2017 Roundup

The last few months of 2017 were exciting, but I cannot say they were as exciting as the first few weeks. I celebrated the beginning of 2017 in Brussels, Belgium and visited France, Greece and Germany before my final week in England for study abroad.

Even though the end of last year could not compare to the beginning, here are some highlights of the last two months:

  • Phi Sigma Pi Philly Cup soccer tournament: I competed in a soccer tournament with a few of my Phi Sigma Pi bros from ESU and other universities, mostly from the east coast. My team came in third place out of about 20 teams. I was tired, but it was worth the experience. On the final day, we even got to party on a yacht!
  • “The Laramie Project”: ESU’s Stage II theater club performed “The Laramie Project.” The entire production was put together by my fellow students. I was on the props team and the PR team. The impact of this show was even brought to the streets, when a Christian hate group protested on ESU’s campus. Theater students involved in the production counter-protested by bringing the prop angel wings used in the show to block out the hate group. This action mirrored a scene from the play, which is all based on actual events and interviews from residents of Laramie, Wyo.
  • Phi Sigma Pi induction: We inducted 11 new members into ESU’s chapter of Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity. I am excited to see what Tau class brings to the fraternity.
  • Alpha Psi Omega induction: I was inducted into ESU’s chapter of the National Theatre Honor Society this past semester.

 

  • Peace Corps acceptance: I have been accepted into the Peace Corps to serve in Togo, West Africa after graduation! I will be a Food Security Educator during my two years of service. I am currently waiting to be legally and medically cleared before it is official. I also have to learn to speak French and ride a mountain bike. These will be the most challenging parts of pre-service, but I am confident I can learn them.

This year, although it is only a few days into 2018, I reunited with my study abroad flatmate Dara. We spent the day in New York City and saw Miss Saigon on Broadway!

I have one more trip to the UK to visit friends I made during my study abroad before I begin my Peace Corps service. I am excited, but it is also bittersweet because I will only be in the UK for one week.

Next week, I will be attending the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I will be participating in the Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy during the festival, where I also hope to take part in performing arts workshops.

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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”

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!

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.

London’s West End: A Show a Day

I spent my final days in England in disbelief thanks to live theatre on London’s West End. For the four days I spent in London, I saw a West End show each day.

I saw “Lion King,” “Wicked,” “Matilda” and “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” Each show left me more in awe than the last, reminding me why I love theatre so much:

  • “Lion King”: I swear the opening number, “Circle of Life,” reached into my soul. I felt a connection with the world through the cast’s vocals and movement. When something reaches that deep, it is hard not to tear up. After the show, I met Young Simba and Young Nala at the stage door.20170115_171456_hdr
  • “Wicked”: I decided to see “Wicked” after I did not win the “Book of Mormon” lottery. I went to a last minute ticket sales booth and this show just so happened to be the cheapest. I was pretty bummed that I could not see “Book of Mormon,” but “Wicked” was worth it because:
    • I knew most of the music, so it was easy to follow along and enjoy the music.
    • It forever changes the way I look at “Wizard of Oz” by tying together origin stories of every major character. I could barely believe how seamlessly the origins were incorporated. They left me sad, but fulfilled20170116_184712_hdr2
  • “Matilda”: I bought a £5 ticket for “Matilda” by showing up to the theatre early. The box office holds 16 tickets for 16-25 year olds for each performance. And since I only saw the first half last time because I booked a Warner Brothers tour, I knew I had to redeem myself and see the rest of the show. I was once again in awe over the alphabet song and the trust the actors put in others to keep them from falling.20170117_182133_hdr
  • “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”: I love Harry Potter, so this play held a special place in my heart before the script was even released. When I read the script, I thought I loved Scorpius Malfoy. But when I watched the play on stage, I decided I absolutely adore Scorpius Malfoy. On his first line, my initial thought was “ugh, this kid is going to be annoying.” But as the show continued, my adoration for Scorpius grew so much that it is hard to describe to those who have not seen the play. In between parts one and two, I met the actors playing Ron and Draco, then after part two, I met a few more at stage door, including the actors playing Scorpius, Albus and Hagrid.

Do you have a favorite West End or Broadway show? Or a show that you have been dying to see? Share your thoughts!

Up next: my final days in England and what I learned while studying abroad.

Greece

I do not know what I expected when I decided to visit Greece, but I know I was not expecting the breathtaking views and monumental sites that I saw.

I arrived late at night, like I have for most of my trips, and did some late night exploring. Mostly I was on the hunt for food. I found a cheap gyro shop and discovered I am not a fan of eating lamb. I also discovered that either I had no clue how to eat the massive sandwhich or it was meant to be really messy.

Gyro
On my first full day in Athens, I visited the Acropolis and the surrounding areas. I was a little upset that there was construction on the famous side of the Parthenon, but I got over it considering how much there is to see. Besides the Parthenon, the Acropolis includes temples to Athena and Artemis, the Erechtheion, the theatre of Dionysus and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Oh, and plenty of cats! The surrounding area includes the Agorra, which was a market place in ancient times, a modern market place selling souvenirs and a rock to climb for views of both the Acropolis and Athens.

Nice view above the Odeon
The Parthenon at the Acropolis
I took a day cruise to three of the Saronic islands, the islands closest to Athens, on the next day. The ones I visited are Hydra, Poros and Aegina. On the boat, I met a girl named Michelle who became my buddy while exploring the islands. 

Hydra was by far the prettiest of the three islands. We just explored the town and enjoyed the views of the Mediterranean Sea, but that was all we really needed to do to know how majestic the island is. We saw a lot more cats, too. One came up to me and started rubbing against my leg and then followed us for a little while. The cats are really friendly and well cared for. There are even cat stations around that have food and blankets for them. On the top of a hill, we came face to face with a donkey and some chickens. The donkey was asleep at first, but once we got closer to the chickens he woke up and looked really defensive.

Hydra

Poros was similar to Hydra, but smaller. We went to a clock tower and saw some nice views, then bought some baklava and ate it by the sea.

Poros
Aegina is the largest of the three islands we visited. We went to a monestary and bought some pistachios, which Aegina is known for. We visited the Temple of Apollo at sunset, which was a really nice sight. On the boat ride back, we enjoyed traditional Greek dancing and even learned a few dances ourselves.

Temple of Apollo
After watching the sunrise on the rock near the Acropolis, I took a day trip to Delphi, where the Oracle of Apollo was. The tour guide was the nicest and most knowledgeable I have had yet; she was really sweet. We visited a museum and the Sanctuary of Apollo, which includes the Oracle, a treasury and the Theatre of Apollo. 

Sunrise over Athens
Oracle of Delphi in the background

It was really snowy and icy the day that I went, so the tour guide said the theatre might be closed. But to my delight, it was open and I got to stand on the stage that actors performed on millennias ago; unlike the Odeon and Theatre of Dionysus at the Acropolis, which could only be looked at. On the way to the theatre, a cat with one pupil bigger than the other approached me and meowed at me while standing on his hind legs. I tried to move, but he moved to block my path again. I am still unsure why he took such interest in me.

Theatre of Apollo

We took a short stop in a little town nearby and had a four course lunch at a quaint restaurant. The lunch was delicious, but difficult to finish because most of us were full by the end of the second course.

I visited the Archeological Museum and Acropolis Museum on my last day in Athens, and watched the changing of the guards at Syntagma Square with Michelle. Both museums were filled with unbelievably well preserved ancient finds. The changing of the gaurds was interesting because of how the gaurds kicked their legs and flicked their ankles before each step like a dance.

Changing of the Gaurds
Up next: Germany and my final days in England.