UI alumnus to play Marx in one-man show

University alumnus Jerry Levy, professor of sociology at Marlboro College in Vermont, will be performing the role of Karl Marx in the play Marx in Soho this weekend at the Independent Media Center and the Channing-Murray Foundation. Champaign-Urbana is Susan Kantor

University alumnus Jerry Levy, professor of sociology at Marlboro College in Vermont, will be performing the role of Karl Marx in the play “Marx in Soho” this weekend at the Independent Media Center and the Channing-Murray Foundation. Champaign-Urbana is Susan Kantor

By Kate Szyszka

Family man.

Loyal friend.

Not exactly the descriptions the name Karl Marx brings to mind. However, Jerry Levy wants to change that.

For the past three years, Levy has portrayed Marx in Howard Zinn’s one-man show, “Marx in SoHo.” The Illinois alumnus is back in Champaign-Urbana to perform at the Independent Media Center in Urbana Friday and at the Channing-Murray Foundation in Champaign Saturday.

“I’m a sociologist, but also an actor,” said Levy, a professor of sociology at Marlboro College in Vermont.

The Marx portrayed in the show is complex, Levy said.

“He is angry, compassionate, committed to his values, pompous, unforgiving of enemies and totally supportive of his friends,” he said. “He’s just like you and me, and you come to know him.”

Levy has performed as Marx in more than 140 performances in the United States, Canada and Europe.

“Everywhere I go I’m received pretty much the same,” he said. “I’d like to perform for some more conservative groups, but they don’t really seem into it.”

Many of Marx’s ideas about the economy hold true today, and students especially should pay attention to them, Levy said.

“Students are going into 30 and 40,000 dollars worth of debt while they are in college and have no assurance of jobs afterwards,” he said. “Marx’s views and ideas help to explain the current economic crisis.”

Levy hopes that through his portrayal of Marx he can do a number of things.

“I’m representing Zinn but also communicating that Marx was a dedicated family man to his wife, Jenny and three daughters,” he said. “People can identify with this historical figure.”