Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

“Silent Sky”unites theatre, social change and science

Megan Tuennerman

A&E Editor

This weekend, the theatre and dance department is sharing the story of Henrietta Leavitt through a production of “Silent Sky,” directed by professor Jimmy A. Noriega. Leavitt, who is being played by Annie Sheneman ’22, was a female astronomer who worked at the Harvard Observatory in the 1900s as a “computer” for the male scientists. “Henrietta Leavitt was limited in a lot of ways: she was female, hard of hearing and generally treated as lesser in her academic field. How- ever, her work has become the foundation of our understanding of cosmic measurement; her work on the Period-Luminosity relation to cepheid stars allowed the first calculations of intergalactic stellar distance to be made,” commented Sheneman. She continued, “it has been wonderful to inhabit the character of Henrietta Leavitt. She was such a passion- ate and interesting person and performing as her has been such a wonderful experience.”

“Silent Sky” is presented as part of the dialogue on “Women in the Sciences” at the College. “My research and creative work is focused on theatre for social change, so I was drawn to this text be- cause it reveals the significant ways women scientists have contributed to our knowledge of the universe, while also being denied the opportunities and tools that were provided to men,” explained Noriega when asked how he chose “Silent Sky.”

The importance of the show in a social context was echoed by Sheneman, when she explained, “I think we tend to assume that scientific ideas are too complex for those without prior training to understand, but the collaboration of the sciences and the arts can make those complex ideas more accessible to a broader audience.”

Bridging the gap between theatre and science, “Silent Sky” brings representation to under- represented groups in a way that is accessible to many. “There are so many women like Henrietta Leavitt, Williamina Fleming and Annie Cannon [all characters in the show] that get lost in history because of the way we learn about history in our education system. This is a story that everyone needs to know, especially since it has a lot to do with our universe, which is a pretty big deal,” commented Amari Royal ’23, who plays Cannon in the show.

The cast and crew have put tremendous work into the production. “It has been really wonderful seeing all the technical elements be added to the production; the show is set from 1900-1920, so seeing the beautiful period costumes be constructed has been so interesting. I am really proud of this show and all the hard work that has gone into it,” commented Sheneman.

Royal agreed. “I am super excited to show everyone the work that not only the cast has put in, but the rest of the theatre department. They’ve made a show about science look like magic, which is amazing,” she said.

“More than anything, I hope students learn to appreciate the ways people have fought for our rights to learn and discover. Access to research, specialized tools and learning have not always been guaranteed to all segments of our society and this show represents a piece of that struggle,” commented Noriega.

Synetic theatre’s “Phantom” lacks catharsis

Elena Morey

Washington D.C.’s Synetic Theatre is no usual performing arts company. In Synetic’s own words, their name comes from “synthesis: the coming together of distinct elements to form a whole, kinetic: pertaining to or imparting motion, active, dynamic” which equals “Synetic Theatre: a dynamic synthesis of the arts.” It was founded in 2001 by the husband and wife team of Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili, who dedicated their work to creating art from text and drama, aided by movement, acrobatics, dance, film and music. In the span of almost 20 years, they have received 134 Helen Hayes nominations and 34 awards.

This unique blend of styles creates a truly new form of theatre. Most of their more notable works are done without words, and rely on artistic movement, original scores and the dedications of the actors to carry the plot. Such works include “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Tempest,” “The Taming of the Shrew,” “Dante’s Inferno” and “Phantom of the Opera.”

As a theatre company and concept, Synetic Theatre is well-respected and renowned in D.C, and rightly so. I have been a fan and in attendance since I first saw their wordless “Romeo and Juliet” many years ago. I have attended every show since, wordless or not. I have even become very familiar with the regular cast members and sit in the same seat every time I see the show. To see their “Phantom,” I flew back to D.C. this past weekend.

Usually, Synetic leaves their viewers in awe of such a special performance, from the set, costumes, act- ing quality, storyline and movement. However, with all of the potential of “Phantom of the Opera,” Synetic failed to even come close to the infamy of the characters, score and set. Even if the original was not a musical, and was merely a drama, Synetic failed to come close to the depth of the plot. There were many ways Synetic could have adapted their version to retain the emotional depth and significance that the original possesses. There were many ways they could have used their creative angle to create something truly inspiring and new, even though they were using the famous opera by Andrew Lloyd Weber. Yet, I. Tsikurish- vili took center stage, and brought the entire show down with her and the chandelier in an anti-climactic and boring fashion the original phantom would be ashamed of.

Director P. Tsikurishvili and choreographer I. Tsikurishvili attempt to breach the famous opera without music, incorporating dance and their original score to transform a singer named Christine into a ballerina. The infamous “Phantom of the Opera” is more of a ghost who likes dancing.

This “Phantom” interpretation is far from Synetic’s usually dazzling and breath-taking performance. Instead, I. Tsikurishvili drags her audience through her slow two- hour, often painstakingly boring, rendition of the opera ghost’s ob- session with a younger ballerina who reminds her of herself before she suffered horrific burns dur- ing one of her own performances.

With this basis for the character of the Phantom, I. Tsikurishvili takes away the love between Christine and the ghost, which is arguably the strongest part of Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom.” With plot hole after plot hole in Synetic’s “Phantom,” the overall relationship between the infamous shadowy character and his Christine is weak and confusing. I. Tsikur- ishvili’s “Phantom” lacks any sort of emotional cathartic release.

CDI movie viewings promote representation

Brian Luck

Contributing Writer

On Tuesday, Feb. 18, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), Dean of Students Office and Allen Scholars provided College of Wooster students with the opportunity to see a free, private screening of the new movie “The Photograph.” CDI provided free transportation to the Wooster Cinemark for this event as well.

“The Photograph” follows the story of Mae Morton (Issa Rae) as she uncovers aspects of her deceased, estranged mother’s early life thanks to a photograph found in a safe-deposit box. On her jour- ney, she and journalist Michael Block (LaKeith Stanfield) begin their love story. Two parallel plots in different time periods follow Mae and Michael, as well as Christina, played by Chanté Adams. The film is rated PG-13 and received a 76 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Amanda Anastasia Paniagua, director of Multicultural Student Affairs in CDI, noted that “The Photograph” was a great choice for a Wooster private screening.

“Representation matters,” she said. “A film starring two black leads is significant. It is Black History Month, and the film screening was after Valentine’s Day weekend. Love is universal.”

Paniagua also emphasized the importance of providing students with opportunities like free movie screenings as a means of strengthening the campus community. “I have background in the arts and truly believe that art — in its many forms — is a means to bring people together from different backgrounds,” she said. CDI and the Dean of Students Office work together frequently, putting on different events throughout the year and placing emphasis on the students themselves. The private screening of “The Photograph” represented a partnership of these two groups, along with the Allen Scholars, in order to create an accessible experience for the entirety of the Wooster student body.

“The event idea came out of an Allen Scholars meeting as a way to create visibility for the Allen Scholars, but also provide the larger student body an opportunity to share a common experience — what better way than a movie?” Paniagua said. “I have been working very closely with Allen Scholars since my arrival in November 2018 and am ex- tremely grateful for the support from CDI and the Dean of Students Office.”

The Allen Scholarship acted as a direct response to the 1989 Galpin Sit-In to increase the African-American student popu- lation of Wooster. Named after Clarence Beecher Allen, the first African-American student to graduate from The College of Wooster in 1892, the scholarship awards up to $37,000 to African-American students each year they attend The College of Wooster.

Paniagua encourages all students to email cdi@wooster. edu or visit CDI in Babcock Hall if they have questions, ideas or suggestions for other events. She also suggests that students “Slide into [CDI’s] DMs” on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Faiyaz’s new EP is a testimony to pain and love

Kamal Morgan

Contributing Writer

I have yet to be disappointed by a Brent Faiyaz project, especially his new EP that dropped Feb. 7. “Fuck the World” is Faiyaz’s first project since his last EP, “Lost,” in 2018. “Lost” allowed his audience a look into his daily struggles of being a black man in the United States. He looks at black men’s portrayal in the media, self-reliance, loyalty, addiction and trust. Fai- yaz’s new EP continues with these ideas but concentrates on building a relationship with himself and others. He tries to be vulnerable with his love in- terests by tearing out his heart and exposing his insecurities, emotions and mental health.

The first track “Skyline” opens up with Faiyaz asking, “Do you know what makes this world go ‘round?” He is trying to figure out why things happen the way they do, do we have control of our lives and what do we hope to live for. Faiyaz is focusing on the energy we channel through us and how it affects everyone, not just ourselves. We must be willing to be aware of our actions because ignorance of our emotions will harm not only us but those who we cherish. He wants to have positive energy even in a loveless world because he has seen the despair in the face of men who could not deal with their emotions constructively and let it crush them.

“Clouded” and “Been Away” are painful reflections into his current mental state and having international fame. He imagines a world without him and how those around him will be affected by this loss. He parties, meets celebrities and lives his life to the fullest, but he always has an out-of-body experience where he questions if all of this is truly worth it as he sings, “Now I’m at the turn up, lookin’ lonely.” Will this fame and money have any true value if he still feels alone with his thoughts? Question- ing his value continues into “Been Away” where he wants a woman to wait for him while he is making money and im- proving his life. The chorus echoes his plea: “I’m just tryna get my paper straight, girl/ Don’t give my shit away” for the woman to not forget about him and their past and to wait for him to grow up.

This EP would be incomplete without stopping to em- brace the power self-love has within each person, which he explores in “Let Me Know.” Love has power that binds people together and trumps evil lurking in the shadows. It allows for people to believe in themselves and have trust in one another and most importantly provide intimacy. Faiyaz sings, “Could somebody else know you, if you don’t know you, you’re searchin.’” He is transparent and truthful because we can not rely on others to give us hope and assurance on ourselves. We must find that in our hearts, find the love that is buried in the dark and let it out for the world to see.

Faiyaz transitions from being a lost black man in America to accepting the good with the bad. He has embraced that life will bring its stumbles, but if he pushes forward with self- love in his heart then nothing can stop him in his journey to enlightenment.

“2017-2019” is a success as a follow-up album

January and February are normally a bit of a dry season when it comes to new releases, be it movies, albums or what have you, so I usually find myself waiting until the year’s halfway through to find things that I enjoy. That’s why I found myself pleasantly surprised when electronic musician, Nicolas Jaar, put out his second release under the stage name Against All Logic, the fantastic “2017-2019.”

The title, similar to his previous release “2012-2017,” leads one to think that these Against All Logic records are meant to function as compilations of music Jaar’s composed throughout the year rather than a project with a singular focus, but — like the best compilations — it’s strong all the way through and it always feels cohesive. It acts as a sort of spiritual successor to his previous release under this name, but while that project generally stayed within the confines of the deep house genre, “2017- 2019” dabbles in just about every electronic genre you can think of. In this regard, the album really does feel like a spiritual sequel that shows more than enough growth to merit its status as a follow-up to a beloved original work. Just looking at the title, I could see how someone might think that this release must be more rushed than its predecessor — something which spans five years instead of two — but the quality of this project is a testament to Jaar’s talent.

The opener, “Fantasy,” is a schmorgasbord of incredible sounds, with a propelling, glitchy rhythm that revolves around a heavily manipulated Beyoncé sample in addition to fantastic keyboard melodies and a vinyl-like crackle and pop that permeates throughout the five-minute track. Another highlight, “With an Addict,” features frantic breakbeats that are occasionally washed in pulsating, reverb-heavy synths, not un- like what music playing at a party sounds like in the bathroom. Except, the breakbeats are no less dominating. It’s like the first chorus of Frank Ocean’s “Nights” if the drumbeat were hellbent on bludgeoning you to death. It’s an experiment in gratuitous repetition that completely pays off. “If You Can’t Do It Good, Do It Hard” features vocals by the legendary no-wave singer Lydia Lunch on what must be the most abrasive song under the Against All Logic name, while songs like “If Loving You Is Wrong” and “Penny” add IDM elements to compositions that would feel right at home on “2012-2017.” No tracks overstay their welcome or are flat out bad or mediocre, and even at its weakest, this is still far more captivating than the average album.

Over the last decade, Jaar has established himself as one of the most prolific and creative electronic artists working today, and “2017- 2019” shows that he’s clearly not done adding to his already impres- sive legacy. I’m beyond excited to see where Jaar takes his sound next, and as this album shows, whatever direction he takes won’t be easy to predict or contain within predetermined expectations. It just has to be experienced, which I think is the most exciting feeling you can possibly have when delving into a contemporary artist’s catalogue.

This year’s Oscars provided a unique experience

Colin Tobin

Contributing Writer

The 92nd Academy Awards came with many surprises. The big winner of the night was Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite,” taking home four awards. Other films with multiple wins included “1917” with three, and “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” “Joker” and “Ford v Ferrari” each with two. Just like last year, the show went hostless.

Janelle Monáe opened the show with a performance of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” and “I’m Still Standing” while finding a way to reference the past year in film through cos- tumes. I found it ironic that the majority of the costumes that the performance used were from films that were complete- ly snubbed from any nomina- tions. Some of them included the Tethered from “Us,” color-ful suits from “Dolemite is My Name” and the flower dress from “Midsommar.”

The acting categories were pretty predictable this year with Brad Pitt, Laura Dern, Renée Zellweger and Joaquin Phoenix winning for their respective performances. The biggest surprises of the night all took place in other major categories: Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture, all of which went to Bong Joon-ho and the talented team behind “Parasite.” Bong Joon-ho gave the best speech of the night as he accepted his award for Best Director. He cited Martin Scorsese as being one of his main influences and thanked Quen- tin Tarantino for featuring his films on his “must watch” lists in the past to get his name out there. His shock in winning was genuine, as most predicted that Sam Mendes would take the award for “1917.” He concluded two of his speeches saying that he was “ready to drink” but, sadly for him, they just kept giving him awards. It’s impossible to dislike the man. With his wins, Joon-ho tied Walt Disney with most Oscars won in a single night with four and broke the record for most Oscars won for a single film for one person. “Para- site” became the first South Korean film to win for Best International Feature Film as well as the first film not in the English language to win Best Picture.

One of my favorite moments of the night came from the montage tribute to original music from the past. At the end of the montage, all the music cut out and a silhouetted fig- ure rose out of the stage to a familiar-sounding melody. The lights flashed on and it was Eminem performing his Oscar- winning song “Lose Yourself.” There was absolutely no reason for him to be there performing this song 18 years after it came out, but it was still really cool to watch everyone’s reactions, especially Martin Scorsese sitting with his eyes closed.

Without a host, most of the focus of the ceremony was placed on the presenters. Easily the funniest, most entertaining presentation was for Best Visual Effects which featured James Corden and Rebel Wilson in cat costumes. They noted their expertise in the subject due to their involvement in the film adaptation of “Cats.” Also, history was made with one of this year’s presenters. Actor Zack Gottsagen became the first person with Down syndrome to present an Academy Award.

Hopefully this year’s results will urge the public to seek out and watch “Parasite” as well as other foreign films. I can’t remember an awards season that featured a film with this amount of universal praise surrounding it. For once, the internet didn’t go into a frenzy after the Best Picture announcement; instead, it was a celebration. If you haven’t seen it, I can’t recommend it enough. For once the Academy chose the most deserving film, and creative team, to win.