May 28, 2010

No More Drive

Thank you for all the fish stockings, but I have some news. The set designer for Three Sisters has made an executive decision to call a halt on the Stockings Drive. "The set needs to be grander!" he screamed, "The set needs to be more ominous!" And I agree. So thank you for all your contributions, but we're taking this story to the next level, and unfortunately pantyhose were a bit too flimsy for the Set Designer's new concept.

p.s. he actually said "MORE MONOLITHIC," whatever that means.

May 18, 2010

MEDEA revisited

Last night, I saw an incredible show: Theater Mitu's Medea.

Now, I must admit, I am completely biased. Medea was MBCT's last show, so... well, no matter what, I was already in love with the story. I was ready to sit back and let the story envelop me. Oh boy... there was no sitting back last night.

Theater Mitu "methodically experiments with theatrical form" and "investigate[s] the spiritual core of world performance traditions to create original work and re-envision classics." Medea is the story of a woman who gets revenge on her husband by murdering his new wife and father-in-law, then her own children. Add this story to that company and WHAM BAM POW! you have an intense bit o' theatre.

Before I go on and get all theatre-y, I have to say this: THE SHOW WAS GREAT, GO SEE IT, IT WAS REALLY GOOD, GO GO GO!!! Ok, now I can go on.

Theater Mitu's Medea is as different from MBCT's MEDEA; a Tragedy of Revenge as different can be, yet... I just kept thinking last night that they were strangely similar. See for yourself:

German Expressionism and Film Noir with songs (4-part harmony all-female acapella)
Theater Mitu
influences: Noh, film, Epic forms, Butoh, Legong, and Whole Theater

MBCT: I combined Euripides's Greek version with Seneca's Roman version; the chorus mainly from the former, the plot and characters mainly from the latter. King Creon became Princess Creusa, the neighbor Aegeus became the hermit Glauce, songs were added, and off-stage horrors (the fire, the princess's death) were put on stage. There was no set, rather the four chorus women walked the perimeter of the square stage, and the story of Medea took place in the center. As characters passed from center to perimeter, they transformed from German Expressionistic horror to sexy Film Noir. Everything was black-and-white.
Theater Mitu: It's from the Greek version by Euripides, adapted by Rubén Polendo, the director. Genders are switched: Medea is played by a man, Jason and Creon by women. The Nurse is called Slave, the chorus is three women in head-to-toe black Chekhovian dresses, King Creon is a Metropolis/Edward Scissorhand-esque tyrant, Aegeus is a voice and the light of a flashlight, and the children are played by a naked man in a glass box. The set is a too-small delapidated sitting room; the walls are falling apart, dust covers everything, doors open and bang shut, the ceiling may collapse. Medea is naked, the chorus women are severely covered, and Jason is half in a chorus woman's dress and half undressing.

Medea was nine months pregnant, a vicious sorceress with familial ties to the gods. Jason was desperately torn between Medea and his new wife Creusa. Medea and Jason couldn't keep their hands off each other, their relationship full of physical lust. Creusa, the princess, was sixteen and devestatingly naive. Medea's Nurse was slow and careful, religious, and an oracle; she is abused by her Mistress and through sorcery forced to play out Medea's evil plans. The hermit, Glauce, refused to help Medea and was consequently punished by being the sole survivor of the city's fire. The chorus women were beautiful, stoic Film Noir ladies, singing ballads about the gods, love, battle, nature, men, and Medea's fate.
Theater Mitu: Medea is played by a naked man, so devestated by her husband's betrayal she can barely move. Jason, played by a half-dressed woman, is proud and stoic. But as Medea takes her revenge -- murdering the princess, King, and her two little boys -- she becomes tall and calm as Jason melts into a puddle of convulsions and shrieks. The Slave, horribly bent over and covered in inky black, tells Medea's woes and is tricked into playing out her evil plans. Jason, though subltle in movements, has a young and carefree voice. He flippantly explains his actions to a Medea covered in crusty white -- a Medea who moves and looks as concretely stuck in her misery as a Greek statue does in its place.

So there are all these intensely different differences, and yet...

... and yet it was the same story, the same themes, the same painful twists and turns.

Medea always makes the decision to kill the Princess and King. This is not very nice. But then... then she decides to kill her own little boys, and the chorus always begs her not to. This is devestating and terrifying and just... Just. Jason always comes onstage at the last moment to beg her not to do it, and she always does. Sometimes she kills them in front of him, sometimes she does it off-stage, and in some versions she drags onstage the first dead body and kills the second one in front of him. And always -- no matter the style or interpretation or translation or even if it's the Greek or Roman version -- always Medea weaves in and out of being the cause and being the effect. Jason always crumples at the end. And always the chorus sees it all.

See this production.
It's extremely well done.
The acting ain't bad.
And the story is as this story always is:

strangely funny

May 9, 2010

Year One: Done! ... and ... NEXT!!!

Throughout this past year, also known as My First Year of Grad School, I've been digging deep into the mountain that is theatre theory. I've thought about the delicate border between the visual and performing arts, I've examined private performance in public spaces, I've analyzed theatre's role in contemporary society, I've studied the history of directing and design, I've intensely explored the relationship between text and venue, I've pondered the meaning of art and the definition of theatre, and I've directed, acted, designed, written, assisted, taught, learned, debated...

... and now I'm tired out.

Because in the end, my friends, theatre is a completely definable, undefinable, interchangeable, interdisciplinary, crazily simple yet complicated branch of the fine arts. Meaning: it is one of those things grad students will debate over for eternity.

So. Let's change the subject.

The next MBCT; Modern But Classical Theatre show is officially being announced! Ready?

In 10.5 months, something amazing is crashing through traditional theatre walls and landing splat! in an old dusty black box in grimy NYC. Full of angst, laziness, desperation, exhaustion, paralysis, and good old fashioned whininess, it's the story of a family, once young and glamorous, who sit on their butts whining about the good old days... and just sort of rot in place.

Anton's Chekhov's THREE SISTERS
March/April 2011

** For this project, I'm collecting stockings/tights/pantyhose/nylons in any condition.
If you can contribute, please e-mail **