Stop and Smell the Roses at New Mudd Exhibits

Abby Hawkins, Arts Editor

When a new display in Mudd’s Academic Commons crops up, it tends to attract a temporary buzz of student curiosity before becoming just another obstacle in the buzzing hive of the first-floor social scene. The two collections currently on display, though, are worth pausing for a closer look.

The first showcases the personal papers of actor, director and writer Tony Musante, OC ’58, who recently donated his collected documents to the Oberlin College Archives. Musante made his on-screen debut in 1963 and has since starred in over 60 films and TV shows, with just as many theatrical roles to his name. Some of his most notable credits include a lead role in P.S. Your Cat is Dead! on Broadway, which earned him a New York Drama Desk nomination, and as Italian mob boss Nino Schibetta in the acclaimed HBO series Oz. Musante’s star shows no signs of fading: He most recently played a mob boss in the 2012 short film Ice and has starred in six TV and film productions internationally in the last decade.

The Archives collection spans 1954–2012 and includes handwritten note- books filled with his thoughts, ideas and insights into the acting and directing processes of his numerous roles. Also on display are annotated scripts, playbills and posters signed by his co-stars throughout the years. Such intimate notes will provide cinema studies and theater students with valuable insight into how a renowned character actor develops his characters in a variety of creative environments. Musante’s personal papers will be on the first floor until March 17, after which they will move to the Goodrich Room on the fourth floor of Mudd until March 29.

Due to its prominent spot near the library entrance and its array of racy cover art, it’s likely that you’ve already noticed the second display, “Gay and Lesbian Literature of the 20th Century: A Look Into the Gene Woodling Col- lection.” Curated with fascinating information labels by College juniors Alicia Gaber and Lauren Vandemortel, the books and magazines on display were donated to the College by Woodling, an Akron, Ohio, resident who wanted to give his collection, accrued over several decades, a home where queer students could easily access them.

“The collection contains thousands of books, so we tried to pull out the more famous ones or interesting titles. Then we sort of went through and tried to pull out common themes — tragic versus happy ending, set in war, rejected from the gay community, et cetera,” said Vandemortel. “Research- ing them was just fascinating, especially seeing how some of the lesbian pulp authors were building off of each other in the 1950s.”

If big names like Anaïs Nin, Gore Vidal and William S. Burroughs don’t draw you in, maybe titles like Pulp Friction and The Great Urge Downward will. This display is part of the Year of the Queer programming and will be available for perusing until March 20, after which the books will be integrated into the regular stacks bearing the Gene Woodling Collection bookplate.