Chicago Semester—Gina Ciametti ’13 of Hickory Hills, Illinois
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Let’s Stay Together
I could never in my wildest imagination (and I've imagined A LOT in my time) foresee what was to come in the month of April.
Northlight continues to be full of surprises. Our last and final show of the season has been well underway, and our staff is beyond excited to see it come to life on May 10. Stella and Lou features one of theatre's finest and most comedic actresses of all time, Rhea Perlman. My generation would know her best for her work in Matilda, but she's also a 4 time Emmy-winner for her work on Cheers, what an accomplishment! Oh, and I met her. We ate bagels together, so now we're besties.
Aside from all our show hubbub, I was offered (and accepted) a paying summer internship with Northlight's Performing Arts Camp. I cannot tell you how fun it is to watch kids practice and perform theatre, they are by far the most creative and uninhibited actors of them all. I'm really happy to be sticking around Northlight a little longer than originally expected; it's going to be a great summer.
You know what's really cool? Social media. I will never be sick of the Facebooks and Twitters of our generation because it is a fascinating concept. Just last Friday, I won tickets to see Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers via Twitter just for simply retweeting a Tweet of theirs. That's literally all I did--a mindless act that I was drawn to and BAM--free tickets. I can do anything now.
I was able to see my friends from school over the weekend at Sunday's Cubs vs. Giants game, and although we lost, the time spent with them was much needed. My usual crew was fun as always, AND I ran into some old dorm mates from Trinity, also a plus.
I hate feeling that I have to cram in all this last-minute excitement before moving back to the suburbs, because if it were up to me, I'd stay here for at least another 2 years. I am in no way ready to give it up yet.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Sigh No More
The Chicago Bulls ended the Miami Heat's 27-game winning streak without two of their star players.
The weather is finally in the upper 30's.
And now, it's officially less than a month until my semester stay in Chicago comes to an end.
To the person held responsible for stealing time and making it go by so fast, I'm on to you.
The weekend of St. Patrick's Day really put into perspective just how much time I had left in Chicago. Have I done all I've wanted to do? Visit the right attractions? Explore the right neighborhoods? Truth be told, I'll never know. There's just too much to see/do/hear in a city like ours when you're only limited to 4 months.
I am thankful, however, for the love and company of my wonderful Trinity friends. I know people talk about college and the growing mentality of how "I literally have like, THE best friends EVERRR and no one else's come close, etc." but the truth is, I, Gina, actually have THE best, greatest, most genuine, fill-in-the-blank friends anyone could ask for; I'm talkin' cream of the crop, here. Friends visit friends, it doesn't matter if it's face-to-face or over a video feed, the best kind will always want to stay close.
Missing Hannah Joy, but the rest of the gang is all here.
Life post-Irish weekendpalooza is still treating me well. My internship at Northlight Theatre could not be any more perfect--I have been working with a dream team of colleagues that see me as an asset to the theatre, which speaks volumes.
Our current show, "Stones in His Pockets," has gotten rave reviews and continues to do us proud. Y'all NEED to see this show. 2 men playing 15 roles? In Ireland? Just do it. Also, follow us on the Facebook and Twitter machine if you have yet to do so, it's worth your while.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Making a List, Checking It Twice
This exact date, the 13th of March, marks the 2-month point of my stay in Chicago. It feels as though I've been here for double that length, but I can't even tell anymore. Time and days just sort of mesh together. City life, am I right?
So as I sit here listening to Walk the Moon and deciding if this is the week I dye my hair again, I try to review in depth if after 2 months of living in Chicago I've at least made an effort to do some of the crazy exciting things I had planned to do back in January. Thus, the list. Here's what I've compiled and/or completed in 2 months:
MEET SOMEONE FAMOUS
This should be a fun one. In a city like Chicago, I am beyond determined to meet someone famous. And before I go on about how this could be a huge stretch, I'll share some Intel I have about my theater's final show of the season:
We've casted Rhea Perlman as our female lead. We're talking Cheers, Matilda, and countless other credits (she's also recognized as Danny DeVito's ex-wife...woof.) But do y'all know that this means? I COULD MEET RHEA!
RUN THE LAKE FRONT
Obviously, the weather is not permitting me to do this. That's not entirely true...but for those of you who are like 'Gina, just dress warm and suck it up,' I say to you NO.
I will happily wait until I can wear shorts outside and SWEAT in the sun than FREEZE in the middle of March. (P.S. I thought that stupid groundhog didn't see his shadow...so what gives? I want spring. And I wanted it yesterday).
Anyone who knows me well knows that I have some of the best luck when it comes to thrifting; essentially, it's an art form. You gotta know the quality prices, the steals, the store itself, etc. I just so happened to stumble upon a thrift store with my roommate Julie one Saturday, and we were able to snag ourselves some sweet St. Patrick's Day shirts!
GO TO A CONCERT AT LEAST ONCE A MONTH
This has and will be the biggest challenge of them all. Although I have already tackled January and February with flying colors, March leaves much to be desired. I'm pushing to get tickets for a Scottish band I like called Frightened Rabbit or maybe splurging on tickets for Green Day. Either show would be great to see, I just need to commit and pick a show. Oh, hey, indecisiveness, how's it hangin'?
Now this list is short, yes, but other goals have yet to be set. I just really wanted to get these bad boys out of the way and someday look back and say "Wow, go you. That was YOUR life. You did good, kid." You know, give the grandkids something to talk about.
Monday, February 25, 2013
It has been far too long since my last post, I'll admit. So to play a quick game of catch-up, here's what I've been up to...in pictures!
My work at Northlight has certainly kept me on my toes. When I'm not doing busy office tasks, I get to explore some of what actually goes on throughout the day on our stage! Here's a shot from a post-show discussion of “The Whipping Man,” the 3rd production we recently ended this season. Pretty cool set, huh? The play takes place in the aftermath of the Civil War when Jewish, Confederate soldier Caleb DeLeon, injured and dying, makes his way back home only to find it half-destroyed from the war. Two of his family's slaves (now free men) Simon and John, have been hiding out in the home for some time, and tend to poor Caleb. The Jewish faith between the slave/master relationship is brilliantly executed on stage; the show itself has been one of the most successful shows Northlight has ever produced.
About 3 weeks ago, the Goodman Theater hosted a networking event for any and all Chicago theatre interns who were interested in talking with theatre professionals in their field about their work in the city, how their jobs came to be, words of wisdom, etc. I am beyond grateful that my supervisor told me about this opportunity, because not only do I now have a better sense of direction with what I want to do with my career, but the concept of devoting a night just to sit around and talk with these experienced people is a rarity.
In my Urban Development and Planning class, we take field trips every other week to explore the architecture and sights that have shaped what Chicago is today. Here's a shot of my class visiting the Hull House at UIC's campus.
The style in which it's taught--the lights off and a PowerPoint slideshow that lasts about an hour. Not ideal for a sleepy Gina.
I spent my Friday night celebrating the return of the weekend with one of my good friends, Anna Gesch, along with Icona Pop, Matt&Kim, and Passion Pit who were all performing at the UIC Pavilion. The Pavilion was packed with fans anxiously awaiting the indie trifecta of performances. Never in my life had I ever heard so much synthesizer at one time and now I must invest in a synthesizer. It's a done deal.
Starting off the show, Icona Pop's hit single "I Love It" really helped build up the hype for Matt&Kim's set which was equally if not more entertaining. Kim's spastic and hard-hitting drumming and Matt's vocals made for a high-energy show and even gave some crowd members the chance to hold Kim upright as she walked on top of them for a portion of the show. I would expect nothing less from such an unpredictable duo. I’m jealous of those who actually experienced the spontaneity.
As Passion Pit took the stage soon after, the place really began to fill up. Their set was well-put together and Michael Angelakos...this guy, can hit some ridiculously high falsetto notes.
My really cool 3GS from 2009 has the world's worst camera, so marvel at the lights and stage and maybe if you're lucky, discover the silhouettes of the bands.
Might be my favorite photo from the night.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
"ELLIE! PLAY ‘LIGHTS’! I ONLY CAME HERE TO HEAR ‘LIGHTS,’" one crazed fan shouted amongst the thousands of people who flooded the Aragon Ballroom last night. There might be many of you who, too, could only recognize her music based on how many times the radio decides to play “Lights”...but she is so much more than that. I'm not even sure I know where to begin in unraveling my concert experience for you, so I guess I'll start at the top.
Ellie Goulding’s Halcyon Days tour kicked off in Miami on January 16th and will end February 12th in Los Angeles; her Chicago show was directly in the middle of the tour.
My friends and I had gambled with the order of her opening set months in advance, trying to figure out what would be THE song to open this specific tour. And then the song after THAT one. And after THAAAT one. Calob (one of 3 that night) was right with his choosing, naturally. Ellie opened with the first song on her new album called "Don't Say a Word," and the moment she began to sing the opening riffs, the crowd lost it.
Ellie performed one hit song after another for 2 hours, ranging from her upbeat indie-electronic tunes to her piano-accompanied ballads and everything in between.
This concert marks the umpteenth concert I've seen in my lifetime. Ellie is a performer who you could easily argue sings better live than on an album; I'm not even sure I know where my opinion stands in that sense. I will, however, encourage all music lovers to give her a better listen. She A. is unbelievably gifted as a musician and songwriter and B. has an unbelievable vocal range and uses her voice as its own instrument. So fear not--there is still plenty of time and space to hop aboard the Ellie Goulding Bandwagon.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Q: What do you call free labor for one of the most noted and award-winning theaters in Chicago?
A: AN INTERNSHIP WITH NORTHLIGHT THEATER!
Northlight Theatre aspires to promote change of perspective and encourage compassion by exploring the depth of our humanity across a bold spectrum of theatrical experiences, reflecting our community to the world and the world to our community.
Most people in the theatre world wear many hats: there is a wide gamut of little odds n' ends jobs that may be asked of you as well as tasks presented on a much larger scale. Some interns tackle computer work AND schedule meetings while others work on patron subscriptions AND rehearsals AND concessions. Catch my drift? Dig what I'm saying? I knew that you could. I'll be doing ANYTHING and EVERYTHING all at once. Challenge accepted.
Joining the Northlight team is a blessing in itself. Naturally, I had to publicize it to the (Facebook) world and share my wonderful news once I confirmed the position. I could not, however, predict the number of overwhelmingly congratulatory responses, Likes, texts, tweets, etc.
Not to mention the recognition granted to a fellow student and myself through the support of our theatre club.
Easily the best club on campus.
Without sounding like a complete sap, I have mixed emotions about starting and closing so many chapters of my college life and watching new ones open up for the people I care about back home. SO MANY TROLLS ARE GOING ABROAD TOO! And may the caps lock accentuate such exciting news! I couldn't be happier for my wonderful friends departing for new adventures in Kenya and Ecuador. I bet your friends merely WISH they were as cool as mine. Hannah Joy, Leah, Jake, Jess, Kyle, and Becky, I will continue to pray for you and your time away. I know so many fellow students and friends wish nothing but the best for you and if they're on my brainwave, can't wait to watch and see the amazing things God will do with you in your respective countries.
Speaking of new beginnings, tomorrow starts Day 1 of my internship. I hope the other kids like me and let me sit with them in the cool kids’ office. Let it not reflect the scene in Mean Girls where I greet everyone with a heartfelt "Jambo" and get the Look of Death in return. May I be rid of all and any nerves and stay mentally prepared to do my best.
That would be so. fetch.
* * * * * * * *
Outside world, I have survived the first 5 days of living in one of the most chaotic cities in the world. And I owe it to you to keep you up to speed with everything, so let's begin with Day 1.
Looks pretty official, eh?
January 14, 2013
After moving all of my stuff into a one-bedroom apartment the day before with 2 other roommates (who are awesome, by the way-super great girls), the entire program met at the Chicago Semester building located on Monroe and Adams...which thankfully is a quick and easy commute from the Red Line. It was your typical first impressions meeting: after breakfast, we had roughly an hour to kill before the orientation process actually began. It only took 1 student to move themselves over to their assigned seat in the classroom setting for EVERYONE ELSE to use it as a social cue to move to their seats as well. It was an amazing social experiment, I mean, you do NOT want to be that person who goes against the grain right? Yeah, that was a bust.
As the morning took off, we eventually got to the portion of the schedule where we pair up with someone and get to know them beyond their name and whether or not they are one of the 2 hundred people from Dordt in the program (obviously I'm exaggerating, or AM I?! Ok so there's maybe only like, 15, I decided to round up). After this, we would report back to everyone about who's who and move on with the day. Um, time out. I need my cheesy name-game icebreakers to help me actually put a name with a face! Do you need a volunteer to lead them? In true Hunger Games fashion, I would have jumped at that opportunity.
The rest of the morning consisted of the CS staff breaking down the week day-by-day and doing some interactive work with us in groups and individually. Let me be the first to say that the CS Staff is legit. These are people who genuinely want to see you succeed in the program and hope that you bring as much as you can to the proverbial table. It was refreshing to know that your semester away from home would be in good hands.
Later that night, we traveled in assigned small groups for a dinner trip to an ethnic restaurant. My group ventured to Tandoor for Indian food. Awesome grub and fun conversations made for a very enjoyable time.
My super-cool new friends and I have begun to explore the Division St./ Gold Coast night life a bit and have found that it's a great way to bookend our days. It's always a good time to catch up and let loose after a long and productive day of orientation.
I have been without internet in my apartment since I've moved in and for those of you wondering how I've survived without it, it's easy. I talk to people. Read books. TRAVELED THE CITY. Radical concept, right? Getting out and exploring does the soul so much good.
January 3, 2013
I have often asked myself what attribute about studying abroad (or 45 minutes away from my college and hometown) entices me the most. Aside from all the fun thoughts of eating delicious food, edgy and hip night-life, mastering CTA transportation and eating more delicious food, I think I'm looking forward to the people most. Trust me, I know Chicago traffic and crowds are not ideal for most, but I can't think of a better place to be for my last semester of college than in a city I love, flooded with all walks of life. Not too long ago, a friend of mine took a photo of an article from a magazine and posted it to Instagram, and it read:
“I’m impressed with people from Chicago. New York is talk, L.A. is hype…Chicago is work.”
Whoever the 'I' is in that quote knows what he or she is talking about. Chicago is work. It's gradual, sure, but think of everything that happens in a city like Chicago year round--sports games, seasonal events, conferences, festivals, concerts, etc. We are a bustling metropolis always on the move because there is always something to do or see. Nothing excites me more than knowing I will contribute to the busyness and all around success of Chicago's entertainment scene, especially in the field where there is so much talent and pizzazz to witness--theatre.
Fact: Chicago is home to more than 200 small and large scale theaters, 200! Before studying theater at Trinity, I could probably name 10 theaters that I might have heard of, but never actually knew anything about the works they produced. Thanks to Trinity’s Interim and theater courses, field trips, and summer internships, I have become so familiar with the mass amounts of theater the city has to offer. Remember my aforementioned love for being around people? This would be where it really kicks in. Think of how many actors and employees Chicago must have in order to run 200+ theaters. I'm not good at math, but I'm sure it's a really high number.
Did I forget to mention that I'll be interning at a theater for the semester? It's quite the selling point if you ask me. Which theater? No idea. Although it's a major factor still to be determined, I know wherever I end up will be a stellar opportunity for me to work and learn and gain as much cultural expertise as I possibly can. So I urge you all to see what this semester in Chicago has in store for me. I'm pretty much an open book, er, blog.