Performance art? Street theater? Library Theater? Happening?

Editor’s note:

We all know Andy Weiss as an ace student of economics, later professor of that discipline at Boston University, and more recently entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is also rumored to have challenged Jack Sawyer to a tennis match in his first few weeks at Williams, not yet knowing or being able to recognize his opponent. But many of us may have forgotten (or never known) of Andy’s thespian talents. The prank in which Andy participated was invented by Paul Sloan ’67 and stands among the finest performances the Lower Reading has ever seen. Read on for Tom Stevens’ recounting of that memorable evening, transcribed from the Record.

The academic monotony of the New Williams was abruptly shattered at 11 pm Wednesday night as 35 students witnessed a near-fatal knifing incident in the lower reading room of the college library.

The victim, Paul Sloan ’67, and fellow student Andy Weiss ’68, became involved in a dispute arising from Weiss’s attempt to type in the study room.

Witnesses said that academically-conscious Sloan became so enraged when Weiss began typing notes for a term paper that he angrily ordered him to leave the reading room. Weiss refused, suggesting politely that Sloan take the matter up with the librarian.

At this point a struggle ensued during which Sloan reportedly tore up the term paper and hurled Weiss’s typewriter to the floor. Weiss then stormed out of the room. As he left, Sloan hurled the broken typewriter against the steps of the reading room entrance.

After a lapse of approximately ten minutes, Weiss returned to the room and approached Sloan from behind. After threatening him, Weiss upset Sloan’s chair and the two began fighting.

The larger Sloan forced his smaller opponent into a corner and was pummeling him brutally when Weiss suddenly broke away and strode rapidly out of the room. Sloan then turned slowly away from the corner, bleeding profusely from his mouth and several knife wounds in his stomach.

Fortunately, freelance photographer David Todd and pre-med student Nick Iliff, both ’68, were on hand and managed to record most of the incident for posterity.

Todd happened to be photographing night-blooming crocuses outside the reading room windows when he noticed the argument in progress and captured the sanguinary sequence on film. Iliff, who happened to be sitting next to Sloan during the altercation, was attempting to record fluctuations in his heart-beat during conditions of academic stress, and his concealed miniature tape recorder accidentally picked up the brutal grunting of the combatants and the various reactions of the students present.

Tape recorder and camera also captured the climax of the affair.

As the stunned witnesses charged after Weiss, the bleeding rigor-mortic Sloan decided it was time to pull the ripcord, which he did, informing the horror-stricken students that the whole thing was OK, which it was.

It was, in fact, a brilliantly conceived and masterfully enacted production, the fruition of weeks of planning and rehearsal and the rightful offspring of the New Williams spirit of cultural coordination.

Prospect House members Iliff and Todd supplied technical expertise in recording the incident, Peter Naylor ’68 assisted in heckling Weiss, and Wood House members Sloan and Weiss committed the felony.

Sloan and Todd, who planned and organized the incident, were delighted with its success, as were the witnesses themselves (finally) who gave the whole company a standing ovation.

Todd plans to splice the film, coordinate it with Iliff’s tape, and show the result in the Upperclass Lounge.

One thought on “Performance art? Street theater? Library Theater? Happening?

  1. I remembered the Any Weiss drama. Brilliant in direction and casting! A less dramatic Lower Reading Room experience came when I, anticipating studying for a Modern Drama fina,l I hunkered down. How was I going to study? skim 30 plays? At a late hour there were only two of us left. Across the way was Pancho Demakis, my SportsCo- Editor. A dialogue began. Sports of course. Neither of us studied. It was my only Williams all-nighter.

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