Favorite book: The Local News by Miriam Gershow
Favorite holiday: Halloween!
Favorite food: Pasta and Häagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream
Favorite play/musical: The Glass Menagerie and The Phantom of the Opera
Gemma Lolos is a born and raised New Yorker and proud of it. She received a degree in Theatre at Hunter College in June of 2016, and in her free time creates YouTube videos and consumes massive piles of books. Gemma’s passion for the arts, including music, literature, film, and theatre, is kept alive by her diligence in taking full advantage of all the magic that the best city on Earth has to offer. Although she has aspirations to travel the world, she could never imagine living anywhere else.
I have experienced cat-calling with such regularity, I am desensitized to it. I have been pressured by men I have dated for sexual activity. I recognize that I am one of the lucky ones. I have not been a victim of rape or sexual assault. But I have been a victim to a society that perpetuates a culture where consent is overlooked and rape is excused and normalized.
A large part of The Great American Drama involved the Neos trying to accommodate as many of our requests as possible, primarily working off of the actual responses submitted in the "How Do You Like Your Theatre?" survey. One of the most common suggestions was for The Great American Drama to be Hamilton, as in Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton.
The other day, somebody not originally from New York City mentioned to me that he found the city to be lonely. What he said gave me pause, because I had never before thought of my city as an isolating place. It's living that's isolating, and where you are doesn't make much of a difference. But the people do.
I decided to take my boyfriend (at the time), Andrew, to see Les Misérables at my old high school, because I wanted him to understand the caliber of the performances I had come to know as a student there, both on stage and in the audience. He was aware that I sang and performed, but until he actually saw a LaGuardia production for himself, he couldn't really get it.
The piece is written and performed by a bunch of politically and socially aware teenagers. I could have gone to school with any one of these kids, who are creative and funny and far too familiar with the New York City justice system because they can't afford not to be. Understandably, they are fed up at the many societal complications that surround the world they live in and deeply influence their lives. Anthem's stories are very personal in nature, and they explore the connection between adversity and art.
The actors were definitely talented, but I somehow was never able to forget that they were kids. The talent level might have been higher at Murrow than at the average high school, but there was a certain innocence, a certain "rough-around-the-edges" quality to the production that screamed "high school." And I didn't mind it. In fact, I found it charming.
I began to seriously question my senses. If a fancy microphone could convince my brain that a man was blowing in my ear or walking directly behind me, or that a helicopter was flying overhead, or that I was smack-dab in the middle of a rain forest, then what does that say about the reliability of my senses?
It's no picnic being a teenage girl. The peer pressure, the poor body image, and the feeling you'll die alone can all add up to rather a lot. I remember it well, because it wasn't so long ago that I was a teenage girl, living in New York City and doing my best to get by. So when I was introduced to Nina, I immediately felt for her.
Living can be isolating, but there are things that make it easier, like love and art and travel. But even art and travel can lack appeal when one feels alone. If a person lives in this world and is not loved, seen, or understood, then does this person exist? How does this person know? Where's the proof? Is a beating heart enough?
When conducting my research, I was drawn to And Then: A Science Fiction Folk Event because it combined music and science, and it tackled one of humanity's biggest questions: Why are we here?
Our Escape leads us into multiple rooms in varying shapes and sizes, and involves puzzles, codes, ladders, human chess, keys hidden in books, murders, guns, bombs, and more. But my favorite addition is by far the inclusion of my friend and former classmate, Macy, in one of our rooms, handcuffed to the ceiling of a small room that is growing increasingly dark.
The first speller to be disqualified was one of the volunteers and the only man. To his credit, he had a hard word, but he did look pretty bummed at having to hand back his number. The cast broke into a Goodbye song, and Mitch Mahoney handed the poor guy a juice box and ushered him back to his seat.
When I heard about The Golden Bride, I jumped at the chance to experience it, over the moon at the prospect of seeing a show that combined operatic music and the Yiddish language. As both a singer who has studied Opera and a Jew, it seemed like I couldn't have found a more perfect fit.
On the stage there is a clothes line with 30 pieces of paper labeled chronologically. I stare at them hungrily, hoping to work out how they'll be incorporated into the show. But before I can do much more than stare, the cast introduces the show as an ongoing, ever changing attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes, shortly after directing us to our menus. Yes, at Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, the programs are called menus.
Baba came out and the first thing he did was sit on the edge of the stage, only a few feet away from me. I liked how intimate this felt. I had never been a science or math person, only really excelling at subjects related to the arts. But Baba rapped in a way that even I could understand, and it was hard to believe he was rapping about things like carbon emissions and the greenhouse effect.