Culture February: Plays, Music, and More to Beat the Cold

So long, it’s been a few weeks since the last entry. Not only have I fought with sincere polar vortex allergy but also a hiatus of procrastination and lots of demotivation. Well, it looks like this dreary, bleary, cold winter is almost coming to an end – a fact that makes me sad and happy all at once. In regards to a spring awakening, I am hoping to catch up on a few events that have been happening lately.

Carnegie Hall us

I’ve deemed February my most important culture month so far. These past 4 weeks have been not only the coldest of our NYC winter but also culturally the most appealing.

It all started off with watching my friend Shubhra’s play in Chinatown/ Soho. Romeo and Juliet – A Bollywood Love Story was an inspiring, humorous, and also dramatic version of the Shakespearean classic. Together with another theatre director, Shubhra has founded the theatre company Hypokrit Theatre and this was the company’s very first play. What better stage than NYC itself? I’m staying tuned for future plays and/ or different locations.

Romeo and Juliet (courtesy of iPhone)
Romeo and Juliet (courtesy of iPhone)

The same week, I saw one of the most inspiring photo talks up to this date. Paul Nicklen gave his speech “Spirit of the Wild” at the newly opened NYU Skirball. Nicklen has gained popularity as a wildlife photographer for National Geographic, specializing in the cold climate zones. He is considered an influential activist when it comes to preserving (Arctic and Antarctic) wildlife throughout the world. Not only did I enjoy hearing his life story – having grown up on one of the most secluded parts of the arctic called Baffin Island and being fluent in the Inuit language – but I also enjoyed listening to someone whose sole purpose is to change the world around us. Not just for the good of fame or advertising but for the sincere and intent purpose of the preservation of wildlife in the most remote corners of our world. His speech has been a deeply longed- for wake-up call this month and has caused my interest in photography to shift towards the cooler parts of Earth. I’d love to spend more time in those nifty corners, even though unjustified mass tourism is causing problems in remote areas such as Antarctica. I guess an upcoming trip to Iceland is certainly a good start.

Spirit of the Wild via Paul Nicklen
Spirit of the Wild via Paul Nicklen

Just a week later, my dear friend Wendy invited me to yet another great event: A multi-cultural concert at Carnegie Hall! A premiere for me, as well, since I had never set foot into it in the almost 5 years I’ve lived in the city of New York. How great my surprise was when Wendy escorted us up to the balconies. Not any balcony though, but the one RIGHT NEXT to where usually the composers and directors sit. Yes, you’ve guessed it – this translates into: Almost the best seats/ views in the house. The concerts “Two Cultures, One Dream” were two different sets with entirely different composers. Xian Xinghai introduced “The Yellow River Cantata” which deals mostly with communism of the early 20th century in China. The second was a premiere for Carnegie Hall. Earnestine Rodgers Robinson introduced “Exodus” with a strong choir and great narrators. The religious background to the story deals with the Israelites during Moses’ time and their generation-like journey to the Promised Land.

Best seats at Carnegie Hall
Best seats at Carnegie Hall

Then, just last week I saw a free (!) concert at Lincoln Center. The Daedalus Quartet was transforming the David Rubinstein Atrium into a musically appealing concert hall for the duration of one hour. With some fine violin tunes and passionate quartet power, I was once again blown away by the power of classical music. While I had been to various auditoriums of Lincoln Center in the past, I had never gotten a freebie before. During one of the coldest months of the year, this treat seemed extra special and deeply cherishable.

From there, I made the trek up to the Upper West Side. Unfortunately, this is an area of Manhattan I seldom go to, especially on the so far coldest night of the year. An acquaintance of mine was playing the trumpet at the legendary Smoke Jazz & Supper Club in the city and I didn’t want to miss out on it. Wayne Tucker put up a great show together with his ensemble and it turned out to be quite an event. Despite the bouncer gave everyone an attitude and didn’t let me in till approx. 10:30pm, I was still able to enjoy about one hour of music luxury – all for free.

Some Jazz at the Smoke Club
Some Jazz at the Smoke Club

Another actress friend is currently performing in quite a play down in Tribeca at Here Arts Center. “You on the Moors Now” deals with feminist reactions and women saying no as interpretation of Jane Austen’s plays. This great piece of art still runs throughout February 28th and I’d highly recommend it to anyone interested in amazing acting. The play is around 1 1 /2 hours long and has no intermission – so get your snack attack on before.

You on the Moors Now
You on the Moors Now

Last but not least, I got to see some solid comedy! Just yesterday, Aasif Mandvi gave some insight into his book “No Land’s Man” at Words bookstore in Jersey City. The Indian actor/ comedian/ writer has gained fame especially through the Daily Show and he shared some funny anecdotes and jokes about his time in the US and especially throughout his acting life.

New York – how I love that there is always so much going on. If you really want to experience some great cultural events here, all you need is a bit of time, some planning, and perhaps a few dollars. But unlike most people assume, lots of events are low-cost or even for free. Even during the winter months. Some of my future goals in regards to culture include seeing a ballet, finally going to an event at the Barclay’s Center (what use is it to live in its vicinity?), and listening to some fine tunes at the BAM. We will see how much of those I accomplish.

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3 thoughts on “Culture February: Plays, Music, and More to Beat the Cold

  1. […] Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to see some great photography presentations. NYU has been hosting two photo talks sponsored by NatGeo in February and March – both of which have captured my interest and awakened some new passions. NYU Skirball is a performing arts center, which holds a variety of several great events throughout the year. NYU faculty and students obviously receive discounts on their events. I don’t belong to neither but a friend of mine had heard about events scheduled by NatGeo and Canon, featuring top photographers. […]

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