IN ARTS: The Builders Association, a New York theater production company, does exactly what its name implies at the beginning of its production of “House/Divided”: it builds a house. From there it proceeds to rearrange, remodel, deconstruct, reconstruct and ultimately obliterate the house in more ways than one.
And we’re back! Back to stuffing our noses in books and our mouths with late night Moe’s, scribbling illegible notes while listening to fast-talking professors, never getting enough sleep….
Welcome back and Happy New Year, fellow Jumbos!
Though being back at Tufts warrants preparing yourself mentally for all that spring semester is going to throw at you, it’s also incredibly nice to curl up with some Hodgdon hot chocolate for therapy sessions with your roommate in your cramped yet comforting dorm room. Even though winter break was very much needed, I certainly missed Tufts more than I thought I would. I even missed the consistently late Joey and the reassuring notion that I would probably lose feeling in my hands sometime during the chilling day. iSIS, however, will never reap the benefits of my adoration.
My usual routine was thrown to the wayside during break, seeing as I spent most of my time living out of my suitcase: Los Angeles to Albuquerque, Albuquerque to Cancun, Cancun back to Albuquerque. I spent a good deal of my time waiting in security lines and making sure my passport was inseparable from my person. However, through all the airports and miscellaneous traveling woes, I managed to find time to squeeze a smidge of theatre in. With auditions looming over me, I’ve read a few plays in the search for audition material. I had the chance to see some pretty magnificent theatre on the West Coast and even was able to help with auditions for the theatre company I used to work for. I made a point of heading back to my high school and walking around backstage, remembering the endless memories of doing homework in my technical director’s office and eating early morning bagels during thespian meetings. It’s humbling to remind myself that this is where sixth grade Blair took a chance and auditioned for West Side Story. Not that I got in, but the next year, my luck proved a little better with Urinetown. Of course, my appreciation and passion for theatre has changed immensely since I was twelve, but going home reminded me again why I decided to declare my major so early and reaffirmed that I was making the right decision.
Winter break has been quite chill. Well, not literally chill considering all the places I visited during the last month were quite warm in comparison to the rest of the country (my condolences to those who had to live through the infamous Polar Vortex). Now, the only tan I’ll be getting is from the brightness of my computer screen while I struggle to finish a paper at some ungodly hour of the night. Regardless, I’m excited to see what this next semester will bring.
And here we go again. This time, however, there’s half the rehearsal time, twice the number of plays, two directors, two playwrights, and a quarter of the pages to be memorized in comparison to Lend Me a Tenor. Bare Bodkin’s Play by Play is officially under way and I could not be more excited.
Obviously it’s hard to compare a full-fledged farce to smaller student-written pieces, but the cycle of rehearsals has started again. From the first read through to finally having the show blocked and even delving into costume design, the same steps are being taken even though these two theatrical pursuits are radically different. Play by Play, however, happens in rapid succession. After only three rehearsals, I’m bringing costumes in to try on and getting myself off book. It’s been fast, but it’s been wildly fun. Though most of the theatre at Tufts is student-run, this really feels like it’s totally in our control and the creative license has been incredible. Plus, we have the opportunity to bring student-written work to life for the first time and even though it’s a worldwide debut in Balch, it’s a worldwide debut nonetheless.
Having performed in quite a few new works festivals and participated in student-run workshops in high school, I have to say it’s one of my favorite things to do. Beyond introducing the world to new pieces, there are no rules. No one has played this part before you and you have the freedom to make artistic choices separate from any sort of prior influence. There’s no pressure to outdo the previous production of the play because there has never been one. Every aspect of the show is completely yours, along with your fellow cast members and production team. You’re creating something new and fresh. This isn’t a chance actors get very often and it’s always an extreme pleasure to be able to work in these circumstances.
As I traversed the country last week, destined for the high desert plains of Albuquerque, I carried both of my newly minted scripts in my backpack, along with some notes for a few papers and my trusty computer. No one in the airport knew what I was holding onto two brand spanking new plays with two characters that I get to call my own. I kept a creative secret stored away between the pages of sheet music, textbooks, and whatever else I managed to fit in my carry-on.
Now that I’m back from feasting endlessly during break, we launch ourselves into the third week of rehearsal, which for us happens to be tech week. Though it has been a whirlwind experience, I cannot wait to see and perform the premiere of these plays. It’s all quite riveting.
In case I’ve piqued your curious side, these theatrical mysteries will be revealed Friday December 6th in the Balch Arena Theatre at 8 pm.
Six original plays and one freshly baked pizza musical all during one fantastic evening. You know you want to.
This past Friday, I walked into the Balch Arena Theater with a rather jovial mood and a bright and sunny outlook on life. I left the theater, however, wallowing in some uninvited sadness and trying to understand how in a mere two hours, my entire disposition had changed.
Eurydice, written by Sarah Ruhl, is a modern retelling of the Greek tragedy, depicting the love-struck Orpheus’ sorrow alongside the struggle of his deceased wife (for whom the play is named) to come to terms with her own demise. As with any adaptation, there are some differences between the original tale and what the contemporary audience sees on stage. While the Greek myth focuses on Orpheus’ musical redemption, Ruhl’s production puts Eurydice under the magnifying glass, trying to understand the time she spends in the underworld and how to retain what seems lost.
3Ps took on this ambitious script for the major fall production, which ran from November 14-16. Even though Greek theatre is no small performance feat, the cast and crew of Eurydice made their production organic and accessible. From the tearfully read letters to the actual running water on stage, 3Ps married the historical legend and the raw grievance that has transcended the centuries.
I had seen a production of this same play a few years prior, so although I had a smile plastered across my face when I sat down in my seat, I prepared myself for the eventual emotional downturn I’d experience during the performance. I thought that, because I knew the arc of the plot and had studied the show before, I would not be as affected by it as I was the first time.
I was sorely mistaken.
There were a few tears shed throughout the evening as the themes of family, love, and loss all plucked at particular memories for me. However, I wasn’t alone in my somber mood. When the house lights finally rose at the end of the show, I saw a few hands wiping eyes even throughout the well-deserved applause. When the Greeks say that a story is a tragedy, they certainly are not lying.
Even though I left the show feeling far too many things at once, I was reminded why theatre is great even when it revives unwanted sentiments. Eurydice is a fine theatrical specimen in which the ending is completely undesirable and it angers you because you care so much about the characters and their stories that you forget, for a moment, the memories that the plot triggers in your own head.
Bravo, to the cast and crew for a night of truly beautiful theatre.
The question that has been pestering me for the past week has been, “What do I do now?” Without four hours of rehearsal everyday, I realized I have a lot more time to do the things I’ve been wanting to do all semester, like spend more time outside, read a book for pleasure instead of for class, and maybe even go to bed at a decent hour…
I’ve been fooling myself completely.
Spending time outside is nearly impossible without the numbing sensation of approaching winter attacking my fingers. Reading any more than I have to for my classes makes my eyes launch into an instantaneous blurred sensation. Going to bed at a decent hour has been, and always will be, an unattainable goal that you only hear about in movies like Clueless in which everyone is dressed immaculately and lacks the iconic bags under their eyes. Somehow, my routine without a show has remained quite similar. What I thought would be four extra hours of blissful relaxation has turned into extended period of procrastination.
So what do I do now? Clearly, my first answer is not feasible, so what am I left with? Besides becoming increasingly addicted to BuzzFeed and Tumblr all over again, there is the enticing prospect of going home for Thanksgiving in a few short weeks. I keep having dreams of warmer weather, cuddling with my dog, and eating way too much food with my family. However, my daydreams of New Mexican feasting don’t occupy these extra hours I’ve suddenly attained. Instead, I’ve indulged in on-campus snacking.
Post-show depression will increase the amount of Oreos consumed per week exponentially. Trust me. I speak from experience.
Though I’ve been emotionally binge eating as a form of comfort, I’ve also been so surprised by the immense amount of positive feedback for Lend Me a Tenor. I mean, having five gracious Tufts Confessions about the show is a feat within itself.
The amount of compliments that the cast and crew have received about Lend Me a Tenor has been truly humbling. I can’t express enough how welcoming the Tufts theatre community is, and this fact has definitely been reaffirmed during the past week. My debut on the Tufts stage has been met by immeasurable kindness. So thank you, yet again, for enjoying our show as much as we enjoyed performing for you.
Now, it’s a matter of gathering myself and preparing for the next project. I’m not entirely sure what that will be or when it will happen, but you know, that’s the exciting part. For now, I will continue catching up on copious amounts of T.V, actually socializing with my hall, and who knows, maybe even reading a book just for fun.
I’m waiting for the next theatrical adventure to manifest itself and I cannot wait for that to happen.
It’s somewhere between midnight and one in the morning. I’ve lost all feeling in my thumbs and can feel my toes nearing the same frigid destiny as I make the heroic trek downhill back to my dorm. Though it’s absolutely freezing and I’m so exhausted that I feel my legs are going to give out from beneath me, there’s an oversized grin plastered to my face, along with a few icy tears, and a belly full of deliciously warm mozzarella sticks.
There’s nothing quite like the exhilarating sensation of stepping (or in my case, haphazardly dancing) into a pitch-black theatre. As the lights rise, you catch a glimpse of all the expectant audience members. They’re waiting for you to tell the story you’ve been harboring in your abundance of memorized lines, subtext notes, and character choices scribbled somewhere inside your script. You’re slightly petrified and little wary of releasing this secret you’ve kept in rehearsal for seven weeks. Then you hear the first laugh, and suddenly the tantalizing fear from a variety of stage phobias melts away. You have the audience’s attention and reality ceases to exist for the next ninety minutes as you, alongside seven other wonderful cast members, tell a story of mismatched identities, overly-dramatic opera stars, a few hundred kisses, and ultimately, the tragically hilarious human experience.
Lend Me a Tenor had its simultaneous opening and closing night this past Tuesday and I cannot even begin to fathom what that night means to me yet. I imagine I’ll need to spend a somewhat lengthy period of time listening to the echoing sounds of the audiences’ laughter in my head until I can fully comprehend the scope of Lend Me a Tenor.
Right now, I almost feel numb. I’m polarized between the ecstasy of performing an excellent show and the crippling gloom that it’s all over. Even though rehearsal sometimes felt like the most arduous hours of existence, and the occasional existential breakdown of extreme self-doubt would stare me back in the mirror, I wouldn’t trade a second of the past seven weeks for anything. Lend Me a Tenor was a full-blown success. I don’t mean to brag, but Ed Rosini said we were, “A FANTASTICALLY TALENTED (and very good looking) CAST.” I can’t think of a better seal of approval.
What started in Jackson 5 with a box of donuts and twelve anxious cast and crewmembers grew into a theatrical team with a shared passion to tell this story. Without getting too sentimental, I just want to mention that I have fallen irrevocably in love with the eleven people I spent upwards of one hundred hours (yes, I counted) of rehearsal with. These people reminded me everyday of why I decided to pursue a drama major and it’s because of them that this show was possible. I don’t know if any of you are reading this or if you even know that this corner of the Internet exists, but if you are, know that you mean more to me than you’ll ever understand. I don’t even have the words to express the massive amounts of joy that bubble up when I think about all the memories we’ve created. All I can say is I love you. Like Romeo-crazy-for-Juliet love. Or Pyramus and Thisbe. Or for something more relatable, think about our director’s love for musical theatre. Now that’s a whole lot of lovin’.
After two amazing shows and a few perfectly timed mishaps (the door will remain infamous), we begrudgingly dismantled the show. As my clever cast member Rachel Canowitz so eloquently tweeted, “Set strike is the worst possible metaphor.” Nothing has hit home harder in less than 140 characters.
Though strike was relatively quick, it didn’t hurt any less. I’m accustomed to expelling all my post-show emotions through destroying set pieces with a sledgehammer, but that wasn’t necessary nor appropriate for this particular strike. Instead, I gorged myself on several servings of Helen’s mozzarella sticks with a few cast members who had the option of staying out on a Tuesday night. Even though the cynical metaphor of strike lingered over me, I’m realized that a much happier and delicious symbolic trait of this production was that started it started and ended with fried food. That, in its own right, became a slight comfort as I grappled with the sudden hole in my life where Lend Me a Tenor used to reside.
I never complain about living downhill, but this night was different. Because Helen’s is so far uphill it’s down, my walk home was a lot longer than that of my fellow cast members. During my few solitary glacial minutes of walking, I realized what we had done in seven weeks and the entirely bizarre family we had created. The tears came and I let them, as they froze to my cheeks, but I never stopped smiling like an idiot as I walked past the dimmed lights of campus, fumbled to put my key in my door with my half functional fingers, and flopped into bed without taking off my stage makeup or bothering to put on actual pajamas. Then again, I took my clothes off in front of two hundred people, so what’s more time without pants?
The point is, I haven’t been this happy in years and I’m so glad that Lend Me a Tenor was the experience that made it all possible. So here’s to making out with Peter Secrest, assaulting Daniel Camilletti, pleading with Yuval Ben-Hayun, fan-girling with Rachel Canowitz, attempting to steal Ana Baustin’s husband, confronting Nora Gair in a naked standoff, and to being photographed eighteen (well, nineteen) times by Ali Feinswog. Thank you, Kaia Smith, for your artwork and rose hunting, Mitchell Katz for always reminding me when I got my lines wrong, Rose Iorillo for your undying support in our many times of need, and Alex Kaufman for asking time and time again, “What does the fox say?”
Posted by Blair Nodelman on September 27, 2013 under Arts & Living | Comments are off for this article
“I can’t. I have rehearsal.”
If you read the quote above and felt a small kick in the side from your ever-shrinking social life, you’ve arrived in the right part of the Internet, my friend.
Hello and welcome to [title of blog], a blog dedicated to deciphering college as a performing arts student. My name is Blair Nodelman (Class of 2017) and I’ll be your companion through this collegiate excursion. I would say guide, but since I’m a freshman, I’m experiencing all of the woes and wonders of Tufts life for the first time. Then again, I don’t think anyone can be an official arts guide until they’ve figured out the entirety of the Aidekman basement and only a selected few have untangled that labyrinth.
So, who am I? Well, I’m a prospective drama major with some to-be-determined second major. My desk is lined with Shakespeare plays in alphabetical order, a handful of musical theatre records, and tattered librettos for voice. My graphing calculator is out of batteries and collecting dust in one of my drawers, which may be the most stereotypical sign that I’m an arts student.
You’ll rarely see me in the Academic Quad and God forbid you ever see me in PsyTech. However, if you hunt around Granoff or Aidekman, you’ll probably see a coffee addicted version of myself scanning through a palate of performance material.
Currently, I’m cast as Maggie in Lend Me A Tenor (necessary plug: show goes up November 5th), singing in the Tufts Concert choir, and coping with suddenly becoming an “adult.” Don’t even get me started on how many times I’ve forgotten to eat or left my laundry in the dryer overnight.
All faults aside, I hope I can give some insight into what performance art here is like, whether it be theatre, dance, music, or anything that catches my attention. No, I won’t be able to know each arts department through and through, but my goal is to enlighten current and prospective students to what this curious artsy life is all about.
So, please, join me in this journey. Through several musical theatre puns and music jokes, I hope that you enjoy my humble little column.
And to leave off, here’s a good ol’ theatre joke:
Did you hear about the actor who fell through the floor?
He was just going through a stage.
Posted by Justin McCallum on April 18, 2013 under Arts & Living, Video | Comments are off for this article
The Tufts Department of Drama and Dance presents for a second weekend Charles Mee’s ‘bobrauschenbergamerica,’ directed by Natalya Baldyga in collaboration with Daniel McKusker. The play is an unconventional piece that combines chickens, roller skating, americana, dance and audience participation for a truly unique, immersive theater experience.
Watch a preview of the show here:
Performances are Thursday-Saturday April 18-20 at 8PM in Balch Arena Theater. Tickets for Thursday’s performance are only $1, while Friday and Saturday’s cost $7.