PREVIEW: FASA’s Philippine Culture Night

We’re still in the beginning of the semester but various organizations are already throwing events. You’ve probably heard of the one coming up this Saturday: FASA’s Philippine Culture Night. Their pre-sale tickets went live last semester and sold out within 30 minutes! After various struggles and being put on a long waitlist, I finally managed to get my hands on a ticket to the overflow room. Unfortunately my seat isn’t the best, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get any good pictures.

Here’s the description written on their instagram account: “This year’s PCN is themed Hiraya: Bridging the Generational Gap. With this theme, we want to honor our parents and those who came before us by highlighting our intergenerational differences in dreams, journeys, and aspirations. With this, we hope to spur forward-thinking conversation through dance,  performances, speeches, and more.” – @fasa_umich

Before coming to the University of Michigan, I didn’t know many Filipino people or anything about Filipino culture. It’s amazing to see how large and passionate FASA is as a community: FASA has been practicing at the Mason Hall posting wall for months now, and their dance team is extremely large. I believe modern and cultural dances will be performed on Saturday night, and it’s what I look forward to seeing the most at their event. This will be my second time exposing myself to Filipino culture (the first time being a traditional music ensemble performance), and I look forward to learning more!

I’m still unsure if tickets are viable at this point, but good luck to those trying!

PCN will be from 5:30-9:30 PM (doors open at 5 PM) in the Michigan Union, Rogel Ballroom (second floor).

PREVIEW: Indecent

What: a historical, semi-nonfiction play produced by the student theater company Rude Mechanicals

When: 

  • Friday, December 9, 8:00pm
  • Saturday, December 10, 8:00pm
  • Sunday, December 11, 2:00pm

Where: Arthur Miller Theater (North Campus, map)

Tickets: $6 for students, $12 for adults, available online, at the MUTO ticket office, by phone at (734) 763-8587), or at the box office 1 hr before the performance. Additional fees may apply.

Indecent follows the tumultuous story of another play, God of Vengeance, which was written by the Polish-Jewish playwright Sholem Asch in 1906. The story is grand in scope, sweeping from the origins of God of Vengeance in 1906, to its production in Europe, to the devastating effects of xenophobia, antisemitism, homophobia, and censorship during its attempted production in the United States, and finally detailing the lingering effects of the play on its actors and authors during the Holocaust and into the 1950s. The Rude Mechanicals are a student theater company emphasizing creative innovation on classic plays, where students take charge in the entire production process. I am excited to see how they interpret this play with its richly layered themes which feel increasingly salient today.

REVIEW: Michigan Pops Orchestra Concert “Tick Tock, It’s Pops O’Clock”

*Photo of the conductor, Luca Antonucci, taken by @willzhang*

The Michigan Pops Orchestra concert “Tick Tock, It’s Pops O’Clock” had an impressive turnout despite being at the same time as the game, and there were many elderly people in the audience for an organization even students don’t know about. It was heartwarming to see the local community and the University come together.

The most memorable part of the concert for me is actually the opening piece: it began quietly and suspensefully before growing into a fascinating, powerful melody that really boasted how wonderful the acoustics in the Michigan Theater is. I normally attend orchestral performances in Hill Auditorium, which is renowned for its acoustics, but due to its sheer size, the music doesn’t reach the outer audience as well.

Another highlight was concertmaster Katie Sesi’s solo in Vivaldi’s Winter. I don’t know what to comment on her playing beside it being phenomenal. This will be the last semester Katie, who is also Executive Director, will be in Pops. Her speech was very bittersweet, and I’m glad she got to be featured in various ways like also being conductor.

How hard the students worked really showed in their performance: it was incredible how well-timed the OSTs and films were with each other, and I particularly enjoyed the scene in the Harry Potter film when Buckbeak, a dog, bites Malfoy by yawning. The audience’s offbeat clapping for the Victors was also hilarious.

Unfortunately, the singers’ voices didn’t project clearly, possibly because of the mics. The collaboration with the SMTD theater students was one of the pieces I was looking forward to the most, so that was rather disheartening.

Nevertheless, I still loved the event, and I look forward to what Pops will bring us in the future. 

Get it? Time theme? 😀

REVIEW: Michigan Pops Orchestra Concert “Tick Tock, It’s Pops O’Clock”

7:00pm • Saturday, December 3, 2022 • Michigan Theater

This was my first experience as an audience-member for the Michigan Pops Orchestra. While I knew beforehand their reputation for wacky, fun performances, I was still surprised and delighted by the personality the musicians brought into their work. Not only did they play with excellence, but musicians were featured in short skits introducing the music, as well as in videos made to accompany the program. I’ve never been to an orchestra performance with so many musician-specific fan bases–Anthony Medei, co-tech director and viola player, seemed particularly popular in his comedic features as Milly Bagic, Doc Brown, and the evening’s gameshow host.

The orchestra took several opportunities during the evening to wish farewell to its current executive director, Katie Sesi, a graduating senior. One of my favorite moments during the performance was during the final few measures of Amilcare Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours.” As she played, a little anticipatory smile appeared on Sesi’s face that widened into a full grin as the orchestra struck the final note of the song, a moment which I felt sweetly captured the dedication and love Pops musicians feel for the organization.

One of the pieces I heard Michigan Pops would interpret on Saturday night, and which impelled me to buy tickets, was “Time Warp” from Rocky Horror Picture Show. I am a big RHPS fan, and I was curious about how a glam rock piece could be arranged for orchestra. Coincidentally, during the performance a story was shared about how the executive board had to scour the internet for an orchestra score of the piece, finally locating one used by an obscure orchestra in Germany. Ultimately, although the musicians did an admirable job of bringing the piece to fruition, my final opinion is that orchestra-Time-Warp might have been better left in Germany. Rocky Horror ≠ orchestra music.

Overall, however, I immensely enjoyed the mix of songs chosen by the orchestra, which in another context might seem eclectic, but which was roped together by the theme of “Time” encapsulated in the performance. True to its role as a “Pops” orchestra, the songs were almost all familiar to me. I liked how the program illustrated the versatility of orchestra as a medium, which throughout the evening alternately took center-stage in pieces like Beethoven’s Fifth and shifted gracefully into the background as, for example, a screen showed a student-created speed-run of Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban. Additionally, I appreciated how many of the songs Pops performs are famous enough that everyone might have heard of them, but not everyone gets the chance to experience them live in concert. Michigan Pops offers an accessible opportunity for audiences to experience iconic music live and an entry point for everyone to get interested in orchestra.

REVIEW: Women, Queer, & BIPOC Art Fair

11:30am • Saturday, December 3, 2022 • Michigan Union, Pendleton Room

This weekend’s Women, Queer, & BIPOC Art Fair, hosted by What the F, was a fun and rewarding experience for all involved. What the F is a student organization centered around art and intersectional feminism which produces a magazine each semester, as well as a podcast, blog, and arts events like this one. The event took place in the lovely Pendleton Room on the second floor of the Union, where artists set up shop at small white-linened tables distributed market-style across the room. The space was a big step up from last year’s fair, which if I remember correctly was held in the Anderson room on the first floor. The Pendleton Room was grander and more immediately visible to guests, which lent the fair a more official and celebratory atmosphere.

As a vendor, I was present from the beginning to the end of the event, and I loved seeing how the fair served as a social, community-building space. Even with exams looming ahead, it was heartening to see how so many students gathered to celebrate one another’s art and connect with one another. From about 12pm onward, the fair was full of guests meeting up with friends, interacting with the artists, and exploring the room. As the event began to wrap up, What the F had to make an announcement to the still-very-full room that the fair was closing, and guests were still approaching artists as they packed up their work to make last-minute purchases.

A few of my favorite shops from the event included Michelle Knapp‘s table including work from her Etsy shop, MousemadeCo, and Sivan Ellman‘s table where she was selling some of her very cool collage prints. I also loved the adorable printed totes Maya Moufawad was selling at her table. One of the unique aspects of What the F’s fair is that the organization does not charge artists to participate, which creates a uniquely accessible opportunity for student artists to put their names out, when other fairs might charge upwards of $80 dollars to table. Because of this, artists are not pressured to sell work, but can use the art fair as an opportunity to exhibit the pieces they are most proud of without incurring extra costs.

I look forward to the return of the What the F Women, Queer, & BIPOC Art Fair next semester, an event which, with luck, will be longer with perhaps even more artists present.

REVIEW: Spring Awakening

8:00pm • Friday, December 2, 2022 • Arthur Miller Theater • Spoilers 3rd paragraph

Last Friday I had the honor of being one of the first audience members to experience the new student musical theater organization on campus, In the Round, as they presented Spring Awakening at the Arthur Miller Theater. First, I must confess, I approached Friday night’s performance with some trepidation. I’m from a small town with a smaller art scene, and when I hear “new theater company,” my mind is drawn to uncomfortable hours spent watching community theater groups stumble through off-key musicals. Within the first few minutes of this performance my fears were assuaged: the brilliance which In the Round exhibited in this production redefined for me, as a non-art-student, what it means to attend a school with some of the top music, theater, and dance students in the world.

Photo credit: Juliet Bornholdt.* From left: Luke Mannikus (Moritz), Sam O’Neill (Melchior), Juliet Freedman (Wendla). Wendla wears a purple sash to reflect the harm done by her community.

The highlights of the performance, for me, included the heartbreaking duet “The Dark I Know Well,” performed by Leslie Meloni as Martha and Bianca Garfinkle as Ilsa as well as the wildly impressive ad-libs of Chad Marge as Georg during “Touch Me.” Beyond those shout-outs, I appreciated the thoughtful handling of the underlying messages and themes in the show. In the Round chose to use the color purple throughout the performance, gradually incorporating the color into each character’s costume to symbolize the moment “the community irrevocably harms them” (In the Round). At the end of the show, purple flower petals rained down as the actors sat facing us to sing “The Song of Purple Summer,” seeming to warn the audience of the costs of censorship.

The production illustrated in vivid detail how each character was wronged by a culture of silence. This manifests particularly in the story arc of Wendla, played by Juliet Freedman, who begins the plot by begging her mother to explain where babies come from, and ends the victim of rape and a botched abortion. I also found a kind of symbolism in the way two actors, Jamie Martin Mann and Jill Pierangeli, repeatedly donned different roles to collectively portray all of the adult characters. While the actors admirably recast their personalities for the changing needs of each scene, the repetitiveness also served to represent the way the characters’ world strove to manufacture its children into uniformly moral (a.k.a. censored) adults.

This performance was truly the best introduction I could have had to the story of Spring Awakening, and I wish I could have attended all of the showings this weekend to dig more deeply into the care put into every detail of the show. I can’t wait to see what In the Round creates in the future, and I am so excited about this necessary addition to the campus art scene.

 

* additional credits:

Director: Jack Rosenberg
Choreography: David Midkiff
Associate Choreography: Rixey Terry
Lighting: Ethan Hoffman
Costumes: Cole Carrico
Scenic Design: Benjamin Garcia