Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Free Night of Theater?! But How?

So I realized that I have not yet posted the results of the internship that I was coveting, the one that caused me to reject a paid internship position in Syracuse. Readers, I am proud to report that you are looking at one of the two fall interns for Back Stage, also known as "The Actor's Resource," that publication where if you're in the entertainment industry, you read it like the Bible. Heck, for some actors, it might as well be.

Well, one of the great things about working for Back Stage is it almost forces me to be up to date on industry events. Interns are responsible for putting the weekly events listings together. It's not the most stimulating of tasks, it has me spending hours upon mind-numbing hours scouting different websites for events that might be interesting to actors. But I did stumble upon this:

Free night of theater!

All throughout October, different venues across the country will be offering free tickets to their theatrical show. From a marketing perspective, it's ingenious, it's a way to raise interest in a theater company. Because anyone who works in the business knows, once a patron trusts your company's taste, they keep coming back. How is it I didn't know about this when I was in Los Angeles? Though I'm glad, you get tickets based on a raffle if you're in Los Angeles. In New York City, it's a free for all. That doesn't mean I'll be slow in getting them. I know where I'm going to be tomorrow at 10 a.m. when the NYC tickets go online.

Apparently in years past, according to the publicity video, past years offerings include "Spring Awakening." Here are the plays in NYC which I have my eyes on getting tomorrow morning during class. Because when it's free, why the heck not? And I might get a good review or two from them.

"Dramatis Personae" by Gonzalo Rodriquex Risco
"The Crucible" by Arthur Miller
"As Is" by William Hoffman
"Druid Penelope" by Enda Walsh
"Spirit Control" by Beau Willimon
"Orlando" by Sarah Ruhl, based on a novel by Virginia Woolf (I am particularly excited about this one, some showings are already sold out)
"The Zero Mostel Show" by Jim Brochu

Here's hoping I get everything or most of what I want. What shows are you looking at, readers?

ETA: Well, I went online at exactly 10 a.m. and found out that each person can only reserve for one show. So I got two tickets to "Druid Penelope," not my first choice but it was the winner of the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This should be interesting. There might be more tickets left, go see a free show everyone!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Theater Feature and Review: "No Child..."

There is a moment in No Child…, the first play of Syracuse Stage’s 38th season, when main character Nilaja sits alone in a chair, lit by a single spotlight. She ponders the deficiencies of the American education system, which has led to apathetic, unqualified teachers and uninspired, underachieving and even cruel students.

“But I chose to teach in my city, the city that raised me, and I'm tired,” she says, visibly drained and frustrated. And that is the central message of No Child..., laid out clearly.

The play, written by Nilaja Sun, focuses on a teaching artist who has to find a way to intellectually engage a group of 10th graders at the fictional Malcolm X High School. She does so by making them analyze, rehearse and perform a play by Timberlake Wertenbaker, Our Country’s Good.

And because she is giving this assignment to a group of teenagers, naturally, there would be a Justin Timberlake joke. It’s the humorous moments like this that gives the play its authenticity.


And here is the profile on the actress, Reenah L. Golden.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Recorders vs. Notepads

I just had a 25 minute interview with an actor for Back Stage. It's my first feature story for the publication so naturally, I want to appear professional, personable, poised and polite (my 4personal p's for a successful interview) for every interview.

But, today, this interview was different. Today, I was interviewing with my new Olympus Telephone Pickup which would allow me to record conversations and not have to turn on my speakerphone and bother everyone around me. I was excited, I would no longer have to stoop and try to listen to the speakerphone while trying to refer to my notepad of questions.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The 'Glee' Premiere or 'Ode to Mike Chang's Abs'

Previously, before the season started, I wrote a post about why 'Glee' frustrates me for, mostly because I needed a topic for my first pop culture criticism column (wow, alliteration) and second, it was something I always expressed to the people around me but somehow, it never came out as succinct or articulate as it does in writing.

Then, upon the first viewing of the 'Glee' season premiere, 'Audition,' I was once again underwhelmed, disappointed by the regression of the characters.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I Write About Joaquin Phoenix

I write about Joaquin Phoenix. Why?

Who knows. Divine inspiration or exhaustion-fueled ramblings? You decide readers.

Though I will say one thing, I think I may be getting better at this whole pop-culture criticism thing. There's something kind of freeing about taking all of those loud opinions you have pent up - and everybody has them - and putting it to paper/word document.

Unfortunately, this was one high-profile film that I did not get a chance to see at TIFF.

Save the Date: Oct 30, 2010

On Thursday night, Jon Stewart announced his "Rally to Restore Sanity," a once-in-a-lifetime conflagration of people who, prior to this, have never marched with the Tea Partiers or Glenn Beck or really, marched at all because, according to Stewart, "you have shit to do."

"You may be asking yourself, right now, sitting at home, but am I the right type of person to go to this rally," said Stewart. "The fact that you would even stop to ask yourself that question, as opposed to just, let's say, jumping up, grabbing the nearest stack of burnable holy books, strapping on a diaper and just pointing your car toward D.C. — that means I think you might just be right for it."

And since I am a reporter and not an officially-sanctioned critic (yet), it would probably be conflict of interest for me to advocate this. Let me just say that more than 89,000 people are attending on Facebook.

So watch (and laugh) at your own discretion.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Film That Haunted Me

Here be spoilers!

The Toronto International Film Festival attracts a number of different folks. There are the casual movie-goers who purchased maybe one or two tickets to films they really want to see and spend the rest of the time sight-seeing. Who can blame them? Toronto is a beautiful city. These people are the normal ones.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The (TIFF) Film Review

ETA: 09/18 - Super review added
ETA: 09/16 - Everything Must Go and The Town review added

What happens when you put a journalist, a film and a blank notepad into a room together? Well, besides a nonsensical scribbling known as film notes (and the journalist in question learning the art of writing in the dark), you have the makings of a film review, once the hieroglyphic-inspired penmanship is painstakingly deciphered.

I don't normally write film reviews, mostly because my knowledge of film is limited to the yearly Oscar selections, animated films, and by principal, I avoid horror films like the plague. I still have not seen The Godfather or Citizen Kane and I am hard-pressed to identify any film director by name. My forte is in musical-theater, film is just a casual hobby of mine.

But strangely enough, I am obsessed with reading film reviews, perhaps because I always find that a good discourse from a number of reviews always makes the film more interesting, even if the film was a slice of mud. A good amount of my favorite journalists are film critics: Roger Ebert, Manohla Dargis, A.O. Scott, Capone from AintItCool.

Yet the wonderful thing about being forced to take notes and write a film review is that it puts your brain on alert. Instead of just sitting back and turning off your brain, as you are wont to do and is easier, you actively analyze the film as you watch it, taking it apart and storing what you like and what you didn't like.

After a while, if you've been analyzing for a while, you find that your opinions on the film will be more articulate the more you think and write about it. That way, if anyone asks you what you thought of it, you have a cogent answer to give rather than, "It's okay."

Though it is always important to go with your gut instincts when you're writing a film review. If the film perturbed you, say so. If it moved you, hopefully, describe how you felt. It's all interpretation and as writers, it's our job to put words to feelings. It's not that bad of a task, I enjoy it!

So here are the movies that I saw at TIFF and the ones with links are the reviews. View, enjoy, and watch with discretion.

Never Let Me Go (Carey Mulligan, Kiera Knightley, Andrew Garfield)
127 Hours (James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn, Clemence Poesy)
Everything Must Go (Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall)
The Town (Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall)
Super (Raynn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler)
Passion Play (Mickey Rourke, Megan Fox, Bill Murray)
How to Start Your Own County (documentary)
Little Sister (Brenda Song, Xiao Min)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Weekly Round-up

Instead of writing a blog post for every piece of writing that I do, which seems a tad excessive, I think I'm going to just place a link for everything that I've written during the week in a blog post. And it's also for my parents (hi Ba, Ma!) who will probably check this website from time to time, now that I told them that it exists. Whoops!

"Stage Plight" - "Syracuse New-Times"
  • This one took about a month and a half to write. It was also a lesson, for me, in patience and realizing that just because you need it, sources still will not reply to your e-mails promptly
"Why 'Glee' Frustrates Me" -
  • My first post and I get $.01 cent for every hit. It's a ways away from actually getting paid to write but it's a start. And I've been meaning to write this type of article for a while, now I can.
  • I've been looking forward to this album for ages. And it almost satisfied.

Still Reeling

I was standing next to Bill Murray.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

To Be or Not To Be Vietnamese

In the Goldring arts journalism program, there are 15 students including me. Of those 15, two are men, 13 are women. The ethnic breakdown is as followed:

African-American: 1
Indian: 1
Asian: 2
Caucasion: 11

The other Asian in the program is Xueying, who is from China. She is tall, with creamy white skin, and a sweet (and initially shy) demeanor. The perfect example of the ideal Asian girl (except for the height). This is also her first time in the United States.

According to her, said Avantika, my Indian housemate and fellow Goldringer, I am the most "American" out of all of the people in the program.

When I heard this, I was laughing. My best friend, Ali, is part Irish and to her, I'm her little Asian friend. Maybe it's the fact that I make Vietnamese food for supper, or I'm prone to the occasional "troi oi."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Bo Kho (Beef Stew) Post

In my family, dinners were a tradition. It didn't matter what you were doing when dinnertime rolled around: doing homework, chores, going out with friends. When Mom called, you picked yourself and you get to the dining room. It was time for dinner. Growing up, I did not crave Vietnamese food. Rice, pho, chicken roasted in fish sauce and ginger, unexciting. It was the necessary chore towards my reward of McDonald Happy Meals at the end of the week.

Of course, as I got older, my palette developed, though even in my teenage years, I still preferred hamburgers. Then I got to college and somehow, the foodie emerged, shedding the old, fat-loving coat behind. The proverbial butterfly that was started enjoying fine foods and insects instead of just plain leaves (I quite like this analogy, it makes me feel pretty). There, living in the dorms at UCLA, surrounded by burgers, sandwiches and pizza, I ran in the opposite direction.

I wanted bun rieu (vermicelli in a shrimp soup), banh canh tom cua (udon in a crab-meat soup), com (rice). In short, I wanted everything I didn't want the first 18 years of my life, something that was fresh and healthy, not oily and fattening.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Theater Review: "Promises, Promises," or How I Met Kristin Chenoweth

When I told my older sister, Thao, that I was coming to Syracuse, NY for graduate school, naturally her first question was, "When are you coming to visit?" Thao lives in New York City, midtown, with her husband, and her being there gives me a reason to come to the city. Then again, why should you need a reason to go to New York, it's New York!

I've been to New York twice at this point, both times when Thao was there, and I've naturally done all of the touristy things (Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, corny photo ops). This time, my goal was to see a Broadway musical (though that mutated into Broadway + Fringe).
But not just any musical: the "Promises, Promises" revival, starring my favorite Broadway actress Kristin Chenoweth (who I had previously written an obituary for in the news writing class).

And if I am honest, I saw the musical just so I can watch her perform, having previously only seen her through a television and computer screen. I had the fantasies of finally meeting her, maybe it would go something like, "Hi Kristin, I'm Diep and I'm a journalist, I interviewed Joshua Bell who knows you and he said that you are just a darling person. Oh, and look at that! We're the same height! People make fun of me too. Did I tell you that I'm also a soprano?" She would laugh, I would laugh, and our natural chemistry would just take over from there.

But first, I had to see the show...

Friday, September 3, 2010

The New York State Thruway Post

I don't drive much these days and that makes me very cranky, for many reasons.

1) I have to beg or bribe people to take me places, like the grocery store, 2) taking the bus is a frustrating and ensures that I am always really early somewhere or really late, and 3) no more random solo road-trips (not that I ever did random solo road-trips but you always want the option).

But there is one reason that I am glad that I do not drive: the New York State Thruway.