Posts Tagged ‘CATF’

Media Update 7/27/17

July 27, 2017

Welcome to Fear City

This was a matinee and I was excited to see the first show of our bunch of shows we had tickets to. Fear City is what they called New York City in the seventies. One of the points this show tries to put forward is that if Manhattan was considered Fear City, what was the Bronx? Terror Town? This was the area where the poorest black people lived at the height of disco, funk and the early days of the hip hop lifestyle. The show follows a mother, her grown son, her grown daughter and the son’s friend. Each has been through a hard journey and each still has a hard journey ahead. The show is stylized but also allows for fantasy bits like asides, monologs, and the appearance of a giant talking rat. Nothing good happens and I felt for each and every character most of whom had to keep dark, painful secrets. In the end, there is more to the story than this dark tale set in 1977. Afterall, things were hard for black people in 1977 but they were also hard from the 1500s and all the way to the 21st century. It is a great exploration of race, poverty, and morality. If you ever get a chance, I highly recommend it.

The Niceties

I consider myself pretty knowledgeable when it comes to language about race and minorities. I do recognize that I can still improve and I try to do that every day. We all have prejudices, even ones we do not realize we have until we are put into certain situations. This show is about the verbal battle between a student of color and a white professor and the different kinds of racism that can manifest in us and in society. It also explores how we look up to people from history who we find to be problematic later on as our perspective is enriched. The claim is made that as long as each generation is five percent better than the last, then we are still striving in the right direction. The counter is that this is not enough. The claim is made that white people are still trying to learn what not to say but the counter is that we should already know what not to say. It also explores how invisible whole groups are from history because they could not write down or pass on their history and therefore we are only left with a general picture of slaves rather than actual specifics. It is a very intense show and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Byhalia, Mississipi

This was a story about how quickly your life can be upended by a single mistake. People build a life together but you never realize how fragile those relationships can be until they are shattered and you are left to pick up the pieces. The main focal point is a husband and wife waiting for a baby and then everything goes horribly and they have to figure where to go from there. The show is a comedy until it stops being a comedy and things get very real. Hovering around the edges of the tale are old enemies, old friends and a mother in law who all have an opinion on what needs to happen. I cannot talk much about the show without revealing too much about the sudden roadblocks. Check it out if you have the chance.


Music of the Week:
Beastwars – Realms

Ihsahn – Introspection

DM – Mueka ft. Cosculluela

Lacuna Coil – Trip The Darkness

Run The Jewels – Close Your Eyes

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme is “Contemporary Arts Theater Festival 2017”
– The CATF will be ending this weekend so if you somehow see this before it ends, go see a show or more
– I also saw “Wild Horses” and it was great but not as impactful as the above shows
– I watched more Agents of Shield Season 3
– I watched more NCIS Season 13
– I watched more Glitter Force
– I watched more House of Cards Season 2
– I watched more Blood Drive
– Not much this week since I was swamped with the festival


The Other

July 25, 2016

I have been thinking about this post for a while. Over two weeks ago I went to see a play called The Wedding Gift by Chisa Hutchinson. I will not spoil it for those who have not seen it yet but it is at the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, WV. If you are reading this before July 31, 2016 then there is still time to see the production I saw. After seeing it, I wanted to briefly discuss some of the ideas and memories it awoke in me. So this is not exactly a review but instead a reflection on how the play affected me. If you want a non-spoiler review, here it is: It’s really good. I have said before that I do not get political on this blog because that is what Tumblr is for. This is not about politics. This is about culture and morals and human beings.

All during the play, I had fleeting flashes of memory and thought. I remembered the first time I read about slavery and really understood what the word and the situation meant. I thought about how those first African slaves must have felt as they were unloaded in the New World. I can barely fathom the mix of emotions they might have felt but I imagine that none of them were good. I thought about the manner in which a certain part of the family says the word “black” and how it irks me every time. Sometimes it makes me just a little sick. It made me think about the two Muslim kids in my graduating high school class.

Most of all, it actually made me think of a small part of my life that ended up being incredibly important to my worldview. At the end of my Freshman year at Mason Gross School for the Arts, I was looking for a summer job and my mother had a lead through my brother. He was working with a theater and dance company called Wombworks Productions and I was encouraged to work with them too. I ended up working for a program called Yoasis! which was funded by Yo! Baltimore. It was a program where older kids from youth centers could learn their way around a recording studio, acting, dance and music. It was the first year of the program and they wanted to call it Oasis but I mentioned that there was already a music group called Oasis.

This program was operated in West Baltimore nearly at the end of North Avenue. This was completely foreign territory to me but I trusted my brother and my brief experiences with the company earlier in the summer. When the program began, I found out that for the entirety, I would be the only white employee and the only white person at all around at all. It was eye-opening. The company was mostly inspired by African culture and some Native American culture but this program also reflected the culture these kids lived every day. There was rap, there was African dance, there was poetry and so much more. In fact, I remember writing one particular poem that was included in the show we were putting together.

I remember one incident where I was working with the kids and the other staff and one of the staff pulled me out of the room. They said that I “probably did not want to be in there right now.” The director of the program came in and started to speak to the kids about how the black man and woman were oppressed by the white man. I was just outside of the room but I could feel the tension, frustration and anger building up inside. It was not violent but it was honest and it felt to me like an old wound being ripped open again right there in that room. It has taken me a long time to really understand that moment. It made me understand privilege, oppression, racism and allowed me a glimpse of what it is to be the other.

As the play unfolded and ended, I thought about my brief experience being The Other. I thought about how vulnerable I felt walking across the street to New York Fried Chicken. I thought about talking to young black kids who had been shot at and had lives so different from mine. I thought about the things we shared and how they accepted my poem into their artform. I thought about how our country as a whole is treating the trans people and how we are disrespecting them because they are Other. I thought about how All Lives Matter misses the point of the statement and movement of Black Lives Matter. I thought about how those things are politicized when they should not really be about politics. They should be common sense.

The Other is anything that is any person or group who you feel is not like you. A rich and rewarding life is going to involve running into The Other over and over. It is important to understand The Other and its boundaries. However, while you are recognizing and understanding those boundaries, you should remember that they were made by people. Deep down we really are all the same. We can be smart, stupid, kind, cruel and all sorts of other descriptions. Recently, I have been interacting with a lot of people who have not really experienced The Other so they are afraid and prejudiced. Instead, I wish I could get them to go out and meet a gay person or meet a black or Muslim and realize that they are people too. It is important to remember that we are all The Other to some other group of people. All we can do is try to have sympathy for each other and try to understand each other and figure out what we need to do to effect positive change.

Media Update 7/30/2015

July 30, 2015

The Penguins of Madagascar

I did see one and a half Madagascar movies but I never really liked them. It felt like they weren’t written for me and also they had David Schwimmer in them. However, those movies did produce a pretty enjoyable spin-off tv show starring the penguins. The show was surprisingly funny which was a bit of a surprise for a spin-off of something I didn’t really like in the first place. Anyway, the movie is pretty wacky and ends up being non-stop action. However, there’s a lot of clever humor and ballsy puns thrown in that make the movie pretty enjoyable. I’m a little sorry they didn’t get the voice actors from the show but it’s worth a look if you’re looking for something to watch.


Contemporary Arts Theater Festival

This is my first year attending shows at the Contemporary Arts Theater Festival which is held at Shepherd University. So far I attended two shows and they were both really good.

The first show was We Are Pussy Riot which was definitely an eye opener. I am definitely guilty of following the news of Pussy Riot extremely loosely and then giving up on the story when they showed up on Colbert. The show was really informative about what exactly I was missing from the story. The acting was excellent and you really got a feel for what the Russian justice system must be like. Sometimes the show was funny and sometimes it was sad but it was always horrifying. It reminded me that we cannot be complacent in our society.

The other show was The Whole Catastrophe which was more Neil Simon-like about a linguist/confirmed bachelor who gets tapped to be a live-in marriage counselor. It was a very funny and thoughtful piece about love, communication and the mistakes we make. It had a lot to say about suburban life, family, academia and pop psychology. One surreal thing about this show was that it shared a few actors with We Are Pussy Riot in completely different roles.

I would reccomend seeing both of these and probably any of the other shows. There’s still a few days left in the festival so if you’re in the area, check it out.


Radio Dead Air

I love the radio. I used to listen to it a lot more before Youtube and podcasts took over the time I spent in the car listening to the radio. I always loved hearing the music. Whether it was old favorites or stuff completely new to me, I loved getting lost in it. However, it was also about the friendly DJ or hosts chatting away. There’s something about the conversations that come out of somebody just sitting down and talking that I always liked. Radio Dead Air is a live internet show from 9 to 2 am every Monday night.

The host, Nash, plays whatever he feels like playing and also plays requests from viewers. He talks a lot about whatever’s going on in his life or in the news. It also includes a live show called What the Fuck is Wrong With You? that is co-hosted by Tara Deenihan where they riff on the news of the weird from the past week. It’s a really calming show to listen to and Nash is dedicated to making every show really good. It’s worth a listen and a watch, even if you just put it on in the background and listen to someone else’s taste in music for a change. This past Monday he even had his 15 year anniversary of doing the show.



I had actually meant to watch this show a long while ago as my youngest brother went to Stanford just like the main character. The show is kind of dorky but it’s enjoyable enough. Chuck is a big box store employee who gets all of United States intelligence’s secrets beamed into his head. Because he is now the only source for these secrets, he is employed as an asset for the CIA and NSA. Zachary Levi is pretty good as Chuck and he often reacts as I would if I were suddenly a secret agent. However, he mugs a lot which hopefully they cut down on. Yvonne Strahvoski is great as his CIA handler as she kicks a lot of butt while being charming and insightful. Adam Baldwin is great as Chuck’s NSA bodyguard because at this point he was used to playing amusing jerks. The rest of the supporting cast is kind of annoying but hopefully that fades with time. Overall, four episodes in, it’s pretty rocky but a pretty interesting show. I don’t know if I’ll continue to watch it.

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