On Thursday, September 24, we visited the High Line in Manhattan. We walked across the High Line and got to see some pretty cool works of art (which were only enhanced by the scenery). Of all the works of art that we saw, I think my favorite ones were Physical Graffiti #1-3, by Damián Ortega. However, what I found very interesting was the differences between them. I noticed that Graffiti #1 and Graffiti #2 were suspended against the white backdrop of an adjacent building. Graffiti #3, however, was suspended against the backdrop of the city itself, and was therefore
hard to make out when viewed from certain angles. I imagine that Graffiti #3 was meant to stand out to the viewer when it snows, and almost seem like it is truly spay painted in the snow down below (no rhyme intended), just as Graffiti #1 and Graffiti #2 seem to be spray painted on their respective buildings.
On Tuesday night, November 10, we went to go see Henry IV at St. Ann’s Warehouse. What was unique about this play was that it was performed by an all-female cast. The story was “modernized,” and instead of taking place in medieval Britain with sword fights and knights, it took place in contemporary times, in a women’s prison. It therefore served as a “play within a play,” in that the female cast members acted as inmates who were acting out Henry IV with the props they had available in the prison.
Overall, I would say the very concept of the prison was a phenomenal concept, and I loved how it was more or less hidden until the very end of the play. (After watching the beginning scene of the inmates marching in, and the scene where one of the girls runs offstage crying, followed by the guards marching in, I was very confused. I hadn’t put everything together until the very end, and I had one of those “aaaahhhhhhhhhh” moments when you finally figure something out.) The story was very intriguing, and my eyes were glued to the stage all the way through. Additionally, the acting was way above par (especially the actresses playing Henry IV and Hotspur), and I really liked that they interacted with the audience.
However, there were some things that I disliked about the play. First and foremost, I disliked the informality of the setting. One may argue that the informality was necessary for the plot itself, being that it takes place in a women’s prison. However, I felt that some of the props and scenes were straight out childish, and I didn’t find them very humorous (just my humble opinion). Moreover, I felt that the play would’ve worked best on a traditional stage, rather than a square stage surrounded on all four sides by the audience. This made it harder to hear and see what was going on at all times.
When we visited the 9/11 memorial, we were each given different tasks of what to focus on when viewing the memorial. I was given the task of trying to figure out the meaning/symbolism behind the memorial. Here is what I had to write:
The big pools represent the spots where the towers once stood. The names are written on the sides to preserve the memory of those who perished. The entire pool is very vast and empty, and includes a gaping hole in the center, illustrating the emptiness and void caused by 9/11. The lives killed, the memories lost. Also, the falling water is separated into individual streams, each falling independently of each other. This serves as a memory for each individual who lost their lives.
However, towering over the pool is the Freedom Tower, which serves as a beacon of hope and renewal. It almost seems like a guardian angel, “watching over” those who lost their lives, and vowing to protect them. To stand in their defense. To prevent their names from being tainted, and memories from being destroyed.
First off, I have to say I love music. I come from a very musical family (mom plays the drums, dad plays the keyboard, and two sisters that sing), so I guess music is in my genes. Last Thursday, when I was hearing the band play, I couldn’t help myself from tapping my foot to the beat. It was just a natural instinct. And Vaughn was right – I was barely able to keep myself in my seat.
I really liked the unique sound of some of the songs. For example, a few of the songs mixed jazz sounds with Latin rhythms. The mix worked perfectly, and it created a distinct sound that was different from what I’ve heard in the past. I also tried to identify the Latin sound that we discussed in class, and I do think it was the unique rhythm that truly gave it a Latin feel. The sound of the cowbell and other percussion instrument (not sure what it’s called) also contributed to the Latin vibe.
For some of the songs, I was thinking about the mood set by the song. For example, for “Baby Jack,” I was thinking about how the song reflected the laughter and cries of a baby using the sounds of different instruments. During one of the other songs (I forgot which one), the conductor set the mood by telling the audience to imagine they are walking on a street at night somewhere in Colombia while hearing a marching band come down the street toward them.
Overall, I think it was really a great experience. This trip reminded me how much I really love music, and it encouraged me to try out an instrument.
Last Thursday night, we went to the Lincoln Center and saw “Tosca.” I’ve never seen an opera before, and I have to say, the experience was very enjoyable, perhaps even more than the ballet. I’ve seen a few Broadway shows in my life, including “Phantom of the Opera” and “Wicked”, but seeing an opera is a totally different experience. Broadway shows and plays tell a story through words and actions, while operas add the element of music. The music is able to convey emotions that simply cannot be portrayed through words. In other words, operas are able to “make you feel something” that plays cannot. I definitely felt it at the opera, especially when Tosca reached her highest notes.
One thing that I didn’t like was the length of the intermissions. Throughout the play, I found myself immersed in the story, worrying about the fates of Tosca and Cavaradossi (even though I knew full well that it would be tragic). The intermissions disrupted this immersion, and following each intermission, I found it difficult to “re-immerse” myself in the plot. Just imagine taking a 30-minute break in the middle of watching an action-packed movie – it’s just not the same!
Last Wednesday night, we went to the David H. Koch Theater at the Lincoln Center and saw three different, short ballets – The Brahms-Haydn Variations, Monotones I and II, and The Green Table. Looking back, I would say The Green Table was the most interesting, simply because it told a clear story. However, The Brahms-Haydn Variations definitely appealed to me the most. The splendor and grandeur of this particular piece struck me. Looking through the binoculars, I was amazed by the elegant movements of the ballet dancers, and astonished by the amount of dancers on stage, all moving in perfect sync.
The second piece, Monotones I and II, was much easier to follow than the other two. Having only three fixed dancers on the stage allowed me to better focus on the individual movements of all three dancers. (However, I must admit, it wasn’t until about halfway through Monotones I that I realized that two of the dancers were males.) I also really liked the music in this piece, as it was in sharp contrast to the grand, uplifting music of The Brahms-Haydn Variations; this music was more romantic and intimate. The story portrayed was also very interesting in that at some points, it seemed like the two members of one gender were fighting for the sole member of the opposite gender, while at others, at seemed as though they were “sharing” him/her.
The Green Table was probably the easiest piece to follow and understand. The story was pretty clear, even though some of it was cryptically hidden behind the majestic movements of the dancers (ex: the women being raped by the soldiers). I’d say the music and lighting contributed greatly to this piece. The other two pieces could be done without music or off-stage. This piece, however could only be done with its musical score and specified lighting patterns because they contribute to the atmosphere of the story itself and the message being portrayed.
On Wednesday, September 9, we went to the Brooklyn Museum. At first, I wasn’t too psyched to be spending my night staring at pieces of art. I can’t lie – I was more excited to see my friends. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t bummed out or annoyed or anything, I just wasn’t too excited.
After the introductory session at the museum, I got a group together, and we began roaming around the museum. We took a look at a few paintings, and I read the descriptions for all of them. They seemed pretty interesting, but nothing too special.
As the night progressed, however, and I saw more works of art and read more about different paintings, I started to realize that I was actually starting to enjoy myself. I was no art critic, and I’m sure many comments I made sounded flat-out dumb, but I knew that these comments were my comments, and that gave them a genuine, pure feeling.
My favorite work of art in the museum was “Fallen Bierstadt”, by Valerie Hegarty. It shows a Bierstadt imitation, however, the bottom of the painting is burnt and decaying, with burnt pieces of the painting laying like ashes on the floor underneath. This painting stuck out like a sore thumb, yet somehow, it simultaneously blended into the environment, and seemed to be in its natural place. This paradox really fascinated me, and I was hooked on this painting.