Tag Archives: #ColwellPlayhouse

Step Africa! Rhythmical History of Resistance

By Aejin Shin.

I watched an African-American drumfolk performance ‘Step Africa!’ on February 7, 2020 at the Colwell Playhouse. Actually, I knew little about American history before watching this performance. I was born and educated in Korea and just a month has passed since I came to America. So, I just expected that this drumfolk performance would be a fun and interesting one.

People waiting for the beginning of the performance

However, the performance was quite different from what I had expected. Yes, the rhythm at the beginning was exciting and several performers danced like one body. Colorful choreography caught my eyes. They danced and sang to the beat, which made me feel like dancing and singing together in between. But the deep sense of struggle hidden in their jubilant rhythm was something I had not expected. I came back home and studied more about American history. Here’s what I’ve found.

Before starting the show

History behind ‘Step Africa!’

On September 1739, the largest slave revolt in U.S. history took place near the Stono River. The slaves left no clues as to why or how they revolted. The message of the rebellion is told only by  white men who subdued the slaves. However, you can also find interesting features on that record. The drumbeat played a very central role in the revolt. Plantation farm owners were afraid of the drumbeat even after the riot was quelled. So, they made a bill that would ban slaves from using drums in 1740. But the slaves did not give in to them. They made rhythms by using their bodies and continued the African spirit in their own way. My country, Korea, also has a tragic history of being forcibly occupied by Japan. Many were brutally sacrificed, but my forefathers sublimated their suffering to satire and humor in order not to lose the soul of the nation. Because we share a similar history, I could sympathize with the stories in the performance.

Explanations about the founders of the Colwell Playhouse

Impressive Points of the Performance

The performance recounted the events of 1739. The performers used their hands and feet to create rhythms and sang in loud voices. The most impressive thing was that they communicated with the audience and made it a part of the performance. They skillfully elicited a favorable response, and the audience was willing to be part of the performance. I’m not sure if they intended this point, but this seemed to overlap with the images of black slaves who joined the rebels through the drumming in 1739. Also, the most important significance of the performance is that it revealed the history of the U.S that has been overshadowed. We have not learned about many people who fought bravely against injustice. The performance reminds us of many people who fought for a free America in a smart way – through fun, exciting rhythms. I strongly recommend going to this concert!

True Meaning of “Home”

Colwell Playhouse’s performance of Home captivates the audience through its portrayals of the fast-pace chaos that is human life.

Written by Danielle Herrera.

On Friday, Sept. 27 I walked into the Krannert Center of Performing Arts without any prior knowledge as to what I was about to witness. Having been the piano accompanist for a number of various musicals, I’m quite familiar with theater and performance. However, this was my first time attending a play, which completely lacks the song and dance involved in musicals; for this reason, I was concerned that the performance wouldn’t feel as lively. Little did I know, there are countless other aspects of plays that are just as captivating as those found in musical theater.  

The show opened up with a dim, completely empty stage. There was no movement nor light, which cause the room quiet down into deafening silence. Then, after a few moments a man entered on stage and began setting up lights, building what appeared to be a wall. His movements were purposeful and captivating, which in my opinion set the vibe for the entire show. 

As the play progressed, various rooms were built on stage right in front of the audience. This gave viewers an inside look on the long process of creating a home, while simultaneously demonstrating countless life events that would take place in anyone’s home. More and more characters were introduced, portraying their separate lives whilst physically using the same set. Finally, at the end, the characters all join together in a scene of celebration. 

I thought that the incorporation of the audience into the play made the performance more exciting and entertaining to watch. Seeing familiar faces being pulled on stage gave the show a new energy, and also allowed the audience to feel as though they are part of the performance. My favorite part was when Valleri, our professor, was invited on stage and asked to describe her home. Hearing her own genuine stories and descriptions of her childhood home reminded me of my own memories of my house. It made me realize how important it is for everyone to have their own place to call home. 

Home by Geoff Sobelle was a performance filled with so much chaos and laughter. It depicted scenes of life, death, sadness, and celebration using just one house setting, which revealed a universal thread amongst us humans: everyone needs a home. It doesn’t matter if it’s a house, or an apartment, or even just a room; people need a space to experience life. I loved watching this play, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who’s looking to find new perspective on what makes a home, “home”.

For more info about this performance, go to https://krannertcenter.com/events/home-geoff-sobelle

The Curious Incident

The creative play on a young man’s eventful life and how he molds his perspective about who he is and what he can do.

The Colwell playhouse hosted the play “The Curios Incident Of The Dog At Nighttime”

This play was more than a play. It was an experience. It drags you into the life of an unordinary 15 year old young man from Europe. He is extremely smart, yet, others he encounter in the play would probably say too smart for his own good. However, through his expanding curiosity, the play allows you to be a part of his mind as he goes on a journey to answer his many questions about why life is the way it is.

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Jungle Book Chronicles

You only live once, because you can never know what will happen in the next moment.

By: Deja Cook- Reynolds

From the beginning of this performance, Virago- Man Dem, I thought there was something peculiar about this piece. The dancers were all standing at different corners, they appear at different times, and they just seemed a little too still for me, since they weren’t moving at first. Then, they began to move, but not in the way that most people would consider dancing. They started to shake, scratch, slow motion stepping, and I couldn’t help to but think about what the HELL did I get myself into.  The dancers looked like they were having an outer body experience, and I didn’t know if they need help or if they were trying to reveal the unknown to me. But I  know one thing is for sure, I couldn’t stop watching.  Continue reading