Dwight-White House was part of the House Plan Association (HPA) at Brooklyn College. The HPA was founded in 1937 and developed into the largest co-ed social organization at Brooklyn College. As with sororities and fraternities, individual House Plans had either male or female members. At its height, 170 individual Houses were part of HPA which had its own newspaper entitled The Calling Card. By 1961, with over 2,500 members, HPA comprised the largest student organization on any campus in the country. Below is a history of Dwight-White House written by Brooklyn College alum Gilbert Bob.
A Partial History of Dwight-White House
By Gilbert M. Bob (Howard Haykin, editor)
During the late 1950’s, ‘60’s and mid-70’s—the eras of sputnik, the Cold War, the Beatles, Vietnam, The Age of Aquarius, and Watergate—succeeding generations of Dwight-White House excelled in creating satirical revues, musicals and sketches. In that time span, Dwight-White invariably earned first place in the annual Country Fair Show category; won Sing and appeared in every December Daze. The organization was also competitive in sports, particularly basketball and football. This versatile combination of creativity and athletics separated Dwight-White House from the rest.
A Brief Introduction
Before Brooklyn College’s House Plans disappeared in the mid-1970’s, social organizations in conjunction with college faculty staged three shows each year—Sing, Country Fair, and December Daze. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this aspect of what was once an integral part of Brooklyn College life, below are brief descriptions and examples of sketches produced by Dwight-White House.
SING–An All-College event held in Walt Whitman Hall. Social organizations teamed up to create musical presentations. Selecting existing music from any era, each team applied original lyrics, frequently clever, and satirical. The participants also created the costumes, choreography, and harmony. The goal: a pleasurable experience and the chance to compete for first place honors—and socializing. Yet, before they could perform, each had to pass auditions, judged by a panel of their peers, overseen by a faculty member.
Each team chose a theme, selected appropriate music from a variety of genres — including pop, rock’n’roll, musical theater, opera, and Gilbert & Sullivan — wrote lyrics, and produced the show. Countless hours of lyric/music/harmony/choreography memorization and after-school rehearsals followed. Naturally, all this time together led to bonding, lasting friendships and, in some cases, eventual marriages.
COUNTRY FAIR–An All-College event held late Spring on the Roosevelt (athletic) Field to celebrate the birthday of Brooklyn College. The event featured games, novelties, and theatrical shows judged by faculty members. Tents, exhibit areas, and sets lined the entire field. Theatrical entries were the most popular category, constantly attracting crowds who paid with scrip with the money going to the school library, chemistry department, and so on. There could be as many as fifteen performances at each Country Fair.
Led by creative writers and leaders, participating teams developed scripts, selected lead performers, and chorus members. Sets had to be designed, constructed and painted, costumes sewed, and props acquired. Rehearsals spanned many hours and days, and this too led to a unique camaraderie among the participants and house members.
DECEMBER DAZE–A traditional House Plan event staged in Walt Whitman Hall. This event focused on clever and satirical sketches, while employing costumes, songs, props, staging and dialog to tell the story.
Lights and Action
While only a few scripts and silent video recordings of past performances appear to have survived the years, it’s gratifying to know that some of Dwight-White’s memories remain. The following are excerpts from Dwight-White’s theatrical history.
COUNTRY FAIR: 1961 –Oh You Kidd! – Performed by members of Bradley, Glass, and Dwight-White.
Dwight-White partnered with the ladies of Bradley House and Glass House every year from 1958 to the early 70’s. Oh You Kidd! opens with a scene featuring the side of a pirate ship with sails (bed sheets) waving in the wind.
Sung to: Gilbert & Sullivan’s “So do his Brothers and His Sisters, etc.”
Captain Kidd’s my name
As a merchant I’ve great fame
I’ve sailed from Nome to Zanzibar
And in each and every port
I’ve raised a clan so far
Crew Chorus: And in each and every port he’s raised a clan so far (2X)
But the trouble with these games
I forget my children’s names
I’m only home an hour or so
By the time my hour’s up
I see my family grow
Crew Chorus: By the time his hour’s up he sees his family grow (2X)
Let’s see, from France—
There’s Gigi, Jean, Marlene
And from one night in Spain
Came Margarita and Chicita and Bonita and Lolita
And to coin a phrase it happened
While the rain fell on the plain
Crew Chorus: And to coin a phrase it happened while the rain fell on the plain (2X)
At my journey’s end I’m spent
And I vow I will repent
I cease this play
But the very next day
I’m promiscuous unless of course it’s during lent.
Crew Chorus: He’s promiscuous unless of course it’s during lent (2X)
(Women pirates, led by Scarlet Sue, board Kidd’s ship in the Indian Ocean and take over.)
Sung to: “My Baby Don’t Love Me No More”
Introducing Miss Scarlet Sue
Not exactly an ingénue
Infamous from Borneo to
I’ve changed many boys to men
Of morals I have no ken
I’ve gened many a chromosome
Chorus: Introducing her cohorts
We liven up slow ports
She taught us to yo-ho-ho
Anchors away boys
You’re gonna do what we say
Or taste of the ocean’s spray
Introducing Miss Scarlet Sue
(Faith Applecheek, typical ingénue, has been captured by Scarlet Sue’s pirates. Godfrey Goodguy, typical hero and a member of Kidd’s crew, has searched for and finally found his sweetheart, Faith Applecheek. Sue needs men to do the dirty work, so she agrees to share all booty with Kidd.)
Song for Faith and Godfrey: “Moon River”
Godfrey: You’re lovely and you’re also nice
Just like sugar-spice are you
Faith: You’re manly
You walk so grandly
Whenever you’re near me
You cheer me
Oh dear me!
Both: We’re happy and take my hand
Oh it feels so grand, your hand
We’ll stroll down life’s path, side by side,
Happily we’ll glide
Merry groom and bride
You’re lovely and nice.
(Scarlet Sue refuses to let Faith and Godfrey marry. She also refuses to share the booty with Kidd. The King’s emissary and men arrive and capture Sue and Kidd. Faith and Godfrey will marry. Kidd will hang. Sue gets away because the King’s emissary loves her. All’s well that ends well).
COUNTRY FAIR: 1962 –“Paul Revere”- Performed by members of Bradley, Glass, and Dwight-White.
The scene takes place in a British tavern, highlighted by a huge British flag, bar, and beer mugs, owned by Mr. & Mrs. British.
Song: “Good Day”
Chorus: Hist’ry, we’re sure you’ll agree
Can be viewed quite relatively
It all depends on fortune and fate
And is subject for heated debate.
Some things that may seem to be
Aren’t in tune with reality
As an example we think you should hear
The true tale of Paul Revere.
(A sleepless George Washington enlists naïve but patriotic Paul Revere to put out the lantern in the North Tower held by British troops. The light keeps him awake. Paul can’t wait to tell his girlfriend Alice British about his secret risky mission. Her parents prefer British General Thomas E. Muffin as her suitor).
Sung to : “Bell Bottom Trousers”
Chorus: The hero of our noble tale has lost his heart you see
A maiden fair with golden hair pervades his reverie
As barmaid of her father’s pub she’s met a lot of guys
This occupation should have made our Alice worldly wise
But deep inside her youthful heart our lass remains demure
For Paul Revere she’ll always have an innocent allure.
(Alice prefers romance to secret missions. She tells Paul there’s always Thomas Muffin for romance, making him jealous. Paul tells her parents the details of his mission and they, of course, tell Muffin. Enter pompous General Thomas E. Muffin).
Sung to “Ascot Gavotte”
I was sent here by his majesty
To control this infant colony
The mother country with its landed gentry
Depends on me to send them revenue.
(The men compete for Alice’s favor).
Song: “How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You?”
Muffin: More than Adam wanted Eve I want you near me
As Midas wanted gold I want your love
We could make music like Lerner and Lowe
Get along as well as Larry, Curly and Moe
Paul: I can’t promise you the world with all its treasures
My gift to you is my undying love
We could be happy like Darby and Joan
A love just as true as those two from Veron-
A life of joy and bliss is what I offer you, dear
As Marlowe said, “Come live and be my love”
Muffin: Don’t be a fool, throw your chance away
Promise that you’ll cherish, honor and obey—
(Alice is so confused. Muffin tells Paul he’ll back away from romancing Alice if Paul reveals the secret mission to him. He won’t. Paul and Alice suddenly see the British advancing. Risking his life, Paul races to the tower and puts out the light. The Americans defend themselves and win the battle. Muffin, defeated, is summoned back to England. Paul and Alice are together).
Every Country Fair show ended with the entire cast singing a good-bye song, glad you attended, see you next year. (“It’s Bradley, Glass and Dwight-White, too…”)
NOTE: Two DVD’s of the 1961 and 1962 Country Fair shows—mere minutes each, converted from 8-millimeter film–and some manuscripts have been donated to the Brooklyn College Archives division.