Smile Politely

Listen Up: Nov. 27–Dec. 2

WHAT: Cold War Performances: The Moscow Art Theatre’s Haunted Return to America,” Valleri Hohman

WHEN: Tuesday, November 27 @ 12 noon

WHERE: 101 International Studies Building, 910 S. Fifth Street, Champaign

From the event announcement: “The Russian actor, Boris Pekter, first visited the United States in 1965 as a part of the month-long visit of the Moscow Art Theatre to New York City. He noted in his memoir that his encounters with Americans disrupted the stereotypical version of Americans, that he himself had perpetuated on the Moscow stage. Pekter’s “Discovery of America,” as he called it, came four decades after the last Moscow Art Theatre’s so-called “Conquest of America,” in 1923. After difficult negotiations with the Soviet Ministry of Culture, the theatre leadership, and the US Department of State, impresario Sol Hurok managed to bring the company to the United States (as his theatrical rival had done so many years earlier) for an entire month of performances. The long-delayed Moscow Art Theatre arrived with a repertoire that included two Chekhov plays, the Stanislavsky-directed Dead Souls, and the contemporary Soviet play, Kremlin Chimes, performances which romanticized both the nation’s and the theatre’s past(s). This lecture depicts the ways in which these Cold War performances were haunted by past Russian performances in the United States and how this ghosting made it possible to forge and reaffirm relationships that would (re)establish long-term transnational artistic, diplomatic, and political networks.”

WHAT: Racial Inequality in Brazil and the United States, 1990-2010,” George Reid Andrews,  History, University of Pittsburgh

WHEN: Thursday, November 29 @ 12 noon

WHERE: 101 International Studies Building, 910 S. Fifth Street, Champaign

From the event announcement: “Since 1994 Brazil has enacted programs and policies aimed at reducing the country’s historically high levels of social and economic inequality. Those programs have indeed produced significant reductions in class inequality; but what have been their impacts on racial inequality, as measured by black/white differences in education, earnings, life expectancy, and other indicators of social wellbeing? And how have similar measures of racial inequality evolved in the United States during that same period? As of 2010, which country has the better claim to being a true racial democracy?”


WHAT: Understanding the Energy Challenge: It Takes More Than Science,” Professor Paul Debevec

WHEN: Saturday, December 1 @ 10:15 a.m.

WHERE: 141 Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 W. Green St., Urbana

From the event announcement: “Fossil fuels cannot be forever. Technological advances in fossil fuel extraction may extend the horizon, but these resources are finite. Renewable energy must be in our future. The connection between fossil fuel use, environmental damage and climate change should drive a more rapid transition, but the route is blocked by many challenges. The world runs on fossil fuels. How can we have cars and trucks without gasoline? How can we generate electricity without coal or natural gas? How can we have enough energy for a growing and developing world population? There is the sun and the wind, but what to do when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow? We need to think big and act big. The world has no option but to solve these energy challenges. Spend an hour with me searching for solutions.”


You live near a major university and a community college. There are smart people that come here every week to talk to the general public about interesting topics. Perhaps you were not aware of this fact, or were overwhelmed by the sheer number of opportunities for possible enlightenment. If that’s the case, Smile Politely understands and is here to help. Here are several events going on in town this week. Check out one or more of them if you have time. Get your learn on, as they say, and join the cognoscenti. It’s free, you know. Plus, sometimes there’s free food, too!

If you have a community event, speaker, or film event that you’d like to see featured on Listen Up!, send the event information to joelgillespie [at] smilepolitely [dot] com by Friday the week prior to the event. Listen Up! runs on Mondays when classes are in session.

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