Genderbending Like Nobody’s Business

Was lucky enough to catch one of my favorites, Alan Cumming, in his tour de force performance as every single character in Macbeth.

Set in an insane asylum, we find our haggard, somewhat lucid hero being led into his new cell by two doctors and kicking off the 90 min monologue with “When shall we three meet again?”

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Out of all the characters he embodies, Cumming’s Lady M is absolutely revelatory. Seductive, manipulative, controlled and vicious, he brings new life to Macbeth’s power-hungry wife.

Thankfully, NYT documented a glimpse of this performance in the video below:

The Challenge of Halfway

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The world does not need people more people who are halfway – halfway happy, halfway inspired, halfway thankful. Society is not in dire need of almost-smiles, of “oh we should sometime”s, and “maybe someday soon”s. We are in all too desperate need of people who come alive when sharing their joy, who can let light find a way through them, and who can weave hope from the fragile threads of pain.
If the world asked you a single favor, to quench your thirst for happiness by allowing yourself to bring happiness to others, would you comply?
Or would you again reply “maybe,” “someday,” “soon?”

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Starting the Experience at the Door: Theatrical Hors D’oeuvres

You walk into a party and the host takes your coat, slings a drink into your hand, introduces you to a few people – makes you feel comfortable, gets you prepared for what the night has in store. Theatrical experiences should be no different. You are already prepared to enter another story for the evening –  best to ignite the senses the minute you walk in the door.

The best example I have seen lately was the interactive wonderworld before a performance of The Nether, a show dealing with the danger and imperceptibility of the digital realm and its communities, at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.

Upon arrival, guests were immediately invited to create their own “avatar,” the ideal virtual version of themselves that would represent them for the evening. There was a pinboard to select your favorite character from a variety of games and online communities. Large glass bowls were set out with titles such “I met someone that I only had ever spoken to online,” and “I have friends that I only know through the internet,” with a bowl of round markers in front that guests could drop into whichever corresponding questions matched their own truths. IMAG1951

Most notably, there was a wall hung with clothesline and a large stack of cards entitled “nobody knows I dream about.” Over the course of the evening, the wall quickly filled with secrets more often left unspoken.

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Each game and activity eased you into the experience of The Nether which asked audiences to consider the ways in which we communicate now and notice how the digital world has swiftly become meshed with our own. It offered a stark warning for the future, and most importantly made us feel welcome as we prepared for an entirely new storytelling experience.

You Have to Move On/ Il Faut Avancer

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Theatre du Chatelet, renowned Paris institution headed by Jean-Luc Choplin, recently presented Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine’s award-winning and heartbreaking SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE. Lucky for those of us that weren’t able to hop on a plane to Paris during its run, the production was filmed and broadcast by Mezzo TV. And now, this new version is available to download for free, albeit for a very limited time.

The original Broadway production of SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, directed by James Lapine, starring Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters, was similarly filmed and quickly became a staple in the collector’s canon. For those of you who haven’t seen any of the original cast, or for those that could always use a refresher, enjoy the two duetting on “Move On.”


In this number, Dot appears to her great grandson (that of her lover George Seurat), also named George, who is struggling with his art

Look at what you want,
Not at where you are,
Not at what you’ll be-
Look at all the things you’ve done for me

The Only Risk of Knowledge is That You’ll Learn Something

Ooo dangerous.
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Stuck mulling over the same ol’ field of thinking? Getting restless is a good sign.
It means your brain is craving for something more.

Challenge it.

Get that Ivy League education you always wanted. For free. Online. (Welcome to the future y’all)

Devour books old and new like they were going out of style. Kindle, you ain’t got nothing on nostalgia.

Remind yourself of Jefferson’s Democracy in less than 15 minutes with amazingly accessible YouTube crash courses.

The world is only getting larger and more easy to tap into every day.

What seeds of ideas have you planted lately?

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Article Worth Reading: “Find What You Love and Let it Kill You”

James Rhodes gave up the piano for 10 years, trading it in for the promise of the City and searching for some sort of security. Then decided his dream of becoming a concert pianist trumped all.

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From the Guardian’s recent article:

“What if rather than a book club you joined a writer’s club? Where every week you had to (really had to) bring three pages of your novel, novella, screenplay and read them aloud?
 
What if, rather than paying £70 a month for a gym membership that delights in making you feel fat, guilty and a world away from the man your wife married you bought a few blank canvases and some paints and spent time each day painting your version of “I love you” until you realised that any woman worth keeping would jump you then and there just for that, despite your lack of a six-pack?”

Read on

Image before editing: Alan Cleaver

Singing Boxers and Epic Montages: Bringing Beloved Films to Broadway

Officially announced yesterday: ROCKY’s coming to the Great White Way.

Yes, everyone’s favorite “little boxer that could” is getting his chance to belt it out.

Skeptical? No need. The production got rave reviews over in Germany on its first tryout of the material. Features music from Ahrens and Flaherty (Ragtime, The Glorious Ones, Once on this Island) and what appears to be pretty thrilling direction from Alex Timbers (Peter and the Starcatcher, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson). 

How do you think Rocky will fare?

Tis The Season of Gatsby

With Luhrmann’s adaptation about to hit the silver screen, there’s no better time to revisit how others have retold Fitzgerald’s classic American tale. At once a novella about the power of hope and a prophetic story of the end of an era, the The Great Gatsby is still considered one of the best books in the canon of Western literature.

The book exploded off the page in Elevator Repair Service’s marathon retelling. A man in an office sits down, begins reading the book, and 8 hours later (a few intermissions and dinner break included) you emerge from the theatre having utterly steeped yourself in the text. All 180 pages of it.

Take a glimpse of the piece through the eyes of the narrator, Nick Carraway, as Gatsby’s lavish parties transform a dull office setting. The actor who plays Nick, Scott Shepherd, has memorized all 49,000 words of the text.

How to Become a Better Writer, Friend, and Person

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– Get up early, go sit down and write
– Journal without editing yourself
– Find seeds of great ideas in the piles of subconscious ones you’ve just laid out for yourself
– Repeat until it no longer feels like a chore, but a part of your day you anticipate with excitement
– Continue ad infinitum

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– Make time for people that matter to you
– Send a note to let them know you’re thinking about them what big or little life events pop up (“Good luck on that interview!”, “Hope you fly safe!”, “That recipe you gave me is le bomb.”, etc.)
– Show support when good things happen to them, and even more support when the bad sneaks in
– Refuse to let distance be an obstacle. There are a million ways to stay connected nowadays. If Facebook isn’t cutting it for you, agree to start writing each other postcards. No one gets real mail anymore – just think of what a treat it would be to get something worthwhile in the mailbox.
– Continue ad infinitum

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– Stop comparing, stop complaining, stop selling yourself short
-Continue ad infinitum

Image Sources (before editing): Human Writes Performance, Geneva, Jesse757, GuiseppePortale

READ this line, read THIS line, read this LINE

A young Ian McKellen works through a line from Merchant of Venice in the RSC’s Playing Shakespeare from a few decades past.

The director seen here, John Barton, was asked to write a book about his robust knowledge of the Bard but promptly refused, stating that it was impossible to talk about Shakespeare without having living, breathing actors available to demonstrate the subtleties and poetry of the text. The result is a party full of some the acting greats taking apart classic texts piece by piece and uncovering centuries worth of subtext in the process.

Art of the Iceberg

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We often take things at face value. It’s easy to, we’re human. But about what happens under the surface?

Life is 90% about process, 10% about that surface result.

Those people who have that “perfect life” – fulfilling relationships, work, creative endeavors – didn’t happen upon success by luck alone. They had to live through the process. The ups and downs, struggles and heartbreaks that the world wasn’t privy to at the time. They put in the time and held themselves to high standards. Nothing less would suffice.

Just take a look at the architecture of these natural curiosities – the beauty of the underwater base alone is enough to give pause.

So next time you’re wondering how to change what the surface of your life looks like, realize it may be time to take a plunge and explore what it looks like beneath the edge. Build upon whatever small strength you find until you have a foundation that will allow for those once-lofty dreams of success to come with ease.

And like nature itself, there will be things that challenge your personal ‘berg – forces that threaten what you worked hard to build. Hungry warm waters crave the coolness of ice. Seek out smoother currents.

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