FASAP by ARTalk
[by Maggie Liu ‘12] T-ride + thought-provoking art piece + yummy free dinner afterwards.
[by Maggie Liu ‘12, Guest Blogger]
You’d think that once the college application process was over, all the complications in life would vanish. Not so. After I mailed in my deposit, I received an ominously thick package that included everything from housing lottery to advising.
Freshman advising at MIT falls into two general categories: residence-based advising and non-residence based advising. Non-residence based advising is further divided into Traditional and Seminar Advising. Seminar Advising is actually an academic subject worth 6 units of credit and has regular 2-hour weekly meetings during the Fall term. Compared to Traditional Advising, Seminar Advising brings a focus on a particular subject and congregates people who are interested in the subject or are interested in learning more about it.
FASAP (Freshman Advising Seminar Arts Program) is one of the advising seminars offered. The official title is 21M.123 FASAP: Exploring the Arts at MIT and Beyond. I personally chose it because I thought it would be a great way to continue my love for art in a, well, tech school. To my surprise, through FASAP, I discovered not only an active arts scene at MIT but also that of Boston. Apart from the 2-hour weekly meeting, we have an array of optional events and six mandatory events. These events include free tickets to contemporary art performances at the ICA and even a trip to the opera house. I’m always excited or the events outside of MIT because not only are the tickets for the events often expensive, there’s also often free food aferwards. :D At MIT, that’s always a nice extra incentive. Through FASAP, I think I’ve attended more shows and explored Boston more so than even some of the upperclassman. Not to mention the fact that through FASAP, I’ve met some pretty interesting people. There’s an eclectic range of personalities and attachments to art but everyone in FASAP seems to appreciate art and are genuinely.
Some of the FASAP shows are on the obscure side—for example, last week a group of FASAPers embarked on a trip to the American Repertory Theatre (aka A.R.T.) in Harvard Square for the play/musical The Communist Dracula Pageant. When we first heard of the title, more than a few eyebrows were raised. It’s not everyday that an infamous mythical bloodsucking creature with fangs is associated with a political ideology.
Donald Guy ’12, a MC Lars fan challenging Sila, one of our associate advisors.
As always, we met at the T—the starting point of our treks across Boston. Ah, the T—our source of transportation and much agony—whether that be barely missing the T by a hairbreadth (since our poor advisors have to play the role of mother ducklings to her brood of wandering ducklings) to Harvard Express T’s. On this particular FASAP trip, we just barely missed our T. The trip was redeemed though as an impromptu rapping battle ensued when our T actually came.
As our associate advisor bravely led us through the unfamiliar territory of Harvard Square’s art district, one student’s sharp eye quickly confirmed the location of our play.
The Communist Dracula Pageant was plastered boldly to the window. A few of us exchanged dubious looks before filing in. Since most of us had failed to do a background check beforehand, an Andy Warhol-esque portrait of a man, Ceausescu, with drawn-in fangs was our first impression of the play.
A.R.T. itself was a cozy but quirky place. As we waited outside until we could be ushered in, we scoped the scene.
Suspended chairs, communist draculas, oh my!
The play itself turned out to be an exhilarating and unconventional walk through Romanian history and the story of the Ceausescu dictatorship. Few are aware of the Romanian Revolution, let alone the details, since it seemed insignificant compared to the political collapse occurring to the rest of Eastern Europe. The play was a psychedelic roller-coaster ride. It shifted from two time periods: the era of Vlad ≈¢epe»ô, the historical Dracula from the 1400’s to Nicolae Ceausescu, the cruel dictator of Romania who was sentenced to death, guilty of genocide and undermining the national economy. The title of the play itself came from the analogy the playwright created between Vlad ≈¢epe»ô and Ceausescu. This was a bit confusing because the play kept shifting between the past and the present and sometimes certain events overlapped. Add in 70’s pop, sparkly costumes, and a dancing grizzly bear, and you’ve got a play that leaves one amused, puzzled, and pondering on the message long after the curtains close.
Following the play, we headed to Wagamama, a delicious noodle shop across the street from Boston Tea Stop. It seemed like a typical FASAP weekend—the formula is as such: T-ride + thought-provoking art piece + yummy free dinner afterwards.
Alison ’12 enjoys a delicious bowl of ramen