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Arts in the News: Next Marvel Superhero, about Standing Ovation and more.

Globe Replica Brings Shakespearean Experience to Those Outside the UK

Shakespeare fans have always had one way of experiencing the famous Globe theater: making the trip to London…until recently. A Pop-Up Globe is making an appearance on the grounds of Melbourne’s Myer Music Bowl in Australia. The pop-up arrived in late September and runs through mid-November, staging four Shakespearean plays and a contemporary work with a Shakespearean theme. Originally built in 1599, the Globe was destroyed by a fire in 1613 and resurrected in 1614. It was subsequently closed because of pressure from the Puritans in 1642. Centuries later, a replica Globe was erected in London in 1997 near the original site of the legendary theater. Miles Gregory, the artistic director and instigator of the Pop-Up Globe, got the idea for the project when his daughter asked, “Daddy, can we go there?” while reading a children’s book that included a depiction of the theater. Gregory himself has a collection of degrees in Shakespearean scholarship and has been fascinated by Elizabethan amphitheaters his entire life. Using sketches of the second Globe made in the 1630s, Gregory sought to base his design not on the London replica, but instead on the original design. The Pop-Up Globe has already completed two successful seasons in New Zealand and sold 40,000 tickets for its first repertory rotations in Melbourne. The pop-up houses three companies, with personnel totaling 90 and a wardrobe of 500 costumes. How delightful that the magic of Shakespearean theater and the Globe theater can be brought to more and more audiences!

‘Insecure’ Cinematographer on Lighting for Black Faces

Co-created by writer and star Issa Rae along with Larry Wilmore, HBO’s “Insecure” gives viewers a window into black life as a late twenty-/early thirty-something in Los Angeles, complete with hookups, personal issues, office politics, and friendship dynamics. Despite the show’s many dark club scenes, dark-skinned protagonists like Yvonne Orji’s character Molly continue to “pop” on-screen. This isn’t by accident–Ava Berkofsky, the show’s director of photography, has become a master on properly lighting black faces on screen. “When I was in film school, no one ever talked about lighting nonwhite people,” explained Berkofsky in an interview. The basic lighting rules are not enough to effectively show black actors and actresses on screen; Berkofsky explains the adjustments she makes to conventional settings in an interview with Mic. Berkofsky’s lighting techniques also give the show a distinctly cinematic look, which involves keeping the light off the walls and exposing faces, specifically. She says the look of “Insecure” was also inspired by Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-winning “Selma.” Berkofsky specifically uses a special whiteboard and a small amount of shiny makeup to make black actors’ and actresses’ faces “pop.” To learn more about the fascinating techniques Berkofsky has designed to make sure that the lighting showcases–rather than detracts from–actors’ and actresses’ performances, read on <HERE>.

Nigerian Girls Inspire Next Marvel Superhero

A new Marvel story, “Blessing in Disguise,” will be the first Marvel story to be set in a real-life African country and is set to feature a Nigerian superhero. Even cooler? That Nigerian superhero, Ngozi, was inspired by Nigeria’s kidnapped Chibok girls–a teenage superheroine, she fights evil in Lagos. Nnedi Okorafor, the award-winning Nigeria-American author who developed the character and wrote the story, explains: “It was an important decision for me to base Ngozi on one of the Chibok girls.” In 2014, 220 Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted in Chibok by the militant group Boko Haram. Okorafor hopes the superheroine will resonate with girls across Nigeria: she explains that the abducted girls “were normal girls who suddenly had to deal with a huge change in their lives…and their story of perseverance is so powerful. Like many Nigerian girls, Ngozi comes in a small package but is strong-willed and determined.” Okorafor is a huge fan of Wonder Woman and felt inspired by the recent box office success of the feature film, but yearned to see more diversity in the superhero universe. Hopefully, her character can inspire and empower many young girls like Ngozi!

One Writer’s Defense of the Standing Ovation

The New Yorker’s Michael Schulman recently wrote a piece in defense of the standing ovation. In the wake of popular articles like Linda Buchwald‘s “Taking a Stand Against Standing Ovations” which point to the standing ovation as a now-empty, mechanical process, Schulman attempts to defend the long-standing (if you’ll pardon the pun) tradition. He admits that standing ovations have become “de rigueuer”– once the exception, they are now the rule–a trend he sees as being linked to the soaring price of tickets and expectations of theater-goers. To the critics of the practice who question how patrons can express their praise of a truly spectacular performance when even mediocre ones receive standing ovations, Schulman points to the palpable variations in cheers, applause volume, and “sheer electricity.” He also notes the clarity for patrons when there is a “clear default setting”–otherwise, those who sit are labeled “grinches” and those who stand “groupies.” Ultimately, he argues: “And if the choice falls between withholding gratitude or giving it, why not err ont he side of generosity without feeling ashamed? Standing puts actors and audience on equal footing, less waiters, and patrons than partners in a shared endeavor.” Many are bound to disagree, resenting the now-rote post-show tradition. No doubt the discussion around the standing ovation will continue to divide theatergoers across the globe for some time!

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