Courtesy of Cornell University

This Year’s 10-Minute Play Festival Is Both Funny and Brutally Honest

The Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts was shut down on Monday and Tuesday of this week to deal with a mold problem. Because of this, it would be understandable if the actors of this year’s 10-Minute Play Festival were under-rehearsed, or unfamiliar with the space in which they performed, but the opposite was true. At the festival on Thursday night in the newly mold-free building, I was impressed by the range and depth of the productions. None of the plays shy away from hard topics, and I should issue a warning that the second play, Tian, gets heavy, covering sexual abuse and abortion. The festival took place in the Black Box Theatre, a dark room in a sub-basement of the Schwartz Center.

Homecoming 2018: A Tale of Two Acts

Whenever someone asks me if homecoming weekend is fun, I say, “It’s overrated. If you have work to do, just do that instead. It happens every year and you won’t miss much.” While I skipped all other homecoming activities this weekend, the only one I thought was worth getting out of bed for was the concert — and not just because I had a free ticket. Back when the lineup was announced for the homecoming concert, I could not believe that Cornell students chose CupcakKe to headline such an important event. CupcakKe is a female rapper from Chicago and her sexual, vulgar lyrics are unlike anything else (perhaps her most popular song is called “Deepthroat”).

Roomful of Teeth performed in Bailey Hall, pictured above

Hold On to Your Dentures: Roomful of Teeth at Bailey Hall

The small a cappella ensemble brought their big guns right away, with each member speaking in rhythm, creating a wall of chatter that in an instant, gave way to raucous polyphonic vocals. After a few iterations, rhythmic spoken word became interspersed with small vocal phrases. The piece was chugging along and it was clear that Roomful of Teeth had a very important message to share with the audience that evening. Roomful of Teeth, the Grammy-winning vocal octet, visited Bailey Hall on Friday night to kick off the Cornell Concert Series 2018-2019 season. The group was founded in 2009 with a goal to explore the expressive potential of the human voice.

Cornell’s Fifth Centrally Isolated Film Festival Showcases Student Films

Ithaca is often considered to be in the middle of nowhere, but the work of student filmmakers from across the Northeast were on display at the fifth Centrally Isolated Film Festival at the Schwartz Performing Arts Center last weekend. A wide variety of short films ranging from documentary to animation to live-action narrative by students from more than a half-dozen schools were screened. “In this area, there aren’t a lot of film festivals, especially for student filmmakers, which is the entire idea of the Centrally Isolated Film Festival,” student organizer Isabel Pottinger ’19 said in an interview. “This year we made a very concerted effort to be in contact with a lot of different schools to try to get as much diversity in terms of the people involved in the film festival as possible, and we really reaped the rewards of that.”

The student organizers from the Film Festival Production Lab course, which focuses on running the film festival, including learning how to objectively judge films, pared down a list of over 100 submissions. “We talk about things like: is the sound good, is the cinematography good, does the director accomplish their artistic vision, do we know what their artistic vision is?” Pottinger explained.

Courtesy of Netflix

Mike Birbiglia at the State Theatre: Comedy Over Kids

In Mike Birbiglia’s 2013 special My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, Birbiglia basically tells only one joke: the story of how he got married to his current wife. Sure, there are many small sub-jokes, and every so often he decides to go a bit off-topic to provide backstory, but everything is focused on how he and his girlfriend eventually decided to tie the knot. This is Birbiglia’s comedy style, whether it be on his Netflix specials or while appearing on This American Life. Instead of jumping from subject to subject, with segways to link each bit together, Birbiglia decides to follow a cross between Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey theory and Dave Chappelle’s insight. He does not use any extreme ideas or absurdist routines.

Weird Al’s New Tour Rocks Ithaca

Growing up as I did (with a father who loved to constantly relive his glory days), I listened to Weird Al a lot. I watched the music video to “Trapped in the Drive-Thru” a million times, played “Virus Alert” on my iPod shuffle and knew all the lyrics to “EBay.” My dad listened to the classics, reminisced about listening to Weird Al on Dr. Demento’s radio show and told me over and over again the story about how, when he was in college, he and Weird Al got lunch together. So when Weird Al’s Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Ill-Advised Vanity Tour came to The State Theatre, obviously my dad and I got tickets. I’ll admit, while I’ve listened to a few of Al’s more recent singles, I hadn’t truly listened to him since the days of my iPod Shuffle. The tour was also self-described as “scaled-down,” featuring older, original songs rather than parodies.

Courtesy of the Midnight Comedy Troupe

Midnight Comedy Troupe Blends Dark Humor and Social Commentary

Weston Barker ’21 and the Midnight Comedy Troupe are deathly funny. The seven member outfit is Cornell’s newest and only dark humor sketch group that does its best to shock, awe and entertain. They hit the mark, brilliantly. Judged on just their comedic chops, this group stands alone. But what really sets them apart is their secondary goal: to inspire (or incite) meaningful dialogue and bring people together with conversation and laughter.

Students Showcase Creativity in the 34th Annual CFC Show

During the past few weeks, as fashion houses and designers have shown collections in New York, Paris, Milan and London during Fashion Week, many have explored issues involving women’s rights, inclusivity and the LGBTQ+ movement. From Burberry highlighting the pride flag to Balenciaga having men and women walk together on the runway, and Chanel’s new line called Leave Me Alone, consumers were shown how designers interpret important issues. On March 10th, the CFC highlighted the collections of undergraduate students across majors allowing them to make messages and further their skills. At its core, Cornell Fashion Collective seems to act as a microcosm of the larger fashion world right now — using high quality craftsmanship to speak to social movements and to reflect on images in nature. The CFC show designates designers into four tiers, each corresponding to the students year.

Barnes Hall, where the Midday Music concert took place

Midday Music Offers Welcome Respite from Classes

After my morning class the Wednesday before February break, I headed straight for the Barnes Hall auditorium, where one of the Music Department’s weekly Midday Music performances was scheduled. Midday Music, a concert series that takes place around lunchtime (12:30 – 1:15p.m.) on Wednesdays or Thursdays, offers a chance for students to take a break from their hectic schedules to sit down and enjoy some lovely classical music from students and faculty at Cornell. This particular performance was Baroque, with first-year graduate student Morton Wan, currently in the Ph.D. musicology program, performing Bach on harpsichord and Rameau on piano. Wan started with Bach’s third English Suite (BWV 808), which Bach composed around his Weimar period (1708-17) and is part of his first major series of harpsichord works before the Well-Tempered Clavier. This piece in particular demonstrates Bach’s expert knowledge of dances, such as the Gigue and the Sarabande.