Tuesday, July 26, 2016

NAI Does Dombey With Style! Our Year of Study!

Media Advisory: 
Bringing Down the House (of Dombey)!: Dickens Day & Night Comes to South LA!

Los Angeles, May 31, 2016
Photos by Belinda Coronado & Jaileane Aguilar
More Photos at House of Dombey Photo Album or see our slideshow!  
Mauricio as Dombey, Kimberly as Edith. Center, Angela as Mrs. Skewton and Antonio as "Withers"

Victoria as "Angel of the House" Bride in
 "Here Comes the Bride" Fashion Show

Fashion Show Models of House of Dombey (in the "Manager" outfits) 

Mauricio Garcia (17) wed Kimberly Mejia (17) for their AP English Literature final.  The nuptials (theatrical) cinched their A, given their leading roles in House of Dombey, a performance-art showcase based on Charles Dickens’s novel, Dombey and Son.  As Mr. Dombey and Edith Granger, Garcia, Mejia and their peers told the novel’s story (the doomed marriage of a Victorian patriarch and his redemption  through the love of his daughter) in an evening of scenes, literary themed fashion shows and art projects. The showcase culminated Foshay’s annual Dickens Day & Night where seniors invited their campus and community to their “final examination”: teaching eight graders about the notion of the domestic sphere  with origami art, asking eleventh graders to create a chalk “track” to symbolize mobility-themed quotes, inciting multiple guests to challenge gender norms for ideal “husbands and wives” by proposing the qualities of an ideal “partner.”  Seniors also served cups of Earl Grey and English Breakfast to over two hundred visitors at a Grand Victorian Tea, where guests’ service included personalized doilies inscribed with Victorian slang (Skilamalink – shady or dubious; “Sling a slobber” – “To kiss) and excerpts from Victorian etiquette books (“Ladies do not expect visitors before two, nor after five”).  A glittering collaborative mural invited visitors to respond  one of the novel’s resonant questions: What is money? A live twitter feed brought brought Dickensian learning to the world wide web, while a roving podcast-er recorded as many Foshay students and staff reading sentences from the first chapter of the novel for their blog.  All seniors also created mixed-media sculptures, reassembling miniature chairs to represent characters, quotes or themes, and some of the most creative ones (artfully distressed, a seat of thumbtacks, a hybrid train-chair) were snapped up guest bidders. Student projects continually referenced chairs and doilies to highlight the novel’s genre. As an example of domestic fiction, these reconstructed symbols  provoked guests to think through simple household objects and reimagine the messages encoded within them.  The evening showcase featured four fashion shows which incorporated student stilters and “bricolage” outfits, students satirizing the concept of  “marriage market” by staging an auction of vibrantly imagined “animals” in original face paint and formal wear; dramatized materialism in frozen tableaus of moneyed and disaffected aristocracy, contrasted competing models of femininity: “angel of the house” brides facing off with their creatively-shod  and black bouquet wielding “new woman”counterparts.  An army of “managers” representing the novel’s villain, James Carker (played by Jose Sandoval, 17), alternately marched and convulsed while sporting elaborate hyperbolized boutinooers representing his repressed ambitions.  A cast of students brought Dickens’ famously eccentric characters to life, from the conniving Major Bagstock (played by Ashley Navarro, 16) to the aging but determined flirt, Cleopatra Skewton (played by Angela Juarez, 17).  Student musicians composed music and arranged versions of eclectic songs from Mendelssohn’s Wedding March to Pink Floyd’s Money.   It was a remixed, recycled and revolutionary twenty-first century take on, well, reading a novel.  As a senior said, I never thought a final, well, learning, could be this much fun.”
Adrian and Georgia at the "Domesticity" station: The Chair Exhibit and Origami!
Angela breaking down gender expectations according to the
Victorian patriarchy to incoming juniors.
Tea Servers! "Earl Grey is a light afternoon tea scented bergamot,  a fragrant citrus..."

“I wonder what Dickens would make of your clever 21st century take on his story if he was sitting in the Foshay Grand Theatre as I was on the night of May 24th 2016? I think he would wowed as I was by the weaving in and out of dance, costume, music, and selections of dialogue that brought essence of his novel to life. I found the whole production thrilling. It went by so fast and I didn’t want it to end. Choreography…drove the point home of how wealth and power can corrupt human beings. The vacuous and mean expressions….the carnival-like way they pranced pathetically…I couldn’t resist bidding and winning two fantastically decorated chairs!” Read this wonderfully detailed review from one of our honored guests….Your production will live on in my memory for a long time. It left much to ponder about the universal implications of the story….so true today as it was when Dickens wrote it.”  Read the rest of the wonderfully detailed review about the show and individual actors by one of our lovely guests. 
Anika as the Peacock in the "Marriage Market" 

“….After all this I now see a different side of things and the real message Dickens was trying to get across. Initially I had thought the novel was a conservative, but now I see the radical side of it, whether it’s from the scenes performed for the show or the different takes my classmates used to design their chairs….I enjoyed the experience…I never thought a final, well, learning, could be this much fun.” Student Reflection 

View footage of the show!

Jacqueline Jean Barrios

This project was supported by an Exploring the Arts grant. 
Previous media on our work on Dickens and the  Dickens ProjectLos Angeles TimesNPR , Dickens Project-NAI Mini Documentary 

Publicity Collateral/ Dickens Day and Night 2016

Flyer Design by Belinda Coronado, Senior, AP English 

"Papa, what is money?” 
Foshay Learning Center AP English seniors, in collaboration with the USC NAI Theater Workshop, invite you to the House of Dombey on May 24 2016: a night of theater, fashion & art based on Charles Dickens’s novel, Dombey and Son and directed by Jacqueline Jean Barrios and Paul David Story.  The show will culminate our annual Dickens Day to be held at Foshay’s campus. 

Dombey and Son:
Charles Dickens’ 1848 novel presents the story of Mr. Paul Dombey, Sr., a wealthy Victorian patriarch whose only son and heir, Paul Jr., dies in early childhood. The novel condemns Mr. Dombey for his active hatred and rejection of his daughter, Florence, whose survival he bitterly resents. His journey of deterioration and ultimate redemption enables the work to comment on the rise of industry, the changing roles of women and the profound importance of the domestic space. 

Dickens Day and Night:
Join us for tea! Meet the scholars and discuss the novel’s topic and characters: mobility, gender and domesticity through student designed interactive talks. View our “Chair Project” Art Exhibit and contribute to our blog launch: 830-1130AM at the Miami Room, Foshay Learning Center.
House of Dombey, our evening showcase, will feature live theatrical performances of scenes from the novel, live music and fashion shows inspired by the novel. 

Exploring the Arts A 501c3 nonprofit founded in 1999 by American singer Tony Bennett and his wife Susan Benedetto, a former public school teacher, the mission of Exploring the Arts (ETA) is to transform the lives of young people through arts education.  Through the ETA Arts Access Grant, students received arts education from our teaching artists: Paul David Story and Naom Barrett. 
USC NAI Theater Workshop  under the direction of Jacqueline Barrios and Paul David Story, aims to grow south LA students’ study of literature through the performing arts.  The workshop seeks to go beyond the limits of a traditional classroom to inspire a love of literature and learning.  
Dickens Project Founded in 1981 and headquartered at UC Santa Cruz, the Dickens Project is a research consortium of faculty and graduate students from major American and international universities. Member institutions include the University of Southern California, all the UC campuses, Stanford, Princeton, Yale, and NYU, among others. 
Read about our Dombey and Son intensive in partnership with the Dickens Project.
Students during the Dombey and Son Intensive in LA!

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