COMING SOON: BTE’s One Act Play Festival!

Black Theatre Ensemble’s “The World Is Watching” One Act Festival explores the idea of society’s gaze on black bodies, and the search for identity within the identities that are given to you. Who are you when no one is watching?

The show is comprised of four student-written one acts.

The Haunting Inc. written by Onyekachi Iwu, Directed by Kadaja Brown

Jacqueline “Jack” Lopez is a ghost who has graduated top of her class from Haunting Incorporated. As she works to scare out the family of the house she was assigned, she learns to confront her past and learns there is more to life than scaring.

Colder Than Winter written by Donovan Redd, Directed by Chelsea Miller and Tyler Jones

Colder Than Winter is an exploration of how differences in Black identities affect how Black people differently meet, experience, interpret and cope with Black death.

A Play On Truth written and Directed by Megan Wicks

Aesop struggles with questions of persistence in the face of uncertain truth.

Truest Garden written and directed by Jennell Strong

It’s good to have girlfriends, until one of them has a girlfriend. Longtime friends get together after some time apart for a girls night. It soon becomes apparent that the sister love is not equally distributed.

Come out and support.

Click HERE to purchase tickets! 

CUID/BCID: $5

Non-CUID/BCID: $7

Kadaja Brown is a Senior at Barnard and an Editor for Barnard Bite 

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Coming Soon: In the Spirit of Zora

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Coming Soon: Event: ‘In the Spirit of Zora’
Date: October 28, 2016
Time: 7:30pm – 9:00 pm
Location: Barnard College, 304 Barnard Hall, Held Lecture Hall
Fee: $1

In conjunction with BCRW’s Hurston@125 conference on October 28, celebrate In the Spirit of Zora with the Black Theater Ensemble (BTE) and the Barnard Organization of Soul Sisters (B.O.S.S)

As a tribute to Zora Neale Hurston (~1891-1960) who trail blazed representation of African American women in literature and the arts through her life and career, ‘In the Spirit of Zora’ continues Hurston’s legacy by performing her work in a contemporary setting, in collaboration with modern pieces created by members of the campus community.

From Hurston’s time at Barnard, to Brooks 7, to today, ‘In the Spirit of Zora’ portrays the experience of black students in residence at Barnard. Through poetry, dance, song, and theatre, this event explores the multifaceted narratives of students demanding and maintaining their place on campus.

Let them know here: Event Page

 

Where Did We Sit on the Bus?

By Alexa Hait

This past weekend, my brother and I were deciding on a show to see. The two of us are huge theatre fans and hadn’t seen anything in a while. There were a handful of shows to decide between: The Encounter, Waitress, and The Color Purple (I’ve seen the last two but my brother has yet to see them). In the end, we settled on an off-off-Broadway show that an actor named Dave Thomas Brown (RIP American Psycho: the Musical) raved about on his Facebook. When I say raved, I mean raved. See for yourself below.

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Anyway, the two of us figured since there was that much hype for this show combined with how much cheaper it would be than to see something on Broadway, we were in. Now I am here to tell you, IT WAS WORTH IT. By worth it, I mean, incredible. Brian Quijada, the writer and performer of this one man show, told the story of his life as the son of two immigrant parents who gave up everything to start a new life and provide for their family. He delves into his Latino experience and the ways it forced him to grow up. The title, “Where Did We Sit on the Bus?” comes from the time he asked his teacher that exact question while learning about Rosa Parks. The lesson was literally too black and white for Quijada to understand, and the teacher did not even know how to answer his question. Quijada’s story is one that is unfortunately barely ever represented in the media and is one that needs to be heard. If that doesn’t convince you enough to support this man in his theatrical endeavors then maybe the fact that he combines music, beats and spoken word all into this experience will. Quijada himself even posted the following on his Facebook page, “Describing my show to people is tough. Autobiographical, Live Looped, Hip Hop, Spoken Word…uh One Man Extravaganza?” Check out the trailer here to get a glimpse into this life-changing piece and see it before it closes October 9th! You won’t regret it.

Alexa Hait is a first-year at Barnard College and contributor for Barnard Bite.

Rocking Out to “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”

By Morgan Wu

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve most likely heard talk of a Broadway show in which Neil Patrick Harris portrays a transgender woman and rock star named Hedwig (not the owl). What you didn’t hear is that the Tony-Award-winning musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch is about so much more than that.

Make sure to check out Michael C. Hall’s
performance as Hedwig! 

Hedwig (portrayed by The Book of Mormon original cast member Andrew Rannells until October 12th) is an “internationally ignored song stylist” from East Berlin, whose botched sex-change operation left her with an “angry inch.” Although rabid Neil Patrick Harris fans may be disappointed to hear that Harris departed the production in late August, I am pleased to report that Rannells was a revelation, more than living up to the high standard set by his predecessor. Supported by a scrappy six-member band–the Angry Inch–Rannells as Hedwig manages to strut, sweat, and leap through the production and make it look easy. He disappears into the role of Hedwig until the woman strutting around the stage was a completely separate entity from the television and Broadway star–and not just because of Hedwig’s enormous blond wig. A fellow audience member even commented at the stage door post-show, “I kept forgetting it was Andrew underneath those costumes.”

The show is staged as a “one-night-only” concert performed on the set of the fictional Hurt Locker: The Musical. Throughout the show, Hedwig keeps up a steady rapport with the audience, expounding upon the events that led her to move from Germany to America, and recounting how she came to be “internationally ignored.”

It would be a complete disservice to write a review of Hedwig without mentioning Lena Hall, the recipient of a Tony Award for her role as Yitzhak, Hedwig’s oft-humiliated, oft-repressed wife. With a sterling voice (I was particularly impressed by Hall’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You,” sung in the style of Whitney Houston), Hall’s character could easily steal the show– and would have, if not for Rannells’ equally impressive vocals, and Hedwig’s need to protect her spotlight.

However, what made me appreciate the show more was not the flashing lights, the astute actors, or the rock music—it was the fact that this production has come to Broadway at a time when more and more people are becoming aware of the LGBTQ+ movement and the oppression that transgender individuals face. This, along with the fact that Hedwig was denied a Broadway venue when it appeared in 1998 for the first time because it was “too radical” (leading the show to premiere Off-Broadway instead), makes the fact that this production won the 2014 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical all the more meaningful. Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a current, important show that is generating press in a critical time. So, if you can spare a few hours, head down to the Belasco Theatre to spend the evening with Hedwig and the Angry Inch for a night you won’t soon forget.

Note that Michael C. Hall replaces Andrew Rannells starting October 16th.

Morgan Wu is a first year at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Image courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter

I Spent the Night with Janis Joplin

by Soyini Driskell

The blues is just a good woman feeling bad 
Nobody feels the blues like an everyday woman
– Janis Joplin from A Night with Janis Joplin

Let me confess upfront: I am not one of those cool kids who knows Janis Joplin songs, her life story, her contributions to blues and rock music, nothing. Yet when I was invited to attend A Night with Janis Joplin on Broadway this week, I couldn’t think of a better way to further put off my Shakespeare reading (hey Professor Platt!). So I hopped on the train to the Lyceum Theatre for an evening with the lady from Port Arthur, Texas.

The musical was set up as a music revue with Janis Joplin singing her popular songs while supported by her background singers, the Joplinaires. In between, there were appearances by some of her musical inspirations, Etta James, Bessie Smith, and Nina Simone to name a few, and short monologues with Janis telling stories about her youth and path to stardom. The show aims to be fairly family friendly: it focused on the music and skated over Joplin’s notorious history with drugs and alcohol. While Janis does swig from a Southern Comfort bottle on stage, (known as her drink of choice and offered to audience members in Sippee cups to enjoy during the show, Drink like Janis!), she does so with a tongue-in-cheek camp meant to be funny, not evocative of self-destructive behavior.

She certainly puts on a show.

At the performance I attended, the understudy Kacee Clanton was in the role of Janis, and she was a revelation. She showcased an amazing, gravelly voice that was a beautiful homage to the singer’s famous voice: the audience worshipped her from the first note of “Summertime,” and once she got through “Piece of My Heart” and “Cry Baby,” the room was hers. What resonated with me was the feminist bent during her monologues: one of her first lines in the musical is “Nobody feels the blues like an everyday woman” and she continues to pepper the play with references to women’s lives, especially her own, well-suited to singing the blues. Though I assure you, all the ‘everyday men’ in attendance were also having a great time singing along to “Me and Bobby McGee.”

The show opened on October 10th and tickets are on sale through March 30th: I whole-heartedly recommend spending a night with Janis.

Soyini Driskell is a junior at Barnard and the On Campus and Features Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of Theatre’s Leiter Side and Soyini Driskell.

CMTS Presents: Party Worth Crashing

by Ida Biering

Party at Lerner Black Box this weekend!

A few weeks ago, contemporary musical theatre lyricist and Barnard ’03 alum Kait Kerrigan visited Morningside Heights to conduct a workshop with the cast and artistic crew of Columbia Musical Theatre Society’s upcoming production of Party Worth Crashing. The production consists of a selection of songs from musicals written and composed by Kerrigan and her artistic partner-in-crime, composer Brian Lowdermilk. Although they have not had their shows produced yet at large New York theaters, Kerrigan and Lowdermilk have a very large YouTube following across the country and their work has graced the stages of many major regional theaters. Party Worth Crashing, the final product of this workshop, is holding performances this week Thursday, March 7th through Saturday, March 9th in the Lerner Black Box.

While working with the cast members in the Broadway Sky Lounge, Kerrigan maintained a very informal approach. She would frequently get up from her seat and walk over to the piano, or even get on stage with the actor in order to demonstrate a practical application of a performing concept. She would frequently engage in little stunts of encouragement as well, like asking actor Dhari Noel (CC ’15) if he had “an instinct on it” when discussing a song he had just learned the previous week, or telling actress Sarah Elrafei (BC ’15) that she could go for a piece’s lower notes, by smiling through a simple “I think you have them.” Simple moments like these pushed the actors further in rehearsal than ever before. The result of this was not only a pleasant working atmosphere, sharing laughs and silliness, but noticeably contributed to the betterment of the show as a whole.

Starting off the series of solo text interpretation work with Jenny Singer (BC ’15), Kerrigan emphasized the notion of telling the story through music as you would tell it in your own words. Kerrigan would stop actors midway through songs and ask them to tell a story as they normally would (“what did you do last night?” was a frequent favorite) in order to feel the comparison. Actors were encouraged to first tell the story of a song in spoken word before applying the rhythm and melody to find nuances of “color” (cue Pocahontas reference, anyone?) rather than just expecting the words themselves to do all the work.

Lowdermilk and Kerrigan (BC ’03) are a theatre dream team.

Kerrigan especially emphasized the idea of “honest discovery” in exploring the twists and turns of songs and taking the audience along on the journey—a telling rather than a showing. “It’s an interesting thing in theatre,” Kerrigan emphasized, “because you always have to figure out ‘why am I doing this.’ You can only play an action, not feelings like ambivalence or confusion.”

Following the workshop during the rehearsal itself, the cast and crew sat down over pizza for a casual Q&A session with Kerrigan. It may have been surprising for some to learn that while listening to her talking about her time at Barnard/Columbia, a lot of us were able to relate (like the fact that she started writing musicals in the basement piano lounge of Plimpton Hall). Kerrigan admitted that some of the professors she had were so “intense” that she is still reeling from the experience almost ten years after leaving Barnard. Yet amidst all the college craziness, Kerrigan knew what she got out of it: the most valuable thing she learned was “to write and be a great communicator.” In this way she did not fail to stress the important role Barnard played and continues to play in her life and career. Kerrigan did not hesitate to emphasize that she feels privileged to be in a position to come back to her alma mater and work with students similar to herself. She has been back twice before, once through New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) and second through the CUArts “An Afternoon of the Arts” panel last semester.

Believe the hype: this IS a party worth crashing.

Kerrigan got her start with fellow composer Brian Lowdermilk in high school where they worked on a few productions together (they are currently in the process of developing two new shows with the working title Republic inspired by the reign of Henry IV and set in Ireland). They formed a closer friendship after Brian transfered from Harvard and moved to New York, and started they started to write music together, which eventually resulted in a commission of their first show at NYMF. The rest, as they say, is history.

Kerrigan has since then been able to make a living as a lyricist/writer for the past six years, of which a significant part of her income comes from selling her sheet music online. She maintains that even this “cashing in” exemplifies the changing theatre industry, where becomes about “branding yourself a little bit.” Things like social media and website building, she predicted, will be a significant part of the future of aspiring artists in the industry and will help those artists, as well as herself, stay relevant. Kerrigan continued that these channels of communication help her feel connected, that “I don’t feel like I’m writing in a void, I feel like there’s an audience out there.” We couldn’t agree more, Kait. Some of that audience will be there on March 7th and 9th for Party Worth Crashing, and if you haven’t gotten your ticket yet, you should!

 Ida Biering is a senior at Barnard and a guest contributor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of CUArts, Playbill, and Tix on the Square.

Auditions for Spring Theatre Start Today

If your New Year’s resolution was to be more outgoing, try something new or make a few new friends, then you might want to think about auditioning or interviewing for this semester’s student theatre season. Auditions and interviews start tonight in Hamilton Hall – check below to find out more about each group’s requirements and links to audition event pages.

Cymbeline: Imogen and Posthumus are in love, but their secret marriage angers her father the British king and starts a journey that crosses multiple countries and causes a lot of chaos along the way.
Presented by King’s Crown Shakespeare Troupe and directed by Liz Power CC ‘13

Dog Sees God: The untold story of the characters from the Peanuts comic strip as teenagers.
Presented by Columbia University Players and directed by Tara Pacheco CC’13

Eye Piece: The playwright Rinde Eckert will be coming to Barnard College to direct his piece about the loss of vision and personal discovery.
Presented by the Barnard College Department of Theatre and directed by Rinde Eckert

Expedition: A student-written play about the story of a couple separated by distance and its relation to the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Presented by NOMADS

The Light in the Piazza: Two very different families attempt to understand the rhyme and reason of love when an American girl and an Italian boy fall for each other in Florence.
Presented by Columbia Musical Theatre Society and directed by Alex Hare CC’14
*Note: this show selection is still pending, but check the Facebook event for updates

Opera Untapped: A night of scenes from different operas.
Presented by the Columbia University Performing Arts League

Party Worth Crashing: A song cycle the contemporary musical theatre singer-songwriter team of Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk about growing up and the moments that make it worthwhile.
Presented by Columbia Musical Theatre Society and directed by Jeremy Stern CC’15

Passion Play: A retelling of the story of the Passion of the Christ in different historical time periods and societies.
Presented by Columbia University Players and directed by Cassie Hartnett BC ‘14

Senior Thesis Festival: The first part of the Theatre Department’s senior festival features three short one-act plays directed by Theatre majors. “The Owl Answers,” directed by Rebecca Clark CC ’13, is an avant-garde play about a young girl looking for her father and answers for who she is. “The Magic Tower,” directed by Christina McCarver BC ’13, shows a night in a young woman’s life as she begins to second-guess the choices she thought made her happy. In “Trifles,” directed by Kyle Radler CC’13, women and men search for answers in a murder investigation in very different ways.
Presented by the Barnard College Department of Theatre

Wordplay: An annual workshop and festival of new works written by students.
Presented by NOMADS

Images courtesy of Barnard Department of Theatre and Chicago Stage Review.