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.

Courtesy of Kitchen Theatre Company

Kitchen Theatre Company’s Girlfriend Is Thin on Plot But High on Feeling

Based on Matthew Sweet’s 1991 alternative-rock album of the same name, Kitchen Theatre’s first production of the 2018-19 season, Girlfriend, has everything you’d expect from a classic summer rom-com — the meet cute, the mutual pining, the awkward yet exhilarating first date, the inevitable challenges and their resolution. What makes Girlfriend different from the start, however, is that instead of boy-meets-girl, it’s boy-meets-boy, in a small, conservative, midwestern town. It’s the summer of 1993 in Alliance, Nebraska, and Will (Jonathan Melo) is still celebrating graduating high school and his new-found freedom when he receives a mixtape out of the blue from a classmate, Mike (Woody White). Unlike Will, a musical theater nerd constantly bullied at school for his sexuality, Mike is the golden boy of the football team with a (rather absent) girlfriend and a full ride to college, and it had seemed unlikely for their paths to ever cross. What they share, however, is a passion for music.

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Love and Lust in a Burning Forest

“There was a cabaret and there was a master of ceremonies and there was a city called Berlin in a country called Germany. It was the end of the world…” So writes Cliff Bradshaw, the starry-eyed American novelist whose search for love and adventure in 1930s Germany frames John Kander and Fred Ebbs’s Cabaret. In the haze of the Kit Kat Klub, a haven for stockings, lipstick, and high-heeled performers, Berlin is in full-view, beautiful in its celebration of self and doomed by the rising political waves that would ultimately engulf Europe. Ithaca College’s production of Cabaret was an astounding success, executed with masterful design, orchestration, choreography and particularly amazing talent. Designed to bring the audience into the nightclub, with red “Ausgang” signs, dim lights and the orchestra dressed as a cabaret band, Clark Theatre brought the tantalizing Kit Kat Girls and Gals as close to the audience as possible.

Artwork from the Estudios de Tension exhibit in the John Hartell Gallery.

Cartographies in Suspension

Before entering the space, it is as if the exhibit still has yet to be curated. A space that is normally bursting with artwork appears startlingly bare to the passing gaze from the exhibit’s periphery. Yet examination is almost always a generative process of exposure and uncovering — in terms of both the viewer as well as the viewed. The exhibit in question, Estudios de Tensión, meaning “studies of tension,” is a study of the relational and symbolic interactions that shape and constitute the world. A product of the artist Nicolás Robbio, the works can be found in the John Hartell Gallery in Sibley Hall until April 19.