Monday, February 25, 2013

Vote for Comment of the Week

Here are this week's contenders:

Student #1 has left a new comment on your post "25 Years Strong, 'Phantom Of The Opera' Kills And ...":

In my eyes Phantom of the Opera is now a deadly piece of theater. We all marvel at the artists' ability to maintain Phantom's quality and craft through the 25 years since its conception. However, does the piece in itself still hold up today as a relevant and truly necessary work of art? The fact that this musical has lasted so long does speak to the hard work and talent of the cast, crew, and creative team. However it also speaks to Broadway's inability to change with the times as well as us as audience members' lack of taste. To go with April's metaphor: when we are served an old, typical, (yet still tasty), meal at what is supposed to be the finest restaurant in the world, we must demand more. Let Phantom live on through high school productions and community theaters. Shouldn't Broadway be reserved for something more? Being the new generation of artists to come fourth, we should acknowledge our predecessors for their contribution but strive to fight to bring the stories that are hidden away to the lime light. Theater should be the place that blows the whistle on the aspects of our humanity that we are most afraid of. Yes, Phantom does have universal themes that transcend time and place. But if we really want to make theater part of today's dialogue, we need to push the envelope more than a falling chandelier. I'm not saying Phantom isn't good, I'm only proposing that we can do better. 
Student #2 has left a new comment on your post "The Keys to Higher Productivity? More Sleep, More ...":
Let's not act like this is actually a ground breaking article folks...The idea that we spend work/spend too much time at school/trying to have a life--and not enough time sleeping and recovering is not a new thing. And I'll be the first to admit that 8 times out of 10 half of the time that I spend "working" at school is really spent surfing blogs/twitter/facebook/ or watching something on netflix/hulu and not actually working (or working at about 50% capacity I've also been on the other side of the coin where I've spent a number of weeks working in shops for 12+ hrs at a time to finish a show (and not just for summer-stock). So I know what wasting my time is like and I know what being over worked is like, and there's certainly a happy a medium, but it's gonna cost you one way or another...thanks to the demands and expectations that we work under most of the time. A quality product, produced quickly, for as cheap as as far as working in a scene shop is considered the most productive work schedule I've encountered was Monday-Thursday (10hr days). It was the perfect combination of working hours in the day, with time off to relax on the weekend, and the hour long lunch and 2 coffee breaks kept the day moving at a decent pace since there was always time for a nap.

It's obvious that working a 4hr day isn't going to allow you to get much done, however we do it every day here (and so do a lot of other universities) BUT, that doesn't count all of other prep time, homework, and class...which is why in the end we feel so overworked. Sadly, it's the cost of going to school these days and it's a widely considered the norm in our culture...

HOWEVER, that doesn't mean we're doing it right. It just means we've gotten really good at making ourselves tired, stressed overexerted... 
Student #3 has left a new comment on your post "The Keys to Higher Productivity? More Sleep, More ...":
I COMPLETELY agree with this article. It mostly speaks to me in the sense of the way I worked during my freshman year. The downfall of having a studio where all of your friends were was wanting to be in there all of the time. Having workspace muddled with playspace decreased productivity dramatically while simultaneously giving us the feeling that we were working 24 hours a day, which we weren't. We were simply in our workspace 24 hours a day. I think it's important to find a location to work, and to work there. Take your breaks somewhere else, have your friends somewhere else, have your life somewhere else. The combination of staying in PGH last summer and moving off campus definitely helped me with this, because I am able to separate Purnell from a different life that I have an like outside of Purnell. I have seen major improvements in both my mood and my work quality. And guess what, I feel like I'm working half as much! Some people struggle with this the whole time they are here, I wish that everyone would give working less a try, and maybe find some friends outside of the School of Drama (even outside of CMU) that make their personal lives fulfilling, fun, and unrelated to what happens in Purnell. 
 Student #4 has left a new comment on your post "A warning to college profs from a high school teac...":
First off I would like to say that I agree with Kenneth Bernstein as well as the other people who have commented on this post.

Why isn't Kenneth Bernstein saying sorry to me. My class mates and I are the people who have been wronged here. So maybe a college professor doesn't get to have amazing students for a few years because the government made some stupid polices. It's the students who didn't learn all that they could and have messed up feelings when it comes to gold stars and the first six letters in the alphabet(expect E).

As I read the article I thought to my self "I'm so sorry for all though kids who I grew up with that are negativity effected by this stuff, I'm glad that I don't focus on grads and only care about what's going to be on the test." Then I read the comments and saw that all of my CMU peers thought just the same thing. Now I'm not saying that the people who made those comments are incapable of free thought and that they personally are stupid or uneducated due to no child left behind and AP testing. But maybe I am just telling myself that I came out ok from the public school system because I don't like to think that I'm disadvantaged. And maybe all of my peers are telling themselves the same thing. I know that in high school I would ask friends why they took so many ap classes and focused so hard on getting perfect grades in classes they hated and didn't learn in. They never had good answers for me because they didn't see it that way at all. So maybe my whole generation is walking around feeling bad for the rest of the generation because they are "educated" and that they were brilliant enough that they can still think outside the box. But in reality we're all messed up.

So my question is: What should I do now? How can I undo or at least minimalism the harm that over testing did to me in public school? I go to a college to that still puts a ton of importance on grads and I still take tests to prove to teachers that I have memorized facts. I don't personally need to change the national education system, I just want to be smart and free thinking and able to apply what I learn to the real world, but just maybe I was never taught to be my own teacher. 
 Student #5 has left a new comment on your post "Lighting Designer Al Gurdon: The Light Master of S...":
I strongly agree with Gurdon about "less is more". I've been to quite a few concerts and music festivals, and live theatre shows in my life up to this point. But, especially in the music world, designers tend to go a little "glitz" crazy. I think the statement, though somewhat condescending, that no one whistles for the lights, is true. Lights are good at creating moments, and when one or more of those moments in a song or set list is truly memorable, that's when a design has been successful. I've been to enough shows to have seen lights that seem to have a mind of their own, constantly moving, for no real apparent reason. One of the worst offenders I can recently remember was the Killer's concert I went to last summer. The beams of light behind the band moved constantly for every single song, and they moved rapidly. Those lights have a time and place, and during dramatic moments in a song, or an ending beat of a song would be excellent, but overuse wears the eyes thin, and distracts from the performers. I remember seeing a band called Silversun Pickups, and I remember the lighting of that show, but in a good way! They stuck to a simple(ish) color palate between blue and red, but the lighting was still interesting. Sometimes, the simpler things, are more memorable in the end.

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