Break For The Theatre!

For the past few weeks I've been mixing art history with a little theater. Since I do have a degree in Theater Design and I have always dreamed for the chance to work simultaneously with costumes and art history, the current situation is close to sublime. Two consecutive offers have fallen into my lap and I am pleased to dip back in to my old realm, even if I'm feeling a smidge rusty and overextended. 

 Black Comedy, 1961. Starring: Albert Finney and Maggie Smith.

The first play I'm working on, Black Comedy, was written and set in the 1960's. An era that I adore. So many of my favorite films, silhouettes, styles, and sounds come from that time. The experience has pulled impressive live performances from the archives of my mind. Probably the first performance that I still think of frequently is Oyster, by the Isreali group Inbal Pinto. This dance theater piece incorporates, among other inspired things, Tuvan throat singing. I actually learned how to do this in my ethnomusicology course at Hunter College. I'm not that good.

Oyster, Inbal Pinto

Philadelphia: While we lived there, we saw a number of productions by Pig Iron Theatre Company. The members of this collective often collaborate or perform solo in side projects, so you get a real sense of the wide ranging community after a few shows. Some of the actors/musicians work with Cynthia Hopkins and in NY, with the legendary Wooster Group.

Trey Lyford and Geoff Sobelle in All Wear Bowlers, 2005, Philadelphia.
We liked this so much, I think we saw it twice. 

Largely New York at the Tony Awards, 1989.
The visionary inspiration Bill Irwin,
who I was so very lucky to meet and work with in Philly on The Happiness Lecture 
(I sewed his costumes!).

New York: I'm hoping to see the latest from Lyford and Sobelle, entitled Elephant Room, now playing in Brooklyn at St. Ann's Warehouse. Follow the link to read the latest NYT review and the Wall Street Journal review here includes an interview from John Collins of Elevator Repair Service.

Cynthia Hopkins

The last time I was at St. Ann's, three years ago, I got to see The Success of Failure (or, The Failure of Success), Part III of Cynthia Hopkin's Accidental Trilogy. Part I, Accidental Nostalgia, is definitely one of my favorites. Her particular style is breathtaking and I love her ideas on the dangers of memories and nostalgia, things that I try to keep a healthy distance from. She performs with live musical accompaniment, on either side of the stage. The musicians sometimes, seamlessly, crossover into the main action. In the video below you can see Jim Findlay doing just that. Hopkins also effectively integrates pre-recorded and live film.

Accidental Nostalgia. I also saw this twice, once in Providence, RI and once in Philadelphia.
The video freezes after four minutes but it's still great.

Cambridge: In my three years here I've seen exactly one play. It's not that Cambridge or Boston is lacking in this area, quite the contrary. Blame it on grad school. My one and only foray was six hours long and a thrillingly memorable marathon adventure. Conceived of by Elevator Repair Service (see above WSJ link), Gatz is a complete theatrical reading of the Great Gatsby. This review gives you a good taste of the experience.


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