Cabaret opens up to diverse artists

Strings of light twinkled against black curtains. The sound of hula music and thirty people clapping to the beat filled the room as 7-year-old Lola Sanchez’s hips swayed rhythmically.

Her black and white striped dress made a dizzying blur as she spun and shook.

“I’ve been doing hula maybe two months, I think I’m a great Hawaiian dancer,” Sanchez said.

When Sanchez left the stage, senior psychology major James Trejo walked to the microphone.

Trejo performed a freestyle rap, with only a beat blasting through the speakers to accompany him.

He rapped about being a senior, unsure of his future, and his love for music.

“Music is my food,” Trejo said.

After Trejo performed, freshman international studies and studio art double major Lily “North” Meza brought her guitar decorated with stickers to the microphone.

She performed three original songs, “Desire Line,” “Good Morning,” and a song that remains untitled.

Before she began, Meza apologized for some of the language in her songs, but the crowd seemed unphased by the cussing.

When her raspy, earthy voice didn’t fill the room, her skilled acoustic guitar solos did.

To end the night, senior music major Annie Johnson and sophomore music major Lorali Mossaver-Rahmani, together known as the Companions, took to the microphone.

The pair supplied their own background with banjos and a ukulele.

The Companions wrapped up the night with five songs, including covers and original songs the duo wrote together.

The two sang an original song, in both Spanish and English, that seemed to resonate with the audience, as they received a long applause when it was over.

“This song is inspired by my trip to Peru last summer,” Mossaver-Rahmani said.

She described the song as a story that describes her time with an intriguing guide in Peru.

The performances were a part of Cabaret Student Productions’ event, “The Creativity Thing,” held Tuesday night in the Jane Dibbell Cabaret Theater.

Cabaret invited all kinds of performers, including dancers, singers, guitarists, rappers and artists.

By the end of the night, seven artists performed.

“La Verne isn’t known as a very artistic school, so we are happy to provide this space for that,” sophomore theater major and Cabaret Student Productions President Courtney Clark said.

Aside from the performances, on display was a community art project painted at Cabaret’s last event, “Appreciation not Appropriation.”

When creating the piece, participants painted for 20 minutes and then moved five steps to the right and finished whatever ended up in front of them.

Projected onto a screen was some of Clark’s photography.

The slideshow also included photography by Clark’s sister.

Displayed on tables along the walls were handmade jewelry, models, and paintings.

Freshman theater major Jordan Nelson had some of her paintings on display.

On display was an elaborate canvas painting of a red dragon against a black background.

Nelson said she painted the dragon years ago.

She thought to share the piece when she was asked if she had any art to display at the event by sophomore theater major and Cabaret Student Productions Vice President Ashley Weaver.

Another one of Nelson’s pieces on display was an astronaut floating in space, holding the planets on strings like balloons.

“The astronaut was made at an art acoustic night last semester,” Nelson said.

“They were having performers as well as three easels set up so we could paint live. We had about an hour, and I came up with that.”

Cabaret Student Production’s will be holding Youth Art Night 7:30 p.m. May 9 in the Jane Dibbell Cabaret Theatre as its final event of the semester.

“It’s very important to have our youth have a foundation and know where they could possibly end up one day,” Weaver said.

The crowd snapped in agreement.

“Maybe they could end up be here at this university,” Weaver said.

Cabaret Student Productions has invited local high schools’ art departments to showcase their art and talent.

“We know, and other artists know, it can sometimes be daunting as a high school student to continue your artistic endeavor, and we’re really trying to support that,” Clark said.

This story was originally published by The Campus Times.

photo by Breanna Ulsh

Bootcamp gives audience monstrous night

Sophomore theater major Ashley Weaver and freshman theater major Jordan Nelson practice make-up techniques on freshman theater major Mallorie Johnson during the Cabaret Series’ Monster Bootcamp event Tuesday. / Photo by Donna Martinez

Huddled in the left corner, two girls worked furiously, painting and drawing on their model’s face. Specs of gold glitter fluttered in the air as the bright light coming from above bounced off the shiny dust. Drowning Pool’s “Bodies” played as 20 students shuffled, stumbled and limped around in a circle in the center of the Jane Dibbell Cabaret Theater.

This was the scene of Monster Bootcamp, the first event of its kind on campus Tuesday.

Theater major Michaela Bulkley put together the series as part of her senior project.

“It’s all about having a community of artists and giving them an environment to feel empowered,” Bulkley said. “This time we did something different. We’re taking an artistic risk with Monster Boot­camp, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Once the crowd filed in and took their seats, they were informed that Monster Bootcamp would be an audience interactive event.

The group began stretching, trying to identify a part of their body with a lot of tension. Everyone then participated in an activity to help them understand their bodies and how to translate a character into movement.

Alumni Sierra Taylor, a professional burlesque dancer, and Alvaro Renteria, an actor who recently worked props on “Carrie: The Musical” in Los Angeles, led the exercise.

After everyone finished stretching, Taylor told them to think of a character, keeping in mind the tensest part of their bodies when they stretched. Next, they were to demonstrate how their characters would move depending on the emotions she gave them.
The activity was inspired by Taylor’s experience performing in the music video for “Doctor or Monster” by Audfaced.

“For this music video, I had to play a demented bride and I thought, ‘How do I translate that?’” Taylor said. “I thought about how a bride wants to be perfect, so I did a lot of twitching and sharp movements.”

The crowd looked like a herd of stiff zombies walking about in a circle. Some people waddled like penguins or hunched over like apes. Others stretched out their arms and fluttered like birds or butterflies.

Taylor split everyone into groups of four. Groups performed their movement one at a time as the audience identified what part of their bodies were accentuated and what character they could possibly be.

Junior kinesiology major Thomas Huynh’s character demonstrated a stiff neck and locked knees accompanied by a stabbing motion.

“I was inspired by the death scene of Olly from ‘Game of Thrones,’” Huynh said.

Other characters demonstrated were a bald eagle, a self-conscious bird, an emperor penguin, a disfigured Vietnam War veteran, an intoxicated octopus and a love-sick zombie.

While the audience participated in the character exercise, freshman theater major Jordan Nelson and sophomore theater major Ashley Weaver created an elaborate stage makeup inspired by a skull.

Their model, freshman theater major Mallorie Johnson, was presented to the crowd after the character exercise.

Johnson’s face was painted a base of white cream with gold glitter packed on to her eyelids and lips.

Nelson and Weaver applied a dark black to Johnson’s lower cheek and jawline to emulate a hollowed out section of the skull.
“We used water based face paint, some cream paint, glitter and eyeliner,” Nelson said.

Nelson has been experimenting with special effects makeup for two years. Although it is currently a hobby, she said she is still considering it as a career.

“I hope that my makeup skills become an asset to the theater department,” Nelson said.

As part of the Cabaret Series, the entire theater will be turned in to a Haunted Circus at 10 p.m. Tuesday. The event is free.

Bulkley hopes the circus will be the first of an annual haunted house put on by the theater department.

(Photo by Donna Martinez)

This story was originally published by The Campus Times.


Art Night highlights diversity

pexels-photo-933255.jpegAs the United States’ president elect was announced Tuesday night, 10 students gathered in the Jane Dibbell Cabaret Theater to express themselves through art.

Community Art Night, a Cabaret Series event, is part of senior theater major Michaela Bulkley’s senior project.

“You know what I think is cool?” Bulkley said, “While everyone else is drinking, celebrating or angry about the new president being elected, we’re here doing something productive: creating art.”

With paint and crayons, the students decorated three signs and a large white sheet of paper sprawled across the theater floor.

The three signs displayed the words diversity, unity and expression in white paint. Students decorated the rest of the signs with small doodles. Sophomore theater major Courtney Clark painted “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Love is love is love” quote from his acceptance speech at the 2016 Tony Awards.

“The Tonys were right after the Orlando shooting, which is my community,” Clark said. “Today was about expression, and in light of worldly events, I thought it was appropriate. With this election my community, other communities, and us as women have a lot on the line.”

Freshman theater major Jordan Nelson decorated the top of the diversity sign with shapes in all different colors.

“Community art night to me is coming together with other people to express ourselves,” Nelson said. “It provides a productive environment.”

The event was still going on when the final announcement of Donald Trump as the future president was confirmed.

“It’s a surreal moment,” Nelson said. “There’s a lot of chaos going on outside these walls and we’re just here chilling, painting.”

However, politics did make its way into the theater. The presidential election was the main topic of conversation throughout the night.

“One day when someone asks me, ‘Where were you when the 2016 president was elected?’ I’ll be able to say I was in the theater creating art,” Bulkley said.

The Cabaret series events are held in the Jane Dibbell Cabaret Theater every Tuesday at 10 p.m.

This story was originally published by The Campus Times.


Theater hosts haunted circus

Photo by Janelle Kluz

Piercing screams came from the Johnson Family Plaza Tuesday night as five women ran from Dailey Theatre. A member of campus security quickly responded, asking the girls if there had been a clown sighting.

There was one. In fact, there were three.

The darkness of the University Mall prepared visitors for what was waiting inside the haunted circus in Dailey Theatre on Tuesday night.

The experience started with descending a small staircase to enter the theater. Behind a sheer black curtain, a young woman swings from a long piece of blue silk suspended from the ceiling. The eerie piano and low light make it hard to find the door to the next room.

“You’re not leaving,” she said.

Suddenly a door creaks open, the soft red light from behind it glows along the edges. The light hits your shoes and you realize you must go forward.

As you enter the dressing room you notice a woman in a long sparkling gown. She seems harmless as she admires her reflection in the mirror until from the corner of your eye there’s movement. A man lies on the ground screaming for help as the woman shifts her attention from the mirror to the knife in her hand. There isn’t an exit. You have to go back out the way you came.

Leaving the dressing room puts you in a dark hallway. The only sense of direction you have is the light at the end of the dark tunnel. Out pops a girl with bloodied holes in her face. The mirror behind her makes it seem like there’s three of her.

You run toward the light. A screeching laugh comes from your left and you see the face of a murderous clown. To your right the metal doors are shaking.

You follow the dark path the rest of the way until you’re on a stage lit by a dull blue-green light. A girl with a bloodied face cries in the corner, her disturbing drawings are scattered around her. One has the word “clown” scribbled all over it in purple crayon. Soon, you notice the clown doll in her hands looks like the clown behind you.

Turning away from the clown you see a beautiful ballerina in a red tutu gracefully dancing on her tippy-toes, black and white film of an old circus runs behind her on a screen. Her movements are mesmerizing; it isn’t until she runs at you with a deep growl that you notice she isn’t a friendly dancer.

Running from the stage you see the bloody sign on the door, “Exit.” You climb the staircase and out pops in front of you a sweet looking girl with long pigtails and a blue dress with white polka dots. In her hand is a huge knife, her mouth is sewn shut. You run for the exit, climb the stairs, and suddenly you’re back in the Johnson Family Plaza. Safe. The laughter of clowns is behind you with the door shut.

The haunted circus was put on by the theater program as a part of senior theater major Michaela Bulkley’s senior project, the Cabaret Series.

“The reason we went with this theme is because it’s more real, it’s not a bunch of jump scares,” Bulkley said. “It’s creepy and scary. We want to go big and own these characters.”

In the first room, sophomore theater major Courtney Clark, an aerialist, gracefully swung on blue silk. Clark has been practicing aerial since the summer and teaches aerial basics at a children’s fitness center.

Clark drew inspiration for her performance from a scene in the film “Suicide Squad” where the character Harley Quinn does aerial in her jail cell. She drew from Harley Quinn’s whimsical yet murderous attitude.

“We are a theater and actors so we get the chance to really get into it and be characters,” Clark said. “The idea is that I murdered a bunch of people, but I don’t care, I’m just doing my thing.”

Freshman theater major Mallorie Johnson played a young girl traumatized by clowns crying in the corner of the main stage. Johnson’s co-star was a clown doll her grandma found while preparing for a yard sale recently.

Johnson has four years of previous experience working in a haunted house at her high school.

“Each group that comes in is different,” Johnson said. “The trick is reading your audience really fast.”

The haunted circus went on from 10 p.m. to midnight. Clusters of students ready to be spooked came to participate all throughout the night.

All visitors and actors had to sign liability forms before participating in the circus.

Junior educational studies major Ashley Bennett thought the scariest part of the circus was the ballerina on the main stage played by freshman theater major Jen Ning Quan.

“The ballerina really creeped me out. She was so graceful, but I thought she was going to kill me,” Bennett said.

There are four more events in the Cabaret Series. The next will be a dance concert at 10 p.m. Tuesday in the Jane Dibbell Cabaret Theatre.

This story was originally published by The Campus Times.

All-women music night empowers artists

Female student artists from a variety of majors and approximately 30 students gathered Tuesday in the Jane Dibbell Cabaret Theatre for Music Night, an all-women artist event.

The event is part of the Cabaret Series, a 13-week program of events to allow a forum for student artists.

The tightly packed theater shrouded in black curtains and illuminated by soft white and pink light gave the perfect intimate setting for the artists’ personal, original songs and poems and melodic covers.

The night also featured two paintings by junior anthropology major Rachel McCrary and a scene from “Phantom of the Opera” performed by freshman theater majors Mallorie Johnson and Jen Ning Quan.

To kick off the night, senior music major Annie Johnson and sophomore music major Lorali Mossaver-Rahmani, together known as the Companions, sang an original song and two John Denver covers.

Senior English major Emma Saturday followed the Companions with beautiful piano melodies. Saturday performed barefoot, playing “Out of the Darkness” by Michele McLaughlin, a piece written by her father and a piece she wrote herself.

Before playing her last piece, an original, Saturday told the audience about her summer trip volunteering at a farm in Virginia for 10 weeks.

“While I was over there the house luckily had a piano, and I wrote this song for my boyfriend while I was away from him for 70 days,” Saturday said.

Immediately the crowd went “aww.” A “That’s so cute” could be heard from the back of the audience.

Later in the night singer, Natalia Esquivel, a guest performer, played three songs including, “I Am Woman,” which she said was an original work, and it received the loudest applause of the night.

“This song came from all the emotions of being a woman,” Esquivel said.

After Esquivel, senior theater major Michaela Bulkley read a monologue centering on a woman with an eating disorder and the abusive nature of that situation. The piece was from the theater department’s upcoming staged reading of “Citizen: An American Lyric.”

When she finished, Johnson could be seen mouthing “Wow” as the audience applauded, some even wiping away tears.

Next, sophomore theater major Ashley Weaver invited any performers or audience members who knew the lyrics to Alicia Keys’ “No One” to come up and sing along. As she played on the piano, she was accompanied by a small choir of four performers. The crowd rhythmically clapped along.

To wrap up the night, senior Spanish and creative writing major Guadalupe Robles took to the stage to perform an original poem written in Spanish.

“I’ve been writing poems in Spanish a lot lately because I’m homesick and miss Mexico,” Robles told the audience.

The Cabaret Series is put together by Bulkley as a part of her senior project. She decided to have a ladies’ night to inspire women on campus to share their art.

“I’ve had open mic nights with a lot of men who said they wanted to perform and I was like, ‘I know there’s women on campus who want to perform,’ but I know it takes a little more empowerment and encouragement for women to want to be vulnerable with their art,” Bulkley said.

There was no auditioning process to be a part of Music Night. To perform, artists simply contacted Bulkley or volunteered to perform during the event after all scheduled performances were over.

“A lot of these people I just know through networking,” Bulkley said. “I feel like a lot of my senior project is empowering the artists I know to perform because I feel secretly they want to, but they’re scared because it makes you really vulnerable. It’s putting your heart and your soul into your work and then putting it out into the world and saying ‘Please like it.’ I think I’ve created an environment where no one cares if you mess up, we just appreciate that you’re trying to produce art.”

Next Tuesday’s Cabaret Series event will be Face Off, a live special effects makeup competition. The entire theater will be turned into a haunted circus Tuesday Oct. 25.

Both programs begin at 10 p.m.

(photo by Donna Martinez)

This story was originally published by The Campus Times.