Category Archives: Events/ Performances/Exhibitions

The Glass Menagerie

The Glass Menagerie is a comedic heartbreaker that was as entertaining as could be. It gave us laughs, caused us sadness and everything in between. Perhaps it was the intimate setting of the Cygnet Theatre, but this play made both my wife and I feel as though we were a fly in the house of the Wingfield family.

The story is based on a family of three (mother, daughter and son) who struggle to survive in the midwest during the mid 1930’s. Amanda Wingfield, mother to Tom and Laura, is an over intruding mother to her children who sees no faults in her ways. Rather, she believes that because her husband left her years ago, it is up to her children to ensure the family’s future by marrying into wealth (in the case of Laura) or succeeding as a warehouse manager (in the case of Tom). Both want nothing to do with her plans, yet it is Tom who is constantly clashing with his mother, while Laura, who is shy and lacks even a sliver of self confidence, is too afraid of her mother to challenge her. While all three characters struggled to find their way out of their problems, a character named Jim is introduced an is presented as the answer to Amanda’s prayers, and even Tom’s. This is to be the man for Laura. This is Amanda’s ticket out of financial struggles, and Tom’s ticket out of town and his responsibility as family provider so he can finally chase his dream of writing. This becomes the main reason for heartbreak in the story. Both Jim and Laura fall in love. It seems as though happiness is finally knocking at Laura’s front door, then BOOM. Jim confesses to both Laura and Amanda that he’s going “steady” with a girl for some time now and he can’t break her heart (or something of the sort).

I really, really enjoyed this story. In fact, more than I thought I would. I expected to be entertained, but I didn’t expect to be captivated. I guess that’s what the arts do. Well, good art. They seem to draw you in unexpectedly and never let you go. I am fortunate to know the actress who played Laura Wingfield (Amanda Sitton) and really went to this play to see just how good she was as an actress. Well, she wasn’t good. She was great! They all were. The cast of this play did a tremendous job with their roles. All four were nothing short of BADASS. I would most definitely recommend this play to anyone and everyone. If you have a chance to go to the Cygnet Theatre before this sunday, encourage you to do so. Its worth the time and money.

Infinite Balance

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

High Rise Sans Skyline

Following the theme of recent topics in our lectures, the exhibit at MOPA known as Infinite Balance was an eye opening experience. I found it eerily captivating to see such beautiful images displaying such dreadful occurences in our world. My wife and I were really drawn in by all the different themes presented in the museum and left the exhibit with a feeling of worry for what our future might be like.

The exhibit is put on by Pictet & Cie, a private Swiss bank who awards the top prize in photography for environmental themes such as Water, Earth and Growth. Using still images they’ve managed to raise awareness across the world about the alarming rate with which we seem to be consuming our world’s resources. In the words of Kofi Anan, Honorary President of Prix Pictet; “[the] photographs highlight the beauty of the earth we share… [but] also expose the damage… we are inflicting on our own environment.” The majority of these artists made it very, very clear with one frame that we are out of control. Our consumption is leading to an irreversible decline for our planet. Such images are those of Yao Lu whose striking images of China’s countryside are a stark contrast to those we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on Discovery or National Geographic shows. The Chinese hills and mountains seem trapped beneath a net of waste which is exactly what is happening to the industrially booming nation. The picture above, Michael Wolf’s Architecture of Density shows the seemingly never ending concrete jungle which Hong Kong has become. The city is indicative of what is happening to our planet. There is less and less space being left for nature and more and more overpopulation. These are the types of images which filled my mind the entire afternoon. Pristine landscapes turned into industrial dumping grounds. The American midwest and it’s backyards overshadowed by smoke stacks that feed the nation harmful chemicals. And, of course, scenes of BP’s disaster in the gulf. All of these are very alarming warnings that we are on a direct flight to destruction. Too many of us believe that global warming and similar issues are problems created by 3rd world countries. We always point our fingers overseas and say: “Their governments are at fault for not stopping their constant pollution or regulating the industries causing most waste.” But aren’t we just as guilty? Our capitalistic and competitive society has created the insatiable consumer. As soon as our TV starts to flicker, we go out and buy two, just in case one of them goes out. As soon as our brand new car is no longer brand new, we eagerly look towards the next model that’s gonna fulfill our need for another year or so. And even worse, as soon as our technology is no longer the latest thing out there, we start saving money to replace our outdated phones and computers (even though they’re only six months old). We buy and buy and throw away our belongings without a care in the world, because, after all, we don’t have to see where our waste ends up. Well, Infinite Balance shows otherwise. Our own carelessness is catching up with us and it will make us pay dearly. This exhibition is a plea for us to make a change. Now!

 

MandoBasso

The concert offered by MandoBasso musicians Gunnar Biggs (Bass) and Bill Bradbury (Mandolin) was entertainment fused with musical education. Having never before heard the tune of a mandolin, I was immediately captured by the high-pitched tones emanating from the instrument. It was something almost enchanting and kept me drawn even when I thought the song might begin to lull. I have to admit that there were times when I felt that the rhythm might have been helped by a change here or there, but then again, I’m no music expert and wouldn’t know what might have helped. I felt as though at times the bass fought against instead of working with the mandolin.

However, I loved the fact that both musicians would slow down between songs to explain to the audience what they were playing next and why they were playing what they played. I felt as though I learned soooo much about music in 2 hours that I hadn’t learned in 27 years! I came out of this music session feeling like a folk music fan. And that’s something I never thought I’d hear myself say.

Rabbit-Proof Fence

1500 Miles From Home

Rabbit-Proof Fence is a heart wrenching movie based on the real life story of three young girls living in the Australian outback in 1931. These girls formed part of what was known as the “Stolen Generation,” the group of aborigines forcibly removed from their homes/families during childhood and compelled to learn the more “intelligent” or civilized white ways. Its a story that will induce many feelings such as anger and disbelief.

This movie presents the story of Molly, her younger sister Daisy, and younger cousin Gracie. These three girls are kidnapped by the government and removed from their home in Jigalong to a settlement, somewhat like concentration camps, 1500 miles to the south known as Moore River Native Settlement. This is a camp that was thought up by the government to solve the “problem” of half-castes by breeding them out. Half-castes were aboriginal children who had a white parent and aboriginal parent. The man in charge of this task is Mr. A.O. Neville (known by the aborigines as Mr. Devil). As Chief Protector of Aborigines, Mr. Neville believes it his duty to find a solution to the problem of half-castes as it will not go away on its own accord. The movie portrays him as a man who strongly feels that if not taken care of, the problem will fester for years and that the bush people must be protected against themselves. He tries to convince other Australian female citizens that “inspite of himself, the native MUST be helped.” And what’s his plan to carry out his mission? To continuously breed whites with natives until “the continuing infiltration of white blood finally stamps out any trace of black color.”

Now, I’m not sure how familiar you are with world history, but there was a short man about 70 years ago with the same so-called duty. He went by the name of Hitler. I know, his methods may have been a wee bit different, however, the end result that was sought after seems the same. Ethnic cleansing. Many might hesitate to use the word genocide being that the film doesn’t show a whole lot of violence. But does genocide need to be accompanied by violence to be genocide? The methods employed by white australians of the time were not as extreme as those used by Nazis or Bosnian soldiers, but they had the same intent: To eradicate a people. In the Moore River Settlement, children were being re-educated to make them forget their culture. On top of working in a sweatshop, they were forced to only speak english and are made to believe that a child with fair skin is more intelligent than one with dark. And while at these camps, the women were trained to work as domestic servants or farm laborers. They were being forced to forget their own culture and become accustomed to the white one.

To sum it all up, I really liked this film. I tend to love historical pieces and this one caught me from very early on. I found myself constantly rooting for our three heroines the entire 1500 mile journey to Jigalong. I was saddened by the capture of young Gracie and joyful at the reunion between Molly and her younger sister Daisy with their mother and grandmother. But more than anything, I found myself angry. Angry that humans could be so stupid. Angry that people get mistreated or walked all over “for their own good.” And angry at the thought that this is still something that occurs this day in age.

The Visitor

Walter feelin' the Djembe

Je\’nwi Teni

The Visitor is one of those “gonna make you feel good no matter what movies” that all should watch. At first you’re put off by the stiff, uptight, bland character of Walter Vale. He’s a professor at some university in Connecticut who seems to have little care or love for life and those who live it around him. He lacks motivation and seems to be “zombie-ing” his way through life. Then he gets forced into a conference he wants no part of. Fortunately for him, and the story, he goes and in doing so will have his whole world turned upside down, for the better.

Walter arrives to his long abandoned NY city apartment to find that he has two unexpected and uninvited guests living there. After scaring the hell out of the couple, they decide to leave before Walter can have a chance to call the police. And when they leave, they flip a switch within him that shows a human side for the first time in the movie; he feels guilt and worry. Lucky for him, Tarek and Zainab (the uninvited couple) decide to stick around and live with their new visitor for a few days while they look for another place to stay. The few days turn out to be a little more long term as Walter and Tarek form a friendship around Tarek’s passion, music through the Djembe. Tarek not only plays the instrument, but also teaches Walter how to do so. The Visitor becomes enthralled by this instrument and begins to feel the beats everywhere, whether at home in his underwear or in a meeting room. Walter discovers within him a musician awaiting his release.

Unfortunately, this occurs unilaterally with the arrest of Tarek, of course for a petty crime he did not commit. The dilemma is that both Tarek and Zainab are illegal immigrants in a country that has changed its approach to such peoples in the wake of terrorist attacks on 9-11. So Tarek is incarcerated in a detention center and it is Walter, the same man who was unconcerned with other human emotions, who visits his good friend Tarek while imprisoned. He finds himself caring not only for Tarek and his mother and girlfriend, but he’s genuinely bothered by the unfairness with which immigrants are treated in our country.

My belief is that director Thomas McCarthy wanted to show us viewers that music has the ability to transform a person. It is capable of turning a callous man into a caring one. It’s capable of developing a musician out of a washed-up professor of economics. It’s capable of giving meaning to life. Walter, The Visitor, found a passion.

Once: Academy Awards Acceptance

Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova

As entertaining as the movie was, the Oscar acceptance by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova provided viewers with an inspirational moment in which one could catch a glimpse into the motivation driving a true artist.

Art is not always created with the intent to cash in on one’s own talents. Nor is money needed to create art that is capable of stirring the emotions of many people, no matter the cultural barriers. Glen Hansard urges all viewers to “make art” and, in doing so, it gives us the sense that he begs for art to be made in its purest form; to share one’s creation with the world. It gave me the sense that he believes art is not intended to be sold to the highest bidder but to be created for the purpose of being shared with the world. After being cut-off, Marketa Irglova uses her opportunity to speak to the world to tell us all that “no matter how far out [our] dreams our, it’s possible” to achieve them. She finishes her speech by stating that “hope connects us all.” I’m not sure if by saying hope she meant to say art but I do believe that art has the ability to connect people no matter what cultural differences may exist. Art talks to people in ways that can move or inspire one to work towards something that may be bigger or better. I feel as though this was what Marketa and Glen wanted to tell us in their acceptance speeches.

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