A multiplicity

April 9th, 2016 No comments

Happy Meal

Happy Meal

I’ve been lax in my posting. I went over to convergence and participated in Booty Candy by Robert O’Hara, which is a hilarious play and well-directed by Terrence Spivey. Very meta, culminating at the end of the first act with a mini playwright conference in which each playwright discusses his or her play, scenes from which we’ve seen already, including a cross dressing pastor (Dreamin’ in Church/Michael May), Bootycandy (Wesley Allen/India Nicole Burton) the eponymous name of the male genitalia that might fall off if not cleaned properly; Genitalia: a phone conversation, a mocking gesture to the obscure names some black children receive (India Nicole Burton/Rochelle Jones), and Drinks and Desire (Wesley Allen/Nate Miller), a drinking scene of desire and repression. The play is a retrospective of the character Sutter (Wesley Allen) a young black man coming of age and coming to terms with his being gay. The scenes that make up the play are episodic, but they are truly funny and the acting is fantastic throughout. The play runs one more weekend.

I went to The Revisionist by Jesse Eisenberg at Dobama. I thought the play was ‘one note’ in terms of its dramatic action, but the acting was great and it was a pleasure to see Dorothy Silver. It was directed by Leighann Delorenzo who always does a great job.

Momentum

Momentum

My good friend Jared Bendis had his MFA thesis production at Case’s Department of Dance. I had forgotten the power of dance to create a dreamlike experience. The choreography, of all the pieces, was wonderful. The production was of several pieces, called Momentum, Jared’s pieces were Chroma and Château de Rêves, a dance piece with a stunning large scale multimedia show of Jared’s photographs from his travels around Europe. The pieces that left the deepest impression included Dark Covenant, with artistic director Gary Galbraith and Richard Oaxaca, reinacting through movement the story of Faust. Oaxaca has an impressive production history and physically is as close as you’ll ever come to seeing a chiseled marble statue spring to life and gracefully dash across a three dimensional space. The piece Until Death do us Part was impressive in altogether quiet way. And In Ancient Waters was magnificent, creating a dreamlike other world in which men and women seem to merge into fantastical beasts. Andrea Alvarez is an equally graceful and powerful dancer, and she choreographed many of these pieces as well.

Took my daughter to the Kids Comic Con at Lake Erie Ink, where she got to participate in an all day conference dedicated to different aspects of creating comics and graphic novels. There were many break-out sessions that were of interest to her, especially “action in comics” and how it is conveyed both in the West (pow, bam, etc) and in manga, which blurs frames foregoing the more obvious approach used in older comics. Her interest increases and we just picked up a digital tablet and Manga Studio 5 so she can draw (or trace) her work directly to the digital realm.

Mr. Burns @ CPT

March 2nd, 2016 No comments

Hoofed it over to CPT last week to see Mr. Burns. The production was fantastic, especially the third act which is so brilliantly done it makes the whole play worth seeing, which is saying something because the play itself is not that great, in fact, weighing in at two hours and fifteen minutes, this play could have been cut.

The first act is a post-apocalyptic campsite, and for fans of the Walking Dead it’s as close to the tv show as you’ll get in a live theater performance. The atmosphere is realistic and tense. The characters are clearly forced together and pass the time talking about Simpson episodes. Why? Who knows. They also talk about Night of the Hunter, the fantastically surreal film by Charles Laughton that stars Robert Mitchum as a murderous ex-con preacher with Love and Hate tattooed on his fists. Again, not really sure what this has to do with the play, unless Washburn is relying on the preacher’s chasing two kids across an apocalyptic landscape as a reference–for those who’ve seen the film. There’s also the reference to Cape Fear, the film also starring Robert Mitchum, in which a killer wronged by an attorney terrorizes the attorney’s family, finally cornering them on a river boat during a storm: again, a survival story with a killer. Connection to the play? This first act sets the characters and circumstances….

The second act is 7 years later, I think. Something like that. Mankind has broken into tribes that apparently have nothing better to do than re-stage Simpsons episodes. The tribes from different areas fight over lines and episodes and stories and the whole of it is pretty absurd, which I have to assume is the intent, and way too damn long. This act enforces the importance of the Simpsons to this universe, perhaps warning us about the things that we value, or the unexpected cultural artifacts that a civilization leaves behind.

The third act is very much later, I think 75 years. I am not sure what to make of this act, whether it is a theatrical enactment or a religious ritual. It is, however, the most impressive act of the production. The costuming, choreography, sound, light, and Megan Elk performing a Japanese Noh ritual dance that is as fantastic as it is strange. The third act is operatic and the stage mechanics of the Cape Fear boat, complete with the life saver bearing Love Hate from Night of the Hunter all return, is magical. Mr. Burns finally appears here, setting up a final fight between Burns and Bart. This stylized fight has much in common with the Nutcracker and the Rat King in the ballet, complete with Itchy and Scratchy as Mr. Burns’ minions.

The show, performance-wise, is worth seeing. The content and structure of the play itself would be a bit much to endorse, unless you’re truly a Simpson-ophile and a fan of whacky theater. Convergence put up The Internationalist in 2011, a much better representation of Washburn’s work.

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