Richard III… In Chinese?!!

On Friday, March 28th, the Youth Corps had the opportunity to attend the National Theatre of China’s production of Richard III at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.  I was excited, yet skeptical, because I’m not much of a Shakespeare theatre goer.  So I did some research on it and discovered that the play contained acrobatics, and was in Mandarin.  But I decided to go anyway, and it was much different than I thought it would be.

Coming into the theatre, I was under the impression that the subheadings would be direct translations of the dialogue.  But I was wrong.  Although there were basic plot subheadings, the language barrier made it more difficult to understand the play.   Before the show, Pip went through a super abridged version of Shakespeare’s eight major history plays, because Richard III is the conclusion of these plays.  He used index cards to represent each character, and placed them on the table with their respective families.  Learning about the histories both visually and orally, made it much easier to comprehend. If it weren’t for Pip’s “history lesson” before the show, I probably wouldn’t have understood what was going on.

Despite the language barrier, I found the play visually stunning.  Fellow Youth Corps member, Kyla and I were discussing how cool we thought the scrolls onstage were.  There were 6 scrolls with different Chinese characters, upstage center.  Each time a person was killed, red dye would bleed from the top of one, and when something significant happened to Richard, black dye would bleed from all six scrolls.  By the end of the play, all of them were soaked with red and black dye.  

Upon discussing the plot Kyla told me something else she found interesting.  She said, “Even though the play had a sort of dark theme to it, I liked the fact that the assassins were the comedy relief in the play. Usually killers are supposed to be serious, so I liked how the directors of the play took a different approach from the norm.”  Another intriguing factor was the assimilation of Chinese culture.  The actors wore traditional Chinese garments, which included long flowing robes.  They also incorporated “ears” which are worn to represent a child, and they used an extremely high register, taken from Chinese opera, for the character Lady Anne.

Although it wasn’t what we were expecting, we enjoyed the show. There were far more laughs then there should have been for a History play, and I can honestly say I enjoyed being there. 

The xx: A Youth Corps Review

I’ve never attended a live concert before, let alone one performed by the xx, so you can imagine the excitement I felt when I, along with the rest of the Youth Corps, were given the chance to the xx perform live at Park Avenue Armory.  It was understood that the performance would be for a small audience, more or less 40 people.  This was supposed to create an intimate setting, one where the audience could genuinely connect with the band.  Upon arriving, we were taken by surprise to the xx waiting for us!  We were expecting the artists to enter the scene after the audience had settled, like any other regular concert, however this was not the case.  The setting was in a dimly lit “room,” surrounded by white curtains, and right in the center, was an area several inches below floor level to serve as a stage.

The band began by first play their song Angels from their album Coexist.  In fact, most of the performance consisted of songs from that album.  It also included songs from their first album XX, and even some unrecorded songs!  When Romy Croft began to sing, everyone surrendered their devout attention to her.  The manner in which she carried her voice across the room was merely remarkable.  It was refreshing to hear an artist who sincerely sings from the heart.  I personally enjoyed the song Try, because the collaboration and tacit understanding between vocalists Oliver Sim and Romy was almost palpable.  Moreover, the precision that beats-maker Jamie xx incorporated in his performance was one that amazingly tied the entire act together.  I also found it interesting and unique how the vocalists always moved across the room in the formation of the letter “x”.  During the concert, the “walls”, which were in fact projection screens, began to show several scenes that were incredibly brilliant.  With this outstanding background, it felt as though were in an entirely distinct world.  I could hardly believe that were in the Armory!  It was solely when the music ceased and the lights were retrieved that I realized that we were in the Drill Hall.  Seeing the xx at the Armory is certainly a memory I shall always remember with a smile.  Overall, I can say that this experience was definitely moving because, not only were we able to see artists play, but were also able to witness the passion and love with which they play.  Frankly, if I were given another opportunity to see the xx perform, I’d take it in a heartbeat.  It would essentially be another chance to experience something extraordinary.   

By: Lilia 

In our journey through dissecting William Shakespeare’s language in the play Macbeth, the Youth Corps worked on creating a “modern version” of Shakespeare’s text using Facebook as a template. We created Macbeth-themed “news feeds” on large poster paper. This is an example of Jo and Nancy’s news feed.

In our journey through dissecting William Shakespeare’s language in the play Macbeth, the Youth Corps worked on creating a “modern version” of Shakespeare’s text using Facebook as a template. We created Macbeth-themed “news feeds” on large poster paper. This is an example of Jo and Nancy’s news feed.

The Youth Corps sends many thanks to the band members and Penelope McCourty for helping us make this possible!
 


The Youth Corps sends many thanks to the band members and Penelope McCourty for helping us make this possible!

 

In response to viewing The XX performance, the Youth Corps worked alongside teaching artist Penelope McCourty to create a movement piece. After we created our piece, we presented to not only the staff members of the Armory but the actual band members of The XX too! It was an amazing opportunity to work creatively and get inspired with Penelope McCourty and be able to share that experience with a group of people as inspiring as The XX.

We were especially thankful that The XX had decided, from the beginning, to hold a special performance just for public school students. The intimate concert space only held up to 45 people so we, as the audience, were extremely close to the artists.

We were especially thankful that The XX had decided, from the beginning, to hold a special performance just for public school students. The intimate concert space only held up to 45 people so we, as the audience, were extremely close to the artists.

Last week the Youth Corps participated in a 3-day workshop based on the work of the talented band, The XX. The group branched out to Armory Partnership High School students and invited some of potential future Youth Corps to create an “Ephemeral Dance Company.” We were given the amazing opportunity to view The XX concert that took place in Park Avenue Armory.

When Opportunity Knocks

Former Park Avenue Armory Artist-in-Residence, choreographer Faye Driscoll was kind enough to invite the Youth Corps to a dress rehearsal of her latest production, “Thank You For Coming.” The performance begins with multiple dancers piled up on and physically connected to one another which creates an image of one single being or pieces to a machine. One major detail that I found so engaging and somewhat intimidating is the eye contact between the performers and the audience. Based on what I understood in a conversation with Faye after the dress rehearsal, the idea was to create one single being and branch out into a larger group and eventually, an entire community.The dance piece was none like any performance I have ever seen! Toward the end of the performance, every audience member was given a prop or task that contributed to the piece one way or another, which really made me feel a part of this “community” Faye had envisioned. The Youth Corps highly recommends anyone interested in performance art and modern dance to check out Faye Driscoll’s productions. 
Link to Faye’s website and info on “Thank You For Coming”: 

Website: http://www.fayedriscoll.com/thankyouforcoming.html  

Former Park Avenue Armory Artist-in-Residence, choreographer Faye Driscoll was kind enough to invite the Youth Corps to a dress rehearsal of her latest production, “Thank You For Coming.” The performance begins with multiple dancers piled up on and physically connected to one another which creates an image of one single being or pieces to a machine. One major detail that I found so engaging and somewhat intimidating is the eye contact between the performers and the audience. Based on what I understood in a conversation with Faye after the dress rehearsal, the idea was to create one single being and branch out into a larger group and eventually, an entire community.The dance piece was none like any performance I have ever seen! Toward the end of the performance, every audience member was given a prop or task that contributed to the piece one way or another, which really made me feel a part of this “community” Faye had envisioned. The Youth Corps highly recommends anyone interested in performance art and modern dance to check out Faye Driscoll’s productions. 

Link to Faye’s website and info on “Thank You For Coming”: 
Youth Corps is excited to work closely on reading and analyzing Macbeth text over the next few weeks. The Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford’s production of Macbeth comes to the Armory May 31 to June 22!

Youth Corps is excited to work closely on reading and analyzing Macbeth text over the next few weeks. The Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford’s production of Macbeth comes to the Armory May 31 to June 22!

One of our mentor-mentee pairs, Paola and Alexandra, collaborating on an introductory poster. 

One of our mentor-mentee pairs, Paola and Alexandra, collaborating on an introductory poster.