Monday, October 6, 2014

STOP KISS


E-52 Student Theatre Proudly Presents:

STOP KISS
Written by Diana Son

Showtimes:

Thurs, October 9 - 7:30pm
Fri, October 10 - 7:30pm
Sat, October 11 - 7:30pm

Info:

Bacchus Theater in Perkins
$3 for Students | $5 for Public 
Tickets sold at the door.
FLEX accepted!

About The Show:

Callie, a twenty-something New York traffic reporter, promises to take on a cat owned by Sara, “some friend of an old friend of someone.” Callie is an expert at avoiding conflict, which serves her well in the city. Sara, on the other hand, has willingly left her job at a Quaker school in St. Louis to teach third-graders in the Bronx. Both women are dealing with past and current heart-breaks. Callie is sleeping with her good friend while Sara is trying to becomes friends with her ex-boyfriend Peter. Although both Sara and Callie are “straight” women, they discover an unspoken attraction to each other. The play shuttles back and forth in time, between the early days of Callie and Sara’s friendship and the hospital room and police station they are in after they are brutally attacked after their first kiss. Premiered Off-Broadway in 1998. 

http://e-52.weebly.com/


STOP KISS is directed by my very good friend Madeleine Hamingson and is co-sponsored by Haven (University of Delaware's LGBTQ and Ally organization), SAGE (Students Acting for Gender Equality), and V-Day (our chapter of V-Day International, an organization against sexual violence). Maddie has been very passionate throughout the process of proposing, organizing, and directing this production. She has gone above and beyond, aiming to open a dialogue at UD about harassment and get the word out about the show. E-52 and the organizations listed above recently hosted Stop Harassment Against Everyone, a panel about how a person's gender influences the way they are treated in public and how objectification hurts everyone. It was a very special night, and I strongly encourage anyone and everyone to come out and see this show that the production staff, the cast, and Maddie have worked so hard to put on in only a few short weeks.

Monday, July 7, 2014

So Much Life Happening At Once


That was some semester, let me tell you. It was the most stressful and most rewarding few months of my life. It was packed with activity and a new adventure every day! I turned twenty-one, joined Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia (a men's music fraternity), starred in two fantastic plays (Bob: A Life in Five Acts and The Importance of Being Earnest) with amazing people, made a husky sum of new friends, learned to teach writing, became a staff member for the 2014 UDMB (University of Delaware [Fightin' Blue Hen] Marching Band), and coordinated the proposal for the upcoming Short Attention Span Theatre XI (SAST XI), for which I have written a one act play, as well as learned what it means to party responsibly with friends (and party often) while living a full and rewarding personal, social, and academic life.

Holy crap.

So here's what's coming up! I mentioned SAST XI and the play I've written for it. It'll be performed the weekend of October 18th on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I will not be in my play, but I am directing it. It's titled "Extra Pulp" and it was written after my brother and I marathoned a bunch of Quentin Tarantino movies in February.

I also managed to take on the role of Production Manager for the whole shebang, and I'm proud to say our organization has a lot of talent. We have six one act plays lined up for the festival so far, and if you are interested in writing/directing/proposing a play, you have until the first day of classes to submit!

Get excited, because the plays so far are:

"Nobody Famous" (written by D.M. Larson, directed by Zach Rogers)
"Extra Pulp" (written and directed by John Young)
"Hills Like White Elephants" (written by Ernest Hemingway, adapted by Catherine Hallman)
"The Great American Family Camping Trip" (written by Kirsten Haden, directed by Catherine Marchbank)
"Moments" (written by Bruce Kane, directed by Melissa Volpone)
"You Forgot, Remember?" (written and directed by Blair Schuman)

Out of the six plays we have lined up, three are written by E-52 members, UD undergrads!

Monday, March 17, 2014

ENGL 372: Oleanna

The film stars William H. Macy and Debra Eisenstadt.
David Mamet's Oleanna was definitely a work that got the class talking. A two person drama written by someone who allegedly inspired Quentin Tarantino's style of dialogue with his trademark "Mamet-speak," Oleanna's characters are constantly overlapping each other's speech, repeating themselves, and chewing up certain words to spin whatever meanings they may have with clever wordplay, all while almost never seeming to spit out a complete thought. Here's a sample of dialogue:

CAROL: No, no, no, I'm doing what I'm told. It's difficult for me. It's difficult ...
JOHN: ... but ...
CAROL: I don't ... lots of the language ...
JOHN: ... please ...
CAROL: The language, the "things" that you say ...
JOHN: I'm sorry. No. I don't think that that's true.
CAROL. It is true. I ...
JOHN: I think ...
CAROL: It is true.
JOHN: ... I ...
CAROL: Why would I ...?

The ellipses are not read as pauses, but the vast majority of the time as moments where one speaker is cut off by the other. John is a professor of education at a university who is happily married with a child, about to buy a house, and up for tenure. He is hypocritical, egotistical, and often a jerk to Carol, hardly letting her get a word in edgewise and sometimes grabbing her shoulders to calm her down, but in the first act it seems that he really wants to help her. Carol is a student who is struggling in John's class. In the first act she is asking for advice on a paper, but she and John are so busy cutting each other off and getting offended that nothing gets done. She is defensive, shy, and very anxious. At the end of the first act, she even claims that she is guilty of something. Something she needs to tell John right away but is very afraid to. Then the phone rings. It seems to ring whenever John and Carol are about to have some sort of actual connection, whenever they are about to reach any kind of understanding.

The second act provides a completely different reading of the first act, begging for it to be re-examined and reinterpreted. Sometime later, Carol has brought up a rape charge against John. She seems far more articulate and confident than she was in the first act, and she keeps mentioning that it's not just her, but her "Group" and the entire student body that want John's tenure denied. The wording of the complaint takes John's words and actions from the first act out of context and puts them in the wrong order, and John makes even more mistakes, grabbing Carol's shoulders again at one point to keep her from leaving the room so they can talk more about it.

The third act is explosive.

Oleanna is definitely a ride and it provokes very strong reactions from the audience. Sometimes people cheer at the end. Sometimes they shake their heads disappointment or disgust. Sometimes they write angry Tumblr posts about it. The point is, Oleanna sparks discussion and can be interpreted a thousand different ways by actors, directors, and the audience.

The film, directed by Mamet himself, can be found on YouTube.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Bob: A Life in Five Acts

Clockwise: Matthew Dec, Anthony Alessia, Eileen O'Connor, Emily Kinslow, John Young

E-52 Student Theatre presents...

Bob: A Life in Five Acts
By Peter Sinn Nachtrieb
"Have you done anything great with your life?"

This information and more at E-52's website!

Performance Dates:

Friday, March 7 - 7:30 P.M.
Saturday, March 8 - 7:30 P.M.
Sunday, March 9 - 2:00 P.M.

Thursday, March 13 - 7:30 P.M.
Friday, March 14 - 7:30 P.M.
Saturday, March 15 - 7:30 P.M.

Venue:

Bacchus Theater  (Perkins Student Center)
Academy Street, Newark DE 19711

Ticket Prices:

$3 for Students
$5 for Public

We accept FLEX!

Bob: A Life in Five Acts is a sidesplitting comedy that tells the story of Bob (Matthew Dec) from the moment of his birth to old age. There are only five actors, who are Bob himself and the four Chorus Members (Eileen O'Connor, Anthony Alessia, Emily Kinslow, and John Young). Bob's goal in life is to become a great man, one who will be remembered and recognized forever. The Chorus Members play every other character in Bob's life, meaning each one plays around eight or nine different characters. See Bob's journey across America, one filled with love, luck, hardship, and hope, as well as a fair share of loss. Journey with Bob as he meets some promiscuous waitresses, the greatest animal trainer of all time, a one-armed roulette dealer, and many more colorful characters! The play made its world premiere in March of 2011, so you've never seen anything like it!


Monday, February 17, 2014

ENGL 372: Buried Child

Dodge is buried in corn husks by Tilden. Image from The New York Times

(I apologize in advance if it seems like my thoughts are unfinished or not as tightly worded. I've had an awesome but very long weekend and I'd like to keep this brief!)

This semester, I begin my Studies in Drama class, a look into modern American theatre. I'm going to write short posts about these plays in order to keep track of what I've read and a few of the things we've talked about in class. First on our reading list is Sam Shepard's Buried Child. This play is wacko. It's something I imagine must be absolutely haunting to see live. It's a character-driven story taking place in the old farmhouse of Dodge and Halie, a place where symbolism is oozing from the wooden floorboards. Power shifts occur every time someone walks in or out of the living room where the play takes place. Several characters are "buried" by props like a rabbit fur coat and the vegetables that oldest son Tilden brings in from the yard. The first act sets the foundation with a realistic, comical, homey setting featuring the back-and-forth bickering of Dodge and Halie. From there, things start getting really weird really fast and I really enjoyed reading it. It can be read in an afternoon, and I recommend it.

I'm finding more and more that I love reading magic realism. It's funny, because Mrs. Healey told me back in high school that she thought I would. I hope someday I'll be that insightful with my students.

In class, we've briefly discussed old farmer Dodge as being decrepit and withering, someone who has lost his virility. He is sexually inactive, sickly, and constantly consuming whiskey that he keeps hidden under the sofa that he is confined to. We also see him on stage for the entirety of the play. His wife, Halie, is pretty much the opposite. She spends the majority of the play offstage, either upstairs in her room or out of the house. Dodge teases her and implies that she is and used to be promiscuous, which is later implied to be true when she goes out drinking with the local preacher. She is also an authoritative voice in the house, and it's interesting to watch the power shift in the room between characters when her strong, motherly, and opinionated self comes and goes.

Tilden has clearly been traumatized by something, and his ritualistic actions of picking corn and root vegetables out back that shouldn't be there and bringing them in show a desire to dig up the past and share it. Whenever he brings something in, he needs everyone to do something with them. He offers them to the other characters. He buries Dodge in corn husks and gives the carrots to Shelly so that she can cut them with him.

I think Shelly herself can be seen as a vehicle for the audience to interact with the characters. She's an outsider to this family, just as we are. In her short time at the house, she too can tell that there is a secret being covered up, and she wants to know what it is. If you look at it this way, the play can get even weirder, because then some lines, like when Dodge basically says "Who do you think you are to try and dredge up our secret?"could be seen as an eerie question being posed to you personally.

Bradley, the professor suggested, is a sort of "castration figure," a character filled with symbolism relating to it. He is an amputee, and he cuts Dodge's hair with shears whenever Dodge falls asleep. He's an interesting character in that he is an overbearing, ominous, uncomfortable character to be around most of the time, but when Halie is in the room, he seems to regress. He spends a whole page at one point whining like a child because Halie took a blanket from him.

Vince. Yipes. With the play's bizarre and disturbing conclusion, I'm not sure what to think about Vince. It just poses so many heavy questions, and I am going to need more time to process how he fits into it all. It should be an exciting concluding discussion in tomorrow's class.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Media Representations of Teachers: Admiral Slaughter

Admiral Slaughter is one of the more down-to-earth teachers on Community.

Admiral Slaughter's Class (Community 1x19)

Community, one of my favorite television shows, has a large cast of eccentric, crazy, and just plain unqualified teachers, so Admiral Slaughter really stands out in the show's representations of educators. The show is interesting in that it sort of defines the roles of teachers implicitly through parody, satire and deliberately bad examples of them. Slaughter is almost the complete opposite of the other teachers in this show, which makes him in a way representative of the show's philosophy on what a good teacher should be. In a group of characters that is rich with parody and wild antics, he is the real deal. He begins his week-long course by explicitly stating his objectives, the standard he is holding his students to, what kind of work the students can expect, and his grading policy. From the moment he steps into his classroom (the boat in the middle of Greendale Community College's parking lot), he assumes the secure and confident role and identity of "teacher," focused on the students, the content of the course and project-based collaborative learning.

When he introduces himself, he is at a lower elevation than the other characters, and they are looking down at him, but they are separated. The students are on one side of the boat, and he is on the other as he gives them information. This is reminiscent of a lecture hall's structure, with elevated rows of students and the teacher down at the bottom where everyone can see. This decision from the director makes his role as a teacher visually obvious. For the rest of the course, he stands behind the captain's position on the boat, his arms either crossed or holding his clipboard. This too is a product of good directing that helps in the representation of Admiral Slaughter as a teacher. He stands there because he is guiding the students in project-based learning. They have their instructions and are co-constructing and applying knowledge together on the boat as he watches and gives new instructions and information when needed. During dialogue sequences, his body can be seen in the background. This is a deliberate decision, showing that while all of the action is in his students' hands at the moment, he is always there to keep them on task and track their progress. When the boat is triumphantly sailing across the parking lot to rescue Pierce, Slaughter can be clearly seen standing above and watching with his arms still crossed, a solid and imposing form. The majority of his teaching (such what each part of the boat is, among other things), is done off-screen, so how well he handles that portion of teaching is implicit in his students' work and actions. They perform well, using all kinds of relevant vocabulary. They also seem to know their roles on the boat very well.

When his students have decided to start applying their knowledge with this unplanned rescue project, he doesn't bark at them or stop them. He's giving his students choice and allowing them to apply their knowledge in a creative way that reflects who they are as people. This is evident in Shirley's statement that "the sea may be cruel, but I am not," and he rewards this behavior. Admiral Slaughter praises Shirley a lot. He does this through spoken compliments and head nodding. While I think he should be praising the other students more often (he does make a big point of saying that all of their efforts together are what matter), this praise is another positive thing to see from a teacher on this show, and Shirley becomes more confident as a captain as a result. Her promotion to admiral at the end of the episode is unnecessary in the context of the class, but Slaughter knows she has earned the extra praise and his respect.

I don't think he is the best representation of the teachers at Greendale Community College, but I do think he is one of the best representations of a good teacher on the show. He achieves his objectives through explicit instruction, his assessments seem fair in the context of the course, and he creates a classroom culture geared towards learning together through project-based learning. He praises students for their good work and he lets them know when things go wrong or when they are in danger of failing without humiliating them. There are a lot explicit representations of teaching styles I do not agree with on a realistic level in Community, but I do agree with this representation of the teacher's role. The focus is on the students, but he is leading and giving them just what they need when they need it while giving them respect.