'Marx in Soho' receives standing ovation

Philosopher, historian, journalist and revolutionary socialist Karl Marx visited campus March 16.

Brought back to life through actor Bob Weick's rendition of “Marx in Soho,” he shared his views on communism and capitalism with about 100 audience members.

Flint freshman Michael Jennings said he enjoyed the production. He said you don't need to agree with everything Marx had to say to appreciate his philosophies.

“Marx was a radical thinker,” Jennings said, “It was interesting to hear about his thoughts in an unfiltered manner.”

Written by contemporary U.S. historian Howard Zinn, “Marx in Soho” sheds some light on the political and economic systems active in our society.

Brigitte Bechtold, professor and chairwoman of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, was a driving force in getting Weick to come to Central Michigan University. She said she had been trying for a year to bring him.

“This play stands out because it is a one-man performance,” she said. “(It) reflects Howard Zinn's deep understanding of the workings of American society.”

Famous for his books “A People's History of the United States” and “The Twentieth Century,” Zinn's was and is a significant presence in American history.

Weick took the stage as Pink Floyd's “Money” faded. He told the crowd Marx had risen from the grave temporarily to clear his name. He said popular interpretations of Marx's works were skewed and misshapen. He said he didn't want to be seen as a philosopher. Philosophers, he said, interpret the world, but the point is to change it.

He transitioned through sadness, anger and joy as he told the story of Marx's life. A story of exile from his homeland, sickness of his family, the death of three children all part of a life struggling in poverty in London.

While he told Marx's story, Weick constantly drew from a pool of newspapers and books, relating conditions and problems from a 150 years ago to events that happened not ten years ago.

At the end of his performance, Weick challenged the audience to pretend they had boils that made it painful to sit, so that they might stand for change.

Weick said he started performing “Marx in Soho” to inspire change. He said he wanted to be an active citizen by encouraging dialogue and critical thinking.

“An informed and engaged citizen is the foundation of democracy,” he said. “And there is reason to believe our democracy is being threatened.”

The crowd gave Weick a standing ovation as he left the stage.


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