The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: September 2015 Page 2 of 7

Sam Wheeler ‘17 directs Bates’ first radio play

The booming theater department here at Bates has a solid history of student directors. This semester, Sam Wheeler ’17 is directing a radio play entitled “They Fly through the Air with the Greatest of Ease” by Norman Corwin. It is an independent study for his directing track in the Theater major.

A radio drama is a play produced solely for audio enjoyment and produced via radio stations, like a podcast. Wheeler is taking this original radio play and transforming it for the stage by adapting the script to add stage directions and other elements that contextualize a play. To prepare for this endeavor, he read 25 radio plays this summer.

“These shows were done a while ago, and I fear that they have been forgotten about and/or are not recognized by today’s population.  By bringing this type of medium and taking it to a place that people today are more familiar with, I hope to draw interest in these radio shows from my audience,” he said. Wheeler proposed the idea to Michael Reidy, Senior Lecturer of Theater, who approved the idea for an independent study credit.

“The show confronts issues of war, destruction, and shame, and is as relevant today as it was first presented in 1939,” said Wheeler. “It explores three parts of life as we know it that will never change: life, death, and war.  The world around us has changed drastically since 1939, yet these three ideas continue to occur.  I have adapted the script from the radio to the stage as part of this process.”

Wheeler gives credit and gratitude to the Theater Department as he continues to develop his project. “The entire department has been wonderful in this endeavor.  From the technical aspect with Michael Reidy and Justin Moriarty, to design with Christine McDowell, I have had a lot of people help me along the way,” he notes.

One man in particular has been especially helpful. Cory Hinkle, Visiting Lecturer in Theater, is acting as Wheeler’s advisor for this project. “We started conversation via e-mail over the summer before he had even gotten to campus and he has been incredibly supportive of me through this entire process,” Wheeler said. “It has been really important to me to have a good relationship with an advisor who wants this to be as successful as I do.”

Wheeler held auditions on September 13th and 14th, where he casted five actors: Nick Muccio ‘16, Michael Driscal ‘19, Tricia Crimmins ‘19, Claire Sullivan ‘19, and Becca Havian ‘19. He casted Jason Ross ’19 as stage manager, who is “always there with positive words and coffee” whenever Wheeler is in need of some motivation.

Developing something that has never been done at Bates can be an overwhelming and nerve-wracking experience. However, Wheeler states that he’s not “nervous about anything in this process.  I would say that any nervousness is channeled through excitement for me.  I guess I am just really excited about producing something different at Bates, something that has not been done before. It’s going to be such a great process and it’s only just starting.”

The show will be performed in the Black Box Theater on November 13th and 14th at 7:30pm and November 15th at 2:00pm.

 

Common Ground Fair

A vendor selling her wares at the fair. DREW PERLMUTTER/THYE BATES STUDENT

A vendor selling her wares at the fair. DREW PERLMUTTER/THYE BATES STUDENT

The sun was shining and the weather was comfortably crisp this weekend at the Common Ground Fair. Held annually in Unity, Maine, the fair is hosted by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and attracts roughly 60,000 people every year (and about three-quarters of Bates College). Located on a huge field with tents spanning across acres, there are hundreds of vendors with numerous items to keep people busy for hours.

Once the car is parked, and you have waited in the long line to purchase your ticket, the fun begins. The fair is somewhat organized, with areas to purchase food for later – like cheeses and wild blueberries – another area to buy food that you will eat immediately – such as fish tacos and chai tea – an animal section, and many smaller sections filled with merchandise.

By far, the food areas were my favorite: I sampled and purchased an assortment of cheeses, yogurts, and fruit that were organically grown and produced by local farmers – something I really like to support. When I ventured to ready-to-eat foods, I found myself at the restaurant Harvest Moon’s tent, where I happily indulged in some ricotta and spinach wood-fired pizza. I also passed by Indian cuisine, ice cream, lots of seafood, smoothies, and foods that accommodate allergies and restrictions. “It’s really nice to see such a variety of food options, especially for people like me who have food allergies,” Sarah Wainshal ’16 said.

After overeating, I explored the tents containing things like jewelry, art, herbal medicines, and teas. I was in awe of the skill demonstrated by artists at the fair. Women were knitting sweaters and hats on site, making quilts, basket-weaving, making jewelry, dreamcatchers, etc. There were materials to purchase, like yarn and fleece, if you wanted to create your own, or you could purchase an already-made scarf or hat. The fashion pieces were very unique, no one like the other. I actually ran into a photographer I met at a fair in Bar Harbor, and purchased a photo of a moose for my father (don’t tell him.) The local talent and skill is truly amazing.

Lured by the smell of lavender, I visited the tea/home remedy tents. I smelled many essential oils and herbal remedies, and while I can’t tell you if they work or not, I can vouch for their great smells. I also sampled many vegan/organic lotions and have never had softer hands. There was a dried flower tent near the remedy tents, where I purchased a cup of delicious citrus tea, and dried lavender from a familiar face, who I realized was the same man who pierced my ear earlier this week on Lisbon Street. He is not the only person I ran into. The fair, full of families and people of all ages, also had a fair number of Batesies that I loved meeting throughout the day.

Though I must say, I ran into the most people at the animal portion of the fair. There were chickens, geese, goats, sheep, and an overwhelming number of bunnies (I’m not complaining.) I spent a large segment of my afternoon near the bunnies – not only for their cuteness, but also because of the incredibly large and fluffy bunnies, which were unlike anything I had ever seen before. I would go back to Common Ground Fair next year for the sole purpose of seeing those big, fluffy bunnies. My only criticism is that there were bunnies for sale for anywhere between $20 and $100, meaning I had enough cash in my pocket to purchase a bunny. It took unbelievable self-restraint to leave the fair without one. “It was great to see the young and young at heart taking delight in the bunnies they had for sale,” James Erwin ’18 said.

Would I go back? Absolutely. The fair is a really great way to spend your day and explore what Maine has to offer. It is virtually impossible to see everything that the fair presents, so returning either the following day or year is a must. “The fair had so many different tents and things to see that even after walking around for three hours I felt like I had only scratched the surface,” Amanda San Roman ’17 said. “My favorite part was probably seeing all of the different animals and learning where they were from. It was a perfect day to be at the fair and so much fun seeing students and families all enjoying it together.”

 

Pleasantly surprised by ‘80s dance

I do not dance. Well, I used to not dance. So naturally, when I first learned about ‘80s Dance during orientation, it put the fear of God in me. I was struggling with transitioning to college life from home life, and now, all of a sudden, the school wants me to dress in a ridiculous neon outfit and go dance with the entire student body? I was not okay with it, but then, all of a sudden, I was.

Two friends I had just met on my AESOP trip convinced me to go. We bought really absurd, really fun matching outfits, and for the first time in my life I was excited to go to a dance (if you can even call ‘80s a dance). And it worked, ‘80s Dance lived up to all the hype, and I had a lot of fun. However, I had fun for different reasons than what everyone kept saying.

I felt no pressure to “get wasted,” or to “hook up” with as many people as possible—two priorities I heard many freshmen say they had in the days before ‘80s. To be clear, I am not criticizing anyone who did either of those two things. I too, took part in the festivities. The point is I danced, I fully immersed myself in the experience, and I stopped caring about how others perceived me. I believe that there is a lesson to be learned from ‘80s that can be applied to our college experiences—especially to freshmen, but also to upperclassmen, as well.

I urge us all to approach college the way we did ‘80s: fearlessly and with high expectations. Fully engage all that college has to offer, both socially, academically, and your extracurricular activities. Be courageous about it. Lose your inhibitions when it comes to trying new things, regardless of your BAC levels.

Ryan Adams makes Taylor Swift enjoyable for everyone

Last fall, Taylor Swift dropped her fifth album, 1989. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. With singles including “Blank Space” and “Bad Blood,” Swift was topping the charts. But not everyone was a fan. Take my brother, for instance: pop music is not his genre of choice. As such, he didn’t listen to the album at all (this turned out to be a problem, because I constantly blasted it from my room). It’s completely fine if Swift is not your cup of tea, but maybe you should give 1989 a chance. Especially since now there’s a way for everyone, including my brother, to enjoy it.

Ryan Adams is a well-known rock/alternative musician. In other words, he is the antithesis of Taylor Swift. For reasons I don’t know (but am extremely grateful for), Adams decided to record a cover album of 1989 – as in he recorded, and put his own spin on, every single track on the record.

To be honest, when I first heard about this, I wasn’t expecting greatness. Why would we need more versions of Taylor Swift’s music? Sure, I like it, but I really couldn’t see how anything more could be done with these pop songs.

Well, Adams’ album came out last week, and I will admit I was wrong. Adams turned 1989 into an entirely new album. The covers are simple, just Adams and a guitar, bringing listeners back to the alternative music of the ‘90s. Stripped of synthesizers and heavy beats, this album lets us fully absorb the lyrics. With Adams singing, we really hear the raw emotion. This has become his breakup album, after splitting with Mandy Moore earlier this year.

This version is so clearly Adams, it is enjoyable to his fans and T-Swift teenyboppers alike. While Swift’s 1989 is perfect to pump yourself up or blast at parties, I would not recommend listening to Adams’ remake before going out. It is definitely a downer of an album; you can hear the heartbreak in his voice. The “Blank Space” cover is melancholically lovely, and features some wonderful finger-picking. “All You Had To Do Was Stay” surpasses the original, subtly conveying the hurt of a breakup. “Clean” rounds up my top three picks from the album, getting to the heart of a classic rock song.

Swift’s 1989 is a bit hard to find unless you buy it. It’s not available on Spotify, and the tracks are only on YouTube if there are accompanying music videos. Adams’ 1989 is much more accessible. Spotify, YouTube, you’ll find it anywhere. Take advantage of this, because this is not a cover album to miss.

One thing to keep in mind: this album is still Taylor Swift’s at heart. She wrote and produced it. Adams is just coming in to put his own spin on it. So if you decide to take a listen to it, and end up liking it – I’m looking at you, brother – remember that this wouldn’t have happened without T. Swift.

 

Performance Artist Sara Juli shares Work in progress with Bates

This past Friday, performance artist Sara Juli performed a forty minute excerpt of her new work “Tense Vagina,” which will be performed at Portland’s Space Gallery on October 23rd and 24th at 8pm.

The piece is a harvest of Sara Juli’s experiences as a mother, and is thus a work aimed at parents. While it might be arguably easier for parents to empathize with some of the references in Sara Juli’s work – such as offering the audience snacks, explaining how and when to open said snacks, singing Disney princess karaoke, etc. – the students who watched the showing were laughing uproariously. Not all audience members may know what it’s like to be a parent, but we never forget what it’s like to be a kid – or at least to have an adult talking to us as if we were still a kid.

While some might understandably wrinkle their nose at the prospect of hearing about “tense vaginas” for an hour, Sara Juli’s unexaggerated gestures, genuine interest in the audience, and fluid compositional style allow this subject matter to be the Disney-princess-powered glue linking everyone in the audience to one another and to her experience.

Towards the beginning of the piece, when she confesses to having recently visited the Pelvic Floor Rehab Center of New England, I thought “this can’t be true, it’s just too funny.” However, it was true, and realizing so filled me with a sense of awe and appreciation for the performance that is rarely established so early on in a performance art piece.

Hannah Fairchild ’18 wrote about this unique relationship between Sara Juli and her audience: “The beauty of experiencing her performance was that she made me laugh, and she made me want to cry. Sara Juli’s piece shares a deeply personal medley of experiences and emotions from her life as a woman and a mother for which I experienced an overwhelming feeling of empathy that tugged painfully on my heart as I watched her. To me, one of her truest talents is her ability to grab the audience– everyone in the audience, no matter where they come from, who they identify as, or how little one may think they will be able to resonate with the stories she spills onto the stage. The rawness of her stories and movements that fluctuate from silliness to pain make for a helplessly-gripping experience for the audience to witness.”

This was not the first time that Sara Juli has come to share an excerpt of her work at Bates and receive feedback from students and faculty. During short term, she garnered feedback for a duet that she collaborated on with veteran choreographer and comedienne Claire Porter, which was performed at the world renowned American Dance Festival in July.

Sara Juli began her showing with a series of endearing disclaimers, and at the end highlighted how important the May showing was for cultivating feedback and finessing the final art product.

Laura Pietropaoli ’17 was able to be at both showings and shared her reflections over e-mail: “Sara Juli’s performances in general tend to be very rooted in her personal experiences. She tells real stories about her life that are relatable; everyone in the audience has felt all of emotions that she conveys, even if no one has gone through exactly what she is depicting. I’ve never even heard of the Pelvic Floor Rehab Center of New England, but I found each section that she showed accessible and frankly hilarious. She is an incredible storyteller who knows how to engage her audience through well-known cultural references in order to drive her narrative home.”

Not to give any spoilers for the performance, but just know that I will never look at the song “Chandelier” the same way. If any Batesies are here for October break and looking for a bit of culture, check out “Tense Vagina.”

 

Men’s tennis starts season

The Bates College Men’s Varsity tennis team got off to an exciting but tough start last weekend as they faced off with surrounding NESCACs at the Middlebury invitational in Middlebury, Vermont. Overall, the team racked up a 6-13 record against the competition, with key player Duane Davis losing in the semifinals to Skidmore’s Ted Berkowitz with a 6-4, 6-2 result. Additionally, sophomore Ben Rosen won a match in class A singles with a first-round victory against Skidmore’s Kai Yuen Leung. The team this year is young but full of potential.

While it is comprised of mostly underclassmen, there is no question as to the Bates tennis team’s talent, with the team being the 23rd ranked recruiting class in the nation for D3. Even though spots haven’t yet been set in stone, the team is already working very well together. According to first year Ben Eckardt from Montgomery, New Jersey: “There isn’t a single captain, yet there is a team full of leaders. We’re looking to improve off of last year’s good season by working even harder this year.” Though it’s too soon to tell how this season will play out, last year the Bates tennis team proved to be a real contender in the conference, securing wins over very difficult teams such as Bowdoin, Middlebury, and Pomona Pitzer.

This weekend, the team traveled to Williams College to face off in another tournament. On Friday, the Bates team impressively won six matches versus three losses. Sophomores Ben Rosen and Fergus Scott were able to secure two wins each in the first two rounds. According to first year tennis star Duane Davis: “The tennis is looking really strong. We’ve been training very hard on and off the court. We’ve seen that our hard work has helped us get the results we want. This weekend, Fergus Schoot, Ben Rosen and Patrick Ordway had some great results. They were able to pull through and get the W. In doubles, we fell a little short but were happy with the way we played. We love fighting and playing hard on the court and we have a lot to look forward to. We have one more fall tournament next weekend held by Bates. We look forward to competing in this tournament and working hard in the off-season. Our team is so deep and talented and teams will fear us in the spring season when they have to play Bates.”

This year, the team is looking to take their game to the next level as a cohesive and motivated unit. While the team knows that they have a tough season ahead, they are working to improve their fitness and court game. Their next tournament, the Wallach Invitational, will be held at Bates on October 10-11.

 

Do unto others: Seriously, do something

It is no secret that Millennials are losing faith in religious institutions. According to a study by the Pew Research Center in 2010 (“Religion Among the Millennials”), 18 percent of individuals under the age of 30 reported being raised within a religion but are now unaffiliated.

This downward trend is something Pope Francis wants to change. Since becoming pope in 2013, he has generated some positive reactions amongst young and old, Catholic and non-Catholic. He is especially concerned with connecting to Millennials and is looking into new ways of communicating with the social media generation—for example, his Twitter account.

In his address to Congress on September 24th, he said, “I would like to call attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young. For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair. Their problems are our problems. We cannot avoid them.”

While I admire his efforts to revitalize the faith in the younger generations, the “problems” of the younger generation have a history of being avoided. The Church still owes reparations to the young people that were harmed by the series of clergy abuse scandals that came to light in the late ‘80s.

I remember first hearing about the abuse scandals when I was eight years old. It was briefly mentioned by a former priest after Mass on Sunday at my church. Around that same time The Boston Globe printed a series of articles covering the cases against priests in the Boston area accused of sexually abusing minors—allegations that eventually led to the accused being tried and convicted.

Now, how do you explain that to an eight-year-old? It’s not like I was reading the Globe those days. And it shouldn’t have been swept under the rug or shielded from the younger parishioners; silence just creates an opportunity for more harm. But how do you explain that a place where you should find comfort and security has been capable of so much damage?

Pope Francis has earned a lot of admiration in the world today as a radical pope, a newcomer who can bring a fresh wave of change to the Vatican. However, while he is valid in calling for compassion in political decisions involving poverty, climate change, and the refugee crisis, these are governmental priorities. Yes, we live in a global society and faith leaders can offer their support and guidance, but the issue of clergy abuse is without a doubt a priority for the Pope and the Vatican.

Pope Francis’s remarks to abuse victims during his trip to the US were met with both positive and negative reactions. Some victims were displeased when he praised the work of the bishops involved in the ongoing effort to make amends. A number of bishops covered up allegations of abuse or were the abusers themselves. And although Pope Francis has created a tribunal for judging bishops accused of negligence, allegations of abuse continue to surface in the United States today. More must be done and more must be said in order to restore people’s faith and trust. Millennials aren’t eight years old anymore, so talk to us like adults. Don’t just tweet at us. Work with us to bring about change.

Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice… We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good,” Pope Francis said. As a member of this younger generation you hope to connect with, one who has roots in the Catholic faith, I want to see more tangible “hope and healing” in the decades to come.

First “Town Hall” Meeting

The first Bates College Student Government Town Hall Meeting took place on Sunday, September 27th. It was an opportunity for anyone in the Bates community to voice their ideas or concerns. This weekly assembly consists of the Executive Council: the president, vice president, up to five student cabinet ministers, as well as faculty advisors and any one else who wishes to attend.

First on the agenda was the chalking policy, presented by Carl Steidel, an Assistant Dean of Students, and Kim Trauceniek, the Associate Dean of Students for Campus Life. As of now, any group on campus can reserve space on Quad walkways through events.bates.edu. Groups can use chalk to write any messages they want, as long as statements are not “threatening” or “libelous.” Messages may not be defaced and may last up to one week. Chalking has been used in the past to promote events like “Coming Out Weekend” to raise awareness of sexuality issues. The question posed was whether chalking space should continue to be reserved and planned for or whether it should be first come, first served. A decision has not yet been made.

When asked what BCSG’s plans are for this year, President Norberto Diaz ’16 vocalized his desire for “senators to learn how to be leaders.” He feels student government has suffered in the past because senators have trouble voicing the opinions of others and enacting change; they simply lack the necessary skills. Trauceniek suggested senators attend a retreat to engage in leadership and bonding activities.

Audrey Zafirson ’16, chair of the President’s Advisory Council, added that in the past student government has focused on “background” activities, such as ensuring campus clubs have adequate funding. Zafirson says that this is really not their role, and that they should instead be “enacting actual change.”

Besides attending these meetings, students who want their voices heard can attend senators’ office hours, which will be announced once elections end. Diaz wants government officers to function more like JA/RCs. According to Diaz, all students should know who their officers are and feel comfortable talking to them about anything and everything.

Town hall meetings, as of now, occur every Sunday at 9 pm in PGrew 301. However, locations and times are subject to change. Everyone is encouraged to attend, whether you have a specific concern about Bates or whether you just want to know what student government is up to.

 

Risky Weight

First years working along side Professor Boggia. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

Each fall, new members of the Bates dance community come together to create the First-Year dance piece, performed in the Back to Bates Weekend Dance Concert. This year, Rachel Boggia, Assistant Professor of Dance, spearheads those efforts.

Boggia and Carol Dilley, acting Chair of the Theater and Dance departments, have rotated the responsibility of working with the first-years on this piece. Returning from a six-month sabbatical, Boggia wanted to return to the dance community and work with its new members while also exploring a new improvisational score, Forward/Afterward. The score draws on inter-dancer relationships during improvisational movement, particularly through paying attention to the other dancers.

Boggia cited this year’s convocation speaker, Danielle Allen, as another influence. Allen’s speech discusses collaboration, a theme throughout the score. Dancers worked together in groups of three to generate material, though they were not allowed to make any communicative gestures or to speak. Boggia culled pieces of each small group’s set of movements and strung them together to make a longer section of choreography. A large portion of movement was drawn from this framework, and consequently three or more dancers generated each section.

Another concept that Boggia explored during her sabbatical and summer was risky weight. Inspired by Bebe Miller, this weight study was new to many of the first-years. Johanna Hayes ’19 describes risky weight as “the idea that you can never quite catch up to your weight.” Continuously moving, the dancers are always falling off balance and never recover. This fast-paced idea was applied to the Forward/Afterward score to keep the dancers moving, as the Forward/Afterward score can slow movements. The combination of these two practices is where the piece’s choreography draws from; during rehearsals, dancers try to integrate these two concepts.

The soundscape for this piece is three a cappella singers harmonizing onstage with the dancers. Boggia, known for her propensity for original soundscapes, was inspired to use the live singers when she heard the Parents’ Weekend A Cappella Concert in the fall of 2014. “The feeling of being in the same room with all those live singers was really exciting… I thought, I’ve got to use this kind of power in a piece,” Boggia said.

During rehearsals, the excitement and energy the live music brought to the piece was reflected in the relationship between the soundscape and the movement. Boggia went on to say, “it would be such a great feeling to be dancing with live singers, and also so comforting to be sung to while you’re dancing in front of a live audience.” The choice to have live music was not just to enhance the audience’s perception of the piece, but also to ease the dancers’ first performance experience at Bates.

Many first-year dancers choose to participate in this piece as an informal, open opportunity to get involved with the dance community and meet other first-year students. “I thought it would be an easy way to get into the performing community here, especially because I knew that everyone was coming from the same place,” said first-year Flannery Black-Ingersoll. Other first-years cited the chance to perform just a month into the school year as driving their interest in the first-year piece.

Regardless of their initial reason to participate in the piece, each member of the cast has withstood lengthy and exhausting rehearsals in the hopes that other members of the Bates Community can enjoy their hard work. Congratulations to these first-year students on their first Bates College performance!

 

Moonstruck: Reflecting on the Supermoon Lunar Eclipse

 A supermoon lunar eclipse (also known as a bloodmoon) occurred this past Sunday night, September 27, 2015. This astrological event last occurred in 1982 and will not occur again until 2033, making it the talk of many members of the Bates community and beyond. Though lunar eclipses are not uncommon, a bloodmoon, like the moon seen this past Sunday, has some very special qualities. Specifically, the moon appears full and is at the closest point in its orbit around the Earth, making it a “supermoon.” Supermoons are known to be brighter and larger than full moons. In addition, on Sunday, a lunar eclipse also coincided with the supermoon. This means that the Earth aligned directly between the sun and moon, causing the moon to fall in the shadow of the Earth. Some may still wonder why the moon appears with a reddish color during this time. The “blood” of the moon derives as a result of the light reflecting off the Earth’s atmosphere, giving the celestial body its unique color.

CALLUM ROSS DOUGLASS/COURTESY PHOTO

CALLUM ROSS DOUGLASS/COURTESY PHOTO

Despite the fact that the supermoon lunar eclipse paints a shadow, the event appeared to illuminate something intangible. Whether students trekked up Mount David for a different vantage point, sat outside on the library quad, or stepped out onto the porch of their Frye Street house, the moon brought the campus together to share in the uniqueness of an astrological sight that will not occur again for many years to come. Thoughts of awe, significance in the wider world, and general feelings of wonder crossed many individuals’ minds as the night unfolded. The next time a bloodmoon will be visible, our lives will be fundamentally different than they are presently. Lastly, what perhaps struck me the most was the thought that those who chose to watch the eclipse participated in something that not only was an experience shared among our peers and friends but also a moment that we shared with individuals across the globe.

 

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