Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Short Updates

Busy, busy. Between working forty hours a week and going to events and whatever else, I haven't had time to write about events. I'm hoping to publish shorter, more casual updates more often, so I'm not always recommending a play that closed two weeks ago.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

See This: The Hunchback Variations Opera

Near the end of Act Two of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, the characters sit 'thoughtfully' in a quiet field, surrounded by poplars and an orchard and some gravestones. Here Chekhov inserts an enigmatic stage direction: Suddenly a distant sound is heard as if from the sky, the sound of a breaking string, which dies away sadly. Later, at the very end of the play, Checkov the strange sound returns: The distant sound is heard, as if from the sky, of a breaking string, dying away sadly. This difficult cue has long perplexed stage directors, who have struggled to create such a perplexing effect. So now imagine that famed composer Ludwig van Beethoven and Quasimodo, the fictional protagonist of Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame collaborated in an effort to produce this impossible sound ... and failed miserably. And that they are now holding a series of panel discussions attempting to explain their failure. This is the premise of The Hunchback Variations, a play written by Mickle Maher and staged by Theater Oobleck in 2001.

Catching Up with Movies

Well, my recovery from the flu sent me into a dizzying events spree. I haven't updated this blog in ages because I've been too busy catching up with things. Mostly game after game of Hero Academy. But also there's been the Gene Siskel Film Center's ongoing Robert Bresson series, Julie Delpy's 2 Days in New York at Music Box, part of the Sundance Film Festival USA program; Riccardo Muti's intense and spectacular Carmina Burana with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; and, of course, new releases. A quick rundown of the non-Bresson titles:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Magnetic Fields: Andrew In Drag

Well, I'm feeling pretty well recovered now, finally. Last night I ate miso soup and avocado maki rolls with Jess, and this morning I woke up without sweating or nausea. So to celebrate I thought I'd share a chipper, catchy song that's been in my head for the last week, since I heard it on NPR's All Songs Considered, which, if you haven't discovered it, is an excellent podcast that every music fan should listen to regularly.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Last Minute Plans: The Wages of Fear

"When I was a kid, I used to see men go off on this kind of jobs and not come back. When they did, they were wrecks. Their hair had turned white and their hands were shaking like palsy! You don't know what fear is. But you'll see. It’s catching. It’s catching like smallpox. And once you get it, it’s for life."

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Feast: an intimate Tempest

Last night Jess and I took in The Feast: an intimate Tempest at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, a collaboration between the CST and Chicago's innovative Redmoon Theatre (the current site is a temporary stand-in for their new site, coming in March). There's also a hefty dose of Lookingglass Theatre, as two of the three actors onstage have appeared memorably in Lookingglass productions (Samuel Taylor, who plays Ariel, will forever in my mind appear dressed in white atop a unicycle).

I was excited for this production because I love both CST and Redmoon, and because the show's co-director and co-creator, Jessica Thebus, Associate Artist at Steppenwolf, has directed a few of my recent favorites, including last year's Stage Kiss at The Goodman. I suspected, however, that I should have brushed up on my knowledge of The Tempest before going in, and it turns out I was right. Whenever you head into a production that will deconstruct and reconstruct the source material with puppetry and acrobatics it's a good idea to make sure you know the original play or there's a chance you'll drift off for a moment attempting to recall who Alonso and Ariel and Antonio are, and where Ferdinand came from, and how everyone ended up on this crazy island. And in this brisk, dynamic, inspired adaptation, which runs a mere 75 minutes, you don't want to lose focus for a moment.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

See This: PINA

“I'm not so interested in how people move as in what moves them.” ― Pina Bausch

Just returned from a screening Wim Wenders' extraordinary new film, Pina, a documentary of sorts about the influential dance choreographer Pina Bausch. Subtitled "Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost," Pina is not really a documentary so much as an appreciation, a love letter, to Bausch and her company, the Tanztheater Wuppertal, and to the art and language of dance.