h1

The Reviews are in – 5th graders Love STREB!

February 15, 2011

Jessica Kennedy, a 5th grade teacher at New Brunswick’s Roosevelt Elementary School gives us her review of the dance group STREB’s recent school day performance on Feb. 4. Also, the kids themselves share a few words with us.

Inertia, motion, force, energy, load, effort, work…the kids are making so many connections to our just-completed science unit on levers & pulleys: today they are seeing trained artist-athletes interact with machines. And it is beautiful. I’ve never seen the excitement level so high: in the first 5 minutes, when i heard a kid behind me shout, “I LOVE THESE PEOPLE.” The loud music, the lights….as fun and unpredictable—and scary—as any rock concert i’ve ever been to. I ADORE, and so do the kids, the subversive boom of directions hurled among the performers…a vital communication missing from all the dance I’ve ever seen…Could there be a more perfect break in the tedium of almost two months of cancelled outdoor recreation at school, where the kids have to sit quietly in the auditorium during recess, because the teachers need to park their cars on the “blacktop” instead of the icy streets. Something like this gives me a much-needed referent to talk about art, commitment, passion…possibilities…wish dance were emphasized as much as sports in our schools.

Glad I was with my 10-year-olds who could explain to me exactly what was going on…they missed nothing! Evocative of Houdini, the first woman to go over Niagara Falls…How brilliant when physical and intellectual bravery are experienced hand in hand.

Reviews from Jessica Kennedy’s 5th grade class:

AJ: “That show made us excited and still. Elizabeth Streb is a genius for making Streb.”

AP: “It reminded me of Leonardo da Vinci. The part where the women spread out like a star reminded me of Leonardo da Vinci’s VITRUVIAN MAN!”

SM: “Streb is unspeakable. It took my breath away. Amazing.”

AA: “The performance was so awesome. Everyone was cheering for Streb when the performance ended.”

KB: “I thought STREB actioneers had a lot of skills. When everyone was in the box I was speechless, also when they were doing their dives. AMAZING’.”

DV: “My favorite part is when the performers climbed this ladder to get on this moving bar. Then this performer said to move the bar as up as it can so she can jump off it, then everyone was screaming then she jumped for the bar and landed on a drop bed and I was amazed. I loved it.”

MA: “My favorite part of the show is the part when you guys got on the round circle because you guys were brave and I saw your owner he was cool you guys rock!”

DS: “The polar wander was the coolest performance in the show.”

JB: “My favorite part was when all of the actors threw themselves from the high spot. It was amazing because it was a high height.”

PM: “This performance was so great!! I was scared when they threw yourselves from a high surface to a sponge all the way down to the floor!!!”

SM: “I liked the way the performers threw themselves off the poles.”

EH: “The show was amazing. They threw themselves like if they action figures. Please be careful when you perform. Have luck when you perform.”

h1

The Poetry of Coming Home

February 4, 2011

Glenis Redmond

With all the snowstorms, it is hard to believe that Spring is just around the corner and so is my return to New Brunswick, NJ, where I will be working at the State Theatre. I will be Poet-in-Residence for the month of March. Since this is my third return visit, I now think of NJ as my home away from home. Last year I enjoyed working in the schools, senior citizen homes, vocational centers, corporations, and several halfway homes. The great joy last year was culminating with a community reading at the theater with the participants that took my workshop. They were people from all walks of life. The joy in the room that night made me an even more fervent believer that poetry is a great equalizer.

This year, as every year, I am taking my lead from what is weighing on my heart: Place. I will be facilitating workshop participants to reflect and discover their own Sense of Place. It is my belief there are two types of landscapes: the external and the internal, when we reflect and go deep we make connections and find the nexus between the two and what generally surfaces is poetry. I look forward to returning to my 2nd home and having great conversations and classes that will lead to powerful expressions.

Yours-n-Verse,

Glenis Redmond

h1

Four Days, 44 Shows (Really.)

February 2, 2011

By Lian Farrer, Vice President for Education

The week before last I was in Tampa Bay, FL, at the annual IPAY (International Performing Arts for Youth) Showcase and conference. And yes, I really did see 44 shows in just 4 days. And went to workshops, meetings, lectures, and a party or two. Despite the grueling schedule, I came home reenergized and excited about the things I saw, heard, and did.

I’ll begin with the sheep. Or, I should say, Les moutons. That’s the name of this bizarre but inspired interactive performance piece presented by a dance company from Toronto called Corpus. They set up a sheep pen (complete with sheep dung that I hope wasn’t real) on the plaza alongside the river walk. Through the crowd came a shepherd driving his flock: dancers dressed in sheep’s costumes. The dancer/actors who played the sheep should all win awards for never once breaking character during the show. They did the usual sheep-y things, including getting shorn and milked. I tasted the milk, warm from the udder. (Don’t ask.) Kids in the audience had a chance to come up to the pen and feed the critters. This show was totally goofy and unexpected. I’d like to figure out a way to work Les moutons into our State Theatre season. Can you hear me out there, Cook College?

Another show featuring herd animals was equally strange and wonderful: The Wolf and the Goat, by Italy’s Compagnia Rodisio. A wolf and a goat, natural enemies, take shelter one stormy night and, not recognizing each other in the dark, become friends. When daylight comes, will the wolf eat the goat? Will the goat manage to escape? Or will they break the accepted order of things and remain friends? (The audience never finds out.) The show is basically two actors—not in animal costumes, thank goodness—a red velvet settee, and three small lighted trees. Dressed in a simple white frock, Manuela Capece, playing the goat was all wide-eyed innocence, while Davide Doro, as the wolf, managed to be both sleazy and seductively sexy at the same time. The Wolf and the Goat was originally in Italian; my colleagues and I were further impressed when we learned that Davide Doro spoke no English, and had learned his part phonetically. Bravo, Davide!

Without a doubt, my very favorite showcase was Grug. Now, I will confess to you here that I normally don’t get too excited about shows for really little kids. But I lost my heart to a character who “began his life as the top of a burrawong tree” and who looks like this:

Grug was created by Australia’s Windmill Theatre and is based on a children’s book series that I confess I’d never heard of. The production was everything theater should be: imaginative, expertly performed, and completely captivating. I loved the clever design of the sets and puppets. Most of all, I was struck by how the actors seemed genuinely delighted to be performing for their young audience; there was no condescension and none of that exaggerated cheerfulness that makes me cringe at so many other shows targeted to kids this age. As we like to remind each other in my profession, children are just like our adult audience, only smaller.
h1

DrumLine Live – From the Football Fields to the Theatrical Stage

January 26, 2011

By Katie Smith, Marketing & PR Intern

People ordinarily anticipate football games for the general thrill and excitement of the game, the hype surrounding the players, and whether or not they will make plays in high pressure situations. However, there are many people who anticipate football games for an entirely different reason; the halftime show. At halftime, a show transpires that may often trump what occurs during quarters, and is put on by the athletes of the marching band who exhibit tremendous skills, well equivalent to their football playing peers. While dancing and “stepping” these individuals, play instruments to put on a memorable, high energy performance…and thus Drumline Live was born!

Drumline Live offers audiences a quick look into a popular tradition at America’s top Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The musical team responsible for hit movie Drumline offered their creative talents for this theatrical production, which includes modern hip hop and R&B, classic Motown, brass section highlights featuring the music of Earth, Wind, and Fire, and a vast array of other instruments. The combination of passion and skill exhibited by this 39 member cast brings audiences alive and leaves them inspired.

If you are looking for a good time and a great show, Drumline Live will not disappoint, afterall, “It’s a marching band extravaganza that parades out of the football stadium onto the stage with explosive percussion, resounding brass and dazzling choreography,” said one audience member. What’s not to enjoy?! Tickets start at $32 and are sure to sell fast so visit the http://statetheatrenj.com/drumline_live for more ticketing information, and http://www.drumlinelive.com/ for information about the show!

h1

STOMP – What the Noise is About

January 12, 2011

By Kelly Backus, Marketing Coordinator

Thirty brooms, eight lids, five short bins, ten 6 foot by 6 inch poles, 15 pounds of sand, four blocks of athletes chalk, 12 pairs of drumsticks, 200 litres of water, eight bananas, and 12 boxes of matches. No, that’s not some crazy shopping list for Home Depot—that’s a list of the materials that the cast of STOMP uses in just one week of performances!

If you don’t know what STOMP is, then that list probably confused you (I know I would be!) STOMP is an international percussion sensation that’s been performing all over the world since it began back in 1991 (350 cities in 36 countries). As you can see, you won’t find your normal percussion instruments in this group! Instead, these performers show us that anything can be an instrument and that normal everyday noise can be made into something beautiful. These talented cast members use anything and everything to compose complex and fun rhythms that will have you dancing in your seat!

And if you think the show is only banging on cans and sweeping up floors, think again! The show is also influenced by dance and martial arts like tap and Shaolin. And make sure to watch the performers interactions—you’ll catch a lot of humor if you pay close attention. This is definitely a show you’ll never forget!

So if you’re looking for a rocking good time, come check out STOMP at the State Theatre in New Brunswick and see just how these talented performers unconventional instruments and turn them into an outrageous performance of rhythms, percussion and dance!

Be sure to check STOMP out online at their website stomponline.com!

For tickets or more info go to http://www.statetheatrenj.org/stomp

Photo by Steve McNicholas.
h1

A Hectic Fall Season Rewards the Education Department

November 24, 2010

The beginning of November was a busy time for the State Theatre’s Education Department. From school shows to the Free Milk & Cookies events, we had every age group attending one of our events. It started with two school day performances of Leo Lionni’s Swimmy, Frederick, and Inch by Inch on Monday, November 1st. Over 2,000 preK-3rd graders attended the performances and teachers and students alike had a blast. We even got a chance to take some new pictures of the students in the audience! That Monday also marked the beginning of the STREB residency with the high school students at Emily Fisher Charter School in Trenton. Each Monday in November, three teaching artists from the company will visit the high school. I got to watch as they used the 90 minute workshop to introduce the students to Pop Action and begin choreographing the piece that the students will be performing at Crossroads Theatre on December 4th. This was also my third annual visit to the NJEA teacher’s convention – held every year in Atlantic City. Together with representatives from American Repertory Ballet,Crossroads Theatre, George Street Playhouse, and the Zimmerli Art Museum, I was able to talk to teachers at the convention about all the different programs each of our organizations has. It’s always a fun trip (and shopping in the outlet stores isn’t bad either!). Over the weekend, the Education Department also had some of our free Milk & Cookies events for children ages 3 to 8. Cookies were donated by the sisters of the Rutgers University chapter of Kappa Phi Lambda and some sisters from Sigma Lambda Upsilon were in attendance to help run the event. There’s nothing cuter than little kids lining up for their milk and cookies after listening to stories and songs by our storyteller, Ken Galipeau. On Sunday, we were treated to a performance by the BBC Concert Orchestra. Before the performance, we held a Scientists Exploring the Arts event in the Heldrich Room of the State Theatre and welcomed back Pre-Performance Insights. The Education Department rounded out our busy week with three performances of Jason and the Argonauts in Crossroads Theatre, brought to us by Visible Fictions out of Scotland.

It was a hectic week, but I think it’s safe to say that each of these events was enjoyed by everyone who attended, and by myself most of all! As you can see, the Education Department always has something going on!

h1

Dig out those platforms and thank ABBA for the music!

November 19, 2010
By Semira Woldmichael, Marketing & PR Intern

Mamma Mia, how could we resist you? ABBA MANIA, international tribute band is coming to the State Theatre! The music of ABBA has been enjoyed by fans of all ages for almost 40 years and their hits have flawlessly transitioned from records to iPods. Their music has hit almost every medium successfully, whether it be Broadway (Mamma Mia is celebrating their 10th year on Broadway), or the big screen starring actors like Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Meryl Streep. It’s no wonder their songs are kept alive and on the charts with no regard for age (I remember calling Radio Disney when I was nine and winning a Super Soaker water gun for correctly completing the lyrics of “Dancing Queen”).

If you’ve been looking for a trip down memory lane with classic ABBA hits and family fun, look no further. With songs like “Waterloo,” “Winner Takes It All,” “Fernando,” and “Voulez Vous,” why wouldn’t you take a chance on ABBA MANIA? They have toured the world in their quest to bring the the music of the Swedish super group to their millions of fans and now for the first time, they’ve finally arrived in the U.S. Since the super troupe formed in 1999, ABBA MANIA has been selling out shows all over the world with two hours of uplifting, dance inducing and sometimes heart-breaking songs that will leave you dancing in your seats.

Thinking of going with your friends? If you buy 4 or more tickets and mention promotional code BFF4, take $10 off the price of each ticket!

Reviewers of the show have said “…If you close your eyes, it seemed like you were listening to the real thing,” but I guarantee you won’t want to look away! For more information call 732-246-7469 or order your tickets online at: http://www.statetheatrenj.org/abba_mania