Action Pain-ing: The ghost of painter Jackson Pollock is a conflicted priest's confidant in Theatre NOVA's "SPLATTERED!"
Conventional wisdom teaches us that “art heals,” but not usually via advice from a long-dead painter who suddenly reappears near one of his most famous works.
Nonetheless, this exact situation stands at the heart of Theatre NOVA's world-premiere production of SPLATTERED! by Hal Davis and Carla Milarch, directed by Briana O’Neal.
Set inside New York’s Museum of Modern Art, priest-in-training Justin (Artun Kircali) has snuck away from a wedding reception, with a champagne bottle in hand, to try and pull himself together. He’s just presided over the wedding of his cousin and best friend, Astrid (Marie Muhammad), but we initially don’t know why he’s drinking, cursing, and frantically praying in this gallery while confronting Jackson Pollock’s splatter painting “One: Number 31, 1950.”
But he’s not alone for long: Astrid soon finds him and, eventually, Justin’s old flame Sylvie (Allison Megroet) does, too. Yet it’s the surprise appearance of Pollock’s ghost (Andrew Huff) that provides Justin with an opportunity to unpack the unwieldy emotional baggage he’s carrying, which makes him reconsider his life choices and future.
SPLATTERED! runs a little over an hour, and other than two very brief Sylvie flashbacks, it unfolds in real time and the audience must work hard to piece together what’s happened between these characters in the past. During one early moment of confusion, I had initially guessed that Justin had been hopelessly pining for Astrid. Despite those initial thoughts, this short play doesn’t feel as fleeting as one might expect.
BACKYARD BRAINS' GREG GAGE AND TIM MARZULLO HELP PEOPLE EXPLORE NEUROSCIENCE IN THEIR NEW BOOK, "How Your Brain Works"
Have you ever wondered how sleep can improve memory? Or considered how your eyes perceive color? It turns out that you do not have to be a degreed scientist or even work in a lab to find out!
These questions all pertain to neuroscience, and it is possible to research them yourself by conducting the experiments in neuroscientists Greg Gage and Tim Marzullo’s new book, How Your Brain Works. Gage and Marzullo, the founders of Backyard Brains in Ann Arbor, make neuroscience available to everyone via more than 45 at-home tests outlined in their manual. The chapters keep the reader on the edge of their seat with the questions that the authors ask and the methods through which they answer them. As the two neuroscientists write, “Scientific discoveries can happen anywhere.” Plus, it is not only science – Gage and Marzullo offer humor alongside the science via illustrative drawings.
Neuroscience has long been an expensive endeavor, but tools that appeared in the early 2000s changed the landscape and brought neuroscience out of institutions and into anyone’s hands, Gage and Marzullo write. The premise of How Your Brain Works hinges on these technologies:
Friday Five: Henri Bardot, The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, The Evil Doings of an Intergalactic Skeleton, Jib Kidder, Gvmmy
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features delicate dream-folk by Henri Bardot, instrumental prog-metal by The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, altered tuning computer music by The Evil Doings of an Intergalactic Skeleton, tweaked tunes by Jib Kidder, and a brief techno-house jam by Gvmmy.
Sites and Sound: The Regenerate! Orchestra aims to fill the Ypsilanti Freighthouse with community-made music
The Ypsilanti Freighthouse was built in 1878 to host train-bound goods.
The ensemble will perform four or five works created by J. Clay Gonzalez, a composer who leads the orchestra. All of the music is improvisational to a degree and arranged specifically for the unique ensemble of 85 musicians, nonmusicians, and children that Regenerate! assembled for this event.
To accommodate the personnel's varied skill sets, and to achieve the freely structured sound that typifies Regenerate! Orchestra's aesthetic goals, Gonzalez prepares intricate sets of guidelines and instructions for each performer. These range from traditional music notation to text and images demonstrating how someone may make noise with a piece of paper, egg shaker, or found object. Flutists Michael Avitabile and Justine Sedkey, both University of Michigan alumni, will also appear as soloists for a new concerto-like composition.
All of the pieces in this concert were created specifically with the Freighthouse in mind.
“We will present a large number of musicians spread out in the 360-degree field and they will create these wild soundscapes that a lot of people will find immersive," Gonzalez says. “During the big piece, the audience will be invited to move throughout the space."
The sound of countless bells, gentle and cloudlike, opened Los Angeles-based chamber ensemble Wild Up’s presentation of Julius Eastman’s Feminine in Ann Arbor’s Rackham Auditorium on the afternoon of Sunday, April 17, as part of UMS’s 2022-23 season.
The bell choir—made up of Wild Up’s members, local musicians, and students from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance—lined the auditorium’s semicircular back. Set against the room’s painted ceiling, in which a darkening night sky extends outward from an intricately designed sun centered above the stage, the bells became stars. Their ringing emerged from darkness once the hall lights dimmed, and the enveloping sound welcomed the gathered concertgoers to an astonishing performance.
Julius Eastman (1940-1990) was a gay, African-American composer and performer whose career involved collaborations with titanic figures in 20th-century classical music such as Peter Maxwell Davies, John Cage, Meredith Monk, Morton Feldman, and others. Yet Eastman struggled to find sustained support from his colleagues and the musical institutions with which he interacted. When he died in 1990, it took eight months for a public notice of his passing to be published, and his legacy as a composer faced similar precarity.
Wild Up is an international leader in the contemporary effort to revive, record, and perform Eastman’s compositions. The ensemble's performance on Sunday confirmed all the praise it has received for the Julius Eastman Anthology project it launched four years ago.
MLive.com staff writer Samuel Dodge wrote a wonderful obituary for the beloved educator, director, wife, and mother:
Take a Leap: Fifth Wall's new abstract chamber-rock opera "The Precipice" debuts at Riverside Arts in Ypsilanti
Our lives are not static.
We go through changes, we ask questions.
What does leaving home involve? What's it like to move on from relationships? What does any life change entail?
Fifth Wall Performing Arts, a multidisciplinary troupe that does experimental musical theater, tackles questions like these in Karl Ronneburg‘s The Precipice.
Karl, who uses only his first name professionally, created a collage, woven from journal entries, poems, letters to friends, music, and voice memos—his own and those of Grey Rose Grant—to create the abstract chamber-rock opera.
Audiences at Riverside Arts in Ypsilanti on April 29 and 30 will witness the world premiere of The Precipice before the company brings the piece to New York City.
For me, it’s telling that the most moving moment of the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance’s production of Rent on April 15 came via a curtain call reprise of the show’s iconic song, “Seasons of Love.”
Having taken their bows, the performers slowly clustered together in the middle of the stage, and you could palpably feel the camaraderie among them. That camaraderie didn’t radiate from their characters, but from their real-life experiences as college students, including graduating seniors, who’ve grown close while training and building on shows like this one. The warmth coming from that stage made my hair stand on end.
And in keeping with the program’s esteemed national reputation, the students had hit their marks and their notes (well, most of them) all evening. So why exactly did this polished production feel … well, too buttoned up and tame?
When Martin Thoburn and Donald Harrison launched the Independent Film Festival Ypsilanti (iFFY) in 2020, they offered cinema fans socially distanced, drive-in-style screenings and a momentary reprieve from the pandemic, which had shuttered movie theaters across the country.
Three years later—and one year after finding a new home at the Riverside Arts Center—iFFY is solidifying its spot on the local film scene with an ambitious scope and schedule, running April 19-23.
"There's also double the amount of programming. An extra day-and-a-half," said Micah Vanderhoof, iFFY operations manager and a University of Michigan alum with a bachelor's degree in screen arts and cultures who previously worked as a programmer for the Portland International Film Festival.
"Michigan-ish," a competitive program of a dozen short films produced in and around the region, kicks off the fest on Wednesday, April 19 at 7:30 pm, followed by an after-party at Ziggy's featuring DJ sets and decorations by House of Jealous Lovers.
Friday Five: The Solution, Telesonic 9000, Saturday's Cab Ride Home, Cat Lung, Dagoretti Records compilation
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features soul-rock by The Solution, synth-pop by Telesonic 9000, indie rock by Saturday's Cab Ride Home, prog by Cat Lung, and a Dagoretti Records compilation of vintage Kenyan nyatiti music.