(Originally published in The California Aggie)
As my tenure as Aggie editor and columnist winds down, I find myself struck by something that strikes many arts writers at the end of the year: the urge to think back on everything that happened over the last 12 months and judge it mercilessly.
Let’s dive right in, shall we?
This was a fairly eventful year for music at UC Davis. Here in Cow-town, we welcomed some pretty impressive artists: Snoop Dogg, Thirty Seconds to Mars, RJD2, Daphne Loves Derby and even Steve Martin at the Mondavi Center. Not that every show went smoothly – RJD2 postponed his show at the last minute, blink and you missed the chance to nab some Steve Martin tickets before they sold out and Social Distortion was cancelled.
Still, for a college town just about as different from a major metropolitan city as you can possibly imagine, Davis held its own. I give major props to the Entertainment Council and the Mondavi Center for wrangling the artists they did.
However, my favorite performance of the year was not musical in nature. Comedienne Sarah Silverman delivered two of the most entertaining hours that the Mondavi Center probably saw all year, and her performance will certainly go down in my book as one of the highlights of my entire experience at UC Davis. Fun, relaxed and completely free of political correctness, Silverman was exactly the kind of edgy, young artist UC Davis students want to see. Keep ‘em coming, Mondavi Center.
Moving on to movies. 2010-11 will forever be known as the year we came thisclose to winning the worldwide premiere of a major Hollywood movie, the medieval comedy Your Highness. After a truly commendable effort and a ferocious Facebook campaign, UC Davis came in 10th place, only two spots shy of winning a free advanced screening.
Yes, it was annoying to lose to UC Santa Barbara (and where the hell did Santa Clara come from at the last minute?!) but we Aggies showed we’ve got pluck. There’s no shame in 10th place out of hundreds – as long as we win next time.
The theater geeks among us were treated to a few outstanding plays and musicals, though any assessment of the year’s theater will be highly subjective. The year got off to a strong start with a classic, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, but most of the plays that followed were highly experimental and a bit more polarizing than more traditional fare. If you liked that kind of avant-garde theater, you had a lot to love about the year’s offerings. Those that prefer shows they can recognize were probably left scratching their heads.
My pick for the best theatrical production of the year is student theater group Studio 301′s electrifying and ambitious imagining of Spring Awakening. From start to finish, it was an impressive display of the talent UC Davis really has to offer. Well done.
Well, there you have it. Twelve months of entertainment summed up in 15 column inches. Some highs, some lows, but all around a year to be proud of, and I applaud the performers of UC Davis and the people who bring them to us. I wouldn’t have had a job without you.