What: a theater production and reimagining of the classic Robin Hood story produced by the U-M Theater Department
Friday, December 9, 8:00pm
Saturday, December 10, 8:00pm
Sunday, December 11, 2:00pm
Where: Power Center
Tickets: $13 for students, $24-30 for adults, available online, at the Michigan League Ticket Office, by phone at (734) 764-2538, or at the box office 1 hr before the performance (if available). Additional fees may apply.
Written by David Farr in 2011, The Heart of Robin Hood centers Maid Marion in its retelling of the classic Robin Hood story. The production questions the origins of the moral story, asking how Robin Hood came to his iconic practice of stealing from the rich to give to the poor. This production of The Heart of Robin Hood is directed by Geoff Packard, a U-M theater professor, and stars Stefania Gonzalez as Marion and Erik Dagoberg as Robin Hood. Packard has also invited local bluegrass band Westbound Situation to perform some of the folk music called for in Farr’s original score. I look forward to the play’s intricately choreographed fight scenes and its emphasis on realism in its portrayal of relationships, politics, and morality. For a sneak peak at some of these elements, check out the trailer included below!
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.
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.
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: an art fair hosted by What the F with over twenty-five women, queer, and BIPOC student artists displaying and selling their work
When: Saturday, December 3, 11:30am-2:30pm
Where: Michigan Union, Pendleton Room
This Saturday, What the F, an intersectional feminist student organization, will host an art fair centering the work of women, queer, and BIPOC students. What the F began hosting art fairs last year, and intends to organize them regularly each semester moving forward. For a sneak peek at some of the artists in attendance, check out the organization’s Instagram story–more than twenty-five artists will have the opportunity to present and sell their work, in mediums ranging from digital art to ceramics. The organization, which is best known for its biannual magazine, will have a table set up with its own merch, including a zine compiled by staff and guest artists. I joined What the F this year, and have seen close-up all the work my peers put into making this event a reality, so I hope you will consider visiting to support the great work they are doing. I will also be attending as an artist (selling earrings at a table near the entrance!) so if you see me there I’d love to say hello. I can’t wait to support student artists while also getting some holiday shopping done!