April 24, 1980
The drama department performed Christopher Durang’s riotous play A History of the American Film (1978) in the Powerhouse Theater. "Starting with black and white films," said Amy Applebaum '81 in The Miscellany News, "we watch American cinema mature through the immature talkies of the twenties, the adolescent screwball comedies and gangster films of the thirties, the coming [of] age in the forties war films, the prime reached in the probing, psychological movies of the fifties and sixties, and finally into senility with the setting in of disaster films.... There's a rather heavy-handed, though convincing, moral to this story: Americans use the cinema for escape and for answers. It just can't work. Loretta, the orpheline who gets all the tough breaks in life...keeps praying that her scene will fade out, 'The End' will flash before her eyes and she can 'remain frozen behind it forever, and then nothing else can happen.' But the play keeps going on, the scenes switch and the characters must adjust to the social and political changes created by history."
The main characters in the work, Loretta, Jimmy, Bette, Hank, and Eve, mirror archetypes in American films of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s and are supported by eight “contract players” who play some 60 characters, from Ma and Pa Joad to God, “Victor Henreid,” Salad Chef and Silent Movie Mother. Nominated for a Tony after its Broadway opening in 1978, the play, its author said, was “about how the archetypes in movies express the inner dreams of Americans, and how those dreams started to go sour in the mid-60s and 70s.”