The Oberlin Review

Oberlin Alums Pen Enchanting New Musical

Oberlin Alums Pen Enchanting New Musical

April 28, 2017

A staged reading of The Enchanted, a new musical comedy in progress by John Kander, OC ’51 — who previously wrote music for Cabaret and Chicago — and prolific playwright and fiction writer Greg Pierce, OC ’00, was performed by a cast of student actors last weekend in the Birenbaum Innovation and Performance Space, marking the first theatrical production in the venue. The musical, based on a French play of the same name by Jean Giraudoux, is set in the provincial French town of Aubergine wh...

Chan-Wook’s “Handmaiden” Unpacks Sexual Power Dynamics

Christian Bolles, Columnist

April 21, 2017

Filed under ARTS, Theater & Film

“Of all the things I’ve washed and dressed, have any been so pretty?” This is the first question Korean handmaiden Sookee asks herself upon meeting her new mistress, a soft-spoken Japanese noblewoman named Lady Hideko. Sookee’s immediate attraction to Hideko is objectifying — even clinical — mirroring the aesthetic fascination that revered Korean director Park Chan-Wook maintains for the decadent imagery that defines his most recent work, The Handmaiden. The film is clearly about sex, but it’s also about the broader philosophical implications of the myriad power dynamics inherent in a sexual relationship. The film takes place during Japan’s annexation of Korea in the early 20th century and at its most...

“for colored girls…” Celebrates, Honors Black Women

“for colored girls…” Celebrates, Honors Black Women

April 14, 2017

Editor’s note: This article contains references to topics including suicide and sexual assault. Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf, which opened yesterday night in Hall Auditorium, is an evocative production spotlighting the experiences of Black women and femmes in the U.S. The piece is comprised of poetic monologues brought to life and woven together through dance and music. The different modes of performance in the piece make it difficult...

“Raw” Offers Potent Commentary on Sexuality, Sisterhood

Christian Bolles, Columnist

April 14, 2017

Filed under ARTS, Theater & Film

Editor’s Note: This review contains spoilers and mentions of violence, sexual assault, nausea and trauma inflicted on both humans and animals. When French writer-director Julia Ducournau’s feature-length debut Raw made rounds at film festivals worldwide, paramedics became an occasional fixture of the proceedings as audience members either fainted or left the theater — some without returning, others to empty their stomachs in the nearest bathroom. Despite being produced on a tight budget and given limited theatrical distribution, these incidents have brought the film a grotesquely alluring reputation since its release a few weeks ago. Historically, other films have garnered similar reactions — The Exorcist is...

OSTA’s “Bright Half Life” Explores Intersectional Identities

OSTA’s “Bright Half Life” Explores Intersectional Identities

April 7, 2017

Cascading baubles of multicolored lights and hanging photographs of the cast and crew border the walls of a cozy South Hall studio, creating an intimate setting for Bright Half Life, an Oberlin Student Theater Association production exploring the trials of love. The non-linear narrative is centered around an interracial lesbian couple’s nearly 50-year relationship, jumping between milestones like their first breakup, first child and first date as well as smaller, quiet moments that capture th...

Drag Ball Goes to Hell and Back with New Theme, RuPaul Performances

Julia Peterson, Production editor

March 31, 2017

Filed under ARTS, Dance, Features, Theater & Film

Drag Ball has been one of Oberlin’s most iconic annual events since the 1980s. A celebration of the queer community and drag performance and culture, Drag Ball will take over the basement of Wilder Hall — encompassing the ’Sco, the Rathskellar and DeCafé — on April 22. This year, Drag Ball will feature a lineup of nationally recognized musicians and drag performers, along with local talent. Latrice Royale, of RuPaul’s Drag Race season four and RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, will be performing. Rapper and drag queen Big Momma will be performing, as will M. Lamar, who, according to College senior and Drag Ball organizing committee Head Em Westheimer, is a “radical queer Black afrofuturist neo-goth singer, pia...

Peele’s Triumphant Debut Get Out Interrogates Liberal Racism

Christian Bolles, Columnist

March 31, 2017

Filed under ARTS, Theater & Film

Directorial debuts are often fragile. The vast majority of them display a promising but flawed proof of behind-the-camera skill, so for any new director, finding success in their first effort is difficult. When it comes to non-white directors, however, Hollywood’s prevailing whiteness and racism elevates that difficulty to nearly complete impenetrability. After years of building up his reputation via the famed sketch comedy show Key & Peele and contributing to the script for last year’s warmly received comedy Keanu, Jordan Peele finally took the chance to flex his directorial muscles, breaking into the Hollywood mainstream with the explosive, laser-focused Get Out. The film blows past the stigma that often...

‘Cendrillon’ Opera Charms with Quips, Fantasy

‘Cendrillon’ Opera Charms with Quips, Fantasy

March 10, 2017

Editor’s note: This article contains spoilers. With its production of Cendrillon, Oberlin Opera Theater invites audiences to join them in a world of fantasy, romance and stories that live beyond their pages. In this interpretation of the classic fairytale Cinderella, a score by Jules Massenet and a French libretto by Henri Caïn weave a rich atmosphere of non-reality from the moment that the first note is played. The opera is accompanied by English superscript projected above the stage, which — asi...

AAArt Collective Kicks Off Third Biennial Event Series

Victoria Garber, Arts editor

March 10, 2017

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry, Music, Theater & Film

The third Asia America Art Collective will commence this evening with a 7:30 p.m. screening of Kenneth Eng’s My Life in China in the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies’ Hallock Auditorium, followed by a late night ’Sco performance by Yaeji, v1984 and College senior Rachel Katz, who makes music under the name Xuan Rong. The collective is a biennial event series geared toward highlighting artists who identify as Asian or part of the Asian and Pacific Islander Diaspora. This year’s events will include a mix of workshops, screenings, mixed-media, audiovisual installation and spoken word and musical performances. In addition to calling attention to the work of Asian and Asian-American artistic comm...

Logan Succeeds with Faithful Adaptation of Wolverine Comics

Evan Johnson

March 10, 2017

Filed under ARTS, Theater & Film

In an early scene of James Mangold’s new X-Men feature Logan, Hugh Jackman, as James “Logan” Howlett, the superhero formerly known as Wolverine, discovers a comic book with himself on the cover. It’s not Wolverine as we’re seeing him now, weaker and having aged as the adamantium in his bones slowly poisons him, but his former self, young and drawn with a pulpy gloss that highlights his muscular torso. He’s trying to convince Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez) — a nurse from a failed project created by a corporation called Transigen that bred children as mutants — that he cannot take care of the 11-year-old girl in her custody, Laura, also known as X-23 (Dafne Keen). After rummaging through the mess of Gabriela...

On the Record With Hector Aristizábal, Actor

On the Record With Hector Aristizábal, Actor

March 3, 2017

Hector Aristizábal is the founder and artistic co-director of ImaginAction, a non-profit theater arts organization based in Los Angeles. ImaginAction uses techniques from Theatre of the Oppressed, Playback Theatre, Theatre of Witness, Psychodrama, traditional storytelling, mask-making, drumming, dance and creative ritual to facilitate dialogue, community-building, liberation and healing in communities worldwide. Educated as a theater artist and psychologist, Aristizábal has won numerous awards ...

Melancholy Play Provides Funny, Lyrical Discussion of Sadness

Melancholy Play Provides Funny, Lyrical Discussion of Sadness

March 3, 2017

The five actors in Sarah Ruhl’s Melancholy Play are all preoccupied with lost arts like a talent for melancholy and the carrying of handkerchiefs. Directed by College senior Zoë DePreta, Melancholy Play follows Tilly (College sophomore Paige Baskin), a bank teller who suffers from a depression that attracts everyone around her. This theme is one that DePreta found relevant to Oberlin’s culture. “I think it’s good to do on a college campus because it talks about the way that people fetishize ...

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