As promised in my last post, I have for you some fairly light reviews of two theatrical performances on our campus–Little Shop of Horrors and Macbeth–and great news about the success of the Higher Education Panel.
New Paltz is pretty well-known for being “artsy.” Sure, we are much more than artsy, but why not live up to our stereotype too? Our Theater Arts program is pretty intense, as far as I can tell from my roommate (who was featured in the last blog post); there are so many days spent working on costumes for the main-stage shows, staying up late sketching designs, and the practices nearly consume the day. For all that work, I am glad our campus can delight in their fantastic performances.
First, on Saturday, was Little Shop of Horrors at Parker Theater. Parker is what is called a thrust theater, in which the stage is surrounded on three sides by the audience; the fourth side is the background. I love this style stage, and it really engages the production with its audience. This show was done by Miami Theater Players, which is not a main-stage performance, but the extracurricular performances are just as good, with their own intensive practices, costumes, sets, and overall awesomeness. Usually, I could recognize a few of the actors, since many theater and non-theater majors audition for the roles, but Little Shop has a pretty small cast in comparison to, say, Into the Woods, which was done last semester. I went with my friend Rachel for the last show (usually the best; practice makes perfect!) and I was very entertained. The protagonist: quirky and odd and nerdy in all the fantastic ways. The lead female: fantastic singing, especially in tandem with the character’s nasal-y voice. But who needs to listen to my praise? I am no theater critic. Just well done.Next, on Sunday, was the matinee showing of Macbeth at McKenna Theater (a traditional stage; a proscenium stage). Well, a modernized version of Macbeth. As per the playbill, the Department of Theatre Arts chose Macbeth with the “added directive that the production be ‘non-traditional.’” In an effort to bring the timeless story to our contemporary political scene, the set, costumes, and whatnot are inspired by the Arab Spring and Middle Eastern conflict; set in some unnamed country in Eurasia, the soldiers are US troops, the King Duncham is (I assumed) an Arabic prince, and the Three Witches are–oh, I won’t say. There is still another weekend for students to see the show, so I won’t give away any spoilers.
I had mixed feelings about the contemporary twist. The mesh of US troops with Arabic royalty (hinted by the green camouflage military outfits) confuses the rise of Macbeth to the throne. The titles bestowed on Macbeth seem a bit off and unrealistic, conflicting with the all-too real wars in the Middle East. At one point, someone takes out a cell phone and says they have to run; why weren’t cellphones in the play more often, as we are in an interconnected age? Would that hurt the mystery of the piece, to have instant communication? Is that the flaw in revamping most works? I really, really loved what they did with the Three Witches (again, not telling you), and Lady Macbeth was absolutely flawless in her cold blood and her descent to madness. Overall, a good show.
Last night, Thursday the 6th, I tuned in to a panel on higher education, hosted by NYPIRG, which touched upon the student debt but took the avenue of labor education and labor rights to promote activism and change on the college level. Afterwards, not only did I feel empowered to form a collective movement, but I adored the passionate interest of students who turned up for the event. Although it was sort of small, the few that attended showed their interest and support for labor movements and a Student-Labor Dialogue/Coalition we will start next semester. Oh goody!
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