University Productions announces 2020 virtual season of theater for December

THEATER & DANCE

During the pandemic, music has found its way: making songs in home studios, livestreams, and even socially distanced concerts have been a regular part of the past eight months.

Visual arts have also slowly come back in the form of virtual gallery shows, outdoor murals, and some staggered, limited-capacity crowds entering museums.

But theater, with its heavy reliance on casts and crew working in close proximity, has really struggled since Covid ravaged the world.

Locally, Ann Arbor's Theatre NOVA and Ypsilanti’s Neighborhood Theatre Group did Zoom theater festivals in October, and Ann Arbor Civic Theatre and Dexter Community Players did two days of outdoor performances of original Halloween-themed plays on October 30 and 31 at Dominos' Petting Farm.

But the move to indoor productions on a slightly larger scale is about to swing back into action thanks to University Productions' virtual season, which will run in December on U-M's School of Music, Theatre, and Dance YouTube site and one premiere on SMTD's Facebook page.

All the performances will be available to view online for free, albeit for a limited time, and the six shows will feature four from Departments of Musical Theatre and Theatre & Drama and two from the University Opera Theatre. The season was filmed throughout this semester with numerous safety protocols in place. 

With most University of Michigan students being asked to stay home for the winter semester, this might be our last chance for a while to take in some quality theater from the SMTD crews.

Here's the lineup with descriptive text provided by University Productions:

Friday Five: Louis Picasso & The Gallery, Sean Curtis Patrick, Doogatron, Cautious Hearts, Junk Magic

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five, November 6, 2020

Friday Five is where we celebrate new and recent music by Washtenaw County-associated artists.

This week we feature live hip-hop with a full band from Louis Picasso & The Gallery, ambient guitar excursions from Sean Curtis Patrick, leftfield techno from Doogatron, indie rock from Cautious Hearts, and experimental jazztronica from Junk Magic. 

Ki5 loops his voice to produce sunny songs in perfect harmony

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Ki5

Ki5 with the Huron River mic check. Photo courtesy of the artist.

During dark times, some of us turn to dark music. I've pretty much turned into an anarcho-punk goth who listens to heavy metal and gangster rap in my bedroom.

But if you're the type of person who needs music that will bring light to your life right now, Kyler Wilkins offers a luminous intensity that could guide ships in the night.

Recording as Ki5, this Ann Arbor native layers his vocals using BOSS looping and harmonizing pedals to create a one-man a capella group. Since November 2019, Ki5 has released three singles and one EP, and he provided vocals on the title track of Free From All the Walls, the debut release by the new Ann Arbor electronica project Mirror Monster. Ki5's most recent single is the earnest, inspirational, R&B-soaked "Hallelu," but he also just put out a video for his bright summer song "Sunny Days."

I emailed with Wilkins about his musical background, approach to songwriting, and the gear he uses to create his joyous music.

Writing Through It: WCC Poetry Club releases the "Going Viral: Pandemic and Protest" anthology

WRITTEN WORD

WCC Poetry Club's anthology Going Viral: Pandemic and Protest

During the past eight months, people have found different ways to cope with the pandemic and politics, from meditation to activism.

Other people, like me, like to punch a heavy bag covered in effigies of my enemies. (I can't remember what the kid looked like who roughed me up in fifth grade, but trust that his crudely drawn face is on there and I made him look like Jabba the Hut, mostly due to my terrible drawing abilities; sorry, dude.)

But the folks in Washtenaw Community College's poetry club turned to writing to process their feelings, and the group recently released its latest anthology.

Going Viral: Pandemic and Protest features work from WCC students, faculty, staff, and alumni, all written between April and September of this year. The 60-page ebook collection, edited by WCC professor Tom Zimmerman, is free and can be acquired as a digital version or as a PDF:

Bootleg Washtenaw: Vulfpeck live at The Blind Pig, April 24, 2015 (plus a new LP)

MUSIC BOOTLEG WASHTENAW

Vulfpeck at The Blind Pig, 2015

An occasional series highlighting live recordings made in Washtenaw County.

Vulfpeck began in 2011 as students in U-M's school of music. Last year the band sold out Madison Square Garden, which you can watch here.

Between those extremes, the jammy funk band regularly played The Blind Pig, and the enthusiastic live-music guy known as DSA was there to document it with five cameras and a multitrack recording direct from the soundboard. The gig sounds and looks great, and Vulfpeck, as ever, has a lot of fun.

Now based in Los Angeles and sundry other locales, Vulfpeck also released a new album, The Joy of Music, the Job of Real Estate, on October 2020.

Check out The Blind Pig concert and stream The Joy of Music, the Job of Real Estate below:

Friday Five: Athletic Mic League, Mirror Monster, Kawsaki, Cyrano Jones, and Stormy Chromer

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five, October 30, 2020

Friday Five is where we celebrate new and recent music by Washtenaw County artists.

This week we feature hip-hop from Athletic Mic League, electronica by Mirror Monster and Kawsaki, fuzz-rock courtesy of Cyrano Jones, and original jams via Stormy Chromer. 

U-M Professor Stephen Rush debuts new choral work in the Quincy Mine

MUSIC

Quincy Iron Mine

On October 18, 2019, Stephen Rush mined the depths of his artistry to create the Invisible Quartet. The University of Michigan professor of performing arts technology debuted this new project in the Quincy Mine, in the Upper Peninsula town of Hancock, as part of a concert organized by Michigan Tech. But unless you lived up there, you couldn't see the concert; it wasn't streamed or recorded (or if it was, it hasn't been posted).

Because of Covid, this year's Music in the Mine concert on October 18 was a virtual event, which means not only was it livestreamed, it was archived on the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts
Visual and Performing Arts' YouTube channel.  

Works by six composers, including John Cage, were performed at the concert—you can read the program to find out more—but since we're all about Washtenaw creatives here at Pulp, we'll focus on Rush's piece, "Tattiriya Upanishad (excerpt)*."

For many years, Rush has been studied Indian music, and led trips to the country for his students, and the piece he debuted in the mine is based on the Hindu sacred text Upanishads. Dressed in hardhats and worker jumpsuits, the 24-voice conScience: Michigan Tech Chamber Singers sang the song of joy that Rush used as his inspiration for the piece. As he describes in the concert program:

The Genesis of "Abiro": Ben Willis and Dr. Pete Larson discuss the new animated video for the Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band

MUSIC FILM & VIDEO

Screenshot from the Abiro music video animation

 
A still from Ben Willis' animated video for Dr. Pete Larson and His Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band's song "Abiro."

This post contains mature content.

In Genesis 3:5, the snake convinced Eve to eat forbidden fruit: "your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."

Then God punished the snake for telling the truth and sharing the knowledge. 

But according to Larson 10:27:2020, a different story is told: And the man said of the serpent, "Snakes are just really cool."

And rather than kill the serpent, Dr. Pete Larson celebrated it.

He asked Detroit bassist and illustrator Ben Willis to animate a video featuring the slinky reptiles for "Abiro," a song off last summer's radiant, joyful, self-titled album by Dr. Pete Larson and His Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band, which mixes hypnotic Kenyan folk music with psychedelic rock. 

"There's not a culture on the planet—at least in temperate zones—that doesn't include snakes in its legends and folklore," said Larson, an epidemiologist with the University of Michigan who also runs the Dagoretti Records label. "Snakes are just this odd, mythical, and fantastic animal that's associated with evil and malevolence, but actually plays an incredibly important role in maintaining the balance of ecologies around the world."

Ann Arbor Civic Theatre and Dexter Community Players' Halloween Drive aims to scare you with good theater

THEATER & DANCE PREVIEW

Halloween Drive

Skeleton dance photo courtesy of Ann Arbor Civic Theatre and Dexter Community Players.

While most of us mourn the loss of traditional Halloween celebrations this year—scary movie marathons at home notwithstanding—the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre and Dexter Community Players decided to do something about it.

The two troupes, who haven't been able to perform in front of audiences since the pandemic started, will have a slow-rolling crowd for their shows on October 30 and 31 at The Petting Farm at Domino's Farm.

Halloween Drive features three spooky plays written by Brodie H. Brockie and produced by Patty Mazzola that people can watch as they cruise along a path in their cars at the farm, including:

Friday Five: Prhyme Rhyme Boss, Lily Talmers, The Portingales, The DayNites, and JDSY

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five, October 23, 2020

Friday Five is where we celebrate new and recent music by Washtenaw County artists.

This week we feature rapper Prhyme Rhyme Boss, jazz-tinged singer-songwriter Lily Talmers, Celtic-y folk from The Portingales, neo-R&B by The DayNites, and electronic weirdness courtesy JDSY.