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Final Reflection: A Wonderful Experience

Written by: Lydia Amezcua Ramirez

Where to start off…first of all this class gave me an insight on all the creative things that the University provides which we must take advantage of while we can because our time there is short. This semester proved that point. We never know how long we have with something, it is up to us to not take it for granted and take every opportunity given to us while it’s there. I feel this way about this class. I am glad I ended up taking a class I never took before because of all of the amazing events I was able to experience. That was something I could not have done on my own, but now I may thanks to this class.

Even though our in class person time was cut short this spring semester of 2020, that did not stop the learning nor viewing the events in an alternative manner. Thanks to Digital Theatre Plus, the online viewings were still made possible. Even though it was not the same experience as an in person production, it still continued the entertaining as the other events.

Productions through Krannert

A moment of captivating happiness as the Butterfly Lovers got their happy ending

“The Butterfly Lovers” was the first production that the FAA 110 class introduced us to. I was really glad it involved butterflies in the title because butterflies are so captivating to me, which got me more excited for the performance rather than viewing it as mandatory. What I loved about this production was the acting through ballet, the performers could not speak with their mouths so the only other alternative was through dance. I really believe they did an excellent job in conveying their message to the audience because after all, everyone stood up for a standing ovation !

The beginning of the performance where the dancers showed us various rhythms using their bodies

“Step Afrika!: Drumfolk” was the second performance that we viewed through the Krannert Art Center. Originally I thought this performance was going to be mostly drum playing, but it meant much more than that. This performance gave me an insight on a culture’s traditional ways of expressing themselves. It brought to life the horrors of the past but at the same time the kindled spirits of those who are warriors. It was truly a wonderful and impactful experience that I would recommend for others to view if they ever have the chance.

Somi along with some of the performers of that night

“SOMI” was the third production that I got to view in person. What I liked about this performance was the fact that the main singer, Somi, had an amazing and diverse range of voice pitches to share with the audience. I’m pretty sure that everyone was amazed with her work. Personally, I really looked up to her given the fact that she always took the time to have the rest of her performers recognized, asking the audience to clap for them whenever they had an individual part to play or whenever they played with her. That showed her humbleness, which I really admired.

Reading about the author herself before the performance had begun

“Anna Deavere Smith” was the fourth In person production I was able to watch. This was a new type of experience for me because I had never gone to see a comedian/storyteller before so I did not know what to expect. Anna Deavere Smith had a unique form of storytelling that was new to me, but it was well vocalized given that the audience kept laughing at the jokes that she would incorporate in her stories.

The beginning scene of the production, filled with dances

“The Cabaret” was the fifth and last in person production I was able to view. This performance also included a historical event but it was told in events leading up to it, through different people. This production was more musical/entertainment like, which I really enjoyed to see. To me, the characters really drew in my attention because of how different everyone was and how they viewed life back then in Berlin, Germany.

Productions through Digital Theatre +

The women in the film afraid as the disadvantage of being a woman is showcased

The Container” was the 6th production I viewed, but the first one through an online database, because of in person classes being suspended. What I enjoyed about this production was shedding to light the gruesome realities of the world. The actors took on the role of what refugees seeking refuge go through because of the opportunities they are denied of. A tragedy, but this Is real life for many people, which we often don’t think about.

Taking on the role of an insect by crawling on the ground.

“Metamorphosis” was a production that I never imagined seeing. So many aspects of this play made it unique, the costuming, the storytelling, the set, but most importantly it was the storyline. The life of an ordinary salesman is turned upside down as he transforms into an insect out of nowhere. When I first heard the title I associated it with growth and butterflies, when I viewed the film it was nothing like metamorphosis for the better of an individual. It was more like a metamorphosis for the family and how to continue going about life.

Macbeth taking the role of a King

The final production was a Shakespeare one but one of my choice. I chose to view “Macbeth” because I have heard about it in high-school but never got to read about it. The only thing I knew I was going to be in store for was confusing language. After reading an overview of the film I was able to go along with the storyline and conclude that Shakespeare productions are filled with tragedies and drama but at the same time creativity.

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, all of the productions were all entertaining and had a unique storyline behind it as well as the way the performance was delivered. Being in this class was an amazing experience and what makes it well liked are the teachers behind it. I am grateful that I had amazing, helpful, and encouraging teachers, Dr. Collins and Dr. Robinson, that really helped me through the class and explore messages within the productions.

A Shakespeare Tragedy: Macbeth

One of Shakespeare’s most famous pieces of work “Macbeth” was produced in a play directed by Gemma Bodinetz. “Macbeth” tells the story of a man who rises to power, lets it get to his head, and ends up beheaded because of that reason. This production was viewed on Digital Theatre Plus, where one can also find multiple productions written by Shakespeare.

Written by: Lydia Amezcua-Ramirez

The opening scene where the 3 witches foretell the beginning of the play.

Shakespeare language

This play can be very confusing to understand if one is not familiar with Shakespearean language which involves modern English. Since I do not read his work I was not familiar with much of the vocabulary used in the play. A recommendation for the audience who wishes to view this production would be to read a background on the play, so that confusion does not arise. The overview on Digital Theatre Plus does not provide sufficient information on the play so I would suggest using spark-notes in order to have a good understanding of plot overview. This is what I did beforehand so that I could understand the issues among each act (there were five in total).

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A Contemporary Audience

Since Shakespeare’s plays are dated back to older times, that might be an issue for entertainment purposes since it might not be as interesting as more modern plays. What I liked about this production was that the audience was able to sit alongside the stage instead of being far away from It. This way, the audience would really be able to pay attention since the performance is up close.

What I also like about the production was that it appealed to the contemporary audience by having the characters dress in both modern and ancient costuming, which provided a balance for the viewers. For example, the witches wore ancient, beige, wrinkly gowns along with holding sticks. As for modern clothing, Macbeth would start out wearing modern costuming consisting of black pants and a long sleeve button up shirt.

Also, given that the play is on Digital Theatre Plus, it makes it accessible for people to view if they are interested in Shakespeare instead of having to pay for seeing It or take the longer route and read about It. The production definitely makes it easier for one to view because of the subtitles that go along with it as well as going back to a scene if one was not able to understand it the first time around.

The Overall Conflict

Macbeth wished to overthrow the king of Scotland, King Duncan, due to the trio of witches telling him “All hail Macbeth” at the beginning of the play, indicating that he would become king soon. Macbeth was a general of a battle which succeeded and he was then rewarded by being named thane of Cawdor. Soon after, Macbeth took matters into his own hands to make what the witches had told him possible. Alongside this decision was his wife, who persuaded Macbeth to kill King Duncan in his sleep.

Macbeth after killing King Duncan, shown by the overwhelming amount of blood on his hands.

The blood on his hands was attention grabbing which aided the storytelling because one can easily assume something tragic has happened. If there was not any blood, it would have been harder to tell that Macbeth killed the king. It was in this very scene that he said “Macbeth shall sleep no more”. The guilt of killing someone would be that very thing keeping him up at night because his conscience would not be able to handle such weight.

Macbeth crowned the king after murdering King Duncan.

This scene depicts the uniqueness of costuming. Macbeth had dressed himself in what was the old king’s clothing. The crown especially is something that we do not see in modern times which makes one analyze it more. This type of costuming helps aid the storytelling because of the role that Macbeth was now fulfilling.

Macbeth’s death scene where he is beheaded with a sword.

Overall, the production was an eye opener for me because I had never seen one of Shakespeare’s plays before. I would recommend viewing this play because it gives one the opportunity to expand their range of productions. It can be a good change for one to step out of their comfort zone and view things they normally would not because at the end they might enjoy it !

A New Beginning: Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis” is a unique production, written by Frank Kafka, where the main character who is a salesman ends up transforming into a terrifying insect and isolates himself from his family and the world. This production can be found of Digital Theatre Plus and since it is produced in Japanese, there are English subtitles to understand the storyline.

By Lydia Amezcua Ramirez

The salesman, Gregor, and his family which he supports through his job

Storyline

Gregor Is a salesman who works endlessly to help support his family because he is the only one bringing in the income. One day he begins to feel ill and misses work which is unheard of from him. To his family’s surprise his illness was much worse than they expected because he had transformed into an insect that they became afraid of. Gregor spent the rest of his days isolated in his room from his family until one day he dies and his family moves on.

One of the messages that this production taught me is that one cannot solely rely on one person to always be the provider, people will have to learn to fend for themselves because you never know what life will throw at you. Another message that I was able to get from this production is the importance of family. No matter how horrified Gregor’s family were, they never tossed him out, they had to find a way to keep a financial income and at the same time keep Gregor hidden.

Transformed into an insect, the salesman crawls around as his family becomes frightened of him

Unique Elements

When Gregor was transformed into an insect, that impeded his family from being able to communicate with him as well as understand him. This production reminded me of a book in first person where the main character allows us into his thoughts. The audience watching this performance were able to understand what was going through Gregor’s thoughts as he spoke to us while the rest of the cast would be frozen in motion. This was something that I enjoyed because insects cannot speak and one wonders what goes on through their head, but this was something that the audience did not have to interpret.

Another unique element was the set of the production. Most plays and productions have various sets or different backgrounds given a certain scene that they are supposed to act out. Here, the characters performed various scenes within the same arrangement on the stage. What I mean by this is that the kitchen, living room, and Gregor’s room had to be portrayed in the same stage setup. The set up consisted of 3 stools for the mom, dad, and sister of Gregor, and a large metallic design of pipes, which took up most of the set. This was mainly used for Gregor to climb on since he had tuned into an insect.

Lastly, background noises added to the unique elements I noticed in the production. Since there were not enough props because the set was based on simplicity, there would be background noises to add emphasis during the production. For example, when Gregor’s sister had to “thump” on Gregor’s “door” for it to open, there would be noises that made large thumping sounds. I quoted “thump” and “door” because movements would be exaggerated to go with the background effects/noises and because there was not an actual door, the characters made it seem as so.

Part of the metallic pipes which Gregor, now an insect, used to climb upon

At first I was confused as to why these elements were in the production because I have never seen them. Just like the production, the elements were something new to me and given that this was a Japanese production I had to keep in mind that other cultures have different ways of conveying arts. I liked the uniqueness of “Metamorphosis” because it brought a new perspective of how other cultures may use props and storylines differently than what I am used to seeing.

Seeking Refuge: The Container

“The Container” is a production directed by Tom Wright and produced by Digital Theatre. It captivates some of the struggles that refugees face in order to seek refuge in Europe, including realistic and tragic elements.

Witten by: Lydia Amezcua-Ramirez

Beginning of the production where the refugees wait silently to not expose themselves to a possible outside threat

Asylum Seeking

The setting of this production takes place in a real life shipping container, hence the title of the production. The cast consists of six characters, all who come from different backgrounds but with the same end goal, which is to arrive to England safely and begin their new life. The other character is an agent who is in charge of getting them there. While some of these characters hope to start over and escape the violent Middle East, some hope to be reunited with their family. In the past years this was a real and serious issue. There were hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing from the Middle East in hopes of receiving asylum in Europe. However, as the numbers of refugees entering the country was becoming too high, so were the restrictions, meaning that it became harder for the refugees to travel and get into Europe safely.

This production illustrates the difficulty of doing so as shown through the characters. Since they each have a story, they all reveal why they were brought into the container and how tiring their journey has been.

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Elements of the Production

  1. The need for food: In the container, the refugees would go days without food or water, having to conserve the little they had. When a woman had entered the container with them she had brought along a few pieces of bread and chocolate which she shared. The characters had never seemed so eager to eat given that they were starving. This can be expected if people are trapped for days in an isolated, dark environment like the container.
  2. Money: The journey to England would not be free, it came at a cost in which the characters had to pay money for. When the agent in charge of the refugees had demanded more money for the refugees to continue their journey they all had a rough time caving in and not all of them had the extra fifty dollars on them that the agent demanded. This seemed like a trick and a method of manipulation that one would expect to see in a real life situation like that. The refugees had come way too far to give up which is something people take advantage of.
The characters in distress of not having enough money to carry on their journey

3. Women: Just the simple fact of being a woman was a disadvantage. When one of the woman characters in the container did not have the fifty dollars that the agent demanded for them to continue, he suggested a different method of paying. The poor woman had no other choice but to follow the agent elsewhere, where eventually it can be assumed she was taken advantage of and killed because she had never returned.

The woman who did not have enough money to pay, being shoved out of the container

4. False Promises: One of the characters in the production had mentioned that it was his third time traveling to England because the agents he had hired before had tricked him and took his money. This is something that many refugees encounter, false promises of being led to safety when in reality it is a scam to take away their money. At the end of the production, whether or not the refugees got to England safely remained a mystery.

After the production had finished, all the characters entered the container and took a bow

Overall, I really enjoyed the production because it really captivated my attention and because it was on a topic that most people these days seemed to have stopped talking about. This issue was a big concern in the past but should not be forgotten. Many hear about what goes on but do not really take the time to consider all the things that refugees go through. This film did an amazing job at giving us an insight on that situation.

Lights, Music, Action: Cabaret

On March 6th, 2020 at 7:30pm the Tryon Festival Theatre presented a musical performance entitled ” Cabaret“. This performance brought about musicality, theatre, and dance while trying to portray some of the issues surrounding the time frame, WW1.

Written by: Lydia Amezcua Ramirez

Waiting for the performance to begin while others read more about the performance.

Musicality

In the performance there was many ways of expressing expressing character mood/desire. The songs and music helped carry those messages out. The music and songs in Cabaret worked to give a sense of the world of the play by subtly bringing in issues that all tie in with Cabaret. For example, a character who came from America would go to the Kit Kat Club to drink and enjoy life in Berlin, Germany because that is what most people there seemed to do, live life while partying and still having to find a way to pay rent on time. The Kit Kat Club seemed to be the place where people went to enjoy music and drink, but all of that disappeared by the end of the play when there were no more performers or people in the Kit Kat Club. This was due to the beginning of WW1 when the Nazis took power and streets/places were abandoned.

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The host of the night alongside a grand piano player

The music and songs in Cabaret also worked to give a sense of the dreams of the characters through the beat and emotion that went with the music and songs they sang. For example, one of the characters in the play was a performer in the Kit Kat Club and one of the songs she sang was an upbeat one involving not telling her mother about her being a performer because she was chasing her dream. Towards the end of the play she ended up staying in Berlin, Germany regardless of what was going on around that time frame because she wanted to continue chasing her dream of being a grand performer. The song she sang was more emotional that time around with not as much music behind her that way more emotional tone would be coming from her part.

The host of the night performing in the Kit Kat Club along with other dancers

Set Transitions

In Cabaret, the sets would transition as would any play to show the distinct parts of the Berlin setting. In between each transition, songs would be performed by the characters in the play and if not them then by the host of the night along with his background dancers. The sets of the performance included:

  1. The Kit Kat Club, where performers would perform and others went there to drink.
  2. A Railroad Carriage, where the American coming to Berlin would travel to and back.
  3. Schneider’s Apartment, the landlord lady.
  4. Cliff’s Apartment, the American novelist from America.
  5. Schultz’s Fruit Shop, the person who liked the landlord lady.
  6. The Void, an empty abandoned place.

Overall, Cabaret was a mesmerizing performance filled with a variety of music and performance style that left goosebumps on my arms. What I liked most about the performance was all the energy in the characters that remained up to when the Nazis took control. Life as they knew it would change forever because life was not something that one could spend partying without worries. It became a means of survival and the reality of the world they began to live in.

Caroline Appleby Blog 1

 

The class before Capstones start is always one where there is a great deal of pressure. As a student the main things on your mind are your grades and if you’re ready for the next level. JOUR 550 is a large stepping stone in the journalism school. In this class so far I feel as though I have become a better journalist in a short period of time. Many classes in the past weren’t able to give me critiques that would help further my career but coming into 550 each day knowing that I will leave knowing more then I did the previous class period and that I am one step closer to my end goal is a great feeling.

The first assignment we did was the video essay. I enjoyed this project more then I originally had thought I would. It is a simple but interesting assignment and to see what everyone else did was very fun because it shows different personalities. It was also helpful to get critiques and know what to improve on in our upcoming assignments. One thing I like about this class is that it isn’t focused so much on the grade you are earning but what you’re learning from each assignment and the take aways.

The next assignment was the VO and the VoSotVo. I had made VO’s before but had never done a VoSotVo so that was a learning curve but I overcame it. Choosing a topic for me was the hardest. I couldn’t think of anything that would be able to be accessible and allow video. With choosing my topic late I was decently happy with my video but I do know that there were things that I could improve on. My script writing is something that I am really looking to improve which I have gotten better with being in the news room but I know that there are still things I can improve on.

So far this class has been challenging and like none of my other journalism classes but I am enjoying the challenge. I think we have a very fun class that gets along well and the partners have been very helpful. Katie has been an awesome partner. If either of us have a question we just shoot each other a quick text and she is always happy to help. I look forward to new breaks because I think we will work very well together.

 

Caroline Appleby

 

That’s a Wrap! End of Semester Reflection

Time to check out all the hard work from this semester and reflect!

I cannot believe the semester is almost over. This has been by far one of my favorite classes and I feel sad that it’s over. Professor Collins made this class so enjoyable and I know what I’ve learned in her classroom, I will use in my career.

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Perfection: Free Throw Edition

How to Shoot a Perfect Free Throw

Basketball is a game loved all over the world. It spans over generations and generations and has played a unifying role in uniting individuals of all different kinds of backgrounds. Naturally, with my love for this great sport, I wanted to do my project on one of the most important fundamentals of basketball which has won and lost many games throughout history: the free throw.

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