Off-Broadway Play Comes to Siena

This past Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending Platanos y Collard Greens, an off-Broadway comedy and romance play. Even though I’m a senior, it was the first play that I’ve gone to at Siena in the Beaudoin Theatre. I went in knowing very little about the play itself, only that it was a comedy with the tagline, “A tale of secret lovers from different cultures, who fall in love at first sight, until Mom finds out and has a heart attack!”

Platanos y Collard Greens focuses on two college students, Freeman, an African-American man, and Angelita, a Dominican woman, who fall in love, despite Angelita’s mother’s wishes. Angelita’s mother, who immigrated from the Dominican Republic to New York City, is vehemently against her daughter marrying outside her race, and she is especially opposed because Freeman is African-American. Amidst the relationship issues, racial tensions, and generational differences, Freeman campaigns for student government president with his friend Malady and his cousin OK. Though the concept of Platanos y Collard Greens is in itself a heavy topic, the play is very funny. Freeman’s cousin OK had the audience roaring with laughter for the entire performance, delivering witty one-liners and making hilarious facial expressions.

One thing I really enjoyed about the play was the incorporation of slam poetry and spoken word poems. Characters would often directly address the audience and perform a slam poem about what was troubling their character at that moment in the play. Each act was separated by a poem from a different character. For example, Angelita delivered a spoken word monologue about how she is Latina, but more than just a sexual object. Even though the actors kept the audience laughing through the entire play, Platanos y Collard Greens still managed to discuss contemporary racial issues on a deeper level, captivating the audience while simultaneously providing food for thought.

Keep an eye out for further coverage of Platanos y Collard Greens in the 10/19 issue of the Promethean!

 

2018 Clare Center Lecture

Siena hosted the 25th annual Clare Center lecture on Tuesday Oct. 2nd, welcoming Dr. Joy Schroeder, a religion professor and Lutheran pastor, to give her lecture on “Compassion and Imagination and Franciscan Biblical Interpretation.” Dr. Schroeder’s concentrations are in the history of biblical interpretation and women in the church. Dr. Holly Grieco introduced Dr. Schroeder and explained the origins of the Clare Center lecture. “It began as a way to welcome the religious studies department into its new home on campus,” Dr. Grieco said.

Dr. Schroeder emphasized the importance of slow, reflective reading during her lecture. She shared the statistic that the human attention span has diminished to eight seconds, which is one second less than a goldfish’s. Tying a majority of her speech and biblical interpretations into the Syrian and Central American refugee crises, Dr. Schroeder focused on the importance of using our imagination and compassion for the betterment of the world.

In reference to Siena’s Franciscan core curriculum, she mentioned the room to integrate compassionate imagination. “It can be done with holiness and imagination,” she said, “the kind that brings about good business ethics and good business practices.”

Dr. Schroeder’s lecture was part of the celebration of Francis Week, a week-long celebration of St. Francis’ life and values. Other events through this week include the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Feast of St. Francis, and Community Service Day. All students are encouraged to take part in this celebration. 

The lecture was a great addition to Francis Week because it highlighted the importance of the Franciscan traditions in both the Siena community and the world at large. “With both compassion and imagination, we can imagine new ways to do just a little bit of repair work to help heal this broken world,” Dr. Schroeder concluded.

Frankenstein Lecture Kicks Off October

I was ten years old when I read Frankenstein for the first time. It wasn’t the full novel; it was an abridged version for younger readers that cut out some of the more graphic and lengthy parts of the novel. It condensed down the story to the creation of the monster and Dr. Frankenstein’s struggles with his own guilt and grief. As an English major, I’ve learned about the origins of Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and discussed its impact in class. I’ve helped students in the Writing Center who read Gris Grimley’s graphic novel adaptation in their First Year Seminar classes.

Siena has been celebrating the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein’s publication since last year with film screenings, lectures, and theatrical productions. This Monday, I attended Dr. Michelle Francl’s lecture, “Making Molecular Monsters.” Even as a SoLA student, I could appreciate what Dr. Francl had to say about the intersections between Frankenstein and chemistry.

Dr. Francl, chemistry professor and chair of the chemistry department at Bryn Mawr College, spoke on the connections between the novel and chemistry. “Chemistry plays a really significant role in the story. It sets into motion Frankenstein’s first steps into peril,” she explained.

“I’m interested in molecules that misbehave, molecules that transgress the borders that chemists think exist for molecules,” Dr. Francl said. “Over this forty year career, what unifies it is thinking about what makes the molecule do the unexpected.” Dr. Francl gave an interesting hour-long lecture on monstrous molecules and how they connect with the larger themes in Frankenstein of exploration and control.

If students are interested in hearing more about Dr. Francl’s lecture, keep an eye out for my publication in the Promethean on Friday Oct. 5. Besides the physical copies found in the SSU, library, and Lonnstrom, the newspaper can be read online here. Like and follow our social media pages to stay updated on upcoming Frankenstein events this month! Happy October!

Here’s What You Missed: Constitution Day 2018

Nearly one hundred students and faculty attended Sarah Rogerson’s lecture in the SSU on Monday Sept. 24, titled “Immigration, Executive Power and the Constitution.” The lecture was in celebration of Constitution Day, which takes place annually on Sept. 17 in honor of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. The event was not only intended for students interested in political science, but those of all majors, political affiliations, and backgrounds.

After a performance of the Star Spangled Banner by the Siena Chamber Singers, Dr. Cutler, political science professor at Siena, introduced Rogerson. Rogerson is a clinical professor of law at Albany Law School, and the director of the Immigration Law Clinic and the Law Clinic & Justice Center.

“If you live and work in the United States, you are going to encounter immigration issues,” Rogerson explained. “The word ‘immigration’ is not found in the Constitution, so what gives?” She used a powerpoint to explore the Constitutional basis regarding immigration, showing students passages from the document and describing their origin.

Rogerson spoke on a number of immigration issues in our headlines today, including the broken legal system, Muslim Ban, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). She also discussed the ways in which immigration is depicted by the media. “Labels and terminology are important,” she said. “In order to be an immigrant, you have to have an intent to stay.” Rogerson emphasized the importance of knowing the difference between immigrant as a legal term and immigration/immigrating as a verb, something that is very hard to communicate through the news and news cycles.

Rogerson’s keynote lecture was valuable to all students and a great reflection of Constitution Day 2018. Check out and like our Facebook page to stay updated on upcoming SoLA events!

Sandwiches and Sculptures: An Artist’s Visit

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of sculptures? Probably not tuna sandwiches. But for sculptor Madison LaVallee, sandwiches help her deal with a way of thinking about sculpture. Tuna sandwiches represent the time she spent growing up with her grandmother and bring back the sense of nostalgia over sharing a meal together. The sandwiches also reflect her grandparents’ gender roles, which she described as the “traditional gender roles of the 1950s family unit” – her grandma was a stay-at-home mom and her grandpa worked for General Electric. 

LaVallee and a student work with materials

LaVallee makes “material sandwiches” when sculpting. Her works focus on materials used in the home, which she stacks together in resemblance of a sandwich. She sculpts with what she considers “material outcasts” – drywall, carpet underlay, and popcorn ceiling paint – to make her unique sculptures. LaVallee initially thought sculptures had to be sophisticated and created through negative space, a notion which she rejects in her own work. She showed the audience images of her finished works, one of which included bricks from her childhood home. The materials themselves are symbolic, not only of home, but of the memories they elicit in the viewer. LaVallee explained that her works were not site-specific but site-related. “I’m thinking about that place and responding to it,” she said.

Students collect materials during a hands-on activity

Her background was originally in drawing and painting, but LaVallee was drawn to sculpting. “I was unsure how to navigate what it meant to be a sculptor,” LaVallee said. “I kind of wanted to experiment.” During her residency, LaVallee began making industrial sculptures in the woods, which caused her to realize how disconnected she had been from nature. She started introducing fake trees and green elements, placing them with construction materials, in her sculptures. “I’m identifying with nature in this faux, false way,” she explained.

Students pose with their finished sculptures

LaVallee conducted a hands-on activity for students at the end of her talk. She brought crates full of materials, including chicken wire, yarn, cardboard, and pipe cleaners. Though there were no rules on what types of sculptures to make, LaVallee encouraged students to pick one “hard” and “soft” material while crafting. They were able to piece their work together with a hot glue gun and take them home to keep as a reminder of LaVallee’s work and inspiration. 

Students can check out LaVallee’s work on Instagram at @madisonlavallee_art.

Greyfriar Writer-In-Residence Rachel Hall!

 

Last Wednesday, the Greyfriar Living Literature Series hosted Rachel Hall, an award winning author of the story collection Heirlooms. I attended her Craft Talk which was held during free period. Rachel Hall teaches at SUNY Geneseo.

The topic for her Craft Talk was “The Rite Stuff: Using Ritual, Repetition and Return to Shape Stories.” She discussed how ritual is and can be an important part in shaping a story.

After the Craft Talk I sat down with Rachel and asked her two questions I had, the first question I asked was, “When did you realize you wanted to write for a living?”

Like many writers, Rachel explained that it all started in a creative writing course she took in college. She noted that, “I ended up taking this fiction writing class because my roommate signed up and I just fell in love.” I also asked her what college she went to. She went to Knox College which is a small Liberal arts college in Galesburg, IL. She explained that being at Siena that day reminded her a lot of her time in college.

The next question I asked her was, “Is there a ritual you witnessed that kickstarted your fascination with ritual that made you want to write about them?”

Rachel says that the ritual that made her interested in the idea was when her and her mother and brother went to this ceremony for her deceased grandfather. They were in a cemetery in France and they placed a stone on his grave as an act of remembrance. She learned this Jewish ritual while she was there and it stuck with her. It was after this, that she became fascinated with how rituals can shape stories and how important they can be in telling stories.

Thank you so much to Rachel for coming to Siena! Check out a few of the pictures above of the amazing event!

 

 

 

2017 Clare Center Lecture

Last Thursday, October 5th, was the 2017 Clare Center Lecture. The lecture is hosted annually with a different topic and speaker. This year the Clare Center was able to get Sister Ilia Delio to come to campus. Sr. Delio is a Franciscan sister and is based in Washington D.C.. She is also currently holds the Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova University.

Ilia’s lecture was entitled, “Being at Home in the Universe: Lessons from Saint Francis.” She began her presentation with some introduction on global warming and the major problem this is and has been for some time. While Ilia was giving us an overview of some of the things that are happening that are destroying our planet she explained “this is not news.” She knows that we know that these problems have been present for some time now and while some things are being done to reverse the damage, a lot of people are simply ignoring the problems.

Ilia believes that climate change is a “religious problem.” By this she means that we must think of the earth as a sacred space just as we would consider a church to be a sacred space. She stated during her lecture that, “we must rethink and refeel our nature and our destiny in order to remedy the problems.” She suggested thinking about life as an encyclopedia. In this context, human beings belong in volume 30 in the encyclopedia of life, but not only are we in volume 30, but we are also on the last page and in the last sentence of that volume. By explaining human beings’ place in life, she was trying to show how little we matter in the large scheme of things.

Towards the end of her lecture she brought St. Francis into the mix. She explained how we still have time to change our mindsets just as St. Francis did with the leper. As most of us know, St. Francis despised the leper but once he came to know himself as a creature of God, he was able to embrace the leper and love again. In this context, Sr. Illia believes we as people can also change our mindsets and begin to love our earth again and save it from our destruction of it.

Ilia ended her lecture on this note: “We are part of something larger than ourselves.” This was very inspiring and left me and the audience with some words of wisdom to take with us.

What I love about the department we have at Siena is that they always are inclusive of all beliefs and ideas. Even if you’re not a religious person, I highly recommend you attend another lecture put on by the Religious Studies department.

FRANKENSTEIN IS HERE AT SIENA

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Frankenstein is beginning to take over at Siena. Wanna know why? Because this coming year is the 200th anniversary of when Mary Shelley published Frankenstein!

If you’re a freshman, you’ve read or are going to read Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein in your First Year Seminar class. Maybe you’re even in the FYS class about Frankenstein? If you’re in an English class or another Liberal Arts class, chances are you may be reading Frankenstein this semester! Otherwise, maybe you have begun to see some of the changes on campus that are celebrating the anniversary. If you haven’t seen them yet, let me tell you about them!

  1. Check out the display case of Frankenstein related books as you walk into the library! (On the left side)
  2. If you’re on the third floor of Siena Hall, check out the electronic banner that features Frankenstein!
  3. Mark your calendars for October 30th and 31st. The 1931 film, Frankenstein will be shown on the 30th and the 1935 film, Bride of Frankenstein will be shown on the 31st
  4. Check out this link of ALL of the events that will be happening on campus over the next year on campus! – https://www.siena.edu/news-events/article/frankenstein-200-years-of-fear-and-thinking

There are lots of speakers, film presentations, and even a play to look forward to. Check back on the blog for updates on these events!

 

Victoria Andler

Social Media Intern

Siena College School of Liberal Arts

Constitution Day

Hey guys!

This past Tuesday we had a really awesome event on campus! This event was Constitution Day, an event that is hosted annually. The theme of this Constitution Day was New York State’s 2017 Referendum regarding the Constitutional Convention. If you aren’t aware of what this means, let me explain it a bit:

According to Section 2 of Article XIX of the state constitution, every twenty years there has to be a ballot question asking if there should be a convention to revise the constitution. If the voters vote for it, a convention is held, if they do not vote for it, nothing is held.

The speakers who debated this issue of whether or not to hold a convention were Gerald Benjamin and Jerry Kremer. Gerald is for holding a convention whereas Jerry is opposed to it.

Gerald believes that the constitution was born out of the concept of popular sovereignty. This means that government is created and subject to the people that it serves. Under these pretenses, Gerald believes that not only do the people of the state of New York have the right to a constitutional convention but that they should because that is why the constitution was created.

He understands that it is difficult that the proposal is on the back of the ballot and that people don’t like to vote on propositions, but he believes it is important that there is some democratic accountability.

On the flip side, Jerry Kremer believes that having a convention is too costly and unnecessary. He explains that anywhere from 75-100 million dollars would be spent on a referendum. He also believes that if the voters voted on having a convention,  he fears that a lot of important things that are in the constitution would possibly get taken out.

Another thing that frustrated Jerry was the fact that people who are pro-referendum have had twenty years to fight for voting yes on having one but have only recently been advocating the idea. Now that there is 45 days until the vote he feels as if people want a referendum just to have one, not because they actually have changes in mind.

All in all, the debate was very interesting and it opened my eyes to something I didn’t even know about. I think it’s important to attend events on campus that don’t necessarily interest you right off the bat because you may find out that after going to the event that it is actually interesting after all!

Follow the School of Liberal Arts on Twitter, Instagram, and like us on Facebook to stay updated on events on campus that are going on!

 

Will Kempe’s Twelfth Night or What You Will

 

Hello Everyone!

I hope everyone has had a great first week of classes and is getting into the swing of things! While the first week is a busy time for all of us, I hope you were able to make it to one of the two performances of Will Kempe’s Twelfth Night or What You Will this past weekend. If not, I will recap what you missed!

Long before the performances on Saturday and Sunday, the players hosted a workshop for all Siena students to participate in on Friday from 5pm-7pm. They offered workshops in clowning, stage combat, among other things.

On both Saturday and Sunday, the players came out to Roger Bacon from 2pm-4pm and performed as the audience sat on the steps. It was a really cool experience to watch the play in the outdoors just as Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be performed.

One thing I enjoyed about the play was that while they stayed as true to the original as possible, they also incorporated some fun additions to keep the audience entertained. One thing they added was a musical component. Before the play, the Jester came out and introduced the audience to what would be happening, things for us to know, etc. Then the rest of the cast joined him and they sang for us some of the songs they would be performing throughout the play. They encouraged us to sing along with them. At first the audience was a bit hesitant but by the end people enjoyed singing along.

Another thing that was really great about Twelfth Night was that there were multiple alumni who starred in the play. It was nice to see alumni back on campus and involved. The people involved in the play were very talented and clearly experienced. Not only were they excellent actors but they were all talented singers as well. The actors who played the Jester and Maria stole the show in my opinion.

I want to thank The Creative Arts Department’s Theatre Program for sponsoring this event. I also want to encourage others to go and see other performances this semester that are put on by Stage III and The Creative Arts department. Often you can get event credit for First Year Seminar or other classes you need event credit for. Either way they are a lot of fun to go to!

Have a great second week back!

– Victoria Andler (Student Intern)