Hamlet Goes Steampunk at AB Tech

AB Tech's Hamlet

Okay, I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m not a Hamlet person– or a Shakespeare person at all, really. I’ll be flogged in effigy by many of my peers for saying so, but having been immersed in the Bard during middle school seems to have left me decidedly “meh” on the whole subject.

Still, when I heard that AB Tech was planning to do a steampunk version of the play, my interest was piqued. When I found out that Moog Music was behind the sound design, headed up by the guys who brought us last year’s killer new soundtrack to the original Night of the Living Dead, I knew I had to check it out.

The play itself, under the more than competent direction of Peter Carver, is by far the most entertaining rendition I’ve seen. Carver cast Hayley Karbowski in the lead, an edgy move considering that he made no move to feminize the script nor turn young Hamlet into a more androgynous character. This is simply a chick playing Hamlet as written, and it works. I was a little unsure about Karbowski in the role at first, but as the play went on I realized that she managed to bring to life the character as I’ve always seen him: melodramatic, perhaps a bit emo, but with a sharp wit that makes him likable nonetheless. Allison Stinson is perfectly cast as Gertrude, and Ken Knight actually made me laugh out loud (not an easy thing to to) with his spot-on portrayal of the annoyingly verbose Polonius. Although all of the actors performed well, Alison Tippin impressed me more than anyone else as an intense yet understated Fortinbras.

AB Tech’s Hamlet is performed in a small lecture hall, without much room for elaborate set design. To remedy this, scenes of the Biltmore Estate and grounds are projected onto the walls behind the stage. Scenes of the ghost are expertly projected around the room, adding to the play’s overall eerie vibe, and the play-within-a-play alone, shot as an old black-and-white film, makes the whole thing worth seeing.

The play is driven by an intense and ethereal soundtrack created by Anthony Dorion. He and thereminist Chris Tanfield add live effects to the pre-recorded music, which includes appearances by members of Silver Machine, Space Medicine and Asian Teacher Factory, as well as Syracuse, NY singer-songwriter Mike Davis. The result is an undefinable mix of modern and classical music, the perfect backdrop for this innovative stage production.

AB Tech’s Hamlet runs approximately two and a half hours, with a fifteen-minute intermission, although I have to say it doesn’t feel that long. It’s an easy play to sit through; I did more than once and will likely see another performance before the final night. Tickets are $5 for AB Tech students, $10 for all other students and $15 for the general public– a small price to pay for such a well-done production. See it at Simpson Hall at 7:30 pm, May 1-4. For more information, click on the flyer above.

April Fox is a teacher and freelance writer in Asheville. If you’re interested in more from her warped little head, follow her blog or find her on Facebook.



Asheville’s Silver Machine Release New Soundtrack to Romero’s Night of the Living Dead

Silver Machine's Night of the Living Dead

Just in time for Halloween, Asheville space rock band Silver Machine are beaming their latest project back from outer space, and holy cats, it’s a good one. The band spent countless hours in their spaceship studio, painstakingly restoring George Romero’s classic film, Night of the Living Dead, to the highest quality ever seen on DVD. It hasn’t  been colorized, there’s no new dialogue, just a sharper, clearer picture, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before in this film.

That wasn’t enough for this ambitious band, though. The original film had a soundtrack comprised of stock audio, and Silver Machine thought the movie deserved a soundtrack all its own, written and recorded just for the film. What they did to that end is nothing short of mind-blowing. They brought together a unique combination of instruments–including theremin and tabla–and created an album that brings to mind early Pink Floyd, while maintaining a deep, intense vibe from start to finish that’s perfect for the film. You know how some soundtracks are great while you’re watching the movie, but then you try and listen to the music without the film and it falls flat? Not this one. As amazing as Silver Machine’s first album was, as awesome as Symmetry was, this is by far their best release to date. From the eerie opening notes to the brooding final track, this is one of those albums that you’ll keep on repeat until you feel sorry for the rest of your music, only to pop it back in after a day, because nothing else is this good.


So now you want to know where you can hear it, right? Where can you see your favorite zombie classic, updated with this killer new soundtrack? Here you go, people–listen to the album for free, or order your own copy of the CD and DVD (I recommend both) here:

Night of the Living Dead by Silver Machine

The official premiere of Silver Machine’s Night of the Living Dead will be at the Fine Arts Theater in downtown Asheville on November 15 at 9:30 pm. Can’t wait that long? I don’t blame you. Head down to The Wedge Brewery in the river arts district for a free pre-screening of the film this Thursday, October 25, at 7 pm. It’s the perfect kick-off to Moogfest weekend, and you’ll hear plenty of Moog effects on the album.

Look for copies of the film and soundtrack in local stores soon.

It's here: Silver Machine's Night of the Living Dead


April Fox is a freelance writer from Asheville. Follow her on Facebook, read her blog or find out more here. She is not a zombie-yet.



Silver Machine Ready to Bring Space Rock Back to Earth

Several months ago, Asheville band Silver Machine played the Electronic Music Showcase at the Orange Peel. Billed as the band’s last show on earth, the gig was their final live appearance before they got busy recording their second album.

Fast forward to now, and Silver Machine are ready to release that album, Symmetry. They’ve put in countless hours recording and perfecting each song on the album, and I use the term perfecting literally here. After their famed “Last Show on Earth” at the Orange Peel last June, the band took up full-time residence in their studio in outer space (hey, this is their shtick, not mine) and the result is a collection of songs that are almost surreal to listen to. There is nothing mainstream about this sound, nothing remotely mediocre or middle-of-the-road; Bruce Springsteen would spin in his grave if these guys were on the shelf next to him. You know why nobody buys full-length albums anymore? Because they all seem to have one or two catchy radio tunes, and the rest is just filler to kill time. It’s the equivalent of the busywork you had to do in elementary school when you finished your spelling test, and it sucks.

Symmetry is not one of those albums. Every song on the album catches and holds your attention, and the entire thing almost demands to be listened to continuously, much the same way you’re compelled to listen to Pink Floyd. There is no way to describe their sound, though I attempted to once, using phrases like “pure glitterfunk bliss.” Silver Machine have created a sound all their own; it’s an organic, psychedelic trip that they’ve termed “space rock,” and that fits as well as anything. This isn’t some post-adolescent tool with a laptop and a bunch of sound effects, though the music clearly has a distinct electronic feel. These are four experienced, classically trained, real musicians, playing real instruments, making real music that will make you think you’re having flashbacks to the best trip you ever took. And they’re just regular guys; they have jobs and families and bills to pay, which is why they’ve started a Kickstarter campaign. Just six days into the campaign, Silver Machine’s fans pulled together to help them meet their goal, so the album will be ready for its April 1, 2012 release. However, they still need your help. Additional contributions will allow them to create an even higher-quality pressing than originally anticipated, and will help offset the costs of marketing and promoting Symmetry. Rest assured that every penny pledged goes toward this album-with enough pledges, we may even be lucky enough to see a vinyl pressing of Symmetry. To see details of Silver Machine’s Kickstarter campaign or to pledge your support, please click here.


april fox is a freelance writer, poet, and owner of pink fox creative services in asheville, nc. visit pink fox creative here, enjoy her blog, or follow her on facebook.