Sruti Kanthan

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Member Since May 31, 2015


Last Login Date Mar 8, 2016

United States

Total Login 55

1. asl - american sign language

2. fashion

3. mythology

4. philosophy

5. Singing

6. teaching

7. Violin

8. writing

Sruti Kanthan posted in interest 'Literature & Mi...'
Here is an article featuring two different experiences—one being mine, and one being Youngbin Yoon’s –at Sleep No More, an immersive Broadway experience that presents Macbeth in a way that…

Sruti Kanthan posted in interest 'Music'
sorry for a) the double-post and b) the botched lyrics, but here's a riff-influenced snippet of a cover of John Lennon's Imagine. Hope you guys like it!

Sruti Kanthan posted in interest 'Music'
Playing a medley on the fiddle: Shadowfax/Bees' Wax & Sheepskin/Popcorn Behavior…

Sruti Kanthan posted in subinterest 'Media' Do you believe that cultural appropriation is a real issue that needs to be taken…

Sruti Kanthan posted in interest 'Music' Traditional Irish Folk -- Violin and Mandolin Merry Maids of Castlebar reel

Sruti Kanthan posted in subinterest 'TheHOBMOB Story...'
This question is right up there in difficulty with the likes of questions “what is the meaning of life” and “do I feel like birthday cake ice cream or fudge”--all are nearly impossible to…
Sruti Kanthan
Sruti Kanthan posted in interest 'Literature & Mi...'

Here is an article featuring two different experiences—one being mine, and one being Youngbin Yoon’s –at Sleep No More, an immersive Broadway experience that presents Macbeth in a way that turned out to be quite surprising. Have you been to Sleep No More? Do you note some interesting contrasts/similarities in these accounts? Do share :--)

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Sleep No More. Admitted for free on the auspices of my friend Sarah who is a current stage manager for the show, I showed up that night excited and completely unwitting. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, Sleep No More is a site specific, interactive theatre piece of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Basically, all of the characters of Macbeth interact with each other in live time, throughout a building. If scenes were written to occur simultaneously but in difference parts of the fictional world, they do. The audience members must choose which characters to follow and consequently, no one views the same show.

So as to not ruin the surprise for anyone who goes to the show after reading this, I’ll only share a few of the many memorable events that transgressed that night. My personal favorite involved the character Mrs. De Winter. I didn’t know it at the time, but the show has expanded to include other stories besides Macbeth. The one I was most involved with was Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca. Mrs. De Winter is the main character of that story, with which I was totally unfamiliar during the time of the show. ). I was fortunate enough to be chosen for the one-on-one with Mrs. De Winter.
If you get lucky, the actors will choose you to interact with on a one-on-one basis. During this time, they remove your mask and actually speak with you (the rest of the show is conducted without words). Mrs. De Winter pulled me into her room and closed the door behind me. After removing my mask, she pushed me into the closet with her and everything went dark. She delivered a monologue involving the biblical book of Revelations, during which she moved so that her voice sounded distant, then near, then to the left, then to the right, etc. It was a peculiarly perturbing, yet engrossing and exciting experience. At the end of the monologue, she gave me a kiss on the cheek and a locket which I was allowed to keep.

A separate one-on-one I was privy to involved some of the minor characters of Macbeth. So as to not ruin the surprise, I won’t name which ones. This experience was very different than the one with Mrs. De Winter. Instead of delivering a monologue, they performed an interrogation. But this interrogation was performed entirely without words and was in the form of a light show. Using a classic low hanging light that is often accompanied with interrogation scenes, the actors weaved in and out of sight as the light swung back and forth. It was a captivating performance to watch!
My time at SNM was focused on the more minor characters of the show, and consequently I avoided mentioning the more famous events of the show that everyone sees. I’m constantly told, and can personally attest to the fact that, there are a plethora of things to see. So much so that multiple viewings of the show won’t be enough to see everything. There were entire portions of the set that I didn’t know existed at all, and only discovered when I briefly worked there over my winter break. I highly recommend the experience to everyone, especially those who aren’t warm to theatre. It’s an experience in itself!

I found out about Sleep No More through my friend Panya. She said she’d heard fantastic things about it and was very keen to check it out; Panya knew that I was an ardent Shakespeare fan and figured that I would be interested in going with her. Of course, Macbeth was among the Shakespeare plays that I hadn’t yet read (for shame, I know), so I was unsure about whether I should go if I didn’t have a strong grasp of the plotline and the evolution of the characters. My friend assured me that she wasn’t all too familiar with Macbeth either, so we were in the same boat and could revel in our relative ignorance together.

I decided to abstain from searching up too much information about the show beforehand, should the spoilers potentially dull the actual experience—all I knew going in was that the performance was immersive and interactive, took place in the five-floored McKittrick Hotel, there were masks involved, and there was a charge for bags (pockets, people, pockets).
We waited in line for no more than ten minutes before we were let in; we realized that the show takes place in rotations, and we were entering at the start of the ~7:30 rotation. The first thing I thought upon walking in was that the lighting was extremely, extremely dim—though I don’t have a fear of the dark, I have a fear of faceplanting when I can’t see anything in front of me. Thankfully, Panya was somehow able to prevent me from hurting others—or myself—even if there were a couple of close calls.

Once bags were checked in, we were each given a playing card; the suit didn’t matter, but we were to make note of the number. Next, a host led us into the bar—it was decorated in 1920s-jazz style and was, of course, dimly lit. We were encouraged to go get drinks and wait until the number of our card was called, at which point we’d follow that group. Interestingly enough, the bartenders carded neither me nor Panya—you be the judge of the morality of that situation and how I then chose to act, but I can now say that absinthe tastes better than I expected it to.

Soon enough, my number, 9, was called. Panya had the number 10, but she chose to stay with me since I was carrying her phone—and her wallet and my phone and my wallet. All in the two pockets of my dress, to avoid a $4 bag charge. Please hold your applause ‘til the end of this story.
A woman in a slip-dress led us into an elevator and set us free into the labyrinth of stairs and corridors. The group dispersed with various people choosing to pursue whatever captured their interest. Panya and I were immediately drawn to a room filled with lit fir trees and were soon confronted by Macbeth himself. He was writhing on the floor, scaling the walls, staring mournfully into the distance before finally approaching Panya and cupping her face in his hands and whispering something into her ear. After a second or two, he took off and most of the crowd followed him, with some people opting to explore other areas instead.

Soon after, we found ourselves in what appeared to be Macbeth’s bedroom. He and his wife were engaging in a silent but unmistakable argument—there was a bathroom filled with a mysterious red liquid in the center of the room, and there was a bed on the side. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth leapt from corner to corner, dressing and undressing each other, until both parted and the audience chose one for them to follow.

We encountered the three witches and another man that I couldn’t identify—they performed a synchronized series of movements and consumed some drinks before disbanding. The voyeuristic effect created by the masks was intense, and the actors behaved as though the audience was both present and invisible. They would bump into viewers and stare right through them, but also approach a lucky one and engage him or her—when Panya and I visited a detective who suspected that his lover may have been cheating on him, he suddenly grabbed Panya, gave her an egg, and pulled her into a room where nobody else was allowed to follow. I was worried now because I had no way of reaching Panya, but I was now able to experience the show in the way that it was apparently intended—individually.

For the remainder of the time I was there, I found myself in a room with a maze constructed from tree branches, a floor that was made to look exactly like a mental hospital, a telephone booth with rotary phones, an abandoned graveyard, a powder room with holy water, a strobe-light-lit room in which a naked man was showering, a room with padded walls, several abandoned bedrooms, a darkroom, a room full of letters and clouds hanging from the ceiling, rooms that I was forbidden from entering for reasons unknown to me, among many other areas. I ran from floor to floor, corridor-to-corridor, intent on finding secret passages or a character that would single me out. Eventually, I found myself watching the entire cast eating a meal over an enormous table—I decided that at this point, I should find Panya and so I went back to the bar.

Here, she and I listened to a very talented lady sing jazz and swing music; Panya gave me an intro to swing-dancing, and we had a lot of fun even though my lack of dance-specific coordination proved to be an obstacle here and there. Before we left, I was confronted by a tarot-reader and, though I’m a skeptic, I decided that getting my fortune told for once couldn’t do much harm. We had a great time talking about the show and the reader’s experience on it.

Overall, I had a fantastic time—I learned later on that there was a whole lot that I hadn’t seen, but the only way to fix this would be to come back and view the show at least one or two more times. Maybe this will happen in the future, but for now, I have plenty of memories of the experience to keep me going.

Sruti Kanthan
Sruti Kanthan posted in interest 'Music'

Traditional Irish Folk -- Violin and Mandolin
Merry Maids of Castlebar reel

Sruti Kanthan
Sruti Kanthan posted in subinterest 'TheHOBMOB Story...'

This question is right up there in difficulty with the likes of questions “what is the meaning of life” and “do I feel like birthday cake ice cream or fudge”--all are nearly impossible to answer, let alone tackle in a succinct manner. I figured that I'd give it a go anyway and peel away at the layers of knowledge retained from various passages, as it would probably be something of a travesty to not do so when surrounded by some of the greatest literature ever produced (greetings from Stratford upon Avon :-)

The books that come to mind when considering which was singularly most influential in my life are: Holes by Louis Sachar, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder, and The Difficulty of Being Good by Gurucharan Das– Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut and The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell were close contenders, but given that they're short stories I figured that they're probably out of the running--this made the process of elimination just the slightest bit easier.

Like Vidushi, I feel that a “timeline approach” is best suited for answering this question in a way that is representative of the dynamic, evolving perspectives that come with the process of growing up. According to my mom, I enjoyed reading the Magic Treehouse book series when I was about four or five—these books were influential in that they inspired the beginnings of a very strong sense of wanderlust that would continue through til present.

The Harry Potter series, the next stop on the timeline, was endlessly fascinating—my school's librarian at the time, Mrs. Schulmann, insisted that I read aloud and interpret the first two pages of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone” before checking it out because she didn't believe that any student in my grade would be able to comprehend its meaning. At the time, this incident was unpleasant for me to rehash, but in hindsight it fosters pleasant feelings associated with the adventure, fantasy, and humor that made Harry Potter such an integral part of how I came to experience the world. If I wasn't a dreamy-idealist-writer pre-Potter, there's no doubt that I was post-Potter.

Around age 11 was when I was introduced to Sophie's World, and I can say with much conviction that this is the most life-changing book that I've ever encountered. Almost ten years later, I can quote certain passages and visualize exchanges between characters. Sophie's World is about a girl whose relatively mundane, sheltered life is turned upside down when she receives lessons in philosophy in the mail from an anonymous teacher. Author Jostein Gaarder describes at one point through these letters how when people are born, they start out at the tip of the rabbit's fur (the rabbit here being one that resides in a magician's hat). As we all grow, however, we descend further and further into the fur until we are essentially blinded or indifferent to stimuli around us. He cites an example: Billy and his mother are eating breakfast in the kitchen with Billy's father. Billy is two, and he is enjoying his meal while his mother enjoys hers. All of a sudden, Billy's father begins to float up out of his chair and is suspended above the table, placid as ever. Billy's mother starts and nearly faints—she thinks she has lost her mind. Billy looks up adoringly at his father and laughs. After all, he sees “crazy” things constantly—flashing images on big screens, new sounds and smells every day—how is he to know that this phenomenon is any less unusual? Billy's mother has receded into the fur, convinced of the workings of the world as she knows it, while Billy's mind is fresh and malleable. Of course, this scenario is extreme, but it brings to light a very real issue—people becoming closed-off in their own little bubbles, tenaciously clinging to what they know without entertaining alternative perspectives or opening themselves up to enjoying the simple pleasures that are eventually taken for granted. Upon reading this, I resolved to, as far as possible, not allow myself to hide within the rabbit's fur.

Sophie's World also introduced me to astronomy/astrophysics: “Yes, we too are stardust”... “We are looking two million years back in time when we gaze up at the Andromeda galaxy in the sky—if someone up there is looking down at us right now, they'd be lucky to see a few Neanderthals”. These ideas were totally foreign to me and piqued my curiosity and imagination in ways that I never expected. I became aware of the juxtaposition of my own relative insignificance compared to the grandness of the universe, with how important it is for me to remain in touch with my surroundings and commit my life to philosophical inquiry.

It's this love for philosophy (and my grandmother's recommendation :) that led to my reading “The Difficulty of Being Good”, not even a week ago. This book investigates dharma and morality, focusing on the question “why should one be “good”? Gurucharan Das addresses these concepts in and of themselves and explores their application in the Mahabharata. He also, creatively, explores defining characteristics of major characters in the epic and demarcates chapters in this way—Duryodhana's envy, Krishna's guile, Arjuna's despair, Draupadi's courage, Karna's status-anxiety, and Yudhistira's wisdom are some sections that come to mind.

As I read Gurucharan's work, I couldn't help but hear Thathi's voice painting pictures with her words— Batman and Superman seemed to pale and cower in comparison to the great heroes of the Mahabharata. My grandmother narrated the epic to me, from memory, several times throughout my childhood and I couldn't get enough of it. The stories within stories within stories created a fantastic labyrinth that I was more than happy to get lost within and return to whenever I wanted to feel even closer to my Indian roots.

So, why exactly was this book influential? The author unabashedly discusses the shortcomings and moral hypocrisy present in the behavior one of the most crucial players in the literature—Krishna. Gurucharan's nerve, his commitment to prioritizing freedom of expression over fear of reception, was admirable and took me outside my comfort zone. He tackled every character in this way –but in addition to explaining why he believes each central character acted in the way that he or she did, he planted the cherry on top by alluding to Greek epics as well—his comparisons of Draupadi to Andromache and Yudhistira to Odysseus were striking and novel. As an ardent fan of both Indian and Greek mythologies, I appreciated his comparing and contrasting Eastern and Western philosophies—both of which are near and dear to me.

That concludes this ramble—I didn't even realize how much these texts had influenced my thinking until I received this prompt. Curious to see how other books might impact my thinking in the future!

Sruti Kanthan
Sruti Kanthan posted in subinterest 'Media'

Do you believe that cultural appropriation is a real issue that needs to be taken seriously, or a benign eventuality?