There’s a moment in Duncan Macmillan’s play [https://ums.org/performance/every-brilliant-thing|Every Brilliant Thing] -- a University Musical Society presentation of the U.K.’s Paines Plough and Pentabus Theatre Company production -- that straight-up gave me chills.
For actor/comedian Jonny Donahoe, playing the son of a woman struggling mightily with depression, briefly discusses how suicide tends to beget more suicide, and that the year after Marilyn Monroe killed herself, the rate of suicide in the U.S. rose by 12 percent.
Why did this pronouncement split the air in the Arthur Miller Theatre like a lightning bolt?
One component of the ongoing [https://rasafestival.org|Rasa Festival] can be seen through September 30 at the [http://www.riversidearts.org|Riverside Arts Gallery] in Ypsilanti. [https://www.facebook.com/riverside.arts.center|Riverside Arts Gallery]’s lower-level space houses many large, vibrant, and gestural paintings, and geometric, mandala designs in ritualistic floor art known as [http://www.culturalindia.net/indian-art/rangoli/index.html|rangoli], [http://www.culturalindia.net/indian-art/rangoli/alpana.html|alpana], or [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolam|kolam].
The show, Madhavi: Illusion’s Beer, which is a part of 2017’s [https://www.facebook.com/aksharaartsorg|Rasa Festival] exhibitions, collectively focuses on the Navarasa (Nine Rasas). This can also be translated as “the nine moods,” which are various facets of Indian aesthetics. These facets include love/beauty, laughter, sorrow, anger, heroism/courage, terror/fear, disgust, surprise/wonder, and peace/tranquility.
“It’s a small world,” is a clichéd phrase we sometimes use to convey the less than average spaces between physical existences.
Fellow Ann Arbor residents Sreyashi Dey and Paroma Chatterjee experienced this exact phenomenon upon finding themselves together on a return flight to the States from Kolkata, India last year. Discovering that their shared final destination was Ann Arbor, these strangers turned friends took to discussing the state of Ann Arbor’s arts and culture scene, particularly from a South Asian perspective. Their conversation was informed by a national environment infused with rhetoric that seems to jettison the importance of inclusivity and multicultural awareness.
Agreeing that there was South Asian dance representation in the Ann Arbor area, and the occasional UMS performances featuring South Asian musicians, Dey and Chatterjee brainstormed about filling that gap to feature multiple art forms on a more regular basis. Their brainstorming produced multi-cultural, multi-arts organization [https://akshara-arts.org|Akshara] that seeks to present “art inspired by India.”
One of the arts featured on Wednesday, September 6 was poetry, during Akshara's first annual [https://rasafestival.org|Rasa Festival].
The 2017 season of the Sonic Lunch free concert series wrapped up Thursday with Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers playing to an appreciative crowd.
Over its 10-year history, Sonic Lunch has become a key part of summer in Ann Arbor, and the band provided a laid-back, seasonally appropriate sound, blending jam-band rock and neo-soul with accents of ’70s pop and funk.
Fabulous Fiction Firsts #651
Marin County, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, is one of the swankiest locales in the United States. Yet it is there that this gem of a contemporary western [b:1512974|The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo *] by [a:Stansel, Ian|Ian Stansel] is set.
Brothers Frank and Silas Van Loys, the best horse trainers in [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Geronimo,_California|San Geronimo] and former partners in the ranching business, have been feuding for years: drunken brawls, nasty pranks, poisoning each other's livestock, and they are not above shooting each other, often for nothing more than a Stetson hat.
[https://www.facebook.com/events/118841612089162|The Revolutionists] takes place in 1793, during the French Revolution and the start of the Reign of Terror. But [https://www.theatrenova.org|Theatre Nova's] production of Lauren Gunderson’s play is remarkably fresh and relevant today. The characters’ language and mannerisms are entirely present-day, and the four strong women the play portrays are fighting for freedoms that many women, racial minorities, and the disenfranchised still do not enjoy even today.
Even though The Revolutionists is set during one of the most horrifying periods in history, and it’s clear that not enough has changed about these issues since then, the play is far from a downer.
It is, in fact, mostly a comedy.
And what a premise for a comedy.
When one of the main things you know about someone is that she visited a nude beach, participating fully, with her mother, it is extremely difficult not to imagine that person naked.
You might as well surrender.
On Friday, August 24, [https://www.facebook.com/The52at52Project|Sherry Stanfa-Stanley] came to Literati to read from and answer questions about her book [http://shewritespress.com/portfolio/sherry-stanfa-stanley|Finding My Badass Self: A Year of Truths and Dares]. I had read part of the book; a light and funny read that chronicles her quest to, in her 52nd year, try something new each week. I hadn’t quite expected to be, based on appearances, the youngest person in the room with the exception possibly of bookstore staff and my 13-year-old son. As we waited for the event to begin, I examined Stanfa-Stanley, and overheard her say casually, “No one expects perfection out of me.”
[https://joshuadavismusic.com|Joshua Davis] keeps getting better.
Thursday’s [https://www.facebook.com/soniclunch|Sonic Lunch] show by the longtime Michigan singer-songwriter mixed some old favorites, some cool covers, and some songs from his upcoming album, The Way Back Home. And while the music was great throughout, the new songs were the ones that really stood out.
The musicianship was impeccable. Davis’ guitar playing has become more ambitious over the years, and he handled several intricate solos with aplomb. And, following his successful run on The Voice a couple years back, his singing seems deeper and richer.
John Voelker -- a defense lawyer, prosecuting attorney, and Michigan Supreme Court Justice -- brought legal credibility, unusual frankness, and a down-home Upper Peninsula sensibility to his landmark novel Anatomy of a Murder (under the pen name Robert Travers).
Director Otto Preminger and screenwriter Wendell Mayes brought those qualities to the 1959 film version, shot in and around Marquette. The film was nominated for several Academy Awards including best picture and best actor for James Stewart.
PTD Productions in Ypsilanti is presenting a later stage version by Elihu Winer. Winer’s plodding version eliminates some major characters and key plot points and makes little of the UP atmosphere that is a central feature in Voelker’s novel and Preminger’s stark black and white location photography. This is a wordy, condensed version, though still set in the deeply rural 1950s UP.
Fabulous Fiction Firsts #649
With the melancholic lyrics of one of Japan's top [http://www.natsumelo.com/2011/10/ayumi-ishida-blue-light-yokohama-1968/|singles] threading through the narrative of [b:1512870|Blue Light Yokohama * *], debut novelist [a:Obregón, Nicolás, 1984-|Nicolás Obregón] introduces Inspector Iwata in an atmospheric and hauntingly beautiful series opener. The story was inspired, in part, by an actual [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Setagaya_family_murder|unsolved crime] in 2000.