(Photo by Jason Smith)
Navigating the launch
A weekend festival marks the official launch of the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts.
I was surprised when I stepped into the Logan Center this past Friday and felt, for the first time, familiarity. Though this weekend witnessed three days of seemingly endless and overlapping programming that marked the official launch of the Logan Center, I realized I’d already been within the walls of that sleek and shiny tower so many times that the “launch” felt more like a homecoming. But that didn’t stop me from taking the opportunity to explore just a bit more. Friday 2:20 p.m. After logging a few hours in class and at the library, a couple of friends and I gathered on the quad to trek over to Logan. We arrived just in time to hear eccentric vocals emanating from the courtyard, which was enclosed by a large white tent. We caught a snippet of half-sung, half-spoken lyrics: “I am a quiet drinker, and I hardly make a noise!” Jewish cabaret: My first encounter. 2:35 p.m. We didn’t see the entirety of the theatrical—and thoroughly entertaining—performance by the New Budapest Orpheum Society, as I was hoping; instead, we went to listen to creative writing students read their theses in the ninth-floor performance penthouse. I arrived five minutes late, and the first student, Peter Boucher, ’13, was already reading his fiction piece. I took a seat in the back and soaked in the cool ambiance of the wood-paneled space. 2:45 p.m. “Today’s my 21st birthday,” announced Eli Edelson, ’13, “and I can’t think of a better way to be celebrating it.” Edelson presented two pieces, a poem and a nonfiction account of his experiences hunting with his father. Edelson’s lively storytelling, peppered with expletives, energized a sedate audience. 3:20 p.m. Raghav Rao, ’13, was last. Creative writing professor Vu Tran read his bio: “Raghav Rao is a fourth-year majoring in English literature in the College. He’s the nominal president of the University’s cricket club. His interests include Ping-Pong and long walks in the rain.” Approaching the podium, Rao grinned and said, “I really do like Ping-Pong.” His story, of course, was titled, “Ping-Pong in Barcelona.” 3:40 p.m. We wandered down and out after the reading and found ourselves on the third-floor DelGiorno Terrace. As I stood overlooking the tented courtyard, light notes floated up from below; through the clear plastic of the tent, I could see the Ransom Notes, a coed a cappella group, on stage. A breeze, warmed by the sun, carried the song to us. Saturday 4:30 p.m. The next day, a youth storytelling event, led in part by the Logan Center community partnerships manager Emily Hooper Lansana, drew me to the east theater. Vocalist Zahra Glenda Baker, Lansana’s other half in the performance duo In the Spirit, stepped on stage. “I’m a song leader, which means I hate singing alone.” The audience, comprised mostly of kids, didn’t need any convincing to sing along. 4:40 p.m. The storytellers, ages 6 to 17, introduced themselves on stage. There were eight storytellers in all, with some performing in groups or pairs, one incorporating song, and all—even a self-professed serious story “for the adults”—were undeniably fun. 10:20 p.m. Later that night, I returned to the ninth-floor penthouse for a performance presented by the Hyde Park Jazz Society. The space at night was entirely transformed. The smooth jazz of Miguel de la Cerna, Ari Brown, Harrison Bankhead, and Ernie Adams enveloped the capacity crowd, and the wall glowed a patchy orange in the dangling lights. I sat back once more, and let it all sink in.