They Did It: Nearly 4,000 Rosies riveted down the world record


Rosie the Riveter

A gathering of 3,755 Rosie the Riveters in Ypsilanti smashed the previous record of 2,229. Photo by Sherlonya Turner.

I was on a bike ride with a friend when he told me about the Saturday, Oct. 14, attempt to reclaim the Guinness World Record for the biggest gathering of women dressed as Rosie the Riveter. My knee-jerk response was that this wasn’t my scene. I’m not a fan of crowds, and more specifically, a bunch of women coming together at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center to dress up like Rosie the Riveter was definitely not my scene.

Rosie the Riveter is a representation of the women who worked in factories during World War II to support the war effort. The character is based on several people, including Rose Will Monroe, who worked as a riveter at Ypsilanti's Willow Run Aircraft Factory building B-24 bombers. But Rosie's didn’t resonate with me personally. I come from Southern black stock, and the women I am descended from always did some sort of work, primarily domestic, outside of their homes, paid or otherwise. Also, it’s in my nature to take icons and popular narratives and complicate them; it’s what I was taught as a history student, and it has become second nature. I didn’t think that there was anything here for me.

However, my friend’s prompting had given rise to a question, “Who are these women. Whose scene is this?”

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Camus' leaden "L’Etat de siège" is a slog even for the great Théâtre de la Ville


L’Etat de siège by Théâtre de la Ville

Director Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota and Théâtre de la Ville’s take on L’Etat de siège is a feast for the eyes, but not much can be done about Albert Camus’ ham-fisted postwar tale.

I once spent a summer reading just about everything Albert Camus wrote. Not exactly beach reading, I know -- I jokingly referred to it as “my crazy summer” -- but I’d been hired to write the preface of a book about the French writer’s work, so I dove in.

I hadn’t counted Camus' seldom-produced 1948 play L’Etat de siège (State of Siege) among my favorites of his writings, but I was intrigued that Théâtre de la Ville was staging it. Having seen previous Théâtre de la Ville productions courtesy of University Musical Society (UMS), including Ionesco’s Rhinoceros in 2012 and Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author in 2014, I was hopeful the Parisian company's past lavish renderings of absurdist classics would nonetheless find a way make Siege sing.

And yes, Theatre de la Ville’s take on Siege at the Power Center on Friday and Saturday looked slick and offered some truly inspired moments of stagecraft, but Camus’ heavy-handed political allegory still ended up feeling pretty leaden.

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After threatening retirement, folk legend Tom Paxton rambled back to The Ark


Tom Paxton

Tom Paxton.

When Tom Paxton played The Ark two years ago as one of the final stops on what was advertised as his national farewell tour, it was hard to believe that he’d really retire. Yes, he had just turned 78, had been writing and performing his songs for nearly 60 of those years, and had earned the right to get off the road. But he still looked like he was having a good old time on stage, his voice sounded great, his guitar playing was as clean and crisp as ever, and he had a new CD of his recent songs.

Yes, he did say he was sick of airports, but was that reason enough to stop touring? Apparently not.

Like the Energizer Bunny, Paxton has kept going and he returned to The Ark again on October 13 with a couple of new collaborators, The Don Juans, some new songs, and even plans for the foreseeable future.

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U-M’s “One Hit Wonder” delivers with an energetic pop tart


One Hit Wonder

One Hit Wonder's charm isn't from its tried-and-true plot; it's from the cast's energetically delivered pop songs that everybody knows. Photo courtesy U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

As Paul Simon once noted, “It’s every generation throws a hero up the pop charts.” Sadly, many of them do not have as long and productive a career as Paul Simon. Many of them are “one hit wonders” but their single contribution to the charts linger on.

The University of Michigan Musical Theatre Department is presenting the world premiere of One Hit Wonder, an energetic musical that gives the university students a chance to workshop an original musical that is tailor-made for a young cast and audience on one hand and for a nostalgic older audience with a taste for 1980s-style pop music .

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Technological Delineation: "Moving Image: Portraiture" at UMMA


Towards An Architect by Hannu Karjalainen at UMMA

Hannu Karjalainen, Towards an Architect, 2010, HD video, edition of 2/5+2AP. Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul. Photo courtesy of Galerie Nikolaus Ruzicska and Hannu Karjalainen.

Moving Image: Portraiture at the University of Michigan Museum of Art aims to address portraiture through the lens of contemporary media. As the third and final component of a series drawn from the Borusan Contemporary collection in Istanbul, including Moving Image: Landscape and Moving Image: Performance, each of the three artists included in this small exhibition uses technology to convey complex ideas, not only about the history of portraiture and representation but how technology can change our ideas of what constitutes portraiture.

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To Not Be Me All the Time: Jeffrey Eugenides at the Michigan Union


Jeffrey Eugenides

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jeffrey Eugenides told the Rogel Ballroom crowd, "I’ve never really gotten over being a teenager."

Michigan native Jeffrey Eugenides told the crowd at the Michigan Union's Rogel Ballroom on Sunday that he never set out to be a regionalist. His three novels, The Virgin Suicides, Middlesex, and The Marriage Plot, all revolve around characters from Detroit in their youth. Eugenides said that his time growing up in Detroit still makes up some of his most vivid memories, and that writing about something so innate to himself just “makes my job easier.”

Eugenides was joined by Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Gold Fame Citrus, to discuss his recently published first book of short stories, Fresh Complaint. The collection contains 10 stories, including two that relate to his previous novels. One is an outtake from Pulitzer Prize-winning Middlesex and another, “Airmail,” is made up of letters written by Mitchell, the main character in The Marriage Plot.

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Crooked Insights: Pod Save America at the Michigan Theater


Pod Save America at the Michigan Theater

Pod Save America pulled no porogressive punches at the Michigan Theater on Friday. Photo by Sherlonya Turner.

I am one of the people who couldn’t get enough of political podcasts during the 2016 presidential election. That is how I found my way to the podcast Keepin’ It 1600, hosted by Washington insiders Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, Jon Lovett, and Daniel Pfeiffer.

In January 2017, the hosts of that show started Pod Save America, a show about current United States politics and it impacts on the American people as a part of Crooked Media, their network that now hosts five podcasts and written work from several contributors. Through their work, they hope to inform people from their progressive point of view about the current political landscape while entertaining their audience and inspiring them to become personally involved in the political process.

Based on the crowd outside of the Michigan Theater on Friday, Oct. 6, the Pod Save America team inspired people to leave the comfort of their homes to see the foursome in action.

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Survival in the Straits: Tiya Miles, "The Dawn of Detroit" at Literati


jessica Care moore

Tiya Miles' The Dawn of Detroit is about the perseverance of enslaved indigenous and African people.

On Monday, Oct. 7, author and University of Michigan professor Tiya Miles visited Literati Bookstore to discuss her new book, The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits. This book is an examination of Detroit’s early days and seeks to discuss an element of the city’s history that isn’t often discussed. Miles’ work aims to locate people of color in Detroit’s history, adding them to a narrative that is often told chiefly as the stories of European settlers.

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Purple Rose Theatre's "God of Carnage" is stuffed with delicious comic chaos


God of Carnage at Purple Rose Theatre; photo by Sean Carter

Left to right: Paul Stroili, Kate Thomsen, and Rusty Mewha star in the Tony Award-winning God of Carnage at Purple Rose Theatre. Photo by Sean Carter.

The only real carnage in God of Carnage happens entirely offstage, but the knock-down, drag-out battle of social mores that takes place more than earns the play its comically dramatic title. Yasmina Reza's 2009 Tony Award-winning play, which runs through Dec. 16 at the Purple Rose Theatre, is 70 minutes of one-act, real-time comic chaos as two married couples attempt to reconcile after their sons get into a playground fight.

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Beautiful Blend: Emerson and Calidore String Quartets at Rackham


Emerson and Calidore String Quartets at Rackham

The legendary Emerson String Quartet (above) was joined by the Calidore String Quartets at Rackham Auditorium for octet performances in addition to their usual foursomes. Photo by Lisa Mazzucco.

Classical music fans clapped in high anticipation as the Emerson String Quartet walked onstage at Rackham Auditorium for its UMS concert on Thursday, Oct. 5. But it wasn't just the four-decade-old Emerson ensemble for which the audience was excited; fans were also eager to hear the Calidore String Quartet, a newer ensemble that hooked up with its mentor group for this concert, including performing as a blended octet.

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