Choosing a Major for Fun
by Frances Sternhagen, Class of 1951
My memories are mainly the Drama Department and the choir under Mr. Geer. He always whispered a whistle of the next note we were supposed to sing, and I could never hear it, so I’d have to carry the last note I sang all through the sermon so I’d sing the right note next, after the sermon. But I loved the choir and the music he chose.
Mary Virginia Heinlein’s direction of plays in Avery was challenging and very different from the silly fun of plays and Soph Party in Students’.
There’s also a story about Bibs Muhs and a conference in the arts my freshman year (1948, I think). Some young man from another college called out during one of the sessions that “art has got to stop being elitist; we have to bring art down to the people.” Bibs, who used to go around campus in her black gown, as a lot of people did (to avoid getting dressed for an early class) often riding our bicycles, stood up and said, “Wait a minute; I’m a people. I don’t want art brought down to me. I want to reach up to art.” She got a big applause.
Another story is of Evalyn Clark asking me why I wasn’t majoring in drama. When I said, “I didn’t think you should major in something that was just fun,” she said, “Well, for me, history is just fun.”
- Video: Frances Sternhagen '51, two-time Tony Award winner, recalls her acting teacher at Vassar.
- VQ, Spring 2001 - Award-winning Actress Frances Sternhagen '51: From the Outside In
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