GLENN LONEY'S ARTS RAMBLES
THIS WAS THE MONTH THAT WAS…
Suddenly, Shining in the Firmament, there was a Heavenly Host, Singing War on Earth & Death to the Enemies of Peace…
No, no! That doesn't sound Right… Neo Liberal, Pentagon Speak, possibly…
A Great Star, more Magnificent than any ever seen before, moved magically through the Heavens.
It came to rest over a Simple Manger, from which Angry Protestors were being Ousted by the Riot Police of King Herodes Bloombergiana.
But on Mount Palomar, the Giant Telescope revealed that this Flaming Wonder was only Lady Gaga, off on her World Tour…
From the Aurora Borealis came a Heavenly Chorus: Greetings! Unto you is Born, this Day, in Bethlehem, PA, a Saviour which is either Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich. Take your pick…
Out of the East came Three Wisemen--Robert Rubin, Lloyd Blankfein, & Tim Geithner--come to Worship at the Cradle of Capitalist Civilization.
This was a Great Astonishment, as you do not get many Wise Men anymore, East or West…
This was the Year of the Dragon, which should have been much more promising than the Years of the Rat, the Snake, or the Rabbit…
But It Came To Pass, that, Lo!, The Angel of Death did appear unto the Brothers Koch & all those Fellow War Loving/Profit Hungry One Per Centers saying thusly:The Lord Thy God is An Angry God, A Jealous God, A God of Wrath & Vengeance!
O Ye Merchants of Death! Take Heed!
It is Required that Thou shalt soweth the Seeds of Fear & Terror throughout the Land, so that National Security & Massive Surveillance shall never cease & Thy 99 Per Center People shall live in a State of Perpetual War unto the Day of The Last Judgment!
Saying that & spreading His Magnificently Radiant Golden Wings, The Angel did Rise over the Humble Manger & Thrust into Outer Space, like a Stealth Drone, Zooming Homeward toward what many Simple Folk on the Globe Below did believe might somewhere contain Heaven, where there were Many Mansions waiting for them, in the Event of Nuclear Destruction of the Planet Earth!
STOCKING STUFFERS: For the Man Without a Leg To Stand on, these are useless!
POST XMAS SALES: 50 to 70% Off, just to get this Stuff out of the Store as no one in His/Her Right Mind would be Caught Dead wearing such Tatty Junk. Made in Occupied China, of course…
HOLIDAY PLANNING: Do not get that Xmas Tree from Upstate New York until 26 December, when most of what remain will have been abandoned in the Gutters of the Upper West Side!
PASSING GLANCES AT SCENES SEEN:
•Let's Beat Those Commie Russkis! The CIA Covertly Arms What Became the Taliban!
•Shen Wei Finds Artful Ways To Fill the Park Avenue Armory with Dance Arts.
•Getting Falling Down Drunk & Trashing a Motel Room on Derby Day…
•The Monstrous Golem Comes from Prague to East Fourth Street: Be Clay Once Again!
•Rent Began Life at the New York Theatre Workshop: Will Once Move to Broadway?
•Antiquities at Christie's: Headless Statues & Bronze Man Without a Leg To Stand on!
•James DePriest at Carnegie Hall: Siwoo Kim Is Juilliard Orchestra Violin Soloist!
•Stick Fly at the Cort: Family Problems for Prosperous Blacks on Martha's Vineyard!
•One of Those Coen Brothers Returns: Happy Hour on West 42nd Not So Much Fun…
•All Women Are Not Like That, Amadeus: Così fan tutte at the Manhattan School.
•Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape at BAM: Not Sam's Last Crap, by Any Means.
•Ay, Federico! Lorca's Bow Tie at the Duke: Young Artists in New York Tie It On!
•Ana Tzarev Explodes Her Paint Tubes To Celebrate Russian Fairytales.
•For Booklovers & Others at the Grolier: Imperial French Type Dies in Many Languages…
•Sex in All Its Possible Forms & Positions: Burning Down on Theatre Row!
•No Calorie Counts on the Meat Pies in Titus Andronicus: Don't Eat Your Kids!
•Maple & Vine Is Not Hollywood & Vine: It's a Made Up 1950s "Family Values" Town!
•The Frick's New Glassed Portico: Looking Out on the Forbidden Garden.
•Afternoon at the Asia Society: Sarah Sze's Fine Lines, Plus Coins on the Floor…
•A Moment at MoMA: Sanja Ivekovic--Women's Issues/Women's Photo Portraits!
•Brooklyn Museum Library & Others at Bonham's: Librarians' Night Among Autographs.
•On a Clear Day, You Can See Harry Connick, Jr!
•Potential Brain Damage at the Park Ave Armory: STREB…Falling on Mats from Heights!
•Juilliard at Tully: From Mozart's Jupiter To Prokofiev's Romeo & Juliet.
•Shanghai Cirque at New Vic: Everything That Streb Was Not!
•Elizabeth Taylor's Jewels Dazzle at Christie's Sale: $156.8 Million, Plus Luggage!
•A Bread & Puppet Christmas with Two Quite Different Shows: Attica for Xmas?
•Three Met Press Previews: Renaissance Portraits, Duncan Phyfe, Plus Amer Ind Artifacts.
•Chopping Down The Cherry Orchard Down on East 13th! But No Axe Sounds?
•Once, There Was Carmen Jones: Now We Have Lysistrata Jones, Who's No Relation…
•Bonnie & Clyde: Where Is Faye Dunaway When We Need Her? Warren Beatty?
End of Month Rambles Summary:
Blood & Gifts: The CIA Arms the Taliban--Anything To Defeat the Soviets & Win the Cold War!
At last: an Adult Play by an Adult Playwright!
Blood & Gifts--ingeniously orchestrated by JT Rogers--offers us the Devious CIA Foreplay that helped create the Taliban & tragically trapped US in Afghanistan.
Driving the Soviet Troops out of Afghanistan was part of our overall strategy of Winning the Cold War. Effectually, we Outspent the Russkis!
Their Shaky Economy could not sustain all the Armaments, Offensives, Occupations, & Manpower required to maintain & even enlarge the vast Soviet Empire…
Rogers' taut drama spans a decade--1981 to 1991--in which State, the Pentagon, & the CIA tried to subvert the Soviet Occupiers in Afghanistan.
What we did not then understand was that You Cannot Do Business With Pakistan's Military & You Cannot Trust Afghan Tribesmen To Serve American Interests.
But why should they?
As in Iraq, Our Leaders, Generals, & Spooks really understood nothing about the Religious Differences among Sunnis, Shiites, & other Visions of Islam…
Jeremy Davidson is earnest but baffled as James Warnock, Our Man on the Ground, dealing with devious Pakis & ferocious Mujahiden.
Billions have been swallowed up in this Military Disaster, as we are told Our Boys are Winning the Hearts & Minds of the Pashtuns & other Warring Tribes.
The Grave of Empires: Afghanistan has long been known by that Epithet. Why don't Our Leaders--not to say Our Voters--Learn from History?
Blood & Gifts can explain a lot about What Went Wrong.
But it's also very interesting--even at times amusing--on the Human Level, especially when Warnock is enlisting the cynical Brit [Jefferson Mays] in his Project & trying to subvert the Soviets' Man, Dmitri Gromov [Michael Aronov].
Entire Drill Floor at Park Avenue Armory Lavishly Filled with Shen Wei's Dance Arts!
The Big Thrill for most of the large audience for the Shen Wei Dance Arts Choreographies at the Park Avenue Armory must surely have been the invitation to walk among the Nearly Nude Dancers moving & lying on the Drill Hall floor.
This was Undivided Divided, created especially by Shen Wei for the Armory, where he & his Ensemble are In Residence.
With the Drill Floor segmented into Rectangles of Light--thanks to Jennifer Tipton--costume free dancers moved, writhed, or lay within these Perimeters, as shoe free audience members walked in the narrow paths between the Cells. Close enough to touch…
Soon, dancers lay down in Blobs of Color, writhing so that the Reds, Blues, Greens, Oranges, & Yellows were smeared on their naked bodies.
When another dancer entered a Cell, the resulting Dual Writhing looked rather like Mud Wrestling in Color…
For Rite of Spring, the graceful dancers were deployed on what seemed an Eccentric Grid, entranced in Ritual Movements, eventually Climaxing, with the Stravinsky Score.
Folding, originally created in 2000 in Guangdong [Canton], was illuminated by dancers in long Red Gowns, with Trains that were artfully whipped about. They moved slowly, gracefully, into the Arena, then scooting off into the darkness beyond.
The Red was then joined by the Black, with some dancers paired, rather like On Horseback…
Because of the length of the gowns, the rapid repetition of invisible tiny steps made some of these Figures look almost like Robotic Entities, rolling along on unseen wheels.
Their Heads were extended with long caps that suggested the flattened skulls of some exotic Primitives…
A Haunting Experience!
Dysfunctional Brothers Drink Endless Beers & Smash Motel Furniture on Derby Day.
Down in Louisville, Old Timers often stay away from Churchill Downs for the annual running of the Kentucky Derby. They stay home to watch it on TV or invite neighbors over to share the excitement.
But down in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where they run the Oaklawn Derby, a Dysfunctional Band of Brothers are sitting in what looks like a Motel Room, betting on the Ponies.
But, judging from their frantic looking out into the audience, this room must be part of a grandstand structure that accommodates Big Spenders.
They drink a lot of Beers & break some Furniture, roughing up each other.
The Youngest--who's just out of Prison & trying to Start Over--takes a shine to the pert Waitress [Beth Wittig] who brings them their Beers. She's leery of his proposals: Begin a New Life Out West…
When she pulls away, he knocks her down: what a way to Win a Woman!
This was the World Premiere of Samuel Brett Williams' play, staged by Michole Biancosino.
You'd hate to be on Stage Crew & have to Clean Up the Mess after each performance…
Rabbi! Leave That Lump of Clay Alone! Prague Doesn't Need a Golem--Except as a Puppet.
Not all Puppets are Equal. At least not in Size…
In the Golem, recently seen at LaMaMa, the more important Figures in the Marionette Version of this Prague Legend are indeed taller than the others. They also move about on roller platforms, guided by Handlers, who can move arms & legs with strings, but also with their own hands.
As devised by Vít Horejs & choreographed by Naomi Goldberg Haas, the Handlers are also, on occasion, People of Prague & its Ancient Ghetto.
As elsewhere, especially in Eastern Europe, the Jews of Prague were often hated & feared--not only because they persisted in their Religion, instead of converting to Christianity--but also because they were believed to kill Christians & use their Blood to make Passover Matzohs!
This is known as The Blood Libel…
That Medieval--& even later--Christians could believe such a Bizarre Fantasy may not seem so strange when you realize that, even today, Roman Catholics believe Sacramental Wine becomes Christ's Holy Blood when the Officiating Priest elevates the Chalice at Mass.
If that is still ritually believed to occur, then Christians of the Roman Rite, then & now, are practicing the same Act of Cannibalism of which they accused the Jews!
Anyway, the very wise Rabbi Löw wanted to protect the Jewish Community in the Ghetto.
So, from a Lump of Clay, he fashioned a Monstrous Figure, into which he breathed Life, ordering it to Protect the Jews.
This worked for a while, but the Golem was involved in some serious & comic mishaps that increased Gentile Fears.
So, Rabbi Löw put the Golem to sleep forever…
This fable is charmingly reprised by the Handlers & Performers of the Czech American Marionette Theatre, complete with a Klezmerishe Golem Band!
Some think the Creation of the Golem is just an Ancient Tale, but Your Roving Arts Reporter thinks it may be True!
When I first came to Prague, way back in 1957--when the City & its People were engulfed in Soviet Communism--I paid a visit to the fabled Old New Synagogue as well as to the Grave of Rabbi Löw.
Inside the Synagogue, the German speaking Sexton asked me if I wanted to see the Actual Clay from which Rabbi Löw had fashioned the Golem?
Well, of course!
He opened a kind of door in a ceiling, pulling down a counter weighted stair. We inched our way up into a dim Kafka esque Attic.
There, in an old wooden box, was a Lump of Dry Gray Clay…
So that Old Legend must be true, mustn't it?
In any case, neither the Golem nor the B'nai B'rith have been able to destroy Anti Semitism…
Is Once Another Rent? In Modern Dublin, Irish & Czechs Make Marvelous Music!
Down at the New York Theatre Workshop--where recently Ernest Hemingway Characters from The Sun Also Rises came to life again in a café style milieu--now we have a full scale Dublin Pub, where Dubliners & Czech Immigrants come together to make music & even to love…
There's this moody, forlorn young Song Maker whose girl has gone to America, leaving him abandoned & fearing that his Talent has failed him.
Will he hang up his Guitar & give up altogether?
Well, no. Because there's this fiery, intense Young Czech Girl who believes in him & is determined that he achieve all that is possible.
He, She--at the Piano, & all their friends in the Pub will form a Band & make a Record!
Even the Bank's Loan Officer comes on board with his Cello!
You may well want to get a copy of their CD!
Or to see this lively show again & again!
At the Intermission, you can get right up on the stage & get Guinness at the Bar!
When & If Once moves to Broadway, will we still be able to buy a Pint at the Interval?
Antiquities at Christie's: We Must Hope That None of These Were Dug Up by Tomb Robbers!
One room at the Christie's Antiquities Auction was devoted to the varied objects in John Kluge's Collection. On Auction, not because he is desperate for cash, but to benefit Columbia University!
In general, although there were some fine objects on display, Torsos without Heads are not so compelling as Busts without Bodies.
But, when a Nose is missing, you know Iconoclasts were at work long, long ago. Defacing both Greek & Roman God Portraits seems to have been a Duty of both Christians & Muslims…
To say that the Monumental Roman Bronze Figure of an Emperor didn't have a Leg to Stand on, was not quite correct, as he still had One Leg…
It sold for $1,426,500. What it might have brought, had he still had Two Legs, is anyone's guess.
Combined Sales totaled almost $15 million, with a Roman Emblema of Cleopatra Selene going under the hammer for $2,546,500!
Shortly after this Sale, 20th Century Decorative Arts & Design went on Christie's Auction Block.
Most impressive was the Jean Dunand designed Art Deco Breakfast Room of Templeton Crocker.
Dunand--who designed the famed Art Deco Panels for the great ship Normandie--was commissioned by Crocker, an Heir of The Big Four, who built the Union Pacific Railroad: Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, & the Ancestral Crocker.
Completed in 1929 for Templeton Crocker's San Francisco Art Deco Apartment, the tout ensemble--fabricated in Paris--was described in Vogue as "perhaps the most beautiful apartment in the world."
In the Depths of The Great Depression, Crocker at least had something to cheer him up…
His Dunand designed Bedroom is now in the Metropolitan Museum!
DePriest at Carnegie: Vigorously Conducting the Juilliard Orchestra from a Motorized Wheelchair.
Siwoo Kim, a talented young Korean, played Mozart's "Turkish" Violin Concerto with nuance at the Juilliard Orchestra's Carnegie Hall showcase.
The admired James DePriest--who conducts from a Wheelchair, but nonetheless with vigor--also programmed George Tsontakis' Perpetual Angelus & Tchaikovsky's Pathétique Symphony No. 6, which was anything but Pathetic. Rousing & thoughtful, by turns…
Cort Unveils Stick Fly: Privileged African Americans Have Real Problems on Martha's Vineyard!
How would you feel, subbing for your Ailing Mother as the taken for granted Black Maid for a contentious but prosperous & privileged African American Family--summering in its spacious Old Mansion on Martha's Vineyard--to be told, over the phone, that you are actually the Love Child of the pompous, strong willed, Macho Paterfamilias?
Upset? Angry? Shocked? Disappointed? Revengeful?
All of the Above?
To find out how all this Unfolds in the LeVay Household, you need to see Stick Fly, now at the Cort Theatre.
There are Other Complications as well.
The Younger LeVay Son has brought his fiancée, an angry Young African American, smarting under Racism & studying the Bodies & Habits of Flies.
The Older LeVay Son has brought his fiancée, whom he has described as Italian, although she is actually a Pure bred White Wasp.
Unfortunately for Brotherly Amity, the Older Son has already known sexually Younger Son's fiancée…
For the Self Satisfied, Self Centered Father, neither Son measures up.
So there they all are, in this remarkable Landmark Quality Summer Mansion, designed by David Gallo.
Lydia R. Diamond's lively, often comic, Family Drama is sure to be a Best Play Nominée!
Dynamically directed by Kenny Leon, the excellent Cast includes Dulé Hill, Mekhi Phifer, Tracie Thoms, Condola Rashad, Rosie Benton, & Ruben Santiago Hudson.
The Drinks Are Not On the House: Happy Hour at the Peter Norton Space!
Relatively speaking, Ethan Coen's short play contribution to Relatively Speaking, on Broadway, wasn't as unfortunate as Elaine May's. But Woody Allen's rehash of Old Stuff was marginally better…
Now, over at the Peter Norton Space--formerly The Signature Theatre--Coen is back with three long one acters.
The trouble with the One Act Format, for Coen, is that he doesn't know When To Stop, even when he has a Cute Idea.
In End Days, there's this Guy ranting at a Bar about all the Ills that ail us, that will surely lead to the End of Everything.
Then there's this Other Guy at the Bar, seemingly stupified by the Rant. The Bartender hardly notices…
For Your Arts Reporter, the Ranter was Right. This could have been a Monologue--which it, effectually, was.
But there was more, much more.
The Guy went home to read the paper & cut out an item, pasting it in a bulging Scrapbook. Much like that Guy in The Blue Flower, collaging away in his Scrapbook…
In City Lights, a foul mouthed, back up, Failure of a Guitarist, but still a Member of the Musicians Union, loses something in a Cab.
Trying to track down the Cab, he enters the Space of Marcie, joined by her militant friend, Kim. There's More. But it doesn't End Well…
The Playbill noted No Intermission, but there was one, anyway.
Two of my Critic Colleagues took this opportunity to go home. As did some of the Gray Panther Seniors at this rainy day Matinée…
Wayfarer's Inn was even more Depressing, even possibly Pointless.
What we need from Ethan Coen is more films devised by him & his Brother Coen: Barton Fink, where are you when we need you?
Neil Pepe staged for his Atlantic Theatre, whose Church Premises are being renovated.
Thus Are They All: A Cosy Così Up on Broadway…
Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio is clearly set in a Sultan's Palace, somewhere in the Ottoman Empire.
But his Così fan tutte ought to take place in the West--possibly even Imperial Vienna--to make the point about the exotic nature of the two Young Turks, or Albanians, who come to woo the Inconstant Fiancées of two young Officers, now in Disguise.
For some kinky reason, Stage Director Dona D. Vaughn decided to move the action to a Moorish Milieu, costuming the background Peasants like fugitives from a Christmas Pageant in Dubai.
Nonetheless, the Visual Effect was charming, even to discovering Don Alfonso [Gideon Dabi] steaming away in a Turkish Bath. Which later became a Planter.
There were also two spavined Palm Trees that got moved about so much they should have been on Rollers.
But the young Manhanttan School of Music Cast was brilliant!
Rebecca Krynski's Fiordiligi ought to be soon on her way to the Met.
Her sister, Dorabella, was also outstanding, often cleverly comical, as sung & played by Kaitlyn Costello Fain.
Trim & handsome Nickoli Strommer was in splendid voice as Guglielmo, as was his bother officer, Ferrando, sung by Brett Sprague, who, unfortunately, looks like a Botero in Uniform.
Best of all was Andrea Carroll as the Maid of Many Disguises, Despina.
Right now, she is every bit as good as the Great Despinas of the Past!
Still, every time I see Così, I'm reminded of what Jean Pierre Ponnelle once told me when he was rehearsing a delightful Così for the Salzburg Festival:
What is it with Don Alfonso?
Why is he always hanging around the Young Officers' Barracks? Why is he so eager to prove to his two young friends that 'Women are fickle'?
Ponnelle thought: He should Get Married & Have a Life…
With Publishers Dying, Krapp Today Wouldn't Get Any Copies into Print, Would He?
John Hurt is brilliant as Sam Beckett's Krapp, brought to BAM from Dublin's Gate Theatre.
As he listens to a Tape from thirty years ago--Krapp makes a retrospective recording every year on his Birthday--it's clear he believes he was right to give up Love, or at least Sex, for writing His Magnum Opus.
Seventeen copies sold, of which 11 at trade price to free circulating libraries beyond the seas. Getting known. One pound six and something, eight, I have little doubt…
This struck Home!
Your Roving Arts Reporter has made many, many Tapes, most with the Great & Famous in the Arts.
Yet, in this Year of Our Lord, 2011, I made the Grand Total Sum of $21.76 in Royalties. But for a book I wrote forty years ago…
That is really Krappy!
Ay, Federico! Wearing Lorca's Bowtie Not the Same Thing as Being That Doomed Poet!
The young Federico García Lorca once came to New York to study at Columbia University & write Poetry.
He was, apparently, fond of Red Bowties, as well as the Poetry of Walt Whitman & Hart Crane.
Always a Bad Sign for Parents, hoping for Grandchildren…
Who now reads Hart Crane's The Bridge? Who now even remembers Hart Crane, who liked to service Servicemen in Bus Station Men's Rooms?
But García Lorca is certainly not forgotten. His Poetic Dramas are still Potent & often revived: La Casa de Bernarda Alba, Noces de Sang…
Lorca's Manhattan Inspired Poet in New York is not, however, often mentioned anymore.
Nonetheless, it has inspired a group of young Spanish Artists living & working in New York to try to tie on Lorca's Bowtie.
Funded by the Spanish Embassy in DC & the Spanish Consulate in NYC, these talented Poets & Performers have joined with an American Team to create an avant garde work that invokes Lorca, while complaining of their own Problems in working & surviving in New York.
They are obviously not fans of the Bankstas & the Politicos, in thrall to the Lobbyists.
Two tall Scaffold Towers were rolled about the Duke's Arena, to facilitate various Bowtie tie ons.
Most impressive was a Cirque du Soleil fall from above, on a long red cloth: Bowtie Material?
Unfortunately, much of the Texts Lost a Lot in Translation. Frankly, I had difficulty in Understanding, not only the Words, but also Their Implications…
Now, looking at the Script, I can see what was possibly intended.
If some of these Young Artists are hoping for careers in the Spoken Theatre, work on Diction/Articulation & Breathing/Projection is indicated.
My Guest at a performance of Wearing Lorca's Bowtie was Peter Harvey, the distinguished Designer/Painter, who recently reprised his original designs for George Balanchine's Jewels at La Scala/Milan.
He has also painted a powerful Tribute to this Murdered Poet--brutally killed by Franco's Assassins--which now has Pride of Place in my Living Room…
Harvey was as baffled as I: Ay, Federico! Ay de mi! Ay que mala suerte…
Ana Tzsarev Strikes Again! Russian Fairytales Instead of a Russian Christmas…
Last Christmas Season, the bold artist Ana Tzarev mounted a wonderful exhibition of Decorations, Ornaments, & Scenes celebrating the Russian Version of the Holiday, complete with Father Frost, whom even the Communists could no erase from Slavic Consciousness.
Now, at her impressive gallery on West 57th Street, she has flooded the space with large scale, bursting with color paintings of Russian Fairytales.
In the Tradition of Kandinsky & Bilibin--but far beyond Kandinsky--Ana Tzarev has brought "her signature style of vibrant color & bold texture to these beloved stories."
Among these Legends are those of The Firebird, The Magic Pike, The Scarlet Flower, The Frog Princess, & Baba Yaga.
These surprising Visions will be on view until 11 February…
At the Grolier: See Type Faces & Type Punches from the Imprimerie Nationale!
For anyone still interested in the Arts & Crafts of Printing, the amazing exhibition of Type Faces, Type Punches, Engraved Plates, & Rare Books from France's Imprimerie Nationale, now at the Grolier Society, should visit before 4 February!
Not only are magnificent French Alphabets on view, but also Type Punches for Languages that No Longer Are Spoken. As well as for some Exotic Languages that do survive--some of which had been used in former French Colonies…
Did Pharaonic Egyptians ever really speak Hieroglyphics?
Of course not, but they had to have some kind of Glyphs to carve on their Monuments & to explain who was inside that Mummy Case, when Howard Carter & Lord Carnarvon dug up King Tut's Tomb!
As a productive result of Napoleon's March Through Egypt & his Order that its Antiquities should be described & depicted in Print & Engraved Prints, wonderful Hieroglyphic Type Faces were designed by the Imperial Imprimerie.
François the First founded the Royal Printers in 1538, but it was Cardinal Richelieu, in 1640, who created the Imprimerie, developed over the Generations, through Kings, Emperors, & even democratically elected Presidents.
These remarkable Types, Prints, & Books have never before been on display outside France. Do Not Miss Them!
Burning Passions… Director Scott Elliott Shows How It's Done--But No Toe Sucking!
Actors are--by Nature & by Profession--Exhibitionists.
If you do not want Strangers to see you Naked--Emotionally, Metaphorically, or Actually--you would be well advised to choose Librarianship as your Life's Work…
But, down on Theatre Row, at the Acorn Theatre, an interesting Ensemble is stripping down to the Buff & giving their All for their Art.
Thomas Bradshaw's multi plotted play is almost too complicated to describe or explain.
But, if you've always wondered what it is that Homosexuals do--in or out of bed--This Is Your Play!
It was something of a surprise to see Sutton Foster's brother, Hunter, impersonating the Older Version of an Orphaned Boy who began Hustling at 14.
The Things Actors are asked to do… But working is better than staying home on Food Stamps.
Scott Elliott staged Burning for The New Group.
More Stagings like this one, though, & you won't need Streaming Porn!
Don't Eat Those Meat Pies! Be Careful When Dining with Titus Andronicus!
If you live in New York City--or in nearby New Jersey or New England--do plan on an evening down at Joe Papp's Public Theatre on Astor Place.
Not only are the Productions often Provocative--as well as Professional--but the Public Lab Series also offers its tickets at the Bargain Basement Price of only $15!
After its effortful mounting of King Lear, it has surpassed itself with an astonishing staging of Titus Andronicus.
Not only is this a difficult, complicated drama, but it also requires its terrifying Anti Heroine Queen Tamora of the Goths to eat her own Children, baked into a Meat Pie!
The Play Text also has a few ambiguous Stage Directions. One of my favorites is: Enter Lavinia Ravished.
If you are playing Lavinia, just how should you act that?
Would it help if Shakespeare or Marlowe had uses a couple of Commas?
As thusly: Enter, Lavinia, Ravished.
Then, there's this challenging stage direction: Enter Lavinia in a Bed…
It should be noted that Whoever actually wrote Titus & all the other plays commonly credited to The Bard did not specify these actions. They were additions made from Globe Theatre performance practice.
[No Original Manuscripts in Shakespeare's Hand have ever been found. We have only Six Signatures in his Handwriting & he didn't spell his name the same way every time…]
Titus, powerfully played by Jay O. Sanders, has defeated the vicious Goths, who sought to Sack Rome. [Eventually, they did just that, but that's another play… Then there were those Visi Goths, as well.]
The Victorious Claimant to the Imperial Throne, Saturninus [Jacob Fishel], denigrates the Patriotic Titus & His Clan. He also makes the Grave Mistake of marrying the Queen of the Defeated Goths [Stephanie Roth Haberle], who is bent on Revenge!
Like Coriolanus--who victoriously defended Rome from its Enemies, only to be scorned & join the defeated Corioli to march against his Homeland--so, also, does Titus enlist the Goths against Rome.
Well, keeping things running in the Mid Italian Peninsula was Never Easy…
Seldom, in recent Shakespeare Stagings, have the Bard's Lines been so clearly & Understandably Articulated as in this unusual production.
The direction of Michael Sexton is surely to be credited for that! Christopher Marlowe would have been proud of him & the Cast!
But there was a Problem.
Instead of letting the play speak for itself, on an essentially Bare Stage, the set designer, Brett J. Banakis apparently found a Dyke's Lumber Yard Plywood Special…
Center stage was a pile of Five Ply Panels that kept being enlisted & unloaded on the forestage to outline & define the Onward Thrust of the Drama.
Initially, this was cute & clever, but eventually the entire stage area was engulfed in Plywood Panels, featuring various Texts, Graphics, & Drawings…
There were also actual Guns & Knives strewn about, which often made it difficult for the actors to move around the area.
PubLab: Please let Shakespeare--or Marlowe--Speak Aloud for Himself!
Maple & Vine: What Is It About Married Guys With Gay Issues?
Here's what Your Arts Reporter wrote about Jordan Harrison's Retro Paradise drama when it premiered last Spring at the Humana Festival in Louisville, at Actors Theatre:
It's Always 1955 at Maple & Vine: Who Says You Can't Step in the Same River Twice?
What is it about Berkeley?
Here's Maple & Vine, by Jordan Harrison, commissioned by Berkeley Rep & Actors Theatre of Louisville!
Imagine a New Cult in which everyone lives a Happy Life, just like June Allyson & Dick Powell. It's Always 1955 at Maple & Vine--with Suits, Fedoras, Dresses, & Hairstyles to match.
Couples with Troubled Marriages can find a Safe Harbor among these Good Folks!
It's like Scientology, only with Covered Dish Casseroles…
But there's a Serpent lurking in this Technicolor Eden.
Its Straight Arrow, Arrow Collar Man Founder, a Model Husband & Provider, has a Forbidden Love Interest on the side: Another Man!
The Audience even gets to see them, Pants Down, engaged in what Christian Fundamentalists would call an Abomination!
What would Jesus Do?
Wasn't there a Disciple that "Jesus Loved"?
You certainly do not hear of anything like this happening with Scientologists, do you?
But it's probably a Smutty Sin to even imagine Tom Cruise & John Travolta embracing at Maple & Vine!
Anne Kauffman staged an admirable & energetic cast.
That Was Last Spring: Now, at Playwrights Horizons, Too Much Scene Shifting…
Recently shown on 42nd Street, this was essentially the same plot--with some Jordanian or Harrisonian Improvements--but it was almost eclipsed in the never ending drama of Scene Shifting.
Set Designer Alexander Dodge had devised what appeared to be a set of stainless steel framed wagon stages, encapsuling various home areas & other sites.
For Decent God Fearing Christians, it is still shocking to see two men--one of them supposedly Heterosexually Happily Married--making the Beast with Two Backs!
Still, Marin Ireland, Jeanine Serralles, Trent Dawson, Peter Kim, & Pedro Pascal were excellent. Even if they had to dodge the ever moving, permutating Settings…
Glazing the Frick's Portico: High Time, Too--Now, See Secret Garden & Meissen China…
Your Roving Arts Reporter used to tell folks that he "lived in back of the Frick."
Actually, as Inge Riest, a major Frick Librarian, admonished me recently, I live across from the Frick!
It occupies an Entire Block Front on Fifth Avenue, bounded by East 70th & East 71st Streets.
It was once the site of the Lenox Library--effectually on Lenox Hill--but this was torn down by Henry Clay Frick to house his Art Collection & possibly to give Art Collector JP Morgan a run for his money, if not for his Museum…
[The surviving materials of the Lenox Library were later incorporated into the Stephen J. Schwarzman Memorial Library on Fifth Avenue @ 42nd Street.]
The current Big News at the Frick is the formal opening of the now glass enclosed Portico, which runs along the inside wall of the 71st Street Long Gallery, looking out onto a kind of Secret Garden--Not Open to the Public--although you can look through the Fifth Avenue Iron Barred Ornamental Fence for a Glimpse…
[There is also a much larger, more handsome Secret Garden on the other side of the Frick Complex, on East 70th Street, where two noble Town Houses were torn down to make this Inaccessibile To The Public Garden possible.
[When the Main Entrance was undergoing Repairs, we were, however, able to enter through that Magical Garden. Ordinarily, it would seem, only Patrons & Donors, on Gala Evenings, gain access…]
Now, great Glass Sheets have been securely installed between the Greek Columns of the Portico, making it a narrow but attractive Gallery for Sculpture & smaller scale Objects d'art, shown in wall mounted glass cases.
The Project Architect was Davis Brody Bond, which is, actually, more than One Person.
It is lit at night, so you can, from the street, admire Houdon's noble statue of Diana the Huntress, which now stands at the Avenue End of the Gallery.
But the current Major Exhibition is of the Arnhold Collection of Meissen Porcelain.
The Arnholds began collecting in Dresden--primarily table wares, vases, & objects with Royal Provenance--between 1926 & 1935, by which time Adolf Hitler had come to Power & it was high time for those who could get out with some of their valuables to leave Germany…
Your Roving Arts Reporter first saw this Collection at the MH DeYoung Museum in San Francisco, during the War Years, so it's good to see some of it again on display.
But these are all small scale gems of Dresden/Meissen China.
Not like the Monumental Porcelains on view in Dresden's State Galleries. Many of which Your Art Reporter photographed this past Summer for INFOTOGRAPHY™.
But do not bring Your Camera or Cell Phone Lens to the Frick: Photography is Strictly Forbidden!
Asian Revelations: The Very Fine Lines of Sarah Sze, Plus Rocks on the Marquée!
As for Sarah Sze's current Arts Installations on the Second Floor of the Asia Society, please Watch Your Feet & do not Sneeze, as you may destroy the Compositions of Coins, Bottle Caps, & other Detritus that she has so painstakingly assembled on the floor & walls.
There are also some large Rocks outside the window, sitting on the Entrance Marquée.
Chinese seem to love Large Rocks, especially Misshapen & Weathered Stones, as seen recently in the
Rotunda of the Guggenheim.
But Sarah Sze is American born, in 1969…
What she is, aside from those pitiful Installations, is a Genius of Line & Design.
In the smaller gallery, where some large & small scale drawing/painting compositions are on view, her fantastic & complicated interweavings of segments of Staircases & other industry inflected images are Absolute Fascination!
MoMA: Sanja Ivekovic's Sweet Violence Fascinates with Women's Portraits & Women's Issues…
Yes, Virginia, There Is a "Santa Claus."
But Good St. Nick was from Smyrna & he helped Doweryless Virgins. He Did Not Abuse Women!
Not like those Nasty Guys from Croatia & other parts of the Post 1989 Disintegrated Yugoslavia…
In Sweet Violence, the Croatian Artist Sanja Ivekovic has photo documented Handsome Women who have fled Male Abuse.
She also makes Videos!
But the Centerpiece of her current show at MoMA is Lady Rosa of Luxembourg.
This is a tall golden shaft, topped with a Golden Image of Anarchist Rosa Luxembourg, who should never be confused with that Anarchist Fiend Emma Goldman whom J. Edgar Hoover desperately desired to deport from America's Shores.
No, indeed! Rosa was a Threat to Order In Weimar Germany, so she & her Comrade, Karl Liebknecht, had to be Terminated. [This was done by the Fehm, a Pre Nazi Fascist Killer Squad.]
Standing Tall in the MoMA Atrium, this shaft looks very much like the Soviet Memorials to Heroic Workers that once dominated the Principal Plazas & Squares of most Warsaw Pact Cities & Towns.
Around the walls are newspaper accounts of the various exhibitions of this Monumental Artwork. One Headline asks: Is This Is Art?
Only God will be able to answer that & only at The Last Judgment…
Brooklyn Museum at Bonham's: Fine Arts Librarians Sample Wine & Cheese, Plus Auction Items.
Your Roving Arts Reporter was pleasantly surprised to find himself invited to a Librarians' Get Together at Bonham's Auction Galleries in the IBM Bldg.
The display of 20th Century Decorative Arts was closed, but, as I had long ago been founder editor creator of The Art Deco News, I was allowed to wander around these fine Suites of Furniture & Objects.
The assorted Librarians, however, were wining & cheesing among Fine Books & Manuscripts, auctioned on 15 December.
On show were Autographs of Famous Folks, among some interesting original Artworks. How about a Signature of King George III?
FDR? JFK? LBJ?
Actually, I already have King George's Autograph, along with other Royals…
I do not have a Jeffersonian Signature, alas, but I do have Personal Inscriptions on or below photographs from Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, & Lyndon Baines Johnson.
Truman wrote me an accompanying letter, hoping the photo wouldn't bring me "any bad luck." Later, when I was in Independence to visit his Presidential Library, I found him mowing his lawn!
I had repeatedly asked President Nixon for an Interview: I wanted to find out what his & Pat Nixon's favorite Works of Art, Fiction, & Movies were…
Each Request was answered with the response that the President wanted to do the Interview, but was Too Busy with Statecraft--or something like that--at the Moment.
Finally, Nixon--or some Staff Member--sent me his Photo, personally inscribed to me. In lieu of the Intervieu…
I knew that Jack Kennedy had a Robot Signing Machine, with some ten or fifteen Template Versions of his Signature.
But his Photo arrived with a letter from his Personal Secretary, Evelyn Lincoln. It assured me that he really did sign my photo. Not the Machine!
I wonder about that. But I did reflect that Abraham Lincoln's Secretary was a Kennedy; oddly a mirror image of Kennedy's Lincoln…
My very large Portrait of Lyndon Johnson also had an accompanying letter. This, however, was from Juanita Roberts, who assured me that this Left Profile was LBJ's best side…
Juanita Roberts was my Aunt Katherine Loney's Best Friend in Johnson City, Texas.
I was given the Photo because I'd written a report for LIFE Magazine about Miss Kate's having been Lyndon's First Schoolteacher!
[She once cautioned me: Don't you ever tell Lyndon I never voted for him!]
The Librarians talked of Books & Digitals, even as Printed Books began to slither from their shelves.
My good friend, Dierdre Lawrence, Librarian of the Brooklyn Museum, had invited me. But friends from the Frick & the NYPL were also on hand.
No one from the Morgan Library was there. I was told that the Morgan is a Law Unto Itself…
Over the years, I have given books to the Morgan, to the Public Library, to the Frick, the Brooklyn Museum, & other New York based Libraries.
Not to overlook the Bancroft Library at UC/Berkley, where Loney Family Items are on file.
My Grandfather, Thomas Loney, born in Ireland 1832, came to Gold Rush California in 1850, so the Loneys were Real Pioneers.
Incidentally, the Glenn Loney Papers in the UC/Davis Library now total 160 Running Feet. I write a lot…
My Friends have created a Glenn Loney Charitable Trust. I was 83 on Christmas Eve, so something had to be done about all the books & artworks not already given away.
The Bancroft & UC/Davis are on my Futures List, as well as Brooklyn, the Frick, & the Morgan.
Once upon a time, I was going to give my entire INFOTOGRAPHY™ Archive to the NYPL--it's now some Million.5 Images--but was, fortunately, Turned Down.
Now that they are going to Gut the Stacks in the Stephen Schwarzman Bldg & are closing Major Divisions, this was a Blessing in Disguise.
The Glenn Loney Charitable Trust will take charge of all those Images, photographed all over the World. Beginning in 1944, with a Brownie Box Camera, but moving on to a Kodak Retina 3C & onward to Leicas, Canons, Olympuses, & Nikons…
At the Bonham's Reception, I was again able to chat with Inge Riest, to whom I had given, for the Frick, some East German Artbooks, published by Subscription & not available in the West.
I also have a large trove of Nazi Era Art Magazines & Haus der Deutschen Kunst Exhibition Catalogues. I plan to Scan these for On Line Use & possibly donate the actual materials to the Frick afterward.
Inge Reist is now Director of the Frick's Center for the History of Collecting in America.
We already know how Morgan & Frick built their Collections. But what about the DuPonts?
Although I have collected some remarkable artworks over time, they are by artists, like the late Matthew Matthias Prechtl, who are almost Totally Unknown in America.
I asked Inge, quite some time ago, if she'd be interested in How I Built My Collection, but I've had No Response thus far.
Oh well. The Glenn Loney Charitable Trust will have to Make Decisions when I'm gone…
On a Clear Day, You Can See As Far as Eighth Avenue!
OK! I didn't much like Burton Lane & Alan Jay Lerner's On a Clear Day You Can See Forever when it first peered out into the Mists of Broadway.
Having been Beheaded in the French Revolution, I have nothing, in principle, against the Idea of Reincarnation.
But the Idea of Falling in Love with the Previous Incarnation of a Woman now inside Another Woman's Body really didn't rivet me to my seat. Nor did the Intended Hit Songs…
Now, Peter Parnell has had the Idea to put That Woman inside the 30 year old Body of a Boy/Man Florist!
This seems to have become the Season of The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name.
But what a shock for the Matinée Ladies who just Love Harry Connick, Jr!
All around me, they were clucking aloud with Misgivings: Is Harry going to kiss that Gay Guy?
They were lucky this show wasn't The Pajama Game, in which Harry Jr took off his pajama top to reveal Terrific Abs & Pecs, the latter almost like Manly Tits…
Had that been a Connick Costume Option, Florist David [David Turner] could easily have got an Erection right on stage!
Actually, even without an Erection, he's a Pleasing Player & sings & dances just fine!
Connick Jr, on the other hand, seems to be giving a Guided Tour of his Role.
Unfortunately for him, that's built in, as he's shown to be a Psychiatrist [Dr. Mark Bruckner], lecturing about his experiences with a Judy Garland look alike, sound alike, trapped inside David's slim figure.
I fell in love with Sarah Stiles the instant I saw her: That Has To Be Judy!
She's the Best Spirit in the whole show, which was staged by Michael Mayer.
You could easily see that the Florist for whom David worked was a Homo, as he had all the Typical Homosexual Swishy Mannerisms that Decent Right Thinking God Fearing Americans have been trained to hate.
The Chorus Boys tried to Act Natural, but the bright costume colors they sported suggested Otherwise.
The Most Off Putting Element of this production was the Multifluity of Escheresque Opticals: Bold Checkerboard Patterns, Revolving Concentric Circles…
It was as if Set Designer Christine Jones--like Hypnotist Bruckner/Connick Jr--was trying to Hypnotize the Audience into believing in both the Premise & the on stage Illusion of A Clear Day.
STREB Is Dangerous, Not Home Grown Cirque du Soleil!
Bloomberg was the Lead Sponsor of Elizabeth Streb's hugely scaled Armory Show, titled modestly as STREB: KISS THE AIR!
If any of this funding came out of Mayor Bloomberg's Personal Pocket, he should demand it back so he can make the Muni Buses run on time. Or, indeed, run at all…
On what must have been the Opening Evening, VIPs were assigned seats, while Carping Critics had to find their own turf.
Down front, what seemed to be a kind of girlie Punk Rocker was busy kissing & hugging various VIPs, so I assumed she must be the Eponymous Streb of the Title.
The entire length of the Park Ave Armory's Drill Hall was pressed into service for this Equipment Heavy show.
But, high above the shiny steel scaffoldings & grayish crash mats, there were three huge TV Screens on each side, featuring STREB in Huge Letters. There are also Videos of her performers exercising & doing Other Stuff…
But, mostly, it's all about STREB…
This is no Cirque du Soleil, but it seems to have more High Tech Equipment than even on view at Radio City Music Hall last summer with Zarkana.
Nor are Streb's energetic Performers as gifted or skilled as those of the Quebecoise inflected--or Infected--Cirque Artistes.
Generally, they slide down long Aerial Lines to Crash Into Hanging Mattings.
Or they are catapulted onto Crash Mats.
Or they flop down from Great Heights onto more Crash Mats…
Or they flop about in Shallow Waters, drenching those in the Front Rows. Fortunately, not including Mayor Bloomberg or other Sponsors!
What most worried me about this Show were the Potential Dangers, both to Brains & to Spines--of all this aimless Falling & Crashing.
Described as Action Events, the Program included Popaction, Falling Sideways, Instant Flight, Ascension, Human Fountain, Drop, Catch, Wave, & Kiss the Water!
How about Kiss My Ass…
Juilliard at Alice Tully, with Mozartian Jupiter & Prokofievian Romeo & Juliet.
Yes! There is Quite a Contrast between Mozart & Prokofiev, especially between the Jupiter Symphony & Suites from Romeo & Juliet.
Nonetheless, the Juilliard Orchestra of black clad student musicians were splendid in both. This is no small credit to their Mentor/Teachers & to their dynamic Conductor, Larry Rachleff!
But, with Symphony Orchestras across the Nation in trouble or dying, where will all these gifted young Musicians find work?
Would President Elect Mitt Romney find Chairs for them in the Utah Symphony?
Do you have to be a Latter Day Saint to sing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir?
Cirque Shanghai Baixi at the New Vic: Elizabeth Streb Should See How It's Done…
Cheers & a Ni How Ma to Miao Miao Chen, director/choreographer for Cirque Shanghai Baixi, a month long Holiday Treat at the New Victory Theatre!
These extremely talented & thoroughly trained Circus Performers are as good as Cirque du Soleil troupes, which also draw on many Chinese Acrobats, Jugglers, & Tumblers.
What they also provide is a Panoply of Chinese Costumes & Traditions: The almost Lost Art of Flag Waving, among others…
Critic John Simon has complained of Cirque du Soleil that they don't use Animals.
Well, Cirque Shanghai Baixi does--at least symbolically--when the Dragons of Chinese New Year strut their stuff!
Elizabeth Taylor's Fabulous Jewels Change Hands, Plus Burton Taylor Wedding Dresses!
So, OK! Elizabeth Taylor is still Big News!
The recent Auction Sales at Christie's Broke International Records!
These included The Most Valuable Sale of Jewelry in Auction History.
Also: The Most Valuable Private Collection of Fashion ever sold at Auction.
No less than 26 Items sold for over $1 Million!
Six Items sold for over $5 Million!
Christie's first On Line Auction of Taylor Memorabilia fetched some $9.5 Million!
Every single Item in the catalogues sold, including her old Louis Vuitton Luggage…
To see the Taylor Treasures, you had to buy a Ticket & enter only upon your Appointed Hour & Minute, not lingering, as there were Scores of People waiting outside!
Total Sales brought some $156,756,576, to benefit the Elizabeth Taylor Trust, with a special interest in helping AIDS Research & AIDS Victims.
The rare 16th Century La Peregrina Pearl--suspended from a Cartier designed Necklace--brought $11,842,500, a Record for Pearls bought at Auction!
This history rich Pearl once belonged to King Philip II of Spain.
In 1969, Richard Burton bought this Pearl at Auction for only $37,000…
In 1968, Burton bought a Ruby & Diamond Ring--from Van Cleef & Arpels--for Taylor's Xmas Present. The Ring sold for $4,226,500, but largely for the Ruby, not for the diamonds.
Taylor's Previous Husband, the Late Mike Todd, also showered Taylor with rich gifts, including the so called Mike Todd Tiara, sold for $4,226,500!
The Taj Mahal Diamond realized nearly $9 Million. It was long long ago a gift from a great Mughal Emperor to his son, Shah Jahan, who built the Taj as a Tomb for his beloved wife…
Elizabeth Taylor's Gina Fratini Wedding Dress for her Second Marriage to Richard Burton brought only $62,500.
But why go on…
You can find these & all the other Sale Details on Christie's Web Site!
Doughy Political Bread & Puppet Theatre at New City: Peter Schumann Strikes Again!
In the midst of the Voice 4 Vision Puppet Festival down at Theatre for the New City--wonderfully fantastic Puppets on display in the Foyers!--Peter Schumann's Bread & Puppet Theatre arrived for its Annual Holiday Showcase.
There was a fun family program: Man=Carrot Circus.
This was based on the "Revelation that Upright Man was created in the Image of the Upright Carrot, Rooted in Dirt."
All very well, but eating Carrots will help your Vision, possibly even your Voice 4 Vision…
But eating Upright or Uptight Men--even those down & dirty--will not make you 20/20. It could land you in Jail!
Carrot Eaters do not go to Riker's Island. Unless, of course, they stole the Carrots!
As for the More Serious, "Darker" Evening Show, Schumann's take on the Attica Riots & Their Tragic Aftermath left some spectators unhappy with the enactment, although the Puppets were, as usual, inventive.
Nonetheless, Attica, or the Revenge of the Law was presented "as performed 40 years ago in our Coney Island Theatre, in direct response to the Mass Killings by the National Guard."
It was interesting, once again, to see Gov. Nelson Rockefeller portrayed as a Puppet!
As for the second section, Man of Flesh & Cardboard, watching it could be added to the Torments visited every minute of every hour on Wiki Leaks Whistle Blower Bradley Manning.
This was described in the tiny Schumannesque Program as: "A Cardboard Opera about the Courageous Soldier Bradley Manning who sits in a Brig about to be tried for War Crimes because he brought War Crimes to the Light of Day."
While it is certain that Manning will not receive a Fair Trial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, nonetheless, some of the Top Secret Info that he leaked has put some People's Lives in Very Real Danger.
Some--who have helped the Warlike US in Iraq & Afghanistan--have surely already been Terminated…
Watching Peter Schumannn's concentrated Centrality to both these Agit Prop Puppet Plays made me think not of the Agit Prop of Bertolt Brecht--a possible Forerunner--but of how much these shows have become About Peter Schumann…
Then there's the Ritual Sharing of Bread & Puppet Bread afterward…
The Best Part is the Foyer Shop, where you can buy those colorful Bread & Puppet Lino Block Prints.
I still have Bread & one with a Yellow Teapot on a Black Table, against a Red Ground in my kitchen, bought years & years ago.
St. Joan's Horse Goes To Heaven is on the door facing this Screen & Keyboard, even as I write!
On the nearby Closet Door, there are some Black Babushkas raking in a Blue Field, among Four Pointed Golden Stars…
From Donatello to Bellini & Onward to American Indians, Ending with Duncan Phyfe at the Met!
Time was when Press Previews at the Met Museum provided a sit down Catered Brunch.
That's Long Gone. The Individual Omelets vanished way back in the 1960s…
It used to be said--mainly by Yours Truly--that: A Hungry Press Is an Angry Press.
Well, Presses & Newspapers are on their way out, so Get a Life!
Now, instead of One Show per Press Preview, there may be two, three, four, or even five at the Met. Not all of them Major, of course…
There were Three recently, but I also got to see the Lisbon Hebrew Bible I'd missed the last time we had Multi Previews.
The recently acquired Coe Collection of American Indian Art was on display in that large chamber devoted to Native Arts from African Tribes, Aztecs, Mayans, & Amer Indians, among other Ethnic Cultures.
Some nice Bead & Quill Work!
After which, these Artifacts can be stored away, under appropriate Cataloguing Rubrics, for Scholarly Study…
Far, far away, off in the American Wing, some of Duncan Phyfe's finest Chairs, Tables, Consoles, & Bookcases for Manhattan Gentry were in the Spotlight, although some are usually always on view.
I looked in vain for a Phyfe Drum Table…
As for the extensive, even exhausting, Parade of Renaissance Portraits--From Donatello to Bellini--it's amazing how many of these were rendered in Profile, not full frontal.
For those Venetian, Estense, Milanese, & Florentine Nobles with hooked noses or other distinctive Facial Conformations, this was not always a Flattering Record for Posterity.
Nonetheless, one has to believe that Donatello & those in between him & Bellini really depicted the Face that was paying the Commission as they saw it before them.
Centuries later, no one would pay for Warts on His Nose…
Studying so many Portraits & Sketches can induce the Sensation of Superfluity. I even had the notion that I'd photographed many of these Portraits before on the Met's hallowed walls.
But there are Many Loans from Major European Museums. Some of those, however, I had already long ago photographed in situ in their Home Museums.
This is not a case of Seen One Renaissance Italian Portrait, You've Seen Them All. But there are some Stylistic Similarities…
The Coe Artifacts will be on view until 28 May, with Phyfe's Furniture in the foreground until 6 May 2012.
Some Doges & Princes have to return soon to Europe--even if the Euro collapses--so this Exhibition must end on 18 March 2012!
Chop Down The Cherry Orchard! The Cherries Were Sour, Anyway…
Four Decades ago, when Your Arts Reporter was teaching at what was then Hofstra College--Francis Ford Coppola was our Star Senior!--several of my students referred to Anton Chekhov's bitter comedy of Dying Life on a Russian Rural Estate as The Cheery Orchid.
No Orchids, please. Also, there's nothing Cheerful about the End of a Way of Life, even if the People involved are Fundamentally Stupid.
When Konstantin Stanislavsky premiered such Chekhovian Masterpieces as The Seagull & Cherry Orchard at the Moscow Art Theatre, they seemed so tragically sad in performance that Chekhov protested that they were, in fact, Comedies!
Now, down at the CSC, on East 13th Street, Stupidity is almost Celebrated, but the drama's Terminal Sadness is adroitly tempered with Wry--even Slapstick--Comedy, thanks both to a generally admirable Cast & the insightful staging of Andrei Belgrader.
There are a few False Notes, such as the senseless Audience Interaction with Charlotta Ivanovna [Roberta Maxwell].
Or the depiction of a Hundred Mishaps Epikhodov [Michael Urie] as an Overgrown Schoolboy. Why?
Long, long ago, I did the Lighting for our University Theatre production of Cherry Orchard at UC/Berkeley, so I once knew the play By Heart.
But, by now, I have seen almost as many stagings of Cherry Orchard as I have of Hamlet & Midsummer Night's Dream.
Many of these productions have been both inventive & admirable, but the current revival is also thoughtful & challenging.
As the Serf Boy who has become the Bourgeois Landlord, Lopakhin, the matured John Turturro is a lynch pin of this sparely designed [by Santo Loquasto] staging.
Also admirable are the flighty, delusional Ranyevskaya [Dianne Wiest] & her two rather different daughters, Anya & Varya [Katherine Waterston & Juliet Rylance].
The estimable Daniel Davis is the best Gaev I've ever seen: Extolling Billiards & Bookcases…
It was also encouraging to see the aging Alvin Epstein eminently embody the aging Family Butler, Fiers.
It's Not Over until You are Underground…
Lysistrata Jones Is a Long Way Off from Aristophanes, But No Nookie Until Her Team Wins!
Updating the Classics is bound to offend some Literary Purists, but who will pay $150 to see a Musical Version of Oedipus Rex that has not been jazzed up a bit?
Mama Mia, anyone?
Medea may make a good bet for an Opera, but do you really want to see Medusa, with her Dancing Snakes Hairdo, cavorting around a Fake Parthenon at the Lunt Fontanne?
Then there's Shakespeare.
Not only the Greeks get Updates. How about The Boys from Syracuse? That was a remake of The Comedy of Errors--or was that Eros? Arrows?
Oddly enough, the Boys from Syracuse turn up in the current remake of Aristophanes' Lysistrata, now wowing crowds at the Walter Kerr Theatre.
We don't actually see them, but we know that The Spartans--the oddly named Basketball Team of Athens University--are to play the Boys from Syracuse, as well as the Boys from Ithaca & Troy Tech!
If this sounds more like the Home Team is playing all of Upstate New York, well, that does seem to be the Idea.
We are a long way off from Attica--the one in Greece, not in Upstate New York--& the Peloponnesus…
The Problem--at least for Lysistrata Jones [a dynamic Patti Murin]--is that The Spartans always lose.
As a Supercharged Cheerleader, she hates Losing, as well as Losers.
But the Team really doesn't care about Winning on the Basketball Court.
It's all about the Girls "Giving It Up" at the Wild Party after the Game.
So Lys enlists her Co Cheerleaders to drive the boys wild with desire, but to deny them Access. Until they win a game…
To learn how to Seduce without a Pay off, they all go off to the Eros Motel to have a Training Session with the ample gold clad Madame Hetaira, lavishly played & sung by Liz Mikel, a Force of Nature.
The ingenious Douglas Carter Beane has devised this Transformation, with lively Rap Lyrics & Music by Lewis Flinn. So, Lampito rhymes with Sausalito!
There are Production Values Galore, thanks to Allen Moyer & his fellow designers…
Your Arts Reporter almost missed this Supercharged Show because Fellow Critics had so disparaged it.
Initially, I thought their dismissiveness, even Anger, was Outrage at anyone daring to Update a Classic.
But now, I think the deliberate, even joyous, Flaunting of Family Values & Basic Morality must have been the Source of the Offense.
From what's seen & suggested on stage, Our Kids are already Giving It Up on a Regular Basis. Even before Marriage!
But there is a kind of Moral here: It's not about Nookie all the time.
In between Bouts, there ought to be something else, like, maybe, Conversation?
For example, the Student Librarian--yes, they still have Books in the Libe at Athens U!--likes Poetry!
The Top Jock does, too! He even reads Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken…
But their impending Relationship--or Marriage--may be in Trouble, for he also quotes Walt Whitman. Always a Bad Sign…
At Last We Have Bonnie & Clyde Alive & Singing: Tough Luck, Warren & Faye…
When this show was first announced, Your Arts Reporter thought it might be like that Broadway Musical, Kelly--the Man Who Jumped Off the Brooklyn Bridge.
Walter Kerr's short, short review: Kelly: A Bad Idea, Gone Wrong…
With Frank Wildhorn as its Titular Composer--remember The Scarlet Pimpernel & The Civil War?--one feared the Worst about a Musicalization of the Movie about Clyde Barrow & his Girl.
Not to Worry!
As one who survived The Great Depression, all the Visuals in this show--designed by Tobin Ost--were on target reminders of that Terrible Era, in which many were driven to desperation, quite aside from being driven, like Bonnie, by Clyde in his smart Coupé…
With a Country & Western Twang, Bonnie & Clyde is almost The Grapes of Wrath in West Texas, set to music!
Laura Osnes & Jeremy Jordan are outstanding as the Killing Couple. You could just die for one of Bonnie's Poems!
Congrats to One & All, but especially to Director/Choreographer Jeff Calhoun!
STARS IN THEIR CROWNS:
This Month's Rational Ratings--
Samuel Brett Williams' DERBY DAY [★★]
Czech American Marionettes' GOLEM [★★★]
Walsh, Hansard, & Irglova's ONCE [★★★★]
Ethan Coen's HAPPY HOUR [★★]
Thomas Bradshaw's BURNING [★★]
Bill Shakespeare's or Chris Marlowe's or Anonymous' TITUS ANDRONICUS [★★★]
Jordan Harrison's MAPLE & VINE [★★★]
Peter Parnell's New Book for Lerner & Lane's ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER [★★★]
Peter Schumann's ATTICA & MAN OF FLESH & CARDBOARD [★★★]
Tony Chekhov's THE CHERRY ORCHARD[★★★★]
Douglas Carter Beane & Lew Flinn's LYSISTRATA JONES [★★★]
Black, Menchell, & Frank Wildhorn's BONNIE & CLYDE [★★★★]
Caricature of Glenn Loney in header is by Sam Norkin.
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