do little to stem violence in the world.

    I like the way Holdren is willing to go out on a limb in her speeches.

  5. If you outlaw swords, only outlaws will have swords.

  6. when you’re knee deep in the age of farce, hoi, stating the obvious is often required.

  7. What if somebody comes at me with a real fake sword? How am I going to pretend to defend myself?

    I’m not saying greater availability of real fake swords would eliminate all episodes of people being stabbed between the upper arm and rib cage, and then sqeezning so it looks real when the sword is pulled out, but at least it would give someone a chance, and reduce the fake bloodshed.

  8. Oh thoreau. Did you have to?

  9. Nobody should be allowed to own a toy sword without going through a background check and buying a permit. Think of the precious little one-eyed children!

  10. Having used “stage swords” previously in high school productions, I’d actually think that wooden swords might be more dangerous than metal. Since we were teenagers and kinda dumb when it comes to thinking things through, we’d have all sorts of un-choreographed fights and would hit each other, but the dull as chopsticks tips did nothing paired with the thin, bendable blade. A wooden sword would either break (yay, thin poinky wood bits stuck in you!) or hurt/bruise.

    And that’s on top of the obvious ridiculous idea that even faker swords is necessary, let alone after a widely known gun act. Wow, that was badly worded. You know what I mean.

  11. Yale is a private school so let’s see if the drama-student market punishes it for this unpopular symbolic gesture.

  12. Yale is a private school so let’s see if the drama-student market punishes it for this unpopular symbolic gesture.

    Do ticket sales relate to grades?

  13. Shit! There goes my campus tour.

  14. Theater majors are not far behind English majors as people who need to be monitored closely.

  15. Having used “stage swords” previously in high school productions, I’d actually think that wooden swords might be more dangerous than metal.

    Safety is not an issue here. Scaring the scaredie-cat wimps is the issue.

    In other news, Jeff Gordon won the Subway 500 in Phoenix on Saturday night.

  16. You know, I don’t like censorship or silly feel good rules more than the rest of you, but this seems pretty clear cut.

    Yale is a private institution. The students are using Yale theater facilities, and presumably Yale theater funding, to put on this show. It is Yale’s right to place restrictions on the use of these resources.

  17. You gotta fight (dun dun)
    For your right (dun dun)
    To parry!

    thoreau, parrying is an act of self defense. And we know that there is no place in civilized society for anything like that.

  18. I guess the real lesson of this thread is that symbolic gestures are really easy to make fun of.

  19. Yale is a private institution. The students are using Yale theater facilities, and presumably Yale theater funding, to put on this show. It is Yale’s right to place restrictions on the use of these resources.

    All those points are true. There’s still nothing wrong with pointing out how dumb it is.

    Of course, if I accept the points that you made then I have to revise my previous post.

    You gotta fight negotiate a mutually agreeable contract (dun dun)
    For your right contractual right (dun dun)
    To parry!

    Or, if that isn’t possible:
    You gotta fight use your market power to find a suitable drama school that will allow (dun dun)
    For your right contractual right (dun dun)
    To parry!

    Somehow it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

  20. I guess the real lesson of this thread is that symbolic gestures are really easy to make fun of.

    For once, you and I agree 100%.

  21. Does this really surprise anyone? The Ivy league is particularly inclined to such vaporous reasoning as this. It’s their job to be unreasoning, hyperventilating ,politically retarded amoeba. So, let it be . . . it’s mildly entertaining and reminds of the scene in Amadeus when the actors are all prancing about on stage without an accompanying score after an acute political overreaction took place. Even the Emperor could see that it was nonsense. “Just look at em!”

  22. It just so happens that I own two fake swords–a rapier and a claymore. The latter is only fake in the no-sharp-edges sense–it would function quite well as a bludgeon. Still, I don’t think a wielder of such a “sword” could do much damage on any mass scale.

    Of course, there is the case of Sir Lancelot and his misconduct at a certain wedding feast.

  23. It is Yale’s right to place restrictions on the use of these resources.

    Nobody’s saying it isn’t.

    It’s just really pointless and stupid. And it’s being done by someone who’s attached to an istitution that’s always bragging about it’s high intellectual standards.

    And just as it is Yale’s right to place restrictions on the use of its resources it is everyone else’s right to ridicule really pointless and stupid policies.

  24. The late-’90s “Romeo and Juliet” movie should be banned… not for gunplay or being sensitive to tragedy, but because it in itself was a steaming pile.

  25. Yale is not a private institution. Yale, like most other so-called private institutions, receives a huge amount of public funding through research grants for faculty, federal student loans, ad nauseum.

  26. PL-

    Yes, but do you own a high-capacity sheath? Is it a semi-auto sword, that can inflict one wound per slashing motion of the arm? Is it an assault sword with a special grip?

  27. thoreau,

    I confess, the rapier has a hilt with a pointy edge.

  28. How come if the Dean lady says no swords in plays, anybody pays attention? What’s she gong to do about it?

    All it does is cement her crazy lady in the attic reputation.

  29. I don’t trust the university that doesn’t trust my sword.

  30. I feel I must take a moment to defend my Alma Mater. Betty T, as she is widely known, has a long history of doing ridiculous things that defy logic, and it would be a shame if her decision were at all interpreted as representative of the school’s students or even of its faculty. She is thankfully finally retiring this year, and will hopefully bother us no more. In general Yale has been pretty good on freedom of expression, and Yale has a pretty strong statement in support of it, which this action clearly violates. No institution is perfect.

  31. Seriously, I know it’s fun to make fun of this crapola. Violence is part of humanity. All our literature is based on either sex or violence (you know, the two forms of humor). And only really stupid San-Francisco-ites like this faculty dare do something like this.

    On the other hand, it would be nice if none of our plays or novels or political discussions or date conversations or movies or poems or ads or games or interior decorating ever involved anything violent. I don’t fault the idiot for wanting to keep students mercifully free of bad things, especially in light of recent events.

    But come on! We’re not smurfs. Keep eliminating even stage violence and you’ll produce wussies who just stand there like deer in headlights waiting for a less-than-smurf-like bastard to kill them.

  32. This is her reasoning (from another article on the same site linked above, dated today). It’s even more ridiculous than I thought. May be their right as a private institution to do this, but it’s my right under the first amendment to say how silly it is.

    ——–

    The new restrictions were put in place to protect people in the Yale and New Haven communities who live or have friends who live in Virginia, or who have seen people die by gun violence, Trachtenberg said. She said the outcry from students upset with her decision has been exaggerated.

    “I think people should start thinking about other people rather than trying to feel sorry for themselves and thinking that the administration is trying to thwart their creativity,” Trachtenberg said. “They’re not using their own intelligence. ? We have to think of the people who might be affected by seeing real-life weapons.”

    The new restrictions do not ban all types of stage weapons, Trachtenberg said. She said she did not prevent an instructor in theater studies who talked to her on Friday from using a dulled knife to cut a cabbage head in a production, for example.

  33. This week-end I saw a high school production of Peter Pan. It was a PC minefield, what with Peter declaring to the Indians that he was the ‘great white leader’ and an effectively effeminate Hook stealing the show. But I was given pause when one actor pointed a pistol at another’s head…

  34. With that kind of reasoning, I’m only surprised she went to a sword ban instead of plastering advertising and posters for the play with “WARNING: CONTAINS SWORDS”. Of course, merely mentioning that plays can have swords might upset people affected by gun violence.

    So why is knife violence on cabbages okay, then? Just because I didn’t have a cabbage patch doll as a child doesn’t mean I should speak for those who had them and were scarred by having sold them in yard sale violence.

  35. “She said she did not prevent an instructor in theater studies who talked to her on Friday from using a dulled knife to cut a cabbage head in a production, for example.”

    And the angel said unto me,
    “These are the cries of the carrots, the cries of the carrots.

    You see, reverend Maynard, tomorrow is harvest day and to them it is the holocaust.”

  36. “We have to think of the people who might be affected by seeing real-life weapons.”

    She should be laughed off the campus. This is the most ridiculous statement I’ve heard in a long time.

  37. She said she did not prevent an instructor in theater studies who talked to her on Friday from using a dulled knife to cut a cabbage head in a production, for example.

    So who do they authorize to pre-cut the cabbage before it makes it on stage so that it can be simul-cut by a dull knife? Is the cabbage cutting supervisor properly vetted? All background checks in place? Is the knife registered, in case it gets lost?

  38. you saw Peter Pan and only thought Hook was effeminate?

  39. I’d like to make a distinction that some people don’t seem to get.

    Yes, Yale is a private university. It has the right to dicitate that in place of fake swords its productions must use peeled bannanas if it wants to.

    Everyone else has the right to call bullshit on it. Having the right to do something doesn’t contain the right not to get criticized.

    What we don’t have the right to do is force them to use a non-stupid fake sword.

  40. Someone had to take action after the stage sword massacres in “Pirates of the Caribbean” (both the ride and the movie). How many animatronic and CGI pirates need to die before we get tough on fake swords?

  41. ‘you saw Peter Pan and only thought Hook was effeminate?’

    Good catch, but Peter was played by a girl.

  42. It’s a completely separate issue, and discussing it here would be a worthless tangent, I admit; but I reiterate that Yale is NOT a private institution.

  43. ‘It’s a completely separate issue, and discussing it here would be a worthless tangent, I admit; but I reiterate that Yale is NOT a private institution.’

    Roger that.

  44. It just so happens that I own two fake swords–a rapier and a claymore. The latter is only fake in the no-sharp-edges sense–it would function quite well as a bludgeon.

    My Dad’s naval officer’s sword has no edge to speak of but it has a point that you could quite handily run someone through with.

    We used to play with it all the time when were were kids. We were lucky noone got his eye poked out. When I was about seven I thought it would look real neat with some “blood” on it. Man it took a lot of mineral spirits to get that red oilbased paint off. 🙂

  45. Isaac,

    Now that you mention it, I think the bludgeon has a sharp point on it, too. Maybe it’s less prop that I’ve been led to believe.

    I used to wear the rapier back when me and three friends used to wear musketeer costumes to Halloween events. Over the years, though, the venues became more and more restrictive about the swords. Grrr.

  46. Everybody knows the swords are fake, so the problem is with the sentiment that they use ones that look real, so they instead use ones that look conspicuously unreal, to prove they care? This reminds me of some other silliness.

    One is the street signs near a school for the deaf in Manhattan that consist of finger spelling “SCHOOL FOR DEAF” (using stylized drawings of hands) instead of writing it in regular letters.

    Another is the recent practice of dressing child models and actors in ads for bath toys, etc. in brightly colored or otherwise conspicuous swimsuits instead of trying to conceal their wearing of swimsuits.

    Yet another was the controversy over the yearbook photo of the high schooler in chain mail.

  47. When I was a little tyke (three, maybe) I used to walk around everywhere with an enormous plastic toy sword strapped to my belt. You could never get away with that kind of thing now…

  48. Wooden swords can be much more dangerous.

    Miyamoto Musashi who probably won more duels to the death than any other person in history preferred wooden practice swords to the real thing. He found that the crushing injuries it produced were more incapacitating than clean cuts.

    peachy – my kids have a knight’s costume. they love marching around with swords and shields, although when my daughter was one, she feltthat the sword should be held by the blade and not the hilt. 🙂

  49. Now that you mention it, I think the bludgeon has a sharp point on it, too. Maybe it’s less prop that I’ve been led to believe.

    Well the Naval Sabre is purely ceremonial, of course, so the edge for slashing is no longer required. I suspect the point is still there because, well frankly, wouldn’t a sabre with a rounded end look stupid? My Dad carried in a few parades, at least once all decked out in cocked hat and frock coat (a uniform sadly missing from the modern navy).

    I believe that the navy still had a few cutlasses around in the 20s to issue to a few enlisted men for boarding parties but supply officers on heavy cruisers in the South Pacific did not get much opportunity for hand to hand combat.

    I used to wear the rapier back when me and three friends used to wear musketeer costumes to Halloween events. Over the years, though, the venues became more and more restrictive about the swords. Grrr.

    The sword has unfortunately ended up in the family my father’s second wife. One of the grandkids took it to school for Show and Tell in the late 80s or early 90s. Everyone was impressed. Of course now the little bugger would be jailed.

  50. I wish we had an aristocratic class in the U.S. . .and that I was a member of it, of course. Then I could threaten to run through someone who careens into my injured shoulder. Honor is honor, after all.

  51. Everybody knows the swords are fake, so the problem is with the sentiment that they use ones that look real, so they instead use ones that look conspicuously unreal, to prove they care?

    Uh, so what’s the problem again? Outrage that a college play will not be as violent as perhaps it could be? The horror.

  52. PL,
    Your bludgeon wouldn’t happen to be a starfire forge blade would it?

  53. I’d like to see Hamlet without all of the swords. And sans poison.

  54. Kwix,

    I don’t think so, but it was a gift, so I’m not sure who made it.

  55. Roger that. They are(were?) one of the more common “stage” weapon manufacturers. High carbon steel with a lifetime guarantee, provided you don’t sharpen the edge.

  56. Some of the prop swords are pretty nice. The rapier came from some Spanish manufacturer and has ornate etchings on the blade.

  57. I’d like to see Hamlet without all of the swords. And sans poison.

    Well, they did try to do The Merchant of Venice without the anti-semitism at the Stratford (Canada) Shakespeare Festival a few years ago.

    Absolutely nobody liked it so they won’t be trying it again.

  58. Julius Caesar without the assassination.

    Macbeth without. . .um, well, with nothing at all.

    And Passion plays without the crucifixion.

  59. When I was a little tyke (three, maybe) I used to walk around everywhere with an enormous plastic toy sword strapped to my belt. You could never get away with that kind of thing now…

    What kid during the ’80s didn’t have a plastic He Man sword?

    BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL!

  60. Uh, so what’s the problem again? Outrage that a college play will not be as violent as perhaps it could be? The horror.

    Shakespeare without violence is like a Romance novel without a love scene, a sci-fi show without a hot alien chick, or an Ayn Rand story without a violent rape sequence.

  61. So, how’s the Yale fencing team doing this year?

  62. Well, I was in one of these productions with blunted swords, and someone substituted a real pointy sword–and put poison on it! You wouldn’t believe the carnage! I still think Fortinbras was behind it.

  63. Theater majors are not far behind English majors as people who need to be monitored closely.

    Excuse me? I use my mad English skills to write grammatically correct essays explaining why gun control is bullshit.

  64. YOU HAVE MY [FAKE] BOW!
    AND MY [FAKE] AXE!

  65. Were Gimli and Legolas lovers? What about Sam and Frodo? Sure looked like it in the movies, that’s for sure.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  66. Actually, I’m not surprised that the Theater Department protested that their right to use realistic fake swords was being violated.

    Think of all the Hollywood folks who believe firearms should be banned, except for action movies.

  67. What about poin-ted sticks?

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