Cast gives strong performance in U-M’s "Blood at the Root"

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High school is a tough time in anyone’s life. It’s a time when we invent ourselves several times over and never get it quite right. Throw some deep racial tension into the mix and things can become explosive.

In 2006, a white student at Jena High School in Jena, La., was beaten by six black students. The beating followed a racially charged week. A new black student at the high school dared to sit under a shade tree unofficially reserved for whites only. The next day, three nooses were hung from the tree. More incidents followed, including a damaging fire at the school. The six students were arrested and initially charged with attempted second-degree murder, later reduced to aggravated battery. The events led to a protest against what some thought were excessive and discriminatory treatment of the six students.

Playwright Dominique Morisseau uses these events for [http://pulp.aadl.org/node/369043|Blood at the Root], a fictional story that explores how the young students, black and white, react to these events and how they struggle to define themselves beyond the broad stereotypes they’ve been assigned. The play deals with the protests, but Morisseau, who is black, is more interested in the emotional impact of these events on young adults trying to find themselves.

Orchestrated Mahavishnu: John McLaughlin & Co. at Michigan Theater

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Sphinx Virtuosi by Kevin Kennedy

Jimmy Herring (left in both photos) played a set with his new band, The Invisible Whip, before joining John McLaughlin and The 4th Dimension to fire up some Mahavishnu Orchestra burners. Photos by Kim Allegrezza/Mistry Grove Photography (left) and Ina McLaughlin (right).

John McLaughlin’s farewell tour bus pulled into Ann Arbor on Wednesday night and delivered the goods with a program titled Mahavishnu Revisited. McLaughlin was backed by The 4th Dimension for most of the show, with openers Jimmy Herring and The Invisible Whip joining them on stage at the Michigan Theater for a symphony of sound dedicated to exploring the music of Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Pop-Up Patriarchy: "WORLD LEADERS" exhibition by Chanel Von Habsburg-Lothringen

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Chanel Von Habsburg-Lothringen, Skin suits and saddle shoes makes a mamma want to rage, 2017, inkjet print on vinyl banner

Chanel Von Habsburg-Lothringen, Skin suits and saddle shoes makes a mamma want to rage, 2017, inkjet print on vinyl banner.

The University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities’ pop-up exhibition [https://lsa.umich.edu/humanities/news-events/all-events.detail.html/421…|WORLD LEADERS] showcases the work of photographer [http://www.chanelvonhabsburglothringen.com|Chanel Von Habsburg-Lothringen]. She has an MFA in photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BA in social science and history of art from the University of Michigan. Currently based in Los Angeles, Von Habsburg-Lothringen has curated projects at Los Angeles Museum of Art, Detroit Design Festival, the Mike Kelley Mobile Homestead, and Cranbrook Museum of Art.

The exhibit consists of one large photograph, printed on a vinyl banner, and hung on the back wall of the common room, adjacent to three small, framed still-life photographs of presumably designer clothing. The exhibition announcement states that Von Habsburg-Lothringen’s newest series, Conditions, “continues to examine the position of the woman in neo-liberal society as both object and agent. It reflects on the slippage between aspiration and desperation in the face of the vanishing American Dream.”

Catching a Classic: "Casablanca" is 75 & everybody has seen it ... right?

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[http://www.aadl.org/catalog/search/title/casablanca?search_format=u%7Cg…] is 75 years old.

I was invited to see the film at Saline's extra fancy [http://www.emagine-entertainment.com/locations/saline|Emagine] movie theater, with its leather recliners and cafeteria-style concessions. Casablanca is a beloved favorite of the person who invited me, and despite watching it numerous times, he was looking forward to seeing the film on the big screen.

I, on the other hand, was embarrassed by my reaction to his invitation. A normal person, a person with better manners would have answered the invitation with a polite "yes" or a polite "no." Instead, I said, “I bet I could write about it from the perspective of a first-time viewer.”

It’s the silly season at PTD Productions with "Farce of Nature"

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PTD Productions, Farce of Nature

PTD Productions' Farce of Nature offers more ham than Easter dinner.

Hee-haw! Rural comedy is still alive, kicking, and knee slapping in the PTD production of [https://www.ptdproductions.com/farce-of-nature|Farce of Nature].

In a note to the audience, directors Janet Rich and Dennis Platte write, “We wish for you to take time to set aside the troubles of the world, to smile, and to be silly.”

The directors keep the silliness moving along at a quick pace and have encouraged the cast to bring on the ham.

Personal View of a National Tragedy: Alexandra Zapruder's "Twenty-Six Seconds"

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Alexandra Zapruder, Twenty-Six Seconds

In Twenty-Six Seconds, Alexandra Zapruder tells the tale of her grandfather Abraham's famous film of the President Kennedy assisination. Author photo by Linda Fittante.

“My grandfather came to America hell-bent on becoming an American.” --Alexandra Zapruder

[https://alexandrazapruder.com|Alexandra Zapruder]’s [http://www.aadl.org/catalog/record/1501830|Twenty-Six Seconds] tells the story of the 26-second home video, recorded by her grandfather Abraham, that came to be known as the Zapruder film, the one video that showed President Kennedy’s assassination. On Wednesday, Nov. 7, Zapruder spoke at the Ann Arbor District Library about her book to an audience of about 80.

[https://www.facebook.com/Alexandra-Zapruder-241030009427770|Zapruder] never thought that she would write this book. She grew up in Washington, D.C., in a family that rarely talked about the film. She said that she is often asked whether the film was taboo or somehow a secret in her household. “It wasn’t that,” she said.

Common Language: Zakir Hussain's Crosscurrents at Michigan Theater

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Shafaat Khan at The Ark

Fabulous fusion: Zakir Hussain ran through an 11-song set that featured all sorts of musical linguistics. Hussain photo by Susana Millman; Michigan Theater marquee by Christopher Porter

Tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain mixes Indian music and jazz in his band Crosscurrents. And he doesn't mind if you call it the "f" word.

"First, let’s address the word 'fusion,'" he said in an interview before Crosscurrents' Wednesday, Nov. 1., concert at the Michigan Theater, [https://ums.org/performance/zakir-hussain-dave-holland|courtesy of UMS]. "Fusion is not new. It is just a word needed by people to call music whereas that music speaks one unified language. The media is conscious of it now. Ravi Shankar and George Harrison ("[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GRGqiT1x6M|Norwegian Wood]") contributed to making musical interactions mainstream. Fusion is not unusual. Now, it’s just more visible, advertised, and focused."

The sold-out concert in jam-packed downtown Ann Arbor witnessed what Hussain called the "universal voice of interaction," where "there are neither borders nor language issues. ... In 'hybrid' forms of music, a meeting is inevitable because the structure of Indian classical and jazz music, for example, is improvisation."

Just Say Yes! ypsiGLOW is all about the affirmative

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ypsiGLOW 2017

WonderFool organized a month of creative workshops, which culminated in the second annual street party ypsiGLOW on Oct. 27. Photos by Sherlonya Turner.

It turns out that if you make a large, wave-shaped luminary that complements your shiny green mermaid costume, a lot of people are going to stop you and ask whether you’ll take a picture with them.

When you set out specifically to participate in a unique community event, sometimes, you just say, "Yes."

It was a luminary-making workshop that made me add [https://wonderfoolproductions.org/ypsiglow|ypsiGlow] to my calendar. In the weeks leading up to the downtown Ypsilanti light-up dance party, [https://wonderfoolproductions.org|Wonderfool Productions] hosted drop-in GLOWorkshops at the [https://www.riversidearts.org|Riverside Arts Center] where community members were invited to come make luminaries and or costumes for the Oct. 27 event.

A sucker for learning new skills, I had attended one of the workshops simply interested in learning how to make a luminary. One of the artists asked me what I wanted to make as I began familiarizing myself with the materials and observing other workshop attendees. That’s when I told her; it was the first "yes" of this experience.

Photographer Nina Hauser dreams of India in her new WSG Gallery show

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Nina Hauser, Expressing the Inexpressible

Nina Hauser's Expressing the Inexpressible, part of The Real World Is Not the Only World -- India Dreams at WSG Gallery.

The last time we saw [http://ninaehauser.com|Nina Hauser]’s iPhone photography at the WSG Gallery was in May 2013. I was keenly struck at that time how her display illustrated the fundamental principle that the human element cannot be taken out of art irrespective of the technology used to make the work. The 22 photographs in that exhibit were marked by a remarkable technique and skill -- with both artful elements reflecting the “eye” implicit in the photographic image.

Hauser’s current exhibit at that same gallery, The Real World Is Not the Only World -- India Dreams, finds this local photographer immersed in her fascination with the culture of the Asian subcontinent -- and certainly sufficiently enough as to revolutionize her aesthetic.

Concerti Per Venti: Sphinx Virtuosi at Rackham Auditorium

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Sphinx Virtuosi by Kevin Kennedy

Sphinx Virtuosi is comprised of 18 of the top black and Latinx classical soloists in the country. Photo by Kevin Kennedy.

Rackham Auditorium hosted and UMS presented the gifted and absorbing chamber music ensemble [http://www.sphinxmusic.org/sphinx-virtuosi|Sphinx Virtuosi] on Sunday afternoon as part of the group’s 20th-anniversary tour.

Based in Detroit, the [http://www.sphinxmusic.org|Sphinx Organization] is committed to promoting the transformative power of the arts through diversity and inclusion. The Sphinx Virtuosi ensemble is comprised of 18 of the top black and Latinx classical soloists in the country, all of whom are alumni of the prestigious Sphinx Competition that the organization holds annually in Detroit.

As Jessie Montgomery, the current concertmaster of the Virtuosi, noted during Sunday’s concert, another key priority of the Sphinx Organization is to support new work by composers of color, whose voices which are vastly underrepresented (accounting for barely 1% of the classical canon, according to Montgomery).