NY’s Lifestyle Impresses Mendoza ’13

Raynor Mendoza ‘13 -  It is hard to imagine that my time in New York City is over, but like anything else — all good things must come to an end. However, looking back at a week full of adventures is in some ways blissful and relaxing, I have mixed feelings about leaving, in some ways I wish that I could stay here forever, living as New Yorkers do — constantly trying to find their own way amidst millions of people trying to accomplish the very same thing. On the other hand, I surely miss the rural countryside of Indiana — the simplicity of the area, my friends and my wonderful girlfriend. All of this is waiting for me when I get home.

In recalling my experience being in the city that never sleeps (as it so aptly named) a few choice memories come to mind. Oddly enough my favorite experience of all happened to be yesterday. It was the first time that we (as a group) were allowed to create our own journey and most importantly find our own way through the city. For me it was a very liberating experience and one I would not trade for the world. Traveling on my own in a foreign city or country is how you really experience what it is like to live in that respective area (In my honest opinion). It was definitely a nice change from hiking all around the city with out the option to stop at places that interest you, and it allowed for each person to experience something different and compelling.

Me being the watch enthusiast that I am (and someone who plans on becoming a watchmaker after Wabash), I found myself navigating through the blowing snow, to find famous watch stores and boutiques that I have only dreamed about setting foot in. The first was Central Watch, a famous New York staple for all things horology — from repair work and restoration to buying and selling. It has been in operation for over 5 decades and is still doing well today. Oddly enough the store is tucked away in the back corner of Grand Central Station, and if you don’t know its there you are likely to miss it. I spent time talking with the staff and making connections for later on in my life. The people at Central Watch were exceedingly professional and very pleasant.

From there I navigated my way to 5th Avenue (the shopping hub of NYC) to tour some other watch boutiques. I found myself at Rolex’s new 5th Avenue Boutique that is absolutely breathtaking in its own right, and at WEMPE another very impressive store. Both of these stores were filled to the brim with expensive luxury watches and decades worth of skill and knowledge. I spoke to the watchmakers at both stores and was exceedingly pleased knowing they thought my career choice was headed in the right direction.

New York has been great, and it is very sad to see it slip behind the horizon as flight 4309, leaves JFK airport. It has been a fun filled week, and full of new cultural experiences, but it is now time to head home and begin the next school week.

McCloskey ’14: ‘An Amazing Theatrical Experience’

Chris McCloskey ‘14 – Well it has been decided. I will never be coming back to Indiana (especially Crawfordsville). Of course, I’m contractually bound to come back (and sitting in the airport to do so), but if I had the option I would be very happy to stay because New York is the place for me. This has been a week of amazing theatre and amazing theatrical workshops that concluded with one of the most jaw-dropping, mind-numbing shows a person could ever see. To say you “see” the show is hardly fair though.

Sleep No More  (the final round of theatre for THE 303) is this absolutely amazing theatrical experience that has the capability to change your life in so many ways. For me, it has led me into another direction that I could take my theatrical career. Sleep No More is an erotic, psychopathic, oddly alluring retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet put on by a British theatre company called PUNCHDRUNK.  The, perhaps, strangest thing about the experience is that you don’t just sit and watch the story unfold. Instead, you are thrown into a random chunk of the story and left to wander the whole entire hotel (the famous McKittrick Hotel from Hitchcock’s Vertigo).

You can either explore the 100,000 sq. ft. of the hotel (rifling through drawers, opening random books, etc.) or you can follow the character as they tell you the story (without a single spoken word). This type of theatre developed by PUNCHDRUNK is a new thing called “immersive theatre” and it invites the audience to become a voyeur who explores every facet of the entrancing story. Going into the show we were warned not to talk, to be bold, and expect the unexpected. Reviewers claim you can have a range of experience from erotic to terrifying and I can definitely say that is true (erotic for me *fist bumps*).

This show was the best way to end an amazing experience in NYC. I am completely thankful to have been afforded the chance to explore New York and (surprisingly) look forward to writing a paper on Sleep No More.  And so I say au revoir, until next time friends.

Mount ’15 Embraces NY Theater Experience

Joe Mount ’15 – Neither rain nor snow can stop New York City from being an amazing place. Each day this week something new pops up in the city, reminding me once again why I aspire to live here one day. Despite the stereotypes, the people here are incredibly friendly, and there’s an energy that’s palpable on every street corner. I don’t say it often, but I’m definitely in love – if you can be in love with a city.

We returned to the New Ohio Theatre today for another workshop, this one focusing on breathing. After some intense physical and breathing exercises we each started working on the 10 lines of Shakespeare we had each prepared. The people we were working with really knew what they were talking about, and the exercises we did immediately started us thinking about performing (and breathing) in brand new ways. It was great that in two and a half hours we were given a myriad of new techniques and ideas to explore on our own.

Afterwards we roamed Central Park for a while, visiting the Delacorte Theater, the Belvedere Castle, and the Bethesda angel. The miserable weather wasn’t enough to stop our merry troop from traipsing the Rabble and back into the city for the best meal of my life at Gallagher’s.  All of us on this trip definitely owe Mr. Bill Wheeler huge thanks for the amazing experience we all had. The steaks, the mushrooms, the cheesecake, everything! I can’t remember ever being that full and content.

Then we made our way down a few blocks to see The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The play was never actually finished, because Charles Dickens died after only writing about half of it. The great thing about this show was that the audience chooses the ending of the play, so there are a dozen possible endings. And seeing Chita Rivera on stage wasn’t half bad either.

Once again, we owe another huge thanks to Jessica Phillips for getting us backstage after the show! That makes two Broadway shows we’ve been allowed to go backstage for, which is incredibly rare. I still can’t get over how lucky we’ve been to go on this trip and experience the things we’ve gone through, and we’re not even done yet! Tomorrow will be our last day, but I suspect it’ll be one of the highlights of the trip.

So basically, this trip is amazing. We’ve seen some of the best theatre out there, received insightful advice from professionals, walked the streets of one of the liveliest cities in the world, and have gained a new appreciation for what’s out there. I hate that it’s coming to an end, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. If all goes well, I’ll be living here soon and I won’t have to give that stuff up.

Fluffy Sounds in NYC

Josh Lutton ‘14 - Today was a pretty awesome day. Woke up, ate breakfast, and started to go to Christopher St. for our first activity, which was a workshop with Constance Zaytoun. Basically, this workshop starts out the same as the one on Tuesday – we had our introductions and we changed into our workout gear, but then we were given a towel and rag. I was confused. What are we going to be doing?

It was actually very interesting: the workshop was based on a breathing method used by many actors to centralize focus and reduce tension. The first part of the exercise was simply that – an exercise; practicing the technique of stretching, finding our breathing, and vocalizing our breathes into audible sounds – what Constance called “fluffy sounds.” After doing this for about an hour, we focused on using this technique to help us with the Shakespeare monologues we were supposed to memorize for the trip. The purpose was to find different areas of breathing to determine the mood and pace for how we presented the lines. It was actually pretty interesting – something I had never really thought of before while acting. Following that, we went to the East Village for some pizza and then we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was pretty cool. My areas were the Greek and Roman art and the textiles area. And then the night began…

We went to dinner at this fancy restaurant called Gallagher’s, which is this really nice steakhouse. Kids, if you think your idea of a fancy sit-down meal is a table for two at Garfield’s where you can color on the tables with crayons, then you’re in for a surprise. We first have our coats checked at the front door and make our way to this long table in the back where the waiters, plural, were pouring out water into our cups out of nice glass bottles. I had to use the restroom really bad, so I went to the bathroom – there was ice in the urinals, a lot of ice. I later found out that the ice is an old fashioned form of keeping the smell dulled, interesting fact. My dinner consisted of a delicious salad followed by the best steak I have and will ever eat in my life, and chocolate mousse cake sent from the gods. We ate six hours ago, and I’m still full. After the meal we made our way to see The Mystery of Edwin Drood at Studio 54.

The show was phenomenal! It always kept me laughing, the singing was great, and the acting was superb. My favorite part was when the cast interacted with the audience by either going out into the house or acknowledging the fact that this was a play. Afterwards we went on a backstage tour of the set given by one of the actresses in the show. This was a really unique experience for me because as I was passing by the wardrobe room, I mentioned to the actress that I am interested in doing costumes professionally, and she let me walk into the room to talk with the wardrobe for the show. It was absolutely incredible, and such an incredible opportunity that I was blessed with. I am extremely tired, we’ve been walking around all day, so its nice to finally relax after a long day.

Tres Dia en Nueva York

Corey Egler ‘15 - So far on this trip I’ve been the photographer and the social media guy, and now I have the opportunity to reflect on what I have seen, felt and done so far in New York City on this third day.

Today was a big day for me. I felt accomplished as I successfully, for the first time ever, tied my tie all by myself!  A great start to the day.  I then did some social media work and then went on to have a magnificent bagel with cream cheese at Murray’s Bagels in Chelsea, the neighborhood where we are staying.  We spoke with Marvin Denton, the creator of nytheatre.com at the New Ohio Theater, who gave us some insight at the multitude of possibilities that are available in the theater industry in New York City.

My day then became even more exciting.  As we were leaving the theater, I happen to tear a small strip of seam on my pants from the end of my left pocket. But no fear! Junior Josh Lutton carries emergency needle and thread with him at all times, so he performed surgery on my rip. What’s even better is that he did it while on a moving NYC subway!  It was successful and my pants are now better than ever!  Although, we may have received some weird looks from others on the subway, I bet it was not the first time such a thing has happened.

We arrived in Times Square where we split up for a little bit to check out the area and grab lunch.  I went with Senior “Papa Raynor” Mendoza and we checked out some stores and then had lunch in a nice little pub called the “Playwrights Pub” which had great food and pictures of numerous famous New York City playwrights.

As we finished lunch, I waited to get my change back and go use the restroom and “Papa Raynor” decided he would go ahead and check out a shop across the street and then I would meet him there when I was finished.  Well, “Papa Raynor” who has been trying to teach many of us to be “REAL NEW YORKERS”  seemed to have decided to teach me a lesson the hard way and make me fend for myself.  For as I arrived at this shop, which was a small Army surplus store that was owned and operated by a Jewish man who had been running that shop for 30 years, I was unable to locate “Papa Raynor” and was now in a hurry to get to the theater we had to be at very soon.  I attempted to call Papa but he did not pick up, so I decided to hurry to the theater, but then my poor sense of direction and memory kicked in and instead of coming off of 45th street and taking the easy left and going to 46th where the theater was, I instead made it all the way to 41st street where I was unable to find the theater when dear “Papa Raynor” called me and turned me around.  I hurried at a pace almost faster than the typical New Yorker and I did make it to the theater in time for the show!

And boy I am glad I made it on time, because we saw on Broadway Cat On A Hot Tin Roof that starred Scarrlett Johannson and Benjamin Walker (“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter).   And as expected, it was top notch!  During intermission, being the social person that I am, I met an older lady who was an usher at the theater, who was the sweetest thing. Her name was Fran, she was a huge theater admirer and she was retired and wanted to do something she loved and that would keep her busy, and as well to talk to sweet people such as myself.

We then, thanks to the wonderful Jessica Phillips (daughter of our very own Dean Phillips) had the opportunity to go backstage and see how things work, as well as to walk on the stage and see how real everything actually is.  The stage is even raised, and you would not be able to tell that from the audience, but it sure makes viewing so much better.  We even met Ms. Phillips’s (and Tom Hanks’s) personal dresser, Sara, who took us back stage.  Sara’s daughter, Tori, played one of the five children in the play, and she even gave us a tour as well and told us about her busy life of being so young, going to school, and being in a Broadway play.  This girl gets home at midnight every night and is up at 6 a.m.

We enjoyed Dim Sum at the oldest Dim Sum restaurant in NYC, Dim Sum is Chinese food that consists of primarily dumplings.   We enjoyed the busy and crazy shop life of Chinatown, and ended the evening by going to HERE and watching two one-act plays, that were very interesting and took artistic to a new level.

As this trip continues I am continuing to learn, immerse, try new things and meet new people, experiences that not everyone gets although they should do at least once in their lives.   In the words of Robert Frost “I took the road less traveled and that made all the difference in the end”  although the roads in NYC are very often traveled.

Real People, Just Like You and Me

Mike Witczak ‘14 - So you guys, you totally should have taken Theatre 303. I am currently writing this blog post in a tiny Hostel room consisting of two beds that are literally touching. I am sitting on my bed facing the wall, which I can touch with my big toe if I lean back and extend my leg out. My window is slightly cracked and sounds of people yelling, laughing and sirens rushing around fill my room like I am in the movie Taxi Driver.

So why should you have taken this class? Let me tell you what I did today (as if the whole Taxi Driver argument wasn’t enough). I woke up and had a bagel that was the best bagel I have ever had. You underestimate how good a bagel can be before you have one like the one I had. I then met a man who runs and started his own theatre website. He told me that he would love to help me out if I was ever in the city trying to write about theatre myself. I then saw this play called Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams. It was on Broadway, which is kind of a big deal. Oh, did I mention that it starred Scarlett Johansen? Believe it or not the whole play she is married to a guy who can hardly look at her let alone kiss her (only in New York right?). Anyway, other then me not being able to relate to denying the love of a woman like Scarlett, the play was really good. I am a total sucker for the classics and they definitely did this one justice.

I should also mention that we got to go back stage after this Broadway play. I didn’t realize that there was no room back there. You imagine glamorous changing rooms with plenty of space to move around, but people forget that many of these buildings are around a hundred years old. There really just isn’t much space.

In all honesty this class is a perfect example of why immersion trips are a vital part of the Wabash experience. I have seen some of the most talented actors in the world, worked through acting workshops with professionals and eaten dinner with an actual Broadway actress. I know what its like to be backstage of a major production and I have walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. My point is, that no matter how much you read about something, actually experiencing it will add true perspective. You watch movies and you read about actors, but to actually meet them and watch them perform live makes it feel so much more authentic. No longer is the dream of being involved in New York City theatre something stuck in my head, it is more tangible now. The people we read about are real, just like you and me.

UK Theatre Production Wows Students

Zach Canon ‘16 – Tonight, we attended an original piece called, The Wild Bride, performed by the KneeHigh Theatre Company out of the U.K..

Canon at the 9-11 Memorial.

In one word, it was Phenomenal, Amazing, Outstanding, Superb, Wow and It’s Not Fair That They Have That Much Talent.

This story is all about a girl battling through the ups and downs of life, struggling and persevering, and finding joy amidst it all. With a live band on stage played by the actors themselves, the entire rhythm of the play was based on the bluegrass/folk music being played. This original text was well crafted and the acting/musicianship was mesmerizing. From moment to moment I found myself shifting from uncomfortable to amused, excited to fearful, and a slew of other conflicting emotions. In fact, in a conversation with one of the leading actresses following the show, I praised her for her performance and said that she made me feel sick to my stomach. Upon hearing that, she keeled over in laughter and said, “I love it when I make people sick to their stomach!” In an unfair summation, the play was raw, thought provoking, challenging, aesthetically and kinesthetically pleasing, and moving.

In the afternoon prior to the show, truthfully, and as my mother would say, “For the first time in my life,” I was left speechless at Ground Zero. We stood in the presence of a graveyard yet basked in a site of much hope. Two waterfalls etched in the footprints of the twin towers flowed downward eventually making its way into what seemed like a bottomless pit. The pit was haunting. It was as if the dreams of every name honored around the edges of the waterfall accompanied the drops of water as the drops headed down the pit. I found myself wanting to jump in, get closer, and examine the contents of the pit… but I couldn’t. This gnawed at me. I was helpless in the same way I was as an eight-year old watching the events unfold. As Dr. Cherry phrased it, 9/11 could very well be the most important American event in our lifetimes.

Akinribade: Can New York Get Any Better?

AJ Akinribade ’15 – 7:30am. Up and at them! My first full day in NYC started off with the normal shower and brushing of teeth. Next was breakfast with beautiful female strangers from halfway across the world (France it seemed) and hostel staff who appeared inaudible; now I know I’m in New York.

9:30am. We walked to the New Ohio Theatre in the West Village. Today consisted of a lot of walking. We also rode the metro to the theatre and I am yet to fail at the card swipe, #Winning, unlike some of my fellow NYC visitors.

A.J. during theater ‘exercises’

At the New Ohio, an uniquely shaped red building that you cannot miss, we did an acting and movement workshop with one of Dr. Cherry’s established New York connections, Mr. Marc Weiss, Viewpoints extraordinaire. During the workshop we sat, we stood, we fell, we jumped, we ran, we stopped, we fidgeted…we exhausted ourselves. But it was awesome! The experience was really worthwhile because we got to fully engage ourselves in an acting concept that made us think outside of ourselves and grow to appreciate the nonverbal relationships we build with our fellow stage members. Through the Viewpoint exercise, Mr. Weiss challenged us to feel the stimulus of our group, which would inspire us to respond. It wasn’t easy and even after the crash course in it we learned that Wabash doesn’t really teach us how to follow directions well, but in the end, and I’m sure I can speak for the class in saying that we are extremely grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow as actors.

2:00pm. The 9/11 memorial was an honor to see! Before landing in New York, I was unaware of the waterfall memorial—it’s simply gorgeous! First of all, the square -fall is enormous. Second, the power behind the waterfall representing the fallen, whose names are engraved along the stone ledges for all to read, is truly commendable.

Also the fact of how impressive the new towers look after more than ten years into the process exemplifies the resiliency of the American spirit.  We may get knocked down six, but we’ll get up seven. I also love the way the towers in construction are right there, in your face.

We’ll skip the part where I got lost from the group.

4:30pm. Sooo the view from the Brooklyn Bridge was phenomenal. The walk seems as if it’ll take a day and a half. Every step is worth it! And sure it’s a tourist attraction so you’ll see all sorts of people alongside you, but the true richness and diversity in culture that I soaked up walking along the bridge, captures why New York City can be rightly claimed—capital of the World.

8:30pm. And then the thing happened! The Wild Bride at the St. Ann’s Warehouse theatre in DUMBO, Brooklyn was beyond words. And this is coming from a football guy who felt spooked by the play when I read the preview and saw the set. The performance completely flipped the script on me! Yeah!

The bluegrass folktale told the story of a poor old country bumping feller who gets duped by the devil into selling his daughter for a fancy hat. Without giving too much away, the story continues with the little girl breaking the deal with the devil and finding her true love. The play was filled with mucho creativity and talent. All the actors acted, sang, danced, and played in the band effortlessly. The performance was inspiring! Our night ended perfectly with junior Josh Lutton spitting mad game to one of the actresses, who beautifully played the young version of the wild bride, and got her and the rest of the cast to snap a photo with us.

It’s only day two. How can New York get any better?!

First Day Includes Phillips’ Visit

Noah Eppler ’16 and Tucker Mark ‘16 – Well, we’ve arrived in New York City. After a short flight and a shorter drive, we settled into our rooms in the Chelsea International Hostel, whose beds receive a welcome knock from the door when one opens it. In other words, the rooms are extremely small. Two beds, two lockers, shelves, along with a sink, make up our Spartan accommodations.

Dinner the first night in New York

But enough of that! Let us discuss briefly our first experience with navigating the subway system! Luckily, we had Dr. Cherry and Dr. Gelbman to assist us in case anything went wrong – like it did for senior Raynor Mendoza. While the rest of us were able to swipe our MetroCards successfully, ‘Papa Raynor’ failed to swipe his card correctly at the turnstile, and was, shall we say, delayed momentarily.

Later that evening, we explored the East Village for about an hour, taking in the alternative and underground culture of St. Mark’s place, the hip vibes surrounding Tompkin’s Square Park, and, finally, sampling some exquisite Indian cuisine at Raj Mahal, on 6th St.

Tight quarters.

Dinner was an absolute treat. We were joined by Wabash alum (and fellow TKE) Josue Gutierrez ‘11, as well as Jessica Phillips, an accomplished Broadway and television actress, (and the daughter of our own Dean Phillips), and her two sons. Josue is currently in the second year of his MFA in Acting at Columbia here in Manhattan. Josue had plenty of advice for all of us on the trip, encouraging us to get out and pursue whatever it is that strikes us, especially anything concerning theater.

As for our other guest, Jessica Phillips will soon be featured in an episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” playing the role of an Assistant District Attorney, so be sure to look for her. Her two sons introduced us to a wonderful array of novice magic tricks, and even managed to make us all look a bit silly at one point.

All in all, our first day in New York was excellent, and we’re stoked for tomorrow.