Theater experiences

As most of you know, I am really interested in theater. Everything about the theater intrigues me, from the writing, to the acting and the production values. I try to see as much theater in NYC that is physically and monetarily possible. I also try to see the pieces more than once, and see how the play has “grown”. I believe theater to be a living entity. It is written by a human and acted by many humans, thus giving it shape and life.

Over the many years I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. But that said, I have found “life” in them all, and have found that theater is like living sculpture, it has to power to make me think, feel and wonder.

Recently in the same week I saw Driving Miss Daisy and The Merchant of Venice and Spiderman. Like many people who become transformed when they attend a movie, I am moved and rendered breathless at a live performance.

I wonder about how the authors of the book can know so much about life and be able to infuse dialogue with truths without sounding artificial. I wonder at how actors can take those same words and make them theirs while embracing a character that might be so unlike their true selves. I wonder how directors can use words to move actors to perform while interacting with each other, scenery, and the audience. I wonder how the projections, the sets, the music are all coordinated with the actors, and how all of this doesn’t unravel like a house of cards night after night, as virtually everything is flying without an emotional safety net.

I’ve been moved by productions that are closing and wonder why audiences weren’t drawn to the productions. The Scottsboro Boys for example, was simply amazing and showed a bit of our collective history and shame. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson was a tongue in cheek retelling of a bit of American History including dealing with the “Indian problem”. Perhaps audiences don’t want to feel some things, but are willing to accept other things. I don’t know.

Spiderman is another story all together. Here we have a project that involves Julie Taymour and Bono and the character of Spiderman. One would expect that it would be straightforward. Fantastic sets and flying sequences, edgy music, and the simple story of Spiderman. Boy gets bit by a spider, boy becomes Spiderman, boy saves girl he can’t get in high school from the villain. Nope, the story becomes convoluted and polluted, and the next thing you know the producers have a bill of $65 million dollars. The Scottsboro Boys story is true, simple, and heartbreaking. Chairs are the only props to the set. Dancing is amazing, voices telling and singing with depth to the truth, and the book based on a book written by one of the boys, moves the narrative forward.

Sometimes simple is powerful.


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