Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Stephen Malkmus at Echoplex

I went by myself over the weekend to see Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks at the Echoplex in Echo Park. They put on a great raggedy mess of a show that made me exceedingly happy, although I always enjoyed their shows more when Matt and Trista came with me. On Saturday I got to the venue entirely too early, which left me to wander around looking for reasonable sightlines and contemplate buying merchandise for far too long. I was a little intimidated at the thought of buying a poster from drummer Janet Weiss. How do I buy a poster from Janet Weiss? Do I gush? Do I pretend I don't know who she is? Do I play cool? Do I smile awkwardly and say "Hi Ms. Weiss?" After a while I decided the poster wasn't worth whatever consequences might have come from the exchange and I went back to wandering semi-aimlessly. After more of that I had to stop and send a text to my Facebook status that Janet Weiss was working the merch table, in the hopes that Matt or Trista would take note. There came a point where I wished I'd brought a flashlight and some reading, but that just made me feel old. It also reminded me of the time my friend Gia and I went to see Frank Black and the Catholics when we were living in Houston; she'd been working on a grant for her elementary school classroom and was worried about making her deadline. After a while she just couldn't take it anymore and retreated to the bar to read children's books while I watched the encore. I always loved the thought of Gia sidling up to the bar with a beer and a copy of The Mouse and the Motorcycle. I was then struck by the fact that we saw that show about a decade ago and I couldn't remember the name of the club we went to, only that it started with an F (Fitzgerald's?) and I don't think it's there anymore, and it had this rickety second level with light shining between the floorboards and I was sure it was going to collapse. All this made me miss Gia. And Matt and Trista. My days of going to nightclub shows alone may be numbered.

Time

for another post, but I have no clear agenda tonight. Only an instruction from my cousin Jim that I should update my blog, so here we are.

I was able to see that Pericles Redux on Sunday. I wanted to be a bit more emotionally involved, but I still admired it, as it was full of so much gorgeous dance and physicality. One might just generalize and call it "Movement," although I always get suspicious of theater people who talk about "Movement." Mostly because I never know what that means, but also because I've been working really hard lately to develop a Theatre of Stillness, and I will not let it be compromised.

I'm seeing at least one of the next two weekends of the NOW Festival at REDCAT...definitely the last one, not sure about this weekend. If you see it, let me know how you like it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pericles Redux at Kirk Douglas

Where the hell did this come from and why are there only nine performances? I want to go!

Here's an excerpt from Deborah Klugman's review:
Incorporating aspects of Grotowski's Poor Theater, choreographer and director John Farmanesh-Bocca's brilliant interpretation, Pericles Redux, employs music, dance and comic spectacle to layer the frequently undistinguished text with humor and depth. Farmenesh-Bocca plays Pericles in a production that begins with a mesmerizing dance prologue, suggesting Job battling the oppressive forces of fate.

Porgy and Bess at the Hollywood Bowl

I loved it, but particularly the bits right after the intermission. Got sleepy towards the end, but didn't mind so much. The highlight of the evening was actually some crazy person behind us who was literally belting the score. It was so unrestrained it was hard to be mad; JW and I kept looking at each other and cracking up. It was like somebody gave the guy in the parking lot with the dog hand puppet their spare ticket.

The Pain and the Itch at Boston Court

There was a nice big profile on the play in the LATimes yesterday that I wanted to post here. They're collaborating with Furious Theatre Company, and here's my farorite part of the article:
[Boston Court Co-Artistic Director Jessica] Kubzansky sees co-productions as a model more companies could explore, given current recession challenges: "To me, there's even more of a need to tell stories in difficult times. One of the ways you don't stop the storytelling is to share resources. This co-production allowed us to solve a pressing financial issue with further creativity."

As in, to mount a play that goes after the audiences that consider themselves most open-minded. "We had a run-through a couple nights ago and there was definitely a weird tension," Lowell says. "You could sense people thinking, 'Is it OK to laugh at this?' They were checking in with their own political correctness. With this play, you either really like it or you hate it. I don't think there will be too many people saying, 'Yeah, it was just all right.' "

I saw Bruno

this weekend. And that's about all I have to say about that.

Patrick Goldstein has more to say about what he thinks went wrong here.
There has been all sorts of media speculation that "Brüno's" slide was hastened by the Twitter Effect, with audiences quickly alerting their friends to stay far, far away from a comedy stinker. But I'd argue that something even more fundamental was at work. "Borat" was a breath of fresh air, an artistic breakthrough as well as a wonderfully outrageous comic adventure. But it was a one-off, a fluke, a novelty hit. In fact, what sunk "Brüno" was that, by nature, it was a retread, the work of a comedian trying to capture what turned out to be lightning in a bottle. "Borat" had the effervescence of a great one-night musical performance by a band playing at the height of its powers, while "Bruno" was an attempt to get that performance down on tape, days later in the studio, when the spontaneity had all disappeared.

I keep trying to

write a post about Michael Jackson, but it makes me feel maudlin and silly, so I keep abandoning them half-finished. I haven't exactly been obsessed (although JW might beg to differ), but in the wake of all that's so tragic, campy, bizarre, and melodramatic about the whole affair, I have to say it's been an joy to rediscover all that was so transcendent about him. I keep listening to the best of his music, or seeing clips of his videos and live performances, and I can't help announcing, even if I'm the only one in the room, "He used to be so cool!"

The cynic in me scoffs at hearing him referred to as an "artist," as some have so reverently described him, but with all the deifying treatment, I have found it hard to escape a certain awe, not just of his incomparable talent, but of the visceral effect he's always had on people. I don't understand it, for the longest time I've felt inclined to condescend to it, but it really is impossible to dismiss.

There was a great little piece in the LAWeekly by Jervey Tervalon a couple of weeks ago that summed up a lot of my thinking about Jackson. Here's my favorite bit:

When I taught at Cal State L.A., I put together a panel on Michael, with artist Martin Kersels, UCLA Professor Richard Yarbrough and L.A. Times Opinion writer Erin Aubry Kaplan. The idea was to consider Michael as an art object, a phenomenon and not just an entertainer. The panel members had their say. And then a birdlike woman who wore a colorful robe stood up in that packed house and said, “You do not understand him. Michael is love. He is like Gandhi, like Buddha, or Jesus. I was raised in the Middle East, and without him I would have killed myself.”

No one on the panel could say a word.

Sorry

for the silence. I'll be back very soon. Possibly tonight.