Tag Archives: FAA110

DRUM TAO : passionate movement

There was DRUM TAO performance at Tryon Festival Theatre on Wednesday, March 11. The performers were from Japan, and their impressive performance using “Wadaiko-drums”, Japanese flutes and harps made the performance perfect.

Written by Aejin Shin

People waiting for the start of the performance

Composition

The template said, ‘DRUM TAO was awarded several prizes including Outstanding Cultural Contribution form Oita prefecture’. In addition, in February 2016, their off-Broadway show in New York ended up with a great success. After watching the performance, I thought they deserved the awards. They played drums of various sizes, ranging from small handy ones to big ones which performers can even ride on. Also, the way the drums were played was brilliant. Standing between the drums, people played multiple drums of various sizes together. In addition, their movements were so in sync with each other and well-organized that I felt it was a masterpiece performance.

A ticket

Interesting element

Their performance had two distinct factors which differentiate them from any other performance. The first was that the performers tried to communicate with the audience. They skillfully bought out applause and responses from the audience. They put their hands on their ears and made a listening gesture again and again until the audience gives them back a round of applause. Also, through catered performance pieces that Americans can relate such Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk dancing in between performance, the American audience could relate to the performance more.

Secondly, the performance was full of humors. With all the lights off, the performers wore fluorescent yellow-colored clothes and presented techniques that made them looked like one person teleporting around the stage. It also drew laughter from the audience by making intentional mistakes and putting in humor elements from time to time.

A booklet

The performance was a combination of traditional Japanese instruments and modern choreography. Performers created performances that can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of one’s age and gender by utilizing humors and eye-catching performance. I would like to recommend this performance to everyone!

Cabaret : the hidden realities of Berlin in the 1930s

Cabaret was performed at the Tryon Festival Theatre in Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on March 5. The actors were students of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Their excellent acting, set-making and music made the performance perfect.

Written by Aejin Shin

A ticket

The setting for the musical “Cabaret” is the Kit Kat Club in Berlin in the 1930s. This was a period of great historical importance and confusion. The performance vividly shows the suffering of ordinary citizens -including American novelist Cliff and his roommate Sally- because of the change in a country’s political ideology and confusion. It showed a part of ordinary life through historical events and some sensitive topics such as eroticism, sex and homosexuality. It begins with an American writer named Cliff traveling to Germany to get the inspiration that he needed to write his novel.

waiting for the start of the performance with the booklet

Music

In Cabaret, music helps to deliver the characters’ messages. This is definitely a kind of musical, so it’s meaningless to discuss the show without music. However, Cabaret’s music is quite different from the usual musicals’ composition. Ordinary musicals play romantic songs that contrast with miserable plots, making audiences forget about the difficulties of reality. However, most of the songs played in the performance do not make the audience forget the miserable reality, but make them feel more afraid of the Nazism. For example, with the ending song, ‘Farewell’, one can fully guess that Cabaret’s audience is no longer ordinary public but Nazi party members.

Overall, the songs played during the show are typical jazz and swing in the 1920s and 30s. Also, the characters sing about what they want – love, a beautiful future, and their own beliefs. Every character wants different things, but the energy they emit in an unstable, dangerous, finite life touched me so much. I like the music because it was quite emotional, so it sets the mood, and I can understand what the characters feeling through the music. Also, the music was catchy. So, I could sing it after the performance ended.

the atmosphere was exciting, and people there were anticipating the performance.

Set

This set shows Berlin at that time very effectively. Two structures rotated and showed new backgrounds. These rotations made a variety of sets, including nightclubs, housing complexes, trains, apartments and fruit shops. This allowed the transition between scenes to be natural.

the band plays on stage

The performance was a combination of funny and sexual comedies and exaggerated expressions. Complex set designs and perfect music allow the audience to focus more on the performance. This performance was more on the love story between people in 1920s and 30s and their lives rather than the big history like WW1 and Nazis, and it makes the performance more interesting. I would like to recommend this performance to everyone!

Carbaret: An Emphasis on the Humanity of Life

Cabaret, a world renowned Broadway musical, was performed at the Tryon Festival Theatre in Krannert Center for the Performing Arts this last Friday. The cast of the play Cabaret set out to give the audience a thrilling yet unique experience through perfect performance, further enhanced by amazing music and set pieces.

Written by Weon Taek Na

Figure 1: Cabaret Cover
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The Spirit Survives: storytelling from Winter Tales Program (make-up)

On February 22nd, the event “The Winter Tales Program: The Spirit Survives” was held at the A. R. Knight Auditorium of the Spurlock Museum. The Winter Tales Program is a series of events honoring the culture and practices of the Native Americans.

Written by: Yushan Guo

The stage before Dovie Thomason started her storytelling
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New Kind of Storyteller, Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith, revered as a genius who created ‘a new form of theater’ held a performance at the Colwell Playhouse in Krannert Center on Tuesday, February 18.

By Aejin Shin

People waiting before the show began

Anna Deavere Smith. Who is she? According to her program profile, she is an actor, playwright, and educator. These days, thanks to the FAA110 class, I am watching many performances at the krannert center. Some of them I was able to understand the content by seeing the title of the show (like Shanghai Ballet and Drumfolk), but others were impossible to grasp until I saw the show, like Somi. This performance is in the latter case. Until I entered the concert hall, I had no idea what kind of show I was going to see today. Nor did I know if she was a singer, comedian, or even an actor, because I had no background knowledge of her. However, it took only five minutes to fall into her charms.

The appearance of the stage before the show began

This was definitely a new kind of show. There were no fancy stage settings or costumes for the performance, nor were there any other performers. However, she had the ability to dominate the stage by herself. She interviewed others, then recorded their voices and changed the recordings into a performance.

Tickets and pamphlets

Anna Deavere Smith’s performance made her show very special. It was completely different from news stories, documentaries, and dramas that tell only objective truths. She delivered to the audience what she wanted to convey through her acting. Her performance was quite different from any other performances that I’ve seen at the Krannert Center. Her performance was neither news, nor drama, nor stand-up comedy, but humorously allowed people to know the exact truth. She tries to express Americans’ diverse opinions on various social issues. She has already interviewed more than 2,000 people so far. Smith acts out a variety of people by making variations in her voice. She describes people with gestures as well as her voice.

A portrait of Anna Deavere Smith

She also communicated with the audience through questions and answers after the performance. I didn’t fully understand the stories, but I thought it was wonderful to have a moment like this. She could use the audience’s questions as more material for her next performance.

One Mic, Many Voices

By Veronica Y. Gonzalez
Event Program
Stage before the performance began.
Sign before entering the theater

On February 18, 2020 I had the pleasure of seeing Anna Deavere Smith perform at The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. This performance was unique because it wasn’t quite standup comedy but it wasn’t quite a play either. It was a mix of both. She incorporated telling her story and doing impressions of people she interviewed into her performance. I could tell when she was doing a new person because she would try and imitate their voice and their mannerisms. I liked how she didn’t use different costumes or different settings because it made us focus on her talents. We were able to use our imagination to try to envision the people she interviewed. There was one person onstage but we heard the stories and voices of many people.

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Somi : the best jazz performance I’ve ever watched

On the evening of Valentine’s Day on February 14, Somi’s performance was held at Colwell Playhouse in Krannert center.

By Aejin Shin

concert tickets

Somi, the daughter of immigrants from Rwanda and Uganda, was born in Illinois, where the show was performed. She is a very famous vocalist and composer. Her songs have very special theme – the stories of African immigrants in New York’s Harlem.

She told a story before performing. This was a very effective way to get the audience engaged. Also, these introductions and backgrounds also took place in between songs. When perfoming, it felt like she was directly communicating with me. She also naturally included the audience in her performance.

setting of the stage before the performance begins

Somi’s performance consisted of Somi and her band. They showed great chemistry. The band made her song more exciting. Different types of musical instruments were used, and the techniques of the performers were different song by song.

Somi introduced musicians from her team during the performance. The thing I was impressed with was that Somi showed a very deep respect to her band. In fact, this kind of performance is usually performed mainly by vocalists. But Somi shared the spotlight with her band members resulting in most musicians getting a chance to play solo. They looked like true friends, not just partners.

Standing ovation after the performance

She sang various kinds of songs. The day of the concert was Valentine’s Day, and there were songs about oppressions, Harlem, and so on, including a love song centered around Valentine’s Day. She sometimes screamed and sometimes sang in a sweet voice. She led the performance skillfully. I admired her professionalism. Due to my native language not being English, sometimes I couldn’t fully understand her message. However, her music clearly contained a message easy to follow. Even if I couldn’t fully understand the lyrics, her performance helped fill the gaps.

If you’re more curious about Somi and her performance, you can visit Somi’s site for more information.

Local Talent: Somi Emitting Power and Love

By Veronica Y. Gonzalez
Statue outside the Colwell Playhouse
Stage before performance began
Event Program

For Valentine’s Day, I had the pleasure of attending Somi’s performance at The Krannert Center for Performing Arts. Prior to this event, all I knew was that Somi was a jazz artist from Champaign-Urbana. I had never attended a Jazz performance so I had no idea what to expect. Her performance was breathtaking. She set a really high standard for the future Jazz performances I will see. Her voice and storytelling were beautiful and the musicians accompanying her were extremely talented. It was also exciting to hear her sing in French because I don’t get to practice my French very often.

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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!

Resistance, Freedom, and Community

By Veronica Y. Gonzalez
Stage before show starts
Event Program
Ticket and crowded theater

I attended Step Afrika! on February 7, 2020 at The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. The performance definitely built a strong sense of community. There were many parts where they danced in unison perfectly. They were all doing the exact same movement at the same exact time. It was unbelievable. I believe moving in ripples is a stronger sense of unity than moving in unison. Knowing when the person before you is going and then moving at the right time is such a hard thing to do. Especially when there are like 7 people ahead of you and you have to know exactly when each of them moves. It was like their minds were connected and they were communicating with each other the whole time.

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