Everybody Reaction

Our class went to go see the play called “Everybody”. This play was written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.  Branden Jacob-Jenkins did a modern day rewrite of the play  “Everyman”. “Everyman” was a play in the middle ages that had mainly the same characters as “Everybody”. For example “Everyman” had characters such as God, Death, Everyman(Everybody), Cousin, Beauty, Strength and so on. These characters is a personification of themes played by humans. This is what makes the play so interesting. Another thing that makes this play so interesting is the fact that they do a lotto before every show to see which characters will play who. So that every time you go see the show you see a different show.

In this play the character “Everybody” is going to die and before she dies death gives her one chance to take somebody with her. She goes looking for someone or something but nobody goes with her except love and all the bad things she done. This shows her that in life she wasn’t as close to the people she thought she was close too, and things shouldn’t meant so much to her because it was just material. She wasn’t allowed to take her things with her as well which made her realize that it shouldn’t have been so important. This is where I really connected with the play.

I really enjoyed the play. For one reason that I enjoyed the play is because I was able to experience something that I would have never done if I didn’t do it with my class. It made me want to be a more open-minded person. Not only that but the play had a interesting topic that made me look at life in another point of view. This play made me realize how sometimes people take life for granted. I was also able to connect with the play. Some things that “everybody” was going through I also went through something similar which kept my interest and attention.

 

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Everybody reaction

Before the play” Everybody” started, I was so excited and wondering how it performed, because this is my first to watch a play. And the writer is Braden Jacobs-Jenkins, who The New York Times calls “one of this country’s most original and illuminating writers.” When I was thinking about it, a female who in a blue T-shirt right before my eyes. She introduced a little bit about the policy for watching this play in this place, and she talked the literary history of the play.  I thought she was a staff who worked in Signature Theater. However, she suddenly became serious and turned to the other person, the play stated. She walked around the lower auditorium, and randomly communicated with the audience (later I knew it has been designed, and those actors and actresses mixed in the auditorium).

What made me feel surprise was with the deepening of the plot, “Everybody” has been mentioned repeatedly, and more and more reflected into the theme – there are not only them, but also, we are the Everybody.

Lighting effect added the mystery to the whole play, that was incredible. When we listened in the dark, especially the people sat in the back or near the walls, there were some tense, mystery and a little bit terror, because at that time we were witnessing a dying girl how to talk to her friendship, kinship and some material goods (those played by actors and actresses). When the girl finally found a person, who was willing to be with her to go for this dangerous and unexpected journey, she was so happy and thankful. But this guy wanted her to take off her clothing and was making fun of her and let her keep running around the auditorium, otherwise he would not go with her. It was so cruel, she kept on running until out of breath, and even tear out, he stopped her.

A friend in need is a friend indeed. But in the end of the play, everybody – Beauty, Friendship, Strength, Five wits and Discretion all left this girl away.  The girl was unfortunate and tragic, she hit the unlucky lottery—had to go for a death journey. When she begged to everybody to accompany her in death, everybody could support her and be with her. The play “Everybody” not just a play, it also has allegorical. We know that we can’t change individual life that everybody dies finally, but it also reflects eternal human nature—is everybody born in selfish and evil? Or everybody born in a good heart, it just because the time goes by, their environments  affect them?

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Poetry Night Event

The poetry event for tonight was crowded with passion and momentum by the writers and poets. The first poem was introduced to us as a warm welcoming poem delivered by the founder of the event. She then proceeds to tell us a poem of the tragedies around the world that we live in. Despite all the hardship that’s happening around us, we made it to that special poetry event, and the founder was very grateful for it. Professor Ellen deliberate a personification poem that was distinctively unique. I like how my professor is one of the few or the only that wrote a poem addressing to nature and it’s written in personification. Most poems are similar in terms of theme and style. There were topics about race, relationship, emotions, friends and family, hardship, personal growth. The poems about race were standing out in my opinion because it was not only delivered by who are impacted by it but also whoever see the injustices of it. I also like the guy who articulates his poem with rap. It was absolutely stunning to see traditional art and languages combine with modern. Each and every poem have their own uniqueness and story. Most poems are derived with personal experience. Some poems are inspirational, like the one that about “don’t  just go with it”, and destiny is not given, but it is in your hand and The Dream, etc. Some poems are describing the point of view of a person, like Seasonal Warrior, She Expects It, black lives, and etc. The poems delivered by each and everyone contain a certain emotions/feelings. Some are sad, some are angry, some are hoping. The ones that stand out are often the ones that tights closely with ones experience. The breakup poem, the hardship of mothers, the discrimination against black are all great poems that ignited my heart and feelings. Of course, there was a poem about the author himself. His poem inspires us that to be ourselves and be proud of it. There was a poem dedicated to a random stranger just because of her scent of hair. I find this interesting, considering that out of all the choices the poet can choose from, she choose to write a poem about the scent of a stranger. I can imagine that the fragrant was extraordinary. Overall, the poetry night event was an amazing event, it helped me learned about poetry and feelings poet have when they write the poems.

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EVERYBODY (Am I Selfish)

The modern version of “Everybody” was nothing less than amazing. When I entered the theater I didn’t know what to expect since I read the original version of “Everybody” I was expecting costumes from the medieval times. But to my surprise the cast was modern,spunky and relatable. What I found to be very profound was the fact that nobody knew which character they were going to play until the picked it out of a lottery. The main character played her role very well and it just made sense. From the beginning God was in contact with “Death” who picked the main to die .

Besides the fact that we all know that everybody dies, this play showed how selfish humans are, with every problem we have, and  almost everything we face we always turn to people,things even sometimes places with our issues, I don’t want to say its selfish but in all actuality it is. I was so touched when she had an interaction with “Love” because “Love” was the only feeling that was there for her and it made me feel like wow this makes a lot of sense in hindsight, Love is there through thick and thin, Love is always there when you are down and Love always makes everything better in my opinion. When things happen in your life either it be a death or even a breakup Love from others or just the feeling around you makes everything better.

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Reaction for Everybody

The play we watched on Sunday afternoon was about a story of how everyone die. The play started off with the actor who acted as god to give the audience some basic background information of what the play is about. The play included the elements of surprises and randomness. There were actors in the audience seats. When Death ask around the audiences for people to go along with her, there was a moment of intense anticipation that flow within my veins. Though, death acted rather hilarious. I did like the element of comedy too. When the act of the play begins, casters indicated that they will randomize the roles for everyone, for every time they perform. I didn’t buy it at first, but later on I was convinced that every actors know every detail of the play. The play also did the surprise element on the lighting. When one story finishes with everybody, the lights are shut and leaves the audiences with only voice. I personally think it’s an unique and interesting set up for the audiences to mesmerize into thinking. I also realize after the story telling time ended(when the lights are shut), everybody is just sitting under the light. Then looking at it closely, the person who’s sitting next to everybody was actually verbally saying what we are hearing. At that moment, I was convinced that every actor remember the every bits of the play. One thing they did that kept the ancient literature was that they Named the character in general names: Everybody, Stuff. Friendship, Love, Kinship, Cousin, etc. The story of the play shows how Everybody is going around her friends, kinship, cousins, etc to ask them if they are willing to die with her. In everybody’s perspective, she felt very depressed after knowing all her life, there were not many people that would go along with her to death. The truth of the matter is, Everybody is just being selfish and want someone to go along with her to DIE. Who would want to die just because of one person, we all have our lives, as the Cousin have said to Everybody. Though, Everybody did have Love to go along with her to die. I believe the lesson or moral of this is more like the people that really loves you are willing sacrifices themselves, even death. Towards the end, I was amaze by the set of the play. The backstage was connected to another door, and it was designed to be removeable. It was very amusing to watch that happening. At last, when Everybody is about to go die, her sin shows up. Everything that she has done wrongly in the past is going down with her. The moral behind it is that throughout each and everyone’s life, we have our own stories and course of actions, we must treat everyone nicely so that one day when we die, people will remember us.

 

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Everybody Reaction and Connection with Tibetan Buddhism

Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and Director Lila Neugebauer

First and foremost, I absolutely enjoyed the play Everybody by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and directed by Lila Neugebauer. I think the characters of Everybody sitting amongst the audience, and the lottery of who gets to be the lead is incredibly exciting to watch. The story of the play itself was interesting and thought provoking. The transition from the play to the dream monologue in the dark was effective in way that put me in the play itself. I felt as if, I was also a part of this play. That I was Everybody.

The Cast of Everybody and Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and Director Lila Neugebauer.

In a sense, I think everyone can somehow relate to the play. The ideas of love, friendship, kinship, morality, and material desires and so on are all the things we can make connections to. Therefore, throughout the play, I was constantly relating it to my own life or knowledge and beliefs about death. The play puts into perspective that death is unescapable and unavoidable. Death will come at any given time or place. In the play, it was the job of Death (played by Marylouise Burke) to bring everybody to the other side, or what we call in Tibetan Buddhism, The In Between. I was able to make several connections between the play Everybody and Death in Tibetan Buddhism.

During the play, when the two giant skeletons came out, it reminded me of the two dancing skeletons in Tibetan Cham which is a sacred Tibetan Buddhism dance, often performed during festivals. I have seen this dance when I was younger in my Tibetan settlement village in India outside the monastery a couple of times. The two skeletons in the Tibetan Cham Dance are sort of like the minions of the lord of Death called Yama. The two dancing skeletons in Tibetan Buddhism are called the lords of the cemetery.

Here is a depiction of The Dancing Skeletons/Lords of the Cemetery in Tibetan Thangka Painting Form

What I took from the play was that you cannot take material desires, and other external things in our lives with us when we die. The only things that are possible for you to take with you when you die are, certain intangible things. Although Everybody, who was played by Lakisha Michelle May in our version of the play, wasn’t able to take her mind and understanding with her which are indeed intangible, what she was able to take was love and unexpectedly, negative deeds she had done in her life. In Tibetan Buddhism, I learned repeatedly that when you die, the only things you can take with you are the things you have done good which corresponds with love, and bad deeds. So when confronted by Yama (Lord of Death), you will be summoned based on the good and bad you have done, and what shall be done to you. What I believe is that around the end of the play when the evil things of Everybody suddenly rushed in and went with her, death will decide on the other side what shall happen to Everybody by weighing the Good/Love and the Bad.

Actors Lakisha Michelle May and Christ Perfetti in Everybody. Picture: The New York Times.

I am certain that there are more connections between the Play Everybody and Death in Tibetan Buddhism. If you’d like to know more, I recommend reading The Tibetan Book of the Dead, known as the Bardo Thodol in Tibetan (specifically translated by Robert A.F. Thurman) to learn in depth about liberation based on death. The book is not only about religion but includes teachings in philosophy as well as about how to overcome death because death should not be feared as it will come for everyone someday.

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Everybody Reaction

The play “Everybody” by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a modern update of the original morality play “Everyman”. It was interesting how just enough modern themes(the changing of goods to stuff, Mentions of recent events and technology) were used to make the play seem original but at the same time retain just enough of the original “Everyman” story to not become something else entirely.

A notable change from the original play would be the removal of most of the religious context. When confronted with the existence of God most of the characters in the play reply with “God is real?” and everybody is not searching for someone to help her improve her standing with God the search is more for a companion so she does not die alone. Everybody does not meet Confession as everyman does. Instead of being forced to confess and being whipped afterwards everybody instead is given a literal dressing down and is humiliated by Love a concept completely absent from “Everyman”. In a way this works far better in this retelling of the story then a whipping would have as it would have been more than a little strange for the play which to this point had been fairly light-hearted to suddenly take such a violent turn and the audience still gets the message that everybody is being punished.

Interestingly the biggest change would be the in the final lesson that the audience learns at the end. In “Everyman” the moral turns out to be that everyone will be alone when they are judged after their death. “Everybody” on the other hand took the circuitous route of having the audience at first sympathize with everybody by painting characters such as friendship, kinship and stuff as cowardly and selfish before revealing everybody as the most selfish of all at the end and pleading to the audience to be better people. This honestly felt like the weakest part of the play as no real way to avoid everybody’s fate is really possible. For all the good a person can do in life the unfortunate truth is that at the very end people will be alone barring the existence of a world beyond the one we exist on.

 

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Everybody dies. (Spoiler Alert)

I want to start this off by saying I had no expectations of the play whatsoever. Given the choice of going in blind or reading the source material, I chose the former because I’m a lazy piece of trash who shivers at the thought of doing anything remotely productive. I had no idea what the play was about, or even what to expect. I went in completely blind, and I think I benefited  a little from that aspect, but it ultimately would not have changed my general consensus of the performance; an enjoyable yet cliche retelling of a medieval play modernized by the eyes of someone who I presume enjoys grande mocha lattes from Starbucks.

The play began in such a way that made me lose interest in it quickly, with our little “theater spokeswoman” being conveniently possessed by the all mighty God himself, and he’s pissed at us for our actions blah blah blah. I’ve heard all this dribble before and I just felt that that first speech just came across as awkward and had no impact on me. I’m not a critic by any means, but I feel there could have been a more captivating way of demonstrating that the all powerful GOD was in our mere mortal presence.  I’m happy to say that the play picked up from here, as this was the moment it chose to introduce the star of the show, Death.

Death was personified as this little old grandma character that stole the show for me, and I just couldn’t help cracking a smile every time she spoke. It was hilariously unorthodox but it also kind of made sense; combine that nagging grandma you have always on your back, correlating with the impending, almost “nagging” idea of Death always on your shoulder and you get one hilariously unorthodox combo that was bound to be the highlight (or at least one of the highlights) of the experience overall for much of the audience.

God then asks Death to find “Everybody” and have them present a demonstration of their lives to the holy one himself. The play then reveals It’s semi-interactivity, by having predetermined actors sitting in the audience being called up and beginning to recite lines no mere audience member would know. It should have been obvious to us, as the seats we took were reserved for our class, and here we had some random dude just chilling with the rest of us, speaking his mind and giving his thoughts about the play before hand, adding to that sort of semi-interactivity I mentioned earlier.

The actors beg Death that they need more time, and ask if they can bring someone with them to this journey with no return, to which Death allows. Afterwards, we are informed that the play works on a sort of “lotto system” that gives each actors random roles and assuring us that we are possibly watching a version of the play never shown anywhere else, and while I commend their efforts to give the play a more individualized and special feeling to the audience, I must say that I felt this lotto didn’t seem very necessary in the long run. Especially if the “discussing the dream” sequences are unchanged throughout each performance.

We are then given confrontation scenes between “Everybody” and the various depictions of relationships that Everybody has, them being Friendship, Kinship, and Stuff. To make a long story short, every single one ends the same way; they reject Everybody and have Everybody painted as the bad guy, or at the very least, in a negative light at the end of each confrontation. And then it cuts to black where the person dreaming is discussing the dream with their friends.

Now I have to state how much I hated the dark “discussing the dream” sequences. It started off fine and kind of interesting to hear the opinions of others listening to this story as the audience was, and I have to admit that a lot of the voices were enticing as all hell to listen to. But, during the 2nd or 3rd sequence, It officially became race bait. These moments seem to have been a way of comedic relief between the confrontation sequences between Everybody and various personified depictions of Friendship, Stuff, Kinship and probably would have worked just fine had the author not needed to push some political agenda of race and interpretation of one’s way of speaking, but sadly it didn’t resonate with me and annoyed me more then anything else. I am a heavy believer of “There’s a time and place for everything” and that in the right light and setting, anything can be discussed and ideas can be implemented into someones subconscious without feeling forced, but this was not the case here. I’m going to end my rant with these sequences here, but I thoroughly felt that there would have been extremely little to no impact had these sequences been omitted from the play, but of course, that’s just my opinion.

Now, funny story, the actor who played “Love” was sitting right next to me. I didn’t make any attempt to talk to him, and neither did he, so he was blending in quite nicely with us common folk. Throughout most of the play, he seemed uninterested and I remember him taking out his phone a couple of times. When he started getting up, my first thought was that he might have had to go to the bathroom or something, but the actor playing Everybody addressed him as he started leaving and my mouth sprung wide open as the realization came in; I was uncomfortably touching arms with an actor this whole time. As I said, this random guy was Everybody’s “Love” and he agreed to come with Everybody as long as they accepted some harsh truths.

The part with the dancing skeletons was trippy and I loved every second of it.

The play then concludes with Death coming back and Everybody being thrown into a hole with the personification of Love and Sin being following shortly after, basically giving the very, very, very cliche moral of “Be good, as you never know what sins you’ll take with you as you die” though I don’t think I can fault the play for this, as the original play’s moral was an even duller “Be good” so I don’t think I can blame the author for wanting to keep some semblance of the original play intact.

I might have omitted some key points from this little interpretation of mine, but it’s already at 1000 words so I think It’s justified to cut it short. Overall, I enjoyed the play but It is by no means perfect. Maybe some of my negative emotions towards the play could be attributed to the fact that I’m not a Sunday person, but I do believe they are valid complaints. I wouldn’t mind seeing more plays by Mr. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, so long as he takes it easy on the grande mocha lattes next time.

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