Living with Hope: experimental theater

The San Diego State theater department recently teamed up with Playwrights Project to stage “Living with Hope” in SDSU’s experimental theater from March 16-19. The performance consisted of two short plays: Mabelle Reynoso’s “Other People’s Kids” followed by Out of the Yard Playwrights’ “Finding Our Way.” Both plays centered on the cycle and struggles of addiction.

The first play was prefaced by a series of abstract and disturbing images, such as a detailed drawing of the Grim Reaper, projected onto the stage’s backdrop. The images were adorned with provoking phrases like, “Just another hit… euphoria setting in… lifeless here I die,” and “I did things no girl should dare.”

Photo by Julianna Ress.

“Other People’s Kids” featured interconnected stories related to meth use. Destiny Girley and Nick Sandoval played Gaby and Jesse, a young couple expecting a child. Gaby is an ex-meth user while Jesse is still using and selling, which leads to abusive behavior toward Gaby. Gaby attempts to get her life together for their child, and ultimately their breakup. Jake and Gaby’s story realistically displayed the pitfalls and manipulation that come from meth use and abusive relationships.

Alex DeMarco played Patty, mother to Brown University-bound teen daughter Mackenzie, played by Paige Jensen. Mackenzie, while an exceptional student, is a social outcast due to her fierce academic dedication. She turns to drugs looking for a feeling of normalcy. Obtaining meth through Jesse, she sacrifices her health and college plans because of the drugs, much to Patty’s dismay. Mackenzie’s story ends somewhat unresolved, as it remains unknown if she recovers from her addiction. However, amidst Patty’s disgust at what her daughter has become, she realizes that Mackenzie is still human and is suffering from a disease. The ambiguity of Mackenzie’s character arc reflects the uncertainties faced by addicts’ families – will she recover? Will she die? Will she spend her entire life on the streets? Mackenzie and Patty’s relationship was a heartbreaking and accurate display of the struggle to keep hope alive when parenting an addict.

“Finding Our Way” began immediately after the final scene of “Other People’s Kids” and was a much more abstract look at addiction. The play featured several reenactments of the characters’ first time using various drugs due to peer pressure, low self-esteem and curiosity. The most powerful scene was when a mother came home with a man, both clearly intoxicated, and proceeded to fight right in front of her daughter while three other characters attempted to shield the daughters’ eyes.

“Finding Our Way” stressed that there are better ways to treat addicts than incarceration, such as rehabilitation centers, therapy and meditation. The play stood firmly against jail time for drug-users, since those laws affect the families of addicts arguably more so than the addicts themselves.

The play additionally featured “addiction” personified, who goaded the other characters into doing drugs to attempt to catch the feelings they constantly chase. The characters would fall at the touch of the “addiction” character, depicting the immense power addiction has over their lives.

The performance as a whole portrayed addiction in two wildly different ways. “Other People’s Kids” presented the many lifestyles of drug addicts, emphasizing that drugs can find anyone. “Finding Our Way” offered a look into the addicts’ minds, and the options available and steps necessary to reach recovery. “Living with Hope” treated addiction effectively and realistically, and avoided going over the audience’s heads by being preachy or cheesy, as is often true of performances about drug addiction. The show was especially powerful and relevant to students, but the stories, as “Living with Hope” stressed, could relate to anyone.

Featured Image by Julianna Ress. 

Behind the Mic: Bri Marquez and Julianna Ress

Bri and Julianna in front of Student Services West.

The entertainment industry is made up of a variety of productions and artists that viewers eagerly enjoy. For fans, the fun also comes with breaking down the most recent episode of their favorite show, or last night’s concert. Bri Marquez and Julianna Ress host the show “Lights, Camera, Aztecs” every Monday night. And, it is all about what’s on TV. I met with both Bri and Julianna to see what kind of dynamic they bring to the air for another edition of Behind the Mic.

Bri, a communications major, told me their show opens up with a discussion about the most recent episodes of TV shows that they follow. The two cover reality TV heavily, with shows such as “The Bachelor” and “Survivor” making their way on air for opinions, break downs and predictions. Julianna added that the duo’s show is not so much a recap of what happened, but a thought-based conversation about what is to come in each show, as well as criticism. With shows such as “Survivor,” who is going to be eliminated next and why are consistent talking points on “Lights, Camera, Aztecs.” “We know its ridiculous, but we still indulge in it,” said Bri.

Julianna expanded, saying reality TV is culturally significant and because of that, says something about society.

“It’s almost more of a podcast,” said Julianna when talking about how opinionated the conversations can be on the show. The two had the band “Wussy” on their show a few weeks back and hope to bring more artists onto KCR. Bri mentioned that there is an appropriate amount of disagreement between her and Julianna, which makes for interesting debates on air.

Despite it being a show focused on television and other entertainment, politics can make its way into the conversations on Monday nights. “We’re not afraid to bring that into our show,” Julianna said. She said that, for example, they discussed the Academy Awards and how  politics affected what movie won best picture, “Moonlight” or “La La Land.”

“Its fun to think about why these things [reality television] are so important to us,” Julianna stated when talking about her favorite aspect of the show. The two hosts mentioned they both have revelations during their conversations that lead to new ways of thinking about characters and other aspects of shows.

Julianna, a journalism and media studies major, is a Senior Staff Writer at The Daily Aztec, SDSU’s campus newspaper. You can find her writing under the “Art & Culture” section, where she has covered student musicians and concerts, and conducted a Sage The Gemini interview.

Bri, minoring in counseling and social change, works with Best Buddies, an organization which is aimed at helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Bri is paired up with a girl who she visits a few times every month. Bri told me that currently, she has been working on reading and writing with her partner.

You can tune into “Lights, Camera, Aztecs” every Monday night at 8 p.m. on KCR College Radio.

In addition, you can find your favorite DJs on our KCR schedule.

Featured Image: Bri and Julianna’s friendship outside of the show complements their on air conversations. Photo by Sumner Shorey. 

6 International movies you should watch

Movies are a great way to escape your troubles. They transport you to the past and the future, or let you stay in the present. Movies allow you to visit foreign countries and get a glimpse of different cultures around the world, and let you enjoy amazing special effects. The beauty of international films, specifically, is that they give you an authentic look at these cultures, all while telling heartwarming, funny and entertaining stories. Below you will find six of my favorite international movies. Most of them can be found on Netflix or on Amazon.

1. The Beauty Inside

This South Korean film will make you laugh, cry and feel all the feels. It centers around a man who has a different body every time he wakes up (he can wake up as either gender). Except for his one friend and his mom who know his secret, he has no relationships with other people. Spoiler alert (minor): this is a love story, but if you’re not into that, you should still watch it. It’s really really good. You can find this movie on Netflix.

2. Amelie

This French film is quirky and funny, and you’ve probably already watched it on Netflix because it’s pretty well known. However, I still included it, for those people who have never heard of it. The movie is about Amelie, who finds a box of old toys inside the wall of her apartment, and decides to find the owner to return his childhood toys to him.

3. Instructions Not Included

This heartwarming film from Mexico is about a man who finds a girl left on his doorstep. While trying to find her mother, the two form a bond that changes them both for the better. This movie might make you cry; it made me cry a lot. However, it was still really funny and worth watching. You can find this movie on Netflix.

4. Whisper of the Heart

This Japanese animated film centers around a middle school girl who reads constantly. She starts to realize that all the books she’s reading have been read by the same person before her. While trying to find the person who’s name is written on all of these books, the girl begins to learn more about herself and what she hopes to achieve in life. While this movie is not on Netflix, you can find it on Amazon. It is also available at stores like Target and Walmart.

5. Life is Beautiful

This World War II era Italian film is about a Jewish-Italian family that gets split apart through concentration camps. Despite the serious theme of the movie, the film is still very comical and lighthearted – plus the little kid is adorable. This film is also unavailable on Netflix, but it is available to stream on Amazon Video.

6. Old Boy

This film is also a South Korean movie, however, it is a completely different genre than “The Beauty Inside.” If you’re into action or thriller movies, this movie is great! On his daughter’s birthday, a man is abducted and imprisoned in a hotel room. After being drugged and hypnotized for 15 years, he is finally let out. However, he still doesn’t know who is responsible for separating him from his daughter. Also, his kidnapper continues to control his life, outside of the hotel room. So, he decides to find this person and get revenge. “Old Boy” can be found on Netflix. Fun fact: this movie has an American remake from 2013.

 

In the Closet of: Ethan Kokesh

Meet Ethan:

Ethan Kokesh is originally from Los Angeles, but moved to Dallas, Texas, last year. He came back to sunny California this past semester to study business marketing here at SDSU. Ethan’s most listened to artists are Drake, Big Sean and Travis Scott. He hates country. His favorite food is mac-n-cheese, he loves acai bowls and he can’t stand Texan style. You can always catch Ethan at the beach, and he and his mom were in one episode of “The Real Housewives of Orange County”. In 10 years, you’ll find him living in either L.A. or San Fransisco, being a stay-at-home dad.

Where are your favorite places to shop?

Topshop, H&M, PacSun. I worked at Hollister for a year during my senior year of high school, so I like to think I know the ins-and-outs of how retail stores work. Those stores just meet my standards: their clothes are made of good quality [material], for the most part, and they’re affordable, which is important because I’m a broke college student.

What does your everyday outfit consist of?

A t-shirt, flannel, chino shorts and Converse. I like my colors to be monochromatic. I like the way it looks – it’s chic, sophisticated and mature.

You’ve lived in three different places this past year (Los Angeles, Dallas and San Diego). How has your style changed, or stayed the same?

My style has gotten more “beachy” since I came to San Diego. I still like my monochromatic look, but my style has evolved. I don’t necessarily mean that I wear less clothing when I say “beachy,” but there’s definitely more color in my closet. I wear more vintage, washed-out t-shirts, and I’ve branched out from Converse to Vans.

What are the biggest differences in style that you’ve noticed between California and Texas?

People in California are more dressy. They look more mature and put together. People in Texas dress more casual, with oversized t-shirts, running shorts and Chacos. I like California style better. I personally think it looks more attractive.

What are you favorite things to do in San Diego?

Going to the beach, exploring different neighborhoods, eating at In-N-Out and walking around downtown. You can find a lot a of cool, random places walking around Little Italy. My favorite restaurant is Cheesecake Factory – I always get their margherita pizza. I definitely recommend looking around North Park, Kensington and Hillcrest.

What is one thing no one really knows about you?

I hate when my shirt is the same shade as my shoes. If I have a white shirt on, I have to wear dark converse, and vice versa. I just think it looks weird when I’m too “matchy-matchy.”

Featured Image by Sabrina Kim.