The Marines contend that the V-22 is an assault aircraft and that no pilot who finds himself dodging bullets is going to fly it gently. "The airplane is incredibly maneuverable," says Lieut. Colonel Anthony (Buddy) Bianca, a veteran V-22 pilot. But the dirty little secret about an aircraft that combines the best features of an airplane and a helicopter is that it combines their worst features too. The V-22 can't glide as well as an airplane, and it can't hover as well as a helicopter.
That's from the recent Time Magazine cover story on the V-22 Osprey, which has a history reminiscent of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
At Santa Monica College a new theatre has opened.
Locally, a new space has opened in the old Hasty Pudding Building, over at Harvard.
Both these theatres have have multi-faceted staging options:
At the Harvard Space:
The stage opens simply to the audience, without being either a thrust type or a proscenium, though it can be given a proscenium look by means of a curtain. A mechanical platform at stage front moves up and down. The platform does triple duty: It can be a stage enlargement, an elevator to move scenery up and down, or an orchestra pit. That's typical of the ingenuity of the NewIn California:
College Theatre. Fitting everything into the available space behind the old Pudding was a 3-D problem, like solving a Rubik's Cube.
"What makes the Stage unique is an apparent duality," Zecchetto said. "It's built upon simultaneous intimacy and grandness. It's big and small at the same time."
The design, inspired by the "horseshoe" shape of Italian opera houses, allows eye contact with the actors and musicians onstage from any seat in the house. But the theater, despite its small seating area, has a variable proscenium and, according to SMC officials, a stage larger than UCLA's Royce Hall, which seats 1,833.
The Stage will be able to accommodate a full orchestra onstage and a 45-member orchestra in the pit. The acoustician is Chris Jaffe of Santa Monica-based Jaffe Holden Acoustics."Theaters of this seating capacity can never do the things we can," Zecchetto said. "I do not think there is another performance space in the United States with these characteristics."
"It's grand AND intimate" sort of reminds me of "it's a helicopter AND an airplane."
Don Hall had a post yesterday about, "what do you really need for theatre?"
"Where are today's Arthur Miller's?" I'd hazard a guess that whomever they are, they are not writing for shows that require a giant functioning wizard head or the ability to fly from the rafters. It is likely that this generation's great playwrights are produced on the fringe of popular theater with budgets that are just a bit more than a month's rent in Lincolnwood.
The magician who trucks in card tricks can, unfortunately, only play to an intimate gathering. Only the David Copperfield's of the world get the big stadiums and to play a big house, you gotta have some gimmick.
In the 1980's Cameron McIntosh introduced the world of music theater to the swinging chandelier and the blockbuster musical was in vogue again after years of neglect. Twenty-seven years later, the pendulum swing to a more intimate card trick has yet to sway fully although shows like Doubt seem to be able to introduce a less gaudy aesthetic and still succeed.
Boston is finally getting a production of Mary Zimmerman's Metamporphosis, directed by Sugan co-founder Carmel O'Reilly, and I wonder what space other than the Loeb could accomodate it. (I saw it at the Intiman in Seattle which has an overall thrust configuration.) Perhaps this is what has kept it away. But while technological advances are important, maybe it does boil down to, "it's not the size, but how you use it."
The ART has always done visually stunning design and lighting work in the Loeb Drama Center, and the new Zero Arrow, but some of the other spaces in town have trouble creating a truly intriguing design concept within their cozy confines.
I know there are designers who read this blog. What are some of the better or innovative designs or lighting you have seen for smaller theater spaces in the last season or two?
I will throw out two I liked, but I am, by no means an expert on design:
PS Films presented Simon Says at the Black Box in the Boston Center for the Arts and created a thoroughly convincing, (yet abstract enough,) disheveled and cluttered scholar's study. Filled with dark wood, glass-doored bookcases and ancient and decade old tomes, the newspaper strewn office suggested perfectly the eccentric, and possibly looney, academic who inhabits it. The detail, (right down to the solid chairs emblazoned with both an ivy league seal and some type of Eastern characters,) was worthy of some of th Huntington sets. The curtains to the office served as screens to use video projections, although I can't comment too accurately about this effect because I was sitting very close and sharply to one side.
(What I love about the Boston Center for the Arts is that a couple of weeks later this intimate setting has now been transformed into the canvas for the epic Kentucky Cycle.)
I also liked how director and designer worked together to make New Rep's production of White People an interesting weave of three seemingly disconnected monologues.