U-M Dept. of Theatre & Drama's "Romeo and Juliet" reflects the play's pandemic-informed origins

THEATER & DANCE

U-M's spring 2021 production of Romeo and Juliet

Post-modern takes on Shakespeare and especially his Romeo and Juliet feel as common as classic versions. But accompanying the techno music and blue jeans in the University of Michigan's Department of Theatre and Drama's post-modern version are pandemic masks.

Directed by Shakespeare in Detroit's Sam White, this edition of Romeo and Juliet also reflects our current era by playing up the extreme divisiveness between the two main clans, but a pandemic also informed the play when it was written around 1594.

A plague hit London in 1593 and more than 10,000 city residents died. Shakespeare's play features a scene where Friar John tries to tell Romeo about Juliet's faked death, but because the monk was suspected to be from a place infected by the plague, he's forced to quarantine and is unable to deliver his message.

You know what happens next.

The U-M Department of Theatre and Drama put the whole performance on YouTube for free, which you can see below as well as find out about four more free online shows in the school's spring schedule:

IS/LAND's "Lost Constellation (Pt. 1 + II)" explores individuality and interconnectivity through movement, sound, words, and video

THEATER & DANCE

IS/LAND, Lost Constellation

IS/LAND is a Southeast Michigan collective of Asian Pacific Islander American and Asian artists, and the group's "In Isolation Pt. 1 - SYNODIC" was a welcome respite of verdant color and light during January's gray darkness. Filmed and soundtracked by Chien-An Yuan, the video features dancer J Amber Kao moving and gesturing within a tightly prescribed area of Ann Arbor's Saginaw Forest, exploring change in a year where everything in the world was transformed and yet some days it felt like time stood still. (Read the review here.)

Kao and Yuan are back with fellow IS/LAND's members ciale and writer Frances Kai-Hwa Wang for two more performance pieces as part of the Detroit Institute of Art's celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Filmed at the DIA's Detroit Film Theatre, the two works in Lost Constellation explore individuality and interconnectivity:

Friday Five: Dr. Pete Larson and his Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band, Idle Ray, Doogatron, Big Chemical, Panto Collapsar

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 05-07-2021

Friday Five is where we highlight music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features Kenyan-Ann Arbor psych-rock by Dr. Pete Larson and his Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band, indie-rock via Idle Ray, folk-pop from Big Chemical, techno by Doogatron, and avant sounds by Panto Collapsar. 

 

Ten works from "Please Stand By: The 2021 Stamps School Senior Exhibition" that show the collection's creative range

VISUAL ART

Please Stand By: The 2021 Stamps School Senior Exhibition banner

All 91 University of Michigan students featured in Please Stand By: The 2021 Stamps School Senior Exhibition deserve every ray of light that can cut through the darkness of the past 15 months.

You can be their sunshine and check out all the projects by the BA, BFA, and Interarts Performance students from the Stamps School's Integrative Project and Senior Studio over at stampsgrads.org.

But here are 10 pieces of art, animation, books, product designs, software, and songs that caught my eyes and ears as I perused the work of these fresh talents.

Friday Five: Donn Stroud, Same Eyes, Eli Gordon, The Kelseys, Safa Collective

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 04-30-2021

Friday Five is where we highlight music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features an RPG soundtrack by Donn Stroud, synth-pop from Same Eyes, guitar pop from Eli Gordon and The Kelseys, and black metal from Safa Collective. 

 

"The Art of Queer Health Sciences" communicates empathy, not just data

VISUAL ART

The Art of Queer Health Sciences

Clockwise from upper left: Tanaka Chavanduka project manager at the University of Michigan Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities and curator of The Art of Queer Health Sciences poses in front of Cahoots; Shalin Berman, University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design student, poses with their art at Bløm Meadworks; Jenna John, a dual major in art and design and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan, and Coyne Gatto, University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design student, poses in front of their works at Zingerman's Greyline. The exhibition is on view at several downtown Ann Arbor businesses through the first week of May and at queeringart.com. Photos by Eric Bronson/Michigan Photography.

We sat at a table outside Vinology just as a 50-degree cold rain picked up. It was strong enough to send a chill but not blowing sideways enough to chase off two people determined to do something outside of our house even in a less-than-ideal environment where gray was the primary color.

That's when a shock of green veins caught my eye in Vinology's window.

Then the blue-purple river, then yellow and orange and red dashes.

Small splashes of brightness in an otherwise dull landscape.

But it wasn't until I looked up Noelani Conahan's painting later that I learned about the research by Dr. Michelle Munro-Kramer that inspired it:

U-M alumnus William Weese donates considerable Chinese ceramics collection to UMMA

VISUAL ART

Wesse Collection - Blue White Vase

Vase, China, Qing dynasty (18th century), soft past porcelain with blue underglaze and painting, Promised gift of William C. Weese, PG2020.2.10

William Weese just dropped a whole lot of Chinese ceramics on the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

Thankfully, the folks at UMMA aren't as clumsy as this post's opening sentence, and the more than 1,000 ceramics and decorative arts donated by alumnus Weese are fully intact and greatly strengthen the museum's already renowned Asian art collection.

Weese's art donation is valued at $3.35 million and he kicked in another $1.7 million for an endowment covering education, research, and programming with the ceramics.

"I have been studying and collecting Chinese art and ceramics since the early 1980s—the craftsmanship and history of the works has fascinated me my entire life," Weese said in a story published by Michigan News.

The Weese collection is rich with pieces from the Ming and Qing dynasties, and select pieces will be on view in person at UMMA in fall 2021. But the museum has already put together an extensive, feature-rich website that can be viewed now.

Below are a few more images from the Weese collection:

Friday Five: Kawsaki Audio Space compilation, concerts from The 5 PM Series, Dre Dav, Diesel Marine, Charley Cardboard

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 04-23-2021

Friday Five is where we highlight music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features a synthwave comp from Kawsaki Audio Space, classical and jazz concerts from The 5 PM Series, hip-hop from Dre Dav, and instrumental guitar music from Diesel Marine and Charley Cardboard.

 

Friday Five: ZZVAVA, Delphine Delight, Cellar Floor, French Ship, Abusuzit

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 04-16-2021

Friday Five is where we highlight music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features garage rock via ZZAVA, EDM-techno from Delphine Delight, lo-fi hip-hop by Cellar Floor, electronic pop by French Ship, and Ghana jams by Abuszit courtesy Dagoretti Records.

 

Inspired by Little Free Libraries, two miniature art galleries have popped up in Ann Arbor

VISUAL ART

Free Little Art Gallery and Take Art Leave Art

Left: Marie McMahon Parmer stands in front of her Free Little Art Gallery. Photo from Instagram.
Right: Some of the recent items at Take Art Leave Art. Photo by Shawn Bungo via Instagram.

The trend of placing a Little Free Library in front of your home/school/business and filling it with books is such a feel-good story—barren boxes or those filled with water-stained dregs from someone's basement notwithstanding—that it's surprising variations on this haven't happened: Canned Goods Rejected by Your Children Cupboard, Clothes That Your Kids Wore Once and Then Never Grabbed From the Bottom of Their Dresser Drawers Boutique, Sporting Goods I Thought I Could Sell for More Than I Was Offered Shoppe.

But Pittsfield Township's Shawn Bungo and Ann Arbor's Marie McMahon Parmer recently launched clever variations on the Little Library ideal by offering free art.