Jon Wash’s Campus Journal

O magnum mysterium et admirabile sacramentum…

Hey guys!

It’s been a while but I have a lot to tell you all about!

                                             

This past week was the closing of Beckett(s). Overall, the final few performances went really well and everyone who saw the plays really thought that the show was interesting and innovative. On the final day, our wonderful director (Stephen Weeks) and his family invited the whole cast and crew to his house for an afternoon party complete with amazing food and games. There was a beautiful tomato tart that was served along with vegetarian enchiladas, two salads and a SCHMORGASBOARD of cookies. It was lovely.

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 Erin Dees and Lily!

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Two of my favorite people in one photograph!

 

The games that were played ranged from Sorry! to Cranium to single-most extensive game of Twister that I have ever played in my life. It was just me and Terry (a cast member from Play) competing for about twenty minutes straight. We moved, we balanced, we bent ourselves into really strange positions and we eventually settled on a truce. It was pretty epic.

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Later that night everybody reconvened for strike (the dismantling of the set). It was an…interesting experience. I thought taking down a set in ONE place was comprehensive. Wait until you take down EIGHT sets all over the theatre. I was pleased that we got out before one, though.

Now that the play is over, I have a lot more free time. Having my nights now crammed with rehearsals is beginning to harbor me with the sensation that I am constantly being late for something. Even though I am sad about the play being over, I really do need more time to focus on schoolwork now that final papers and projects are starting to be due. I have a gigantic final paper due in Anthropology of the Body, a whole scene and extensive prompt-book due for my Directing class, a 20 minute creative project due for Theatre and Society, and a large group project where we need to do an extensive outline and explanation of a big theory of our choosing for Social Theory. ALSO, I have been obsessively applying for volunteer positions for theatres in London. I just sent out a batch of 20 e-mails this week, fingers crossed that someone will respond!

This past week has been really intriguing, academically. This Thursday, I revived my love of field-work by advancing my research for my project in Anthropology of the Body. My project centers around the study of food photography and culinary journalism and how it is affecting the relationship people have with their food. As a step to understanding food photography more, I ended up interviewing people at a photo studio. That day was my lucky day, because they were photographing chocolate, burgers and beer! Everyone was so eager to show me how everything worked and everyone was interested in answering my questions. I had several wonderful conversations with photographers, food stylists, random interns and the resident chef (who worked for Chez Panisse in the past!!!). All in all, it was an extremely successful field day and I feel ready to pump out my rough draft of the paper!

My first showing of my scene was also this week, and I must say that it went pretty well. We’ve been hard pressed to find time that all three of us could rehearse (myself, as well as both of my actors were participating in Beckett(s)), so when we did have time, we worked really hard. I am happy to say that all of our hard work really paid off. The scene had a great progression of story and emotion and it was FUNNY. I was so relieved that people were laughing at my scene. Having your work as a director appreciated by an audience is even more satisfying in certain ways than the appreciation through being an actor. We still have a ways to go in regards to finishing and polishing the scene, but I am very confident that it will turn out great. I’m pretty excited to see the final product. Maybe if this website posts videos I could film and post my scene for you guys to see! Who knows…

This weekend was a great weekend for the Lewis and Clark Music Department, because the first opera that the department has done in many years was performed this weekend. The tale of Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell was the opera of choice: a lovely show about love, fate and anguish. It is also strangely appropriate that the department do the story of Dido and Aeneas since it is one of the capstone pieces of literature that all freshman read in their Exploration and Discovery classes. EVERYONE in the audience knew the story, which made it easier to focus on the impressive vocal performances put on by students from the vocal department and others who just really enjoy singing. It was an impressive show and had many surprises in both seeing people I didn’t know could sing opera really SING opera along with staging and set design. The Music Department and the cast and crew should be very proud of their work and operatic theatre should have much more of a presence on campus and with the success and turnout of Dido and Aeneas, it is likely that it will.

Well, I need to go and do some more reading and A LOT more writing.

Hope you are all well and STAY WARM!

 

-Jon

 

Musical present of the week:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nn5ken3RJBo

 

An exquisite rendition of one of the pieces that we will be singing for our winter concert in Cappella Nova by one of my favorite choral composers, Morten Lauridsen.

 

23 November 2009

Its not a miracle we needed…

What a week! So much has happened. I have turned in paper drafts, proposals, bibliographies and read oh so much, but I would have to say that the highlight would have to be the opening of Beckett(s). It was a pretty grueling process, getting everything organized for the play (since the ENTIRE theatre is the set), but in the end we got it all together. Opening night was a little rough, but I think it was just nerves and us adjusting to having a large audience. By Saturday, we really got into the groove of things and I am very excited for this weekend! Once again, if you are in town, you should definitely check out the show. It’s a great show and also would be a great way to see the college and the kind of creative vibe that makes campus such a vibrant community to live in. Here are some photos of some backstage shenanigans during Beckett(s).

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American Gothic much?

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Yeah, the make-up for this show is pretty intense…

 

            This week has been interesting for classes, but I would have to say that my favorite moments have been in Theatre and Society lately. At the moment, we have switched gears from learning about Greek tragedy and have now moved on to more theatre that was produced during the Middle Ages. Instead of gods and catharsis and fate, we have plunged into the world of strange pagan rituals and English mythologies such as St. George and the Dragon. It’s been giving me some pretty interesting ideas about what to do for a final project at the end of the semester. Anyone up to do a harvest antler dance? Maybe?

            Things are really starting to kick into high gear with classes. I need to really start cracking down on my final paper in Anthropology of the Body and really rehearse my directing scene at the moment. I am also waiting to hear back from some theatres that I have applied for internships for in London *fingers crossed*. I’ll let all of you know how they are doing as soon as they start getting off the ground, but until then stay tuned, and stay warm! It’s getting pretty cold up here!

 

-Jon

 

Musical present of the week:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iYRg1A_piM

 

Warning: this song is EXTREMELY catchy. Enjoy!

12 November 2009

The breath is daffodil…

An interesting week, this past one has been, the first highlight probably being Halloween. Unfortunately, I’m afraid I’m not very good at this holiday. I used to come up with really creative costumes with my mom when I was a kid, but I haven’t come up with any exciting costumes since college. Too busy, I guess. This year was no exception. It had been a long day until that evening anyway because I had tech rehearsal for the play I am in. For those of you who don’t know what tech rehearsal is, it is a very long run-through of the play where the lights and sounds that the crew takes care of are introduced to the rehearsal process. The first rehearsal where these elements are incorporated is often a very long day of starting and stopping; starting and stopping. Levels need to be adjusted, volumes need to be changed and transitions need to be made solid. For as extensive and tedious this day usually is, it is the gigantic dramatic step that brings the play to life. It is the day that the acting and technical sides of the theatre come together and begin to create the spectacle that the audience will see. Since I am in fairly small shows, tech was not nearly as long as it has been for other plays that I have been in. In a way, it felt that I was leaving rehearsal early when it was done and I had the rest of the day to either think of a costume or do homework. I chose homework. I eventually decided that I would dress nicely and whenever anyone asked what I was for Halloween, I would wittily reply that I had “dressed up.”

                Later that evening, I went to a concert for a band on campus that my friends Will, Ethan, Nate and Simon had formed called Bella Novella. They have a really good sound and have just started to try and get their music off campus by contacting some venues around town to play in. Fingers crossed that they get a show by the end of the semester! Here is a link to their website; you should check them out (http://www.myspace.com/bellanovella)! The concert featured a lot of new music and some great and innovative covers which caused the concert to turn into a large dance party. It was really fun to see other people’s costumes; my friends Branden and Will dressed up as Marty McFly and the Doctor from Back to the Future (they would), Holly was Carmen San Diego (it was so perfect), Kristin was Lady Gaga (it took me two full minutes to recognize her), Jess was Goldfinger (as in the golden *middle* finger), Grace was the green fairy (complete with an empty absinthe bottle) and my friend Ryan was Allen Ginsberg (English major…). After the concert was over, I headed over to a friend’s birthday party, and along the way I acquired a Halloween costume. My friend and fellow theatre major, Erin, found me and said that she was sad that I was costume-less. However, she mentioned that she just happened to have a back-up costume in the back of her car (of course). When I finally arrived I was either Holden Caulfield from “Catcher in the Rye” or Elmer Fudd. It was open to interpretation. The birthday party was really nice and I got to see a bunch of people that I hadn’t seen lately due to massive amounts of homework and copious hours spent in the theatre. Overall, it was a really lovely Halloween. I even got some sleep!

                Naturally, once Halloween is over, things shift straight into Christmas mode everywhere you go. It is always so surprising how fast everything moves, especially during the school year. I can’t believe that this semester is coming to a close soon and a new year will be starting soon. As Christmas approaches, usually the first thing to change is my singing repertoire in all of the vocal groups I am a part of. Everything goes completely Christmas, and this year for choir, we are doing something very special. For years, my family has had a multitude of Christmas musical traditions, and one of the biggest ones is listening to the Benjamin Britten Ceremony of Carols. To my surprise, this year our choir director chose this particular piece to sing for the end of the semester concert this year. She is even going to hire a harpist for the occasion! I can barely wait to learn this piece of music that has been a part of my family for such a long time.

                Well, I’m afraid that this is all I will be able to write to you this week. This past week and the next couple to follow are going to be absolutely crazy because the play OPENS TOMORROW (*breathe*).  I think we are ready and I’m excited for people to see us. If you are near LC or plan to visit this weekend or next weekend, you should try and see it. The performances will all be at 7:30 on the 6th, 7th, 12th, 13th and 14th of November. The box office is open from 1:00-5:00 Monday through Friday, so see the show if you can!

Until next week,

-Jon

 

Musical present of the week: One of my favorite bands for the past few months.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAqmjOER-PU

5 November 2009

It makes such an almighty sound…

This past weekend was a pretty full one, especially for the theatre and music department. To kick things off, Cappella Nova performed in the Rogers Concert last Thursday, a big event that happens every fall semester. We ended up singing most of the music that we had been working on during the fall to a packed auditorium. We started our set with “Country Dances” (one of the fastest songs I have ever sung in my life), “Fengyang Song” (the first Chinese song I have ever sung!), “Down In The River To Pray” (any “O Brother Where Art Thou fans out there?) and we ended our set with the powerhouse song “The Battle of Jericho” (Best. Tenor part. Ever.). After we were done, all of the other choirs who had performed in the concert joined us on stage and into the aisles with the audience to sing a beautiful arrangement of “Shenandoah.” It was the biggest choir I have ever sung in with a total of 140 people. It was pretty awesome, to say the least.

For the theatre side of things, something special happened last weekend. Once every semester there is a huge event that takes premise over everything, even the main-stage production it seems. It is a little something called Once Upon A Weekend. This special production LITERALLY takes place over the course of a weekend. The week before, a theme is released to campus and anyone is welcome to write a short play and submit it to see if it will be chosen: this semester’s theme was “Saboteur.” By Wednesday, the plays are chosen. On Thursday, the plays are assigned directors. On Friday, the plays are cast…randomly. And then on Saturday only have 2 hours with your director to go through the play and block it and make it as funny as you can before the plays go on that evening. It is absolute madness, but this is my fifth time to do it. You never know who you are going to be. Over the past two and a half years I have a been a guy with a parasitic girlfriend, a fairy godmother, an angel, a second grader, and this year I ended up being a crazed explorer trying to put the blame on everyone in my party beside myself for why our hot air balloon crashed. I got to be very emphatic and loud, overall, a really fun part. Some of the other plays featured were a farce on “who stole the cookies from the cookie jar,” a battle between pirates and ninjas (epic, I tell you), a Christmas photo set gone horribly wrong and a new take on the French revolution with the angry peasants being replaced by a horde of zombies. Something that made this Once Upon so important was that it was the tenth anniversary of the event and in celebration of this fact, the department decided to invite alumni back to write, act and direct. The audience and casts were crowded with many older and unfamiliar faces, but it made the experience much more wonderful. Many alumni from the department act professionally and it was really interesting to see them in their element. It was a wonderful night that I ended up leaving with new friends from.

Academically, this past week has been brutal. I have been in complete midterm mode studying hard for my Social Theory and Theatre and Society I tests. T&S is over, but I still need to power through the other.

 

With this I’ll leave you until next week. Hope you are all well.

 

-Jon

 

Musical present of the week: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpLXQorSQe8&feature=channel

 

I haven’t been able to stop listening to this song for days. Enjoy!

28 October 2009

They go we go, I want you to know, what I did I did…

WHAT A WEEK!

To start things off for this blog, I have two words for you guys.

 

GRIZZLY. BEAR.

 

I imagine that I may have confused many of you at this point. What on EARTH am I exactly talking about? Allow me show you.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcQAOfa__ro

 

Currently, Grizzly Bear is one of my favorite bands, especially after the release of their third album “Veckatimest” late this spring. They have been on my “Listening to Obsessively” list for quite some time and on October 15th, just my luck, they came to Portland to perform at the Crystal Ballroom. As much of a music freak that I am, I haven’t really been to many big concerts. Sure I’ve been to many classical concerts and I’ve seen one or two well known artists live, but none of them were very, how shall I put this…loud. Essentially, what I am trying to convey to you all is that this was my first real rock concert; and what a concert it was! I went downtown on the RAZ (the LC student shuttle) with my friends Will, Ethan and Nate, and the whole time they filled me in on their rules of proper rock concert etiquette based on personal experience. Rule #1: keep to your own space (not that you have a lot, I soon discovered), rule #2:  don’t nudge your way to the front if you come late, rule #3: no yelling the lyrics of the song in the ears of strangers and rule #4: under NO CIRCUMSTANCES are you to spin around frantically like a crazed helicopter impersonator (you know there has to be a story behind that rule…). Amidst this barrage of information, I think that I passed for concert etiquette. Having never been inside of the Crystal Ballroom before, I was creating theories about what it would look like. Several of my friends had been to concerts there, and the thing about the venue that was talked most about was the floor. Yes, the floor. You see, there are springs that support the entirety of the wooden floor of the venue, so when enough people are walking and dancing on it, you ever so slightly begin to bounce, and when we finally arrived, lo and behold when I walked inside there was a slight spring in my step (haha…ehhh). Something that surprised me when I walked in was all of the murals on the walls. Many Romantic images were painted around the whole perimeter and at the center of the ceiling was a beautiful crystal chandelier. For me, however, what was even more interesting than the scenery was the stage itself. It was littered with instruments and microphones that kept me thinking, “how can they possibly use all of these things in just one show?” Above the instruments were about four stands that were about eight feet tall, and hanging from them were Mason jars with little lantern lights inside of them. When Grizzly Bear finally came on stage, there was thunderous applause and I was completely captivated. Over the course of the show they played all of my favorite songs and surprised me with incredible performances of songs that I had somewhat overlooked. The vocals were absolutely amazing live, especially those of the lead singer named Ed Droste. The effects he had placed on his microphone gave his extremely clear voice a lovely booming quality, causing it to fill and recede from the room, almost like an ocean tide.  The bassist was also an interesting character to watch on stage. Whenever he wasn’t rocking out on his bass or singing, he would retreat behind an amp and retrieve such a variety of instruments that I began to wonder what the man COULDN’T play. He pulled out a bass clarinet, a regular clarinet, a flute and at one time he even took out a strange device that appeared to be a tape player which he promptly shoved into the range of the microphone. The lights were also quite a sight. They were constantly changing in color and position and intensity. Whenever there would be a dramatic build or a sudden re-entry of sound, they would flash and change accordingly, making the environment completely strange and otherworldly. The prettiest light show, however, was for a piece called “Foreground”; a gentle piece with piano, choral elements and Ed Droste on vocals. The lights shifted to a beautiful cerulean blue, eerily illuminating the silhouettes of all four musicians. By the end of the piece, the lights had faded into darkness leaving only the timid firefly lights inside of the Mason jars. Absolutely surreal. It was one of the best musical nights of my life to date.

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Another amazing musical experience I had this week was our a cappella group retreat that we have every single semester. This year we ventured up to one of our soprano’s house (Carmelle) in Tacoma, WA. The main goal of our retreats are to learn a lot of new music and get to know each other better and bond as a group. On the music front, we worked hard on learning four new pieces and reviving an old but difficult piece. We made some serious progress with them and I can’t wait for us to put some finishing touches on them and perform them. After rehearsals, we were treated to AMAZING food provided by Carmelle’s family, including delicious macaroni and cheese, TRANSCENDENT bread pudding, some of the most addictive roasted potatoes I’ve ever had, bread pudding, a wonderful salad, green beans, and a lot of bread pudding. Did I mention the bread pudding? I think I did… Anyway, we came up with a lot of “get to know each other” games to play on the retreat to…well, get to know each other better. It was really fun, especially since we have so many new members this year. One of my favorite ones that we did was where everyone puts their shoes in a circle except for one person. Everyone stands behind their own pair of shoes and the person whose shoes are not in the circle must stand in the middle. That person must then say something about themselves, perhaps where they have been or what they have done in their lives, and then if anyone else has done the same thing as them, they must leave their shoes behind to find a new pair. It is usually a mad scramble to find someone else’s shoes and the one that is left over must return the middle of the circle and tell the group something about themselves, then the cycle repeats. We played this game until about 2 in the morning on Saturday, so I’d say we know each other pretty well at this point. Overall, I’d say it was a pretty exciting retreat and we are prepared for our next concert this weekend! More on that next week.

 

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                School won’t be letting up anytime soon, and this last week has been no exception. I have read A LOT of articles and plays, turned in final paper proposals and started to study for the dreaded “M” word. Midterms. They are approaching. Next week in fact. I have my Social Theory test due next week and my Theatre and Society test to study for, not to mention the group creative projects due in that class as well. My particular group has decided to take a scene from the Oresteia by Aeschylus and turn it into a radio play with original music. Also, auditions for my final project in Directing were this week! EEEEK! I have never conducted an audition before, so it was very stressful to go through about twenty people with countless pairing combinations to see who would work best in my scene. I will be doing the first scene from a play called “Rabbit Hole” and I will be looking to cast two girls for it. It is a fairly recent play and it deals with how people live through grief. As serious as the play’s subject matter is, it is actually a very funny play. The balance of the script and the caliber of its writing really drew me in and I am very excited to work on it. I think I might have narrowed down my choices, but I need to see who other people want to and work around that, but seeing as we had so many good choices I’m not sure it will be possible to have a bad cast. We’ll see what happens.

               

Well, time to get back to work, rehearsals and studying for midterms!

 

Until next week,

Jon

 

Musical present of the week: One of my favorites.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doc1eqstMQQ

21 October 2009

And a yellow moon glowed bright…

Autumn has finally graced Lewis and Clark College.

 

The breathy wind has become colder and the color of the leaves is starting to compete with the brilliant sunsets that come with the season. The rain has returned, and Portland transforms into the wet and sleepy city that the nation knows it as. It is my favorite time of year.

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As the college gears into its 6th week of classes, we are given a small gift by having this particular week cut short for an event called Fall Break, and it couldn’t come at a better time. People are worn out from breaking in their figurative academic boots and getting back into the swing of things. By this time, most people have written several papers, read possibly over a thousand pages and begun to study for midterm tests and projects. This semester has been pretty exciting for me, but absolutely exhausting as well and I was ready for a breather. For my break I decided to stay on campus so I could catch up on lost sleep and re-focus everything I needed to get done for classes, at least during the daytime. During the nights I made my way over to the houses and apartments of my friends where we hung out and cooked together. Something you guys should know about me is that I absolutely LOVE to cook. I grew up in a strange but wonderful family where we grew a sizable percentage of our own food and herbs and as a result, I have become a food fanatic. I consider farmer’s markets along with local and ethnic grocery stores playgrounds.

Anyways, for the first night of Fall Break, I went over to my friend Jonah’s house. Jonah has been a great friend of mine since freshman year. We both lived in the same hall called Platt West (the fine arts and performing arts hall), we roomed together sophomore year in Platt East (we turned our room into a recording studio…) and he is also a member in Momo and the Coop. Jonah lives in walking distance to campus, so fortunately I see him often even though he lives further away. This particular occasion was a cooking event that was centered on the arrival of autumn, so together we made corn pudding, stuffed squash, a mixed salad with pears, caramelized walnuts and blue cheese, and of course, the centerpiece was a fresh apple pie made by one of his roommates. The night was spent eating and talking with friends along with Jonah and I geeking out about music. We exchanged new artists that we had been listening to lately and did some live performances for everyone, including a little something called the “Freedom Dance.” This dance is being used for a piece called “Freedom” that we are learning in a cappella, but since I’ve learned it, I can’t stop doing it. The dance essentially causes you to create your body into an instrument of percussion, and the beat is RIDICULOUSLY infectious. Jonah’s place has wooden floors, so every stomp in the dance causes a resounding BOOM to echo through the house. It feels SO good to make noise. For the second night I went over to my friend Kristin and Maggie’s apartment on campus. It had been a very cold day, so the group called for soup to be thing to cook. I decided on making Tom Kha Gai (Thai coconut chicken soup with chili and COPIOUS amounts of lime) and glass noodles. After soup was served, the night consisted of everyone showing off their favorite YouTube videos (with such classics as Powerthirst, Daft Hands and footage of the lyre bird) until about one in the morning. For the third night of Fall Break, I ended up getting more into the Halloween spirit by going to a haunted house that my friend Whitney was volunteering at with some of my older friends who had already graduated. Whitney is one of my closest friends who was ALSO a member of Momo and the Coop (are you noticing a pattern yet?) who graduated a year and a half ago from LC. As wonderful as it was to have seen her, I had forgotten how well I DON’T cope with being scared. I can barely sit through a generic horror/thriller movie without ducking for cover underneath the nearest pillow, let alone walk through an intricate haunted house with REALLY scary things inside of it. After being thoroughly terrified we all headed back to a friend’s house and tried to counteract the terrifiedness with a small “How I Met Your Mother” marathon.” Luckily it worked and I slept soundly that night. By the final day of Fall Break, I had devoted myself entirely back to schoolwork again. I had a multitude of papers to write and goodness knows how many pages to read, but I ended up getting a good chunk of it done.

As a theatre major with a performance emphasis, I need to participate in a lot of the productions that the department puts on every semester. This semester, Fir Acres Theatre is putting on something very special, a collection of Samuel Beckett plays. The performances will be divided two ways: the first half will be an amalgamation of many short Beckett plays of which I am in two, and the second half will be one of Beckett’s long plays called “Endgame” followed by a short piece called “Act Without Words I” which has almost everyone in the whole cast in it. The interesting thing about these plays is that the first half of the production will be staged all over the theatre: in the lobby, the green room, the costume loft, even the men’s shower, while the second half will take place on the main stage. The first play I am in is called “Catastrophe.” My character is called “Director,” and throughout the play I give directions to my assistant to create a stage picture involving a silent character simply called “Protagonist,” however, as the play progresses, my directions drift from theatrical orders to more of a sinister purpose. The second play I am in is called “Cascando.” The play is a dialogue between two speaking characters named “Opener,” “Voice,” along with live music (me!). Rehearsals are starting to really pick up as Opening Night approaches (November 6th).

Something especially exciting that happened this week was the release of Momo and the Coop’s new album, “Joh Eh Ba Dop.” The group spent all of last semester recording it and now it is finally done. We have been handing out free copies all over campus and you can listen to it too! The album is also downloadable online, and here is the link to get it on our website!

 

http://momoandthecoop.com/music/

 

Hope you guys enjoy it! Due to the release, the group headed over to Jonah’s house last night to get together and celebrate. We spent most of the night going around the circle and had everyone sing their audition songs and share some of their favorite memories from being in the group. It was a lovely evening.

Well, hope you are all well. You’ll hear from me soon!

-Jon

 

Music present of the week; perfect for the start of autumn.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7m8CkxXhPtw

14 October 2009

You know, time goes by fast like rain

Wow, first entry! And it’s already October…

It’s only the first month of my junior year in college, but I am easily busier than I have been in my entire life. I do suppose that that is what I get for being in the choir, vocal lessons, an a cappella group, the main stage play, holding down a job for Admissions and preparing to go on my foreign exchange trip to London next semester all at the same time. Oh wait, and that whole CLASS thing… Sleep and a social life fit in there somewhere. For how much crazy there is in my life right now, I’m actually finding it strangely…fun.

Being halfway through college is really strange. All of your classes become exponentially more interesting…and difficult. For me, my four challenges this semester are Social Theory (pivotal class for Sociology and Anthropology majors), Directing (thesis prep for Performance Theatre majors), Anthropology of the Body (300 level seminar class) and Theatre and Society (Greek theatre galore). Amidst all of the stress, some of us sophomores and juniors begin to question what we are doing in our academic lives. Are we in the right place? Are we in the right major? Are we really doing what we want to do with our lives? And then, something happens that reassures you. This past week was that kind of week I had for both of my majors.

For Anthropology, my little epiphany happened in my Anthropology of the Body class. At the moment we are studying a little (and by little, I mean all encompassing) thing called phenomenology. The most basic definition of phenomenology I can give you is the study of the essence of things. Basically: everything. It is the categorization and structure of how we create our reality (kind of a big topic). In this particular class, we narrowed down this discipline to the phenomenology of the senses with an emphasis on our visual capacities. Over the course of the class discussion, we started to touch on visual literacy, or how we categorize what we see into things that help us navigate and understand our world. There are many kinds of visual literacy that humans must learn in order to live in society, especially now that we live in the information age; but one that American culture really takes for granted is “photographic literacy”. One of my favorite things about my classes at LC are when my professors decide to tell stories, and in this particular class, Professor Deborah Heath decided to tell us about a time she encountered a discrepancy over photographic literacy while doing field-work in Senegal. She was doing some studies on the uses of space in Senegalese culture, and as a result of her study, she had to take photos of places that her informants would recognize. Some of her informants for this study were the people she was living with and their friends. She took photos of their houses and various other locations that they interacted with on a day to day basis, places they would have recognized instantly. However, when she gave them the photographs to conduct interviews about the locations, none of them understood what they were looking at. None of them had decent photographic literacy, and therefore couldn’t read a photograph despite the fact that it was of a location that they saw every day. She then gave them photographs of THEMSELVES, and they still couldn’t read the photograph well enough to see their reflection staring right back at them. The photograph was showing them familiar things, but completely out of context. This isn’t even the craziest part. The daughter in Deborah’s host family was visiting from Dakar where she went to school, and scanned through the photos of her house and neighborhood as well. She responded saying “these pictures are so sad; they remind me of the slums in India.” At this point, my mind in class was completely blown. It turns out that the daughter had enough of a thing called “cinematic literacy” that she placed the images into the only visual category she had for them in her head: images from the context of movies and documentaries that she had seen. This got me thinking about myself and my own culture. Americans have incredible visual literacy because we are such a visual culture with computers and television and advertising, but how literate are our other senses? Which cultures have a better sense of hearing? A better sense of smell? Taste? Touch? And why? I LOVE ANTHROPOLOGY.

My Theatre epiphany happened in my Directing class. It is a very stressful thing to do, to direct. You need to be a good leader, have an incredible sense of creativity and you must be completely CONFIDENT in all of the choices that you make; all at the same time being true to the script, managing your actors and stage crew, picking over other people’s schedules for obscure rehearsal dates, prop hunting, and finally, making sure that it all comes together to make someone in the audience FEEL something. Oh yeah, did I also mention you have a time limit? It’s a very scary thing. Luckily, this class on the whole has been proving to be extremely helpful for me getting used to wearing the many different “hats” that the director must wear, often at the same time. This class has provided more of a gradual epiphany as opposed to a spontaneous one, but what I can tell you is that my confidence in regards to being in this daunting position has gone way up and I have been learning much more about acting, set design and script analysis than I had ever anticipated to. Thesis is slowly starting to look a lot less like the most stressful three months of my artistic life and a lot more like an opportunity to “play” around and make something beautiful.

Many things have been happening outside of class for me as well. I think that the first non-academic activity that I will introduce you guys to will be my a cappella group: Momo and the Coop. I joined this amazing group of singers my freshman year, and it would be an understatement to say that being with them has changed my life. They have been one of the many families I am a part of here at LC. For some strange reason, a cappella music is REALLY popular at LC. End of the year performances for all of the groups on campus end up looking mysteriously like rock concerts. This is a strange semester for us because about one third of the group is now new members. After a HUGE audition process, we have welcomed five awesome new singers and are looking forward to how they are leave their own musical impact on the group. Last week we had our first concert, A Cappella Out Loud with two of the other groups on campus: Section Line Drive and the Merriweathers. The songs that we ended up performing were Long Train Runnin’ by the Doobie Brothers, The District Sleeps Alone Tonight by The Postal Service, and Leafhouse by Animal Collective (That’s right. Animal Collective. A CAPPELLA.). We have a big feat in front of us with arranging and learning a bunch of new music, but I’m pretty sure that by the semester we are going to sound better than ever!

Momo and the Coop!

My goodness I’ve talked a lot. Well, off to a multitude of rehearsals and some library time!

Until next week,

-Jon

P.S. Musical present of the week.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwttyMcbRNM

7 October 2009