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Who Knew?

November 19, 2009 Leave a comment

We spent 23 days in France, Italy, New York, and Chicago, and now I discover that if I was looking for great theater, I could have stayed here. The weekly Escapes section in tomorrow’s NYT has an article praising Seattle theater. As one example, Brian Colburn, the new managing director of the Intiman Theater, says, “One of the reasons I came to Seattle was because there’s a theater scene here unlike most other cities. There’s probably as much theater here as in the city of Los Angeles, but the population is one-sixth the size. You can walk from theater to theater here, meet friends or colleagues at a cafe.”

It seems we have good art, music, and food too, all in a beautiful setting. Maybe we should try being tourists here for a week or two.

Categories: Theater, Today's News

Misbehaving Audiences

June 18, 2009 Leave a comment
Tovah Feldshuh in Irena’s Vow

Tovah Feldshuh in Irena’s Vow

I was going through a pile of Wall Street Journals last night before recycling them when I came across the front page feature article from two Saturdays ago. I’m glad I caught it. It has the clever title Are Misbehavin’: No Tonys for These Performances, and in it, Ellen Gamerman writes about some astonishing examples of audience misbehavior these days. For example:

The litany of misdemeanors is long. During a Saturday matinee of the Holocaust drama “Irena’s Vow,” a man walked in late and called up to actress Tovah Feldshuh to halt her monologue until he got settled. “He shouted, ‘Can you please wait a second?’ and then continued on toward his seat,” recalls Nick Ahlers, a science teacher from Newark, N.J., who was in the audience. He says the actress complied.

Ms. Feldshuh says she typically pauses when she’s interrupted. She doesn’t recall the incident, which she says may be evidence of the Zen attitude she’s cultivated onstage. “I have no negative energy about it to even remember,” she says.

Gamerman makes the useful observation that unruly behavior isn’t new: “Rowdy audiences have been around as long as stages. William Shakespeare’s plays were performed outdoors while prostitutes and drunk spectators milled about eating fruit and nuts, talking back to the actors and throwing things at them.”

Maybe this is as it should be. The article ends on a cheery note:

Some shows are beginning to experiment with new etiquette rules. “Hair” director Diane Paulus is exploring ways to make the theater atmosphere more relaxed, less traditional. In order to keep up with the times, she plans to allow cell phones this summer at a theater space at the American Repertory Theater, in Cambridge, Mass., where she is the artistic director.

“I’ll tell you, it’s radical,” she says. “I don’t think there’s a theater in America that tells you to turn your phone on.”

Categories: Theater

Surprise Wedding Reception

June 7, 2009 Leave a comment

The video above (hat tip: Andrew Sullivan) is the latest production from Improv Everywhere. I knew about their annual no pants subway rides in New York City, but I hadn’t realized that they have many different types of missions. After watching the video above, I went to their website (linked above) and discovered how much more they do. Some great stuff. I’ve added their feed to my news aggregator, so from now on I’ll be able to see their reports and learn about each new mission as it gets posted.

Plus, when you go to the website, you see photos and read more about each of the missions. For example, the wedding webpage describes how they were lucky to get the tents for the reception because another group was finished using them and they were able to pay extra to extend the rental time.

Below is the video from their Welcome Back mission last November. In this mission, a group of people went out to JFK, where they would find a driver with a name sign waiting for an arriving passenger. They’d tell the driver that they know that person and will wait with him. Then, since they now knew the passenger’s name from the driver’s sign, they would quickly prepare more signs greeting the arrivee. The video shows some of the surprised passengers as they are warmly greeted by a group of total strangers.

Have a look. And go to the Improv Everywhere website to see many more videos, along with photos and mission reports.

Categories: Culture, Theater

Sunday in the Park

May 10, 2009 1 comment

grandejatte

On Friday night, we saw Sunday in the Park with George at the 5th Avenue Theater in downtown Seattle. I guess you could say it’s our musical. We don’t have a song. But we have a musical. We saw it on Broadway near the end of our extended honeymoon, in the summer of 1985.
Read more…

Categories: Theater

Missed Opportunity

April 20, 2009 Leave a comment
Saidah Arrika Ekulona, left, and Russell Gebert Jones in Ruined

Saidah Arrika Ekulona, left, and Russell Gebert Jones in Ruined

When we went to Chicago last November, we had one free evening, a Saturday, which I hoped we could use to see the Chicago Symphony. But they weren’t playing that night. Instead, Orchestra Hall was home to a special concert by the Chinese pianist Lang Lang and friends. Given all the time I spent at Orchestra Hall when I lived in Chicago during the 1980-1981 academic year, I was eager to return. But I was also eager to attend a play at the Goodman Theater, and that same evening we had the option of seeing a new play, Ruined, by the playwright Lynn Nottage, who received a MacArthur Award in 2007. From what I read at the Goodman website, the play sounded interesting, though also perhaps painful, dealing with Congolese women who were rape victims. No doubt this is a simplistic description, but it’s what stayed with me, and I thought I might just rather go to a concert. Gail was content to let me decide, so that’s what we did.

I wrote about our evening with Lang Lang here. In February, Ruined opened in New York at the Manhattan Theater Club and received some good reviews, such as Ben Brantley’s in the NYT and Hilton Als’ in the New Yorker. When I read them, I wondered if we had made the wrong choice. But we did enjoy Lang Lang, and you can’t do everything.

The point of all this is that Ruined was awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Drama today. The citation reads:

Awarded to “Ruined,” by Lynn Nottage, a searing drama set in chaotic Congo that compels audiences to face the horror of wartime rape and brutality while still finding affirmation of life and hope amid hopelessness.

Oh well.

Categories: Theater, Today's News