SCHOLAR'S NOTEBOOK - November/December 2008

Front Row Seat

The Development of UCSD’s Theatre Dept.

and the Re-emergence of the La Jolla Playhouse

Saturday, Nov. 15

1:30 p.m.

Room 111-A Chancellor’s Complex, UCSD Campus

Arthur Wagner, Speaker


Arthur Wagner, professor emeritus at UCSD, was founding chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance in 1972.

He was considered one of the leading acting teachers in the country, and he worked closely with the professional La Jolla Playhouse. The department now has one of the top three graduate programs in the United States. 

Today, 36 years after founding the theater department, Dr. Wagner can recall empty land on the UCSD campus
that is now the "theatre district," with four important buildings and a restaurant.

Dr. Wagner earned a Ph.D. in drama from Stanford. His thesis was on the work of playwright Clifford Odets.  He got his master's degree from Smith
College and wrote his thesis on Stanislavsky and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Prof. Wagner retired in 1991 after 19 years at the helm at UCSD Theatre. He and his wife Molli have been active philanthropists in recent years.

The UCSD Dance Building is named for them, and they have endowed a chair in acting at the university. Dr. Wagner now serves on the La Jolla Playhouse’s board. In addition, they have donated a neighborhood Planned Parenthood clinic honoring their daughter.



Gary Jacobson spoke about the shape of the 2008 election. The UCSD political scientist used extensive polling data to show how the context and tone of the campaign has developed over the past year and more. Among the interesting facts: this is the first election since 1952 in which both candidates are running against the current administration. The economic downturn, the war in Iraq and widespread dissatisfaction with where the country is heading have been the major shaping forces.  Although Obama holds an 8-10 point lead, the election is hanging in the balance.  Two significant developments to look for in the next few days are turnout and a hidden anti-black vote. Younger voters (18-29) are overwhelmingly for Obama but historically do not turn out to vote.  Older voters (65-plus) have the highest turnout.  Although Jacobson believes that anti-Black sentiment has already been factored into polls, the role that race will play is still not clear.



Works in Progress

The Works in Progress group will meet on Saturday, Nov. 1 at 1:30 p. m. at Alice Marquis' home 8963 Camino Fresco, La Jolla. Up for discussion is a revised chapter in Aline Hornaday's study of saints in medieval Hainaut, now a part of Belgium. If you are new to this group, would like information, or want an advance copy of Aline’s chapter,  please email Alice at

Colloquy Café

Sam Gusman will host the next meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 1-3 p.m., at his home, 8515 Costa Verde Blvd., Apt. 1808. The subject of the meeting is Honor.  Contact Sam for more information at


The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 10,  10:30 a. m. at the home of Cathy Blecki, 1607 Bittern Court, Carlsbad. We plan to discuss James Agee's A Death in the Family. Contact:


The Science Group (aka Brain Study Group), now in its ninth year, will meet on Friday, Nov. 14, at 2:30 p.m., at the home of Bea Rose, 8515 Costa Verde Blvd., Apt. 1909,  to discuss the chapter on free will in Patricia Smith Churchland's  book Brain-Wise - Studies in Neurophilosophy.  Visitors are welcome.  Call Bea for directions and more information at 858.458.9263.




Time feels compressed.  Suddenly it’s Halloween, signaling the dark end of daylight saving time and the light to end this dramatic election cycle.  In less than three weeks we’ll meet again, to hear how Arthur Wagner helped stimulate San Diego’s theatre life to the vitality it now enjoys.  Three short weeks later we’ll celebrate the season with out annual Holiday Party.  See the invitation in this issue of the Scholar’s Notebook, and don’t forget to make your reservations early, at least by November 21, so we can tell the chef how many to expect.  We look forward to relaxing in each other’s company, as we salute the year behind us and toast the fresh one to come. —Donna Boyle



Beginning in January, the Scholar’s Notebook, will be distributed on line at  If you do not have internet access and require a paper copy, please contact the Notebook editor, Cathy Robbins at 619.952.9701. 

Have you got some news for the Members at Work Dept.? A paper published or read? A chapter finished? Special presentation or talk? If you have a digital camera, please help us get photos of events like the holiday party, monthly meetings and the study groups.

Also, let us know about some cultural events you think are worthwhile? The annual Jewish Book Fair runs Nov. 6-13, with dozens of book events. In December, you can choose from three performances of Handel’s “Messiah” — from La Jolla Symphony (a sing-along!), the San Diego Symphony and San Diego Chamber Orchestra/Bach Collegium. From the La Jolla Music Society, we’ll have a cutting edge work by Olivier Messaien: “Vingt Regards in sur l’Enfant-Jesus.” Also thanks to LJMS, Gustavo Dudamel brings the Israel Philharmonic Nov. 22. Check out the Grinch from the Old Globe Nov. 20 through December. Google these organizations for information.


 About SDIS

San Diego Independent Scholars (SDIS) supports unaffiliated writers and researchers and welcomes those who appreciate creative and intellectual activities in the humanities, science, and the arts.  SDIS is a non-profit organization and an affiliate of the National Coalition of Independent Scholars.

Donna Boyle, President,


Scholar’s Notebook is the newsletter of SDIS. Please send your news for the Notebook to Cathy Robbins, the Notebook editor: or 3720 First Ave., San Diego, CA 92103. The deadline for submissions is the 25th of the month prior to publication date. Submissions used at the discretion of SDIS.

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