Tag: Art

Hip-Hop Adaptation of Romeo and Juliet to Be Produced by Queen Latifah and Will Smith

Imagine a crowded arena filled with fans of hip-hop music. They await the arrival of some illustrious artist such as the Fresh Prince, DJ Jazzy Jeff, or Queen Latifah; but then, a scrawny emo kid takes the stage—it’s Romeo of house Montague. The beat drops…

In Northeastern Italy born and raised

Pining over love interests is how I spend most of my days

Stressin’ out cryin’ (eventually) dyin’ all cool

Reading some poetry outside of the school

When a couple of families that were up to no good

Started making trouble in my neighborhood

I stirred up one little feud and my mom got scared

She said ‘You’re gonna end up dying with that Capulet girl by the end of this play’

 

Image Via Rebloggy.com

 

No? Yeah, that was bad. What won’t be is the recently announced a hip hop musical adaptation of the William Shakespeare tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. Not taking place in West Philadelphia or  Northeastern Italy in the 14th century, this new take will feature a different and more contemporary setting. It is being described as “a contemporary, musical take on Romeo and Juliet set against the urban rhythms of New York. The love story follows a young waitress from the streets of Brooklyn and an aspiring musician from a wealthy family whose unconventional romance forces them to confront their life choices.”

 

This news comes via Variety which also reports that the project will be directed and written by Solvan “Slick” Naim—a much better rapper than I will ever be. The Algerian-American writer, director, and rapper hails from Bushwick, Brooklyn; Naim already has a comedy series on Netflix entitled “It’s Bruno” which premiered today. He will pen the script for the untitled R&J project with Dave Broome for everyone’s favorite streaming powerhouse.

 

Image Via Hollywoodreporter.com

 

Producing the film will be the Fresh Prince himself, William Smith along with Queen Latifah, Shakim Compere (Flavor Unit Entertainment), James Lassiter, and Caleeb Pinkett (Overbrook Entertainment).

 

Featured Image Via Billboard.com

'GoT' Showrunners, looking completely unperturbed

‘Game of Thrones’ Showrunners Nervous About Ending

And they should be.

Endings suck—especially when it comes to the conclusion of stories we love/loved. Sometimes stories are ruined by their less-than-spectacular final act. We read them for days and watch them for years as their inevitable finales approach, hoping our favorite characters go out in an appropriately cliché blaze of glory or meet a romantically tragic end. In a weird way, our favorite books, movies, and shows become a huge part of our lives—our own personal (REAL) narratives framing that of popular protagonists and their worlds. So, naturally, we fall in love with all of the underdogs, chosen ones, and antiheroes we spend time with. Maybe we even project unrealistic expectations onto the endings of their stories because we are afraid our own stories may not end so perfectly—however, let’s not think ourselves into an existential crisis.

 

Image result for ron swanson gif point

Image Via Gifer.com

 

But yeah, often, our expectations are not met. The epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was… a tonal shift? The Giver tapers off into ambiguity. Pennywise is a demon spider? WTF. Let’s not even discuss the endings to The Hunger Games Trilogy or the plethora of television shows that broke our hearts; yeah, I’m talking to you, How I Met Your Mother (Ted and Robin? Still?), The Sopranos, Dexter, and Lost. I suppose not every series can bow out as brilliantly as Breaking Bad. Well done W.W.

 

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Image Via Independent.co.uk

 

As we prepare for the Game of Thrones finale, based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (duh), the healthy thing to do is lower our expectations. If we do not, we risk the kind of dejection that will threaten every aspect of our lives as we re-watch/re-read the story wondering where it all went wrong. Making peace with inevitable disappointment will be beneficial for our hearts, souls, and more importantly—the well-being of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The showrunners of GoT will be frantically chain-smoking and stress eating upon finale night as they continuously check the interweb for words of praise or admonishment.

 

Image Via Deviantart.com by 1oshuart

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss talked with Entertainment Weekly regarding the final season of their show and any concerns they may have for its ending (among other things):

 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So here you are. The final season. How is it? Are you happy?

DAVID BENIOFF: It’s still too early to say.

DAN WEISS: It could end up being a complete mess.

 

David Benioff went on to further discuss the subject of endings… perhaps to avoid discussing the ending that looms?

“A good story isn’t a good story if you have a bad ending,” he said, a sentiment which we hope not to dismally remember later as a sign of foreshadowing. “Of course, we worry.”

He also didn’t think The Sopranos ending was that bad…

I’ve gotten into a lot of arguments with people about why that was a great ending, but people felt legitimately cheated and that’s their right to feel that way, just as it’s my right to feel like they’re idiots. I’m hoping we get the ‘Breaking Bad’ [finale] argument where it’s like, ‘Is that an A or an A+?’ I want that to be the argument. I just wish we found better directors for it.

The final season will air its last premiere episode this Sunday. Will Jon Snow defeat the Night King? Will Dany sit on the Iron Throne? Will their baby? Will Gendry? Buckle up… but don’t drive too fast (metaphorically?) We don’t know where this road ends up, and we don’t know if we’ll like it.

Closing musing: if the final season sucks, George R.R. Martin can (and most likely will) build a better conclusion in his forthcoming novels The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring. Perhaps this was the big guy’s plan all along—take his ending (which he has divulged to David and Dan) for a test run. All hail our Westerosi world builder.

 

Image Via Digitaltrends.com

 

Enjoy the lobster, my friend, you deserve it.

 

 

 

Featured Image Via Starwarsunderworld.com

 

Why Joel Coen Will Give Us the ‘Macbeth’ We’ve Been Waiting For

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player…”

My Shakespeare professor in college was a loud guy; he was also extraordinarily controversial. They’ve probably fired him from his third university by now, but that’s beside the point. On my first day of class with him, he warned us all that we would probably be offended at some point—he would run around the room quoting plays like Measure for Measure, The Merchant of Venice, King Lear, and Macbeth verbatim whilst taking scenes from those plays and applying them to recent news or daily experiences. Before him, Shakespeare was annoying and difficult—just early modern English nonsense.

Other teachers just focused on the plot points of William’s plays and brushed over the lyrical nuances of his words. Great art transcends time with eternal themes that strike deep through the heart of existential struggle. With subtly that is sometimes hilarious, over the top romance and gore, Shakespeare created plays that are still relevant to this day. I can only think of one pair of contemporary artists (not really) that so subtly tackle existential shit with ease: the Coen Brothers. This brings me to the news of how Joel Coen is set to direct Macbeth—courtesy of Variety.

 

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Image Via Everymantheatre.co.uk

 

Whenever I think of either of the Coen brothers, my mind wanders to their adaption of Cormac McCarthy’s novel No Country for Old Men. I feel it is appropriate to mention that film here because of its thematic ties to Macbeth. Greed is bad and it will ultimately lead to a destructive end unto itself. Macbeth chases power while the characters in No Country chase drug money—albeit for different reasons. In both tales, violence is the result of the chase. Now, I could easily draw some parallels between the character of Macbeth and Llewelyn or Lady Macbeth and Carla Jean, but instead I’m going to focus on some more OMINOUS scenes.

Early on in Macbeth, the titular character runs into three witches who throw a bunch of prophetic—mind-effing—jargon his way; unfortunate for him, ominous for us. It sets the character of Macbeth on his arc. Similarly, there’s an ominous scene early on in No Country where Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is cautioned by his wife Loretta (Tess Harper):

 

Loretta Bell: Be careful.

Ed Tom Bell: Always am.

Loretta Bell: Don’t get hurt.

Ed Tom Bell: Never do.

Loretta Bell: Don’t hurt no one.

Ed Tom Bell: [smiles] Well. If you say so.

 

Image result for no country for old men loretta bell

Image Via Mymeaningfulmovies.blogspot.com

 

I love that scene. Not just because it contains loads of macho nonsense (kind of) that makes me want to crush beer cans on my face, but also because of the subtle characterization that happens within it. The foreshadowing cements this character as someone who is about be involved with the plot but not ‘deathly’ involved. A narrator. A voice. A shadow.

The protagonist of McCarthy’s novel (more so than the film), Ed Tom Bell is the aging sheriff of Terrell County, Texas; he’s a bit of a jaded, yet hard-nosed character. Being an old-fashioned, ethical man, he finds it difficult adapting to all the violence, greed and corruption of society. He is the character the reader most identifies with… basically, he’s Shakespeare. If Shakespeare wrote himself into Macbeth, it would be as a jaded captain in Macduff’s army—as a character who sees the world as it is and is simply exhausted by it.

 

Image Via Ny Times

I’m exhausted by all the Macbeth adaptions we’ve had in the past. I’ve read the play numerous times and watched it at least a couple: the Mel Gibson version blew (or was that Hamlet?) and the Michael Fassbender one was eh. I didn’t expect to see or be excited about another adaptation anytime soon. Then I heard Joel Coen is going to try his hand at Shakespeare with the help of top tier talents like production company A24, Denzel Washington, and Francis McDormand. The long list of complex films that are (if this article is any indication) easily equatable with Shakespeare plays under his belt prove him more than capable of adapting the said source material. He must have something fresh, quirky, maybe even offensive up his sleeve—able to demolish prior stabs at Macbeth. Hopefully, he reinvigorates a new wave of WS enthusiasm. I will full-on seek it out upon its inevitable limited release. Maybe I’ll run into my unemployed professor in a darkened theater. I’ll throw popcorn at him.

 

Featured Image Via Empire Online.

A Homeless Man’s Coloring Book Pages Show Us Another Side of Creativity

A lesson for children and adults alike.

Healing, like creativity, is a process; there is no on/off switch. It flows like a river, sporadically obstructed by nature and chance. Shit happens—emotionally, spiritually, physically, we get hurt and we turn to various outlets to heal. People exercise, meditate, cleanse, float in some sort of sensory reduction tank (because apparently, that’s a thing), and others create. Regarding books, I do not mean to exclude the reader from this act of creation. There’s a well-known quote by Samuel Johnson circling our illustrious world wide web that says: “A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it.”

 

Look at that face, that’s a solid blue steel.
Image Via Wikipedia

 

The reader fills in all the blanks—I know this because of all the literary theory classes those college people made me take…Reading allows the human mind to escape the limitations our so-called realities place upon it. Creating is the same. In the moment, your creation feels like all that matters. But it’s still about more than just you.

A local news station in Cleveland recently did a piece on a homeless man who enjoys drawing as a means to cope with his own limitations. Eugene Sopher draws pages for a coloring book that, due to Sopher’s precarious financial situation, may never be published. To Sopher, that doesn’t matter.

 

 

“I do this drawing, and it’s medicine, baby,” said Sopher. “I’m in the zone. Not trying to mix it with drugs, but it’s the best high I’ve ever had.”

 

His lack of finances and exposure have led to some unconventional PR methods: he relies on strangers to make copies for him so that he may share is art with the world. The wide variety of pages he has created contain lessons for young and old alike. Some of his pictures warn about the dangers of gang violence or meeting strangers online, and others aim to simply put a smile on your face. Sopher, who suffers from depression and bipolar disorder, has not had an easy life. He has felt the weight of the world and the resulting discombobulation. At forty-four years young, he spends a good amount of time drawing uncolored pages so that he can escape any personal grimness and help his readers.

 

 

 

“I can do something because if they’re reading that, they can say, ‘You know what? That happened to me. Oh, you what know, I went through that,” said Sopher. “A lot of the reason I keep my cartoons in black and white is it gives you a chance to put color to them.”

 

Sopher’s story and art remind us that creativity is not some sort of commodity purchased in the restricted section of society. It’s not exclusively available to those deemed ‘intellectual.’ It’s part of all of us, a silver lining that bridges the gap between reality and perception, body and soul. Regardless of one’s age, race, or gender—whether it be the lawyer who journals in her free time or the homeless man who lives to doodle—we are all connected by imagination and our ability to create.

 

 

 

Images Via News5cleveland.com

The Stranger Project Exhibits Hand-Written Stories from Across the Country

An exhibition of handwritten stories has opened in New York City. The gallery is welcoming your stories and will share its display on social media (Facebook: strangerproject, Instagram: @strangersproj). The reception is closed until January 3rd but the exhibition is opened until the 5th.

Submit your story in person (since it’s the only way to go about this process) at 702 9th Avenue! Also, there are unscheduled story collecting pop-ups happen several times a week and can be discovered through Instagram.

 

Image Via Strangersproject.com

 

Image Via Strangersproject.com

 

Brandon Doman, the founder and creator of this artistic project, has taken the Strangers Project across the country, visiting over 80 cities, collecting tens of thousands of stories, and setting up exhibitions in a variety of spaces. He decided to do something about his curiosity in 2009 and transform it to a safe space for expression. From the openness of city parks and libraries, to the intimacy of small classrooms, exhibitions of the Strangers Project are scalable and interactive story-sharing spaces. He’s often works with businesses, schools, festivals, and individuals to bring these stories to different communities.

 

Image Via Strangersproject.com

 

 

More information about The Stranger Project:

 

“Do you ever see a stranger and wonder… What’s it like being you?”

 

I’ve been asking that question for the past ten years and have received more than 40,000 hand-written, true, and anonymous answers. Whether about love or loss, joy or fear, what they all have in common is an honest voice of the human experience. These stories offer a brief glimpse into the intimacies of everyday lives, bridging meaningful connections between strangers. By creating a place for stories, we create space to understand each other and ourselves.

 

We’re living in a time where the differences between us are magnified. I believe that what starts as a simple act of living can be a profoundly transformative experience. Exploring the lives of the people we share space with every day shows us how wonderfully human we all are. These stories engage strangers of all ages and backgrounds to reflect, rejoice, heal and connect through words.

 

Image Via Photo: Edis Rune

 

Brandon Doman explains it further:

 

The Strangers Project is a celebration of the stories we’re surrounded with every day—both from the strangers we share our space with every day, and our own stories we carry. It’s about a connection with ourselves, with people around us, and something greater than ourselves.

 

I create spaces where people can discover stories, and if they choose, share their own. None of the stories in the project are submitted online or through the mail—each is from a passerby I met that took a moment to share with me. The stories come from all ages, all walks of life.

 

I share stories from the collection daily and continue to collect new stories across the country.

 

Every story is collected in person—stories are not mailed in or submitted online. The Strangers Project is based in NYC, but I also take the Strangers Project to as many cities as I can stories are shared from all ages and all walks of life.

 

In 2015, Damos published a collection of handwritten stories, What’s Your Story?: True Experiences from Complete Strangers (The Strangers Project).

 

Image Via Amazon

 

After going through all of this, what comes to mind when you ask yourself, ‘What’s it like being you?’ Answer that question at the exhibition while you can! If you want to support the non-profit, then donate here! You don’t even have to share a story about yourself, there are so many stories you can just read!

 

Image Via Strangersproject.com

 

Image Via Facebook

 

 

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