Snaps, shouts and applause resonated in Dunlop Auditorium Saturday night in appreciation of the Excelano Project’s show “Split No Lightning,” which took place this past Friday and Saturday. Excelano welcomed both old devotees and some new faces in the audience.
Credit for the hyped-up audience went not only to current Excelano members, but also to alumni such as 2006 College graduate Caroline Rothstein, one of Excelano’s co-founders. In her opening remarks, Rothstein spoke of poetry as an artistic exchange, urging the audience to feel and engage with it. “Art is a conversation from one soul to another, manifest tangibly in these words.” she said. “You are going to feel that exchange, and if you like what you hear you should engage with that exchange”.
As with many Excelano shows, “Split No Lightning” offered a colorful agenda. With more than 18 poems, Excelano commemorated friendship, self-discovery, family, education and love in heartfelt and revealing deliveries. Teresa Pantaleo, mother of Excelano member and College senior Simone Stolzoff, said the content of the group’s poetry “shows that they trust their audience,” exclaiming that it’s even “hard for fully grown men to be that vulnerable.”
With every poem, art indeed became a conversation, as the audience related to and welcomed a plethora of well-spoken verses. College junior Hannah Van Sciver was greeted by a round of approving snaps for her perspective on love in her poem “Supernova.”
“Our love has always been ferocious,” she recited, “we cannot blame it for learning to run, we cannot save it from stumbling.”
Among the more popular poems, often accompanied by laughter, was Wharton senior Siraj Iqbal’s poem “I Was Told There’d be a Waterfall.” In his poem, Iqbal humorously touches on his experience as a Wharton undergraduate, subtly criticizing some of the aspects of his education and his pursuit of a career.
“School is meant to be empowering, but the most empowering moment of my life came before school when a bear told me only I can prevent forest fires without ever asking for my qualifications,” he recited.
Many poems profited from their use of comedy — including the classic Short Poems, featured in most of Excelano’s other shows. Short Poems are performed by four or more members of the group, where each member simply recites one sentence followed by the words “short poems.”
Here’s an example: “I want to start an online series teaching people more effective ways of cutting their hair. I’ll call it body trimmage empowerment,” wrote College freshman Sam Prieto in his Short Poem.
Another classic piece, usually read in the spring, are poems dedicated by current Excelano members to the seniors in the group. This semester, Prieto dedicated a poem to Stolzoff, while Van Sciver dedicated hers to College senior Richard Thomson. When asked how the group selects which members will get to dedicate their work, Prieto said in reference to the friendship formed in the group, they “sort of [know] who is going to write it.”
In the end, the audience had more to show for its appreciation than mere applause. When asked what she thought of the show, College junior and Daily Pennsylvanian photographer Mirela Zaneva said, “I thought it was great and really speaks to the community on campus at large and reflects on the emotions that people go through.”Comments powered by Disqus
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