Students help file tax returns

first_imgBeginning Feb. 12 and running through April 18, Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students will provide free income tax return preparation to low-income and disabled taxpayers in the South Bend Community through Notre Dame’s Vivian Harrington Gray Tax Assistance Program (TAP). The program has run annually since it was founded in 1972 by Ken Milani. This year, Milani stepped down and Ed Hums, Mendoza Professor of Accounting, took the reigns. “Milani took over a small struggling program and over time built it into a program that last year did over 3800 tax returns for people in town and on campus,” Hums said. The TAP now involves more than 90 student volunteers as well as several faculty members and local accountants who staff nine area service centers, Hums said. “We target people of modest means so in other words tax payers with incomes less than $40,000 which is approximately the average income in St. Joe’s County,” he said. “We will do free federal and state returns for these individuals.” Hums said the program also provides tax return assistance to international members of Notre Dame’s community. “In addition we will have a number of students who will work on campus with our international students to do tax returns for the international students and other members of the international community to assure that the proper returns are filed with the state and federal government,” he said. “That is it also in compliance with their immigration status.” When Milani started the program, his aim was to give back to the community and this remains TAP’s primary goal, Hums said. “It’s a community service. I think number one when Milani started the program he wanted it to be this. Ken is a very giving and caring person who realized that a lot of how you got to where you are comes form folks of modest means,” Hums said. Although Hums is new to directing the program this year, he has worked with Milani on TAP for the past two years. He also had Milani as a professor back in 1973. “I’m in the process of taking over and it’s the same situation for myself. It’s an opportunity for us to give back to the community because they did a lot for each of us,” Hums said. Hums said the program aims to bring Notre Dame and the South Bend community together. “I always remind our students that students do not meet or know people in the South Bend community, and people in the South Bend community do not meet and know Notre Dame students,” he said. “This is one of the areas that I think the program allows us to come together and break down those barriers.” Both undergraduate and graduate students may participate in the program. Students who have taken or are currently enrolled in tax program class at Notre Dame are eligible to apply for the program. Hums said most students involved are accounting majors. “When we go out, we have the class experience, the homework, and IRS certification. But all the certification and all the classroom examples are nothing compared to doing those first couple returns,” Hums said. “You will know more about these people than anyone else because you know their income, their assets, you know everything” Student involvement in the program is purely voluntary yet provides invaluable experience, Hums said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for students because it’s a challenge for students to work one on one in a real situation. You never know what he or she is going to come up with,” he said. “We develop interpersonal skills, ability to think on your feet, and teach students how to really be accounts.”last_img read more

Two professors named Guggenheim Fellows

first_imgIn early April, 181 U.S. scholars, artists and scientists were named 2012 Guggenheim Fellows, including two Notre Dame faculty members. Both professors Margot Fassler and Olivia Remie Constable are faculty in the Medieval Studies program. According to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation’s website, the award is commonly thought of as a “midcareer” award for candidates who demonstrate notable prior achievement as well as exceptional promise for the future. Recipients this year were selected from a pool of almost 3,000 applicants. Constable, director of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute, said her work is centered on the interactions between Christians and Muslims in southern Europe between the 12th and 16th centuries. “Next year, I will be writing a book on Christian perceptions of Muslims living under Christian rule in southern Europe in a period when Christians had conquered large areas that had once been under Muslim control,” Constable said. The research itself will focus on the relationships between the Christians and Muslims, she said. “I am looking at how this relationship worked, and at Christian understandings of what was needed for Muslim neighbors to remain Muslim,” Constable said. “This includes studying Christian attitudes toward Muslim dress, whether Muslims could continue the call to prayer and have public religious processions, etc.” Constable said her work focuses on the shifts in attitudes and the increasing discord between the Christian and Muslim communities during this time. “At first, in the century or so after the [Christian] conquests, none of these aspects of Muslim life presented a major problem for the Christians … over time, however, the continuation of these distinctive Muslim ways of life and religious practice became an increasing problem for Christians,” she said. “Eventually, in Spain, the Christian administration decided that it was no longer possible for Muslims and Christians to live together, and all Muslims were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula. I’m studying how and why this change in attitude took place.” Fassler’s work is also in the 12th century, centering on the figure of Hildegard of Bingen, a prominent Catholic nun who is in the process of being named one of the four female Doctors of the Church. “Hildegard of Bingen was a brilliant theologian, but unlike any other theologian ever, she was also a composer, author, artist and monastic reformer,” Fassler said. “I’m especially interested in her enormous treatise titled ‘Scivias’ and its depiction of the 12th-century view of the cosmos.” Fassler said the “cosmic egg” structure of Hildegard’s painting of the universe is remarkably similar to Aristotle’s earlier secular visions and even bears some resemblance to the modern scientific images of Big Bang expansion digitally created by scientists like George Smoot. “With the money from the Guggenheim Fellowship, I should be able to complete a book about Hildegard’s treatise as well as a digital model of her cosmic vision complete with music she composed,” Fassler said. She said she plans to project the model in the Notre Dame Digital Visualization Theater located in the Jordan Hall of Science. “With the model, I can show the layers of the painting and zoom in on different aspects as we go through,” Fassler said. “It will be incredible to go through her vision with her music, seeing the cosmos as she described them.” Fassler said among her favorite parts of the work is the many fields of inquiry it draws upon. “Study of the cosmos blends the sciences and the humanities,” Fassler said. “This project involves physics, astronomy, history of science, theology, music, drama, and the visual arts.” Constable and Fassler said they find it remarkable that two colleagues at Notre Dame received the fellowship in the same year. “I think that it is testimony to the strength of Medieval Studies at Notre Dame, and to the strength of our medievalist faculty, that we both won a Guggenheim fellowship in the same year,” Constable said. “We really have some amazing scholars working on the Middle Ages at Notre Dame who are doing innovative and fascinating work in many different fields.” Fassler said the support of the Notre Dame academic community as a major factor for her success. “I owe it all to the wonderful people who wrote for me [for the fellowship] and supported me,” Fassler said. “I love the way that Notre Dame truly encourages its faculty to be entrepreneurial.” Contact Ann Marie Jakubowski at [email protected]last_img read more

Professor wins Spitz prize for philosophy book

first_imgPhilosophy professor Paul Weithman recently received the 2012 David and Elaine Spitz Prize for his 2010 book, “Why Political Liberalism? On John Rawls’ Political Turn”. The Spitz Prize is issued by the International Conference for the Study of Political Thought (CSTP) and was first awarded in 1988. According to the Conference’s website, the prize is awarded to the best book in liberal or democratic theory published two years prior. Past recipients of the prize include Joseph Raz, Martha Nussbaum, Sheldon Wolin and John Rawls. Weithman said that seeing names like Rawls and Raz on the list of past recipients made him feel a bit out of his league. “I feel like some guy who wins a golf tournament and gets his name put on the same trophy as Jack Nicklaus,” he said. “It’s a great honor that, of the eligible books, mine was the one they wanted to pick out.” Weithman said he was surprised to receive the award because his book is focused on a historical figure rather than on contributing to liberal or democratic theory. “The committee must have thought I succeeded in using Rawls’ work to get at the big theoretical questions of the discipline, and it’s very gratifying that they thought that,” he said. According to the CSTP website, Weithman’s book “provides careful and rigorous exegesis of Rawls’ work as a way of drilling deeply into some of the central questions in modern political theory.” Weithman said he owes much of his understanding of Rawls’ work to a course he teaches each year that covers Rawls’ theories. “The book is about John Rawls; I teach his work to PPE [Philosophy, Politics and Economics Minor] students every fall in the Justice Seminar, and I’m quite sure that I would not understand it to the extent I do were it not for the annual exercise of teaching it,” he said. “We University professors often say that teaching and research go hand-in-hand and each enhances the other. This is one case in which they really did.” Weithman said he admires Rawls and his book “A Theory of Justice,” which is a famous work of political and moral philosophy. “John Rawls was, I think, the greatest political philosopher of the 20th century,” he said. “[‘A Theory of Justice’] really is a great work of political philosophy and it is truly a theory. It’s a big and systematic theory for modern liberal democracies.” Fifteen years after publishing “A Theory of Justice,” Weithman said Rawls began to publish a series of papers that took his work in a different direction. This new direction eventually resulted in the book “Political Liberalism,” he said. Weithman wrote his book as a means of understanding the changes Rawls made in his theories between the two books, he said. “I wanted to understand the changes Rawls made in his own theory, both because of the intrinsic interest and value of coming to understand a great thinker’s work, and also because I thought that understanding those changes would shed light on some of the deep issues political philosophy confronts,” he said. “I wrote the book to work through and understand those changes.” Politics has always been an area of interest for Weithman and he enjoys keeping up with current political events, he said. “I’ve always been something of a political junkie,” Weithman said. “I love following politics and reading about it. I’m now experiencing a painful withdrawal after the election with so much less to read about and so much less news to follow.” Weithman said that he was drawn to the field of political philosophy as a means of bringing his love of philosophy and love of politics together while a Notre Dame undergraduate. “I realized when I came to see the deep philosophical questions politics raises that pursuing them seems natural,” he said. “I just wish I had more answers.” He does not know if winning the Spitz Prize will lead more people to read his book, Weithman said, but he values the recognition either way. “It’s tremendously gratifying to have a book singled out from the many good ones as worthy of recognition with the Spitz Prize, but whether it will come to the attention of more people, and many more people will pick it up and read it, is just hard to know,” he said. “I know philosophy books aren’t best-sellers. I don’t expect to see it on the kiosks at airports, though it would be nice.” Ultimately, Weithman said he wrote the book because it furthered his own learning and progress as an academic. “I think the books professors write, like the research projects graduate and undergraduate students do, are undertaken for what we learn by doing them,” he said. “When we can’t possibly read all that’s worth reading, we have to be satisfied with the progress we ourselves have made in undertaking projects like these.” Weithman is not currently working on another book, but he said he might begin working on one in the future. “I’m working on a couple of papers right now and maybe one of them will provide the seed for a book project, but I can’t see that far ahead right now. I hope one of them will,” he said. “I admire people who finish a book project and immediately know of several more they want to write. When I finished this one, I felt like I’d written everything I know.”last_img read more

Jorge Mario Bergoglio selected as new pope, named Francis

first_imgCardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was elected as the 266th pope today. The former Archbishop of Buenos Aires has taken the name Francis. He is the first Jesuit and the first Latin American pope ever to hold the office, according to a report from the Associated Press. The white smoke billowed from the roof of the Sistine Chapel just after 2 p.m. EST, the report said, meaning that the conclave elected him after five rounds of voting over two days. About 42 percent of the world’s Catholics are from Latin America, according to the report, and Bergoglio is the first pope from outside of Europe in the modern era. He is the thirds consecutive non-Italian pope. The new pope appeared to a crowd gathered in St. Peter’s square in the Vatican, offering a blessing to the Church. The report said he is expected to be installed to the office at a mass on Sunday. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI stepped down on Feb. 28, and the conclave met for the first time on Tuesday to elect his successor.last_img read more

SMC Senate discusses student government bylaws

first_imgOn Monday evening, the first Saint Mary’s Senate meeting of the semester was held in Rice Commons to discuss changes to the Student Government Association (SGA) Bylaws.The meeting began with a prayer by SGA secretary Lauren Lindbloom. Student Body President Kaitlyn Baker welcomed two new sophomore senators, Marilla Opra and Sydney Enlow. Baker also welcomed sophomore Malia Hosoi-Gallucci, the new food chair.“I wanted to get involved with SGA last year, but I was too busy,” Opra said. “When I came back from studying abroad this spring and they had an opening, I thought it was perfect.”Opra said her responsibilities include attending Senate meetings, voting on different motions and serving on the Finance Committee to approve club funding.The first topic of discussion was the Navy Social, held after the Navy football game. Emma McCarthy, the SGA mission co-chair, said the event was a collaborative effort between SGA, Student Activities Board, the Residence Hall Association and the class of 2017. According to McCarthy, the event sold out in 12 minutes, and 100 midshipmen were in attendance.“I would want the mission committee to take over [the Navy Social] because it does tie in the tradition of the College with the tradition between the Navy and our sisters,” McCarthy said. “Adding the Navy Social under the mission chair would save the future planner a huge headache.”The Senate also discussed the possibility of eliminating the First Year Concerns position. Baker said the original duties of the position consisted of helping first-year students get acquainted to each other, giving assistance to admissions and serving as a liaison between SGA and the first-year students.“We no longer think they have a role,” Baker said. “We want to change the position to ‘Big Belle, Little Belle’ chair, which includes recruiting ‘Big Belles’ from the junior class, working with admissions to recruit incoming first-years and hosting events throughout the year.”Baker proposed that Belles Beginnings Pre-Festival, the activities before Domer Fest each year, will no longer be First Year Concerns responsibility, but the responsibility of the community chair.The Senate also moved to change the international chair to community justice chair. Baker said Senate hopes to start recording certain events and lectures and posting them on social media, in order to create conversations about controversial topics on campus.“Rather than focusing on international students, we want to focus on all underrepresented students and clubs,” Baker said. “We want to change the Bylaws to give community justice chair a more defined role.”Baker said the community justice chair would be in charge of an additional new event called Monthly Mingles, a conversation centered around a specific topic for students to discuss with no media and no faculty present.The Senate unanimously approved all proposed changes to the SGA Bylaws.Tags: community justice chair, navy social, SMC Senatelast_img read more

Social Work Club raises money for disaster relief

first_imgSaint Mary’s Social Work Club has conducted two successful charity events this semester, raising money for disaster relief in Puerto Rico and hosting a peanut butter and jelly drive for La Casa de Amistad, a community center in South Bend. Social Work Club president and senior Marilla Opra said the group aims to foster unity.“The Social Work Club is a service based club that believes in embodying social work ethics and values in all that we do,” Opra said. “We think that regardless of your future profession, everyone can embody social work values of dignity and worth of a person.”Their Miss-a-Meal drive, along with a silent auction, raised money for the Hispanic Federation Fund for Victims of Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico. The club aims high with its goals to provide for those in need, Opra said.“Our goal was to raise $1,000, which is pretty good considering we are a really small club,” she said. The Miss-A-Meal drive ended on November 3, and the total raised from the drive will be released after Thanksgiving Break. The club also held a silent auction to help meet its goal, she said. “We were able to get three different basket items donated for the silent auction, and we were able to raise $100 from that,” Opra said. “We’re really excited about that. We were also able to get donations from faculty and a couple students that will be factored in. Right now, it’s looking like we will definitely exceed our goal.” A few students were confused by the concept of missing a meal, Opra said. “All it means is that if you have 14 meal swipes, the week that the Miss-A-Meal goes for, you would only have 13,” Opra said. “Sodexo takes the value of that meal … and gives it to whatever cause the Miss-A-Meal benefits. It’s a really easy way to give back because there are no out-of-pocket costs to students.” Raising money for victims of the Hurricane in Puerto Rico was an easy choice for the club, Opra said. “I think sometimes Puerto Rico is overlooked as a part of the United States, even though it is,” she said. “The people in Puerto Rico are American citizens, and a lot of people were willing to jump right in and donate to Texas and Florida, but Puerto Rico was overlooked. The fact that they are still struggling so much is astonishing.” The club also made sure to choose a reputable charity to send their donations, she said.“We wanted to donate the money to an organization that sends 100 percent of the proceeds to Puerto Rico,” Opra said. Earlier in the semester, the club held a peanut butter and jelly drive for La Casa de Amistad, Opra said.“I’m really proud to say that the club collected a total of 258 jars,” Opra said. “We’re really excited about that and completely exceeded our goal.” The Social Work Club is already planning its next drive, she said. “We are going to do another fundraiser this semester for the Family Justice Center, and next semester, we are going to do a drive and Miss-A-Meal for a local food bank,” Opra said. “It’s a great way to support our fellow Americans and get involved in the on-campus and off-campus communities. We’re able to expand our involvement in the club and in different ways through our different connections in the community, which really means a lot to all of us.” Tags: 0.., disaster relief, Family Justice Center, La Casa de Amistad, Puerto Rico, social work clublast_img read more

Saint Mary’s campus ministry discusses sexual abuse scandal

first_imgMembers of the Saint Mary’s community had the opportunity to gather for a discussion of the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church on Tuesday in the student center.Jess Kimmet, campus minister for music, said the scandal offered an opportunity for individuals to reflect on their relationship with the Church.“I think the whole crisis is a great opportunity to remind ourselves as laypeople that we are also the Church and have responsibility for that,” she said. “What that means for each of us is going to look different based on our different calls in life.”Campus Ministry’s priestFr. Steve Newton said he thinks many students might wonder why such abuse has been occurring in the Church.“I would have to say — and this is opinion, this is not scientific by any stretch — that it has to do with two things: the retention of power by the clerical state and the admission into the clerical state people with very poor psychosexual development,” he said.Additionally, Newton said the structure of the Church played a role in abuse.“When you read some of the statements that the victims heard from their abusers about how it was ok because they were a priest … It’s just sickening to see how they abused the power,” he said. “My tendency is to say that [the victims of abuse] didn’t believe it [was OK], but it certainly confused the victims. I can’t say for certain they didn’t believe it.”Newton said there are various theories as to why priests behave in an abusive manner.“Some people say it’s because of celibacy,” he said. “Others because of the conviction of being in a special state, but it has to be combined with poor sexual development, which is not surprising given the structure of the seminaries.”Kimmet said another factor to consider when trying to understand the complexity of the sexual abuse scandal are the coverups that have come to light.“There’s a second layer of the coverups, which has I think more to do with an unwillingness on the part of the Church to talk about sexual matters,” she said. “And it’s not just the Church. I think this was a societal issue. These issues would have been dealt with privately if it were happening in places other than the Church. But the Church’s structures and some of the privilege … fed into the ability to keep covering up and allow the abuse to go on a lot longer than it should have.”When Bishops sought to handle cases quietly, Newton said, they did not always seek to do so with harmful intentions.“I think that sometimes there was a misplaced but good intention to not want to cause more harm,” he said. “I think that sometimes these things were kept secret and priests were quietly moved because bishops were afraid that letting it become public would cause more harm to the parish or to the family … but I think that with what we know now about trauma and abuse and the way it has lasting effects, we can look back and see that this was very poor management of these kinds of issues. I think they’ve all been educated enough to realize that reassigning and keeping it secret has caused more harm than, in some cases, the abuse itself, in terms of number impacted.”Despite the magnitude of the scandal, Newton said positive changes within the Church are becoming more visible.“The role of women and how they can be more brought into equal status in all aspects of Church life is being discussed,” he said. “I don’t know how much of that will happen, certainly in my lifetime, but I think it portends a trend that will have to be dealt with. Signs of hope are important at [this] time of scandal and darkness, and there are some — small, beginning but potentially significant.”There have been recent movements toward more open discussion of sexual abuse that might have contributed to the illuminating of some of these coverups, Kimmet said.“I sort of suspect the #MeToo movement has something to do with it because we listen to stories of sexual abuse and violence in a different way in this moment in history,” she said.The scandal has hit close to the campus community, as names of priests with credible accusations of sexual abuse of minors were released by the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in September, including one who spent time assigned at Saint Mary’s Convent.“His incident had nothing to do with Saint Mary’s Convent,” Newton said. “That’s where he was when the accusation [occurred], but it was unrelated to his job at Saint Mary’s.”The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is set to release the names of two more priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse on Tuesday afternoon.Tags: Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandal, saint mary’s, sexual abuse, The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bendlast_img read more

National Comedy Center Temporarily Closes

first_imgShare:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Image by Justin Gould / WNYNewsNow.JAMESTOWN – The National Comedy Center announced Sunday night that it is closing the Comedy Center and the Lucy Desi Museum temporarily, effective immediately until further notice, as a precautionary measure.The National Comedy Center says their highest priority is keeping its visitors, employees and volunteers healthy and safe.“While there are no COVID-19 cases associated with either museum, it is necessary to take these measures in order to limit the spread of this virus in accordance with recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and government officials,” officials said.The National Comedy Center will publish updates regarding the museum reopening date on its website and social media platforms, once that date has been determined. last_img read more

Lt. Gov. Hears Status Of Tourism Industry During Roundtable At Comedy Center

first_imgShare:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Image by Justin Gould / WNY News Now.JAMESTOWN — New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul heard feedback from the tourism industry during a roundtable at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown on Tuesday.Hochul was joined by Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist, National Comedy Center Executive Director Journey Gunderson and other local tourism leaders.She says she has received a lot of feedback from local businesses about the reopening process, many of whom are just happy to be back open.“They’d love to be open more than 50 percent, but they also know there’s a high risk involved, and so to the restaurants and the various eating and drinking establishments, they understand why we’re doing what we’re doing,” Hochul told reporters. “They might not be thrilled with it, but they also can’t argue with the results of the fact that we have now driven the infection rate down to less than one percent.” The Lieutenant Governor urged all New Yorkers to take some time this summer and plan a “staycation” to attractions around the state, like the National Comedy Center.“They’ve done an incredible job, a creative approach, to making sure that there is no physical contact, that people continue to wear their masks, that the distancing is there,” furthered Hochul. “Even the interactive exhibits, you’d think that they would be shut down, well no, they found ways, this exhibit I just played with, you touch it once and then it (the artifact) goes on a table and it’s disinfected.”The National Comedy Center reopened this month after implementing a new safety protocol called “LaughSafe.” The program was developed in consultation with health professionals at UPMC Chautauqua Hospital.Executive Director Journey Gunderson says so far she has received a lot of positive feedback about the new “touch-free” system.“Ninety-three percent of our visitors said that our new “laugh safe” health and safety protocols, as comprehensive as they are, did not have a negative impact on their experience,” said Gunderson. “We’re thrilled to be able to help people begin laughing again and to provide an experience that we’ve revamped to be completely touch free, worry-free, and safe.”Safety measures like temperature checks, mask wearing, and increased sanitation are all part of the new protocols.“We have reworked the entire visitor experience to be touch-free,” explained Gunderson. “Every visitor gets a laugh safe kit, so this is attached to a reel on one’s lapel or belt, it is complete with an individual stylist that each visitor gets, a disposable one that is only used by you as a visitor.”“Your laugh band, that we would previously place around your wrist, contains your sense of humor profile and you can use that to tap into various exhibits, we also give you your own set of headphones and a reminder of the laugh safe health and safety protocols.”Gunderson says since reopening in June most visitors are from New York State and Pennsylvania.In order to follow New York State’s Phase Four reopening requirements, the museum is only operating at a limited capacity.last_img read more

West End Star Kenny Doughty on Getting Felt Up at the Stage Door in The Full Monty

first_imgAfter four years in Los Angeles, Yorkshire-born TV and film actor Kenny Doughty is returning to his roots in The Full Monty in the West End. Not to be confused with the Americanized Broadway musical of the same title (which was a New York hit and a London flop), the new stage play by Simon Beaufoy sticks to the source material of his own Oscar-nominated script for the 1997 film. The play, about a group of unemployed British steelworkers who turn to stripping, is set to open February 25 at the Noel Coward Theatre. While preparing for the production’s first preview, the charming Doughty spoke to about film vs. TV, Britain vs. America, and appearing naked in front of his mother-in-law. And now she’s coming again in London? Yes, this time with my own mother: The two mums together! What would Freud do with this bit of information? Has your on stage disrobing made for some, um, interesting experiences with the audience during your pre-West End tour? [Laughs] At our first preview almost a year ago in Sheffield, we had no idea how the audience might react, and I think we were slightly like lambs to the wolves. The audience was so raucous that it was genuinely terrifying when we got out there. When we were in Dublin, they were stomping “get them off” at one point, but we just had to hold our ground! The play takes place in 1988—did you worry that its themes might have become dated in the decades since? Just the opposite: with the recent austerity measures and recessions and the insidiousness of people losing their jobs, the timing seems unbelievably apt. What’s also become even more pronounced is the idea that no one has a job for life anymore, so any number of people are facing the sorts of identity crises faced by the guys in our play. What about afterwards at the stage door? The weird thing there is that [audiences] may feel a little bit overfamiliar and try to have a little feel up your ass, but you just have to say, “I know you’ve seen me get my kit off, but I think we’ve been through that.” It was amazing when we were in [the cathedral town] Canterbury last year—there we were in this quaint, beautiful city with this group of women at the stage door asking me to sign their cleavage. Did you know about the Broadway musical? I didn’t, to be honest, but I was speaking about [the play] to some friends in L.A. and they said, “What? The Full Monty musical?” and I said, “Not at all!” That was set in Buffalo and I think for Simon this is about reclaiming the piece and making it his again. I think he always felt like it had to be set in Sheffield. The Full Monty has brought you back home to Britain. How does that feel? I’m back in the motherland and I’m finding that I really missed it! I’d gone out to L.A. to look after a friend’s flat and got my green card and stayed. Now my wife and I have a nice place in Santa Monica, which we love. But at the same time, it’s great to be playing the West End. I always imagined that my career would be in theater, so it’s nice to be doing some! You play Gaz, who dreams up the scheme that stripping might be the way to self-worth. Yes, but what’s fascinating is that this almost feels like it was a play first. And although the plot is the same as the film, the characters do go on a slightly different journey. Simon [Beaufoy] has had the opportunity to extend and explore certain moments a bit more in-depth. Because The Full Monty was his first film and now this is his first play, Simon has been able to go back to the film with all the knowledge he has gained in the intervening 17 years as a writer. Your real-life wife, Caroline Carver, plays your ex-wife in this: Did the two of you come as a package deal? No, and in fact our producer at first wasn’t sure about having a real-life married couple. He didn’t know if that would work. But Caroline is a phenomenally successful actress so we both said, “You make the decision based on Caroline and her alone.” And she got the job! Of course it’s lovely for me, because we bring to it our own natural history. You’ve appeared on screen in Crush and Titus, but you are coming belatedly to theater. Does that surprise you? It does, you know, since I always imagined when I left drama school [London’s Guildhall] that I would only do theater and instead I ended up doing TV and film and am only now appearing on a mainstage in London. I had actually been thinking recently that I might have missed my opportunity to be in the West End, so I’m delighted to see that isn’t true. View Comments Much less in a show where you’ll be baring in all in front of your mother-in-law. Tell me about it! She’s from Manchester, so she brought a coachload of girls to come from work and that was strange: there’s my wife’s mum whooping and cheering me getting naked. Yes, especially a project which must feel close to your heart. It does. I’m from Barnsley, which is six miles from Sheffield, where both the film and this play are set. Long before I even knew I would be doing this play I had seen the film loads; there aren’t many films about South Yorkshire, so it’s almost part of my DNA.last_img read more