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Derick Edgren

Derick Edgren is a freshman at Sarah Lawrence College, where he pursues a degree in English and Theater Studies. Most recently, his play “Earth from the Moon” received its NYC premiere through La Strada Ensemble Theater’s short play festival. His plays have also been performed by the West Side Show Room, DownStage Theatre Company, and the International Thespian Society. Derick currently has work featured in Word Riot, Dramatics, and will soon appear in an anthology by Samuel French. He is also a Blog Contributor for the Adroit Journal.

Mind The Gap Year

I can count higher than you. I can run faster than you. I can hold my breath longer than you. I can—and will—be better than you. I will do all of these things and I will do them while holding the star-spangled banner belting “Born to Run”. I can also juggle and have just been accepted at Duke University on a juggling scholarship—this is the American way!

Perhaps the above exaggeration—which is only slight—resonates with a few prospective undergraduates. The following is a piece in praise of the gap year, a blanket term for the deferral from college acceptance in favor of a year in the professional workplace or in a volunteer service. While there is a myriad of gap-year programs, the idea still feels foreign and elusive to a lot of young Americans, and that’s usually because it is.

For high school students on the highway, not road, to university, the idea of holding one’s breath and singing at the same time is somehow not so daunting next to the awful list that comprises college requirements. Be qualified and complete the most difficult courses offered, but be well-rounded and have a job. Be artistic and play an instrument, but be proactive and able to consider prospective career paths. Be everything. Be in two places at once. Be a hologram. That’s not all, though, perhaps the most important part: have money to line your pockets.

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A gap year is not only an option; for some, it is the only option—and an indefinite one.

Higher education isn’t just compulsory in certain circles; it’s also, as some know better than others, quite expensive. A gap year becomes life for those who can’t escape the cycle of poverty to seek access to a degree beyond high school. While a few elite universities have taken awkward steps toward equity (Stanford), the majority remain inaccessible to all but a minute fraction of incredibly privileged youth. The problem of access to education is hardly unique to the United States, and the issue is highly complex when considering the multi-faceted nature of humanity. Racism, classism, and transphobia drive artificial wedges into the population and leave “minorities” in the dust of dead-end towns. Some are singing, some didn’t know they could and some can’t.

The United States must better service its disenfranchised youth, specifically for its low-income, black, and transgender students, who all graduate high school at dramatically lower rates than their white, mid to high-income cisgender peers. The gap year does not solve inequity, but it challenges the status quo and provides disenfranchised youth a greater propensity for success.

On the highway to higher education, the gap year and subsequent government programs provide students with hands-on, career-oriented skills that will benefit both the student and partnered communities. For those who wish to attend university, the gap year has become a more credible option in recent years, especially with high-profile individuals such as Malia Obama deciding on delaying entry to Harvard.

With such a high-profile case comes the everlasting misconceptions.

The idea that the gap year is expensive is only half true. AmeriCorps’ City Year, for example, provides student volunteers with a stipend. And for some, a gap year is not facilitated by a non-profit organization, but simply means working full-time in order to find the means by which one might actually afford a decent higher education in this country. To dismiss this option is classist. It is arguably the most rewarding one. For those to whom this applies, I personally advise against finding yourself in other countries through pricey international programs. The gap year is about you and your education, you will not find yourself; you will find other people. There are certainly some excellent programs abroad for those who can afford it, but there are also programs—and ways to live—right here.

The gap year is a space to breathe, to sigh and return to life. Why does the American often discount the credibility of the gap year? Well, as we discussed previously, Americans hate breathing. In returning to the hyperbolic Annie Get Your Gun-inspired first paragraph, though, the disparities are made plain. I do mean to say that the college process is mere pageantry, and in saying so emphasize the performative nature of pageantry, which is an expensive, luxurious, and inaccessible one. The gap year, alternately, has the capacity to strip away the smoke and mirrors in exchange for life lessons and proper growth.

To dispel the great mystery of the gap year, consider the courses of action laid out by the American Gap Association. You’re not better than anyone, and you deserve equal access to a lesson on agency.

Read: How To Set Academic Goals

The White Box of Education: What Technology Can Offer

Education reexamined with the help of Dr. Steve Perry, Education Contributor for CNN

As we see it now, education happens weekdays from 8am to 3pm, on chalkboards, in heavy textbooks, in white-walled classrooms. There is not much wiggle room for other forms or perceptions of. But, of course, education in America is changing and this is nearly always the case. From desegregation efforts in the 1960s (through now) to the integration of Smartboards and Twitter into everyday learning, the way we teach has seen constant evolution. 

Education is a slippery thing. It often starts with a question. What is 8 divided by 4? What is the preterite conjugation of the Spanish verb cantar? And so on. Questions like these are adequate predictors for success so long as you measure success as being able to grab hold of the next rung on the ladder. Ladder rungs are important, crucial even. But considering stairs, ramps, escalators, and elevators, we become aware that they are certainly not the only option.

According to a recent report by the US Department of Education, 24 million adults in the United States have low skills, scoring below Level 2 on the literacy assessment. It is true, then, that there are millions of adults in our workforce struggling to comprehend a technology-rich environment. “Raising skills can pay substantial dividends for individuals and families, business and industry, and communities at large,” the report finds. I recently spoke with Dr. Steve Perry, Education Contributor for CNN and MSNBC, to discuss the evolution of education and the positive influence of technology on illiterate Americans in our workforce. On the 3 million or so youth and adults who are already actively seeking an education, “They’re forced to think outside of the box because they don’t live in one,” Dr. Perry posits. “[A classroom setting] doesn’t provide them with the opportunity to improve skills in a comfortable setting.”

Technology is allowing for what Dr. Perry refers to as the “democratization of education.” When students (of all ages) feel connected to their coursework, and feel as though they have freely chosen to engage in certain material, the effects will be long-lasting. E-learning has changed the face of education for all ages, from Khan Academy (while targeted toward K-12 is offered to all), which offers free lessons over a host of subjects, to online degree programs like University of Phoenix, which offers flexible learning in multiple disciplines. Even the rise of massive open online courses (MOOCs) is a trend worth noting, although they are not a true alternative to obtaining a degree, as students do not tend to finish courses or take more than one at a time. These opportunities are nevertheless crucial to eliminating low literacy rates among adults in the United States.

In addition to alleviating the associated shaming/guilting of adults who wish to gain a degree “late in the game,” or even simply improve their reading skills, online learning diffuses classism and racism for all ages of learning. “Engaging technology can mitigate the impact of race,” Dr. Perry says, which coincides with his democratization of education. He argues that this is the case because of the anonymity online between teacher/computer and student. This is more difficult to show statistically, but it is nevertheless another benefit and trend present in the changing face of US education. While I cannot make claims that technology has directly improved lives by dissipating racial discrimination, it can’t hurt to try when, “Black, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander adults [are] more likely than White adults to perform in the lowest two literacy levels,” according to a study by the National Center for Education Statistics.

In this report I’ve merely skimmed the surface of the deepening, widening definition of education in the United States. Educators such as Dr. Perry strive everyday to provide equal access and equal opportunity to Americans of every age, race, and class. Above all, it is access that allows education to become the shield we need to combat middle-class erosion, a rising unemployment rate, and really, anything else that we might consider a problem in this nation. Education will help fix it, so long as it’s accessible, and so long as it’s seen beyond the walls of a standard box-sized classroom. Education is more than a box.

Director Kevin Macdonald on new film ‘Black Sea’ and the Art of Compromise

An interview with Academy-Award winning director Kevin Macdonald on his newest work

Black Sea stars Jude Law in a claustrophobic underwater thriller. When a team of British and Russian men set out to find a lost U-boat from WWII that is said to have an innumerable amount of gold, their greed slowly begins to suffocate them, and raises the question as to whether or not they will ever see land again.

Academy Award-winning director Kevin Macdonald sat down with College News Magazine to give us the story behind what was a trying but rewarding feat.

 

Derick Edgren, College News: You’ve wanted to further explore the themes of psychological and physical entrapment [in your films], and the result was this examination of claustrophobia underwater, and I wondered if there were a specific moment in time that you remember this idea coming about.

Kevin Macdonald, Director: In the year 2000 there was a famous submarine disaster called the Kursk disaster, and it was a Russian nuclear sub that went down in the Barents sea, north of Russia. And there was an explosion — a lot of people died immediately — but some of the submariners were trapped in a compartment at the bottom of the sea, waiting for their options to run out, and they were signaling by tapping on the side dink dink dink to the people up above, but they could never be rescued in time. And I thought, That’s a horrible horrible death, and a fascinating scenario for a film. A bunch of guys stuck at the bottom of the sea. You start asking why they’re there and what are they looking for […] So that was how the story developed from there.

 

You’re known for your work on documentaries, like One Day in September. How has your work on documentaries affected your directorial process this time around?

I think it affects me generally in that my attitude is always to try and be as realistic as possible — whatever that means, realistic. To try and bring some of real life into the film set, and so, on this movie we did some crazy things that you wouldn’t normally do on a fiction film. We got real Russian actors over from Russia. The normal thing is to get some people from the Bronx who can pretend to be Russian. And we shot in a real submarine for part of the movie, which is difficult to do and slow and expensive but it meant that right at the beginning of the shoot for two weeks all of the actors and myself got to be on a sub and feel what that’s like. So you bring that feeling onto the set, that sense of what a real submarine is like with you.

 

I know it was difficult making that happen. Could you tell me more about the story behind that — was it The Black Widow?

The Black Widow is the class of the submarine, and that submarine — it’s kind of an element in the story — that they’re all on is actually based on a U-boat design, and that’s a crucial element of the plot. It’s the same basic design because Stalin shipped U-boat parts to Russia after the second World War and copied them. Because the German naval technology was so far ahead of Russian naval technology. So the ideas in the story, of course, are that these guys, who are lost or unemployed, feel a bit desperate about things — they go off to Sevastapol, which is in Crimea in Ukraine, to bribe a Ukrainian admiral to give them this old submarine so they can go off on their mission. But of course one of the interesting things that’s happened is that Crimea is no longer part of Ukraine since we shot this movie — Vladimir Putin invaded and now it’s part of Russia — and so history has kind of overtaken us, really.

 

What was it like for the actors and yourself and the rest of the team to work in a real submarine?

It was highly claustrophobic, stunk of diesel, of sweat, because it gets very hot in there. I think it felt very much like it would feel to be underwater because when you’re in a submarine there are no windows. There’s no way of knowing what depth you’re at. When you close the hatch as we would in the morning, we’d all get in there and close it up and then start filming. You know, we could have been at the bottom of the sea. And there were great thing about being in there visually: the beautiful old engineering, the paintwork, the lights, the detail in that set, the pipes and the wires and everything is incredible and the bits of Russian writing is really fantastic. It’s one of the reasons we want to be in there […] You can’t move the actors around very much because it’s not like they can walk and talk like they would in a TV show and keep visual interest like that, so we’re really forced to make it claustrophobic. And that is great in a certain way; that’s what it makes tense. You feel like you’re stuck in this space. So if you move the camera too much around then you would ruin that a little bit, but at the same time you have to worry about not making it too visually repetitive, to feel too similar. So that was the challenge.

 

How has your process as a director changed as you’ve worked on this project — if it has?

Gosh, that’s interesting. I’m not sure if it has. I think that you change and — maybe you don’t get better — develop and you go through your career and you’re interested in different things and I suppose in this film I was really lucky to work with a lot of brilliant actors, but they weren’t stars apart from Jude Law, who’s the only sort of well-known individual in there. Character actors are such an interesting breed because they’re the guys who really are the best actors around but they maybe aren’t as handsome as the leading man or, you know, they’ve entered acting too late, or they have a broken nose or whatever it is. They’re so good at delineating a character very quickly just for the few lines or even a look. So I felt lucky and that I learned a lot from these actors and I learned a lot from working with Russian actors, too. They work in a very different way. They want to talk about everything a lot in the morning and debate and question everything and offer suggestions. For hours they want to talk and they’re quite theoretical and intellectual about it, whereas the British actors are like Let’s just get on with it, come on, let’s do it, try things out. And so getting used to working together with those cultural differences with the Russians and the Brits was challenging, but they definitely bring an element to the film that I love. There’s such great presence in the film.

 

Thinking back to your first desire to want to work on this project, and seeing it come to fruition now, do you feel as though you have achieved your initial goal?

That’s a very difficult question! Well, I think in one level, yes, I have. I think I wanted to make a film that was a thriller, that had you on the edge of your seat and really made you feel what it’s like to feel the extremes of human behavior in an unwelcoming environment, and to feel what it’s like in an environment where nature is not your friend, where nature is the enemy, like being in space or being up a mountain in the high altitude, where nature is threatening and it can kill you. So I think in that way those themes came across strongly. I also think that the theme of social inequality, that the anger of the ninety-nine percent against the one percent or the anger of the common working person against the system that they feel is constantly being unfair to them and screwing them, that comes across. But there are always things on the other hand that you feel, I could have done that better or if only I’d reshot that or if I had the money or I’d like that to be bigger, but I think that’s moviemaking. It’s an art of compromise. I don’t think you ever get to do absolutely everything you want. It’s just about what degree you get to achieve what you want. So I watch the movie and I still feel full of regrets but on the other hand I abstractly think that it’s a pretty good movie and it works and it does the things I thought it should do.

 

Black Sea is out in theaters now.

Colour the Small One, a deconstruction of

Sia is more than an amazing pop singer-songwriter; she’s also just a singer-songwriter.

Like a tree nymph. Covered in wind by the songs of nature. Weaving through the dense woods, humming with delight, basking in fractured sunlight, happy yet so vulnerable. A gentle acid trip if there ever were such a thing.

That’s what it feels like to listen to Sia’s Colour the Small One, in a nutshell. Here is, not a review, but a deconstruction, an exploration, of a poignant album that should not be forgotten in the midst of Sia’s latest, 1000 Forms of Fear, (another impressive feat but for different reasons).

Before she swung from chandeliers, she watched the wind blow and played in sand. On her third album, Sia is a poet of divine (or Australian) creation whose voice revels in an orchestration of muted synths and rising strings. Everything in her whispering-wandering songs evokes beautiful melancholia: whether by the grandiosity of cosmic longing in the mid-tempo “Moon”, or by the simplicity of ordinary situations in the fleeting ballad “Sweet Potato”. The album reaches far and wide, but its true strength is in its vulnerability, every song another pastel working to paint the most solitary painting.

It’s not, like, depressing or anything, though. A little sad, maybe. Introspective. But the kind of introspective we like. Colour the Small One, released in 2003, became Sia’s most successful album at the time, outselling her we-don’t-talk-about-that-one debut, OnlySee, and her trip-hop-influenced sophomore effort, Healing Is Difficult.

This album’s lead single, “Breathe Me”, has since been memorialized by primetime television, appearing on the season finale of Six Feet Under in 2006 and, seven years later, on the first season of Orange is the New Black, proving its continued relevance and status as a solid ballad known for that kind of sound that makes you want to stare wistfully out at the snow while the fire crackles near your feet, and you write poetry with your cat on your lap. It’s a different kind of simple, unlike “Chandelier”. Nevertheless, the efforts to make this album one of cohesion over dynamism worked in its favor.

In Sia’s mind, happiness and sadness intertwine. Her words come easy, like bits of poetry resting on waves of sound. “You are free to love/Delete and rewrite me” she tells us in the opening song — a bold beginning — to promise for change. And she does change as she wanders her own mind like a dreamscape. Although the notes held are often the same ones, her context is so unique that it’s easy to forgive her. The simplicity is so controlling. Nothing else would have been necessary.

In the last song of the album, resolution does not come easy. “Sea Shells”, about the unraveling of a fantasy, the end of a journey, closes with “She sells/Empty sea shells/Lost in the ocean”.

Colour the Small One offers something many albums today do not — an alternative approach to songwriting that may place just as much emphasis, if not more, on words as it does sound and production. Sia is in a place of stardom now, but explorative efforts like this remind us why. It wasn’t “Titanium”. It wasn’t “Chandelier”. Yes, those were amazing, too, but not so meticulously crafted as this. 

Hopefully Sia will continue to explore the vast dimensions of music as she does. With every album comes another paradigm, maybe some more accessible than others, but explorative still. Uniquely her. Sia’s albums are secret gardens where her muses come out to play. We find them here in the middle of things. In song.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie knows feminism, knows people

“Culture does not make people. People make culture.”

Seemingly by popular demand Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi (the ‘n’ pronounced as its own syllable, tongue placed against teeth) Adichie has just released in eBook format her “We should all be feminists” TED Talk, popularized, to Adichie’s dismay, by American recording artist Beyoncé, who sampled the speech on her eponymous and most recent album.

Dismay, not for Beyoncé, but for the free endorsement, and perhaps the belittlement of her intellectual rigor, as her words become part of the pop song medium. Yes, Beyoncé will always be Queen B. But let’s allow Adichie to be realized for what she is. A revolutionary. One whose connection to the formerly mentioned stops at this one similarity: Beyoncé and Adichie both identify as feminists.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is perhaps the best example of a feminist today.

Now, “feminism” has a long and fluid history in the English language, and I do not mean to say that it is not subject to change and hasn’t experienced many. But, for the thousandth, if not millionth time, feminism promotes equality. Feminism promotes equality. Feminism does not mean you hate men. Feminism addresses the intense scrutiny women face for their choices, the same choices that would be understood or accepted had a man made them.

This is not an exaggeration or an overreaction. And thank goodness writers like Adichie have found the voice to express the hardships people of all genders face due to sexism. As Adichie puts it in her new essay, The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are.

Addressing the always-ridiculous arguments against feminism openly, honestly, and calmly allows Adichie to penetrate the thick skulls of naysayers. And with gusto. She finds ways to bridge gaps, not just across genders, but across countries, across continents, across people. In fact, Adichie does something special with her stories, something vital to the feminist movement, but also larger than it.

With stories as unique as they are inspiring, Adichie’s prose formula takes cues from predecessor Chinua Achebe while also managing her own, often semi-autobiographical voice. What distinguishes Adichie, as a feminist and as a writer, is not her history in itself, but rather, the genuine fascination and admiration she has for home and family and the past. She is emotionally tied in the right way.

Our histories cling to us. We are shaped by where we come from.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie understands about humanity, in a challenging yet straightforward way, that people are complex, people are multifaceted, and people are subject to context. That is, her stories recognize and embrace political and social issues while still capturing the stories of developed, emotional characters. But how does all this stuff about writing stories relate to feminism?

Exactly.

Were Adichie to write a novel or short story about feminism, well, that would be disappointing. What makes her writing so accessible is its ability to maintain many separate but valid angles. An Adichie story is composed of a series of angles. One of these angles is feminist. Another is Nigerian. And so on. But one angle does not overshadow another. So long as the emotionally coherent human being remains the root of each angle, so long as these are not vague generalizations but grounded experiences, then an emotional record of history is appropriate, and there will be light shone on any issue. That is why Adichie’s approach to feminism is crucial—because it is meant for those who do not already understand it. (Just as her novels detail life in Nigeria for the non-Nigerian to understand.)

And maybe without realizing it, Adichie has said of her writing something better than anyone else could:

The novels I love, the ones I remember, the ones I re-read, have an empathetic human quality, or ’emotional truth’. This quality is difficult to fully define, but I always recognise it when I see it: it is different from honesty and more resilient than fact, something that exists not in the kind of fiction that explains but in the kind that shows.

So here’s to hoping, in the not-so-distant future, that for every Shailene Woodley, there is at least one more Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Give this writer the attention she deserves.

"Evil Dead The Musical" bleeds excellence

‘Evil Dead’: An unreview of the undead musical, coming to Chicago soon.

Zombies are dominating popular culture with a vengeance and, according to a 24/7 Wall Street estimation, are contributing over $5 billion dollars to the world economy as of 2011. The walking dead’s social relevance allows for a myriad of zombie movies, zombie comic books, zombie video games, and now, zombie rock musicals.

Based on the American horror film franchise, “Evil Dead The Musical” opened as a workshop in 2003 in the back room of a small bar in Toronto. Since then, bloodthirsty theatre companies all over Canada and the US have been quick to perform the self-proclaimed cult classic. By nature of all things zombie, this campy musical adaptation explores zombie phenomena, the ideas behind a post-apocalyptic world, and the postmodern obsession with creatures that reflect the dark, abysmal truth of the human condition. But, way more importantly, blood.

Like, so much blood.

Zombie enthusiasts will be happy to hear that “Evil Dead” will (invade?) play at the Broadway Theatre Playhouse from Thursday, September 23 to Sunday, October 23.  Tickets are on sale now. To order tickets, or for more information, follow the link: http://broadwayinchicago.com/.

A worthy adversary of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” should there ever be one.

Confessions of an English major

He is an outlier, on the edge of the animal kingdom (NYC), making rounds at the watering hole (like a Starbucks or something), observing but rarely interacting with the other members of said kingdom (people). He is a dark horse. He is majestic, he is wild…

He is an English major.

“Oh, and what do you plan to do with that?” your friend asks, leaning back in his oversized Elizabethan armchair, wiping his monocle with an embroidered and monographed handkerchief while nibbling on finely aged Taleggio as Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor plays softly in the background. Ah, yes, does he have you cornered indeed.

I began writing short stories at the age of five, maybe earlier, and it had never occurred to me that as I transitioned out of childhood and into my (now mostly repressed) pre-teen years that I would have the absolute privilege to be saved from the dark art that was the English language. Well, an attempted saving, because it was already too late for me. But as for my public school peers, I watched them soar beyond their wildest dreams, so happy to be told that math and science were all they needed. That words were created so we could talk about numbers.

Creativity is welcomed, if not worshipped, in our toddler years, whether it is in the prodigious pianist who plays Mozart before he knows how to tie his shoes, or the ballerina studying Martha Graham over her multiplications tables. But that window shuts quickly, quietly, without our knowledge and, suddenly, art class is optional. Theatre is lame. And students who write poorly but excel in the sciences or mathematics are forgiven because they have the talents necessary to acquire a “real” job. The reverse is not true. The reverse does not matter.

I do not know why this is and, rather than explore that, I instead would like to address not the hypocrisy of this education model, but the danger of it, of minimizing the power of language and of creativity and of art. An English degree will not guarantee you a bed to sleep on, but it will guarantee that you sleep soundly. To the students of the world who understand language and the power of communication, this skill will be with you. Rather than receive a manual to the world, you will learn how to craft your own. So ignore the teachers or professors who say creativity cannot be taught. They only say so in hopes that we will forgive them for being English professors. But we will never forgive them.

Just kidding.

As a playwright I have made the obvious choice to study writing and English. But I am more than a wordsmith—as a playwright, I am an historian, a scientist, a mathematician, a businessman, and so on. The world is without boundaries for someone who wishes to write about it. That’s why I chose to write: there is nothing I cannot learn. So now, with all that being said, please, the next time someone tells you he is an English major…

Assume he will teach. It will make all our lives a little easier.

Broadway theatre 'playlist'

A look at some of Broadway’s most promising dramas under the scope of pop radio.

College students looking to liven up their summers need look no further than their very own Broadway theatre playlist. Packed with guns, improvised ballads, and dinner parties, this playlist features a colorful taste of some of Broadway’s most successful plays—as compared to the songs on your summer playlist. It’s all in good fun, playwrights.

The City of Conversation (Problem by Ariana Grande)
The wild and yet somehow classy styles of Ariana Grande just might mesh with the successfully lustrous work of playwright Anthony Giardina. The pop hit of Broadway, “Conversation” is in part a tribute to the nation’s presidents over the past thirty years but, more importantly, more immediately, this is a political drama steeped in the conflicting views of extended family—suggesting that politics are more personal than we all might think. “The City of Conversation” is now showing at the Lincoln Center Theater in New York and closes July 26, 2014.

Of Mice and Men (Summertime Sadness by Lana Del Rey)
No, I wouldn’t dare compare the writing talent of Lana Del Rey to that of one of the twentieth centuries’ most talented novelists, John Steinbeck. But I will say this: “Of Mice and Men” contains an element of stagnancy relevant to the residual sadness experienced after yet another school year has passed. That’s right—the empty, do-nothing mentality of summer can feel like the Great Depression. Ask any teenager. With a not-so-subtle James Franco and a bubbly Chris O’Dowd (“The IT Crowd”, “Bridesmaids”), director Anna D. Shapiro has breathed life into a classic tale. You know the story, but not the performance. “Of Mice and Men” is now showing at the Longacre Theatre in New York and closes July 27, 2014.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Tessellate by alt-J)
That alt-rock song perfect for a stormy afternoon, and newly adapted from Mark Haddon’s novel of the same name, “Night-Time” is a murder mystery centered on a 15-year-old boy with Asperger Syndrome (hint: he wasn’t murdered; his neighbor’s dog was.) Two-time Olivier Award winner Simon Stephens has adapted a modern epic, taking us from Swindon to London. “Night-Time” opens on Broadway September 15, 2014 at the Barrymore Theatre in New York.

A Raisin in the Sun (Good Feeling by Flo Rida)
As history makes its rounds in Top-40 radio (Etta James’ “Something’s Gotta Hold On Me”), the 2014 revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s internationally successful play presents a story of continued relevance in 21st century America, that of a still existent racial prejudice toward African-American citizens. While this play will most definitely not produce “good feelings,” it will produce necessary ones. “A Raisin in the Sun” closed in mid-June; however, it’s never too late to read a classic, and this production was a reminder of that.

El Insomnio Americano (The American Insomnia) (We Can’t Stop by Miley Cyrus)
No twerking to be found in the dramedy about the struggles of immigrants from all over Latin America but, as these characters (singlehandedly portrayed by Saulo Garcia) attempt to uncover the meaning of the American dream, they instead realize the restlessness and unending greed of a land that is less than opportunistic. At the Gramercy Arts Theatre, “Insomnio” is showing until September 14, 2014.

Shuffle to your heart’s content.