Contemplations & Reflections (with Toni Matulis)

Maroon & Gold

Bloomsburg State College (PA) - September 23, 1966

Rebirth of the Dionysus Festival

"Bloomsburg is a creative wasteland."

This sentence, or at least its context, has been heard many times by many people on and off this campus. It has been said by both students and teachers, and, to some extent, it is not too far off-base.

Natural Creativity

It is, however, off-base to infer that it is the fault of Bloomsburg itself, for it wouldn’t be hard at all to write a series of articles on the creative aspects of the area in and around this town: of the rolling hills, the patchwork landscape as seen from the hills, the stretches of wooded area, etc.

The inference, it seems, is directed at what is thought of as the sometimes almost puritanical directions in which BSC travels.

In years past this stagnation format at BSC has been to some degree alleviated by the presence of a yearly literary magazine, The Olympian, which offers an outlet to people creative in the areas of the poem, the essay, the short story and the visual arts. However, The Olympian, no matter how industrious it may become, can only handle a specified amount of creative work.

People ask, “Well, what more can we do to improve the creative aspect of BSC?”

The Festival of Dionysus

How about this?: In ancient Athens, during the spring of the year, to honor the rebirth of Dionysus, god of fertility, there was a contest held in the theater dedicated to him, wherein the playwrights of the day, among them Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, would write a three-act play, and have it presented before the Athenian populous and a jury of judges chosen by lot, in an attempt to win a prize for the best of the festival.

Our Own Festival

Well now. Here at BSC, in the spring of the year, we have a resurgence of the creative arts in the form of the Spring Arts Festival. During the Festival, the Bloomsburg Players present a three-act play, which is performed on three consecutive nights. The contest of plays in the Festival of Dionysus lasted three days. Since it would be rather impossible to perform three separate plays on three nights, how impossible would it be to perform a trilogy of one-act plays, written by either students or faculty members, on three consecutive nights, allowing the audience to vote on their merits as they leave the theater? The winner would receive a plaque, perhaps of the Mask of Dionysus, to signify his victory.

How would it be narrowed down to three one-act plays? By a panel of both English and theater production faculty members, who would go through the entries, and pick the top three entries, which would become the basis of the Bloomsburg Players’ contribution to the Festival.

Possible Publication

Perhaps the winning play, as well as the two runners-up, could be published by The Olympian as a supplement to the regular issue. Maybe they could even be illustrated by someone in the Art Department.

The main problem, of course, would be to get entries. Perhaps a nominal fee in addition to the plaque could be offered by some campus organization perhaps the Players themselves, to help stimulate participation by the would-be playwrights on campus.

Spring is a time of rebirth—maybe it would be a good thing to bring Dionysus back for one more try at immortality.

Guest Editorial September 30, 1966

In last week’s “Contemplations & Reflections” appeared a proposal that the Bloomsburg Players present in connection with the Spring Arts Festival three one-act plays written by BSC students or faculty, and further that the college literary magazine would publish the three best entries as decided by a board of English and theater production faculty members. We of The Olympian would like to add our support to Mr. Benyo’s plan and state that we are willing to publish the winning play in the 1967 issue of the literary magazine and also offer an award for the play, as we do for the best short story, poem, and essay, of $10. We would also hope that the Bloomsburg Players Workshop might now give their support and cooperation to the proposal.

With the advent of the first creative writing and journalism courses in some years, and also with the greatly increased circulation of both The Olympian and the Maroon & Gold, Bloomsburg students are slowly dispelling the notion that our campus is a creative wasteland. In addition, Miss Rusinko and her committee have done no small job improving our cultural status with their work on the Spring Arts Festival.

Mr. Benyo’s plan for a one-act play contest is one more step in the right direction. We’ve been given an opportunity, and in the last analysis it’s always the students who make the campus what it is. I hope we take advantage of it. --Lyle Slack, editor, The Olympian