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The allure of absurd nostalgia

(03/15/21 5:50pm)

I miss my old room. It was square, and the walls were a deep royal blue. Were it not for the southwest-facing window, it would have been quite dark. Many afternoons in high school, after the slog of the school day, after waking up at 6 a.m., trudging through hallways and fighting against the mysterious magnetic force that existed between my forehead and classroom desks, I would lie on my bed, acoustic guitar in hand, while a rectangle of sunlight inched across my body. 

‘White Noise’ documents the roots of modern racist violence

(02/15/21 8:02pm)

On Feb. 10, 2015, three college students in Chapel Hill were killed in a vicious anti-Muslim hate crime. Six years later, as racist violence against people of color in the United States has only intensified, Duke faculty and guests gathered to discuss “White Noise,” a feature-length documentary film produced by The Atlantic that zooms in on white supremacy and the alt-right movement responsible for this violence.

‘In Conversation’ returns this spring to unite hearts through art

(02/01/21 5:00am)

Art can quicken your pulse — literally. In a study from UCL, the heartbeats of strangers synchronized during a live theater performance, rising and falling according to narrative arcs. While the COVID-19 pandemic limits in-person performances, Zoom can still offer a taste of that excitement and a window into the world of ideas around art.

Storyteller Amy Godfrey is building an emotionally intelligent generation

(08/17/20 4:00am)

From clickbait thumbnails to serious, serif font newspapers, stories of child heroes inundate our culture. Their exploits range from quotidian good deeds to revolutionary movement-building. Some, like Ruby Bridges, Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg, become household names for their immense bravery amid adversity or their shattering of oppressive barriers. 

Shipshowz is a Durham haven for radical queer liberation

(06/30/20 4:00am)

Alexandria has been in the Triangle drag scene for nine years. In this time, she has witnessed the rise and fall of various queens and clubs, but one problem has persisted: the exclusion of Black and brown femme talent. As curator of Body Party, a celebration for, by and about Black and brown trans femmes held at Ruby Deluxe in Raleigh, Alexandria often visits shows across the Triangle to scope out new talent. 

May music roundup: Perfume Genius, Charli XCX and more

(05/27/20 10:02pm)

Despite the hit the music industry is taking from the COVID-19 pandemic, many labels are still pushing out new releases. Some artists, faced with canceled tours and festivals, are finding that they have more time than ever to make music. (Charli XCX took this sentiment to the extreme, recording a whole album while quarantined at home.) While April saw big releases from Fiona Apple, RINA SAWAYAMA and The Strokes, the month of May arguably featured even more acclaimed artists. Here are some of the best albums released this month.

Netflix’s ‘Tiger King’ has little to do with tigers

(04/11/20 11:30pm)

In the middle of the final episode of “Tiger King,” the camera cuts to a cold, austere building facade. It’s the prison where Joe Exotic, the show’s titular Tiger King, is being held. Somber, atmospheric music drones in the background. We hear Joe Exotic’s voice muffled through a phone call, as he chokes back tears and struggles for breath. “I’m telling you man,” he says. “It’s worse than what you could ever treat an animal. I’m being treated like that here.” We see a static shot of Joe’s teary face that steadily zooms in: “I can’t do much more of this.”

Senior Valerie Muensterman’s ‘The Roadkill Club’ explores a poetic underworld

(03/17/20 2:35am)

The world of “The Roadkill Club” is not quite like our own. On a surface level, it’s familiar: The setting is a house in the country, somewhere in the United States, and the characters speak in country accents about things like flowers, neighbors and lost relatives. But something about what they say, and how they act, feels off.

‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ is a heartbreaking, slow-burning celebration of love

(02/27/20 5:00am)

Thirty minutes before the scheduled screening of “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” at the Rubenstein Arts Center, the theater was filled to capacity. More than a hundred people had shown up on Valentine’s Day evening to have their hearts ripped apart by Celine Schiamma’s critically lauded French-language romance. Unfortunately, limited seating only gave the privilege to 100 people — luckily, I was one of them.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘The Goop Lab’ and the endless quest for optimization

(02/14/20 5:04am)

Just 20 seconds into her new Netflix show “The Goop Lab,” Gwyneth Paltrow lays her cards on the table: “It’s all laddering up to one thing,” she says, seated at the head of a conference desk. Her skin is glowing, her blonde hair tumbles neatly down either side of her face and a large window behind her fills the room with natural light. 

GOVERNANCE, Inc., where performance art meets academia

(02/06/20 5:05am)

When the Rubenstein Arts Center opened Feb. 3, 2018, one of its first exhibits was an installation titled “sound/play/space,” which invited children to play with a “Synthball.” This device, a silicon ball, produced different synth sounds as it was lifted, spun, dropped or moved in any direction. In a short video clip of the exhibit, the children are fascinated by the product, which is just one of several experiments from a speculative agency called “GOVERNANCE, Inc.”

Indie folk collective Mountain Man hopes to spread joy with immersive ‘Cosmic Prom’

(01/16/20 5:06am)

The hushed three-part harmonies of Durham-based indie band Mountain Man grew out of a college dorm over 10 years ago in rural Vermont. According to the band’s oft-repeated story, then-student Amelia Meath heard a song coming from her dorm’s living room. Captivated by the music, she rushed downstairs to find Molly Sarlé, who taught her “Dog Song.” Meath then taught the song to her friend Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, and soon, the three were recording an album together.

From ‘A Trip to the Moon’ to ‘Interstellar’: ‘Space on the Silver Screen’ explores it all

(11/20/19 7:09pm)

In 1902, a rocket landed in the moon’s eye, and audiences were in awe. Pirated versions of George Méliès’ silent black-and-white film “A Trip to the Moon” screened in theaters across the United States to rows of captivated eyes. That year gave birth to a new genre of film — one that would later spawn multi-million dollar budget deals, elaborate theme parks and zeitgeist-defining, imagination-widening stories. 

FKA twigs twists sound and story in ‘Magdalene’

(11/16/19 5:01am)

Mary Magdalene is one of the first women history robbed. Popular culture tells us she was a former prostitute, but at the origin of this legend is an old, powerful white man: Pope Gregory I, who conflated Mary Magdalene with an unnamed “sinful woman” found elsewhere in the Bible. Fifteen hundred years later her image has hardly recovered. In “Magdalene,” FKA twigs’ second full-length LP, the British musician and performer imagines that Mary Magdalene is Jesus’ lover and equal, turning on its head the traditional, patriarchal narrative.

Recess interviews: Duke theater professor and playwright Neal Bell

(11/01/19 7:30pm)

Currently professor of the practice in the department of theater studies at Duke, Neal Bell has an accomplished career as a playwright that includes an Obie award in 1992 for sustained achievement in playwriting and the Edgar Award for the best mystery play of 2005. In anticipation of Duke Players’ staged reading of his new play “The Report From Planet X” this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. in Brody Theater, Recess talked to Neal Bell about his career and his latest project.