Lend Me a Tenor

Hey, guys:

For the past month, I have been working with my old high school in its production of Lend Me a Tenor, a Ken Ludwig comedy in two acts. I am tech directing (lights, sound, etc.) and have been coaching these kids in acting, stage presence, inflection, etc. for a while. They’re a talented group of kids and I know they’re going to put on a spectacular show as they always do. If any of you are interested in coming, here is the info:

Location: Xaverian High School
7100 Shore Road 11209

November 18th (8:00 pm)
November 19th (8:00 pm)*
November 20th (3:00 pm)

Tickets cost $10 at the door

*On Saturday, November 19th, Xaverian will be hosting a special Dinner-Theatre event at 5:30. The cost is $40, which includes beer, wine, soda, food and a ticket for the show. There will be live music, food prepared by gourmet Chef Ayoub, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to St. Jude’s Hospital. Note: this is not mandatory. If you want to come on Saturday without paying for the dinner-theatre, you can. But if you can make it, every penny helps!

Don Juan – Mistake

Due to confusion over this week’s blog post, I inadvertently wrote about East Meets West for today. But having read Don Juan, and having gotten to know Moliere’s work this semester, I would like to say something about the play.

Citing Elizabeth’s argument in class today, I don’t necessarily think that Don Juan is a morally-plagued or squalid person. Moliere assigns comedic elements to his disposition, much like he does for most of his characters, such as Gorgibus in The Flying Doctor. What’s interesting about Moliere’s style is that he writes so bombastically and eloquently, while talking about infidelity, death, bodily humor, et cetera, which creates a certain comedic air about his works, particularly Don Juan. I feel like in the two plays I’ve read by Moliere, there is always the cunning, charming, well-spoken character, and his more ignorant, simple and “conformist” sidekick. Moliere has fun with constructing witty repartee and birthing characters who complement each other in humorous ways.

In Act I, I found it hysterical when Sganarelle impugns Don Juan’s impious behavior and Don Juan retorts with this long-winded, almost biblical (ironically, since he contradicts the Bible) monologue in which he justifies his actions of infidelity; Sganarelle believes him! Don Juan’s carefully devised dialog assigns the play a certain comedic element and makes it entertaining to read. Despite the monologues and inflated language, I did not find myself growing bored while reading Don Juan. Moliere has in fact become a playwright in whom I am more interested.

Just Kids

I realize that I am late and my response probably won’t count, but I’m posting anyway because I have some thoughts on the text. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the novel. Patti Smith bears a poetic license about her that is soothing to read. I enjoy taking a journey into the past (hers, particularly) and growing up with people from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. The story between her and Robert is touching, to say the least – how she managed to bolster his art pursuit with unwavering support is heartening. It was pleasing to read something so optimistic, as opposed to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, in which a 9-year-old boy deals with the tragic and untimely loss of his father.

I admire so many things about the two struggling artists. For one, I admire Patti Smith’s hard-working/competitive nature – she would always stay overtime just to earn a little extra money to support her and Robert. She was willing to remain by his side when he had his “sexual awakening” (for lack of a better term). And above all, she appreciated the simplicity in life rather than lavish living arrangements. Robert possessed the male-disposition that he always had to support Patti and it appeared that no matter what Patti did (even if he didn’t like it) he always supported her and never gave her a difficult time.

However dysfunctional the relationship, I admire the undying support and love shared by the two struggling artists, coupled with their hard work and boundless optimism. In short, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this autobiography because of its story, the way it’s written, and the emotions it evokes from someone who didn’t even live during that time.

-Alex Hajjar

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

The illustrations presented in Shaun Tan’s The Arrival may create confusion, but isn’t this exactly how the immigrants felt as they came to the strange new world for the first time? We invariably hear stories of people who migrated to America in History channel documentaries such as Pane Amaro and from our grandparents, but it’s almost impossible to actually know what it was like. Many of my friends have experience difficulty dorming in college and fending for themselves, but imagine moving to a new country where the language is foreign, the area is unfamiliar, and you have to fight your way from the ground up to survive. I felt like that’s what the images in The Arrival are trying to portray. The recurring image of the man in every other image signifies distress, confusion, and a perpetual state of angst.

We see images of children crying, people waiting in long lines for trains, husbands and wives parting, ships sailing, clouds of pollution emanating from smokestacks, clusters of people on ships – looking weak, tired, fatigued, miserable. I feel like Tan uses pictures to delineate the difficulty of immigration because a picture can say more than a thousand words ever could. We see intermittent images of the “new world,” a world of industry, pollution, and ceaseless competition.

More importantly, we are constantly reminded of the loss of contact between the immigrants and their families back in their respective countries. We see pictures of men writing and mailing letters, placing stamps on the letters, and sending them out. In the documentary, Pane Amaro, Italian immigration is illustrated as abject and morose – yet it was necessary for people to make money and survive. The Arrival is a poignant graphic novel that manages to express more than words ever could. The weird creature on the cover underscores the unfamiliarity thrown in the face of every immigrant and how they had to cope with each new facet of society standing in their path to success.

Oskar Schell – character analysis

Oskar Schell is both a complex and irritating character to interpret. To call him precocious would be a vast understatement – a nine year old boy who’s able to roam the city by himself and who asks questions with such profound depth is difficult to find; in fact, it’s almost unrealistic. Why does Foer assign such abnormal traits to a young boy who undergoes such a normal tragedy? Critics have argued that Oskar relates to all American constituents who lost a loved on on September 11th, but is this really the case? Why is Oskar so different? Rather, is he really all that different? I contend that Oskar, while ostensibly strange and bizarre, is a relatable character on multiple levels.

For one, Oskar like most children (including myself) – imaginative and always concocting inventions in his head. For instance, Oskar imagines a kettle that would sing “Yellow Submarine” in the opening of the novel, and much like Oskar, I was also a kid whose imagination assuaged personal distress. For Oskar, his imagination of things that clearly aren’t real is an escape from what is real – in this case, his father’s death and inevitably, his own death. Haven’t we all resorted to our imaginations during times of tragedy? When my grandmother passed away, I invented a machine in my head that would bring her back to life; a machine that could be used once a year to bring someone back to life – a machine only for me and no one else…and I was 16 at the time. Oskar is only nine, which underscores the relativity of his character. Oskar is inherently a spacey and inquisitive boy who isn’t afraid of his own thoughts. He doesn’t stifle his curiosity in fear of disapproval. He resorts to imagination to abate his agony and he fires away with questions when something doesn’t make sense to him. He doesn’t necessarily think before he asks questions, just like most kids don’t. Oskar is the epitome of an average child in terms of his behavior and in terms of his thoughts. Consequently, Foer creates Oskar in the image of children who had to grow up without a father or a fatherly-figure after 9/11. There is a little bit of Oskar in all of us if we examine closely enough.