Three PPEists are eschewing conventional methods of revision and choosing instead to sing about their studies. Brasenose third years Eylon Aslan-Levy and Tommy Peto, and Balliol student Ramin Sabi are in the process of preparing for their coming exams by writing a musical centred around their philosophy topics.
The comedy John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice: The Musical!, originally conceived as a joke, follows Professor John Rawls on an all-singing, all-dancing romp through 2,500 years of political philosophy. Eylon Levy described the production as “a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek, camp and intellectually profound addition to the musical theatre canon”, as well as a primary source of revision for the three finalists.
Brasenose Political Theory tutor, Ian Carrol, argued that the musical will ensure academic success. He said, “While operetta may strike some as an unusual revision technique, recent Brasenose College Norrington success means that students at other colleges could be expected to follow suit as early as next year. A sequel, covering ‘Anarchy, State, and Utopia,’ would be particularly well received.”
Ramin Sabi said, “In terms of the time taken from our revision to work on this – you can’t put a price on fun! Except for certain failure in any collections that have no connection to political philosophy.” Tommy Peto expressed other concerns, adding, “I am worried that my street cred wouldn’t be able to handle it, particularly given it’s already at a low ebb.”
As what may be the world’s first feature-length musical about political philosophy, “John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice: The Musical!” tracks the journey of John Rawls as he travels back through time to converse (in song) with a selection of political philosophers, including Plato, Locke, Rousseau and Mill. However, the journey is not as smooth as he hoped: as he pursues his love interest, the beautiful student Fairness, through history, he must escape the evil designs of his libertarian arch-nemesis, Robert Nozick.
The ultimate question, answered through comic lyricism and wit, is whether Rawls will achieve his goal of defining Justice as Fairness.