Category: Uncategorized (Page 3 of 7)

Outside Arts Event Reflection — “The Merry Widow”

Last Saturday, I went to see the 1925 opera, “The Merry Widow,” by Franz Lehar. “The Merry Widow” tells the story of the titular widow, who married a French banker and upon his death inherited about two million francs. The Widow hails from Petrovenia (or Pontevedro in the original libretto), a fictionalized version of Montenegro. Unfortunately, Petrovenia is bankrupt, and so the government wants access to her fortune. Thus, the Petrovenian king tasks his ambassador with having the widow marry a Petrovenian count.

This isn’t easy, as the widow is harassed by suitors everywhere she goes, and so she doesn’t tend to be trusting of any man. I can’t help but think that Petrovenia seems to embrace trickle-down economics a little too readily; I seriously doubt one millionaire is going to really breathe new life the Petrovenian economy on her own. There’s also a subplot involving the ambassador’s wife and a minor character being in love, but the wife considering her marriage sacred, and the plot is filled with shenanigans involving mushy romance.

This is a romantic comedy from before romantic comedies were a thing. The acting was top-notch, the singers were lovely, and the costumes and sets were well-designed. Overall, it was a very satisfying three hours.

Band Reflection

I’ve never been to a jazz show before, and didn’t think I’d ever go to one for fun, but after seeing the live band at Brooklyn College, I realized halfway through the first song that I had a huge smile on my face and felt like getting up and dancing along to the music. All of the performers were having so much fun on stage and their energy was contagious. I really enjoyed how most of the musicians got a solo and got to show off their own unique take on the instrument. Every time a solo would finish, the band members would give a nod to the player with a smile of approval and the crowd would clap, which added to the overall energy of the show. I also really liked how the conductor from the crowd led the band during one of his songs. It was interesting to watch him and his timing and how each band member reacted to his gestures in such a precise and uniform way. You could really tell that there was mutual respect between the band members and the conductor, and above all, they were all having a great time. I noticed that with this performance, it wasn’t as perfectly refined as all the other ones we saw, but that is what added to the character of the performance and I think that is what jazz music is all about. There were moments of improvisation, moments that weren’t planned before hand, and genuine reactions by the band members. Overall, the energy of the room was extremely lively, and the band made me gain a whole new appreciation for jazz music.

The Jazz Performance

Last Thursday, we went to watch a jazz performance, which was performed by the Brooklyn College Big Band. I really enjoyed the performance. While listening to the music, I would nod my head and tap my feet to the beat. I loved the overall environment of the stage. All the band members came on stage laughing. I loved how the band members were encouaging and cheering each other on, and how even the audience were cheering on the band members. I also loved the way the conductor was leading the band members. He would give them words of encouragement while they played and lead them throughout the song. My favorite piece that they played was called the Wild Jungle. I loved how during this peice each instrument was played in such a crazy and funny way, which entertained the whole audience. I also loved the crazy sounds that were being made by the instruments during this piece. Overall, I really loved the jazz performance, and Vaughan did an excellent job playing the saxophone. He was right when he told us in class that we were going to feel a nice groovy vibe while we listen to the jazz performance.

Latin Jazz Performance

If I am to remember anything about my childhood, I am to remember the holidays at my grandparent’s house. My grandmother, famous for her delicious cooking prowess, would spend hours in the kitchen. I would sit at her fire engine red counter and watch her as she diced peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, you name it. I loved sitting there, taking in the smells of the spices, listening to her stories, and hearing the faint sounds of Tito Puente playing in the background. After my grandmother’s delicious dinner, my grandfather would crank up the music and we would dance. With these memories in mind, listening to the Latin jazz performance was a wonderful experience for me. It reminded me of my childhood. Those times where my grandfather would play the guiro and sing along to the Spanish tunes that spoke of passion, love and heartbreak.

Besides the recollection of these memories, I think what I loved most about this performance was the interaction between each of the musicians. In my family, we play around with each other. We have fun, eat good food and crack jokes. It’s about having a good time. To me, the music seemed to encompass this very concept. Each of the musicians worked cohesively together to complete each musical piece. They bounced ideas of each other with the improv and felt each melody as it was being played. I grinned whenever a soloist got into their own unique world. The other plays around would smile and nod their heads both in enjoyment and respect. I definitely had a lot of fun at this concert. Vaughn if you’re reading this, you did an amazing job!

Band Reflection

I wasn’t sure what to expect of the Big Band performance, but it definitely took me by surprise. The chilled out and interesting feel of the music had me tapping my foot to the beat.

What I found most interesting was hearing the individual instruments playing so that when they all played together, I could almost isolate the sound that each instrument made and see how they interacted when played together. I also thought it was interesting to hear the difference between the clip Vaughn played for us in class and the actual performance. I didn’t really get what he was saying until i saw it for myself in person.

All in all, I thought that it was an amazing performance that had me humming the songs for days.

Henry IV

Donmar’s production of Henry IV by Shakespeare was nothing less than incredible. I absolutely fell in love with the ambience, the concept and the actors. The play starts off in a woman’s prison. We sat in our seats as the gates around us closed with no intention of opening until after the play. I thought that this concept was quite clever and realistic. It gave us the sense of being entrapped in the prison with the females; of being placed in their world.
As the play continued, we saw that the female prisoners used mediocre child toys in order to act out the various scenes of Henry IV. Although some may, understandably,
find that degrading to Shakespeare’s name and his reputation, I found it both hilarious and realistic. What else would women in prison have access to?
I am a huge fan of the famous Netflix show, “Orange is the New Black”. And to me, this play was a perfect blend of both this show and Shakespeare. This is one thing I find creative and impressive about this production. Instead of regurgitating what has already been done and simply trying to act out the play, the company put its own spin on it that makes it both unique and innovative.
Innovation and creativity; those were the two words that stuck with me throughout the production. From the prison concept, to the music, to (my favorite) the spray painted map, I found that Donmar found clever little ways to modernize this ancient literature. I enjoyed every moment of it and it will definitely not be forgotten.

Henry IV Reflection

On Thursday, I had the good fortune of seeing Henry IV performed at St. Ann’s Warehouse. Unusually, this performance actually took place before the theater’s inaugural season. Everything about the play was unusual. The stage setup is a concrete square with a large metal cage around it, surrounded by four bleachers. You are locked into this cage at the beginning of the performance, and not permitted to leave until it is over. That’s right: No intermissions. Just 2 hours and 15 minutes of amazing acting. Another twist on the old formula is that the play is set in a women’s prison. I expected it to be the O Brother, Where Art Thou? to Henry IV’s Odyssey, but it turned out that the women’s prison part just meant that it was staged as if it was an art program at a women’s prison. That meant no elaborate props, theatrics, swordplay, or costumes. Everything was casual and modern. The women all wore modern clothing, like hoodies and T-shirts, the swords were replaced with toy guns, the honorable duel between Prince Hal of Wales and “Hotspur” Percy was done as a fistfight (where they were actually across the stage from each other, pantomiming getting hit, dodging, and blocking), and there was quite a bit of absurd comedy thrown in as well. For example, during a serious conversation between Henry IV and his son, the fat comic relief character, Falstaff, bursts into the scene twice with a noisemaker right behind Prince Hal. This prompts Henry IV to yell, “Fuck off, this isn’t your scene!” Falstaff promptly runs away. There were other fourth-wall breaking moments, like when the actress playing one of the wives broke into tears onstage and had to run off. One of the guards (yes, there were prison guards at all four corners of the stage) comes to her aid and “comforts” her, telling her that they would carry on without her. She promptly ended up playing random background characters, and is present during the closing bow, so my fears that she got a distressing phone call backstage were dispelled. All in all, St. Ann’s interpretation of Henry IV is a breathtaking new twist on an old idea.

Shakespeare Play Reaction

The play was interesting and whimsical, albeit for the first hour or so.  The actresses managed to capture my attention and kept me entertained as the prisoners brought in the toys and other equipment, giving the atmosphere an air of whimsy.  Furthermore, some of the witty, comical comments exchanged by the not so slender Falstaff character elicited a response from the audience and I was able to understand the comedic value in those assertions.  However, it was extremely difficult to understand the dialogue between the characters.  To fully understand the characters, I had to muster all of my concentration, which was only exacerbated by the fact that there was no intermission, for the three hours of the play.  This experience was, nevertheless, priceless because it was a learning experience.  Although I like reading Shakespeare because I can take my time to comprehend the dialogue, I realized that watching Shakespearean plays is an active process, meaning that the members of the audience must listen to every single word meticulously to capture the meaning of what was said.  Once the dialogue is spoken it is gone. Vanished.  It is impossible to replay or go back to what was said.  This made it very hard for me to understand what was going on in the play.  On the plus side, however, my favorite character was Falstaff because he (she) lightened the mood of the play with humor.  All in all, the experience was “okay” with some parts being phenomenal, namely Falstaff’s humor, and other parts being barely understandable.

St. Ann’s Warehouse: Henry IV Review

I knew something was different about this performance that we were going to once I saw that St. Ann’s Warehouse was so hidden and didn’t look that fancy for a venue. While walking down Water Street, Mark and I actually thought that 60 Water Street was St. Ann’s Warehouse because it looked particularly nice. Perhaps the gloominess of the day because of the rain made St. Ann’s Warehouse appear even more obscure.

Watching the play may have been the weirdest experience of my life. I did not expect the performance to be so casual and the seating was like the seating at a book signing event. Once I walked into the play’s performance area to take a seat, I knew that this would be an interesting experience, to say the least.

Overall, I found the performance entertaining and fun. The casualness of the play made the mood light and upbeat. I thought the toy props, especially the chairs in the beginning, were really funny. I do think that they tried a little too hard to make the play more relatable and modern though. Additionally, at times it was hard to understand what the actresses were saying, making the play difficult to follow. The acting and events unfolding on stage kept me engaged, but I was really confused for most of the performance. My favorite actress was the one who played Hotspur. She was really energetic and her acting was amazing. It was incredible how she was able to actually do all those push-ups and pull-ups while saying her lines.

I doubt I’ll ever see anything again as weird as that (in a good way), so yay for experience!

Henry IV Play Reflection

I really enjoyed watching the Henry IV play. I loved the humor of the play, which made me laugh a lot throughout the play. I also loved the props that were used such as a teddy bear, a toy car, and many other children toys. The actresses played their roles so well that the play felt so real to me. They allowed the audience and I to be drawn to the play based on how well they were able to portray  their characters with such great emotions. For example, when the father mourned for the death of his son, I was touched emotionally and felt remorse for the father. The actresses also focused more on their roles in the play rather than the audience, which made the play feel more real as well. My favorite actress from the play was Karen Dunbar, who played Vernon and Bardolph. Whenever she spoke during the play, I would always die of laughter because of how she said her lines in a goofy and silly way. Overall, I truly love this play and loved how well the actresses played their roles.

« Older posts Newer posts »