Everyone's a Critic, Episode 3

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Savannah Ganster, Tammy Bateman and Amy Martin quietly rain down the pain in their ledes. And also illustrate why that MTV Rolling Stone intern reality show didn't exactly make compelling television.

Here's the deal: the students saw two productions last night--Penn State Altoona's Big Love, by Charles Mee, and SUNY Oswego's Honor and the River, by Anton Dudley. They wrote full reviews, turned them in this morning and were either critiqued into submission or inspiration, and perhaps some combination of the two. So I'm not going to post those full reviews here.

Instead, have a look at these ledes for today's production of Love's Labour's Lost (brought to the festival by Albright College) and tell our critics whether they've made you want to read more or if you've seen all you need to see of either review or production.

Love's Labour's Ledes

Devin Dippold

Battle lines are drawn. On one side stands a wild forest, filled with lovers frolicking. On the other side stand three columns, atop which the busts of Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates look down upon all they "see." A man under their watchful eye partitions off these columns from the rest of the world. The Domino Players' production of Love's Labour's Lost prepares two sides for war, but does anyone really want to fight?

 

Jessica Hinds-Bond

A forest of lanky paper trees covered in cursive handwriting dots the stage. Three grown men hide unseen behind a narrow pillar, a skeletal podium, and a short bench. Women of radically different heights, dresses, and hair accessories don eye-masks and exchange scarves, fooling their lovers into proposing to the surrogate women. Sudden news of a parent's death spurs four betrothals and a happy ending. Only in Shakespeare are such things possible. In the Albright College Domino Players' production of Love"s Labour's Lost, they are not only possible but compelling and magical.

Shawn Arnold

Who wants to watch a boring old British play? Nothing is less entertaining to a contemporary audience than a stuffy portrayal of the classics. George Bernard Shaw, whose bulk of work is less than a century old, had the assistance of Lerner and Loewe to keep one of his plays fresh in the 50's. If Shaw is an issue, the Bard trumps them all. Too many productions of Shakespeare's works are often stilted and hackneyed. Albright College, however, does not follow down this boring path. The Domino Players Theatre Company of the college presents an uproariously flirtatious production of Bill's Love's Labour's Lost.

Savannah Ganster

The stage is set. Tall white trees shadowed with calligrapher's script create a poetic forest, which sets the mood for an elegant Shakespearian production, thanks to scenic design by Lisi Stoessel. Cue the classical music. Enter the characters dressed in their period costumes, courtesy of Paula Trimpey. As this show begins, so does the teeth gritting. Albright College Domino Players' presentation of Love's Labour's Lost by William Shakespeare at the Merriam Theatre in Philadelphia makes for some laborious viewing.

Tammy Bateman

As The Domino Players of Albright College so wonderfully portrayed, Love's Labour's Lost is a hilarious comedy about friendship, knowledge, and love.  Filled with misguided courtships to make even a modern day soap opera seem simple, William Shakespeare's comedy shows four Lords of Navarre together in their pursuit of the noble ladies of France. The solidarity displayed by the Domino Players' ensemble is not only necessary for such a production, but executed with believability and success.

P.S. Northrop

From the moment the burgundy, 19th century floral print program for Albright College's production of Love's Labour's Lost is placed in your hands, you just know you're in for a ridiculous and stylized experience. Indeed, the players and designers of that show make good on the program's promise--delivering an ostentatious performance that makes fun not only of itself, but of the world that it comes from. Even if you hate the showier side of Shakespeare, this interpretation brings a delightful touch of youthful immaturity that makes Love's Labour's Lost a worthwhile endeavor.

Amy Martin

The current production of William Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost, by William Shakespeare, at the Merrian Theater in Philadelphia, works to ensure that the language is not a hindrance for the cast. The Albright University production features strong voices and distinct faces that successfully carry the weighty language, but the production neglects to incorporate the actors onto the set, which causes the two separate levels to emerge. Director Julia Matthews' blocking creates a silhouette drama where the actors appear foreign to the space, as if their heads are detached from their bodies.

Next time on Everyone's a Critic

Tomorrow marks our last full day for classes and theatergoing, and Saturday is judgement day, though you wouldn't know it by the way this group encourages and gently critiques each other. It's all very un-Real World, and frankly, kind of disappointing, but UArts wouldn't give us a hot tub, so I guess that's that.

Friday I'll post the results of another short exercise, and Saturday the full reviews will be up so you can help decide who gets the comp. Our winner then heads to the Kennedy Center for its College Theater Festival, and the winner at that event--who will be judged on the review they've written here--heads up to New England for a sweet two-week getaway (that is, if your definition of "getaway" is "really hard work" ) at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Critics Institute. It's pretty astonishing that there are still students motivated enough by their love of the arts to want to buck the trend and spend their free time trying to master this craft in what may be the most difficult moment of its evolution. I hope you'll encourage them to continue exploring this uncertain--but certainly worthwhile--path.

Shawn.jpgShawn Arnold. He's so our Suede. Ok, not really, but get a load of this crazy action shot!

January 15, 2009 3:33 PM | | Comments (4)

4 Comments

Hi Ariel,

Since yours was the critcs' first show, and we discussed their reviews in class extensively, I decided not to post them. However, I'd be happy to e-mail you their critiques if you send me your e-mail address through the "contact me" spot on this blog.

So, I am a student from SUNY Oswego who put on the show Honor and The River. I was reading some of the critiques for the other shows and wondered why I didn't see anything for Honor. Finally after a lot of reading through the blog I found this post. I just want to understand, so critiques did come wrote something but their writings were not posted? How come and is there anyway to see maybe one or two critiques of the show?

Thank you,
Ariel

Thanks for your insights, we'll be discussing them today in class. Also, if you check back this evening, I'll post the students' first efforts at theater blogging--a skill whose particular pains are very familiar to you!

Oh, good assignment, Wendy. It's Shakespeare, but not one that's widely known (though one of my absolute favourites), so your writers have to give an idea of the play, and what might be distinctive about this production. Once again, thanks to the generous-hearted participants for offering up their work.

The lede has to convey information and establish a voice: some of the entries sound like student-essay rather than journalism, and don't invite us to read on. And they have to be clear - this isn't the place to work through a complicatedly packed idea, and I'm afraid I was struck but baffled by Amy's image of silhouettes with detached heads - it needs space to breathe later in the review.

The setting sounds interesting, and I like the way Jessica and Savannah both pick up on the calligraphy trees - I immediately have an image of the show. But both paragraphs contain a little too much extraneous information (plot, credits) for an opening paragraph. Shawn's "uproariously flirtatious" is a terrific phrase, even if the argument about Pygmalion's afterlife is something of a distraction; and the way PS uses the progamme as an entry point makes for an neat and unexpected opening.

But for me, the most arresting lede was by Devin. Another set description - but one which also suggests the play's argument. Punchy first line. A simple, clear introduction of the plot conflicts and the big idea of education, experience and cutting yourself off from the world. Don't quite understand what the fourth sentence means - is someone physically pushing the columns around or building some kind of fence, or is this a metaphor? But the last line is great - vigorous and ending with a question to which I'd like to know the answer. The review begins with immediacy, on the balls of its feet. Good stuff, Mr Dippold.

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