King Arthur: Frank Fisher
Merlin: Robert Bishop
Herald: Robert Eckaus
First peasant: Cary Brown
Second peasant : Tapley
Sir Lancelot: Peter Diamond
Sir Lionel : Paul Samuelson
Sir Sagamore: Pranab Bardhan
Sir Dinadan: Peter Temin
Messenger: John Harris
Excerpts from Scene 1.
A mythical kingdom in the East
Arthur: I’ve got it! I’ve got it! I know what the world needs!
Merlin: What, Arthur, what?
Arthur: A really great economics department! A new departure in economics department!
Merlin: You’ve got it, Arthur, bless you fine human instincts. Of course that’s what’s been missing.
Arthur: The world will be a better place for a great economic department. I’ll send recruiters to distant lands. We’ll raise every top man in existence.
Merlin: No, no, no, Arthur. That’s what’s been wrong up to now. This constant raiding, the escalation of salary offers, fringe benefits. The isn’t what the world needs.
Arthur: We’ll attract them by an idea and an exemple.
Arthur: We’ll gather all the young PhDs here and we’ll call it..
Merlin: Yes, Arthur?
Arthur: the M.I.T long Corridor.
Excerpts from Scene 2
A provincial city named after an English philosopher
Herald: hear ye, hear ye. Come on, come all to hearken to the Grand Proclamation of King Arthur
Herald: Kind Arthur of MIT offers to all young knight of intellectual errantry the opportunity to join the select Long Corridor of economists sworn to uphold true theory, to rescue theorems from rape and pillage at the brutal hands of Midwestern PhDs, to form a fellowship of intellectual excellence and as much good cheer as can coexist with it.
Bystander 1: Who’s going to go and compete with those fierce eastern minds?
Bystander 2: Not me, man
Lancelot: I will
Bystander: Who? Who are you?
Lancelot: I am Lancelot du Bay, academic fencer par excellence. I will go.
Bystander 1: To MIT? Think twice, man.
(to be continued…..)
Note: These are excerpts from a play script written by Duncan Foley and Peter Temin in 1967, presumably for the MIT annual Christmas Party. Found in the MIT archives, Hayden Library.
When you do archive work, you always stumble upon this kind of material. You laugh, sometimes you make a copy of it, and then you burry it on a shelf. This time, I’d like to make more of it. I’ve been writing on how economics at MIT was shaped in the postwar period, who were the various protagonists, what were their visions, how did they interact and how did the institutional structures of the Institute (from engineering tradition to recruitment policies and curricula) influenced these interactions and in turn were altered by them. This play script conveys a wealth of information as to how MIT economists viewed themselves, other departments and the state of their science at that time. It also says much about the roles of each protagonist within the community (if only through who’s assigned which character of the Round Table myth). Yet, I’ve just finished a draft of my MIT project, and so far I haven’t mentioned this material in the narrative. The truth is that I don’t quite know how to interpret it, how to handle it. This information is conveyed and filtered by a “tone” that belongs to the realm of humor, derision, possibly caricature, and shouldn’t be taken literally. Any idea or reference on how to handle joke-material in history?