Check out my CoverItLive of the 84th Academy Awards happening in the Hollywood and Highland Center in Los Angeles. You can tune in live only on CBS at 8:30/7:30 central.
The United States averages an 8th grade reading and comprehension level. More than 1.2 million high school students drop out every year, according to The Broad Education Foundation. 70% of eighth graders can’t read proficiently and continue this cycle until 1) they barely graduate or 2) they, like many of their peers, drop out.
While society and technology evolve, there are young people falling behind in school. How can the American society get children excited about reading and ultimately increase their comprehension skills?
Enter Shilo Shiv Suleman, an illustrator and an iPad book creator. As a child, Suleman loved using her imagination to create her own world. She began writing stories since she was 16-years-old. With the introduction of technology, basic books weren’t cutting it.
“Storytelling is becoming more and more multi-sensorial,” Suleman said in her TED talk in Jaipur, India.
Through the iPad she has created a storybook with ideas that stemmed from her childhood imagination: fireflies in a jar, “an entire universe could be contained in one marble.”
Could this be a way to get children reading again?
With Federico Lorca’s “El casa de Bernarda Alba” (translated as “The House of Bernarda Alba”) opening in the Troutt Theatre at February 17 at 7:30pm, Amanda Stravinsky wanted to know what happened backstage.
Jessika Malone’s adaption in association with the Actor’s Bridge Ensemble features puppetry and dramatic, macabre costumes by Jessica Mueller. “The House of Bernarda Alba” is about the life of a mother, Bernarda Alba, and her five daughters in the wake of her husband’s death. Bernarda commands a time of mourning. In this time meant for reflection and silence comes a revelation of secret love, jealousy, an illegitimate baby and another death.
”The House of Bernarda Alba” plays in the Troutt Theatre February 17, 23, 24 and 25 at 7:30pm and February 18, 19, 25 and 26 at 2:00pm. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for faculty/alumni and $12 for seniors. Belmont students are free and can get culture and arts convocation.
I wanted to see ‘War Horse’ on Broadway over the summer. Because of lack of funds, I wasn’t able to make it to a show. I was disappointed but with my last year at Belmont almost upon me, I formed a stiff upper lip and pushed forward. I figured my chance at seeing the Tony Award winner for ‘Best Play’ was gone.
I was watching Diane Sawyer’s story on Gabrielle Gifford’s incredible recovery after being shot in the head this past January. Suffering through the commercials, Steven Spielberg’s ‘War Horse’ trailer played on my television screen. My eyes went wide and my heart soared.
‘War Horse’ is coming to a theater near you this Christmas. Here’s your chance to see this wonderful adaption of an inspiring book-turned-play-turned-film about a boy and his horse.
My best friend, Oyin, has a great knack for finding new, heavenly music for me to enjoy. Being a theatre writer, it’s safe to say I know nothing of the outside music world unless it’s the latest showtunes from an up-and-coming Broadway musical.
Needless to say, Oyin tries to musically educate me. She recently sent me a video of the Icelandic group Of Monsters and Men as they performed their song “Little Talks”. It’s a very upbeat, folksy sound. Take a listen.
The world is quickly becoming a broadband, socially connected world. Through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube and countless other websites that continue to crop up, we see more leaps and bounds in the technological universe.
With generations technologically evolving so quickly, how can the arts keep up? Well, I’ve thought about it and here are my suggestions:
With technological advances come the breaking down of walls, especially when it comes to music. Go to Youtube and if you have Real Player downloaded, you can download the music to your desktop and stream it to your iPod (NOTE: I do not encourage this because it is illegal. I am simply educating readers on what Real Player is capable of). Go on Spotify or Pandora and you can listen to music from your mobile device or computer free of charge (You have to pay for Spotify Premium to stream on your mobile, not so with Pandora’s free app).
Accessibility is key. Live streaming concerts conducted in symphony halls would reach a wider audience, which in turn could provide more patrons. Live streaming and shooting interviews and backstage videos like BroadwayWorld.com is a good way to engage theatre goers and non-theatre goers by giving them access to things they would otherwise never see.
Let’s face it. Being able to afford concerts, musicals and productions can get expensive very, very quickly. In order for the arts to keep hold of their patrons even during the economic decline, they have to entice their fans to stay with them. Raffle tickets are a great way to get people excited once again about the arts. Take a $125 ticket and raffle it off for $25 and the arts will have people swarming to performing arts centers. TPAC recently did that for the touring production of Wicked. The Pacific Symphony recently did a raffle for a chance to win a new piano. Raffling off prizes and even production tickets is a way not only to stir up the public’s excitement for the arts but also a way to advertise the performing arts center or symphony hall.
No matter what technological advances come down the pike, it’s the arts’ responsibility to stay current and stay cool. Keeping with the same formula becomes dull and the fan base that once was will get complacent. Advertisements will be but a glaze over their eyes. The key is to acquire a fan base and keep it. The only way to keep a tribe, a following, is by keeping things fresh and new for patrons by not only connecting them with the performing arts center but by also connecting them to each other.
Keeping these three things in mind, the arts could garner more patrons a lot more often. If the arts had an open-door policy, making shows and concerts affordable and accessible, they would have an onslaught of patrons willing and able to support the flourishing of the arts. In order to do this, the arts continually have to practice adaptability.
The Sideshow Fringe Festival, organized by the Belmont/Hillsboro Neighborhood Association and Actor’s Bridge Ensemble and Bongo Java, is happening along Belmont Boulevard and Compton Avenue September 29-October 2.
It’s a theatrical extravaganza complete with aerialists, magicians and a fabric octopus.
In other words, my dream come true.
This Fringe Festival is making me run between Belmont and Bongo, covering plays and outdoor acts Saturday and Sunday. It’s a bit ridiculous but the ridiculousness is what drives me. All I can think of is: first the Slideshow Fringe Festival next the New York International Fringe.
My mind is completely filled with days filled with watching plays and writing reviews both in Nashville and then in New York, Dublin, Edinburgh, Dubai…you get the point.
Here’s to a weekend of non-stop artsy reporting. Is there anything better?
I think not.