Monthly Archives: October 2010

Hallowpalooza III: The Hills are Alive!

Wednesday night inside Memorial Auditorium, was the School of Music’s third annual Halloween concert which presence created an enormous line that curved through College Green with a composite of eager students, faculty, residents, and young fairies and monsters decked out for the Halloween-themed occasion.

Due to the massive turnout, the concert was pushed back about 15 minutes, but started with a bang as the curtain opened on the entire OU Orchestra with vocal accompaniment from the Chorale situated in the audience to sing “O Fortuna.”  Steven Huang conducted this piece completely disguised as a nun.

This costume was the first of many as Huang stripped from his habit to reveal a Julie Andrews inspired get-up for the Sound of Music medley which followed the opening act.  Each conductor that followed had a theme for their attire and on-stage persona which matched the song that they were conducting.  “Pirates of the Caribbean” even featured a sword fight between the conductor and a rogue pirate that appeared from offstage.

Although the costumes of the conductors and musicians on stage (the entire strings section were buzzing bees) was very entertaining, my favorite part of the entire concert was “Toccata and Fugue in De Minor” in which the organ narrated a dance that seemed a bit nontraditional.  The performer moved methodically and with a ballerina-like grace as she interacted with her light-up hoola hoop that provided the only illumination on stage.  Although an activity not necessarily attributed with Halloween or classical music, the glowing hoop created an eerie silhouette that gave both a breath-taking and goolish effect.

Hallowpalooza did not forget our other favorite performers as Marching 110 provided the final piece, “Sweeney Todd” with an energy that resonated out of every piece of brass and percussion that lined the aisles of the auditorium.

Visiting Artist Lecture: Christopher Pain

Christopher Pain, photographer of the current exhibit “Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals,” presented a lecture on his collection of work last Thursday night at the Kennedy Museum. While walking into the lecture, which was appropriately held in a disconnected theater originally built for the patients of the Ridges, I was filled with an eerie stillness that was instigated by the distant sounds of the Marching 110’s Halloween scores.

The vivid colors and breathless portrayal of a life that has since passed, were my key excitements in attending Pain’s on site lecture. Therefore, I was a bit disappointed when much of his lecture was reserved for the history of the asylums, instead of his artistic process.  The history I soon learned however, was one of the biggest contributions to the initial birth of his six year project.  By learning the intricate floor plans and organized system of sustainable living comprising each asylum, Pain was able to grasp what aspects should be photographed in order to preserve the images in their correct historic context.

(posted from the artist’s website)

The entire lecture was not completely composed of history as Pain did provide details of other inspirations for his large-scale photographs.  I was enthralled specifically by his personal feelings towards the emotional impressions of each asylum he visited.  Many view these historic buildings with limited association, often connecting them to “nightmare, squalor, and abused,” explained Pain.  Through his selected photographs he hopes to shed a positive light on the structures that once were a haven to many in grave mental states. This is explained in more detail in Pain’s project statement that reads,

“Few Americans, however, realize these institutions were once monuments of civic pride, built with noble intentions by leading architects and physicians, who envisioned the asylums as places of refuge, therapy, and healing.”

Pain understands the past of asylums as few others in our current society do.  His final statements within the lecture reflected a call to action as he showed the audience his strong feelings towards the preservation of the buildings that once were meccas for thriving civilian life.

Note: Although Pain’s perspective on the asylums contrasted those of an eerie or unnatural feel, his lecture still seemed to inspire anticipation for the haunting instincts that give one joy in feelings of fright around the Halloween season.  If your desiring a little of the same spirit, come see the third annual Hallowpalooza this Wednesday at 7:30 in Templeton Blackburn Memorial Auditorium.

“Well” by Lisa Kron

Due to an unfortunate behind-my-back-collaboration of my professors to all ironically schedule mid-terms a week after the middle of the term, I was not able to catch the first week of “Well” by Lisa Kron.  Therefore it was tonight that I chose to stroll to the RTV building for the 2nd week premiere, tonight that the ticketing system crashed, and tonight that the lobby of the Forum theater was should to shoulder with eager theater goers.

After a 57 person waiting list and a Price is Right style call into the theater, I was finally seated for the show that’s anticipation only heightened my speculation of its inherent quality.  To be frank, the show sets itself up for attention failure.  The audience is introduced to a set with quarter of a kitschy living room, an older woman asleep on the prominently displayed lazy-boy, and premonitions that the entirety of the play will be a one woman monologue with occasional grunts from the aforementioned older woman stationed in her over sized chair.

My doubts continued further as this play turned into one that I am at best tolerant of: an interactive play.  The main character, Lisa Kron, jabbed at the audience for feedback as the woman in the chair, her mother Ann Kron, attempted to engage the audience with off-handed stories.  I was ready for an hour and 45 minutes of awkward armrest hockey with my fellow seat partners when the interaction turned to tossing mini bags of chips into the now captive audience.

Although cliché to admit that the play took a turn at this early juncture, it was the defining moment where the audience was given the silent que that they could in fact laugh with, and at the characters that were being portrayed on stage.  It is also at this point that other actors were given a role in the story, giving Lisa some interaction, and Ann some entertainment from her perch in the corner of the stage.

The play accelerated uphill as the character’s dynamics began to capture the audience individually as well as melt into each other with a certain odd harmony.  Although there were some heavy topics covered (this production is in fact centered on the idea of wellness and integration) this was mostly done in conjunction with humor that exemplified the subject matter as well as allowed some air of relief to touchy areas.

This “theatrical exploration” as referred to by Lisa, was unlike any play I have seen.  This unconventional experiment gave alternative layers to the actors on stage as they took on multiple roles layered together to skew the line between actor and onstage character.  The best way to describe the sometimes confusing process is to compare it to a conscious dream.  The characters were aware that they were participating in a play just like sometimes you are aware that you are actually confined to the limitations of a dream.

I was thrilled that the play exceeded my expectations as emotions were tugged just as often as laughter was encouraged.  “Well” will play again this Thursday and Friday night at 8pm in the Forum theatre located just a staircase down from the main entrance.  Get there early to avoid the wait list (although the dramatic name calling was worth the extra 10 minute wait).

Visiting Artist Lecture: John Roloff

 

Sea within the land

Land within the sea

Sea within the sea

Land within the land

John Roloff opened his visiting artist lecture with these words projected on his designated screen within the uncommonly cramped quarters of Bentley 132.  Roloff spoke to a packed house of graduate students, faculty, and hoard of undergraduates whose presence probably held little attribution to a murmured mention of promised extra credit points.  A geologist turned artist, Roloff spoke of his sources of inspiration (landscape paintings, the ground beneath our feet) as well as the in-depth process that often goes behind each project that he undertakes.

The specific process of each project was mentioned time and time again as Roloff gave a broad overview of some of his favorite, as well as most highly acclaimed projects.  One in particular had even been displayed in the Smithsonian, a dream circulating through most artist’s most forefront realms of consciousness.

An observer of change both human and organic, Roloff invented a word to describe the alteration of an environment by purely human means.  “Anthroterbation,” a word which could easily fool the most scientifically trained, must dwell in Roloff’s close art sphere, for a simple Google search did not bring up any relative information.  Not even an off-handed Urbandictionary creation appeared after a quick search.  An example Roloff used to demonstrate the meaning of his created word was the relation of Broadway in New York to the Grand Canyon.  The bricks of the first example erode just as the earth from the steep cliffs in the second.  The only difference being the way in which they are changed, the factor that creates their slowly changing demise.

One project in particular I was attracted to was his collaboration and contribution to the Snow Show in Kemi, Finland.  Roloff created a water grid, which reminded me of “Don’t Break the Ice” (a favorite childhood pastime of my own) and filled in this grid with imported branded waters from across the globe.  Each emblem of the branded water was chiseled from the block of ice and back lit with LCD lighting, with an end product that resembled somewhat of a disco era dance floor.

(taken from John Roloff’s personal website)

Although I enjoyed the details of Roloff’s numerous installations, and was quite taken aback by the diligent process of each work, a great deal of the material went right over my head in search of the geology degree that I never received.  Much of Roloff’s work involved incredible amounts of geologic planning and often plays]ed off of his first passion before art became to be the main spotlight.

Listening, if only for an hour, to the inner workings of an extremely talented mind is completely worth the mere minutes of travel time to attend a Visiting Artist Lecture.  Come see the next visiting artist, Christopher Payne, at the Kennedy on the 21st.

Writer’s Harvest

The recent gray weather looming over Athens County has instigated excitement rather then seasonal depression as I approach those activities only associated with the crisp fall air.  The smell of bonfires is gracing my nostrils, hayrides and apple picking are already in full swing, and pumpkin bread seems to be the new menu item in every uptown eatery.  One annual fall event that I hope to add to my fall repertoire is this upcoming, “Writers Harvest,” a local fundraiser and reading organized by the Ohio University’s Program in Creative Writing.

The annual event benefits the Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeastern Ohio by charging a mere five dollars to listen to a selection of works by three talented writers and professors.  The admission helps to distribute surplus food to food pantries, soup kitchens and congregate meal sites in over 200 locations in the surrounding counties.  This year’s benefit line-up is Eric Lemay, Christina Veladota, and Darrell Spencer all of whom have ties to Ohio University as their Alma mater or place of work.

Come support the hungry in our own community this Wednesday at 7:30 in the Baker University Theatre and start your fall off with more than just a warm apple cider.