MAY/JUNE 2011 Issue • 103
P E BLE RISA SARACHAN
FROM THE STAGE TO THE SCREEN, RISA IS SPRINGING INTO NEW VENTURES
ONCE UPON A TIME
FAIRY TALES HAVE TAKEN OVER OUR CULTURE
THIS PHOTOGRAPHER REDEFINES THE SELF-PORTRAIT
38 16 2 BLEEP
YOUR DIGITAL FAIRY TALE IS ABOUT TO BEGIN
As a part of our fairy tale feature, check out some of the coolest self-portraits youâ€™ll ever see. .
Our first foray into travel is a big one. Check out the places on Earth that you need to see before you die.
Our spotlight on the theatre and the people who make it happen spotlights artists both on stage and off.
ON THE COVER
We talk to actress Risa Sacharan about her new web series and all things â€˜inconvenient.â€™
Letter from the Editor This issue stands as a giant leap forward for us here at BLEEP. Now that we know what the hell we’re doing, we’re becoming challenged to present the information in a way that’s easy to comprehend, that’s on-point with current design trends, but that is also still uniquely BLEEP. This issue actually started as a concept issue, with a general theme that we were going to follow through with everything in the issue, but as time went on, we realized that we had three really strong ideas and we wanted to incorporate them all. So sue us, we’re creative multitaskers. We love to go to another place, don’t we? Whether that’s traveling to a new place, becoming someone different than ourselves on stage or letting our imagination take us to unknown places, we love to go to new places. That’s what this issue is about basically. If it were to have a title, I think I could call it “We’re Going Places.” Of course there’s a duality of meaning in that title. Not only are we talking about places all over the world, talking to actors and set designers, and taking a look at the ultimate fairytale factory, but we as a magazine are going places. We’re not content to have the same amount of readership each issue. We’re not content to be stagnant in what we present to you. We’re not content to stay the same. And so we want to go to someplace new, take you along with us, and pick up some more folks along the way. What this issue has done is solidified the fact that this magazine’s content will be ever-changing and ever-expanding. I love that our writers, photographers and editors are so passionate about what they do and what they love. They’re the ones that make this stuff happen, not me. So take this journey with us. Go somewhere with us in this issue. Maybe then you’ll also want to join with us in contributing to the magazine? We hope so. Thanks again for taking time out to read BLEEP. We hope you’re inspired. Ryan Brinson Editor-in-Chief of BLEEP Magazine
We head to Nashville and Kansas City to eat the best of the Midwest.
MARDI GRAS MADNESS
Our Design Editor takes a peek behind the Mardi Gras curtains of creativity.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL GAS STATION FOOD
More than just barbecue, Oklahoma Joes in Kansas City delivers an experience by Randy Brinson
Let’s establish some credibility first. I do not live in Kansas City, either on the Missouri side or the Kansas side. I will probably never live in Kansas City. We are talking barbecue, so we need to understand where I do have credibility. I am from Texas, West Texas to be exact, and barbecue is a staple of this state. I’ve had my fair share, so I’ve been around the “barbecue block” a few times. Good barbecue can be found in several states. The Carolinas have a fine, sweet, thick barbecue sauce, Memphis has a nice smoky barbecue sauce and Texas has a barbecue that emphasizes the meat more than the sauce. Then there’s Kansas City barbecue. I have had the pleasure of enjoying several Kansas City barbecues, and one really stands out. First, you have to understand the setting: a nice, semi-residential, nondescript area of Kansas City. You could actually stumble across the establishment before realizing where you are. Just imagine, you’re driving with the car windows down and all of a sudden your nose begins to work overtime, much like a Labrador retriever’s on the trail of a crazed rabbit. As you exit your vehicle, the aroma of fine barbecue permeates the air. You find yourself staring at a Shamrock gasoline station, but gasoline is not what is in the air. The sides of the building are painted a simple green and white, but you finally see the sign painted on the building as you approach the door nose first: “Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue.” Oklahoma Joe’s is going to have a line of patrons through the restaurant and leading out of the door if it’s anywhere close to meal time. The good people of Kansas City realize what they have tucked away in this peaceful neighborhood. Oklahoma Joe’s is a converted gasoline station, with two gas pumps still sitting out front. Instead of oil changes, you get barbecue ribs. Instead of a state inspection for your vehicle, you get beef brisket. The ambience is fabulous. It has a dining area that not-so-comfortably seats about 60 people. The serving line winds slowly by the tables full of people not talking but slowly savoring their barbecue. The beef brisket, smoked so long it requires very little chewing, is tender and moist without being dominated by the smoky flavor. My favorite is the beef ribs. Some might think the meat, which pulls gently from the bone, could stand on its own. But Oklahoma Joe’s barbecue sauce is worth the trip from wherever you may be. Not too sweet, not too salty, and not the overpowering flavor of grocery store varieties of barbecue sauce. Oklahoma Joe’s smooth sauce, with a subtle charge of
pepper and other spices, perfectly complements the smoked meat. Barbecue isn’t all that’s on the menu. Oklahoma Joe’s French fries have their own reputation. There are actually people who no longer eat French fries anywhere but Oklahoma Joe’s because of their distinct taste. The potatoes are fried to a medium crunch, and the spices lead you to believe Oklahoma Joe’s must have its own set of “11 herbs and spices.” And even better, Oklahoma Joe’s cooks its onion rings the same way. When you bite into one of the large onion rings, which are crisp but not greasy, you get both the batter and the onion not one or the other. The onion rings could simply be their own dining experience. Once you finish the reasonably priced meal, you rise from your chair with a hint of disappointment that the whole experience has ended. Then you remember something you saw when you were standing in line. You can take a bit of Oklahoma Joe’s home with you. They have bottles and bottles of that scrumptious sauce waiting for you near the gasoline cashier. And yes, they ship. Sure, Bobby Flay can flambé a redfish that will have the ladies “Ooohing” and “Ahhing.” Paula Dean can lather a brownie with cream cheese and butter to the demise of the best Weight Watcher. But Oklahoma Joe’s puts an exclamation point to the end of the word “barbecue!”
WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT NASHVILLE, YOU PROBABLY THINK CARRIE UNDERWOOD, KEITH URBAN AND COUNTRY MUSIC ARTISTS IN COWBOY BOOTS. BUT WHAT YOU MIGHT NOT THINK ABOUT ARE CULINARY WORKS OF ART. WE ASKED A LOCAL GIVE US THE LOW-DOWN ON A FEW OF THE PLACES TO EAT AT BEFORE YOUR NIGHT AT THE GRAND OLE OPRY. BY GARRETT BURNETT
Burger Up 12th South Everybody loves a good burger, but Burger Up kicks it to the next level. This intimate upscale burger joint provides a classy ambiance with a casual vibe. The center of the restaurant is community seating, making it easy to meet a new friend, or to envy others’ food while you wait. The entire menu is locally grown and is served fresh. Burger Up serves burgers from the classic all-beef patty to a delicious vegetarian-friendly Marathon burger. Nightly specials range from a bison burger to the more adventurous ostrich burger served with your choice of the truffle, regular or sweet potato fries. You Must Try: Save room for dessert because who wouldn’t want a Krispy Crème donut pudding with Grand Marnier crème anglaise?
TACO MAMACITA Music Row On top of the casual funky vibe given off in the restaurant, there’s a delicious taco for just about every taste. Can’t decide? Then mix and match tacos for a great combo. The Vegetarian Jerk tacos are great and served with some of the best sweet potato fries in town. If you’re not in the taco mood, they have a delicious tortilla soup, enchiladas and salads. Whether you’re looking for a business lunch or to catch up with old friends, Taco Mamacita is perfect. You Must Try: The California Club and Taco Royal.
MARCHÉ ARTISAN FOODSEAST Nashville When it comes to Sunday brunch, Marché is the place to be. With the wall-to-wall windows providing a view of the trendy East Nashville, this French-style bistro provides endless coffee and local fare at reasonable prices. Marché offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, but on the weekends, be ready to wait. You Must Try: Croissant French toast and homemade granola with vanilla yogurt.
ROSEPEPPER East Nashville Rosepepper is located in artist-centric East Nashville and provides a flair of Mexican, French and local influences with its menu that will keep you coming back. The eclectic menu serves many traditional Mexican entrees as well several vegetarian- and vegan-friendly options, not to mention its award-winning margaritas. The patio is the perfect place to wind down from a long workday as the sun is setting. You Must Try: The avocado fries are a must as a starter and the vegan burrito is as big as the plate itself.
PM Belmont If you’re in the mood for some top-of-the-line sushi rolls or a great burger, PM serves it all. This neighborhood restaurant has a variety of Asianinspired dishes and choosing from curried sweet potato bisque or a variety of salads or sushi can be challenging, but you can’t go wrong. The comfortable vibe makes dining at PM a great experience and on a nice spring evening, the patio is the best place to be. You Must Try: The Thai Salsa Nachos and Sushi Pizza.
UNSUNG MOVIE HEROES “FACE OFF”
New show allows make-up artists to shine by Julie Freeman
It doesn’t take a Trekkie to recognize a Klingon. Say the word, and immediately springs to mind a crustacean-skulled alien in desperate need of a laxative. No matter your affinity for science fiction and fantasy (or even horror), these film genres have spawned a multitude of iconic pop culture images — Tolkein’s army of Orcs, the blue shapeshifting mutant Mystique of X-Men fame, Chewbacca, Freddy Kreuger, Edward Scissorhands. All of these creatures owe their existence to a visionary whose skills are shrouded in mystery, silicone and synthetic blood: the special effects makeup artist. The SyFy network attempted to demystify the secret world of these artists this spring with its first foray into competitive reality shows. Face Off pitted the skills of 12 artists against one another for a prize of $100,000 and a year’s supply of Alcon makeup. Producers tapped as judges a trio of experienced and well-known artists: three-time Academy Award winner Ve Neill, whose credits include “The Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Mrs. Doubtfire;” Glenn Hettrick, the man behind “Heroes” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer;” and the judge with the best title of them all, creature designer Patrick Tatopoulos, whose handiwork includes “Independence Day” and “Underworld.” The lure of this show is its promise of pulling back the curtain on Hollywood’s production secrets. The best movies have mastered the art of suspending viewers’ disbelief. In the case of fantasy worlds peopled with strange and fantastic creatures, success relies heavily on special effects makeup artists who mesh their artistic vision with technical prowess in order to create lifelike — if non-human-like — beings. The inaugural season of Face Off brought together a motley assortment of artists from such expected locales as Los Angeles as well as places like rural Oklahoma. Some fit the stereotype of the professional studio artist — tattoos, piercings, earlobes with holes
big enough to toss a spear through. Others could easily be mistaken for accountants or teachers. But all, to varying degrees, possessed some measure of experience and skill in movie makeup. The challenges were designed to test the artists’ imagination, versatility and technical execution, as well as their collaborative abilities and adaptability to last-minute changes. Assignment: Nude body painting. Artists get a model, a backdrop and six hours to paint a masterpiece worthy of a magazine photo shoot. The breadth of imagination demonstrated by most of the contestants was stunning. More impressive than the marble statue, the fish or the librarian with surprisingly realistic painted clothes were the models who disappeared into their backdrops. One such woman was painted to look like a cobblestone walkway at the bottom of an outdoor staircase, complete with weeds growing out of rather unfortunate anatomical crevices. But by far, the breathtaking standout was the model whose face was locked in an agonizing scream. She seamlessly melted into her backdrop of gray, petrified wood — save one bronze piece of flesh across the belly, from which she had painfully ripped a piece of bark. Assignment: Create your own movie villain, complete with movie poster and tagline. The results ranged from the ridiculous — including a psychotic photographer whose only claim to creepy was a Cheshire grin that could have encompassed most of Cleveland (with the equally lame movie title “Chester’s Photography”) — to a fascinatingly deranged boyman with a teddy bear fused to his face. The winner in my book was a broken-faced china doll disturbing enough to make you think twice about letting your daughter start a doll collection. Of course, no movie makeup competition would be complete without the requisite alien and zombie challenges, the latter creatures’ makeup having to survive a boisterous dance routine. But movie makeup
isn’t all about monsters and mythical creatures, and the producers were wise to recognize that. Challenges included the laying of facial hair, a surprisingly difficult skill to master, tattoo design and application, and a self-transformation realistic enough to dupe a family member. One of the more amusing competitions was a gender swap, in which artists paired up to transform a real-life bride and groom into a groom and bride. One ambitious team doubled the challenge by also attempting an old-age makeup, demonstrating the difficulty of doing either one well. In the grand finale, four finalists were tasked with transporting a fairy tale character into a new world. This last competition yielded some of the richest results. A psychedelic Little Mermaid, the weakest of all the contenders, reclined her fluorescent scales on a clam shell. A haunted Frog Prince, complete with inflatable air sac in his throat, was caught in the middle of his transformation. The witch in the industrial Hansel and Gretel scene looked like it caught all the shrapnel from an explosion in a junkyard, and poor Hansel’s hands are seen pushing from within the witch’s distended gut. The winner in my book was the post-apocalyptic Little Red Riding Hood. The artist re-envisioned the story with a great white werewolf as the victim, being
stalked by a renegade Riding Hood wielding a Gatling gun against the stark backdrop of a nuclear winter. The sole problem with the finale is that producers crammed the greatest artistic challenge of the season into a one-hour time slot. More time was spent on the judging and elimination than on the act of creation, which is what viewers want to see. The show’s focus had already started to slip several episodes earlier with the introduction of a romantic subplot between two of the contestants. If producers are wise, they will stay focused on the art and steer the editing of the second season away from adolescent interpersonal drama. SyFy took a gamble on this show, and the network won big. Face Off taps the latent creative desires of viewers — the ones most tucked away with the paperbag monsters and dress-up clothes of childhood. Special effects makeup artists squeeze their livings out of their imaginations, spending their days sculpting and molding and painting and costuming. Movie makeup is not hack work; it is true artistry that is every bit as difficult as any other artistic endeavor. Face Off, perhaps, will help it gain the respect it deserves.
SAME COUNTRY, WORLDS APART
The view of America from Hawaii by Nick Dean
On the side of the road during the drive from the Polynesian Cultural Center to Hale’iwa is a small fresh fruit stand that boasts nothing more than a tarp attached to four steel posts and a hand-painted sign. The woman that works the stand is the epitome of Hawaii — kind, relaxed, simple. It’s a unique feeling when you first step onto an island in Hawaii. First, the grandiosity of the miles-long, curvy beaches make you feel secluded. But when you realize just how many people occupy the Aloha state relative to the actual size of the islands, you understand how precious each inch of space is to the Hawaiian people. This tropical haven has one main commodity: land. On the islands you understand why the land and the ocean are held in such high esteem. In stark contrast to the open plains of Kansas or West Texas ranches, the scarcity of land in Hawaii has led the state to preserve and protect several of its most beautiful attributes, from perfect-for-hiking coastlines to enormous, green mountainscapes.The state of Hawaii is a convergence center for numerous cultures, and it has somehow been able to maintain a distinct identity while being inundated by various cultures from the Far East and West. This identity is on full display in the small cities or on the small islands, like Hale’iwa on O’ahu or the entire island of Kailua. Places like these — where buildings aren’t taller than four floors and shrimp trailers reign supreme — show the nonchalance of Hawaiian culture. While the major resorts on the islands are extravagant and entrap most tourists, the experiences to be had are outside of the marble pools and complimentary fruit bars. Take, for instance, my time at the roadside fruit stand. Originally, it was a small, uneventful encounter. I went straight for the frozen pineapple and completely neglected the rarities for sale. My second visit allowed me to explore
more options, like the ripe mangoes, sweet islandgrown corn and the fried bananas— things I never considered. But I will never forget the refreshing mango aroma as I fell in love with the orange-red fruit, nor will I let the flavor of a fried North Shore banana ever leave my memory. I took a chance. I explored. And the fresh, Hawaiiangrown fruit she sells is better than any Sheraton or Hilton assortment. Leaving the fascinating and ornate hotels and getting to the other parts of the island is the only avenue to beginning to understand Hawaiian culture. Mainland America has a misperception of Hawaiians. All Hawaiians are not surfers. All Hawaiians are not behemoths with a golden heart and jolly chuckle. Hawaiians are a loving people group with just as broad an array of personalities as the mainland. They protect their land and hold their culture dearly, but they in no way ignore the culture of the island visitors. Down the two-lane road from the fruit stand is Hale’iwa — a town on the North Shore, home of the best surfing in the world. The city, on the opposite side of the island from bustling Honolulu, flips any tourist experience on its head. No longer spotted are random men dressed in Polynesian garb or women with fragrant hibiscus nestled behind their ears. Instead, the essence of Hawaii — tranquility — exudes from this city. Interesting, though, is the fact that the city is populated by a rather eclectic array of shops and restaurants. From McDonald’s to Cholo’s Mexican Restaurant, Hale’iwa doesn’t fit the stereotype of a Hawaiian city. Men donning board shorts and a surfboards strapped at the ankles head out to the dark blue swells that captivate most travelers as they drive down a road that runs right along the beach. There are more BLEEP 13
cities and more islands that O’ahu, but Hale’iwa is a prime example of the laidback nature of Hawaii. The Hawaiian people — while rich in history — differ from those in Mainland America because they take time to enjoy the beauty surrounding them. If I had to guess, I think that is why they have been given some of the most beautiful land in the world — because they appreciate it. Bigger cities, however, have emerged as natural melting pots, offering an array of arts and entertainment venues along with the tourist destinations that populate most beach-oriented areas. On the radio, you hear a reggae beat as the DJ’s voice slips in and out of Pidgin, the colloquial slang of the islands that uses words like “slippuhs” for flip-flops. Honolulu, the capital and a major convergence point for a myriad of cultures, has hidden within it a trove of Hawaiian treasures— like melt-in-your-mouth 14 BLEEP
shaved ice stands and traditional Hawaiian restaurants like Kam Pai or Side Street Café. The mainstays of any Hawaiian restaurant menu are pork chops, fried rice, garlic fries and kimchi — evidence of a major Asian fusion that is the product of a large Asian population on the islands. In downtown Honolulu are many entertainment productions and major designer shopping districts, and most major food chains have staked a part of tourist paradise in the Waikiki district of Honolulu. The islands have a palpable spirit of aloha, a spirit that penetrates most of its people and pours into visitors. The tourist attractions can be over and done with in a day or day and a half in Hawaii. If you are interested in the actual character of the islands, burst out of the tourist traps and delve into the ocean of experiences that populate lesser-known cities in Hawaii.
oh the places youâ€™ll go (back to in a heartbeat) 16 BLEEP
BLEEP DOES TRAVEL
Cairo is a city of dust, and traffic, of trash in the streets and cigarette smoke in your face. It’s a city of constant haze and constant honking, of street cats and loitering police. But it is also a city of laughter, of kids playing soccer on the corner before school, of men standing in front of their shops smoking and joking together, of women wearing brightly colored hijabs and gossiping together while keeping a wary eye on their children, of young girls calling, “Welcome to Egypt,” in their best English, and asking question after question about anything they can think of, just to keep you talking. It’s a city of fleecing tourists but cutting a deal for a familiar face, and giving discounts for good jokes. It’s a city of koshary and falafel, shawarma and sheesha, of tiny stores and bakeries and juice bars on every corner, open at all hours. A city of everything delivered. Of street markets that pulse with the rhythms of a community and of excited children trying to teach you every Arabic word for everything. It’s a city of minarets and steeples, lit by neon lights,
of weddings and funerals every day, of echoing calls to prayer and people devoutly ignoring them. It’s a city of red, white and black, intense soccer fans, flags everywhere, honking and yelling in the streets, and “misr, misr, misr!” It is an old city, and a new city, half crumbling, half being built. A city stuffed to the brim with ancient history, and the nonchalance that comes from living among giants. It’s a city of giving goodnaturedly terrible directions, of dinosaur junkers just inches from the latest car off the lot, of turning three lanes into six, of fur dashboards in taxis and double or triple parking (or even quadruple on the corner), and praying no one else will block you in, inshallah (God willing). It’s a city of inshallah time, inshallah service, and inshallah scheduling, because the schedule is less important than staying to have a conversation. It is a city of passionate debate and startling apathy, a city of millions of opinions about thousands of subjects. Cairo is a city of desperation and striving and pride and hope.
I loved how rich and vibrant the culture of Costa Rica is. They regard nature as something beautiful and believe it should be left alone if at all possible. Their view on nature is not only present in many conversations they have but also in their way of life. Every creature there is symbolic to them. It was truly fascinating to see people want to protect nature because they believe that it and its creatures are sacred.Â The Costa Rican culture is very familycentered. It was interesting to see how different generations either live in a house together or are extremely close. The family I lived with had a 28-year-old daughter who lived at home, and that was customary. The family aspect was so rich and alive. They were constantly planning giant family meals and get-togethers with a few families. There would be a joyous fiesta if something good happened to a friend. The people of Costa Rica always found a way to lift each other up.Â
Though it’s perhaps most famous for its Rosebowl stadium and the annual New Year’s day tournament of roses parade, Pasadena, Calif. has lot a lot more to offer than just football and flowers. Located 20 minutes (in no traffic) northeast of downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena boasts a unique array of shopping, dining and cultural experiences. Adding to its charm is its location below the majestic San Gabriel Mountains. My favorite places include Old Pasadena, where you can enjoy more than 300 stores, restaurants and entertainment venues all within walking distance of one another. Make sure to try the best frozen yogurt in the world at 21 Choices, the most popular spot in Old Pasadena. If you are hungry, head to The Scarlet Tea Room, where the delicious food, whimsical ambience, and delightful staff make every dining experience fun. And if you are looking for distinctive gifts, look no further than Lulu Mae’s, which offers gifts of wit and whimsy and whose motto is “more is more.” If your tastes tend to more intellectual or scenic pursuits, you can find both at the Huntington Library, Museum and Botanical Gardens. On display at the 22 BLEEP
library are rare manuscripts like Chaucer’s ”Canterbury Tales” and a Gutenberg Bible, while the art gallery features memorable pieces including Gainsborough’s ”Blue Boy.” The Botanical Gardens are situated on 120 acres and feature more than a dozen specialized gardens that you can walk through. Another favorite place in Pasadena is Vroman’s bookstore, Southern California’s oldest and largest independent bookstore. A literary landmark, Vroman’s has a huge stock of books and gifts, as well as a knowledgeable staff who always have great recommendations. Finally, if you still believe Pasadena’s main attraction is the Rose Bowl, then you should know most Pasadena residents would agree with you to some extent. Circling the entire stadium and parking lot is a three mile walking and biking path that is used by hundreds of people every day. A mix of serious runners, parents and their kids, people with their dogs, and bicyclists take advantage of the free exercise space, adding to the popularity of this destination. It is also one of the few remaining places in the United States that you can watch or participate in a peloton.
I’ve been to Disney World, I’ve seen Epcot in Orlando, I’ve seen the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty in New York City; I’ve even seen the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but to me, none of those compare to seeing Big Ben and Westminster Abbey in London. There was something fascinating about London that I’ve never seen anywhere else. The modern, metropolitan lifestyle Is juxtaposed by the centuries-old, glorious structures. It was incredible to watch the Londoners walk past these relics on their way to work, as if they were nothing more than a corner bodega in New York City. They weren’t fazed by the grand history and awesome architecture of those buildings. It was normal for them. After living there for month, I too began to see that giant clock and old church as just something I passed by on my way to do some shopping. However, when I finally returned to the states, I began to not only notice the historical landmarks where I was, but truly appreciate them, much like I’m sure the people of London regard Big Ben and Westminster Abbey as they pass by on their way to the corner Eat or Pret-A-Manger. London is a city I love to love. And although I’ve only been there once, it’s affected the way I see life and see the culture wherever I go.
The sensation of the tropical Caribbean heat overwhelming your senses while you’re sipping a piña colada on the beach is unforgettable. There’s something mesmerizing about the beautiful island of the Dominican Republic. Can it be the Dominican rum they freely give as you enter the country’s border? Can it be the energy the people exude in their hospitality? This country captivates you with its vibrant colors of culture and music and has you dancing away in the night right on the beach. To stay someplace in the country, I went about three hours from the capital, all the way on the north coast. The journey alone was worth it because its all countryside views. Once I reached Las Terrenas, I realized the only thing separating the beach and my hotel was the road and all I could see was green emerald ocean. Las Terrenas was full of the natives enjoying their beautiful country, amazing food, and of course the loud sounds of Merengue, Salsa and Reggaeton. One of the highlights was devouring a Dominican local pizza that consisted of pepperoni and corn as a topping. Awesome. I suggest taking time to visit this country and take in the sun, culture and foods that will mesmerize you as they did me. 24 BLEEP
Paris (pronounce it pah-REE, and you’re golden): The city of love. Now I know why Paris has adopted this phrase as its own. Really, what’s not to love? From the beautiful language to the adorable outside cafes, Paris is a city filled with sheer bliss. Paris is by far one of my favorite travel destinations. The people (for the most part) are so friendly, regardless of the language barrier. I had the preconceived notion that my friends and I wouldn’t be able to communicate whatsoever with the French, but that notion quickly faded as we used nonverbal communication as our way of getting around the city. The scenery is breathtaking and there is so much to see and do. I love the spontaneity Paris provides. It’s such a wonderful getaway, if you will, from reality. I felt almost as if I were in an alternate universe. I may have been an outsider in Paris, but I didn’t mind. It was all part of the experience. After all, I was in Paris.
“No Worries!” It’s not just a phrase, but a way of life in the down under of Australia. From tourists crowding the harbor and big sites to natives bustling about with their daily lives, I found that nothing really seems to bother anyone when visiting Sydney, Australia. With something for everyone, this beautiful harbor city takes each day as it comes and celebrates life with constant activities and events and especially celebration of the arts. A trip to the wildlife center to meet the koalas and the kangaroos could lead to a harbor boat cruise to take in all the sunshine and scenery Sydney had to offer, and we took full advantage of this welcoming city. While the indigenous animals and the beautiful water cruise were great experiences, nothing could trump the opportunity to climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Yep. We climbed straight to the top. With plenty of irrational fears and a tidbit of doubt that I, myself, could climb up to just short of 500 feet in the air, my parents and I registered, suited up, and with an Aussie “no worries” attitude, took on what truly was “The Climb of Your Life.” Watching the sun set over the Sydney Opera House and the city come alive as traffic lights danced right below us, we had the best seat in the house. Planting my foot firmly back onto the ground below after, I couldn’t help but think…I would do that again…in a heart beat. 26 BLEEP
“Welcome to Half Moon Resorts, Rum punch anyone?” Well, now this is the welcome I was waiting for! We spent the next 15 minutes running around the grounds oohing and ahhing. We couldn’t believe where we were staying, a huge villa that held four rooms, a pool, dining area, a butler and two maids. I was in heaven. We learned from our butler that the resort had its own dolphin lagoon. Dolphins? I must have died and Jamaica must be heaven. Now most people have many fanciful stories about their experience with lovely, gentle dolphins. Staring into the face a
huge dolphin all I cared about was not being the first documented human to get bit by a “loving” dolphin. I was put at ease quickly because these dolphins were magical. We petted, kissed and “held” the dolphins. Swimming with dolphins can only be defined in one word: awesome. The rest of the weekend was spent eating every type of amazing Jamaican food we could get our hands on, dancing the night away at a spot called The Pier that sat at the waters edge, lying on the sandy white beaches, golf cart racing, laughs and lots and lots of rum punch.
Las Vegas is a unique location offering a vacation unlike any other. There’s a general air of excitement in knowing that everyone is there for the same reason: to have a good time. People are extra friendly and open to meeting people from all over the world. Las Vegas hotels are huge and host several amazing restaurants. It seems like every famous chef has a restaurant in Vegas. The food presentation is spectacular, and the décor is gorgeous; just like the people. Las Vegas is also known for its neverending buffets, a must for any tourist. We can’t forget about the amazing nightlife on the Vegas strip. Every hotel has at least one club, and there isn’t any funny business at the front door. Everyone is dressed to impress and having a great time. It seems like there is always a new club opening up, making it feel like the hottest club in town is always changing. Still, it’s easy to keep up to date through the hospitality desk at your hotel. And of course, the casinos are full of excitement 24 hours a day. I am making it my business to learn poker for my next trip down there.
There’s too much to be said about New York City than can be written about in a few short paragraphs, but perhaps that’s fitting. It’s a city that needs no long exposition and no lengthy description. It’s New York City, the center of the world. When you live somewhere else and you move to New York, you realize quickly what you’ve been missing. New York is where everything happens. It’s where trends start (cupcakes, anyone?). It’s where fashion becomes a reality (there’s a reason Project Runway’s season in Los Angeles was a failure). It’s where you can go bowling in Williamsburg and end up seeing an impromptu Kanye concert. It’s the center of culture from which everything expands, and the best nights in New York are the ones where you don’t have a plan and just start walking.
Hong Kong is the perfect combination of East and West. It is the best of two worlds. On one hand, you’ve got architecture and culture that date back thousands of years. On the other hand, you have a completely modern city with all the conveniences of today’s technology. The creative mix of traditional and modern is entrancing. It’s an incredible experience to walk down the street and see a thousandyear-old temple paired with a modern skyscraper. There is no other place where the fusion of East and West seeps so profoundly into every aspect of culture. Whether you are inspired by historic sites, soaring architecture, unique cuisine or beautiful landscapes, you will indeed be inspired by Hong Kong.
Dublin, Ireland is the most perfect city in the world because there is simply no end to the fascinating and wonderful culture one can experience. This beautiful city appeals to any type of adventurer, and no matter where your passions lie, you are sure to fall in love with the charm of the Emerald Isle. Irish culture is built on thousands of years of struggle and triumph, resulting in a rich history of some of the most well-known writers, artists and philosophers in the world. There is a certain romanticism to wandering the homeland of Wilde, Swift, Yeatsâ€Śand, of course, Bono. The surrounding countryside is unbelievingly lush and green, allowing for the most incredible mountaintop views. The history of Dublin, from the ancient Celtic tradition to the modern
revolutionaries, is truly fascinating and is well preserved in many remarkable museums and libraries. Of course, those of a less academic or cultural sensibility can also find something to entertain. Dublin is well known as the city with at least two pubs on every corner, and, visit to the Guinness Brewery is â€“ shall I say it? â€“ intoxicatingly fun. The best reason to visit Dublin, however, is the opportunity to meet the amazing people that live there. The Irish are the most welcoming population and, as a whole, are eager to share their stories, songs and sidesplitting jokes. Dublin has a truly irresistible quality that engages the mind and captures the spirit.
A familiar phrase to the celebrants of all things New Orleans, “Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler” probably plays its biggest role during the city’s most famous season, Mardi Gras. From costumes and spirits to parades and flying beads, New Orleans finds every way possible to let those good times roll. But come Fat Tuesday (or Mardi Gras in French) the roll seems to slow and the city finally takes a small break back into normal life ... for the most part. What we don’t see is the hundreds of people who start in on the next year’s Mardi Gras festivities that very next day. You read right. There is no rest for the creative masterminds behind the spectacular show of colors and imagination. They need every minute they can get to prepare for the coming season. I took a little peek into this preparation when I visited Mardi Gras World, home of Blaine Kern’s Design Studios. For more than 60 years, this massive warehouse studio has served as a creative haven for the many designers, carpenters and artists that it takes to execute a successful Mardi Gras season. And I must say, touring this place made me feel a bit like I had escaped into my own Narnia …you know, the one where they celebrate Mardi Gras. Cluttered with old float paraphernalia, the studio is a wonderland for creativity with wood shops, fiberglass installations, papier-mâché crews, and both freehand painters and air-brushers working day in and day out. With decades of props stored up, the artists and carpenters of the studio work to reshape and repurpose old props for each new float theme. With about 54 parades in a given season, Mardi Gras World stays busy as the different crews bring in their themes to get the studio’s artists to outfit and bring their ideas to fruition. Repurposing isn’t just for interior design as these genius carpenters shave down, burn up and reform old heads, animals, flowers and thrones to become new and beautiful décor to parade the streets of NOLA. Seeing the drawings and designs that go into each float definitely got this designer’s heart racing, reminding me that all creative tasks have a process. From the artists at work on the props, to installers finalizing the floats, to members of float crews loading up their loot of beads and cups and doubloons, this Mardi Gras Narnia will get anyone excited to join the festivities and let the good times roll! BLEEP 35
Sitting at 18 feet tall, Lady Kong rests atop her own float piece as she is among the two heaviest and largest props in all the Mardi Gras parades. The only other competitor with her daunting size, is her very own counterpart, King Kong, who also sits at a massive 18 feet tall on his own set of wheels.
As a society, weâ€™ve long been enamored by the plight of fairy tale characters and worlds beyond our imagination. Generations have grown up hearing about Cinderellaâ€™s glass slipper or the elves and that sleepy shoemaker. We decided to take a look at what, at first glance, seems to be a childhood fascination and how it continues to permeate our culture today, regardless of how old we are. BLEEP 39
The House of Mouse has long been creating the fairy tale fantasies that children and adults alike have fallen in love with and for many people, those fantasies have come to life within the walls of the Disney theme parks around the world. Danielle Milam is one such person. Bitten by the Disney bug as a child, sheâ€™s still visiting the park and allowing her imagination to run wild in adulthood. BY DANIELLE MILAM
I grew up on Disney. It’s no understatement. My childhood was filled with Disney movies and dreams of marrying Prince Charming. My imagination swept me away with Aladdin on his magic carpet and off to Neverland with Peter Pan. I have always loved all things Disney. In 1992, when I was 6 years old, my parents surprised me with a vacation to Walt Disney World, our first family vacation to a Disney Park. By the end, I was hooked. A Whole New World To say Disney World was magical might be clichéd but is completely accurate when viewed through the eyes of a child. I walked into a world of whimsy and imagination that really existed. There, all my heroes came to life. Cinderella wished me a happy birthday, Barbie and Skipper arrived in their pink stretch limousine and Mickey himself joined me for breakfast. My favorite park was Magic Kingdom. It was quintessential Disney. I marveled at the new experiences of riding through a Pirate’s Lair, twirling in Alice’s Teacups, speeding on a runaway train, and eating in Cinderella’s castle. Never before had the classic stories come to life around me. I didn’t know it then, but I was in love with the art and creativity of Disney storytelling. At Disney World, everything tells a story and everything is intentional. The names etched in the windows on Main Street are people who worked on the park. The bakeries pipe sweet smells out to visitors. Even the ground creates physical transitions between lands. In Frontierland the ground looks like dirt with horseshoe prints while in Fanstasyland it’s cobblestone with a provincial-town feel. Every detail is carefully planned, incorporating tricks of the movie industry to make sure you see only what they want you to see. Since you never see the backs of the buildings, they aren’t painted or finished. Like in the movies, Disney uses perspective to make buildings, and even the castle seems taller than it is. Disney’s masterful storytelling wasn’t just used to bring fairy tales to life. Entire worlds have been created to tell all sorts of stories. No park exemplifies this like EPCOT. It celebrates the land by producing edible Mickey Mouse-shaped pumpkins, the sea by swimming with Nemo, and outer space by launching a rocket to Mars. Nowhere other than the World Showcase can you find the glockenspiel of Germany, the trolls of Norway, the belly dancers of Morocco and the Great Wall of China just steps away
from one another. Each world is beautifully crafted to tell its own unique story, to create an unforgettable feeling and to carry you away. It doesn’t stop in the Disney theme parks. I’d walk away from the parks only to be transported to a Polynesian paradise complete with a white sands beach and a nightly luau. This is where, even as a child, the creativity of Disney was apparent. The magic was in the details. The Polynesian Hotel was perfectly decorated with a Hawaiian theme from the wallpaper to the bedspread. The fan blades resembled plant leaves and the vegetation surrounding the buildings was authentic to Hawaii. They even piped ukulele music onto the grounds. My mother just kept saying, “How clever! I never would have thought of that!” The Animal Kingdom explored the connection between man and animal. Again, Disney used its massive imagination to create a world unlike any other. I was transplanted to an African safari to see real animals that appeared to run wild, I was shrunk to the size of an insect for a 3D show based on “A Bug’s Life,” and I was put right in the middle of a lion-sized celebration. In MGM Studios, Disney creativity became reality. At the Animators Studio we watched Disney animators working on the upcoming feature “Pocahontas,” and on a later trip, “Mulan.” The pictures came to life before our eyes – there were Pocahontas and Meeko where only a moment ago there had been white space. A dash of color and some page flips later, Pocahontas was gliding just around the river bend of the animator’s desk. I came away knowing the magic of Disney – art, rides and stories – was unmatched by anything I’d seen before. Something There Disneyland in California is where it all began. This is the original, where Walt Disney himself joined his guests in the park. While Walt Disney World is a megaDisney complex, Disneyland is the humble beginning of a dream. The first time I went to Disneyland I was blown away by the history of the park. I rode the Matterhorn Bobsleds, which is the very first tubular rollercoaster that paved the way for all modern rollercoasters. I caught a glimpse of the eternal light glowing in Walt’s apartment over Main Street. I walked across the drawbridge into Sleeping Beauty’s castle – the same drawbridge that lowered on the very first day Disneyland opened in 1955. There was something BLEEP 41
enchanting about walking in Walt’s footsteps and seeing his creative visions the way he saw them. Disneyland combines history, artistry and technology in a way that can only be described as the Disney style. While Disneyland Park is completely vintage, celebrating the original artistry, the newer park, California Adventure, showcases creative genius in a new medium. The Imagineers have taken everything Disney does great and found new ways to express their stories through the latest technology. They took me Soarin’ over California where I saw, heard, smelled and felt what the birds themselves must experience. They put me in the middle of Midway Games armed with a miniature cannon to interact with the changing scenery. As the story of Aladdin came to life in musical format, I was amazed to see him and Jasmine flying on a carpet above my seat. The most outstanding medium Disney uses is water. The World of Color nighttime show at California Adventure left me speechless. The water flows and jumps to set the mood and then becomes the backdrop for 3D laser technology to project our favorite Disney memories on. Ariel swam, Pocahontas sang and Buzz Lightyear flew over a blanket of water and mist. Suddenly, jets of fire erupted to signal the climax of the story. Fire and water combined in a duality of elements to evoke conflict. As the fire was overcome, the water flowed sadly as the heroes mourned the loss of loved ones. But then the tempo picked up, the water began jumping and glowing – color and happiness returned not only to the fountains but also to the boardwalk backdrop. My emotional journey was over but it left me longing for more. Never before had I seen such an example of Walt’s creativity and vision transcending time and technology.
ate traditional Cantonese cuisine while Cinderella serenaded me in Chinese and I gazed on Sleeping Beauty’s castle. In Paris, I stood gaping at a Sleeping Beauty castle unlike any other. It looked like the real castles in the French Loire Valley except pink and unmistakably Disney. I saw Main Street USA in a whole new light in Hong Kong. When I see Main Street, I see the small-town America of the past. At the Hong Kong Park, though, the Hong Kong children picture that America is just like Main Street. Being surrounded by others of a different culture kept forcing me to see things from their perspective. It was enchanting to see Disney through their eyes. Discoveryland in Paris pays homage to the French author Jules Verne by creating his vision of the future. The Space Mountain ride even begins by shooting riders out of a cannon into space just like in Verne’s classic “From the Earth to the Moon.” The masterful and unique art deco décor creates the oxymoron of an old-timey future Walt Disney Studios Park is a French version of our Hollywood that celebrates the idea of characters coming to life in some of the most spectacular Disney shows I have seen. CineMagique was a mix of a stage show and an epic cinematic event. It created a world where the movie characters jumped through genres and then literally came to life. Never before had I been to a Disney Park where the shows upstaged the rides. I was no longer in love with Disney the same way I was when I was a child. As a kid, I saw only the story. As an adult, I marveled at the storytelling. We continued to go back as a family, with friends, even taking a tri-generational trip with my grandmother. I became a Disney connoisseur. Each time I went, I discovered something new – a hidden Mickey or an out-of-the-way miniature golf course. I Part of Your World could visit all my favorite rides and shows but still be Globally, Disney showcases its versatility. wowed by brand new adventures and be awestruck Disneyland Paris is a full-blown Disney experience by the latest technology. while Hong Kong Disneyland is small — quaint, really – As a child, I valued its magic and imagination; as and just a start of something that can be great. Disney an adult, I marvel at its intricate design and creativity. Paris merges the creativity of Disney with European Disney will never lose its charm for me because it’s charm while Hong Kong Disney is the combination of a world of endless nuance, enchanting artistry and Disney and China. They both celebrate the Disney of enduring magic. As long as they keep dreaming and a different culture. creating, I will keep going. In Hong Kong, I sat on Main Street USA and 42 BLEEP
FAIRY TALES AND HOLLYWOOD
A “Grimm” Evolution by Laura Seitter
Once upon a time, I traveled to the magical faraway land of Europe for a semester abroad. Amid my weeks of drifting from city to city, I spent a weekend in the vibrant city of Copenhagen, Denmark, where I eagerly toured many incredible museums and attractions. My favorite spot in the city is The Little Mermaid statue that sits on a rock in the harbor, looking out toward the sea. Erected as a tribute to one of Denmark’s greatest icons, Hans Christian Andersen, the statue is picturesque against the steely gray of the cold waters, and serves as a beautiful artistic portrayal of a beloved childhood fairy tale. I was shocked, however, to learn from the Danish tour guide that the beloved childhood fairy tale is nothing like I thought. The original fable of pain, murder, dismemberment and suicide was entirely unlike my beloved red-haired princess surrounded by talking sea creatures. Interested to see what other tales may have been tweaked through the centuries, I investigated other well-known fairy tales and found themes even more disturbing. Cannibalism in “Snow White”? Rape in “Sleeping Beauty”? Bestiality in “Little Red Riding Hood”? It was as though Mickey Mouse himself had confessed to the JFK assassination. This ignorance of fairy tale tradition is quite forgivable, however, for the last few generations. Ever since Walt Disney picked up a pencil and produced the first full-length animated feature, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” in 1937, children have been raised in the culture of Disney classics. These Technicolor, happier adaptations were softened for a new, younger audience. Just as the original fairy tales were intended to teach the audience lessons about morality and safety, the modern re-tellings are used to impart knowledge to youth – in a slightly less jolting manner. Disney’s adaptations of centuries-old stories clearly show that the evolution of fairy tales is inevitable and that, despite the addition of juvenile songs and dancing animals, the general themes of the stories remain intact. In the past few years, however, there has been a curious resurgence of reinterpreted stories. In other words, Hollywood has jumped on the Disney bandwagon and is reassembling our familiar childhood fairy stories in some very interesting ways. Some filmmakers
have chosen to keep the storylines intact, electing to revitalize the scripts with special effects and slight updates, while others have done complete rewrites, modernizing and adding the shock factor to keep sales rolling in. Some have been quite successful, incorporating new ideas while still maintaining the integrity of our original fairy tales. Other filmmakers have utterly failed, butchering our beloved fables in the process. Take “Cinderella,” for example. One of the most archetypal stories in all of literature, “Cinderella” has been adapted for books, movies, stage productions, video games, songs and more. In just the past few years, Hollywood has produced several Cinderella stories, translating the traditional themes for different types of audiences. In 1998 Drew Barrymore starred in “Ever After: A Cinderella Story,” which discards the magical elements of the tale in favor of a postfeministic interpretation. By abandoning the fairy godmother and magic pumpkins, the tale of the little cinder girl is accessible to a much larger audience. It preserves the all-important romantic themes, but it also inspires some serious girl-power. Cinderella even went to high school in The Valley in the form of 2004’s “A Cinderella Story.” Starring Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray, this version keeps most of the original elements but sets the stage in a Los Angeles high school instead of a royal palace. While entirely predictable with way over-exaggerated characters, “A Cinderella Story” at least sticks to the basic facts: Stepmothers are evil, love will conquer all and housework makes you irresistibly gorgeous. Unfortunately, not all adaptations of classic fairy tales have stayed true to the original. Some tales are simply not suited for modernization, and new translations lose meaning for current audiences. In 2007, Amanda Bynes was featured in the titular role of “Sydney White.” This new interpretation of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” takes the princess out of the forest and dumps her on sorority row. Instead of dwarfs, Sydney White is befriended by seven dorks, and the evil queen/Kappa president preens in front of a social networking site instead of an enchanted mirror. While I chuckled at the replacement of the poisoned apple with a crashed Macbook, there was very little else that translated easily. The filmmakers were much more intent on incorporating their own
themes of self-acceptance and snappy one-liners than staying true to the original elements of “Snow White.” In the past few months alone, Hollywood has released some real whoppers in terms of reinterpreted fairy tales. In March, “Red Riding Hood” opened in theaters. This very loosely adapted film, starring Amanda Seyfried, transforms the folk tale into a highly sexualized film. Although the production design is creative, there is very little else for which “Red Riding Hood” can be commended. The worst aspect of this movie, however, is that it begs audiences to respect the well-known subject matter while providing absolutely no respectable writing. Another dismal creation in the current wave of fairy tale alterations is “Beastly,” also released in March. Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer clumsily settle into the characters of Beauty and the Beast. Again, filmmakers try to translate classical themes into an incredibly overwrought high school. The film does reconsider the traditional conceptions of the image of the Beast, electing to forgo the traditional fangs and fur in favor of scarring and tattoos, which is at least interesting. The creativity stops there, however, and the plot drags under the endless stream of moody, adolescent temper tantrums. There doesn’t seem to be any true inner transformation of the image-afflicted “Beast.” This movie abandons the ideas of self-sacrifice and inner beauty that makes the archetypal story so treasured, and in the end “Beastly” is not so much a title as a description. The tales of distressed damsels and white knights are easy to reformulate, thus the endless streams of adaptations. New editions are not always successful - and not only because my standards are too high – but I continue to remain hopeful for the next step in fairy tale evolution. There are several movies in pre-production that will reintroduce some familiar characters, including Sleeping Beauty and two versions of Snow White. There is sure to be plenty of critical discussion around Hollywood’s new productions. As time marches on, however, we move farther away from the beloved fables of Andersen, Perrault, and the Grimm Brothers toward a future where it is not so certain that the prince and princess will live happily ever after. BLEEP 45
ALL TH WORLD A STAG
HE Dâ€™S GE
A group of people to whom the expression has never fit more perfectly, we asked scenic designers, choreographers, music arrangers and performers to tell us about their craft and what keeps them going at the end of the day.
WHAT’S YOUR JOB? on the back of my script. One day, after the director On paper, my job titles are Properties designer and had spent five excruciating minutes describing what properties master for ZACH Theatre in Austin, Texas. sounded like another one of her shoddy designs to all of us, I quickly approached her and gave her my WHAT DO YOU DO? candid criticisms. Obviously stressed and somewhat I’m so glad that you asked this question, because offended, she sarcastically responded, “So, what, do my job titles in no way paint an accurate picture of you want to take over the set design now?” I politely exactly what I do. My first and foremost duty to the responded yes, flipped over my script to reveal my theater is that of the properties designer. Properties, designs, and listed off the names of the other students or “props,” is a broad term that means all of items on who I had enlisted to help me. Less than 12 hours stage that help define the world of production. The later, the school had issued me a credit card, and I was props designer works closely with the scenic designer on my way designing my first show. I spent the rest to create the environment in which the characters of my high school years doing some sort of theater live. Using the analogy of a home, the scenic designer design. serves more as the architect of that world, establishing structures like walls, stairs and doors, whereas the TALK ABOUT THE THEATRE SCENE IN AUSTIN. WHAT props designer serves more as the interior designer, MAKES IT MATTER/WHAT MAKES IT IMPORTANT? populating that structure with all the necessary The theater scene is Austin is quite unique. It’s trimmings: rugs, dishware, a floor lamp, some books, a city that fosters creativity and welcomes any form a blender, food in the pantry, bedding, a toilet brush, of expression with open arms., You can be sure that etc. live performance takes just as many forms. With that, As well, I am sort of a professional scavenger. I can the term “theater” is not something that is really set pick through any Goodwill and find the most amazing in stone. The hippie girl hula-hooping fire at a bar on finds. As well, I am often told that I need to find the Saturday night is just as much theatre as the touring most specific items that directors don’t realize will be performance of “A Chorus Line” that is stopping near impossible to find, but I take that as a challenge through for one week. This has both its pros and its cons. I have seen the most wonderful and scintillating HOW’D YOU END UP WORKING IN THIS FIELD? performance that incorporates a wide variety of art I guess I’ve always been dabbling in some sort of forms into pure brilliance. I have seen something theater design. I was the quirky kid who joined theater close to a modern Vaudevillian burlesque that was in high school because of the opportunity to get on breathtaking. And at the same time, I have seen total the stage and get some attention. After continually crap that looked like “The Gong Show” had sex with being cast as the less-significant, comic relief roles, a county fair talent show and trying to disguise their I realized that I couldn’t take my acting skills too illegitimate child as a d-list version of Cirque de Soleil. seriously. And with all of the time that I spent sitting in rehearsals waiting for my one or two lines to come WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO? up, I just kept daydreaming and imagining the world For me, there is nothing more satisfying than sitting in which the actions of the play would take place. in an opening night performance and looking around When I finally saw the set for my first show, I was so let at a cheering audience to see the smiling faces of down. It was so different that I had imagined - not to other artists who have helped bring this wonderful mention cheap and sad-looking. I realized then that creation to life. It is thrilling. I mean, coming home our director cared much more about the performance from a long day and telling my roommates that I spent of the students in the show then she did the design of the afternoon making a fake green bean casserole out the show. of rubber still always makes me smile. Just yesterday, I So for my second show, “Wizard of Oz”, I spent a spent about an hour working with my crew to roll the significant amount of time sketching set design ideas perfect joint. BLEEP 65
jason young 66 BLEEP
ALMOST 60 YEARS AGO, A STUDENT-LED SINGING AND DANCING COMPETITION BEGAN AT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY. THE FIRST OF ITS KIND, ALL-UNIVERSITY SING HAS BEEN ADOPTED AND ADAPTED BY NUMEROUS OTHER UNIVERSITIES, FOLLOWING THE BAYLOR MODEL. FOR THE PAST 20 YEARS, AUSTIN-BASED JASON YOUNG HAS BEEN ARRANGING THE SEVEN-MINUTELONG ACTS FOR THE 1,000+ STUDENTS WHO PARTICIPATE IN WHAT HAS BECOME THE LARGEST OFF-BROADWAY TYPE PRODUCTION IN AMERICA.
joy and energy are infectious.
WHAT OTHER GIGS DO YOU HAVE? Location recording for movies - I was the location mixer for the film Paradise Recovered that shot a few years ago- as well as post-production mixing and studio work. I just finished mixing a feature film. I’m writing 30 songs for a major educational curriculum program. I have the chance to do sound design for a video game, and I do mastering for Word Music in Nashville. I also do transcription work and the occasional odd music/sound job that comes along. WHAT GOT YOU STARTED ARRANGING FOR SING? It’s a really varied career. I also keep my hand in Sometime during my senior year at Baylor I prop design/construction and try to do some fine approached a friend who was directing a small woodworking (furniture and such), though most student choir and asked her if I could write something people don’t really know that about me. for their upcoming Christmas show. She was excited about getting something written custom for them YOU’RE A FREELANCER. HOW DO YOU DO IT? WHAT and I was thrilled to get a chance to hear my music ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS WHO WANT TO sung by a real choir. It turned out that my friend was DO FREELANCE WORK IN CREATIVE FIELDS? also the Sing Chair for her organization that semester. Being a freelancer can be the best job in the world, She called me up and told me that they had lost their if you have the temperament for it. It’s definitely not arranger. Would I be willing to do it? I didn’t have the for everyone, but I happen to think that it’s for a lot first idea what was involved in being an arranger, but more people than are actually doing it. When I first I was dying to give it a try. So I quickly said yes, quoted started down the self-employment path, I set the a ridiculously low price, bought a computer, software goal of being self-sufficient for just one year. That’s and a keyboard, and spent the next 300 hours at my it. Make enough of an income to be able to support desk figuring out what I was doing. myself for a single year without getting a “real” job. One year later I discovered that I had been able to DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO FOR AN ACT. pay the bills, keep food on the table, and even save a Even though I’ve written more than 300 acts over little to put back into the business. So I tried again the the years, I really don’t have a template for writing next year and was able to continue the trend. Twenty an act. It depends on what the Sing Chairs need years later I’m still plugging away, still trying to decide from me. I tell them that I can either do exactly what if I’m a success or not. Sometime back then I cut out they want me to do (if they have a good idea of their a quote from a magazine that said “Out of every 100 direction and music), or I can help them put their act people who want to have a successful career in music together (help choose songs, structure the act, work and audio, maybe one will make it.” I still don’t know if on transitions, suggest ideas, etc). The whole process that’s me, but I’m starting to think it might be. It’s also is a great big melting pot of creative input and about important to have a good support system. I couldn’t the only thing that is consistent is that the act almost do any of this without my wonderful wife/best friend never ends up exactly the way it started. In any one Erin at my side. year I might write 500 pages of music. I think the secret is to realize that the fear never goes away and at some level everyone is faking it. I WHAT’S THE BEST PART ABOUT THE SHOW? think this is the key to being that one out of 100 - act I used to love most the performance part where like it’s your very first year doing what you’re doing. everything comes together. While these weeks are That and being willing to work everyone else into the still incredibly fulfilling, over the past few years I’ve ground. The last thing is this: you have to be doing begun to realize that Sing is about more than just something you love. If you don’t live and breathe it, putting on a show. Ostensibly I am a Sing arranger you’re going to resent the sacrifices. Find something and write music for the show, but in reality I’m a part that you’re passionate about and figure out a way to of a wonderful leadership development program that make it pay the bills. Do what only you can do and gives college students their first shot at large-scale you’ll never have competition. project management. I love getting to be with the I can’t imagine a better job or a better life. I really Chairs as they realize that they are the ones who put was made for this. this big brazen monstrosity together every year. Their BLEEP 67
WHAT DO YOU DO? I am a scenic designer which means, I guess, that I design scenery. But I like to think of myself as more of “a director of space in relation to people” working with a director, who is a “director of people in relation to space.” I’m more interested in dynamic theatrical space than scenery.
space. 2. All design elements must have both context and purpose relating to both the visual and physical storytelling - nothing is superfluous - everything is used. Predictability inhibits the audience from truly paying attention to the story. A changeable space counters predictability. 3. We use what we have/use ordinary objects in extraordinary ways to maintain the element of discovery for the characters and the audience during the show. 4. The space serves the story, the story owns the space. We don’t deal with decoration. Everything we put in an empty space is used. 5. Collaboration equals cohesive storytelling. The unification of all design elements is necessary for telling one story. We don’t design anything that can’t be approximated in the rehearsal space because the actors need to understand how we are telling the story.
WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF WHAT YOU DO? Last year, I moved one of my shows to perform at the University of New Hampshire for ACTF, (American College Theatre Festival) and after a performance, right as we went to black, someone in the audience exclaimed, “What the f***!?” ... I think it’s that: being able to move people to a point where they literally can’t contain themselves. I think the best way of getting people to listen to your story - to truly pay attention - is to rock their world a little bit. Scenic design allows me to do my part in getting people to WHAT’S THE BOSTON THEATER SCENE LIKE? think. The greatest part about what I do is that it gets I came to Boston because it is the best place that I got the gears going in people’s minds. into grad school. The program is small but offers the most opportunity to actually design produced shows WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO? rather than just hypothetical shows on paper. The I do what I do because I must. I don’t really know any Boston University program was the best for learning other way to articulate it. It has to do with what I hold both in a classroom and on stage. Because there are to be the most valuable in the world: community, so few of us, we get to design something that will be culture, storytelling as a way to push human existence realized every semester. Boston is good because it is and experience forward. Because I believe so strongly packed full of young people either enrolled in one of in these things, I must be part of it. It is my calling and the many, many schools, or newly graduated and just it always has been. I do scenic design in particular starting out. For a lady in her 20s, I have had many because I have the skill set to be in charge of that part opportunities to work in small theater companies of a production. But as a theatre artist in general, the outside of school because the demographic tends title of scenic designer isn’t necessarily branded on to be so young. Here, you don’t really feel the age my forehead. discrimination that happens in the arts because so many people are within five-ten years of your age. WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE? Honestly, the biggest challenge with my recent work YOU’RE HEADED TO CHICAGO NEXT? is a lack of time due to the demands of graduate I am moving to Chicago because there is so much school. And next year, it will be dealing with the lack theater there and there is a solid middle-range in of time due to the demands of a “day job.” I would which to get involved. I have worked in other, bigger be happiest if I could spend more one-on-one time cities and there seems to be a great gap between with every show I do. The majority of my usefulness the theater companies that are so small that you comes out in rehearsal, and I’m still struggling and are left unsupported and the theatre companies learning how to spend enough time and energy with that are so big that you can’t make a proper artistic everything I do. decision. Chicago is a place where you can get the support you need to put on a show that you actually DESCRIBE YOUR PROCESS. care about. I’m also from the Midwest originally and I live by five basic principles: 1. Use real physical I just like how Chicago’s theatre really gears itself action as storytelling - we don’t pretend anything is towards its audience. Theatre in Chicago is truly a happening. We use what is actually happening in the fuel for culture. 68 BLEEP
WHAT’S YOUR JOB? I currently work as a scenic artist mostly at a community theater in Addison, Texas (The Water Tower Theatre) as well as other theaters and churches on occasion. WHAT DO YOU DO? I create a visual reference for the audience to aid in the impression, mood or feeling of the overall story… basically I make sets and scenery look pretty. HOW’D YOU END UP WORKING THERE? By chance really. I started volunteering with my mom at The WaterTower Theatre and that got my foot in the door working the concessions stand after graduating from school and moving back to Dallas. While working in the concessions, I was able to talk to my manager about my art ability and offer my services for the scene shop. I wanted to try something different in addition to my fine art. Waiting around for 10 to 15 years to build a clientele and still be waiting tables somewhere didn’t appeal to me, so I figured why not try my hand at scene painting as well? How hard could it be? Man, was my first job there challenging. Having no specific training in the world of theater art, I got thrown in on a whim due to the usual painter being out of town for the summer and was handed my own tush on a platter covered in paint and sawdust. But in the end, I turned out to be a swimmer in the sea of scenery. WHAT’S YOUR PROCESS LIKE? I simply implement the vision of the set designer. I make their idea come to life by utilizing my mad skills in color theory and overall ability to create a mood/ feeling to set the tone through visual elements. The “designing” part for me as a painter, I suppose, would be in how I apply paint to an object to make one texture look like something completely different, i.e. to make wood look like metal or fabric.
breed of entertainment. With live theatre, you’re there, a part of it, seeing and feeling what the actor feels, crying and laughing with them, getting the chance to be a fly on the wall in a situation that gets to take you from the stresses of your own life. It’s a chance to experience life through the eyes of someone different, to feel and learn things in a different kind of way. Theatre allows people to interact with one another; during intermission, Q&A with the directors, an interactive show, saying hello to actors afterwards. There’s a beautiful opportunity to build on what it means to be a community, common unity, a common love for the art of performance and making sure that it thrives in our society. Everyone has the chance to support the art in some fashion and being a part of a local theatre is my way. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THEATRE IN DALLAS? My favorite thing about theatre in Dallas is that there seems to be less than 6 degrees of separation to almost anyone in the industry. Everybody knows somebody, which can be incredibly useful from time to time. There is always something going on in Dallas as well, either a big Broadway show rolling through town or really awesome original shows just down the street. Every venue is so different and really gets the opportunity to play up its strengths or striking features in every performance.
TALK ABOUT RED PENGUIN. Red Penguin is the name I gave my fine art collection for my online portfolio. The website gives people a chance to view my work and, if the mood is right, commission an original piece of their own. At the time of its naming, red was my favorite color and I really admire penguins regardless of their flightless abilities. Also, I find that people are more likely to remember an odd pairing of color and noun … WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO? WHAT DO YOU who’s ever heard of a red penguin? Fine art is my GET OUT OF IT BESIDES A PAYCHECK? first love and my most passion-filled area of creative It’s like being a teacher. You don’t do it for the money, expression. I really developed a love for painting in you do it because you love it, and at least for now high school and got the opportunity to thoroughly that’s how it is. I love painting in just about all forms develop and hone my skill in college at Gemini School and I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember. When of Visual Arts and Communication. There I was taught I paint, whether it’s a portrait for a commission or the invaluable lessons in creating art and where I learned siding of the house in build for our next show, my that painting is all I ever wanted to do. mind is clear and I’m at peace. All I can focus is on is the end result. It’s like I’m fulfilling my purpose in life WHAT’S NEXT? when I have a brush in my hand. Eventually I aspire to achieve a perfect balance between creating art for the stage and art worthy of TALK ABOUT THE THEATRE SCENE IN DALLAS. museum walls. Why not have two careers doing the I’m pretty new to the Dallas theatre scene but from things I love? Then, when I get too old to do both, what I’ve seen, theatre gives people a common place I’ll retire somewhere beautiful and continue to create to go and enjoy what seems to be becoming a dying beauty on canvas until I die happy and fulfilled. BLEEP 71
Ryan Machen WHAT IS IT ABOUT CHOREOGRAPHY THAT YOU LOVE? I think what I love the most about choreography is getting the opportunity to delve deep into a piece of music, just immersing myself within it and discovering the movement that fits it, the right way for a body to visually represent what the music is trying to say. I love being the creator. The type of movement, number of people representing the movement, the feeling ... it’s all my choice. As dancers, we are just the messengers. We amplify the message of the music and broadcast it to the audience. That is why it is so important for the choreographer to fit the dancers with movement that suits the piece. It’s like dressing a model. One specific dress may not be the only piece that will make her own beauty shine through, but it is up to the designer to create a piece to enhance her beauty in a way that catches attention. The choreography I give to a piece of music is not the only movement that would suit the piece, but it is the best way I can convey the feeling and the story of the music.
WHAT’S YOUR PROCESS WHEN YOU’RE GIVEN A PIECE OF MUSIC TO CHOREOGRAPH TO? The first thing I do is sit and listen to the music. I allow the music to get into me. I use this time to place myself in a time period, setting and mood. It is important to build that background in order to know where the movement should come from. The next step is to allow my instincts to kick in. I play the music a few times while I stand in a space, allowing myself to dance. Whatever comes out, I let it flow. I tend to get about half of the final product from this experience. This allows me to choreograph before my analytical brain begins to overthink things. I never choreograph sequentially. That is not conducive to the flow of ideas. I may hear a certain build in the music or an instrumental hit in the middle of the piece that inspires me immediately. Once the whole song is completed, I record myself doing the choreography and then I leave the piece for a few 72 BLEEP
days to a week. I return to it and go through and make changes to any parts that don’t seem to grab me. Usually I will repeat the process again, and return to the choreography once more for good measure. WHAT’S IT LIKE WHEN YOU SEE YOUR WORK ON STAGE FOR THE FIRST TIME? Well, I must begin with the feelings I go through pre-curtain raising. I get a rush of excitement to see how the performers have developed what I have given them, but I also get pretty nervous. I get more nervous watching my work than I do performing, but I revel in the nerves. Choreographer Mia Michaels once said that once the nerves are gone, your heart is no longer in it and you should stop doing it. I firmly believe in that so I welcome the nerves. When the performance begins, honestly, the first thing I do is criticize. As much as I would like to say that I sit back and enjoy my work, that’s a lie. Don’t get me wrong, there’s something very special in seeing my work performed, being able to watch the performance and say, “I did that.” There isn’t a feeling that could match that. But it would be a detriment to my own work if I did not critique myself to be able to improve for the future. WHAT DO YOU GET OUT OF IT? WHY DOES WHAT YOU DO MATTER? Dancing makes me happy. It fills me up. Even in, say, an emotional, lyrical piece, the outpouring of expression brings me a kind of joy I cannot get from anything else. I choreograph to try and bring that joy to other people. I strive to give my performers movement that will feel good on their bodies and bring them the same joy that I feel when I dance. I want my performers to be able to express themselves in their performance, so I do what I can to give them that opportunity. When I see performers enjoying what I have given them, I share in their joy. Seeing their enjoyment makes me happy. It fills me up. That’s why I do what I do.
WHAT LANGUAGE BARRIER?
An American student in Moscow explains why the threatre is so important by Alex Wright
I have a confession: I have not been practicing with my Rosetta Stone like I should. Ever since I arrived in Moscow for my three-month residency at The Moscow Art Theatre, my Russian skills have remained pretty much the same: abysmal. To be fair, I am not alone in this sinking Russian boat; my fellow company members and I share the same face of confusion and fear when Muscovites ask us for directions. Said face is especially prevalent when our ex-Bolshoi prima ballerina ballet teacher yells at us in Russian. Needless to say, we have become very adept at hand signs and pointing. Interestingly enough, the language barrier has not been as challenging in the art world. Stick me in a restaurant and you will see a fantastic pantomime between the waiter and myself, but throw me on the stage in front of a Russian audience or plop me in the back row of a Russian theater, and something magical happens: the differences in vowels and consonants 74 BLEEP
and verb placement are all trumped by the human experience, overtaken by the transaction that is taking place between artist and observer. My studies at the Moscow Art Theatre are teaching me how to create this communion between the audience and the actor. It is about taking down walls, eliminating differences and attempting to find what it is about that specific character or play that is universal and relatable. The Moscow Art Theatre, or the MXAT, was founded by Konstantin Stanislavsky and Vladimir NemirovichDanchenko and is known for producing some of the first performances of Anton Chekhovâ€™s work. It set the stage for naturalistic acting and, as such, birthed the modern form of theatrical training and acting in Europe, which then spread to the rest of the world. Stanislavskyâ€™s acting techniques are the core of the most prevalent acting styles in the world. The MXAT is what I and my 17 other classmates now call home, taking classes that range from ballet and fencing to acrobatics and voice, as well as performing in repertory as a part of their spring season. Theater is a way of life here, unlike the theatrical scene in America that is slowly diminishing in popularity. Daily lines outside of box offices stretch around the block; scalpers sell tickets for MXAT plays for
at least a thousand dollars. Of the approximately 20 shows I have seen in my six weeks in Moscow, every single one has sold out, leaving a rather large and enthusiastic crowd standing in the back and enjoying the performance on tired feet for three hours. Art galleries are packed. Ballets are packed. Operas are packed. Russia has built a community that respects and appreciates art, a community that strives to produce enlightening, invigorating and inspiring art. Perhaps the artistic realm is so strong in Russia because of its rocky past. Our drama history teacher, the artistic director of the Moscow Art Theatre, told us that in order to understand theater history, one must understand Russian history. Our first class was held in the portrait gallery of the MXAT. It was an incredible experience to be surrounded by portraits of actors, playwrights and directors whose work I have always admired. He told us that whenever there is a change of power in the Russian government the portrait gallery must be rearranged, eliminating certain artists altogether and bringing others to the forefront. During the breakup of the Soviet Union, all of the Soviet artists were removed from the walls within two months. The father of 20th century directing, Vsevolod Meyerhold, fell out of favor with Stalin and was
subsequently executed; after his death, all of his work was erased from the history books, and his portrait was forbidden to hang in the portrait gallery — he was even replaced by an open umbrella in a company photograph. In fact, some of the first groups to be targeted by Stalin’s purges were writers and artists. Art is extremely powerful and dangerous because of what it represents and what it shares; fortunately, it is also extremely resilient. It is this resilience that allows it to exist multiculturally, allows it to cross boundaries and borders and establish communal experiences. When I first arrived at The MXAT, one of the first things I noticed was the symbol of the seagull that the company had adopted as its emblem. This symbol commemorates Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” the theater’s first production and claim to theatrical fame. One wouldn’t think a seagull would become my own personal emblem of my time in Moscow, a city that is landlocked and the furthest thing from “beachy.” Yet it has begun to represent more to me than just Chekhov’s famed play. Seagulls must scavenge, making their home wherever there is available food; and in a way, isn’t that the life of the artist? We must bounce from location to location, searching for the next play, the next spark of inspiration, the next gig. I am grateful that I have found a home in Moscow that provides me with plenty of artistic nourishment. Similarly, seagulls, like artists, must be resilient — crafting the wind into something that lifts us up instead of bringing us down. Finally, seagulls are a source of comfort for weary sailors, representing that land is near and that the journey is almost over. I think everyone feels lonely and lost, and it is our responsibility as artists to connect with people that we have never met and show them that they are not alone. My favorite pieces of art are the ones that when I leave, I feel emotionally stirred — I do not feel as lonely or as lost, and I am reminded again that everyone is struggling, searching. This communion with the audience surpasses language barriers because something much more important exists, something bigger and deeper than any Rosetta Stone or Russian teacher could possibly teach: the human experience. And somehow, in the dark of the theater, between the curtain rising and the curtain call, we all speak the same language. BLEEP 75
RISA FROM THE STAGE TO THE SCREEN, RISA IS SPRINGING INTO NEW VENTURES
resh off her trip to the Los Angeles Comedy Shorts Festival, Risa Sacharan is a busy girl. She shot a film on location in Chicago and London with a band member from the group Interpol, she’s creating and revising a new stage show called “Serious Hammering” and she’s begun a Web series. “Inconvenient Interviews with Risa” debuted online in mid-April and showcases not only interviews with people that she finds interesting, but also showcases Sacharan’s dry wit and comedic timing. Long before “Inconvenient Interviews,” Sarachan was just a girl from a little town called Bethlehem. That’d be Bethlehem, New York, a suburb of Albany. In the first grade, she was cast in her first acting role in “The Elves and the Shoemaker” and a few years later got cast in “Grease” when she was 12. “I didn’t understand any of the show,” she said. “All these young 20-somethings were hooking up at the back of the theater and they just didn’t know how old I was. I was tall for my age. So I didn’t tell anyone.” After high school, she headed to NYU to be a member of the Experimental Theatre wing at the Tisch School. There she found a tight-knit community of artists and creative thinkers to grow with. “You get really close to them and create work with them,” she said. “Hopefully you leave school and continue to create work with them, which I feel like I’ve been doing. I miss that. I miss that feeling of community that I got from college.” Over the course of studying, she fell in love with the city. A self-proclaimed hometown girl, she had no intention of moving to New York City for any reason other than college, but her mind slowly changed.
“I love how accessible everything is,” she said. “I love the idea that you can sit on the subway and see someone from your hometown.” Once out of college, Sarachan got her first paid acting job for a play in the Fringe Festival, a job she says was validating because it proved she could make money doing what she loved. “My friend and I were sitting in a café, talking about how talented our artist friends were and how underappreciated their work was. People who are successful in the arts but because they’re not famous, they’re not given the recognition they deserve. So I thought I would interview them but I wanted it to be funny,” she said. “So I thought, ‘What if I did it at a bad time?’ I thought it would give it a focus that was unusual.” The team that works with Sarachan has been changing and evolving to include different cameramen and editors, but the goal remains the same. “With each interview, I don’t want it to appear like ‘The Risa Show.’ I really want to highlight these people because they’re incredible, talented people. I don’t want it to be too gimmicky, so it’s a fine line between being entertaining and being informative.” With more interviews lined up and appearing on her website, Sarachan is hopeful for the future of the series. More than one day landing her dream interview (Parker Posey), she also sees this as a project that will be very telling to casting directors, to friends and to the public of who she is. “That’s me in my most natural self. What you see in those interviews is me.”
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I am... secretly a big dork. I’m here because... it takes all kinds to make the world go ‘round. What makes me happiest is...working with a creative team to achieve a difficult goal. The color that best represents me is...yellow. What I hope to accomplish today is...to enjoy life with the people around me. My best friends are...the reason that I can be myself with confidence. I can’t live without... regular amounts of people-watching. (I’m really good at it!) Between an Olympic champion or an Oscar winner, I’d rather be...an Oscar winner with an Olympic champion’s body. If I wasn’t me, I’d be... my own arch-nemesis. I like it best when you...scratch my back and laugh with me...at the same time. God is...very good at making me smile. I’m hungry for... guacamole. I cry…in every animated kids movie. Style means…knowing that you are unique and making that publicly known. I want to go...to South America very soon. The most obnoxious sound in the world is...my alarm clock. What makes me weak is...kryptonite. At this exact moment, I’m passionate about... trying to find a place open this late that serves guacamole. I crave...outlets for unique forms of creativity...and period pieces. My inspiration is…everyone who has gone before me that has lived life to the fullest. BLEEP 93
Risa Sarachan leads our backstage pass to the lives of creative people on stage. The issue also features a sprawling global travel feature,...
Published on Apr 30, 2011
Risa Sarachan leads our backstage pass to the lives of creative people on stage. The issue also features a sprawling global travel feature,...