Halloween 2017

I spent this Halloweekend celebrating with theater friends and my Phi Sigma Pi bros. I was a basic witch on Friday and a geek on Saturday.

Me and Phi Sigma Pi bro Helene as a geek and a flapper

Also, I finally got my driver’s license Saturday morning! Now all I need is a car so I don’t have to rely on others to take me to doctor appointments, etc. That will be a huge weight off my shoulders.

My Halloween pumpkin
The Monday before Halloween, I saw “Madame Butterfly” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. I went with fellow theater majors from ESU.

My ticket, my program and outside the Met
This opera was not the best, but also not the worst that I have seen. I saw three other operas: “La Boheme” at the Met, “La Triviata” at the National Theatre in Prague, and “Rigoletto” in Germany. The other three were a lot more fast paced and action packed than “Madame Butterfly.”

Up next: Philly Cup Soccer Tournament and ESU’s “The Laramie Project”

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Salem and “The Crucible”

As part of the theatre department at East Stroudsburg University, I am performing in “The Crucible” this week. There are two more chances to see the show: tonight at 7:30 p.m. and tomorrow at 2 p.m. Our production invites audiences to connect the 1692 Salem witch hunt with modern day “witch hunts” involving cults and scapegoating.

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Act II, Scene ii: “Girls Gone Wild”

Throughout the show, we incorporate projections and tableaux to emphasize themes in the play and reality. I am part of the production’s dramaturgy team, so I researched media to include in the projections. I also choreographed the opening ritual for our production.

Along with dramaturgy and choreography, I also play the role of Ruth Putnam. Ruth is one of the young “afflicted” girls who accuses people of witchcraft to end land disputes for her family.

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My dramaturgy lobby display posters

In history, Ruth’s name was actually Ann Putnam, Jr. Along with Abigail Williams, Ann Jr. accused the most people of witchcraft throughout the Salem witch hysteria.

As part of our cast and crew’s research, we took a weekend trip to Salem, Mass last month. Driving in, we felt a mysterious chill and experienced a mist in the air unlike any other. We explored both historic Salem town, now Salem, and Salem village, now Danvers. We went on the Black Cat Salem tour, which was highly informative, and our guide, Dan, tailored the tour to “The Crucible.”

I also went to the Salem Witch Museum, and other members of our group visited Salem Dungeons and other museums.

During the trip, I encountered many witch-y tourist spots, visited the harbor and saw a comedy improv show while on a night out in Boston.

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Enjoying a drink before the comedy improv in Boston

My experience with “The Crucible” has opened my mind more than any other show I have worked on so far. Have you had a similar experience? Share it in the comments, I would love to hear about it!

Next up: Halloween!

Sweden: Summer 2017

I took a comparative media class in Lund, Sweden for two weeks in July, and explored Sweden, Denmark and Germany.

Lund Cathedral and Swedish + Scandinavian flags
The class was led by an East Stroudsburg University professor, and the majority of students I traveled there with attend ESU. In the comparative media class, we discussed differences between media in nine countries, including our own observations from Sweden and the States. We also took excursions to two media companies, a viking town and Kronberg Castle in Helsingor, where Hamlet is based.

Viking town

I attended class every weekday morning from 9 a.m. until around noon, explored southern Sweden in the afternoons and studied for the next classes at night. I enjoyed the nightlife with my classmates on weekends, as well as visiting Copenhagen, Denmark and reuniting with Jacqueline, my flatmate from my England study abroad, in Germany.

Art in Malmö, a park in Lund and a cafe in Ystad
I studied on Lund University’s campus in Skåne, Sweden. Skåne is the southern part of the country from Helsingor to Malmö, which is connected to Copenhagen, Denmark by the Øresund Bridge. Besides Lund, I visited Malmö, Ystad and Stockholm in Sweden, along with the Danish cities of Helsingor, by ferry, and Copenhagen.

Boat and a bridge pillar in Stockholm

Lund and Malmö were the prettiest and had the most personality of the cities I visited in Sweden, while Copenhagen was the most fun and interesting for me. I rode a virtual reality roller coaster at Tivoli Gardens, explored Rosenberg Castle, went out in the Meatpacking District, climbed the Round Tower, witnessed breathtaking church interiors, walked through Freetown Christiana and strolled along the famous Nyhavn canal district.

Nyhavn
Changing of the guard in Copenhagen, view from atop the Round Tower, Danish flags and Rosenberg Castle

During the final weekend of my trip, I visited Jacqueline in Germany. I had not originally planned on visiting her until on the flight into Copenhagen. I was watching the flight’s map as we were landing and could see Frankfurt relatively close to Copenhagen, and wondered “doesn’t Jacqueline live near Frankfurt…” I immediately messaged her on landing and asked what the closest airport to her is. She said Cologne, I found a cheap last minute RyanAir flight and asked if I could visit for a weekend.

Dom Cathedral
While in Germany, Jacqueline introduced me to radler, a German style of beer with sprite. I had beer with lemonade last time I visited Germany, but this was my first one with sprite. I am not a big beer drinker, but I enjoy radler!

Line on the cable car and me and Line at Panorama
We climbed the Dom Cathedral, visited a Lindt chocolate factory, saw a Panoramic view of the city and rode a cable car from one side of Cologne to another!

Next up: Gishwhes 2017, Senior year updates and Salem, MA!

ΦΣΠ and Other ESU Happenings

I was inducted into ESU’s chapter of Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity last Monday. I can finally say I am officially a brother!

Some members of my initiate class: (left to right) Saige, Rachel, Jenna, me, Morgan and Justin

I say “finally” because I could not go to the original induction with my initiate class since I was working on a show that night. Because of this, my make-up induction ceremony was quite small. But I am grateful for all the brothers that could show up to make my night memorable.

The show that I was working on during that original induction was ESU’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” I was a run crew member and my main job was to man the stage right curtain during scene shifts.

“Little Shop of Horrors” set
Although I was backstage for a lot of the show, from the scenes that I heard and the ones that I had breaks to watch, this musical is my favorite that ESU has done. And the cast and crew were my favorite to work with so far, out of the three shows I have worked on here.

My Phi Sigma Pi induction was the night after the musical’s closing and the fraternity’s formal was this past Friday. 

The brothers of ΦΣΠ at formal
ΦΣΠ Formal was way more fun than any other formal I have attended. I brought my friend Tyrell, and I think I speak for both of us when I say we made some fun memories.

Tyrell and me at formal
Me, Kate and Gabby at formal: former ESU contemporary dancers and current ΦΣΠ brothers

This week is final exam week. I have one actual exam, three performances and one portfolio due by the end of the week. Then, I leave university for the summer and plan to work as much as I can to make enough money to buy a car. Which I have my driver’s test mid-July, right before I leave for a 15 day course in Sweden. This summer will be stressful, but I hope it pays off in the end.
Anyone have fun plans for the summer?

ESU Global Week 2017

ESU surpassed my expectations for this year’s Global Week celebration by bringing in baby goats and other exotic animals and hosting informative and entertaining events last week.

The baby goats were the first highlight, as part of the World Fair. We knew a camel and yak would be on campus from the flyers, but those baby goats were an adorable surprise for many. The brown one was especially hyper and seemed to love interacting with people, running towards human hands and jumping around to catch our attention.

Stickerbush II the porcupine and Houston the armadillo were nice surprises, too, because I had never seen either animal before besides in pictures.

Also at the World Fair, I tried snacks from around the world, learned about Native American culture through a tee-pee display of everyday objects and had my name drawn in Chinese characters.

I attended a Peace Corps volunteer panel the next day, where returned volunteers shared stories about their experiences with the Peace Corps. This panel gave me another opportunity to seriously consider for my future because it combines two activities I love: travel and service. And with the Peace Corps, like study abroad, you experience the culture by living somewhere for an extended time period, in this case two years.

Speaking of study abroad, ESU published an article about my study abroad experience on their homepage! Check it out!

The next major event during Global Week this year was Relay for Life. During Relay, campus clubs and organizations raise money for cancer research and stay up for 12 hours walking around the track. There are games and activities throughout the night to keep energy up, but I could not make it all the way from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. But I stayed until 4 a.m., which is longer than I stayed last year!

I participated in Relay with Phi Sigma Pi, the Honors Fraternity that I will be an official brother of this Friday. I am excited to join this family and I am proud that after three years at ESU, I finally found the group of people that I click with.

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Me and my fellow Phi Sigma Pi initiates

Global Week ended with an international festival, which featured performances from ESU’s Step Team, arts and crafts, a fashion show and dinner from around the world.

This week is not only Easter weekend, but also tech for “Little Shop of Horrors,” which opens this Wednesday. I am on run crew for the show and I am ecstatic to be working on a show again since I last worked on “Midsummer Night’s Dream” freshman year.

Spring Break and Camping

Over spring break last month, I volunteered at Bear Creek Lake State Park in Va. I worked with other ESU students to rake leaves and clean up campsites. We learned more about environmental conservation and formed new friendships with each other.

On the final day at the park, we split off into groups. Group one built picnic tables for the campsites and group two did trail maintenance. I was part of group two.

Doing trail maintenance was surprisingly the most fun I had at the park. We rerouted a trail so water would not erode the  walking path. To reroute, we had to clear a new path. We worked together to cut down and unroot trees that would be in hikers’ ways. It felt nice to do something I have never done before.

Me holding the tree stump I uprooted
The next day, we were supposed to go to Washington D.C., but drove thorough the city and stayed at a hotel in Md. instead because of the impending snow storm. What a tease.

I was looking forward to D.C. because I have been to so many other nations’ capitals, but not my own. Nevertheless, the state park volunteer work made this spring break fun, even though I spent the majority of the rest of break shovelling snow.

The trail maintenance was something new I did over break, but the weekend after I tried another new activity: rock climbing.

I spent my first weekend after break camping at Stony Acre’s with Rotaract club. We spent that Saturday transporting tree limbs for firewood and raking leaves at the campground. Then we did team building exercises and rock climbing. 

Most of us had never rock climbed before. Two girls made it to the top of the wall and I made it about halfway up. My hands slipped quite easily on the small rocks on the wall, which made climbing it difficult for me. But I am proud of myself for trying something new. I may not be good at it, but now I can say I rock climbed!

Any activities that make you proud you tried? Or anything you wish you would have tried when given the chance?