The first concert that I had ever been to at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts – in hindsight a highly regrettable fact – was surely an incredible experience. The Emory Jazz Big Band came together in a tour de force on Tuesday, April 19th to awe an Emerson Hall audience of 100+ music lovers as part of the Music at Emory Concert Series. The band invited special guest Tom Hall to play alongside them, and even featured some professors as part of the Professors at Play!
On a personal note, I am not one to fall easily for new things. However, just a few minutes into Easy Money, I was spellbound at the fact that students that I have worked with in my philosophy, economics, and Spanish classes could be such talented artists. One friend, for example, seemed as if his trombone was an extension of his mind and body, not an external instrument. In a way, you could say that he was the perfect “actor” – putting on a wonderful show by becoming the role; not by playing the role. The spotlights would highlight the soloist – drawing all of the audience’s attention to the movement of his fingers, facial expressions, heel taps, and body movements to the tune. While one player was in the limelight, the others would be dimly lit in the background, as their instruments were dimly audible. It was very interesting to note that the lights followed the beat and the introduction of new instrument groups. It really added to the show.
I was immediately eager to learn more. The only way for an individual to get so good at something is to practice, and usually that takes place alone. Yet, unlike golf (my sport of choice) – where one plays as an individual – these artists were performing as a group, and they were smooth. This particular jazz big band would not have performed with such style without having a singular individual at front line trombone. Neither would he be able to play with such capability had he not had the entire band behind him supporting the sound. The personal style was not all that the audience heard or noted. The “supporting actors” in a way, truly made their lead even stronger. Loved it!
In line with much of Shakespeare’s work, Much Ado about Nothing is a play (ballad?) about the tragedy and romance involved with marriage and love. I saw this particular version as a Hollywood RomCom with a European twist, but also saw some deep hidden darkness within the characters which is also typical to Shakespeare’s work. Much Ado highlights the issues that rise between sparring couples bound by attraction, and also how easily love – which, according to Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, is “Never shaken…Not time’s fool…Alters not…But bears it out even to the edge of doom”– can in fact be tricked, faked, and hidden. Despite ultimately landing in marriage, the endless deception and jealousy between Hero, Claudio, and Don Pedro makes for an inherently ugly timeline of events, only masked once again by marriage, however likely it is to be a fickle marriage.
Kenneth Branagh, who directed, produced, and starred in the play all but took the play by the horns and made it his own, and I liked it. Most notable was the comedic twist that he put on the original script. I have not read Shakespeare’s original script, but this version seemed to be a bit funnier than typical to an already knee-jerking Shakespeare. It could also be the fact that one of my favorite actors of all time, Keanu Reeves, was part of it, that I enjoyed the film so much…. I usually am not the biggest fan of Shakespeare (I know, it’s weird).
I truly enjoyed Inherit the Wind, because it brought to life an extremely hot issue of the time through both technical and creative ways using just a stage, lights, actors, and a few desks. Inherit the Wind, which obviously recounts the 1925 Scopes “Monkey” Trial confronting the issue of teaching the theories of Darwin in high school science classrooms, was a very well executed fictionalized account of an extremely confrontational and heated debate that changed the way society viewed the long-lasting friction of science against religion.
Personally, I really liked how much thought the DL put into highlighting the themes of the script through the use of lighting. For example, the severely contrasting opinions were reflected on stage by severely contrasting foreground (bright courtroom) and background (dim, spooky Main Street). Moreover, the heat of the July summer day reflected the heat of the issue at hand. I loved it! It is no surprise that the Lighting Director won a Tony for the play during its early 2000’s return to Broadway!
I was not a big fan of Waiting for Godot. I think that the reason behind this is not necessarily that I disliked this version of the play or the script but rather that I don’t very much like the absurdist movement as a whole. I enjoyed the depth of thought that the play gives rise to in the audience, but I also believe that there are more active and interesting ways to get the same question across: are we predestined beings, or do we have control of our lives through choice?
I can personally relate to this play in some ways, since sometimes in life I find myself at a standstill because I spend too much time overanalyzing a scenario and asking, “why?” rather than just doing. This is exactly what Vladmir and Estragon are stuck doing; asking too many questions and not acting on any of them. I support the fact that suicide was so easily brought up despite being such an incredibly weighty issue. The reason for this is twofold: First, it allows the audience to leave the theater and hopefully discuss the issue a bit more freely with their peers/loved ones, which could eventually bring to light personal thoughts of suicide and make it a topic of conversation rather than a topic to be avoided until it is too late. Second, Vladmir and Estragon both agree that suicide is not a viable option, which ultimately supports the idea that we do have some sentient power of choice in our lives, rather than being purely predestined beings. I was not the biggest fan of this film, but appreciate its depth in philosophical thought.
What a cast! I absolutely LOVED this film, and plan on it being one of the movies that I watch over twenty times. As having just gone through the real estate process myself, it was quite scary to watch this film. You never know who you can trust, and always have to stay aware of ulterior motives. Also, heading into corporate America myself, this is a great warning sign of what to look out for and how not to cope with certain issues or demands from inside of the office. However, I was able to relate to their predicament and enjoyed the character development throughout the film. Though, I would not have reacted the same way as they had…
I could imagine that the live play version of this film would be drastically different from the movie. In my mind, the camera angles, vastly different lighting schemes from scene to scene, and editing cuts allow the film version of Glengarry Glen Ross a much more dramatic experience than a live performance would. One thing is for sure – the film almost mirrors the script from Mamet’s 1984 play, which usually does not happen. Either way, I will not truly know until it (hopefully) returns to Broadway!
The foul language that is natural to this movie doesn’t fit into today’s world, and I could imagine it offending large numbers of people. At the same time, however, it was a great reflection of social interactions between colleagues who are fighting for leads and sales, and how people react differently to their bosses’ demands. 10/10.
Lorraine Hansberry, in A Raisin in the Sun, brings to light the condition of poor African American families in the South Side of urban Chicago during the 1950s. The play debuted on Broadway in 1959, and was felt heavily in tandem with the Civil Rights Movement. The title, which actually came from Langston Hughes’ poem, “Harlem,” reminded me also of Billy Holiday’s famous “Strange Fruit,” which was a song of social protest which fought against the lynching and mistreatment of African Americans throughout the states. A Raisin in the Sun hold similar imagery and weight in its reflection of the seemingly helpless condition of the largely ostracized African American population up until the sixties.
It represents the entire Harlem renaissance, in a way, with Mama, Walter, Ruth, Travis, and Beneatha Younger reacting in their own individual ways to the status quo of Black-Americans in an urban center dominated by White-Americans. Presenting the audience with themes of racism, poverty, and assimilation, the Youngers’ struggle reflects the struggle of many black families across the U.S. during that time. Lena, for example, purchased a house in an all-white neighborhood in order to assimilate as best as she could. This, in my mind, reflected the actions of the older African generation at the time – complacent, for that way of life is all they had ever known, and so many terrible experiences of loss, mistreatment, and subordination caused a loss of hope. However, Walter, for example, represents the younger generation in that he has more drive to speak up, work hard with his limo and liquor ventures, and make something of himself to prove that he is not subordinate to anybody. In essence, his drive is rooted in successful business ventures and the power yielded from them, while Lena’s drive is rooted in religion and social assimilation.
I liked reading this play, and hope to see it one day, as it seems like a staple of American Social History.
I very much liked Sweeney Todd, and I usually do not enjoy the horror genre as a whole. The reason I usually avoid that genre is because their plotlines tends to be easily anticipated, and the reasons for the protagonist’s evil actions rather shallow. The transition of Benjamin Barker to Sweeney Todd resembled the type of character dynamics that one might find in one of Poe’s short stories. Unavoidable and ignorant, yet self-inflicted.
Similar to the message from A Streetcar Named Desire, members of the audience wonder to themselves if the lust for revenge is a controllable or uncontrollable desire. In this case, again, it seems as if it is the ex-barber’s uncontrollable addiction to slitting the throats of his customers (instigated by Mrs. Lovett) that was the root of his evil, however, it was the initial succumbing to sin which resulted in a landslide of evil retribution. It sparks my curiosity, from a psychology standpoint, that Sweeney truly believed that revenge would be his “salvation.”
Tim Burton, known for his often dark films, definitely did not shy away from bloodshed, which I think was pretty awesome, considering that directors often limit this goriness in order to attract a larger consumer base – I like when directors do as they please for the sake of art, and not for the sake of financial profit.
Stephen Sondheim, whom we read about in the textbook, actually composed the original score for Sweeney Todd…’s initial Broadway appearance in 1979. I hope to find it online, I have yet to come across it!
Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, is a 1947 classic which addresses the human psyche and many of the social “inconsistencies” that result from the human mind and its desires such as homosexuality, for example. Reflected in each of Williams’ characters are the multitudinous desires and flaws that are inherent to any individual by nature. Whether crippling alcoholism, uncontrollable egotism, or intense self-hatred, Tennessee Williams offers an enjoyable insight into the qualities which each of us faces and fights against. I think that this can most easily be witnessed during the scene in which Mitch, in a fit of anger and humiliation, makes a very aggressive sexual approach on Blanche; only to be dissuaded by her screaming “fire” out of self-defense. Very soon thereafter, it is implied (though not shown) that Stanley actually takes it a step further and rapes Blanche, resulting in her (understandable) psychotic breakdown.
I see this movie as posing the question of whether or not an individual has control over seemingly uncontrollable mental states. Almost every case in the play points to the conclusion that Tennessee Williams was arguing for the uncontrollable school. Having seen the terrible outcome of the succumbing to one’s desires, the audience later hears Blanche say to her mental health doctor, “Whoever you are, I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers” as they walk, in my mind, to her lobotomy (Williams’ sister struggled with mental health issues and faced lobotomy). In essence, the only way to deal with the human condition is to completely cease all mental capacity. I personally do not agree with this!
Noises Off is the story behind a disastrously unprepared, dim-witted and drug-and-sex-addicted group of actors and actresses throughout their preparation for and performances of the fictional play Nothing On. Being such an abhorrent play, and such a frustration for the director of Nothing On, the audience of Noises Off finds itself in one of the most hilarious farces to date, and surely Michael Frayn finds himself satisfied, rather than frustrated.
The play, although originally a 1982 London comedy, has returned to Broadway three times since, and featured Michael Caine along with Christopher Reeve and John Ritter in a 1992 hit movie directed by Peter Bogdanovich.
I personally enjoyed the Inception-like feel of watching a play within a play. On top of this, it was also very ironic that such a terrible farce could be the cornerstone of one of the best I have ever seen. I enjoyed how the acts were split, and thought that they reflected both time and anxiety typical to certain stages throughout the production and performance process of stageplays. The most hilarious part of the play, in my mind, was in Act III when they play tumbles so far downhill that the actors and actresses must start ad-libbing in order to present something, at all, to the audience – and it is an incredible performance of slapstick comedy.
Although this play only won third prize at the Dionysia Festival in 431 BCE, it has become one of Euripides’ best and most popular works as well as one of the great works of the Western Canon. The play is based on the myth of an unfaithful Jason and a passionate yet revengeful Medea, and is defined as a Greek tragedy.
In this particular version of Medea, the actress who played Medea was, in my opinion, too dramatic. At first, I thought that she was incredible at portraying her passion and anger. However, especially in the closing scenes, she was overly dramatic and pulls the viewer out of belief to the point where the play is no longer a tragic reality but rather an excess of acting.
On the other side of the coin, the viewer without a doubt leaves with the understanding that “hell hath no fury like that a woman scorned.” Medea, who was not only betrayed by the man that she loved but also by the entire kingdom, fell into a storm of delirious, neurotic, vulnerable and pathetic anger for which Jason and their two sons paid for desperately. The ability for this actress to display all of these emotions is a great accomplishment, however I still believe that it was, well, overdone…overdone in the best possible way.
Historically, this must have been a play warning Athenian men to be careful of their treatment of women. Seeing Medea react to betrayal in the way that she did is the reaction of a strong (and crazy) woman during a time when society expected women to be submissive. As a metaphor for love, honor and respect, I believe that the play Medea calls for men to give the same respect to women that they demand between themselves in the marketplace and in politics. Although being such an old play, its themes resonate into contemporary issues of respect, tolerance, and overreaction. I would like to see a new version with slight variations made in order to apply to the issues facing today’s global society.