Fun at the Forman: A look at RIC’s upcoming theater programming

Thomas Yakey – Anchor Staff

The Rhode Island College theatre department’s first show for this season is “Cherry Orchard.” This show is directed by Trinity Repertory Company’s Associate Artistic Director Tyler Dobrowsky.

“Cherry Orchard” tells the story of an aristocratic Russian family who tries to survive in hard economic times. The family tries to preserve their way of life in the middle of the pressures of “progress.” Options to prevent the family from foreclosing are presented, and the family tries to rise up to the challenge. This is both a timeless and funny classic about changing times, loss, restoring, and continuing where you left off.

Audrey Crawley, a senior theatre performance major, commented, “I am very excited for Cherry Orchard. It is such a classic play and my classmates have been working so hard on it. I can’t wait to see it fully realized!” This show is presented in The Helen Forman Theatre in the Nazarian Center for the Fine Arts. The dates range from Sept. 26 to Sept. 30 of this month.  

“Quilters,” a musical based off the novel, “Quilters: Women and Domestic Art” by Patricia Cooper and Norma Bradley Allen, is the theatre department’s second show of this semester.  This musical is lovely and moving as it follows six daughters and their mother. The mother needs her children’s help to make a quilt before she dies. Cleverly, each scene, which is a different story or book, is introduced by a quiet square which is symbolic of a phase of life.

This piece is also historically accurate portraying different women and their life on the prairie.  Combining history, music, dance, and quilts, “Quilters” captures both the rewards and immense challenges of frontier life. The play truly shows how women contributed to the creation of America alongside men. Bill Wilson is the director of this great musical.  This show runs from Nov. 14-18.

The theatre department’s last show of the semester is “When We Were Young and Unafraid.”  The show is written by Sarah Treem. This play runs from Nov. 30 through Dec. 2.

Set in the early seventies, a woman named Agnes uses her bed and breakfast as a safe house for domestic violence victims. Mary Ann, a woman who uses the safe space, shows up and starts forming a relationship with her daughter.  Agnes has to face presumptions about the woman she’s been helping for a while.

Marisa Rebelo, senior musical theatre major, is the student director of this play. She is “really excited about directing this piece because with the MeToo Movement and woman standing up for themselves I think it is a very current piece and relatable to the world we live in today.  I hope audiences find it funny and charming while walking away with a new message and questions.”

For more information about show times, as well as ticket pricing and policies, please visit http://www.ric.edu/mtd/Pages/Calendar-Theatre-Events.aspx.

Nazarian Theater, Photo courtesy of Thomas Crudale

Superhero Central: hanging up the capes

Jonathan Weaver – Assistant A&E Editor

It isn’t news to anyone that Ben Affleck’s future as Batman is up in the air. Between Affleck’s own comments, the comments of DC execs on the state of the DCU and comments by Matt Reeve, the director who took over Affleck’s troubled solo Batman project, its clear he isn’t keen on remaining the dark knight for long.

What’s more surprising is that Ben isn’t alone. Henry Cavill, cinema’s very own Man of Steel, is reportedly not interested in returning as Clark Kent. This news came shortly after it was revealed Cavill was cast to play Geralt of Rivia in Netflix’s adaptation of the “Witcher,” a role Cavill is extremely excited and outspoken about.

This is objectively bad news for the future of the connected DCU that Warner Bros is determined to continue building. The extended universe of films which began with “Man of Steel” in 2013 has seen little critical success outside of the fantastic installment that was “Wonder Woman.”

Two aspects of the DCU that, for the most part, were deemed successful were the casting of Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill. Whether one of the particular films succeeded or failed, it was usually acknowledged that these too were not to blame. Affleck on one hand, was able to bring a darker, older rendition of Batman to screen, something heavily based off of Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns.” Cavill was also drawing from beloved versions of Kal-El in his portrayal, ranging from Grant Morrison’s “All-Star Superman” to Alan Moore’s “For the Man Who Has Everything.”

What is WB to do to ensure the survival of their Marvel cinematic universe? Turns out, we may not have to wait long for an answer. Recent reports indicate candidates interested in each role. John Hamm from AMC’s “Mad Men,” has shown interest in donning Batman’s cowl and he is also a fan favorite prospect and has been since before Affleck’s original casting in BvS.

When it comes to Superman, Michael B. Jordan is interested and reportedly already being eyed to replace Cavill. Jordan has already displayed his abilities to hold his own in a superhero movie as the villain Killmonger in the hugely popular “Black Panther.” Not only that, but he is no stranger to very physical roles, as evident from his awesome central role in the movie “Creed.”

Going forward, WB and DC need to be careful with how they treat the DCU. Both Affleck and Cavill were reportedly frustrated with the lack of direction and consistency in the WB camp. Maybe losing these two will wake up the execs, and the injection of fresh blood and ideas through Jordan and Hamm will mix up the formula enough to help save the DCU from being deemed an utter failure. If nothing else, at least we still have Gal Gadot being the highlight of the movies and never failing to steal every scene as she saves Batman everytime.

 

“Kamikaze” – Eminem takes aim at everyone

Alec Ematrudo – A&E Editor

Less than a year after the release of his ninth studio album, The Real Slim Shady is back with another full album that brings him back to his roots. Things weren’t looking too good for the rapper, who is now in his forties, after the release of 2017’s “Revival.” “Revival” was a very politically charged album that I personally feel didn’t deserve the majority of the hate that it got, but was undoubtedly not Eminem’s best work.

Kamikaze, Photo courtesy of Reddit

“Kamikaze,” an album that surprised everyone, was released on August 31, and is hands down one of my favorite Eminem albums from the last decade; yes, that includes 2010’s “Recovery.”Kamikaze” is an album that Eminem essentially uses to fire back at all the people who dissed him about his previous album. On paper, that doesn’t sound necessarily like a good idea, but the execution is near flawless. In typical Slim Shady fashion, he doesn’t take himself too seriously and cracks as many offensive jokes as can be expected.

In addition to addressing the people who didn’t like his last album, Eminem also takes name at several current rappers for various reasons. Throughout the album, he calls out Drake, Migos, Lil Yachty, Lil Pump, Machine Gun Kelly, and Tyler the Creator. I don’t want to spoil his exact disses, because the album is definitely worth the listen, but I will say that he doesn’t hold back.

To say the least, The Real Slim Shady has stood up once again and proved to the world what a lyrical genius he is. If this album is any indication of the fire that he has coming for Machine Gun Kelly and his next studio album, I will be waiting patiently.

“Kamikaze” is available everywhere on Vinyl, CD, Limited Edition Cassette, and streaming.

The Rap God is back.

 

The Cantina: How truly wonderful, the mind of a child is

Jonathan Weaver – Assistant A&E Editor

Star Wars is for kids. Always has been, always should be. The phrase “meant for kids” should not be seen so negatively; Star Wars would not be what it is today if George Lucas decided he needed to be more gritty and edgy in 1977. Boiled down to its most very basic elements, Star Wars is about good defeating evil; a young nobody relying on his own will and courage to defeat the evil ruling the world.

Star Wars was meant to convey the message that diversity helps not hinders, that women should stop being portrayed as helpless, and that tyranny, fascism, and imperialism will not survive against morality. These are very important messages for kids to learn, and that’s why Star Wars captured the minds of so many in ways that “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “Lost In Space” did. Kids could relate to Luke and Leia, they wanted to be Han, they adored Chewy, and they feared Vader, yet wanted more.

There is a big community of fans currently concerned that Disney is making Star Wars kid friendly, as if that wasn’t always the case. These very fans were once the kids who waited anxiously in line to watch “The Empire Strikes Back” in theaters. The same fans who would then run home to play with their Millenium Falcon playset or pretend to have a lightsaber duel with their friends. These fans all remember the moment that popcorn fell out of their mouth as the words, “No. I am your father.” hit their ears.

Star Wars resonates with both children and adults, a thing that few pieces of media can properly do now. If Star Wars were to abandon its roots, and embrace a darker tone and content, it would lose its fairy-tale essence, and the magic would fade.

For this reason, fans should not worry about the upcoming animated show “Star Wars: the Resistance.” While yes it is primarily marketed at kids, so are the toys, which have always been a staple of the property. The same thing was said about the “Clone Wars” series and the “Rebels” series, both of which are widely regarded as great additions to the canon, and fun stories in their own right.

Star Wars will still feel like itself — the magic will still be there. Kids will see what happens when everyday people, just like them, stand up against injustice. The concepts appeal to all ages, but every family member will still be able to relate to and bond over the stories and adventures in a galaxy far, far away.

 

In celebration of Mac Miller

Enrique Castaneda-Pineda – Anchor Staff

Despite Mac Miller’s troubled personal life, there is one thing that stands true: Miller loved to make music, and was constantly experimenting and changing his music style.

There have been several controversies surrounding his death, from the knowledge of his drug overdose to the cyber attacks against his former girlfriend, Ariana Grande. Between promethazine, cocaine, lean, and many more drugs, Miller could not come back from his addiction originating back in 2012. Although he started using lean when he was fifteen, the problem with several drugs did not surface until 2012.

Recently, in a post on Instagram, Frankie Grande, Grande’s brother, commented on his personal addiction and how Miller influenced him to get clean and go to rehab. According to Frankie, Miller was always good to him and Ariana Grande, though Ariana has mentioned that the relationship was a toxic one. Other friends of the two mentioned that Ariana was a stable force in his life, as she helped him a lot with his struggle with mental health and drugs.

After releasing music consistently since 2007, Miller took a break after fans did not receive his 2016 album, “The Divine Feminine,” as well as expected, with sales much lower than previous albums. After a two year break, Miller released “Swimming” shortly following his split with Ariana Grande. Due to the focus surrounding her, the album did not perform well, with less pure album sales than his previous album, but a total of 66,000 units sold at debut.

Many saw this album as an album were Mac Miller was “in his feelings” after his break-up, while some felt it was a heartful, jazz-rap masterpiece. Released just over a month ago, this was Miller’s last album before his unfortunate passing. Though it seemed, through this album, that Miller was growing as a person, attempting to overcome his addiction. Unfortunately, we now know that was not the case.

Mac Miller, Photo courtesy of I’m Music Magazine

The saddest part of losing Mac is the fact that he seemed to be nothing but a caring person who loved what he did, all the while fighting a silent battle with his inner demons.

Several celebrities have paid their respects to celebrate the person that Mac Miller was. People including J. Cole, Donald Glover, Chance the Rapper, and many, many more. They all spoke about Miller’s personality and how he has influenced them.  Chance the Rapper made a statement about Miller, stating that he was one of the first to help him launch his career after taking him on his second ever tour. Donald Glover also mentioned that Miller was “the sweetest guy” at his concert two Saturdays ago. Glover said, “I love you Mac, and I just want to tell you that I love you and this song (Riot) is for him, because I feel like sometimes he wanted to let go.”

Though many are heartbroken, Donald Glover stated, “we should be allowed to be sad about it…and I feel good about being sad, because it tells me that he was special.”

Despite his end, Mac Miller did what he loved unapologetically. Rest in Peace to legend, Malcolm James McCormick, aka Mac Miller.

 

The Cantina: the mouse strikes back

Jonathan Weaver – Assistant A&E Editor

What is going on with Star Wars? It’s common knowledge the franchise was bought from George Lucas along with the rest of Lucasfilm for over 2 billion dollars and millions in Disney shares.

What exactly is Disney doing with the property, though? Disney has made it clear they intend to cash in on the popularity of Star Wars with fairly regular theatrical releases. Although, outside of the box office is where their tactics become really interesting.

Beyond the 6 Lucasfilm-released movies, Star Wars was made up of an expanded universe (EU) created over decades by countless contributors. Innumerable books, comics, tv shows, and video games fleshed out the ludicrously deep lore of the very same galaxy George Lucas first took us to in 1977. The vast majority of this expanded universe was also canon, or considered fact within the movie timeline, and even referred to by Lucas and his writing within the later prequel trilogy.

Needless to say, the EU was so rich and complicated, that most people could only select some stories beyond the movies to partake in. Disney knew this when they purchased the IP and set out to streamline the canon and also give themselves room to tell their own stories, which is something the established plotlines made difficult. To the ire of many die-hard fans, Disney made every piece of media outside of the original 6 movies and the Clone Wars tv show non-canonical. This meant many people saw their favorite plots or characters scrapped, and relegated to a new category of obsolete storylines dubbed “Legends.”

Disney knows how to make money. They also know a dense and impenetrable lore is intimidating to newcomers. That doesn’t mean, however, that Disney plans to leave the life-long fans high and dry. Instead, Disney is integrating the most loved and fondly remembered aspects of the canon, and leaving the unnecessary fluff behind as “Legends.” For every reference to “Knights of the Old Republic” made by “Rebels” to the joy of fans, there is overly complicated history of the Jedi Order that no one can remember, now ready to be streamlined in the new canon.

In addition to rewriting and streamlining the history of a galaxy far, far away, Disney cleared all canon post “Return of the Jedi.” This has obviously paved the way for their new stories involving Han Solo, Leia, Luke, and the next generation of heroes. The established canon of the EU before the acquisition stretched 900 years ahead of the events of the movies. Not only that, but as stakes increased with each passing story, so did each storytellers need to one-up or outdo that which came before. This resulted in characters like Luke Skywalker becoming nearly indistinguishable from a god; a true all-powerful space wizard fighting primordial 4th dimension demons within a prison of black holes.

All of that is now gone, and finally a future can be paved for the franchise in the vein of the original vision; a story of good versus evil, and ordinary people coming together to defeat impossible odds. A story which viewers can relate to and decades from now, share excitedly with their kids just as the last generation did after seeing the originals.

 

Superhero Central: Midnighter

Jonathan Weaver – Assistant A&E Editor

Ultra-violent, Funny, Edgy, and Sexy. This was Midnighter. Midnighter was everything that made a successful antihero in the 90s. The comic was written as an analog of Batman; a shadowy figure feared by his prey, brooding and strong. The major difference between the two, however, is that Midnighter kills his opponents.

The year is 1998. Dark Horse comics at this time was hitting its stride with the Alien and Predator comics. It was becoming clear that dark and moody sold. DC was doing really well with the Batman line for the tonal shift in comics (spurred into motion by books like The Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns in 1986). Batman, however, could only carry so many plots before he became fan-service to the point of feeling shoehorned into everything (not that DC would ever do that very thing years later…).

In steps Warren Ellis and Wildstorm comics. Midnighter and his partner, Apollo, are ex agents on the run from their former employers. Jaded by their past, they resist the newly restructured Stormwatch team. Slowly, they get back in the saddle and step up from fighting street crime and are back to combating super villains and evil organizations.

A year later, DC comics is looking to shake up their formula. They acquire Wildstorm comics and integrate their properties into their own catalog. Midnighter and Apollo added a fresh injection of the most popular and controversial subject matter to DC: relatable heroes, brutal violence, comedy, and they are also some of the first openly gay superheroes in the industry.

Comics have tried to tackle LGBTQ characters in the past and have never hit the mark quite right; we have seen everything from too stereotypical to blatantly offensive portrayals. Midnighter and Apollo, however, are strong, funny, and just as intimidating as Batman and Superman. The characters felt real and relatable, also while tackling controversial topics in a way that felt fluid and natural. The relationship between the two heroes remains one of my favorites in comics for its sincerity and how grounded it feels, not to mention how heartbreaking it can become as they drift apart.

Still considered little more than a B list or even C list hero in the pantheon of DC greats, Midnighter is quite possibly one of the most well crafted, underrated, and underused characters that truly does deserve your attention.

 

“Sorry to Bother You” twists audiences with its shocking genre-bending

Enrique Castaneda-Pineda – Anchor Contributor

Directed by Boots Riley, “Sorry to Bother You” was the sleeper film of the summer. This genre-bending mindfreak of a film is like a rollercoaster you did not realize you were in line for.

Starring FX’s “Atlanta,” Lakeith Stanfield plays Cassius Green, a financially struggling adult who needs a job in order to survive. The film creates an important dialogue of the value of money vs. friends and valuable causes. Though a familiar script, the choice between his success at his new job, his girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson), and friends, Salvador (Jermaine Fowler) and Squeeze (Steven Yeun) is a difficult one as Cassius finally begins to feel accomplished.

Cassius finds success that he has never felt before, creating a divide between what he wants and what he loves. This struggle is fantastic to watch because the film portrays it in a way that makes it seem like there is no clear cut answer. It is true that Cassius has never found success like this before, but he is simultaneously losing who he is and his loved ones.

The film takes a dark turn, moving from a heartfelt, intriguing, dark comedy, to a confusing and jarring sci-fi suspense film. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Sorry to Bother You, Photo courtesy of Annapurna Pictures

The film introduces these creatures that are half-horse, half-human hybrids created by the company Cassius works for. After finding this out, he reverts to his old self, dedicated to take down the company. These CGI creatures are a surprise to the audience as they come out of nowhere and suddenly are the biggest point of this movie, throwing the last 45-60 minutes out the window.

The only thing that remains after this leap is a strike put on by Squeeze, which Cassius uses to bring down the company. A war-like scenario breaks out on the street, where Cassius and friends are saved by the creatures.

The film is a great experience, but I felt like I was asking myself “Why?” for too many moments in the film. Several aspects of the film serve little to no purpose, apart from creating shock value or politicizing America as a society. Despite its oddities, it remains a fun film that keeps audiences on their toes – where comedy and confusion can go hand-in-hand.

 

Sapinsley sings once more

Thomas Yakey – Anchor Staff

The upcoming concerts from Rhode Island College’s department are sure to be fine events. Although most of these concerts take place in the stunning Sapinsley Hall, some are in various places, allowing for interesting combinations of sound and scenery.

The RIC Concert Choir has two scheduled performances this semester.  The first performance is Sunday, Oct. 14 at 5 p.m., and will also feature the Chamber Singers ensemble as well as the Women’s Chorus. It is located at All Saints Memorial Church on Broadway in Providence. This concert is typically shorter (lasting around an hour) and less formal; similar to the “Rush Hour” concert of the Rhode Island Philharmonic.

All groups will perform excerpts from their fall semester repertoire. The whole repertoire for all three ensembles will be sung at the RIC Winter Choral Concert. The concert is Friday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. in Sapinsley Hall, located in the Nazarian Center. This concert can be upwards of a couple hours long but will not be a bore.

Dr. Teresa Coffman, who has been the RIC Choral Director for many years, ensures that these concerts will have something for everybody. She has programmed the concert with a variety of songs from various stylistic periods to appeal to every ear. So far, the Choir’s selections for this year range from the classical style of Haydn to the nearly a-tonal music of Ola Gjielo. The Woman and Chamber ensembles will even be performing pieces of Vocal Jazz which is sure to jazz up the night.

Dr. Coffman is very excited for this semester and its performances because she feels as though the choir has made progress in the first three rehearsals and has a “beautiful” sound.  She also commented that “freshmen bring a new energy to the group” which help in creating such a great ensemble. Dr. Coffman insists on teaching the students to be expressive with their music because she believes, “Being musical is everything.  Being expressive and musical are the same to me.”

“All American!” is the main theme of Friday, Oct. 12’s RIC Wind Ensemble concert. This ensemble is under the direction of Joseph Foley for the first time in a few years. This concert includes musical pieces written for various civil rights icons including John F. Kennedy and Rosa Parks as well as a selection in memory of the Columbine Tragedy.  This concert is at 7:30 p.m. at Sapinsley Hall in the Nazarian Center. Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” is the highlight of the Wind Ensemble’s second concert on Tuesday Dec. 4 which will also be held at 7:30 p.m. at Sapinsley Hall.

Tuesday, Oct. 16 and Tuesday, Dec. 4 are the dates of the RIC Symphony Orchestra concerts.  They are at 7:30 PM in Sapinsley Hall. For more information about ticket pricing, the smaller ensembles, and the concerts in general, visit, http://www.ric.edu/mtd/Pages/Calendar-Music-Events.aspx .

Ozark Season 2: Bateman is back and better than ever

Alec Ematrudo – A&L Editor

I am completely convinced that Jason Bateman can do anything. The man can tackle both comedic and dramatic acting roles with ease, and he is also considered to be one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. Not only is he an extremely talented and highly underrated actor, he is a really good director as well.

In Ozark’s first season, Bateman directed four episodes and each were incredible. The show’s second season is no exception. Bateman helms two of the episodes and once again, his episodes are among the best of the season. Season two successfully builds upon the first season and introduces new characters, new locales, and more stress for the Bryde family.

Ozark is often referred to as Batemen’s “Breaking Bad” and that’s a very fair comparison. This show follows many of the same paths chartered by “Breaking Bad” back in its earlier seasons. Both Marty Byrde and Walter White are intelligent problem solvers who are in deep with cartels and do what they do to provide for their families.

For those of you who haven’t dived into the show’s first season yet, I won’t spoil anything for you. This is one of those shows that rewards you for paying attention and not looking for spoilers. The show can be considered a slow burn for some because there isn’t constant action, but believe me when I say, the show will have you at the edge of your seat regardless.

Ozark’s second season is a masterpiece that builds upon the first in almost every way possible. The show was nominated for several Emmys this year including Best Actor for Jason Bateman.

All aboard the hype train because Ozark: Season Two is now available on Netflix.