Leigh Buchanan Bienen: Works

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Title: Notes Found in a Klein Bottle
: Leigh Buchanan Bienen
Publisher: Princeton Alumni Weekly
Issue: Apr 21, 1970, pp. 17-20
Description: In this short story about the glory days of the Department of Mathematics at Princeton in the 1920s, the author’s assertion that this history of Fine Hall and the mathematics department was found in a Klein Bottle seems improbable; a Klein Bottle is a one-sided topological curiosity and, from what we can tell, it’s impossible to put anything inside of it.

The academic theater tradition at Northwestern has always been text driven, literary-as Frank Galati, Mary Zimmerman, David Catlin, and Virgil Johnson describe-laying performance on unexpected texts, challenging the forn1 by creating theater pieces fro1n texts never designed to be staged. The Department of Theatre at Northwestern began as the Department of Reading Aloud, became, after several transformations, Performance Studies within the School of Speech, and now is embraced in the School of Communication. Literature requires that you speak back. Performances of actors dran1atizing the reading of names in the phone book were legendary, a reminder that a gifted theater artist can impose emotion and structure, order and beauty on any series of words, in the spaces between words, and in the absence and expectation of words. Unfortunately, the converse is also true, the attempted dramatization of the most poetic, thrilling words will fail when delivered on flat feet.

If the making art or science or invention cannot be taught, if the leap of the imagination must be spontaneous, the foundation can be laid. In the theater, where the effort is always a group effort, the role of an individual teacher will always be tempered by the presence of the others necessary to make it happen. And this selection, attention, preparation for the moment is critical.

For literature, for fiction and poetry, there must be at the beginning a single person sitting down to put pen to paper, or to tap out what appears magically on a screen…



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