Gigs, dance, art

April 5th, 2011: Jan Fabre – Prometheus-Landscape II

@théatre de la ville

I’m so late I’ll be going with a burst of short notes. Sonic Protest was taxing, then I kept busy and got mildly sick.

For the past few years I’ve liked Jan Fabre‘s solo pieces better, and I’m sticking to that position. This was really theater though, there was only a couple token dance segment, and not all that interesting to me. Visually it was quite striking and potent, if sometimes over the top. I quite liked the Oceanus segment, speaking through water was a nice idea. But there were too many words for me. There wasn’t much of a story, just a parade of mythic characters, but that in itself wouldn’t have bothered me. It’s just that I can’t help being bored by the whole Greek mythology thing, and to me Prometheus clearly isn’t the potent figure Fabre kinda seems to be relying on. Being out of tune on that point, I was left with the visuals, which are usually worth seeing in his work. This time too, but that was not enough for me, I wish I had seen L’Ocelle Mare instead.


April 25, 2011 Posted by | Theater | , | Leave a comment

January 12th, 2011: Nature Theater of Oklahoma – Life and Times Episode 1


When I got a ticket for that show I was just trying to take a chance with theater and selected this one by Nature Theater of Oklahoma just because it was in English. Later, when I read it was three and a half hours long, I had second thoughts and really expected to be in for an evening of boredom. Just before the show I read it was a musical, and my dread got worse. I had never seen one, but the music I heard never made me want to try it. So I was thinking I would leave during the intermission.

Wrong. I stayed, and didn’t get bored at all. On the musical side, it didn’t have those catchy tunes with an easily remembered chorus that I hate. Actually the singing was most prominent with the “so”, “like” and “hmm” parts, and the music played a fine supportive role. Probably a little more than that, because I don’t think the play would have worked as well for me without it, even though it never stole the show. Those uniform-like costumes with the red squares — that reminded me of Frank Lloyd Wright’s signature — were just right: unreal enough to avoid reality, but simple enough to get out of the way. The same goes for the dance sequences and the props: they played their part to change the pace, but were not the focal point.

The text was a transcript of someone telling her memories of her childhood up to third grade. Games, family members, school, her first friends, stuff like that. Nothing special really, and no plot or drama to it, which suits me more than fine. The transcript included all hesitations, asides and mistakes, so it was totally mundane material. Except that the delivery was anything but. And that turned the boring details into something special.

In and of itself, any single component of that show would have bored me, aside of course from the charisma and presence of the performers. But the way they were put together was just brilliant. In a sense it reminded me of hearing Kenneth Goldsmith’s most tiresome/genius antics, but I think I liked this even better. There was just more to this performance, and every single one of the actors was memorable. Of course the three female actors had bigger parts, but each male actor’s part was just right. They all took turns singing the female narrator’s words, but for the first half or so the men were not involved at all. They were all great. I think I would have liked this show  anyway, but they made it something special.

I’m really glad I didn’t chicken out. I liked it so much I think I will go see the next episode if I get the chance. I hope it won’t be exactly the same thing, but I trust these people now.

January 16, 2011 Posted by | Theater | , | Leave a comment

October 20th, 2010: Vladimir Pankov – La Noce


First time in about ten years I went and saw a play. With the emphasis Théatre de la Ville now puts on theater, I thought I would try a couple and see if my dislike faded with age. I can’t say yet. I liked this, but it was not conventional theater, and my liking had a lot to do with the musicians on stage.

And of course I had to buy in with the early extract from Stravinski’s Wedding, which may be my favorite work in classical music. It was rendered very nicely, maybe not percussive enough but more than making up for it in power. And the voices were great. I think it requires singers to get closer to popular songs than opera, and they nailed that perfectly. The play only featured two short extracts, but they were great.

It wasn’t conventional because of the many songs, and also because the words were repeated many times, both in Russian and Belarusian. And there was also the trick of having three actors playing the same character — three such sets in all. The plot was quite thin and not the point for me, so that didn’t bother me at all, quite the opposite. I’m too ignorant to say anything about the acting, but I really enjoyed the show and its mix of many things. And I’ve seen dance shows with just as much talk and less dance, so I don’t think I should pay much attention to labels. But there was clearly a story, and they conveyed it. The translation helped, of course, but it didn’t get all that far. The actors added bits that were not in the text, and that part didn’t need any translating.

I’m still doubting I can like theater, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more of what SounDrama is doing.

October 24, 2010 Posted by | Theater | , , | Leave a comment