BUGS presents: Princess Ida

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The women of the college at Castle Adamant, with Meg Martinez ‘15.5 (top middle) as Princess Ida.

When the curtain is lifted on Brown University Gilbert and Sullivan’s new production, Princess Ida, the ensemble cast are assembled onstage as members of King Hildebrand’s (Ahmed Ahour ’19) court, gazing out into the audience with telescopes. They are looking for the eponymous heroine, whose failure to arrive breaks a marriage vow to Hildebrand’s son, Hilarion (Nicholas Renton ’19), made during her infancy by her father, King Gama (Reilly Hayes URI ’17). Gama comes instead with his three sons, buffoonish knights who are quickly imprisoned, along with their father, until Ida can be summoned.

Achieving this goal turns out to be more difficult than expected, however, as a liberated Ida has sworn off men entirely and founded her own women’s college, of which she is president. The only remaining option, Hildebrand’s court concludes, is to send Hilarion–along with his two trusty companions (Harlan Epstein ’19 and Jacob Laden-Guidnon ’18)–off to the college to reclaim Ida.

If all this set-up sounds like a lot, fear not: it is all taken care of in a breezy first act. The meat of the work is the second act, set at Ida’s college, in which the three young heroes dress in drag and attempt to infiltrate the women’s-only community to comedic effect. Naturally, of course, this premise is merely a foundation for a deeper exploration of gender roles and stereotypes. Unsurprisingly, Gilbert and Sullivan, writing in the late 19th-century, did not share all-too-similar views on such issues as Brown students in the early 21st.

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PW Presents: Marat/Sade

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Julia Tompkins ’18, Duncan Gallagher ’18, Harlan Epstein ’19, and Anna Stacy ’17 as inmates in PW’s Marat/Sade.

PW’s new show, Marat/Sade, is a dizzying sensual overload. The play, directed by Andy Colpitts ’16 and written in 1963 by the German playwright Peter Weiss, won the 1966 Tony for Best Play, perhaps in part for its topicality in a period of social turmoil. Its depiction of the frustrations and tensions of class warfare feel no less relevant today.

Marat/Sade is chiefly a play-within-a-play, mounted in a French insane asylum in 1808 by the writer, philosopher, and onetime politician the Marquis de Sade. Ostensibly, the prisoners’ play tells the story of the assassination of the radical writer and theorist Jean-Paul Marat in 1793, at the height of the French Revolution. As the performance goes on, however, it becomes clear–to the displeasure of the onlooking and occasionally intervening asylum director Coulmier (Spencer Roth-Rose ’17)–that the prisoners have their own agenda to press.

PW’s Downspace has been turned for the production into a chained-off ring that feels half-prison, half-circus. A four-piece live band is on hand to supply music, although half of its members also come down to the main stage to play inmates during musical breaks. Four more inmates also serve as singers, and the musical numbers are impressive in and of themselves–tightly and often unusually choreographed, pleasantly dissonant, fluidly performed.

The ensemble cast, some with painted faces, many in ghostly white uniforms, are endearingly strange, dancing, chanting, and hollering in an almost orgiastic chorus. Mention must be made, in particular, of French hornist Zach Woessner’s ’18 midplay contortionist routine, which emerges as a totally unexpected highlight of showmanship. Comic relief is provided by Brian Semel ’16 (a BlogDailyHerald staff writer) as the sneering, sardonic Herald, a de facto master of ceremonies.

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12 Days of Spring Weekend: Modest Mouse is a very good band

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“I don’t feel, and it feels great,” Modest Mouse frontman, Isaac Brock, shouts early in the 10-minute-long, instrumental-heavy “Trucker’s Atlas,” from 1997’s The Lonesome Crowded West. This concise rallying cry points to the proud cynicism that characterizes much of the band’s music. Lonesome Crowded West was the band’s second full-length album, and the first to garner serious critical attention–Pitchfork gave it a rare perfect score–and provided Modest Mouse with its breakthrough.

Three years later, they released their major-label debut, The Moon & Antarctica, to further critical acclaim. With 2004’s Grammy-nominated Good News for People Who Love Bad News, and 2007’s well-received We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, the band solidified its reputation as one of the most original and consistently strong acts in mainstream alternative rock.

Modest Mouse was first conceived by Isaac Brock, who is the only member with an uninterrupted tenure in the band since its conception. (Founding drummer Jeremiah Green was replaced briefly in 2003 after suffering a nervous breakdown, but has otherwise also lasted the entire two decades; founding bassist Eric Judy left the band in 2011.) Brock grew up in the Pacific Northwest and for a period as a child was introduced into a Christian sect that asked him to speak in tongues; Modest Mouse, perhaps as a consequence, often touches on religious themes. On “3rd Planet,” possibly one of his most complex lyrical compositions, Brock sings, “the third planet is sure that it’s being watched by an eye in the sky that can’t be stopped… when you get to the promised land, you’re gonna shake that eye’s hand.”

But “3rd Planet,” like many of the band’s songs, also maintains Brock’s default defiant-asshole-persona: “I’ve got this thing that I consider my only art: fucking people over,” he declares in the opening verse. The complexity of Modest Mouse comes in its exploration of the subtleties of that persona, as in the mournful “Broke,” in which Brock declares, almost penitently, “Sometimes I’m so full of shit it should be a crime.” And on the same album (Good News for People Who Love Bad News), in which he screams in “Bury Me With It,” “Sure as planets come, I know that they end, and if I’m here when that happens, will you promise me this, my friend? Please, bury me with it! I don’t need none of that Mad Max bullshit,” he also inquires of the eponymous subject of “Bukowski,” “Who would want to be such an asshole?”

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Did you really read Morning Mail? Rock adopting SciLi basement hours

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Guys! The Rock is going to be open 24 hours now! Morning Mail says so! I’m not sure how to process this information aside from my feeling that this will in some sense have a revolutionary impact on how I construct my late-night schedule. Is the Rock not the library you work at when you want to self-impose a 2 a.m. deadline anymore? Should I measure out the length of time it takes to get from the Rock to Jo’s exactly, so that I can arrive at the latter at exactly 1:57 a.m. and back at the former soon after? What does dawn look like through the AQR windows that look out on Providence?!?!!?

Oh man. This is nuts. The exact details, by the by, are that the Rock will now be open 24 hours Sunday through Friday–as the Sciences Library already is–with the circulation desk still closing at 2 a.m. every day. Plus, even crazier, the Rock will not close at all between the start of Reading Period (which for some reason they say begins Sunday, April 19th) until the end of Finals. For more info, see today’s Morning Mail or peep this link.


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BREAKING: Spring Weekend 2015 lineup announced

Here is the lineup for 2015’s Spring Weekend. Stay tuned for more updates!

Note: This post has been updated with Saturday’s openers, What Cheer? Brigade and Kelela.

FRIDAY

Waka Flocka Flame

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We’ve had a little extra time to get pumped about Waka Flocka; if you haven’t already seen the videos of him in a recording booth or reading/responding to a fan’s comments, please do so now. His most recognizable songs, “O Let’s Do it” and “Hard in da Paint,” are from his first album, Flockaveli, (not to be confused with Flockaveli 2, coming out later this year).

Hudson Mohawke

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Perhaps more famous for his work as half of TNGHT, Ross Birchard — Hudson Mohawke — is also behind multiple hits for Kanye West. As part of Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music stable, the Scottish DJ sometimes referred to as “HudMo” helped with the beats on “Blood on the Leaves” and “Mercy” (more on that later). Though he might not have the name recognition of past years’ electronic acts like Diplo and A-Trak, Hudson Mohawke should bring plenty of energy to Friday night.

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PW Presents: ‘Leo Baum’s Guide to Articulating a Skeleton

Fletcher Bell '16 as Leo Baum.

Fletcher Bell ’16 as Leo Baum.

The most recent PW show, Leo Baum’s Guide to Articulating a Skeleton, is ostensibly based on a series of historical events set off by an explorer’s failed excursion to the North Pole in 1897. The explorer, an American named Robert Peary (who ten years later did reach, or very nearly reach, the North Pole) made acquaintances with an Inuit tribe as he passed through Alaska, and convinced a small number of the tribsemen to return with him to New York. Those that came were taken into the custody of New York Museum of Natural History archaeologists; within a year, all but one died of tuberculosis.

The survivor, Minik, was a young boy at the time, and a Museum employee adopted him and raised him in New York. Minik’s father was among the deceased Inuits, but never received a proper burial, as the museum wished to study his bones; a teenaged Minik, discovering this ruse, initiated an ultimately unsuccessful struggle with the museum to regain possession of the skeleton.

All of these things lurk in the margin of Leo Baum, but none are at the heart of the play–that role falls to Leo Baum (Fletcher Bell ’16), an elementary school student whose father, Saul, seems to have adopted Minik, now grown to adolescence. (In real life, a curator named William Wallace adopted Minik.)

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