Pina Bausch: A Legend In Time (1940-2009).

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From Pina Bausch's "Rite Of Spring."

In honor of the dance -theatre trend spreading around the performance world, I have gathered some essential facts about the legendary choreographer Pina Bausch. Our own professor, director and choreographer Paule Turner is quite obsessed with her, and much of her work is incorporated into the kind of art Rowan Theatre majors produce.

“Dance. Dance. Otherwise, we are lost.”

Rowan’s performance technique is entirely based on merging the world of music, dance and theatre – as we are not individual trades, but different branches of the same tree. Pina Bausch exemplified what it meant to weave works of art together into dance pieces with text and mesmerizing symbolism. Her life was beautiful, her work is magic, and she is greatly missed. But as Paule Turner will tell you, “I don’t talk about her like she’s dead, because her work is still here. And there is so much beauty left behind in her wake.”

http://www.dipity.com/ABCatherine/Pina-Bausch-A-Legend-In-Time/

"Rite of Spring"

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Map of the Rowan Theatre Department.

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Some people will  argue that the theatre kids share Bunce Hall with the marketing and English majors, but I say they’re a bunch of liars. We live in Bunce, back off, number crunchers. And more good news? It doesn’t stop there! This map points out all of the other places on campuses that have been used as performance space or classrooms for Movement, Theatre and Dance classes. Come by and get involved sometime!


Mucho props to my darling Joseph Napolitano for giving me this idea so I didn’t tear my hair out trying to make a map of theaters that follow the same style as Rowan. BECAUSE THERE ARE NONE.

Fare-Thee-Well.

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To follow protocol and to be polite, I must, with the heaviest of hearts, post this gut-wrenching goodbye to all three of my readers.

As much as I would love to and half expect to keep up this blog over time, I will be admittedly taking a break to continue living my double-major life. I have very much enjoyed updating the masses (again, all three of them) on the goings-on of Rowan’s Theatre Program, and I hope to find more to share shortly. I didn’t expect it, but keeping this blog has certainly given me an opportunity to make sense of a lot of conclusions I reached about myself this semester. I’ve undoubtedly grown as a performer and a person, and as the two go hand in hand, I’m happy to have shared that growth in a method that can be shared with others who share my passion.

In my previous post, I covered Rowan’s final show for the fall semester, and considering I already went over my word limit, I couldn’t dedicate too much space to what I thought of the experience. I will now tie that into some parting words in this post instead. Readers, if you take nothing else from this blog, I hope you can remember this: What makes Rowan’s Theatre program worth writing about is its fearlessness and originality in the world of art. The collaboration of acting and dance, the idea that we are not dancers, singers, actors but performers.That we are not each other’s competition but tools for growth. This is what made me choose this school over the other five I had a choice of.

“Love is an unattended pool. Swim at your own risk, but definitely swim” may just as well be every performer’s, and hopefully, every person’s mantra throughout life. Love for another is one thing, but love for yourself and what you do is another entirely. Nothing will ever hurt you more than what you love, take it from the performers. Take it from the people who don’t get cast, who pursue careers that are guaranteed to end at thirty, who face rejection from people and cast lists alike, and those who get told “Do this or we’ll replace you with someone skinnier.” Take it from us, the dreams you have will put you through more than the worst relationship ever could. But do you love it? Then shut up and swim.

I look forward to logging in at random intervals at four in the morning when pretentious stuff like what I just wrote pops into my head. Until then, look back on my greatest hits in case you’re crying because you miss me already:

Rowan Welcomes The Biggest Love Of All 

Anne Frank, An EgoPo Production

Why Do You Do Theatre?

Viewpoints: Continued

Interview With Lane Savadove

Au Revoir, mes amies!

 

Rowan Asks: “Will You Marry Me, Pina Bausch?”

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Ever pushing the envelope of avant-garde theatre, this December Rowan University’s Department of Theatre and Dance proudly opened its stage to our very own Paule Turner’s original collaborative dance-theatre piece: Will You Marry Me, Pina Bausch? 

Inspired by Turner’s admitted mental love affair with choreographer Pina Bausch, the show is described by its dance-actors as “a marriage proposal to the woman who, with her work, has given birth to everything Paule Turner has ever done.” And perhaps this much could be inferred by even the most untrained theatre-goer, what with four of the five males in the cast brandishing “Will You Marry Me?” on their bare chests and Pina Bausch herself being plastered all over the set. But to say that there is more than meets the eye would be an understatement.

If you saw the show and actually took the time to read your program, you would have been warned ahead of time to refrain from trying to locate a plot in this two hour piece. Needless to say, most audience members did not read their programs. I would be one of them. I did, however, have the incredible luck of interviewing one of the prominent cast members, Tyler Garamella, who shed some glorious light on this awe-inspiring show.

An actor by trade, Garamella describes his movement theatre debut as the most abstract and creative thing he’s ever done. It combined dance’s fluidity and bodily freedom with some of modern theatre’s fresher ideas: such as an individual actor playing multiple roles throughout one production.

Will You Marry Me, Pina Bausch? features a cast of 17 but follows only four characters: The [asexual] piano player,  the woman (whore), the proposer (Paule) and the fawn. The plot follows the woman throughout her tragic life, enveloping her in a gaudy, presumptuous fur coat the entire time. In the beginning scenes she is raped as a child while an eery monologue explains that the men behind the crime only commit it because they know her family and her ill roots, and more importantly, know that she is never expected to become anything more than the street rat she is. While multiple females play the woman in different stages of her life, her made-up gentle suitor, the fawn, remains the only steady role in the show, played by actor Jaried Kimberly.

The piano player, sometimes played by a male, sometimes a woman brandishing a set of fake boobs, acts as the narrator of the production, constantly prodding it along between scenes. Choreography remains the same for the role throughout the show, but it is made unique by each actor-dancer. Finally, the proposer represents Paule Turner himself, and is often seen throwing chairs, waving flashlights, burning down the set and screaming, “Pina! Pina!”

Through the interweaving of these four characters, the production carries out perhaps the only truly solid theme it has: the essence of love. Displaying everything from young love, to lustful adoration, to rape, mistrust, seduction, neglect and death, Will You Marry Me, Pina Bausch? truly offers an honest rendition of something artists have been trying to make sense of for years. Summarized best in one scene at the end of the show, in which one of the proposers, Joseph Grasso, strips to his underwear and crawls across the grassy set, heartbroken, repeating a mantra of, “Love is an unattended pool. Swim at your own risk. Swim at your own risk…Swim. Swim. Yes, definitely swim.”

And, ladies and gentlemen, is that not what motivates everything we do as performers, as people? Life itself is an unattended pool, but swim. Definitely swim.

Rowan University Gay Straight Alliance Program Presents: The Laramie Project.

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I’m a big fat liar, and I’m going back on my promise to never speak of this production again and doing just that. Just a reminder, show goes up December 9th, 10th and 11th in the Westby Blackbox until further notice. There may or may not be some tiny adjustments in time and locations. But, until then, save the date.

The Laramie Project (Affectionately labeled “The Derp-amie Project by the cast) is a play by Moises Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theater Project about the reaction to the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student in Laramie, Wyoming. After being denounced as a homophobic hate crime, the murder managed to shed some light on the lack of hate crime laws in various states across the country, including Wyoming.

The play is compiled of hundreds of interviews gathered by the individual members of the theatre company (Leigh Fondakowski, Stephen Belber, Greg Pierotti, Barbara Pitts, Stephen Wangh, Amanda Gronich, Sara Lambert, John McAdams, Maude Mitchell, Andy Paris, and Kelli Simpkins) from over sixty residents of the small Wyoming town.

Originally, eight actors portray the interviewees as well as the Tectonic Theater Project members, but the upcoming Rowan production will feature ten.

“Then two days later I found out the connection and I was very…struck. They were two kids. They were both my patients and they were two kids. I took care of both of them, of both their bodies. And for a brief moment I wondered if this is how God feels when he looks down at us. How we are all his kids. And I felt a great deal of compassion for both of them.” -Dr. Cataway, The Laramie Project.

High in drama and tragedy, The Laramie Project acknowledges controversial themes such as the cruelty contained in all human beings, released through the questionable, double-sided nature of hate crimes. The director hopes to inspire questions such as the difference between “victim” and “victimized”, as well the media’s potential desire to portray every gay violence victim as a saintlike martyr in a modern day religious crusade.

“…It is so stark and so empty and you can’t help but think of Matthew out there for eighteen hours in nearly freezing temperatures. With that view up there, isolated, the ‘God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ comes to mind.” – Stephen Mead Johnson, The Laramie Project.

This production’s choice to feature Matthew Shepard as the narrator is in hope of prodding some heady comparisons of his slaying to Christ’s crucifixion (get your picket signs ready), as well as to the catalytic and oftentimes accidentally tragic establishments of countless human rights leaders of the past. What did Shepard do for the Gay Rights movement if not not die for the cause? Or was he merely victimized by media portrayal? Audiences will watch the coin flip constantly throughout the production by characters of contrasting opinions and finally be left to choose for themselves.

“Everybody’s got problems, but why they exemplified him, I don’t know. What’s the difference it you’re gay? A hate crime is a hate crime. If you murder somebody, you hate ’em. It has nothing to do with if you’re gay, or a prostitute, or whatever. I don’t understand.” – Sherry Johnson, The Laramie Project.

How To Survive A Bacterial Epidemic And Still Make It To Rehearsal.

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I’m currently suffering from a weeklong bout of whatever freak amoeba is scavenging the campus. My throat is swollen, I can hardly speak in my own dialect let alone the Minnesota, Texan, and Brooklyn accents the always wonderful Matthew Ploch wants out of me. So what’s my objective? (Pun alert, watch out.) To stay healthy, here is my 7 step survival kit for cold and flu season. Helpful for all majors, but with a special concentration in throat-coating, voice saving secrets courtesy of my mother and my own meandering college experiences.

1. As any doctor will tell you, vitamins are important. Hate horse pills? Constantly forgetting to take them? My most entertaining and honest recommendation would be switching to gummy vitamins. One-A-Day provides the adult version, but my preference is still in the classic Flinstones brand or L’il Critters Gummie Bear Vitamins. More good news: the directions say take two, but as an adult you can take FOUR. All the rebellion of overdosing on something in college without the death. The results of that last statement may vary, actually.

2. Find excuses to drink lemonade. As college students, the majority of us will find ourselves downing little more than soda and coffee. Dehydration leads to malnutrition, malnutrition leads to sickness. I personally hate nothing more than drinking water for recreation, and lemonade is both water based and loaded in Vitamin C. I suggest making it yourself, but if you’re busy, search out the natural, healthy stuff in your local supermarket.

3. Oftentimes, you’re bound to get the sore throat that laughs in the faces of Tylenol, Advil and Motrin. So, what now? The answer is Zicam, the product that claims to cut your sick time in half. I was skeptical, but it was the greatest $4.95 risk I have ever taken. Zicam is loaded with Zinc, an immune system supporter most people forget about. By boosting your Zinc levels ten times over, you’ll blow through that cold or flu in half the time. If your throat’s killing you, cut to the chase and buy the spray version.

4. Mucus? Lose it ASAP. I know too many people who snort loud enough to make an entire room dry heave, and then swallow. All of that is collected bacteria, if you’re keeping it in your system, you’re making it harder on yourself. Invest in a box of Puffs Plus and check this: Cheat on your diet and increase your oil, grease and butter intake. I’m first generation Polish and Ukranian, growing up, my mother would literally melt butter into my milk and coffee. Gross, probably, but I’m allergic to Mucinex and it takes forever to work anyway. Eat everything your figure would never allow, it loosens all the grossness that’s keeping you sick.

5. Onion and sugar home remedy. If you soak diced onions in sugar, they will caramelize into a foolproof treatment for any dry cough/sore throat combination. Another mad method I resented heavily growing up, but continue to this day. I get ear and throat infections like clockwork all winter long, and this is ideal for when I just can’t afford losing my voice.

6. Learn the difference between a hot cold and cold cold. If you’re treating a cold cold with some nonsense method involving ice cream when you should be sweating it out with a bowl of satan hot soup and Vicks Vapor Rub, you’re in trouble. When in doubt, cold is rarely the answer unless you just got your tonsils out.

7. Invest in a humidifier, or try the even more badass and effective method my mother put me through. Heat a pot of water to boil, fill it with salt, then cover your head and the pot with a towel, and breathe in until you absolutely cannot stand it anymore. Sinus trouble? What sinus trouble? Also, extended hot showers or baths work wonders for colds and bad moods.

Thanks, Mama Kustra!

Rowan University Mainstage Presents: “Big Love”

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You, reader, should have been there! But in case you weren’t, shame on you, and here’s a little re-cap of what you missed.

Charles Mee’s Big Love: A show about fifty brides, fifty grooms, tomatoes, girls in their underwear, men in dresses and wedding night chainsaw massacres. In other words, this dark comedy based on Aeschylus’s The Suppliants, follows the stories of three brides (wholly representing themselves and the other forty-seven) through their escape from Greece and contractual obligations to marry their cousins from America.

Photo Credit: Marissa Cannon. Thyona, (Kaitlin Kemp) Lydia (Emily McHale) and Olympia (Brittany Cinaglia) performing Lesley Gore's famous song, "You Don't Own Me."

Thyona, (Kailtin Kemp) a strong-willed, viciously independent feminist, leads the pack throughout the show with frequent reassurances that men are nothing but selfish creatures after power and ownership. Olympia, (Brittany Cinaglia) the feminine, optimistic, hopeless romantic, counters her sister’s blunt generalizations with whimsical monologues surrounding the dynamics of attraction, true love and kind-hearted men. Finally, Lydia, (Emily McHale) completes the circle as a wide-eyed, naive believer in romance and good intentions, balancing the acknowledgement of evil with the hope of good.

Photo Credit: Marissa Cannon. Pierro (Joe Napolitano) and Bella (Jenna Kuerzi)

The women flee to Italy, where they are apprehensively taken in by an older man, Pierro (Joe Napolitano) and his mother, Bella (Jenna Kuerzi). Bella’s character provided a wide spectrum of comedic relief (in her personal recollections of her thirteen sons) and mildly tragic, always resonating wisdom. Her relationship with her oldest son, Pierro, was portrayed brilliantly in a ever-so-subtle Oedipus manner, while he tended to her every whim despite his wishes to find love and marriage against his mother’s firm grip of ownership.

Photo Credit: Marissa Cannon. Guliano (Christopher Bratek) performing "Ave Maria."

Meanwhile, Bella’s grandson, Guliano, embraces his femininity, the essence of love in an untraditional sense and delivers a striking monologue about accepting oneself exactly as one is. And he does a lot of it through a story about barbie dolls and S&M!

(Left to right) Olympia (Brittany Cinaglia), Oed (Anthony Crosby), Lydia (Emily McHale), Nikos (Dexter Anderson), Thyona (Kaitlin Kemp), Constantine (Felix Corli IV). Photo Credit: Marissa Cannon.

The cousins, Constantine, (Felix Corli IV) Oed, (Anthony Crosby) and Nikos (Dexter Anderson) return to “rescue” their damsels, and when it appears that Pierro is attempting to strike a deal with them, the sisters formulate one of their own. If their father, their country, and strangers can’t protect them, they will defeat these men with the method they seem to understand: force. The three agree (some more than others) to murder their husbands on their wedding nights. And then all hell breaks loose.

Photo Credit: Marissa Cannon.

Only Lydia manages to find meaning in her relationship with Nikos, which had been building behind the sisters’ backs throughout the show. Much to the others’ rage, she refuses to kill her husband and instead consummates her marriage, on stage. Yeah, I said that. The two are eventually sent off wish warm regards after some convincing and a mock trial, the murder of 49 men go unnoticed, and the rest of them lived happily ever after.

In the words of Bella, “There will be no justice.”

All in all, the play openly tackled many of society’s issues: immigration, the definition and restraints of love, individuality, self-acceptance, the tolerance of gay love and – of course – women’s rights. Can feminism and marriage co-exist? Can masculinity and sensitivity coexist? What unacknowledged pressures exist behind the definition of being a man? Who is a woman to turn to when the law fails to protect her in a man’s world?