Hie me home

Sep. 4th, 2014 02:20 am
cyrano: (Opposite of People)
It's about half an hour before I should get up to catch my plane. The fact that I'm up suggests that oversleeping is unlikely. Miss Maria is sitting next to me catching up on her reading. She has been sterling company, and has played along when we would point and wave and say "Oh! And we have to do this!" I'm glad she could make it.

Yesterday was a trip long in the planning. I've been wanting to get out to the Oregon Caves for quite some time. We planned for an early start, and managed to catch the very last tour of the day. (In our defence, they started closing two hours earlier as of yesterday, and we did arrive at three, probably just after the second to last tour left.) There is no spelunking without a ranger and a tour. Tours run about ninety minutes, and run you up and down and around and through some fairly narrow and occasionally a bit treacherous terrain.

An aside. Some people think 'Cave Kisses' are when water drips on you from the ceiling or an overhead rock. I say 'Hah!' because I know Cave Kisses are when you knock your noggin against a rock you either thought you were past or weren't aware of. And I am something of an expert on the topic.

These are the chlliest caves I've been in, at around forty-five degrees, and I was finally forced to drape one of Maria's lovely sweaters over my shoulders to fend off the encroaching chill. The caves are largely marble/granite, and don't have the spectacular displays from the Natural Bridge caverns in San Antonio have, but I felt less like a tourist making my way through these. Speaking of which. It is extremely rude to bend a fellow as tall round and broad as I am roughly into the shape of a numeral '7' to squeeze through a passage and then remind him that he's not allowed to touch the rock to balance or support himself.

Wednesday: Into the Woods
Interesting. Very little scenery. I had to remind myself once or twice that just because it wasn't being done like *my* production that did not mean it was wrong. The production started with the cast wandering about the stage in street clothes chatting, and when they all started reading from their own copies of the narrator's book, I began to fear a repeat of aWiT. My fears were groundless, though, and characters changed into costume a little at a time--except the baker, for some reason, who was dressed in cargo shorts and boater through the production.

The second act is tricky, things get muddy and dark, without the clear movements of the first, but these guys are a world class organization and steered things well. The parts were crafted for actors who could sing pretty well and there goes the alarm. Time to get up and pack.

See you on the other side.
cyrano: (Opposite of People)
Scattered 'this is all we did today' reports.

Saturday: Two Gentlemen of Verona
This is my second time seeing the show here. (ED: To clarify, the second production.) This one is for the ladies. Seriously. It's an all feminine cast. Or, it is to say, the cast members are all female. But I don't think that had a lot of impact on the production. Proteus, the ever-changing, was more of a buffoon than an asshole, but I think that was directorial choice. There is a *lot* of wordplay. Some might say too much wordplay. I'm certain that Elizabeth's cadre of Young Wits were chortling to themselves through the whole production. But it slows down the play a lot if you're not careful. Our director was careful, which I appreciated. I still hate the magical bandit cave at the end where Valentine makes everything okay again based on his charm and flawless character. And I enjoyed this show quite a bit. You get *two* fools for the price of one, like in Comedy of Errors, except in this one you get a dog too!

Sunday: The Cocoanuts
Another of the Marx Brothers scripts, like Animal Crackers a couple of years ago, reclaiming many of the same actors. (This was Polly Potter's actress's first year, as we discovered later.) This performance pointed out sharply why the Broadway shows were so much better than the movies--film technology of the time could not contain the Marx Brothers. And our Marxes were pretty awesome. Lots of ad lib, with occasional returns to the plot line. Which is, as you know, largely something to give the other actors something to do while our four stars caught their breath. This was my single standing ovation so far--we'll see how Into the Woods does.

Monday: The Hundred Foot Journey
As is our wont, we make an effort each year to go to the Varsity Cinema and catch a flick. This year, we passed on Calvary and Magic in the Moonlight to catch this one, which included Helen Mirren, That Guy from Slumdog Millionaire and Newsroom, and The Hot French Chick in a story where a family moves from India to France so they can open up a restaurant across the street from a Michelin rated snooty French nose bag, as the young rebel upstart takes on Le Goliath until both sides learn to get along and enjoy escargot samosas. Sadly, this movie paces dutifully through all the expected plot points, carefully avoiding any real conflict, to the happy ending where the two crazy young kids get together finally. It's kind of like what you'd expect if Spielberg and Oprah got together to bring a foreign indie film with soft rounded corners to the states. If I had, in fact, known that S&O were in on this gig, I probably would have been less interested. A.R. Rahman is involved--I don't know if he did a couple of songs or worked on the score or what--but those couple of songs are kind of cool.

Tomorrow we're going spelunking and hopefully dinner with our out-of-town friend, and then Wednesday night we close up with Into the Woods.
cyrano: (Opposite of People)
Day Two Report: The Reportening

The Tempest
Possibly one of the wackiest Tempests I have ever seen. Also, perhaps not coincidentally, one of the most enjoyable. Fairly bare stage, with some impressive effects (including one early on with what looked like a parachute.) Also poked at a few of the awkward bits or loose threads, not necessarily offering solutions or alternatives.

A Wrinkle in Time
This production was my motivation for trying to get a whole bunch of people out to Ashland this season. And the one point where I am not disappointed for the amount of fail my plan accumulated. If the script had looked more like the poster I showed you earlier, I would have been tremendously pleased. As it is it played more like a Blue Peter Pantomime. There was a lot of frenetic dashing about that didn't seem to accomplish much, way too many characters wandering on stage with no real business. After the effects in Tempest, it was a shame to see aWiT looking like amateur theater budget. The play looked like it was targeted for five to eight year olds, which is a perfectly legitimate choice, but it should then also be marketed as such.
cyrano: (Default)
Quick day one report: Enjoying the shows.

Comedy of Errors with the Harlem Renaissance as a backdrop: At first I wasn't sure if it was more minstrel show than Redd Foxx, and began to think that maybe I'd run out of ways I could see the show presented. By the end I was far more at peace with it. Plus, Cab Calloway as the Duke of Ephesus. Your argument is invalid.

Richard III: There are two ways you can go with this show. There is the BAD THINGS AND TRAGEDY emotions at eleven because everybody is dead way, or you have Richard sniping at everything (including himself) and running snide commentary to the audience. Doing both is tricky. Dan Donohue, a recent star addition to the repertory, is a very good actor whose style I do not care for (but wherefore I know not, precisely). He does his best to run the balance, but the production feels uncomfortable.
cyrano: (Defying Gravity)
My weight is now back to where it was when I left California. Which is a good thing, I suppose, but not why I'm on the diet. And the reason I bring it up here is because dropping that fifty pounds brought me back to where I started from, and not making progress. Largely because I don't know what I want to progress toward. For twenty years the answer was 'tomorrow', and if I could get myself through another day, maybe with enough money to pay the bills, maybe with some food, then I had won again. Right now, survival is covered, and... the things I thought I wanted extra time for are failing to keep my attention, to incite my passion. Again, I don't have a conclusion, I don't have a proper wrap up. I just think it's been a while since I had an entry with substance.

I'm not going to California this year. This does not please me. Especially when I've watched this trend creep along, year by year. When first I was in Michigan, I would go back three or four times a year. And slowly it shifted to two--Christmas holidays and before the Ashland trip. And then just before the Ashland trip. And now...
Each decision made sense, each was practical, each made with wide open eyes. And I had so many other places to go with friends to visit. I'm now attending three times as many Ambercons as I used to. And since Rose and Brian moved to Chicago, which is not only more convenient to pack for and travel to, not only cheap to get to, and full of things I want to see and do, it's also full of Brian and Rose. California still feels like being home. I'm ... just never home.

I guess I either need to find something to do or get satisfied with what I'm already doing. I am not forwarding this on to FaceBook. It's not a secret, it's nothing I want to keep hidden. I just... don't feel like sharing it with 400 of my closest friends.
cyrano: (Evil Laugh)
From the usual location.



I met this little guy last week in the driveway after work. He's adorable, but something tells me he's not long for this world.



This is taken from the deck at the Bowmer Lounge in Ashland. There was some impressive play between light and dark that I more or less did not capture because film is hard.



The famous Rust Dragon of the state of Jefferson. One of these days I'll prepare enough to get decent photos.



The dragon's less impressive brother, the Rust Cow of Jefferson.

LOOK ON MY WORKS YE MIGHTY AND DESPAIR.
cyrano: (Pursued by a Bear)
Matinee: Liquid Plain
And so it ends as it began--in the John Thomas with Taylor Doose.
I really liked the first act, poking into a corner of history that doesn't get poked much. (19th century freemen and runaways in Rhode Island.) The characters weren't all agreeable but they were all interesting. And Liverpool Joe may well make a return appearance in something I write. The first act ended in blood, and the second act ended in... well. It didn't seem to really end so much as finish. The second act seemed to jerk awkwardly from the actual story to fever dream or possibly allegory and I didn't feel like it cohered well at all. Which was a shame, given the start.

And now we are in Willows, on our way back to San Jose. And I have corn nuts what need eatin'.
cyrano: (Pursued by a Bear)
Matinee: Streetcar Named Desire
Another heart-warming feel-good production from Tennessee Williams.
Attending a Williams play is kind of like crawling into a woolen sack and inviting the Green Bay Packers to punch you in the emotions. You do not enjoy it, you survive it. And yet you keep coming back because, with a good cast, it feels real, it feels alive. And this was a good cast.
Afterward we retired to a sushi bar for a quiet Philadelphia roll and a bout of recovery.

Evening: Taming of the Shrew
Taming of the Shrew, Measure for Measure, and Merchant of Venice are the three Shakespeare plays I like least. They are my 'problem plays' because, for one reason or another, they have failed to age well. I confess I did not have high hopes going into this despite the kind of awesome promo poster.
The play was set at a Jersey boardwalk with a rockabily cast and a live band. Live band? That's interesting. They messed with the script, they had a lot of fun, we got to see Shakespearean Guitar Hero, and Kate plays electric guitar. And they did try to steer the play toward a more palatable conclusion, but Kate is still married against her will and starved and tortured until her will breaks. Which I don't think is cool.
So. I enjoyed it a lot, I had a lot of fun, but it still felt uncomfortable. And I want to listen to Imelda May.
cyrano: (Pursued by a Bear)
Matinee: The Tenth Muse
I admit that the first act was not inspiring--it was good, but not great. There were candles, and big heavy convent doors, and girls misbehaving, so I was satisfied. But the second act picked things up and turned on the gas and I was kind of a mess by the end.
This is a play of history, of ignorance threatening knowledge, and, as I stated earlier, girls breaking rules. So I'm exactly the target audience. There are subtle suggestions of a woman's love for another woman, but only suggestions. And that was, I think, far more effective.
There are no cheap villains with no motives, and no heroes with no flaws, everyone acts for their own gain.
Sofia Jean Gomez was Cordelia in Lear, and I got a huge crush on her there. This afternoon, seeing her dance around in a pair of breeches, I fell in love. She is a good actor who is surrounded by very good actors, and I hope they ask her back next year.

Evening: Midsummer Night's Dream
They did this show five years ago, but it seems much sooner. It is not my most favorite play, mostly because it kind of bores me. Especially the mechanicals. Amanda repaired to the hotel to do laundry, and I went to check it out. This one was set as a 1964 Athens High School graduation class, and I was hoping they'd do something interesting with it. They didn't, really, and I departed at intermission.
cyrano: (Pursued by a Bear)
Matinee: My Fair Lady
A persistent headache from yesterday did an encore performance today (see what I did there?) and since Miss A was not feeling up to snuff either, we lounged around the hotel and accomplished very little.

Evening: The Heart of Robin Hood
Posed as a question to the student, what would it look like if Adam and the Ants did a panto? I was a bit disappointed that we were not called upon to do the Oh no it isn't/Oh yes it is bit. But Prince John and his entourage were fabulous. (the actor in the role of John had also been the Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance and King John in King John. Bot of these things amused me.)
All in all, light and frothy and I laughed in places even as occasionally the trite bits were trite and Gisbourne's violin and the fight music made my head hurty.
cyrano: (Pursued by a Bear)
I don't know how may days this will actually happen but I'm not going to sleep right away because if I move then the explosions in my head may breach the hull.

Matinee: King Lear
I really want to be impressed by Lear. Everybody talks about how it's one of his greatest works. But it just reads like torture porn. There's no redemption, there's no lessons learned. Everybody who was evil is either evil or dead, everybody who was good is either good or dead. Or maimed. Or something. Which is a shame, because there's some amazing dialogue here. This is a modern production, which I thought was very effective, and the cast was top notch. Also? How the hell did I miss that Taylor Goddamned Doose joined the company several years ago?

Evening: Cymbeline
I had never seen this one before, and I swear to G*d that if I didn't know better I would have thought it was Shakespeare parody. There are like 343996 plotlines and 3984329 locations. So many plotlines in fact that at the end they say "Well hell, it's Act V. Okay, everybody queue up and tell us how your plotline ends." And then you have bad guys who show you their sinister subterfuge that nobody had noticed so far and ask if you would please either arrest them or kill them. There is a literal Deus ex Machina, where two ghosts say "Dear Jupiter, our son is a very nice boy, except for the part where he took a hit out on his wife, so maybe you could give him a happy ending?" You have the Fidele Sue character, whom everybody loves and trusts and welcomes into their confidence upon first meeting him in the middle of war torn Britain. There are so many coincidences being thrown into play at once that the king has to wade in and play traffic cop.

However, it did have a "Return of the Jedi" ending complete with

  • "I love her!" "She's your sister!"
  • Four ghosts hanging out and glowing smugly.
  • While everybody else sings.

Yub yub!
cyrano: (Opposite of People)
ANGUS BOWMER THEATRE

The Tempest
by William Shakespeare
February 14 - November 2

The Cocoanuts
Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, book by George S. Kaufman,
with additional text by Morrie Ryskind and adapted by Mark Bedard
February 16 - November 2

The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window
by Lorraine Hansberry
February 15 - July 6

A Wrinkle In Time, World Premiere
based on the book by Madeleine L'Engle, adapted by Tracy Young
April 16 - November 1

The Great Society, World Premiere
by Robert Schenkkan
July 24 - November 1



THOMAS THEATRE

The Comedy of Errors
by William Shakespeare
February 20 - November 2

Water by the Spoonful
by Quiara Alegría Hudes
March 26 - June 20, September 3 - November 2

Family Album, World Premiere
by Stew and Heidi Rodewald
July 5 - August 31



ELIZABETHAN STAGE/Allen Pavilion

Richard III
by William Shakespeare
June 3 - October 10

Into the Woods
by Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) and James Lapine (book)
June 4 - October 11

The Two Gentlemen of Verona
by William Shakespeare
June 5 - October 12
cyrano: (Kirk Aims to Misbehave)
Our first play out of the gate sparks a review.
Read more... )
cyrano: (Opposite of People)
Today was my first standing ovation--the reinterpretation of Imaginary Invalid. Really damned good. Today was also the traditional trip to the cinema, and another film with Helen Mirren as an old spy. Except for the last... ten minutes? This was an excellent movie about hard choices, consequences, and ethics. Unfortunately, the last ten minutes were like 'Mad Libs The Debt'. ):
cyrano: (Opposite of People)
Henry IV, 1&2

Hal: I'm an irresponsible ass, but it's okay because I'm just pretending to be an irresponsible ass. My father is convinced his kingdom will fall to chaos once he dies, and maybe that's part of the reason he's dealing with rebellions, but this way people will expect less of me once I'm king and they'll love me even more just for sobering up and doing my job. I'm kind of like the Charlie Sheen of the Shakespearean world.

Falstaff: Everybody loves me because I'm annoying, self serving, and I have a library of puns you wouldn't believe.

Hal: I don't love you, man. In fact, at the end of these two plays I am going to banish the hell out of you and act like I never met you.

Falstaff: You're such a kidder, Hal. I can't wait to be rich and powerful when you're king.

Hotspur: I am Hal's exact opposite! I'm an overachiever with no brains! Urgh! I'm dead! How did that happen?

Hal: I stabbed you, you bozo. Now I can go back to being a slacker for a while.

Falstaff: I'm a major player in part 2 but pretty much all I do is make jokes and talk about how I'm old. Does Will Kempe have incriminating documents to hang over Shakespeare's head?

Prince John: I thought that instead of ending part 2 with an epic battle, we'd do something like this. Hey bad guys! If you promise not to fight, I won't arrest you for treason.

Bad Guys: Cool! We call off the war.

Prince John: Arrest these idiots for treason.

Bad Guys: You suck.

Falstaff: Now that you're king, Hal, I'm ready to be rich and powerful.

Hal: You're totally banished, you degenerate.

Falstaff: You suck.

Hal: Yeah, but I'm the king. And *next* play? I get to be a frikkin' HERO. Boo Yah!

Henry IV: (On his deathbed) Oh, son, I almost forgot. When you're king, invade a lot of foreign countries. It makes the people forget about domestic issues and also makes you wicked popular.

Hal: Boo Yah!
cyrano: (Man in Glasses)
We closed out with Hamlet, and Dan Donohoe in the title role. He is not a bad actor--you don't get to do Iago and Caliban at Ashland by sucking--but there is something about his style that irritates me. In this performance, despite reminding me of Robin Williams too often, I had less trouble with him, and he was still good.

I like it when people try new things, especially with a work as well played as this*, but I felt like the players didn't fit well. The performance itself was flashy and I liked it, but when the rest of the setting is sixties (Mad Men or Mod men?) then suddenly flipping a single aspect significantly ahead without a discernable reason is jarring. And while I'm asking about jarring, what was up with the surveillance cameras? In the Tennant RSC production, you had the 'you never know who's watching' thing, but these cameras are on stage the entire time. You know exactly when you're being watched, and it's right now.

Despite reservations, I enjoyed it.

*Ophelia's crazy scenes were different and I admired them even if they didn't work as well as one might hope. Hamlet dies before finishing his last line, and that made me giddy.
cyrano: (Killing everyone)
I have no idea how it started but I managed to hoodwink Amanda into driving two hours while listening to my music so we could go to Crater Lake for... half an hour? An hour? I showed her the Rogue River and the Gorge, and then she climbed steps so I could find that the viewing platform which was covered in snow last time we visited was closed half an hour ago. But she took lots of pictures and promised me that she enjoyed the trip. One day, I will get to Wizard Island again. This I swear.

This evening was THRONE OF BLOOD. Wow. The technicals on this show were really cool. Lighting, sound, the superscript video, and Ako's impression of Bjork. The Forest Spirit's voice effect was occasionally over the top, and I think that the actor could have pulled off creepy and supernatural with just a little distortion. The story was disapponting, though. The play was short (around two hours) and very direct. There was none of MacBeth's nuance or complexity, and although having our hero arrowed to death by his own men rather than dramatically slain in a chatty mano-a-mano fight with the leader of the other forces was intellectually more satisfying I still ended the show feeling lacking.

EDIT: Dropping Shakespearean allusions ("all's well that ends well", etc) into the text wasn't clever. It was a distracting and annoying reach for a cheap laugh.
cyrano: (Network 23)
Stats prof asked me to arrange a proctored exam while I was here. I managed to get something set up, but unfortunately he didn't get the test information to the proctor in time. Currently planning to take the test Tuesday after class.

The Town is a perfectly fine film. It breaks no exciting ground--guy is at the top of his game, discovers love, wants out of the business, just when he thought he was out they pulled him back in. Also has the guy from The Unusuals as a fellow business guy, and has some nice funny lines.

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