Janáček was adept with the melody of natural speech; according to Benjamin Folkman's program notes, the composer would wander the streets, making musical notations to describe the cadences he overheard, Henry Higgins-like. Focused on uneasy, upset characters, the score then adds anxiety to the story, doubled by Anthony Ward's sets, which usually feature a canted wall of windows, oppressive in their tilt and their facilitation of angular lighting.
Finally, after 150 years... BAM has decided to export its elusive cultural cachet to the island to its west. Manhattan dwellers can more easily access the cutting edge culture they've flocked across the East River to see.
It’s surprisingly rare to see a group of artists enjoying themselves while doing their work in public. In private, anything is possible, but when they’re presenting their work for the public, artists can often be very serious, or, more precisely, very stressed out and nervous. They could be stressed out for any number of reasons: worries about whether or not everything they’ve been working on for so long and at some personal expense is going to pull together; anxiety over what the audience will think; questions about whether or not anyone is actually going to show up; concerns that if someone really important does come that they may not see the work in the right way or think of the artist as serious or important or worth their time; along with all manner of other nagging thoughts about money or relationships or family problems that they may have avoided while working on their art.
So, it’s unique to find artists playing freely these days. It’s also rare to find settings where artists are willing and able to exercise a real sense of collegiality—experimenting openly, trying out new artistic relationships with collaborators, and accepting that some things they try out may not work but that they’ll learn something anyhow.
This little pre-amble may make it sound as if I’m painting the annual Target Margin Theater (TMT) lab as something of a utopia. It’s not that, by any means—and it’s certainly not the only open playground for artists in the city. But still, it was kind of really great to walk into the Bushwick Starr, grab a PBR for $3, sit down and watch some artists plying their trade and enjoying it.
But that's too bad—the music, by Paul Scott Goodman (reworked some for the cast recording), on occasion topples into a kind of genius born of unabashed immoderation; three songs are each reprised twice. A blues about Wednesday—cuz doesn't Wednesday just give ya the blues?—includes the rhyme "Drano for the brain-o"; the missing girl on the milk carton has her own song, which she sings twice. (Did I mention it's written in an Irish folk idiom? And was apparently sung on stage by a woman dressed in blood-soaked panties?) At its best, the show is like one of The Simpsons' brilliant musical parodies from the earlier seasons. The fact that Goodman's show is not a parody, and isn't kidding, doesn't make it any less amazing. A young Patrick Wilson starred as Jamie, while Jesse L. Martin (who had been in Rent), played his conspirator Allagash.
Love is slavery in Gluck's cynical and astonishingly good opera, now too briefly in a superb semi-staging, a co-production between Juilliard and the Metropolitan Opera. (The first performance was last night; the second and last is Saturday.) Armide, a sorceress who controls the dark powers of Hell—the 17th century's vision of a typical woman?—is reluctant to marry because it means the loss of her independence. Similarly, Renaud prides himself on his freedom from love, a liberty of which that wicked witch robs him with a spell, after she spares his life, asking, "is it not enough if love punishes him?"
The Builders Association's new show Sontag: Reborn (in the Under the Radar Festival through January 15), depicts, in a rich polyphonic production, the ways in which the young Susan Sontag attempted to build a regulated self, despite the messy, confounding, nonconformist and indomitable elements within her.
How long have you had the theater in Park Slope?
We will soon celebrate the 22nd year in our present location, although we have been based in Park Slope a bit longer, and appeared at BAM in concert with the Brooklyn Philharmonic in 1983 and 1984.
Union members are worried the company wants to turn them into freelancers and severely cut their pay. City Opera's budget has been reduced by more than half, thanks to declining revenues (based on bad programming decisions?) and rising debt (thanks to the financial crisis and poor management?). The company was forced to leave its long-time Lincoln Center home at the Koch Theater to become a nomadic company, whose itinerary includes the two stops at BAM this winter.
Back when its plan to take over the Tobacco Warehouse across the street fell through, we assumed that spelled doom for top-shelf experimental performance venue St. Ann's Warehouse's prospects of staying in DUMBO, but happily we were wrong, and yesterday received news that after its current season ends in May to make way for a condo development that will require the razing of its 11-year home at 38 Water Street, St. Ann's will move six blocks east.
BAM's fall season may be drawing to a dramatic, somewhat morbid close with Krapp's Last Tape and the next-to-penultimate performance by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, but the winter season will launch with a bang when Kevin Spacey takes the stage next month as the title character in Richard III. Or, rather, with a "zap!" Spacey has been breaking character to reprimand noisy audience members during recent performances of the production, currently running in Sydney, Australia, even shining a laser pointer at some restless spectators.
Noise factor/complaints what did you expect when your located smack dab in the middle of…
Thanks for the intelligent and beautifully written article. Definitely captures my experience of her songs,…
Knowing that most people flush with their feet, why would anyone flush with their hands?