Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Large Scale Foursquare

Me at the Pawtucket Vistors Center for the screening of our film at the 12th Annual Pawtucket Film Festival

Friday, September 23, 2011

Big Weekend for Our Short Film



The short film I co-wrote with my wife Amanda and made with some good friends is playing at two film festivals this weekend!

The Oblique Sector is an official selection of the 2011 Atlanta Underground Film Festival and we'll be screening on Saturday night at 11:30PM.

And, a little closer to home, we will be screening at the 2011 Pawtucket Film Festival in Rhode Island on Sunday, September 25th at 3:30PM

Boston Theatre - Friday Roundup

(Dan Roach in Next Fall at Speakeasy Stage Photo by Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo)

Last Chance

Exquisite Corps' production of Trout Stanley makes its way upstream and then closes this weekend.

The audience centered performance piece How Much is Enough; Our Values in Question ends its questioning Sunday at Arts Emerson.

The journey must end for The Journeying Ways, which is a co production of Charlestown Working Theater and Whistler in the Dark. They are presenting The Bacchae and The Odyssey in repertory, but only through Sunday.

The Boston Experimental Theatre Company closes the curtain on its rare production of Albert Camus' The Misunderstanding at the Boston Center for the Arts.

Ongoing

Next Fall , Speakeasy Stage Company's season opener, continues at the Boston Center for the Arts.

Huck and Tom keep floating down that Big River at the Lyric Stage Company.

The crazy kids at New Rep still won't pay the Rent and they've extended their stay.

The Hartford stage production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible keeps the accusations flying.

Annie Baker's Circle Mirror Transformation, a play about an acting class in Shirley, Vermont continues at the Gamm Theater in Providence.

The Huntington Theater Company looks like it is on its way to a hit with Candide!

Catfish Row keeps in tune at the American Repertory Theater's production of The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.

The captives are still being held in Merrimack Repertory's Production of The Persian Quarter, a play about the Iran hostage crisis.

Trinity Rep's production of His Girl Friday keeps the wisecracks flying.

Sherlock Holmes keeps on the case in Central Square Theater's production of The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Television Melodrama With A Classical Music Twist



The digital streaming service Hulu is allowing me to catch up on some Korean shows.

I served as a Korean linguist for the U.S. Army in Korea for years and got hooked on some of the dramas on television then. In fact, as part of our training at the Defense Language Institute, we watched the famous Chil Tu (Jealousy), which is considered the father of the modern trendy television soap in the R.O.K.

Currently, I am enjoying a very popular show from 2008 called Beethoven Virus. The plot revolves around the formation of a new philharmonic orchestra out of what is essentially a community music festival.

At the center of the drama is the handsome, volatile, but genius conductor Kang who is famous for walking out before performances because his orchestras are not ready to play. "I would rather offend this audience by cancelling than offend Brahms!"

Through the manipulations of a public employee for the Arts and Culture Ministry, (also a competent violinist,) Kang finds himself helping conduct an orchestra of mostly amateurs for a public music festival.

In this process, he meets a young police officer who plays for the community group, but is clearly a prodigy. Shades of a Mozart/Salieri musical rivalry hit the edges of the story, along with a love triangle involving the lovely violinist who is clearly attracted to both men.



However, the main reason to watch the show is to marvel that a popular television show could be so clearly about the place of classical music in the culture. The episodes explore such issues as how classical musicians make a living, the politics involved in public art subsidy and the music itself.

For instance, an older player explains to some of the younger hopefuls that a state sponsored musician will make 1300 a month. They are flabbergasted at how low that is, but he reminds them that they can tutor on the side and they will be eligible for a small pension because they would be government employees.

And who can resist a show in which the climax of an episode hinges on the proper execution of a musical notation in the William Tell Overture?



The conventions of these Korean shows takes a little getting used to. As anybody who has watched Asian horror movies probably knows, the more blatant sexier elements of, say, American television programs are replaced by daydream-like moments, complete with some cloying pop music.

In Beethoven Virus, though, these moments are just as often about an attraction to great music. As in the photo below where the young prodigy's mind drifts from traffic duty to orchestrations.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Who Wins the Playwright Money Matchup?

At least as far as Broadway grosses are concerned.

A post over at The Youngblog shows an interesting way to look at the "success" of certain playwrights over history using the The Broadway League website.

Check it out here.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Boston Theatre - Friday Roundup - Storrow Bridge Safe Edition



All the U-hauls have left our narrow streets, and the students will soon learn which bars they can get into on which nights.

This year, nobody won the Storrow Pool, which is a bet on when, exactly, a new college student will peel the top of his or her U-haul off on the Storrow Drive overpass. (See photo above.) No students harmed the bridge this year. However, a lumber truck did flip there a few days later.

So let's take this as a signal that the new theatrical season is officially underway! Indeed, most theaters are moving into high gear. The mid-sized and larger houses are sporting big musicals to usher in the Autumn winds.

And next week will add even more productions to the list, including the official start of ArtsEmerson's sophomore season, the opening of Speakeasy's new show and the return of Whistler in the Dark's production of The Bacchae.

Get out and see some theater. You're already behind!


Opening

A stripper, a Scrabble champion and a city dump all figure in Exquisite Corps' production of Trout Stanley which opens at The Factory Theater

New Rep presents the musical Rent out in Watertown.

Get your newsroom patois ready as Trinity Rep opens their production of His Girl Friday.

Leonard Bernstein's operetta Candide makes its bow at the Huntington Theatre Company.

You can sit in on the acting class of Annie Baker's Circle Mirror Transformation at the Gamm Theatre in Providence.

Sherlock Holmes is on the case and hot on the trail of The Hound of the Baskervilles at Central Square Theater in Cambridge.

Last Chance

The Fighting Over Beverly will cease this weekend at Gloucester Stage Company.

Ongoing

Huck and Jim keep traveling on the Big River at the Lyric Stage.

The witch trials continue as Hartford Stage presents Arthur Miller's The Crucible.

The American Repertory Theatre chugs into its near-sold out run of The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Theatrical Mindset List

Using the template of the famous Beloit College Mindset List, Howard Sherman has quickly put together a Theatrical Mindset List over on the 2AMT blog.

It is, in his words, " an unscientific traipse through the mindset of the theatrical class that will graduate in 2015, but who only started their journey of higher education in the theatre in the last week or so."

Below are a few of the entries:

2. Every theatre ticket they have ever bought or used at a professional venue has been in some way computer generated.

4. They’ve never seen the world premiere production of a Stephen Sondheim musical on Broadway.

8. Rent has always been in production somewhere in the world.

11. Edward Albee has never been out of critical favor and only infrequently produced.

20. Ben Brantley has always been the chief theatre critic of The New York Times.

21. Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton and Ralph Richardson have always been deceased.


If you have more to contribute, go ahead and post them over the 2AMT site.

Another Badly Drawn Homily From Father Pike...

Split Decision on Bess's Broadway Run?

The New York Post has a blind source column about the inevitability of the Broadway transfer of the American Repertory Theatre production of Porgy and Bess.

Michael Riedel reports that the Gershwin estate will have a big say.

For me, the more interesting part of the article is the power play between critics and producers/investors.

This "Porgy and Bess" mess is indeed a tricky one for the estates, the producers and the investors.

On the one hand, they'll be ceding too much power to Sondheim and the critics if they scrap the show.

"They'll do real harm to the title," says a veteran producer. "If the estates do not approve the Broadway run, they're basically saying Steve Sondheim is right and the only way to do 'Porgy and Bess' is to do the original -- a full-length opera."

Other producers believe the show should come in just to spite the critics.

"OK -- it's not my money -- but if they close, they're giving the critics way too much power," one says. "And we've finally gotten to a point where the critics don't necessarily have make-or-break power in New York anymore."


Apparently, Ben Brantley's New York Times review was a little unexpected for some involved in the production.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Arizona Critic Banned From Dinner Theater!

On the Stage Door Phoenix blog, theater critic Kerry Lengel of the Arizona Republic is sad, (sort of,) to report that "the workload got a little lighter."

Apparently, a local dinner theater had enough of negative reviews and sent off a dispatch to the editors:

“After receiving a very tough review of ‘Seussical' earlier this year that we feel was taken out of context and the recent omission of our theater in the Fall Arts Preview, the Prather family has asked the editors and Kerry Lengel of The Arizona Republic to no longer review our shows...Although we respect Kerry's opinion of the shows we produce, we can no longer afford unjust criticism of the time, talent and energy it goes into producing professional live theater year round in Mesa that employs hundreds and entertains thousands."


Here is Lengel, who seems more amused than outraged:

In theory, I could test the Broadway Palm's resolve by buying my own ticket and daring them to toss me out, but that is definitely not my style, and the theater is, after all, a private, for-profit company. If a major player like Phoenix Theatre or Arizona Theatre Company, which receive government funding, tried to ban the newspaper's critic, our reaction would be very different. But as a matter of general practice, if a local theater does not wish to be reviewed, I am happy to honor that preference.


Friday, September 02, 2011

Great Shots from Film - Eternalized


A tumblr blog with iconic little shots made into animated GIF's.

So often we have to either play and replay our favorite shots or moments from films. Or we have to observe the cinematography in still shots. (I collect some on my blog Gate Dimension.)

Gustav Mantel has put together quite a gallery of "cinematoGIFs". A few of them have actually been my movie shot of the week over on Gate Dimension.

Below is an example from the 1972 film Solaris.



For more examples, check out the whole tumblr blog, If We Dont, Remember Me.

Below is one more:



Bit tip o' the hat to Jim Emerson.