• 30 Oct 2019 6:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Allen Flagg became interested in General Semantics in 1952, eventually serving for many years as President of the New York Society for General Semantics. He taught general semantics classes at IBM, The New School, Queens College and Fairfield University. In 2008 he was a recipient of the Institute of General Semantics J. Talbot Winchell Award.

    To honor Allen, a lecture series was established in his name and Martin H. Levinson agreed to deliver the first of those lectures on April 12, 2019, entitled “General Semantics as a Conversing Activity.” After his talk, Levinson read from his recently published book Practical Fairy Tales for Everyday Living (Institute of General Semantics, 2018), the introduction of which appears below.


    The American Heritage Dictionary defines the term “fairy tale” as a fictitious, highly fanciful story or explanation. Can such a narrative furnish useful advice on important topics like sound thinking, smart decision-making, stress reduction, emotional self-management, and getting along better with others? This book answers in the affirmative. Practical Fairy Tales for Everyday Living provides twenty-four whimsical stories featuring characters who successfully battle a variety of personal problems and mishaps through the formulations of general semantics (GS), a science-based “self-help” system designed to assist individuals to better evaluate and solve everyday difficulties and gain a more accurate picture of themselves and the world in which they live. While the stories are not true in the literal sense of that word, the British writer G.K. Chesterton observed, “Fairy tales are more than true—not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”

    Martin H. Levinson is the president of the Institute of General Semantics, the treasurer of New York Society for General Semantics, and the book review editor for ETC: A Review of General Semantics. He has published ten books and numerous articles and poems on a variety of subjects. Levinson holds a PhD from New York University and lives in Forest Hills, NY.

    It was a lecture and reading that was the talk of the town!

  • 02 Oct 2019 7:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On March 20, 2019, the New York Society for General Semantics hosting an event featuring author Vasu Varadhan in conversation regarding her recently published book.

    The word family represents a set of relationships we all take for granted but, as with all our terms, as general semantics teaches us, the map is not the territory. Anthropologists have long studied the differences in the ways that different cultures define and experience the concepts of marriage and kinship. Understanding these differences, differences that make a difference, can help us to understand a fundamental aspect of our time-binding species.

    Memoirs are attempts to map the territory of our own lives, a means of exploring memory and history, self and identity. Dr. Vasu Vardhan's memoir, On My Own Terms: A Journey Between Two Worlds (Mediacs, 2018), represents an auto-ethnographic study that illuminates much about gender, culture, family, and individuality.

    From the publisher's blurb:

    In moments of quiet despair following the death of her eldest son in the September 11 attack on The World Trade Center, Vasu Varadhan thought of her mother and father, a United Nations diplomat and champion of nuclear disarmament during the Cold War who died at the early age of 50; her childhood in New York City and young adulthood in India, and her arranged marriage at the age of 16. Circling back into personal family history led to her decision to write this memoir, a search for better understanding of life’s joys and sorrows.

    At its core, On My Own Terms is a classic story of an immigrant’s struggle to forge an identity of one’s own amidst the upheavals of geographical and cultural displacement. On another level, it is an homage to a remarkable woman’s struggle to maintain individuality, integrity and freedom as an accomplished scholar inside the orthodox Hindu culture in which she was born and raised.

    Vasu Varadhan holds a PhD in Media Ecology from New York University, where she is currently a member of the faculty at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She has taught a wide range of interdisciplinary seminars on media theory, identity in a multi-cultural world, ancient Indian literature and South Asian literature with a special focus on emerging Indian writers in the diaspora. She is the featured subject of the documentary, Knowing Her Place, by Indu Krishnan which chronicles her struggle with “cultural schizophrenia” as an Indian American woman searching to forge her own identity. Her writing has been published in two of India’s leading newspapers, The Hindu and The Indian Express, in the South Asian Review and in the online publication, The Pythians. She has also published scholarly articles in ETC: A Review of General Semantics.

    Teresa Manzella, a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Society for General Semantics, moderated the event. She studied media ecology and generals semantics with Neil Postman at New York University and sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and holds masters degrees in communication and education. She worked in business as a career counselor and on training and development and team-building for several companies including Citibank, Chemical, and J.P. Morgan Chase, as well as the MTA. She ran the Career and Life Design Group at The Unitarian Universalist Church of All Souls, NYC, for 20 years, and maintains a private Career Counseling practice.

    It was a conversation that was memorable and revealing!  

  • 10 Sep 2019 8:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On February 20, 2019, the New York Society for General Semantics was pleased to host a book launch for Acting Chekhov in Translation: 4 Plays, 100 Ways (New York: Peter Lang, 2019) by Robin Beth Levenson.

    Dr. Levenson is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York. She received her PhD from New York University, an MFA from the University of California, Riverside, and has presented at conferences on translation and communication studies at the University of East Anglia, England, the American Literary Translation Association, the New York State Communication Association, the Eastern Communication Association, the City University of New York League of Speech Professors, and the international Stanislavski Symposium at the University of Malta.  She has acted professionally in Los Angeles and New York on stage, film and via voiceovers. Her research explorations include how language influences thought and behavior, and the nature of performance.

    Michael Plugh, Professor of Communication at Manhattan College and a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Society for General Semantics moderated the event, which included a conversation, discussion, reading, book signing, and reception with refreshments.

    From the author:

    My teacher Stella Adler said, “I am a student by nature. I am a scholar as well as an actress.” Ideally, actors do practical research on their roles; they are “script interpreters.” I’m a scholar and an actor as well. But this book does not  presume to “interpret” Anton Chekhov’s work definitively, or to assess which translations of his plays in English are the “best.” It is, rather, an exploration of how practitioners and scholars may approach script analysis when the play is in translation. Interpretation is up to the individual production, and to the audience. Chekhov’s plays provide useful examples for this examination of the playscript.

    The actor’s granular explication of theatre texts—as playwright Lee Blessing notes in his blurb for my book—means we must explore all possible avenues of meaning and behavior in creating a role, based on just the written dialogue we are given. This practice of the actor is significantly related to the ideas of General Semantics. Korzybski’s idea of “time-binding” says “Time-binding is something we do. [In order to] deliberately, consciously change [or], improve our way of being, we have first to be awake to What? How? and Reasons for doing what we are doing.” This too is what the actor does, which results in his Actions on the stage. The actor must be “Awake” to all aspects of the script in order to discover its underlying meanings.

    With 145 translations I discovered, the book describes the nature of translation for the stage, the notion of Action, Chekhov’s inimitable dramaturgy and his last four masterpieces that changed the path of modern drama, illuminating how our language determines our behavior.

    From the publisher's blurb: 

    Iconic Russian writer Anton Chekhov is recognized as the most translated and produced playwright in the world after William Shakespeare―that is, he is the most produced and most highly regarded modern playwright in English translation. Chekhov’s style models our behaviors and aspirations in alluring and intricate ways, unmatched in playwriting. His plays determined Realism in language and acting practice from the late 19th century to the present. Acting Chekhov in Translation: 4 Plays, 100 Ways explores the history of translation, contemporary and controversial approaches to stage translation, the notion of "action" from Aristotle to Adler (and beyond), and Chekhov’s inimitable dramaturgy. English translations, adaptations and versions of The SeagullUncle VanyaThe Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard are each considered from the actors’ points of view, from the page to the stage.

    The nature of stage translation has recently undergone novel and provocative changes: how can someone who does not know the source language adapt or translate a play? It is done frequently, and the outcomes are investigated herein. For the translator as well as practitioners, understanding theatre craft is essential to producing playable and engaging productions. Differences in the language, punctuation, syntax, sound, rhythm, stage directions and what appears on the written page in various translations affect the work of the actor on the playscript.

    The purpose of this inquiry is not to definitively evaluate or interpret Chekhov’s plays but to discover approaches to working on plays in translation and to determine practical tools we may use in the analysis of dramatic form, as well as human behavior. This book includes selections from 145 translations and translators of all four plays and a glossary of acting terms that helps describe concepts for practical script analysis.

    It was a gathering and celebration that was dramatic and transformative!

  • 31 Jul 2019 7:01 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Alfred Korzybski introduced the terms neuro-semantic and neuro-linguistic, and in conjunction with his emphasis on the organism-as-a-whole-in-an-environment, made reference to the neuro-linguistic and neuro-semantic environment that we inhabit. Following Korzybski's lead, Wendell Johnson introduced the concept of the semantic environment in his classic work on general semantics, People in Quandaries (recently reissued by the Institute of General Semantics).

    Neil Postman devoted a chapter of his 1976 study, Crazy Talk, Stupid Talk, to the topic of the semantic environment, explaining that, "a semantic environment includes, first of all, people; second, their purposes; third, the general rules of discourse by which such purposes are usually achieved; and fourth, the particular talk actually being used in the situation." Noting that there are many different types of semantic environments, he described them as situations and social structures "in which people want to do something to, for, with, or against other people, as well as to, for, with, or against themselves."

    Postman specified that he was particularly concerned with "those semantic environments which give form to our most important human transactions." And in an earlier essay entitled "Demeaning of Meaning," he maintained that, "in considering the ecology of the semantic environment, we must take into account what is called the communications revolution," going on to observe that, "the invention of new and various media of communication has given a voice and an audience to many people whose opinions would otherwise not have be solicited, and who, in fact, have little if anything to contribute to public issues."

    In January of 2018, we had the rare opportunity of presenting a program consisting entirely of out-of-towners who have converged on New York City to attend the annual Media Ecology Association board meeting, and we continued that practice as we asked them to comment on the state of the semantic environment in 2019, locally and globally.

    The participants on this program, held on January 18, 2019, were:

    Carolin Aronis, Special Faculty in Communication Studies at Colorado State University and a Discourse, Culture, and Identity lecturer at the University of Colorado, Boulder, studying and teaching about communicative practices that challenge the essence of media, and that contribute to our understanding of communication, intersectionality, and intimacy.

    Julia Hildebrand, a Ph.D. candidate in Communication, Culture, and Media at Drexel University, whose research lies at the intersections of critical media studies and mobilities research with a special interest in visual communication and mobile technologies.

    Matt Thomas, educated at the University of Southern California and the University of Iowa, where he got his PhD in American Studies, currently teaching and writing in Iowa City.

    Edward Tywoniak, Professor of Communication, Director of the W. M. Keck Media Lab and Program Director for the Digital Studies major at Saint Mary’s College of California, Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics, and Immediate Past President of the Media Ecology Association.

    And the panel was moderated by NYSGS President Lance Strate, Professor of Communication and Media Studies, Fordham University, Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics, and Editor of Explorations in Media Ecology.

    It was a wide-ranging and stately discussion!

  • 20 May 2019 4:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Alfred Korzybski introduced general semantics in his 1933 magnum opus, Science and Sanity. As the title indicates, general semantics is dedicated to the spread and enhancement of sanity, both individually and collectively. As the title also indicates, Korzybski drew on scientific method as the basis of his system, which he characterized as non-aristotelian, because he recognized the logical and psychological problems associated with longstanding forms of thought and language use.

    But what, exactly, is sanity? Or more appropriately, what does the term sanity refer to, and how has it been used and misused? The root meaning, derived from the Latin, is associated with health, the same root as sanitary, sanitize, and sanitation, and the same connotation as the saying, being of sound mind and body. It follows that sanity is associated with the concept of mental health.

    Sanity is also closely associated with rationality, and mental health with adjustment to reality. In the judicial system, sanity is associated with the ability to understand the consequences of our actions. For Freud and his followers in the psychoanalytic tradition, sanity means being free from or cured of mental illness.

    Others view sanity as a social construct that varies from culture to culture, rather than an objective phenomenon. Thomas Szasz famously argued that the concept of sanity is closely associated with social control in his 1961 book, The Myth of Mental Illness.

    And while sanity, as a label, is most often applied to individuals, for Gregory Bateson and others who followed his cybernetic, systems-oriented approach, sanity resides in the relationship between individuals, including families and other groups. For Erich Fromm and others, entire societies may be diagnosed as sane or insane, and by extension we could do so for the human race as a whole.

    In taking up the question of, what is sanity?, our panel will consider whether there is such a thing or phenomenon as sanity, whether it is possible to identify an objective form of thought and behavior that can be judged as sane, and if so, how are we to recognize it? Is it simply the absence of mental illness or emotional distress, or is there the positive presence of something more? Is sanity something we have, something we are, or something we do?

    Further, what is meant by the term sanity, how has the term been used, and what are the appropriate and inappropriate contexts for its use? Also, who uses the term, who ought to use the term, what role does power, be it professional and institutional, political, or  symbolic, play in the use of the term?

    And, by and large, are we, as individuals in our contemporary culture, still sane, and what can we conclude about the relatively sanity of the groups that we are a part of? Is society as a whole sane by definition, or by diagnosis? Have there been societies in the past that have gone insane? And as a society, do we still have our own sanity? Or have we lost it?

    The participants on this program, held on December 19, 2018, were:

    Nancy Colier is a psychotherapist, interfaith minister, author, public speaker, mindfulness teacher and relationship coach.  A longtime student of Eastern spirituality, mindfulness practices form the ground of her work.  She is the author of The Power of Off: The Mindful Way to Stay Sane in a Virtual World (Sounds True Publishing), Inviting a Monkey to Tea: Befriending Your Mind and Discovering Lasting Contentment (Hohm Press), and Getting Out of Your Own Way: Unlocking Your True Performance Potential (Luminous Press), and a regular blogger for Psychology Today and Huffington Post

    Lori Ramos earned her PhD in Media Ecology from New York University. Her early research and scholarship explored the role of media in shaping conceptions of and attitudes toward literacy. More recently, her interests in communication have evolved to include psychotherapy. She has received an MSW from Fordham University with a focus on clinical social work and also completed EMDR training for trauma therapy. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Media Studies at William Paterson University in New Jersey and a staff therapist at Blanton-Peale Institute and Counseling Center in New York City.

    Frederick J. Wertz is Professor of Psychology at Fordham University and Interim Dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center, a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, winner of the 2014 Rollo May Award for independent and outstanding pursuit of new frontiers in humanistic psychology by the APA's Society for Humanistic Psychology. He is co-author of Five Ways of Doing Qualitative Analysis (Guilford Press), editor of The Humanistic Movement (Gardner Press), and co-editor of Advances in Qualitative Psychology (Swets & Zeitlenger), and Carl Jung in the Academy and Beyond: The Fordham Lectures of 1912 (The Spring Press).

    The panel was moderated by NYSGS President Lance Strate, Professor of Communication and Media Studies, Fordham University.

    It was a healthy and lucid discussion!

  • 17 Mar 2019 12:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On January 26th, 2018, we held the first panel discussion on this topic, and promised to follow it up with a second program held on November 28th, 2018, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Neil Postman's formal introduction of the term media ecology. The occasion was the 58th annual meeting of the National Council of Teachers of English, held in Milwaukee on November 29, 1968. Neil Postman gave an address entitled "Growing Up Relevant" as the main part of a program session entitled Media Ecology: The English of the Future. This talk was later published as a book chapter in the anthology, High School 1980: The Shape of the Future in American Secondary Education, edited by Alvin C. Eurich, where it appeared under the title of, The Reformed English Curriculum.

    In his 1968 address, Postman introduced media ecology as a field of inquiry that he defined as the study of media as environments. A year later, in Teaching as a Subversive Activity, co-authored by  Charles Weingartner, he introduced “the Sapir-Whorf-Korzybski-Ames-Einstein-Heisenberg-Wittgenstein-McLuhan-Et Al. Hypothesis … that language is not merely a vehicle of expression, it is also the driver; and that what we perceive, and therefore can learn, is a function of our languaging processes.”  And in conjunction with the 1974 Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture sponsored by the Institute of General Semantics, Postman delivered an address entitled, Media Ecology: General Semantics in the Third Millennium, in which he described media ecology as "general semantics writ large."

    This 50th anniversary offered us the opportunity to take up questions such as, what has media ecology and general semantics contributed to the field of education, to teaching and schooling, and what might be contributed in the future? What has media ecology and general semantics contributed to the study of language and the subject of English, and what might be contributed in the future? What can we learn about Neil Postman in particular, and his views on education, communication, and culture? To what extent have things changed over the past half century, and to what extent do they remain the same?

    The participants on this program were:

    Thom GencarelliProfessor and Chair of the Communication Department at Manhattan College

    Terence P. Moran, Professor of Media Ecology, New York University

    Michael Plugh, Professor of Communication at Manhattan College

    Madeline Postman, Teacher in the New York City school system for over 20 years, currently teaching at the Corona Arts and Sciences Academy in Queens

    and the program was moderated by NYSGS President Lance Strate, Professor of Communication and Media Studies, Fordham University.

    It was an instructive and enriching discussion!

  • 14 Feb 2019 6:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Recordings from the 66th Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture, and the Language and Meaning in the 21st Century Symposium that followed, are available for viewing on the Institute of General Semantics YouTube channel.

    The AKML and symposium, co-sponsored by the New York Society for General Semantics, were held at the Princeton Club in New York City, and featured many NYSGS regulars, as well as a great many out-of-towners, not to mention participants from all around the world.

    When this year's regularly scheduled Korzybski Lecturer was forced to withdraw for personal reasons, NYSGS President Lance Strate was asked to deliver the 66th AKML instead. The title of his lecture was, "Amazing Ourselves to Death: Contemplating the Technological Tempest of Our Times". That same evening, October 26th, 2018, NYSGS Board Member Ben Hauck was presented with the J. Talbot Winchell Award. NYSGS Treasurer Martin Levinson and Board Member Thom Gencarelli were among the presenters during the GS symposium that took place on October 27th-28th, 2018.

    It was, without a doubt, an intellectually rich and diverse weekend!

  • 18 Oct 2018 1:51 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    American politics over the past several years has proven to be highly eventful and highly controversial, rendering the upcoming midterm elections highly consequential. The role of language and the use and misuse of symbols in politics, along with their relation to facts and political realities, have long been a concern for general semantics. Having organized several lively and engaging programs on this topic during and after the 2016 US Presidential election, we were pleased to begin our Fall 2018 programming on October 3rd with a panel discussion that explored current American political discourse with little more than a month to go before the midterm elections that will decide the composition of the US Congress in the coming year.

     The participants on this program were:

    Arshia Anwer is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Manhattan College, with research interests in the areas of integrated marketing communication, philosophy of communication, religious communication, and intercultural communication.  She holds a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and an M.A in Integrated Marketing Communication from Duquesne University, and an M.A. in Psychology from Osmania University in Hyderabad, India.  She has worked in the communication and education fields in a variety of marketing communication, editing, and teaching roles.

    Thom Gencarelli, Professor and Chair of the Communication Department at Manhattan College, member of the Board of Trustees of the Institute of General Semantics, and the Board of Directors of the NYSGS, and the new editor of ETC: A Review of General Semantics.

    Arthur S. Hayes, an Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University, is the author of Press Critics are the Fifth Estate: Media Watchdogs in America; Sympathy for the Cyberbully: How the Crusade to Censor Hostile and Offensive Online Speech Abuses Freedom of Expression; and the editor of Communication in the Age of Trump.

    The program was moderated by Lance Strate, Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University, Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics, and President of the New York Society for General Semantics, as well as author of several books including the award-winning Media Ecology: An Approach to Understanding the Human Condition; and Amazing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman's Brave New World Revisited.

    It was a compelling and captivating discussion!

  • 22 Sep 2018 3:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On May 14th, the world lost one of its most celebrated, talented, and accomplished authors, Thomas Kennerly Wolfe, Jr., best known simply as Tom Wolfe. Wolfe earned his PhD in American Studies from Yale University in 1957, and worked as a newspaper reporter for a decade, writing for periodicals such as the Washington Post and the New York Herald-Tribune, as well as New York magazine and Esquire

    Wolfe pioneered the use of a personal, literary style in news reporting and feature writing that became known as the New Journalism. A best selling author, his nonfiction works include The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1965); The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968); The Pump House Gang (1968); Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers (1970); and His Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter & Vine (1976). His examination and critique of the contemporary American art scene, The Painted Word (1975), proved to be extremely controversial. His history of the early space program The Right Stuff (1979), was adapted as a feature film by Phillip Kaufman in 1983. 

    His book, In Our Time (1980), featured his own artwork, while From Bauhaus to Our House (1981), as a follow-up to The Painted Word, took on the topic of American architecture. Wolfe turned novelist with the publication of The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987), which was followed by A Man in Full (1998), I Am Charlotte Simmons (2004), and Back to Blood (2012). Hooking Up (2001) collected several works of his short fiction coupled with several of his essays. 

    Tom Wolfe was an early promoter of media ecology scholar Marshall McLuhan, famously posing the question, "What if he's right?" in a 1965 essay published in New York magazine, and comparing McLuhan to the likes of Newton, Darwin, Freud, Einstein, and Pavlov. Wolfe's last book, The Kingdom of Speech (2016), a critique of Noam Chomsky's approach to linguistics, was awarded the Institute of General Semantics's S. I. Hayakawa Book Prize at last year's annual Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture, which was co-sponsored by the NYSGS. 

    Wolfe is credited with coining a number of terms, including the right stuff, radical chic, the Me Decade, good ol' boy, and statusphere. As an author and journalist, he was truly a man of letters, to invoke an old fashioned phrase that fits well with the famous man in a white suit, as he was known. And as a student and scholar of language, art, media, and communication, as well as a writer, interviewer, and raconteur, he most certainly was also a man of words

    On June 27th, 2018, the New York Society for General Semantics honored his contributions, creative and intellectual, and celebrated his achievements with a special panel discussion on select aspects of his career and publications. 

    The participants on this program were: 

    Thom Gencarelli, Professor and Chair of the Communication Department at Manhattan College, member of the Board of Trustees of the Institute of General Semantics, and the Board of Directors of the NYSGS, and the new editor of ETC: A Review of General Semantics.

    Martin Levinson, author of several books on general semantics including a forthcoming new edition of Practical Fairy Tales for Everyday Living, President of the Institute of General Semantics and Treasurer of the New York Society for General Semantics. 

    Lance Strate, author of several books including the award-winning Media Ecology: An Approach to Understanding the Human Condition, Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University, Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics, and President of the New York Society for General Semantics. 

    The program was moderated by Jacqueline Rudig, Treasurer of the Institute of General Semantics, and member of the Board of Directors of the New York Society for General Semantics. 

    It was a thoughtful and belletristic discussion!

  • 14 Aug 2018 7:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    General semantics is concerned with the ways in which language and symbols function as representations of our outer environment and our innermost feelings and thoughts. These representations function as maps of our external and internal realities. They help us to understand what we perceive and experience, they guide us in evaluating and navigating our world, and they give us tools for thought and action.

    Different representations or maps may be more or less accurate or more or less useful in helping us to achieve certain ends. But different representations or maps may also help us to learn about different aspects of our reality, providing us with different perspectives, and abstracting out of external events different parts of the greater whole. What scientific modes of representation tell us about the world, for example, is quite different from what literary modes reveal, but each one provides us with knowledge that the other cannot.

    The theatre is one of our oldest forms of literary expression, one that has an extraordinary influence on our use of language and symbol, from the Attic playwrights of ancient Greece and the introduction of the proscenium arch, and the unparalleled creative production of William Shakespeare in Elizabethan England, to the avant-garde experimentation of Bertolt Brecht in 20th century Germany, and Lin-Manuel Miranda's combination of hip hop and history in the Broadway hit Hamilton.

    It follows that it is worth considering questions such as, what is unique to theatre as a mode of representation? What are its advantages and limitations, its problems and potentials? What are the relationships between dramatic performance and language and symbol, spoken and written word, play and script? Importantly, what role can theatre play in helping us to understand our world, in education, in social and political commentary? 

    Given that programs for the New York Society for General Semantics are held in the historic Players Club, founded by Edwin Booth, the greatest dramatic actor of the 19th century, as a social club "for the promotion of social intercourse between the representative members of the dramatic profession and the kindred professions of literature, painting, sculpture and music, and the patrons of the arts," a panel discussion on theatre was especially appropriate. 

     The participants on this program were:

    Robin Beth Levenson, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY, and author of  Acting Chekhov in Translation: 4 Plays, 100 Ways (Peter Lang) Publishers, Inc., published in 2018. A graduate of the Media Ecology Doctoral Program at New York University, with an MFA from the University of California at Riverside, her articles have been published in journals such as Dialogues in Social Justice and Communications from the International Brecht Society.  Her research explorations include how language influences thought and behavior, and the nature of performance.

    Emily Lyon, a Brooklyn-based theatre director and dramaturg who recently created a theatrical piece, How We Hear, inspired by Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death. Her other directing work includes The Summoning (Best Direction, Best Production: sheNYC), Sword & the Stone/The Tempest tour (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival), The Secret in the Wings (Hedgepig Ensemble), Women of Williams County (Best Ensemble: Manhattan International Theatre Festival), Interior: Panic (FringeNYC), Max Frisch’s The Arsonists (DCTV Firehouse), Some of the Side Effects (Best Premiere: UnitedSolo), and As You Like It (Geva Theatre Directing Fellow). 

    S. Brian Jones, Director of Operations for The Players, recently completed his masters in the Masters of Applied Theater program at CUNY School of Professional Studies. He has served as a Teacher in Residence and Arts Administrator with schools, regional theatre companies and social service agencies, conducted credential training workshops for teachers with Delaware Institute for Arts in Education, served as an advocate for Arts Education within the educational and government systems, and worked at Foundation Theatre, Freedom Theatre, Delaware Theatre Company, Christina Cultural Arts Center, New Castle County Parks and Recreation, La Jolla Playhouse, Horton Grand Theater, Ensemble Arts Theatre, Creative Management Group, Dorwell Productions, Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services, the 1199 Child Care Corporation, The Artist Playground Theater and Inside Broadway.  Most recently, he worked as the Education Programs Manager for the award winning Off-Broadway Company, Epic Theatre Ensemble.  

    M*** S******* is a New York based actor, director and writer.  As a performer, he has appeared on Broadway in the 39 Steps and off Broadway in Small World at 59east59, Checkers at the Vineyard Theatre, Tryst at the Irish Repertory Theatre, As Bees In Honey Drown at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.  His directorial work has been seen at The Alley Theatre, the Fulton Opera House, Virginia Stage, the Westport Country Playhouse, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, George Street Playhouse and many others.  His play, The Dingdong: or How The French Kiss, an adaptation of Feydau’s Le Dindon, premiered Off Broadway and has played around the country.  His adaptation of A Christmas Carol, which he will also direct, premieres this December at Florida Repertory Theatre. Mark is a graduate of Brown University and received his MA in Communication and Media Studies from Fordham University, where he teaches film courses. *Name withheld by request.

    The discussion was moderated by Lance Strate, Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University, President of the New York Society for General Semantics, member of the Board of Trustees of the Institute of General Semantics.

    It was a lively and dramatic discussion! 

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