A Great Course, A Great Semester

Written by: Yushan Guo

Time flies. It feels incredible that another semester is about to end. Although lots of unexpected things happened, it was still a great semester overall. And FAA 110 was one of the main factors that made this semester “great”. I remember I registered this course simply for a general education course. However, this is such a great course that brought me much more than just having a few credits.

The best part of this course is undoubtedly the chance to appreciate various kinds of artworks with various themes. This not only improved my ability to appreciate artworks but also broadened my mind by guiding me to focus on different art forms rather than always sticking to metal and rock music (lol).

Music from Mozambique

This was the my first event of the course (a make-up event, though). And it was much more interesting than I expected. The performers demonstrated a lot of traditional instruments from Mozambique that looked and sounded amazing. The stage was very simple so that it allowed the audiences to fully immerse themselves in the beauty of music.

The final part of the concert. Some audiences automatically danced along with the music.

Step Afrika!

Step Afrika! is a non-profit dancing company that focuses on the African American traditions of “steppings”. The performance carried out the idea that taking away their drums “could not stop the beat”. The performers used their bodies as instruments, such as clapping, stepping, as well as b-box. The performance eulogizes the development of African culture, as well as the fight for freedom and liberty.

The creators and performers of the show

Somi

This is one of my favorite events of the semester. Somi’s voice was really beautiful and versatile. She delivered a variety of different emotions perfectly. Besides, as an amateur guitar player, I also appreciated the beautiful improvisation between the instruments very much. This performance certainly increased my interest in jazz music.

The set before the performance began

The Spirit Survives

This event was a chapter from the Winter Tales Program.  The Winter Tales Program is a series of events honoring the culture and practices of the Native Americans. Dovie Thomason, the deliverer of the performance, made original stories that are relevant to the struggles of the Native Americans, with humor and vivid imagery.

The location of the performance

Cabaret

This is also one of my favorite events of the semester. It provides the audiences with a glimpse of at a historical turning point: a period during the Great Depression when the power of the Nazis was starting to rise. This musical was visually-striking and thought-provoking by incorporating lots of avant-garde elements. It is a tale that depicts fantasy and reality.

“Even the orchestra is beautiful”

Due to the pandemics, attending some physical events in the latter part of the semester was impossible. Fortunately, those events were transformed into virtual events using the platform Digital Theatre Plus. And the virtual events were fantastic as well.

The Container

It is an adaptation from the play written by Clare Bayley. It tells a story about 5 asylum-seekers that hide in the container of a truck on their way to England. The plot was simple but highly relevant to our society by reflecting lots of social and political issues such as immigrants and refugees, feminism, differences in social classes, and so on. The open ending really “heightened” the entire production thematically.

Link to the event: https://www-digitaltheatreplus-com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/education/collections/digital-theatre/the-container

A screenshot of the production

Metamorphosis

It is an adaptation from Franz Kafka’s well-known work — Metamorphosis. It tells a bizarre story about a salesman named Gregor who was transformed into a huge insect. The designing elements of the production made it appear surreal and dramatic, such as the minimalist set design, the actors’ dramatic make-up, exaggerated tones, and so on. This is certainly my favorite virtual event on the Digital Theatre Plus.

Link to the event: https://www-digitaltheatreplus-com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/education/collections/east-productions/metamorphosis

A screenshot during the monologue of Gregor after his transformation

The Merchant of Venice

This is an adaptation from William Shakespeare’s famous comedy — The Merchant of Venice. Although certain parts of the production could be very hard to understand, the actors’ body movements and expressions, as well as the incorporation of modern elements in the costume designs made it much easier for contemporary audiences to understand. 

Link to the event: https://www-digitaltheatreplus-com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/education/collections/rsc/the-merchant-of-venice

“Hath not a Jew eyes?”

Overall, I was impressed by what this course has brought to me. I have to thank Dr. Collins and Dr. Robinson for providing us with their unconditional help and support throughout the entire semester. This is undoubtedly a wonderful experience!

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