Posted in Athena Theatre Company, Chita Rivera, Daily Prompt, drama, Playwrights Horizons, Roundabout Theatre Company, Target Margin Theater, theater

Surrounded

via Daily Prompt: Immerse

We are often distanced from a theater piece by the curtain, the proscenium, the conventions of the fourth wall. These theatrical traditions are all well and good, and extremely pleasing.There is also another path that theatrical productions can take.

The Light YearsPlaywrights Horizons February 17, 2017 – April 02, 2017
Brian Lee Huynh and Graydon Peter Yosowitz in a scene from The Light Years. Photo © Joan Marcus

There were always immersive entertainments. In the 1960s, stage craft incorporated randomness as it never had before.Improvising and enveloping the audience in the event that was theater was truly what was Happening!

Some performances can use both the protocol of the curtain, and the range of the theatrical space. The Debate Society’s The Light Years is an excellent example of a show that uses both distance and intimacy; the play opens behind a plush red curtain and winds up using every nook and cranny of the Playwrights Horizons auditorium to engage. Characters walk through or speak from above the stage. This is just one example of  a production that immerses.

For instance, opening soon, theater activist and provocateur Tom Block’s new play Sub-Basement is having its world premiere at Athena Theatre Company, beginning March 24th through April 15th. Block’s absurdist theater-works often feature his art as part of the set. In this production, the artwork is in the lobby.

Roundabout’s production of the wonderful The Mystery of Edwin Drood had cast members mingling, in character (of course) with the audience before the show, and wandering through the aisles. Some patrons, in the front rows at Studio 54, were addressed by The Princess (Chita Rivera) or The Chairman (Jim Norton.) The capper, it was the audience that voted on who killed Edwin Drood.

MBE_gaiasquarci_4
Eunice Wong, Stephanie Weeks and Satya Bhabha in Mourning Becomes Elektra. Photo by Gaia Squarci

It’s not for everyone, but  Target Margin Theater invites 70 theater lovers (at a time) to participate in their 6-hour prodution of O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra. The staging under the direction of David Herskovits offers an immersive theatrical experience that takes the audience through the spaces of the Abrons Art Center to witness the entire Eugene O’Neill trilogy. The marathon Mourning… runs from April 26 through May 20th.

At its best, all theater– the novel and inclusive, the long-practiced and habitual, in the round or squared– involves and captivates.

For more information and tickets for on the Playwrights Horizons/TheDebate Society production of The Light Years, please visit the @PHnyc website.

To get tickets for Tom Block’s Sub-Basement, please visit Athena Theatre Company.

Tickets and information about Mourning Becomes Electra, please visit Target Margin Theater.

Posted in Daily Prompt

Live or canned?

via Daily Prompt: Record

1recordplayer
Record player

There is no evidence to the contrary, so I will state incontrovertibly that a live orchestra beats a record hands down. It may not always be practical to feature a band in your production when canned music is available. The recorded version is also inevitably easier on the budget. Some musicals tried using smaller groups and synthesizers for back-up a few years back; as I recall the union was none to happy. In truth, audiences probably also prefer the “full sound.”

I read somewhere that the New York City Ballet (@nycballet if you want to follow along on Twitter) has the luxury of an orchestra at rehearsals.  That’s nice.

Posted in ambition, anticipation, aspiration, avant garde, based on a true story or event, based on a true story or event and historical documents, based on true events, chronicle, drama based on real events, expectations, fictionalization_of_real_events, historical drama, history, land of opportunity, play, Playwrights Horizons, storytelling, The Debate Society, theater, theater folk

Wonders never cease

The Light YearsPlaywrights Horizons February 17, 2017 – April 02, 2017
Brian Lee Huynh. Photo © Joan Marcus

The 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, properly named the World Columbian Exposition in honor of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the Americas, hosted 46 countries and over 25million visitors.

The 690 acres it occupied was a city of industry that represented and presented progress to the world: Juicy Fruit gum, Cream of Wheat and Pabst Blue Ribbon were introduced at the Expo.

A Ferris Wheel, a moving walkway, an electric kitchen that included an automatic dishwasher and printing press for Braille were also innovations first seen at the 1893 Fair.The Colunbian Exposition was also home to a sprawl of original architecture.

The Light YearsPlaywrights Horizons February 17, 2017 – April 02, 2017
Rocco Sisto, Aya Cash and Erik Lochtefeld. Photo © Joan Marcus

In The Light Years, co-written by Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen and directed by Oliver Butler of The Debate Society, this and the subsequent Chicago World’s Fair of 1933 provide the background for a very unusual play. The Light Years  is presented with The Debate Society at Playwrights Horizons where it is playing through April 2nd.

Steele MacKaye (a wonderfully bombastic Rocco Sisto), envisioned an ingenius theater to celebrate the arts at this grand historic event. His 12,000-seat Spectatorium, was designed by the now forgotten theatrical impresario to harness the mechanical and electrical marvels of the time.

The Light YearsPlaywrights Horizons February 17, 2017 – April 02, 2017
Aya Cash, Erik Lochtefeld and Brian Lee Huynh Photo © Joan Marcus

The Light Years is, in part, a love story, highlighted by technology and wonder and spun over 40-years. In it, we are transported to more innocent times, when novelty could inspire and awe was not an unsophisticated or naive response.

In 1893, the story centers on the progress of building and wiring MacKaye’s theater.

Hillary (Erik Lochtefeld in a star turn) and his assistant, Hong Sling (the charismatic Brian Lee Huynh) are the electricians in charge of making the Spectatorium shine. Hillary’s wife, Adeline (the appealing Aya Cash) is a very modern woman, cheerfully pedalling both iced tea and a bicycle.

The Light YearsPlaywrights Horizons February 17, 2017 – April 02, 2017
Aya Cash, Ken Barnett and Graydon Peter Yosowitz. Photo © Joan Marcus

When the scene shifts to 1933, it’s Ruthy (Aya Cash, again) who has to keep her family afloat, flipping pancakes and inspiriting her husband Lou (Ken Barnett, in an excellent awe-shucks mode) through the writing of musical ditties for this Fair’s many commercial enterprises. Their son, Charlie (the already accomplished young Graydon Peter Yosowitz) is smitten with the sensations the Fair promises.

The scenic design by Laura Jellinek and costumes design by  Michael Krass rise beautifully to the majesty of the occasion.

Every part of the theater space is treated to a bit of the performance. There are lights and things that go poof as well as narratives to explicate the drama. The ensemble engage, entertain and instruct.

The Light Years uses some of the devices Steele MacKaye introduced to turn this small-scale production into a grand spectacle.

For more information and tickets, please visit @PHnyc website.

 

 

 

Posted in modern American dance, modern dance, Paul Taylor, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Uncategorized

Jumping for Joy

The rites of spring tend to be worshipful of renewal, resumption and continuation. We are grateful to have as one of those rites, the Paul Taylor American Modern Dance spring at Lincoln Center.

1TrusanvoecGoodePrintempsLe Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal) was on the bill for the centenial of the Stravinsky-Nijinsky collaboration in February 2013 when we last saw it.

It is an homage in the Paul Taylor mode, created as an operatic rendering of a Keystone- Kops-and-Krooks silent film. Paul Taylor playfully references the Nijinsky production for Diaghiliev’s Ballets Russe which caused a near riot for the brutality it displayed.

Company B 1The Taylor version of Le Sacre… (The Rite of Spring) is for two pianos, and the dancers’ moves follow the urgency in the musical score with a very serious levity. 

Songs from an era, like the ones used in Taylor’s Company B, set a mood and place for a given dance number. (BTW You can catch our personal all time favorite Taylor piece on March 16th and 23rd at 7p.m.)

In Black TuesdayPaul Taylor kicks-off his dance piece about the Great Depression and its propellant great market crash with songs from the era. The Kennedy Center took a lead in commissioning this work from 2001, which is set to recorded versions of tunes like Irving Berlin’s “Slummin’ On Park Avenue,” and the better known Yip Harburg lyric “Brother Can You Spare a Dime.”

The Weight of Smoke 1Paul Taylor renamed his dance enterprise as Paul Taylor American Modern Dance to fulfill dual objectives. On the one hand, the company aims to preserve and reincarnate classic pieces from the modern dance repertory and thus to keep them alive.

On the other, it commissions the creation of new works for that same repertory.

Doug Elkins received one such commission in 2016. The result is that he has choreographed The Weight of Smoke with and on the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Such collaboration is at the essence of what modern dance intends as a genre.

For a full schedule of the remaining performances in this 2017 Taylor Spring, please visit the Lincoln Center website.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Daily Prompt

A gaggle of

1shushvia Daily Prompt: Murmuration

Whisperers don’t belong in the audience. The susurrus of voices is disturbing to everyone.

Yet, a whisper is preferred to a full-throated outburst from the viewers on this side of the curtain.

 

 

Posted in Daily Prompt, theater

Plotlines

via Daily Prompt: Pattern

1.isitplaidorprison
Plot lines!

Even at its most predictible, theater is full of surprises.The plot may fill a pattern determined by stage craft dating back to Aeschylus, but the pattern is always personal to the playwright, and therefore to us.

We relate. We suspend our disbelief (in a good way), and we immerse ourselves in tales as old as humanity.

A pattern emerges, and we are delighted.

Posted in Daily Prompt

Suspend your Disbelief

via Daily Prompt: Doubt

1.TheaterThere is magic in doubt. Uncertainty is a principle in the theater.We are driven to question the outcome. We wonder at how the plot will unfold. We are mesmerized into suspending disbelief.

The theater uses uncertainty for the good. It tells universal tales in intimate and personal ways so we can all relate.We learn and grow.

There is no doubt –when the curtain rises we will be transported.