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Stephen Sondheim’s Legacy Lives on at Falvey Library

By Ethan Shea

Stephen Sondheim Headshot

Merrily We Roll Along Playbill

Last month, the world lost one of its most talented theatrical artists. This artist, Stephen Sondheim, was a composer and lyricist who changed musical theatre forever. His career started with a bang when he wrote the lyrics for West Side Story, but the hits do not stop there. Sondheim has composed and written for countless classic musicals, such as Company, A Little Night MusicMerrily We Roll Along and Into the Woods to name just a few.

Given Villanova University’s longstanding theatrical tradition, the loss of Sondheim was particularly heartbreaking on campus. Sondheim has had such a profound impact on Villanova that his play, Merrily We Roll Along, whose playbill is featured to the left, was scheduled to be the final production performed in Vasey Hall before the COVID-19 Pandemic paused the 2019-2020 Villanova Theatre season.

To honor his legacy, Falvey invites you learn more about Sondheim’s incredible life by checking out a book. For example, Stephen Sondheim: A Casebook is a collection of 14 essays that examines the development of Sondheim’s work over the years. This book lives on the third floor of our stacks and is currently available for pick up. Another book, Sondheim, written by Martin Gottfried, is a biography that tells a detailed story of Sondheim’s life and career up until the book’s publication in 2000. This text is also available on our third floor stacks among many others.

Without a doubt, our Villanova community will continue to enjoy Sondheim’s timeless body of work, and Falvey Memorial Library is happy to help you do so.


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Dig Deeper: Samuel Beckett

“We are all born mad. Some remain so.” 

– Samuel Beckett 

Beckett Bites: A Villanova Theatre Production 

Villanova Theatre’s newest production, Beckett Bites, is here. Beckett Bites is a collection of four short plays by Samuel Beckett, directed by Edward Sobel, and running Nov. 414 in the Court Theatre at the brand-new John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts. There are four plays comprising Beckett Bites: “Play,” “Footfalls,” “Rockaby,” and “Come and Go.”

The play is described by Villanova Theatre as follows: “As we reemerge from a world defined by screen interactions to rejoin each other in shared space, we return with Beckett Bites, four short plays by the modern theatre’s greatest existential clown. Samuel Beckett’s plays exquisitely capture the powerful longing for connection, the inexorable nature of time, and the sheer absurdity of being human. In this deftly curated collection of four short works, audiences will imaginatively progress from isolation to the communal experience of live performance, alternately laughing at the ridiculous and glimpsing the sublime. “

Dig Deeper into Beckett Bites

Theatre of the Absurd 

The theatre of the absurd describes the post-WW2 designation of plays that focus on absurdist fiction. Late 1950s European playwrights such as Samuel Beckett, as well Harold Pinter, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, and Arthur Adamov, amongst others, alluded to the question of “why are we all here?” The four main features of the Theatre of the Absurd are anti-character, anti-language, anti-drama, and anti-plot. In addition, read below for more characteristics and themes of the Theatre of the Absurd.  

CHARACTERISTICS OF THEATRE OF THE ABSURD 

  • Situations and characters’ emotional states may be represented through poetic metaphor (dreamlike, fantastical, or nightmarish images). 
  • The notion of realism is rejected: situations and characters are not “realistic” and characters are often placed in unreal situations. 
  • Set and costumes may not reflect an outward reality. 
  • Dialogue is often nonsensical, clichéd, or gibberish. 
  • Communication is fractured. 
  • There is usually an emphasis on “theatricality” as opposed to realism. 
  • Absurdist playwrights often use dark comedy for satiric effect. 
  • Characters exist in a bubble without the possibility of communication. 
  • Characters may be one-dimensional, with no clear motivation or purpose. 
  • Characters may be symbolic of universal situations. 
  • Behavior and situations may not follow the rules of logic. 
  • Structure may be circular, without a precise resolution. 
  • Action may be minimal. 
  • Setting of the play may be in one locale. 
  • Often characters perceive a threat from the “outside,” leading to a sense of powerlessness. 

THEMES OF THEATRE OF THE ABSURD 

  • Isolation of human existence in a world without God 
  • Lack of communication between individuals 
  • Dehumanization in a commercial world 
  • Social disparity 
  • Life without purpose or examination 
  • Class difference/the haves and have nots 
  • Loneliness 
  • Fear of the disenfranchised 

(Beckett Bites Education Guide, 2021) 

Dig Deeper into the Theatre of the Absurd 

Still want to learn more about the Theatre of the Absurd? Check out the following Falvey offerings: 

About Samuel Beckett 

Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish novelist, playwright, short story writer, theatre director, poet, and literary translator. Beckett wrote in both English and French, being born in Ireland, but spending the majority of his adult life in France. He is a playwright known outside of the field of theatre, primarily for his most famous work Waiting for Godot. As a member of the Theatre of the Absurd, Beckett often explored themes such as the passage of time and utilized repetition and silence to emphasize key ideas. 

Dig Deeper into Samuel Beckett 

Still want to learn more about Samuel Beckett or read some of his works? Check out the following Falvey offerings: 


jenna newman headshotJenna Renaud is a graduate student in the Communication Department and graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library.


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Weekend Recs: All Things Fall

Happy Friday, Wildcats! After a year off, Falvey Memorial Library is bringing back Weekend Recs, a blog dedicated to filling you in on what to read, listen to, and watch over the weekend. Jenna, a graduate assistant from the Communication department, scours the internet, peruses the news, and digs through book stacks to find new, relevant, and thought-provoking content that will challenge you and prepare you for the upcoming week. 

Fall is my ABSOLUTE favorite season, and I have a feeling that a good number of you would agree! Even though we’re a little over a week into the season, the weather has started to drop and I’m seeing more sweaters and flannels popping up around campus. In honor of the BEST season’s arrival – here’s a list of recs to get you in the fall spirit.  

If you have 7 minutes… read this article from PureWow about the best fall Starbucks drinks you can order, both hot and cold! 

If you have 45 minutes… watch an episode (or 10) of Gilmore Girls on Netflix. This feel-good show fits into the fall season perfectly and is a good way to relieve stress before, during, and after midterms. 

If you have 2 hours and 20 minutes… watch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on HBO Max. Why does Harry Potter feel like a non-negotiable when fall rolls around? I’m not sure, but I’m not complaining! 

If you have a day… visit Linvilla Orchards! A quick 20-minute drive away from campus, Linvilla Orchards offers all of your classic fall activities from apple picking and a pumpkin patch to corn mazes and hayrides. 

If you have all weekend (or approximately 15 hours)… read The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. This murder/mystery novel sets the tone perfectly for fall and Halloween just around the corner. The book is available through Inter-Library Loan. 


""Jenna Renaud is a graduate student in the Communication Department and graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library.


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Peek at the Week: September 27

""

Word of the Week: Resplendent / adj. 

“Brightly colored in an impressive way” 

It’s officially fall! Although fall technically started on Sept. 22, the weather is starting to catch up with crisper mornings and bright fall foliage or – should I say – resplendent fall foliage. My favorite time of year is when we start to see the leaves change color and sweatshirts become a wardrobe staple!

Check out this fall foliage map to see when the leaves are predicted to be at their peak. 


This Week at Falvey  

Monday, Sept. 27

Mindfulness Mondays / 1–1:30 p.m. / ZOOM / https://villanova.zoom.us/j/98337578849 

Wednesday, Sept. 29

Fall 2021 Falvey Forum Workshop Series: Storytelling with GIS / 12:30–1:30 p.m. / ZOOM / Register Here 

Friday, Oct. 1

Villanova Gaming Society Meeting / 2:30–4:30 p.m. / Speakers’ Corner / Free & Open to the Public 


This Week in History 

September 29, 1982 – Cyanide-laced Tylenol kills seven 

Flight attendant Paula Prince buys a bottle of cyanide-laced Tylenol. Prince was found dead on Oct. 1, becoming the final victim of a mysterious ailment in Chicago. Over the previous few days, six other people had died of unknown causes in northwest Chicago. After Prince’s death, Richard Keyworth, and Philip Cappitelli, firefighters in the Windy City, realized that all seven victims had ingested Extra-Strength Tylenol prior to becoming ill. Further investigation revealed that several bottles of the Tylenol capsules had been poisoned with cyanide. 

While bottles of Extra-Strength Tylenol were recalled nationwide, the only contaminated capsules were found in the Chicago area. The culprit was never caught, but the mass murder led to new tamper-proof medicine containers, as well as a string of copycat crimes. 

If you want to read more about how the crisis was handled from a public relations perspective, read this case study. 


""Jenna Renaud is a graduate student in the Communication Department and graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library.


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Weekend Recs: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Happy Friday, Wildcats! After a year off, Falvey Memorial Library is bringing back Weekend Recs, a blog dedicated to filling you in on what to read, listen to, and watch over the weekend. Jenna, a graduate assistant from the Communication department, scours the internet, peruses the news, and digs through book stacks to find new, relevant, and thought-provoking content that will challenge you and prepare you for the upcoming week. 

Wednesday, Sept. 15 kicked-off Hispanic Heritage Month. The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on Sept. 15 and ending on Oct. 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.  

Why does Hispanic Heritage Month start in the middle of the month? It is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico, and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively. Take some time this weekend to learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month and how you can celebrate.

If you have 3 minutes… check out this article I wrote last year to find a new book by a Hispanic or Latino American author to read this month. 

If you have 7 minutes… read this article from the Skimm about co-founders of streetwear and empowerment brand Daughter of an Immigrant, Leslie Garcia and Karen Garcia. 

If you have 12 minutes… watch this YouTube video from Great Big Story celebrating Hispanic American stories. 

If you have 20 minutes… listen to VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s podcast, Love + Grit, and hear the stories of Francisco Garcia, founder of Philadelphia’s first Latino-owned whiskey distiller, and social justice professional Alba Martínez, who composed a song inspired by SEPTA’s Route 47 bus, which runs through the heart of the city’s Latino community. 

If you have an evening… visit one of these Latinx-owned restaurants right here in Philly. 


""Jenna Renaud is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.


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TBT: Staring at a Screen

This photo from the 1991 Belle Air shows senior Rory Finmeister working on his senior project on one of Falvey’s computers.

Although long nights in front of the computer, never-ending group meetings and tedious hours in the Library isn’t anything new for students today, our computers are definitely way newer. Today’s TBT is deceptively familiar if only the computer was a MacBook Air as opposed to the device pictured here.


jenna newman headshotJenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.

 

 

 


 


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Cat in the Stax: National Parks Week

Not only is next week Earth Week, but it’s also National Parks Week, so get ready for a list of ways you can celebrate both the earth and our parks, whether it’s through picking up a new book to read or finding time to get outside and enjoy nature.

Activities to Celebrate 

Villanova is lucky enough to be situated only 15 minutes from one of Pennsylvania’s national parks—Valley Forge National Park. This week or weekend get together a group of your close friends, find someone with a car and make the drive over to Valley Forge to walk around and enjoy nature. Not only is this a great way to celebrate National Parks, but it also lets you get outside, clear your head and refocus for all of the end of semester studying and papers that lie ahead. 

Villanova has a wide variety of Earth Week events going on, some of them starting as early as this week, and all of them are worth attending; however, I wanted to highlight another event that gets you outside and looking at nature, even if it’s not at a National Park. Next Thursday, April 22, Villanova’s horticulturist, Hugh Weldon will be leading a tour of the trees around campus. More details and registration can be found here.

Books to Read 

The Falvey collection has a wide range of National Parks Travel Guides that you can reserve and pick up. The collection has guides for everything you need to know for parks from Shenandoah National Park to Glacier National Park. With only a month left of the semester, now is the perfect time to grab some guide books and start planning a summer road trip to a National Park near or far!

Fun Fact: Did you know each day of National Parks Week has its own theme?

The National Park Service website has a list with themes for each day of National Park week as well as other ideas for you to celebrate. Below are the themes for each day.

April 17 – Park Rx Day

April 18 – VIP (Volunteers In Parks) Sunday

April 19 – Military Monday

April 20 – Transformation Tuesday

April 21 – Wayback Wednesday

April 22 – Earth Day

April 23 – Friendship Friday

April 24 – Junior Ranger Day

April 25 – BARK Ranger Day

Let us know how you plan on celebrating both Earth Week and National Parks Week next week!


jenna newman headshotJenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.

 

 

 


 


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Cat in the Stax: National Library Week

We’re officially halfway through National Library Week! There’s something about libraries that sticks with you throughout life, whether it’s memories of getting your first ever library card or late nights spent writing papers and studying for exams. For this week’s Cat in the Stax I’m going to reminisce on some of my favorite library memories and factors that make a great library.

My first library card was from the Mercer County Library, and I remember practicing writing my name over and over again because my mom said once I could write my own name, I could get my library card. Despite having not been there in over 10 years, I can still distinctly remember where everything is located. Every summer they would always have different events for elementary students that promoted reading and learning. One factor that makes a great library is the variety of programming and events that they have available, whether in-person or virtual!

During my undergraduate years, I spent quite a bit of time at the University of Delaware’s Morris Library. My four years there included many late night study sessions and trying to snag the best study spots between classes. Another mark of a quality library is definitely study spots and study rooms. My roommate and I would always meet up in our pre-booked study room after classes to study before heading back to our apartment!

Maybe I’m a little biased, but my favorite library right now is definitely Falvey! Beyond the extensive programming and study spots, Falvey also has an amazing group of staff and librarians that are always willing to help with papers and research projects. Plus, having Holy Grounds there to get a mid-study caffeine fix has become a deal-breaker for me as far as study spots go. Make sure to head over to Falvey sometime this week to celebrate National Library Week and let us know what you think makes a great library on social media or in the comments!


jenna newman headshotJenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.


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TBT: Old Falvey Reading Room

As we officially head into March and the temperature starts to pick up (at least a couple degrees!), it seems as though our coursework does as well. For this week’s TBT we travel to the 1960s and the Falvey Hall Reading Room. Falvey still offers great study spaces 60 years later, so make sure to come in and find the perfect spot to get your work done. 

This photograph comes from the University Archives and can be found in Villanova’s digital collection.


Jenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.


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Cat in the Stax: Resolutions Reimagined

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes things happen and absolutely nothing goes according to plan. This lesson is something that we need to internalize and remember going into 2021 and beyond. Take a minute, stop reading, and think about all of the New Year’s resolutions you made last year that you completely forgot about when March hit. For my first Cat in the Stax of the year, I want to change the way that we think about “New Year’s resolutions,” especially with many of your resolutions potentially pertaining to the new semester that’s right around the corner.

According to Google, a resolution is, “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” In my opinion, humans just aren’t good at that, we’re wishy-washy and that’s totally okay. So let’s stop setting ourselves up for failure. If I make my New Year’s resolution to workout 5 times per week, the first time that I don’t do that, I’ve technically failed. Instead, let’s think of this new year as a time to reassess our goals.

By changing our mindset and making goals instead of declaring resolutions, we offer ourselves more grace and can celebrate the progress made. In 2020, I set my reading goal on Goodreads to 25 books, as of December 13 I had read 9. Instead of thinking of that as, “Wow, I failed!” I can focus on the fact that had I not set that goal, maybe I would have only read 3 or 4 and missed out on reading fantastic books.

Goals partially completed at the end of each year can be seen as progress markers. I now know that I read 9 books in 2020, and I wish that I had made reading more of a priority. In 2021, maybe my next goal is to read 15 books. It’s not that lofty 2020 goal of 25, but I took the progress I had made and can now work to beat that.

To encourage you all in crushing your goals for 2021, here are some of my goals for the Spring 2021 semester:

  • Get to know two Falvey librarians better
  • Engage Cat in the Stax reader’s by replying to every comment
  • Read 5 books off of the Falvey shelves
  • Take my own photos for 50% of my Cat in the Stax 

What goals do you have for 2021 and how can Falvey help you crush them?


Jenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department. Current mood: Figuring out how to crush my goals (& 2021)!


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Last Modified: January 20, 2021