Posts tagged Theatre
Dear [anyone who passed by 202 Appleton Tower last night],
Sorry for scaring you.
I can certainly see why you were alarmed. After all, it’s not particularly commonplace to hear five bold, very Scottish voices (along with one squeaky Yankee) shouting about glass eyes, raspberries, windows, bombs, and popes.
Not in a computer science building, at least.
When I came to Edinburgh, my one desperate dream was to get involved with the theatre scene. Sadly for second-term foreigners like me, most plays (specifically the musicals, my favourite) tend to cast their spring shows around September, and the few remaining productions with auditions this semester had performance dates that conflicted with my travel schedule. You can’t win ‘em all.
Yet ever since my fourteen-year-old self randomly received a starring role in a high school production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) after spending weeks moping about not making the final cut for West Side Story (such was my fate back when I couldn’t dance), I have unshakeable faith in the universe’s ability to give me a play when I need one.
This time, the universe’s response took the form of an email seeking volunteers for this semester’s performance by the English Literature Play-Reading Group. I eagerly signed up–even though I wasn’t particularly familiar with the play or this very elegantly titled Group.
Unsurprisingly, I misjudged them both. The play, Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist, sounded like a drama–or at least a dramedy–when I first heard its name. I also assumed that this mysterious band of performers would consist of other undergraduate English majors. Instead, I found myself starring as the sole ‘straight man’ in a dark, erudite comedy brought excellently to life by the talents of my fellow actors (who, as it turned out, were mainly faculty members).
In our unrehearsed performance, I played Maria Feletti, an incorrigible journalist who gets caught up in a manipulative farce the ‘Maniac’ has constructed for some bumbling police officers by disguising himself as a judge. Although she speaks constantly in tirades of media-babble, I empathized a great deal with Feletti. She has the burden of being the only woman, the only outsider, and the only vaguely competent human in the cast, and these first two attributes (but decidedly not the latter) could also fittingly describe my role at this reading. Still, I gained an even better linguistic understanding of the local dialects and finally found my first play for the semester–what more could I ask for?
Well, uh, some lovely weather would be nice. With the exception of Monday’s sunny afternoon (during which I took a jog/photographing expedition around Holyrood park to celebrate), Edinburgh’s seen some Ithacation that might be able to hold its own in a weather-duel against Cornell’s.
In cheerier news, new clues to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum robbery (a pet obsession of mine) may be surfacing, sunshine is predicted from Sunday onwards, and…I’m off to London on Friday! Don’t be fooled by this short(er) post: pictures galore will return this weekend whenever I get a break from museums, the Tube, and one inescapable giant clock.
(Hopefully pickpockets, my fear of crowds, and unfortunate Dr. Who references will be slightly less inescapable.)
Another busy weekend has passed, and–surprise!–I recently realized that I’ll be flying back to Hawai’i in exactly one month from today. Of course, I really can’t think about that fact for too long, because as much as I long to return to my ‘aina, going home = the end of the first semester = I’m almost halfway done with sophomore year = I’m almost done with college = I’m GETTING OLD.
Anyway, I’ll just go straight into my recap to distract myself from that disturbing equation above. The past few days marked the first time in months that I didn’t go to work at the Johnson on the weekend: weird, right? Still, I somehow managed to keep busy without help from my internship.
Thanks to the sponsorship of one of Risley’s Faculty Fellows, I was able to see a production of Sartre’s No Exit at the Schwartz for free on Friday night.
Though the play was written for a cast of four (with three main characters and a valet who only appears in the first scene) Juliana Kleist-Mendez ’12′s No Exit also featured a group of three demonic dancers that shadowed the protagonists in silence throughout the entire piece. These wide-eyed performers both reflected and influenced the actions of their speaking counterparts (and, in my opinion, were most effective while doing the latter). Since I’ve recently added “the portrayal of doubles in literature” to the grand Things About Which Keely Might Write Her Honors Thesis list, I found this directorial decision fascinating. In case you’re not so much of a fetch fan, let me explain a little. The double is a European cross-cultural phenomenon: for example, the British Isles have the fetch, the Germans the doppelganger and the Norse (my favorite, as any longtime reader knows) the vardøgr. Whether sinister or just a little weird, accounts of bilocation or double encounters are still floating around today (and I promise I’ve read about them from sources more reputable than my beloved paranormal podcasts!) in fiction and reality alike.
(Um, before I get too carried away, I’ll just wrap this up right here. No Exit was a good show.)
Since it’s getting late and I don’t feel like writing any more pseudo-intellectual blabbing, I’ll move on to another less-thesis-related weekend highlight. A little backstory first: last year, my friend and I celebrated autumn by making pumpkin bread, and, fortunately, this baking extravaganza has become our new tradition. Though we had to use applesauce for eggs and my rice cooker’s inner lining for a mixing bowl, we still created a great loaf that was far superior to our previous results. Yum!
As Christina Rossetti would say, “Summer is gone with all its roses.”
(Incidentally, she would also tell you to come to the Twilight Concert on Saturday, October 29th to hear the CU Chorus sing a setting of “Bitter for Sweet.” Okay, maybe she wouldn’t, but you should still attend anyway.)
Even though cold weather is certainly not my favorite, I do love autumn. Since I didn’t grow up in a temperate climate, I have bizarre attachments to falling leaves, scarves and sweaters, darker days…and CIDER.
When I started living on the Mainland last year, I officially decided that cider deserved to replace Martinelli’s as my favorite beverage of all time. (You know what’s weird, though? Why is Martinelli’s called “sparkling cider” when it’s really just sparkling apple juice? Why can’t they make bubbly cider? That might just be the best thing ever. Behold the deep thoughts of an English major.)
And what better way to celebrate the return of cider and autumn alike than the Apple Harvest Festival (Ithaca’s annual fall celebration featuring performances and a lot of food)? Tragically, we had a rather rainy day for the Festival this year, but I still managed to pick up some apple crisp and my personal favorite: the “gourmet caramel apple.” For the (slightly outrageous) price of $5, you can forgo the stick and core and get some sliced apples drowned in caramel, peanuts, cinnamon and whipped cream.
Speaking of delicious things I’ve eaten this weekend, the cake shaped like the Johnson Museum did make an appearance at the New Wing Preview Reception. I’d expected a flat sheet cake at best, and was surprised to see a massive 3D masterpiece that looked like it was taken straight from Ace of Cakes!
This cake is yet another example of why the Johnson is the best place to go for free food. Ithaca Bakery did the catering for the event as well, and all of their non-cake offerings were absolutely delicious. But I’m not here to talk about that! More cake!
There wasn’t much for me to see in the new wing that I hadn’t already been exposed to as an intern, but the Museum Club did a good job of creating a very classy and sophisticated atmosphere. I was actually most disappointed that they didn’t have the sculpture garden open; I would have liked to have seen nighttime Ithaca from above, and the views up there are incredible. Next time, I suppose.
As if AppleFest and the preview weren’t enough events for one weekend, I also went to see Byron Suber’s production of I’m A Frayed Knot, a postmodern revisioning of The Scarlet Letter in the context of AIDS and the 1980s (or something like that. The program described it much better than I can, but I can’t find mine!) This is the first Schwartz piece I’ve attended all year, so it felt good to be back in the blackbox.
I’m not going to get into my thoughts about the play itself, but I was very impressed by all of the actors’ performances: they were inspiring enough to make me want to get involved in theatre again, even though that’s impossible. I like to think I defy the college cliche of “Academics, sleep and friends: pick two,” but I definitely don’t have enough time for both acting and my internship. And unless some agent magically decides to cast me as the new face of Wonder Woman after I graduate, I think the latter is far more relevant.
Plus, I did get paid to dance around with small children at the museum for two hours on Saturday, so maybe there’s a greater overlap there than I thought!