Saturday, September 7, 2013

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

As I sit here pondering how to write about a subject as complex as Hedwig and the Angry Inch which I saw last night at Jobsite Theatre, I realize I should probably set some objectives for what I intend to accomplish here, in this space, for writing about the theatrical performances I see.  The burgeoning scholar in me is humbled by the ramblings of Jobsite’s Artistic Director, David Jenkins.  His recent posts on Hedwig--’Stage vs. Screen’ and ‘Week 1 thoughts’ are what I want my own posts to resemble.  The critic in me wants to get the word out quickly and inspire those who may be on the fence about going to see a show to just jump down and go see it!  And after you do, come and talk to me about it. My second favorite thing about theatre is talking about a show.

Perhaps what I need to do is a quick blast of why one should go, and then a longer piece with outside links to other topics, a virtual game of connect-the-dots that makes the interwebs a crazy world in which to get tangled, and how this blog got its name.

So why should you go see Hedwig?  First, because of Hedwig’s story.  From the early days, with his (he’s still Hansel at this point) head in the oven, listening to The Captain and Tennille on Armed Forces Radio, to the botched sex change operation where s/he laments, “It was my first day as a woman, already that time of the month”  and then her escape to the United States just as the Berlin Wall is coming down.  Then (sigh) there is the song, with its accompanying video, The Origin of LoveMy absolute favorite part of the show.  It is a beautiful tale in and of itself.

The music rocks, the puns make you groan and there is even a sing-along.  Spencer Meyer’s drag queen mannerisms are awkward at times but when he channels Tommy Gnosis he is spot on.  Amy Gray’s gender crossing Yitzak is quite believable and Jonathan Cho’s hair is...well, you’ll see.  

It is playing through September 29 and tickets are going fast.  Get yours today.  

More thoughts to come.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Another play

What do you do when your world is forever changed in an instant?  If you are an ordinary person you struggle through the grief.  If you are a writer you may try to write your way out the despair.  If you are Joan Didion, you write a book and then that book becomes a play in which she tells us all that we will go through that “Year of Magical Thinking” when you cannot give away your husband’s shoes because he may need them when he comes back.  Of course, you know he will not come back because he is dead.  Talking one moment and dead the next.  
The Studio 620 in collaboration with The Dali Museum presented this play, The Year of Magical Thinking, at both venues, directed by Bob Devin Jones and starring, in a one woman performance, Roxanne Fay.  Everything about the production is simple, a single wooden chair on stage, a haunting melody, an understated costume of gray skirt, top and jacket, the no-nonsense haircut reminiscent of Joan Didion and the mostly matter of fact style with which she tells us, the audience, that we will go through what she has gone through.  We may grieve differently but we will grieve.  
Didion’s husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne died on December 30, 2003 of a massive heart attack as the couple were getting ready for dinner having just returned from the hospital where their daughter Quintana was in a coma battling pneumonia and septic shock.  Didion recounts her struggle through the year after husband’s death and her attempts to deal with her daughter’s illness and eventual death.  A year in which she cannot bring her husband back or keep her daughter safe.  Fay’s performance is like controlled chaos, teetering on the edge of a breakdown.  A breakdown that does not happen in public but which you are certain happened on lonely nights as the world she knew changed forever in an instant.  
The show is over now but if you get the chance to read the book or see a production, do it.  It will happen to you someday, too.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Theatre, Race and a conversation begins

As my graduation from Eckerd College began to loom nearer and nearer I knew I would have to decide what to do with myself when this exquisite experience was over.  I knew I wanted to take my education to the next level--a Master’s program--but where and what type was eluding me until I attended at grad school info session at USF-SP a few months ago.  I had decided prior to the meeting that I was going to apply there but it was not until the Director of the MLA program, Lisa Starks-Estes talked about passion that I had an epiphany.  What was my passion and how could I apply that to the interdisciplinarity of an American Studies program?  It hit me later that evening.  The theatre is my passion.  Not the “I want to be an actor” type but attending, experiencing...the engagement of audience part of theatre.  Wouldn’t it be awesome to study American playwrights, the history of American Theatre, their impact on and reflection of American culture, and the importance of literature and arts (including the performing and fine arts) in a well rounded education?  Wouldn’t it be awesome to take kids (teens, I’m thinking) who wouldn’t otherwise go -- for economic, cultural and other reasons -- to experience the theatre?  There it was!  My plan, my passion!
It was this course of thinking that brought me to the Jobsite Theatre’s production of Race yesterday.  The reason I chose this particular performance was for the talkback scheduled after the show. Incidentally, I bought the last ticket, my hopes of the student rush ticket dashed.  It was well worth the extra cost.  
The performance was fantastic.  Jobsite never fails to deliver thought-provoking, intense entertainment.  The tension developed as the usually unspoken but ever prevalent issue of race was brought to the forefront and the intentionally ambiguous ending provided the perfect forum for a post show discussion.  
Everyone brings their own life experiences and prejudices to the table:  the actors, playwright and director, and the audience and so everyone's experience is different, as is every show.  That is the beauty of live theatre.  The conversation between panel and audience was thoughtful and respectful, rather like preaching to the choir, but it did illustrate that theatre can in fact, start a dialog, can build community and quite possibly affect change.  As for the's NOT just about can be read on so many levels as suggested by both the panelists and audience.

So I am correct in thinking that my plan, to bring others to experience theatre, is not far-fetched.  Now I just have to figure out how I’m going to do it!
As for the show--go see it--you will not be disappointed.   Then let me know what you think.  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Biking to work

A few months ago I bought a nice new bike for myself for my birthday.  The price of gas was through the roof at that point and I had been reading lots about  carless lifestyles.  I haven't been riding much, just the occasional trip around the neighborhood and rides with friends.  Well, sometimes random things happen to your plans...Thursday night, as I was driving over to a friend's house after work my car died.  Just died.  In the middle of a turn, in the middle of the street.  After three lovely ladies (no men stopped) helped me push it into the grass I made some frantic calls to get things figured out.  Fortunately, I have a great mechanic and he arranged for it to be towed to his shop.  My son came to pick me up and all was well for the evening.

The next day, however, was going to be a challenge.  Sure I could have called a friend or my mechanic to pick me up and take me to work but I decided to ride my bike.  It is only 6 miles and I had just done a 9 mile ride the week before.  And fortunately there is no one else in the office on Friday afternoons so my sweatiness would not be an issue.  What almost was an issue was not bringing the keys to the office.  They are normally with my car keys and when you hop on a bike that's not something you usually take with you.  Thank goodness, Patti was still there.  I was pretty hot when I got there but at least when you work for a chiropractor there are plenty of ice packs.  I used one to cool off so I could get to work.

Pinellas county is not the safest place to bike or walk but I had mapped out a couple routes that would keep me off the busy streets and even through a park and a rec center.  Sometimes  on a bike you can go where cars cannot.

The trip was uneventful as far as traffic was concerned until I was almost to the office.  Seems there was a little SNAFU with the railroad crossing, the arm was down but there was no train in sight.  It was backing up traffic like crazy but when you're on a bike you can avoid things like that.  I snuck under the arm and continued on my way while other motorists were honking at each other and trying to maneuver through the crossing when they realized there was no train.  I did have a minor flashback to the movie we had to watch in Driver's Ed about car/train collisions.

It took about 45 minutes to go 6 miles and I figure I burned about 265 calories.  It takes about 20 minutes in the car and very few calories when you just sit there.  It was good to find out that I can do it and I will do it again.  Maybe when it cools off a little, or do a combo bus in (to avoid getting so sweaty) and bike home, or bus/bike both ways.  Things to think about.  As I found out when I tried my bus experiment awhile back, we need some work on our infrastructure.  I wonder who I could talk to about that?

My mechanic came to pick up so I could get my car and so my bike remains at the office for now.  Hmmm, wonder how to get it home.

And another thing I learned, running your car close to empty all the time is not good for the fuel pump.  Guess I'll have to change that strategy, too.

What keeps you from finding alternatives to driving your car to work?