About inventifier

Mark Sebastian Jordan has been an active presence on the Ohio arts scene for over thirty years as a writer, actor, director, playwright, speaker, and improv comedian. His Malabar Trilogy of historical dramas was featured in sell-out performances for a decade at Malabar Farm State Park. As a living history performer, Jordan has portrayed director Orson Welles, composer George Frideric Handel, humorist Dan De Quille, and politician Clement Vallandigham. He has also been featured in television programs such as Ghost Hunters (SyFy), Mysteries at the Museum (Travel Channel), My Ghost Story (Biography Channel), and House of the Unknown (A&E), and appeared as an extra in the classic film The Shawshank Redemption. Jordan is a writer with numerous publication credits and awards, and has worked as a freelance journalist for publications all over the world. His hilarious mystery Sam Slammer, Private Dick was published by Sinister Hand Media in the summer of 2017. His satire on history textbooks, 1776 & All That, is available exclusively from XOXOX Press. Jordan's first poetry chapbook, The Book of Jobs, was published by Pudding House Press, and his second chapbook, Murder Ballads: American Crime Poems, was published by Poets Haven Press in 2014. His work has been included in numerous journals and collections. Jordan has written about classical music for High Fidelity Review, Surround Pro Magazine, Musicweb International, and currently reviews concerts of the Cleveland Orchestra and Apollo's Fire for Seen & Heard International (http://seenandheard-international.com/tag/jordan-mark-s/). Jordan is a refugee of the corporate business world, where he spent a decade in packaging purchasing. Finding himself compulsively writing and creating to escape the unfulfilling day job, he fled when a corporate buyout ended his position. Since then, he has only worked jobs that offer personal fulfillment and creativity. Starting in 2007, Mark began publicly sharing his work as a poet and since then has read across Ohio. He has won awards from The Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, the Ohio Theatre Alliance, the Theta Alpha Phi Drama Honor Fraternity, the Associated Press, the Mansfield/Richland County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Ohio Poetry Association, the Jesse Stuart Memorial Award, the Ohio Poetry Day Association, and the International Association of Audio Information Services. He lives in the central highlands of Ohio, near Loudonville, and makes his living as a storyteller, speaker, and writer.

Mustard Sandwich No. 20190110

                         Commentary by Lucas Hargis

mustard sandwich 20190110 (22)

My mama grew up the opposite of rich. As a kid, she lived in a house on a bend in a dirt road way out in the North Carolina country. Her family of seven kept a few chickens pecking the yard, escaping the southern sun in the shade under the house. Mama fed those chickens through gaps in the kitchen floorboards. In exchange, the chickens supplied eggs.

One day in 2nd grade, Mama got in trouble for eating a mustard sandwich. That’s all she, her brothers & sisters ate for lunch most days. Well, she didn’t get in trouble for the actual eating of the mustard sandwich. Nah, she was forced to walk laps around the ball field at recess because of another little girl’s tattling to the teacher.

Now, it’s possible the principal’s daughter simply misunderstood what my mama answered when asked, “What you got for lunch, Debbie Jean?”

But when Mama tells the story, there was no misunderstanding. The tattletale twisted Mama’s words around. She knew exactly what she was doing.

Seemingly unrelated, there’s this archetype that’s been in the social consciousness for, idk, plenty of years. As soon as you read the words, you’ll be like, “Oh, yeah. Totally know that phrase. Everybody knows it. Heard it so many times I aint never thought much about the truth behind it, tbh.”

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Neos Gives Classic Ballet Local Roots

                         A review by Mark Sebastian Jordan

 

In a recent article in The Weekly Standard, Joseph Horowitz cited a key failure that has helped marginalize classical music in recent decades:

 

But over the course of the 20th century, American classical music disappointed expectations and remained a Eurocentric import. Orchestras succumbed to formula. They sacrificed local identity based in community for itinerant star power. They squandered their potential to instill a sense of place.

If one may extrapolate from that to tackle all repertory art, then Neos Dance Theatre continues to push back by reinvigorating a classic ballet in their production A 1940s Nutcracker which I watched at the Renaissance Theater in Mansfield on Saturday, December 9.

Marie and father

Alec Lytton returns from war to greet his daughter Marie (Kassandra Lee) in the Neos Ballet Theatre production of A 1940’s Nutcracker in Mansfield. (Photo by Mark Jordan.)

The Nutcracker is a holiday classic from arguably unexpected sources: The original story, still preserved in Neos’ adaptation, was by the wildly creative and whimsical German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann, whom classical fans will appreciate as the inspiration for Schumann’s Kreisleriana and Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann. In it, a girl’s Christmas gift, a nutcracker, comes to life in her dreams to defend her home from an attack of rodents led by their king.

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Encountering the King of Drama at Kingwood

 

An opera review by Mark Sebastian Jordan

 

As fine as the local arts scene has been for some time, there was one particular void that was only filled a couple years ago, when Mansfield native Joel Vega returned to town and created Mid Ohio Opera. Opera is one of the most complicated, difficult, and ambitious of art forms, so seeing it in Mansfield seemed an unlikely dream. But with his extensive studies, professional background, and limitless enthusiasm, Vega has the ingredients to make something wonderful. The final key ingredients are the strong support of local businesses and arts-funding organizations, and the local enthusiasm for exposure to a rare but vibrant art form.

Vega MOO

Artistic director Joel Vega welcomes the overflow crowd at the Mid Ohio Opera’s concert performance of Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera at Kingwood Center. (Photo by Mark Jordan.)

Kingwood Center, the elegant estate of Mansfield industrialist Charles Kelly King, made for a fantastic backdrop Sunday evening in the Mid Ohio Opera’s last performance of a touring concert production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball). Other performances included Liberty Park in Mansfield, and dates in Wooster and Worthington. This was a concert performance, without costumes and staging, but it was a wonderful opportunity to hear music not often encountered in these parts, that of the king of operatic drama, Verdi. The performance delivered much moving music in fine performances from high quality vocalists.

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Connecting to the world, one thread at a time: Eric Sparks’ “Madelline”

A film review by Mark Sebastian Jordan

 

What does it mean to be well? For the title character of Eric Sparks’ new film Madelline, the answer might simply be “not lost.”

 

Incoming

Audience members gather at the Mansfield Playhouse Thursday, August 9, 2018, for the world premiere of Madelline, a film by Eric Sparks. (Photo by Mark Sebastian Jordan.)

The work was premiered Thursday evening at the Mansfield Playhouse, a venue venerated for its live theater, but one not associated with a project like this. The good-sized crowd was welcomed to the venue by Playhouse board president Doug Wertz who expressed enthusiasm for Sparks’ project and how the Playhouse was glad to support other artistic genres by serving as venue for a premiere. Another showing will take place Saturday evening, at 8 pm.

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Neos Ballet fires up the Brickyard

A dance review by Mark Sebastian Jordan

 

Remember when people used to bitch about there being nothing to do in Mansfield? They were always wrong, but if anyone were to dare to say that today, it would be downright laughable. Not only is there a world of interesting things and people, we happen to be entering a golden age of creativity in north central Ohio. The opportunities are little short of astounding:

 

  • Fiery indie musicians like Chico’s Brother, Rust Pelts, 99 Spirits, Oddepoxy, and many more…
  • Challenging artists like Jason Kaufman, Jo Westfall, Thorn Monarch, Lucas Hargis, Neil Yoder, Luke Beekman…
  • Brilliant actors like Ryan Kiley, Scott Schag, Chevy Bond, Colton & Maddie Penwell, Renee Rebman, Ryan Shreve, Lindsey Saltz, Steve Russell, Katy Esmont…
  • Sophisticated classical and jazz musicians like Octavio Mas-Arocas, Condrea Webber, Jeffrey Boyd, Joel Vega, Kelly Knowlton, Wyatt Boggs…
  • Intense poets like Nick Gardner, Jerry Lang, Madison Shilliday, Aurelio Villa Luna Diaz, Jason Kaufman (again), Lucas Hargis (again)…
  • Probing directors like Drew Traxler, Doug Wertz, Michael Thomas, Gretchen Ashbrook…
  • Powerful prose writers like Llalan Fowler, Tim McKee, Nick Gardner (again), Jason Kaufman (again again), Lucas Hargis (again again, too)…
  • Inventive filmmakers like Beau Roberts, Eric Sparks, Jennifer Enskat…
  • Engaging playwrights like Bryan Gladden, Michael Thomas (again), Nancy Nixon, Gertrude Brooke (though that’s a pen name for one of the names listed above)…

 

See what I’m getting at? And I haven’t even done justice to everything that is going on in those categories and the venues that host them. This place is on fire with creativity.

 

And if creativity is a flame, then there was a bonfire in the Brickyard in downtown Mansfield Saturday evening. Ballet @ the Brickyard was an evening of dance hosted by the Neos Ballet Theatre, with additional participation from the Richland Academy Dance Ensemble and the RNI Dance Troupe from Richland Newhope. The whole event was tied to an Art in the Alley art show, covered by Llalan Fowler here on VFTB. It is true that Neos no longer has a studio in Mansfield, but Robert Wesner’s troupe has made a commitment to maintaining an artistic presence here and providing this area with the highest quality ballet and modern dance.

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‘Newsies’ Dances Beyond the Ironies

A review by Mark Sebastian Jordan

The Renaissance Theater’s production of the musical Newsies is good, and that’s what I’m here to talk about. Let’s not dwell on the irony of a show about the rebellion of poor workers in the 1890s being created by one of the largest and most powerful corporations in the world in the 1990s, the Walt Disney Corporation; nor on the assembly-line formulas of show composer Alan Menken (honestly, has he ever even heard any of the music from the 1890s?), nor even on the strange delight of watching a pro-union artwork in the middle of Trumpistan.

Newsies 5.jpg

The workers unite in an impressive scene from the Renaissance Theater summer production of Newsies, directed with an eye for the big picture by Michael Thomas. (Photo by Jeff Sprang, courtesy of the Renaissance Theater).

Happily, production director Michael Thomas is well aware of the work’s position, and includes an insightful commentary on the show in the program book (that is, if you can read the program’s microscopic print), regarding the Disney-fication of history. But a 1400-seat theater like the Ren is very limited on the type of shows that can be run in the main auditorium (though that won’t apply to Studio 166, the blackbox theater soon to open in an adjacent building). With a large house, the overriding consideration is getting butts in seats, and huge popular musical will do it.

So be it. On with the review.

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The Collapse of the Titans

The #metoo movement is bringing down abusive power brokers in the arts. But what will we put in their place?

 

An editorial by Mark Sebastian Jordan

 

The titans are falling.

Let them fall.

But let’s not just raise up new monsters in their places.

The recent fallout generated by the #metoo movement has seen formerly untouchable celebrities finally receive their comeuppance. Victims of sexual harassment and assault, cowed into years of silence by the harsh court of public opinion, have turned the tables, publicly naming the perpetrators. That lawless court has just as harshly turned on such celebrities as Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, and Kevin Spacey, finding them guilty without due process. Every person deserves due process, of course, but the urge to fulfill overdue justice has run ahead, for the moment, and careers are crumbling.

It hit the classical music world big time recently with the firestorm of accusations against long-time conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, James Levine, who has been accused of molesting young men (at least one of whom was under the age of consent at the time) for decades.

But a couple of Ohio connections have brought this major cultural shift home to me. One way is fairly impersonal: I am scheduled to cover a concert of the Cleveland Orchestra this winter that was originally slated to be conducted by the distinguished Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit, 81. That was before a half-dozen accusations of sexual misconduct erupted this week, apparently rising up out of a stew of gossip brewing for decades around the musician. In the last few days, Dutoit’s international career has collapsed as orchestra after orchestra has announced his replacement for upcoming concerts, with some stating outright that they are severing ties with him. A replacement conductor has not yet been named for Dutoit’s Cleveland concert.

Dutoit

Charles Dutoit

 

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