8 - Friday, November 18, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
CULTURaAL SHOW gREVii n
Imgini-ng reality in the R
The Indian American Student Association puts on the largest student-run production in the country.
IASA fin ds itsrot
This year's show,
By VERONICA MENALDI
Every year the Indian Ameri-
can Student Association (IASA)
puts together a dance show to
ferent facets of Riaayat
After rehears- Tonight at
ving since mid- 7p.m.
r planning for Hill Auditorium
F eight months, From$16
show, titled "Rivaayat" ("redis-
covering our roots" in Hindi),
" will take place tonight at 7 p.m. in
IASA has been putting on its
annualshow for 25years. Typical-
f ly the IASA show has around 240
participants - its co-ordinaters
say it is the largest student-run
production in the country - and
roughly 4,000 people attend the
performance. The show sells
out every year, according to LSA
senior Ayesha Singh, who is one of
the show's "core members" - the
individuals in charge of organiz-
ing the event.
The format is consistent:
Each year nine or 10 dances are
featured from all over India.
However, the choreography,
costumes and music vary in each
LSA senior and show core
member Surya Sambandan said
this combination of dances is
captivating since not many peo-
ple realize that even though India
is one country, there is a variety
of subcultures each with its own
style, particularly in dance.
"It's not onlyan entertainment
thing," Sambandan said. "We like
to educate our audience about the
Indian culture and its diversity.
It has specific costumes, it has
specific music, all characteristics
of that style and that culture."
Since she was born and raised
in the Ann Arbor area, Samban-
dan has known about the IASA
show for years. This year she
decided to become more involved.
"This year I was just really
ambitious and I wanted to put my
stamp and mymark on the show,"
Sambandan said. "It's really cool
to say that you're one of the two
cultural show coordinators to
put a show on with the largest
student-run group in the country.
It's a mixture of bragging rights,
a mixture of challenge."
Sambandan said it's difficult
to make the show different each
year since the format - a set
number of dances with themed
costumes - is similar. She said
this show specifically is "incred-
ibly choreographed," with color-
ful music to match.
"Every dance has a twist," she
said. "We are the Indian Ameri-
can Student Association, so as
much as they do stay traditional
to the specific dance style, we
are able to remix it up with some
American music. We want to let
the audience know that we are
students in a generation of people
who have to combine two differ-
ent cultures - not just Indian
but our American - and I think
that's really cool."
For years now, the show has
been selling out quickly. Singh
thinks its popularity has to do
with the loyal members and cus-
tomers who keep coming back
year after year.
"There's a good number of
people around Ann Arbor where
the culture is so diverse and
diversity is promoted on this
campus," Singh said. "People
want to come and see other cul-
tures being showcased."
According to Singh, the city of
Ann Arbor and its citizens also
add to the appeal to the show,
as the city is generally accepting
and encouraging of young cultur-
al phenomena like IASA.
"The typical Ann Arborite
likes to come and educate them-
selves on different things and
learn about other cultures,"
Singh said. "People are so curious
about the college life and what
happens around (a) college cam-
pus, that people just have that
general curiosity to come see it."
By ANNA SADOVSKAYA
Daily Arts Writer
Spilling across the set is a deep
blue fabric, covering everything
on the stage. This cobalt drap-
a character in What to Do
its own right,
signaling the When Stuck
physical and in Reality
scene changes Today and
and interacting tomorrow
with the actors at8 p.m.
on stage. and Sunday
This fabric at2 p.m.
is just one of
many creative Keene Theater
set designs Free
used in the RC
Players' production of "What to
Do When Stuck in Reality." Thy
show, fully produced and writ-
ten by students, will run this
weekend at East Quad's Keene
"What to Do When Stuck in
Reality" centers on a young man
who blurs the lines of fiction and
real life to overcome hardships.
As his daily struggles grow -
ranging frsom a schizophrenic
roommate to an unresponsive
mother to a non-existent sex
life - Kevin, the protagonist,
recedes into an imaginary world
he's created as a form of escape.
Director Ellen Sachs, a School
of Music, Theatre & Dance soph-
omore, said the advantages and
difficulties of staging such a
fantasy-filled show came from
working directly with the play-
wright, LSA sophomore Jacob
Axelrad, who serves as commu-
nity culture editor at The Michi-
Sachs's vision proved to be
challenging to stage. Her pre-
vious work with film had ini-
tially interested her in the
imagination-rich script, but the
complexities of producing a play
with film-like nuances quickly
"This (story) would work great
as a movie, where you have dif-
it's a lo
Schitzophrenic roommates and phone sex add fiction to "Reality.
lenses and filters to show blue fabric, I thought, 'Let's
nt realities," Sachs said. go big, let's completely engulf
n a stage, where it's ephem- everything and make it a living,
d you only have one shot, breathing set piece.' The final
t more challenging." outcome is really fascinating."
ugh there were diffi- The visually engaging set cre-
with staging, Carisa ated an outlet for the crazy hap-
e, the show's technical penings of the show to play out
or, said the restrictions naturally, and it allowed for the
propel the play forward, actors to bring a high level of
ng the cast and crew to hilarity. But Bledsoe explained
problems creatively and that the show, though incorpo-
saginative solutions. rating potentially disturbing
elements of fiction, holds an
unnerving honesty atits core.
Can butter "Michigan students all have
this hyper-tension about them
tire cancer? - we're all walking around in a
stressful ball," Bledsoe said. "It's
interesting to see the manifesta-
tion of that intense passion, like
especially novel idea was in the show, because that could be
er the entire set in rich the outcome of so many people.
abric, thus transporting She added, "At some point you
actor and audience into could break and end up ata place
r "dimension." where you have these dead bod-
ng a student-run produc- ies that you're spreading butter
ow do we take big ideas on and claiming you are curing
ommunicate them in a cancer," referring to a scene in
hat's budget friendly and the show.
isually appealing?" said With the help of other dimen-
e, a dual-enrolled sopho- sions, lunatic tendencies and
in the School of MT&D numerous phone-sex interludes,
hooi of Art & Design. "So "What to Do When Stuck in
(Sachs) told me this idea Reality" attempts to answer its
incorporating the cobalt own question.
Singing for civil change
By JACOB AXELRAD
Daily Community Culture Editor
Occupy Wall Street and its sub-
sequent offshoots have gripped
the nation since September.
Stamps Audito- Schur
rium, the pro-
testers of the 99 of Social
percent will get Work 90th
their very own
As part of its Canta
sary celebra- Tonight at
tion, the School 7 p.m.
of Social Work
collaborated Stamps Auditorium'
with renowned Walgreen
composer Bruce DramaCenter
Adolphe from Free
Music Society of the Lincoln Cen-
ter in New York. With help from
the University Chamber Choir,
an original cantata based on the
school's slogan, "Reach Out, Raise
Hope, Change Society," will be
The piece was originally
intended to underscore historical
themes of social justice and civil
liberties. But when the tents and
tarps unfolded in Lower Manhat-
tan's Zuccotti Park, Adolphe real-
ized that his cantata had taken
on a new cultural relevance. He
smiled at the thought of aiding a
cause near and dear to his heart
"When I started working on
this piece, there were basically
no protests going on about any-
thing at all," Adolphe said. "But
as the rehearsals went under
way, you had Occupy Wall Street
and Occupy everywhere else and
all kinds of new urgency and pro-
test ... it's good for the School of
Social Work that it all of a sudden
has that sense of urgency."
on a gra
one of t
by an E
antata is divided into 10 figure prominently in the 20th-
nts of roughly three to five century social and political land-
each. Adolphe structured scape. Though most Americans
ividual movement around don't know of them, Adolphe
nd quotations of lesser- hopes to change that fact by set-
activists and authors to cing their words to music.
ze that change is possible "(These texts) speak very pow-
ssroots level - it doesn't erfully about civil rights, about
originate with the most social justice, about equality," he
leaders in society. said. "And now they get a very
aid Martin Luther King, powerful voice because it's music,
n F. Kennedy and Mahat- which meansit's probably goingto
idhi might not speak to get performed in other places that
as role models because are not schools of social work, but
rear untouchable. music schools. Choirs around the
hard to say, 'I want to be world will eventually do it."
Luther King,' " Adolphe In the view of Talya Gates-
s a kid you might, but as Monasch's, a student in the
older you're looking for School of Social Work and anni-
role models - people you versary committee member, the
issiblybe like." obscurity of the authors should
remind students that they too
can make a difference, which
relates to the third part of the
sser-know n slogan, "cliange society." Accord-
ing to Gates-Monasch, this is the
goal of students in the school:
newv work. getting out and making the world
a better place to live in.
The writers chosen by Adol-
phe have also been incorporated
e the majority of the into the school's curriculum
presents serious matters, throughout the semester. Study
made sure to include guides were made to inform the
thter fare. He character- public of each writer's relevance
e seventh movement as and will be available to those in
he cantata's few humor- attendance tonight.
ponents. It was inspired The audience can expect an
cast Indian proverb: "If evening of woodwinds, percus-
by a river, make friends sion and melodies from a choir
e crocodile." equivalent to professional cho-
she laughed and said, "I ruses, Adolphe said. But they
day, the crocodile would should expect the message, not
mberg and the New York the music, to take precedence.
epartment." Beginning with the language of
ughout the performance, poetry and speeches and com-
s of the Chamber Choir plemented by musical accom-
g words written by Civil paniment, the final product
activist Rabbi Joachim will ground the performance in
nd poet June Jordan, pertinent social issues affecting
others. Prinz and Jordan Asmericans today.
In "Trumpets and Raspberries," the owner of Fiat is mistaken for one of his workers.
A class-conscious comedic play
By DHRUV MADEKA
Daily Arts Writer
Imagine if, for one day, a mem-
ber of the metaphorical 99 per-
cent traded places with a member
of the one
percent. The Trumpetsand
of this unlikely
and comical Today and
"Prince and tomorrow at 8
the Pauper" p.m., Sunday
exchange are at2p.m.
the School of Arthur Miller
Music, Theatre Theatre
& Dance's lat- From $10
"Trumpets and Raspberries."
Written by Italian Nobel Prize
in Literature winner Dario Fo in
1981, the play is set in the Italy
of his time. Directed by MT&D
professor Malcolm Tulip,
the show presents a fictional
account of the real-life owner of
Fiat, Giovanni Agnelli, after one
of his workers, Antonio, saves
him from a kidnap attempt.
Disfigured during the kidnap-
ping attempt, Agnelli is confused
for Antonio when Antonio leaves
his coat with Agnelli. Doctors
mistake the billionaire for Anto-
nio, and Agnelli is given a face
to resemble the worker. The
shos follows Agnelli as he walks
through Antonio's life while slow-
ly recovering his own memory.
Fo's plays were always struc-
tured for the enjoyment of the
everyday man. They would only
be performed at places where
he was sure all could come and
watch. In a satirical smirk, he
picked Italy's entire one percent
as the subject of his play, since
Agnelli controlled nearly 4.4 per-
cent of Italy's GDP at one point.
"Trumpets and Raspberries"
is characterized by themes of
class difference, complex rela-
tionships and mistaken identity.
It's often viewed asa comment on
issues of the time, including gov-
ernmental decisions, the police
force and the medical field.
"It was very much about these
rich business owners having
such control over everything,"
said School of MT&D junior Zoe
Kanters. "The idea that a rich
business owner was lowered to
something as low as workers was
comedic for (Fo's) audience. It's
amazing that it can be connected
to today, with Occupy Wall Street
and ... is still so relevant."
The show is rooted in a form
of theater that originated in Italy,
known as commedia dell'arte. The
characters in this genre are typi-
cally larger than life, aggrandized
versions of personalitytypes. This
may have been Fo's attempt to dis-
play the depth to which his char-
acters are outof touch withnreality.
They often see themselves quite
differently from the way everyone
else perceives them. As a result,
the characters are often consid-
ered strong and difficult to play.
The 99 percent
"It's such a farcy show, and
such an ... out-of-this-world show
with the way we're portraying it,"
said Kanters, who plays a bum-
bling. police inspector. "My big-
gest difficulty was just being able
to go in and play and have fun
with it, and experiment and find
new things that make the show
even more unique and different."
While the "Raspberries" in
the show's title may not seem to
immediately connect to the plot,
the original Italian translation of
the title reveals that these are the
Bronx cheer variety - not fruit.
This humorous sound reflects
the comedic nature of the piece,
as well as the disdain of the 99
-Fine Arts Editor Joe Cadagin
contributed to this article.