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.
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.
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.
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.
What: rock musical Spring Awakening, the inaugural performance of In the Round Productions
Friday, December 2, 8:00pm
Saturday, December 3, 2:00pm, 8:00pm
Sunday, December 4, 2:00pm
Where: Arthur Miller Theater
Tickets: $6 for students, $10 for adults, available on the MUTO website (click here)
Originally written in Germany in 1891 by Frank Wedekind, Spring Awakening was adapted into a Tony-winning rock musical in 2007 by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater. The play has always tested social acceptability, having been subject to extensive censorship for much of its existence, and even since its rewriting by Sheik and Sater in 2007. In their interpretation, In the Round Productions promises to present this coming-of-age story of sexual awakenings, morality, and rebellion through the lens of LGBTQIA+ culture. In the Round Productions is a new student organization sponsored by the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies which aims to “provide a space for queer stories and queer storytellers” (Maize Pages). I look forward to being among the organization’s first audience members as they make their debut performance this Friday night.
On Tuesday, a free advance screening of the film “Bros” was showing at the State Theater! As soon as I saw the trailer for this movie I was intrigued. A tropey gay rom com? Set in NYC? Billy Eichner?? I went in expecting a good time and this movie delivered.
This movie knew what it was trying to be and made it obvious from the start. A movie for the masses, that could portray a romance beween two white cis gay men with levity and humor while acknowledging the history of gay trauma that precedes it. So often, queer cinema centers stories of queer oppression, grief, and crisis. These stories are important, but where is the room for joy and lightheartedness? To me, this film was trying to say: “Despite the weight of this trauma, we have joy, too! We have sweet and ordinary and non-history-making moments too! Let’s revel in it!”
And so it does: this film is laugh-out-loud funny. There were very few moments, sitting in the darkened theater, that I did not have a ridiculous grin on my face. Eichner, who readers may know from his role as Craig Middlebrooks in the television sitcom Parks and Recreation, both wrote and starred in this movie. He nails his role as Bobby, a stubborn and endearing podcaster who is opening the first LGBTQ+ museum in NYC. His comedy is whip-smart, meta, full of delightful irony. His chemistry with Aaron (played by Luke Macfarlane), a “gym bro” lawyer with commitment issues, is electric and real. This film includes some of the most realistic portrayals of romantic intimacy I’ve ever seen. Yes there are charged, steamy moments, but there’s also a healthy amount of awkwardness and silly hijinks. Sometimes you just want to have a pillow fight!
Bros is also a movie that is very self-aware of itself. It celebrates its significance – after all it’s an adult-oriented LGBTQ+ movie produced by a mainstream film studio, and it features an openly queer principal cast. However, it also constantly references its own shortcomings. This movie knows that it is only representing a small slice of queer identity (namely that belonging to cis white men), that it is leaving countless other stories out of the picture. When it celebrates pieces of important queer history, it simultaneously pays homage to the progress that the world still needs to make for the LGBTQ+ community. About being the first openly gay man to write and star in a romantic comedy for a major Hollywood studio, Billy Eichner said:
If you’re on TikTok, chances are you’ve heard one of Ashnikko’s songs at least once. A queen of Internet virality, Ashnikko has a repertoire of music that is brash, unapologetic, and laced with “fantasy and chaos.” Unsurprisingly, I simply had to see her perform her haunted alt-pop rap live on stage, and check that she was real.
So of course, I went to see Ashnikko at the Fillmore in Detroit this Thursday. 19-year-old YouTube songwriter Chloe Moriondo opened, playing a cute and catchy set that set up the main concert perfectly.
Ashnikko’s characteristic long electric blue locks (which are, apparently, all real) were the first thing I was shocked to witness live and in front of my eyes. Next, her down-to-a-science evil laugh—how does one contain so much childish glee and dark undertone into a single giggle?
My friends and I thoroughly enjoyed the entrancing Harajuku and Halloween-y graphics as stage backgrounds that were equally quirky in aesthetic as her music.
As for the crowd surrounding me, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people with colorful hair in the same room together. Even I came dressed in my fishnets and funkiest jewelry, knowing it was the perfect chance to do so: the weirdest was welcome, and even expected. Ashnikko’s style and music scream of protest against the norm, in many forms: the heteropatriarchy, fashion, sexual norms, “manners,” and the music industry. I was reminded, standing in the buzzing crowd, that music is oftentimes much more than just music. It has the ability to be a movement, a feeling, or a way to bring vastly different people together through something shared.
When Ashnikko’s most popular songs started playing, there were few people in the audience who weren’t singing or bopping along. Being at a concert collectively screaming to angry breakup beats like “Deal With It” and “L8r Boi” (inspired by Avril Lavingne’s 2002 “Sk8r Boi”) and slinky queer anthems like “Slumber Party” was cathartic, if nothing else. I left feeling energized, confident, and little bit different than before.