Category: 09/10 Performances (0)
Robert Brustein visited the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University at the beginning of our 2009/10 season to address the uphill battle that artists face, here in the United States. As Peak Performances programming takes a short pause, we thought it would be an opportune time to revisit Brustein’s “The Four Horsemen of the Cultural Apocalypse.”
In his talk, Brustein mentioned: community standards, DH Lawrence, James Joyce’s Ulysses, Shakespeare’s “many-headed multitude,” Rudy Giuliani, “The Language Police,” free expression, Phillip Roth, the Brooklyn Museum, taste, Democracy in America, Pac-Man Mouth, and Barak Obama’s dancer’s walk and oratory style.
We made a recording of Brustein’s lecture and include a link below. The third file includes a post-talk Q+A moderated by Jedediah Wheeler, Executive Director at Peak Performances. Check it out! Share it with your students! Share it with your teacher!
We had a great time gearing up for his appearance at MSU and had a lot of engaging discussions about his work, here at Insite HQ.
Hope that you enjoy Robert Brustein and “The Four Horsemen of the Cultural Apocalypse” as much as we did!
Sara Wintz was Communications Assistant in the Office of Arts & Cultural Programming at Montclair State University during the 2009/10 Peak Performances season. Her writing has appeared on Ceptuetics and in The Poetry Project Newsletter. She recently reviewed Liz Waldner’s performance text, Play, for HTML Giant.
As a critic, I do my best to find the meaning in art, to deconstruct why something exists, and sometimes that’s tough to answer. Sure, some art is overtly political, and some art can be a triumph of storytelling. Crash Ensemble, the Irish musical group that closed out another stellar season at Peak Performances, may have been both of those things, but I couldn’t tell—to me, the group was simply an aesthetic delight.
Performing two separate concerts, Strange Folk on May 8 and Bright Visionon May 9, Crash Ensemble brought vitality and excitement to instrumental music that’s eluded my naive, pop-addled ears over my short lifetime. Perhaps I could make allusion to postminimalism or polystylism, but that would be doing a dishonor to the Wikipedia article I road in on. Instead, I’m content to share my delight over the sound that washed over the audience. Read more »
Hello Insite Readers!
Here’s another great batch of student responses! This time, to 1001, a play by Montclair State alum, Jason Grote, presented by the B.A. Theatre Studies Senior Class. Student Forum is very pleased to present our favorite three responses, by Joseph Rosario, Ally Blumenfeld and Gillian Holmes. These critiques were written for Dr. Neil Baldwin’s Play/Script Interpretation Class and fulfill the mission of Montclair State’s new Creative Research Center: to spotlight exemplary student writing. Montclair State’s Creative Research Center is directed by Dr. Baldwin. High-five, Neil! …and now, to Gillian Holmes!
“What are any of us but a collection of stories?” Jason Grote’s Scheherazade asks the audience of 1001. All things considered, especially in the context of theater, Scheherazade makes a great point. Which is precisely why 1001 was a poignant, compelling choice as a piece to be put on at Montclair State University by the Theatre Studies Seniors. Often it seems as though theatrical productions overlook the very important aspects of stories that beg to be told, forgotten in the wake of flashy musical numbers or a political message. If the story is neglected, it would be extremely difficult for the audience to understand the piece on a deeper level, after all, if we are all just a collection of stories, the easiest way to comprehend the message of a piece of theatre would be to use information from our own lives. Storytelling, a tradition that goes back to before theatre ever existed, illuminates issues, gives us ideas, and offers solutions - among a host of other things. Which is why this particular piece was a bold, challenging selection done at an extraordinary level, much to the credit of the director and ensemble.
Jason Grote’s 1001 was a labyrinth, full of twist and turns. The kind of play that will have you wondering until the very end how the story of Scheherazade and Shahriyar correlate to the story of Dahna and Alan. This play holds significance to myself and (I am assuming) to rest of my classmates because it takes place at a turning point in history, one that we were alive to witness. The September 11th terrorist attack imprinted a permanent image in our minds. How could anyone ever forget how devastating that day was, how devastating the months to follow were as well. Footage of the crumbling towers played on television repeatedly.
We were all affected in some way or another. It has been nine years since that day and there have been many theatrical pieces written and produced about it. One popular film is Flight 93, which tells the story of the passengers who overthrew their hijackers, and though they sacrificed themselves, saved the lives of many. Then there is World Trade Center: which tells the story of two firefighters who were trapped under masses of rocks and the remnants of the collapsed buildings. Both films are heartbreaking and painfully realistic, which is the usual style of any of the works I’ve seen so far, based on September 11th. Then there is 1001, Jason Grote’s play that takes two different worlds and fuses them together creating parallels between two couples from different eras, living under different circumstances, and facing different hardships. Read more »
“Everything we do, it’s like it’s not us doing it, like we’re trapped in this grand narrative. And it’s like, maybe we’re trying to defy that narrative, or reinvent it, and I can’t…”
Jason Grote’s 1001 sometimes speaks for itself, and that isn’t always a good thing.
This relatively new piece by the MSU alum [sort of] chronicles the relationship between Alan, a Jewish New Yorker, and Dahna, a young Arab woman, through the legendary story of King Shahriyar and his wife, Scheherezade. It sounds like a fantastic idea, and it is. However, through arguably little fault of this particular production, cast, or direction, 1001’s multiple nonlinear narratives end up much like dance choreography: spinning in circles, dancing completely around what I’m sure was supposed to be a point. It is obvious that Grote had much ambition in penning this layered, sometimes moving, cross-cultural, post-9/11 dramatic comedy. He toys with convention, which is almost always a good thing. He creates vivid worlds, so different in texture and aesthetics that it is almost impossible to see them all interconnect, and when they do, it’s wonderful. Read more »