08 November 2006

Diverting

Some morning reading:

Mark reports on night's My Name is Rachel Corrie talkback. Tony Kushner, David Hare, Robert O'Hara. I have very mixed feelings about the whole Rachel Corrie thing, mostly because I have so much trouble not following Tony Kushner like a blind little lamb. I read the play several months ago, before the NYTW kerfuffle, and was underwhelmed. The writing is good, and it's a refreshing perspective on a situation on which I am wholly incapable of having a decided opinion - six years of Zionist Hebrew day school, Israeli stepfather, generally pacifist can't-we-all-just-get-along bleeding-heart tendencies, and a situation in which there is so overwhelmingly no right answer - but as a piece of theatre it just didn't hit me. It's not theatrical - I couldn't see much potential to add impact by staging it. Yes, you have a real person speaking the words, but I like novels better than movies, anyway. So when NYTW postponed their production, I couldn't get riled up, because although the issues in the play are important, I don't think the play itself is. But if I imagine that Mark's report is on a much more theatrically compelling play about th issues, it works okay. Though I do run into trouble when Tony Kushner (via Mark) says "he had read the play... but it had 'a much greater impact watching it…I’m very shaken by it.' He praised the performance of what he called 'a beautiful poem about the activist impulse' and summing up simply with 'I loved it." I'm very curious to hear from folks who've seen the production, just how it works as theatre, politics aside. (Okay, not aside, but how does the whole thing work as a play, not how important is it for these words to be heard.)

Jason Grote has a wonderful response to today's Times review of Anne Washburn's The Internationalist, now playing at the Vineyard. I haven't seen the play, so don't know if Jason's right in his evaluation of Isherwood's review as indicative of a small-minded need for spoon-fed morals and clarity, or if, as his commenter MattJ says, the play's just troubled and Isherwood's, in this case, right. Either way, it's an interesting idea and worth reading, even if it might not apply to this particular play. There's a lot to think about. You know, the future of theatre. Just that.

And hey, how bout them elections! I don't know about you, but I got my news from "The Daily Show," Wonkette, and Cole Slaw Blog's delicious liveblogging. Okay, and CNN and MSNBC. Because I'm not entirely as dumb as I look sound act-- This is the first election of my voting life that has ended happily. And perhaps the first that has featured any news before bedtime. But Virginia's Board of Elections knows how to keep things exciting. Thanks guys.

I finished Marisha Pessl's Special Topics in Calamity Physics yesterday, and because I'm in the habit of dragging things out for as long as I can, and also because I'm still figuring out what I think, I'll write about it later. As soon as I find my Border's gift card, I'm getting me the new Neil Gaiman book. My favorite book of his is another collection of short pieces, Smoke and Mirrors, so I'm especially excited. That was "short fictions and illusions." The new one is "short fictions and wonders." And has a less ominous cover - butterflies and snowflakes rather than a grim candle and smoke. Not sure if this means a different tone for the book - the airy cover art seems to be just a literalization of this passage from the introduction, in which Gaiman explains the title: "Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds' eggs and human hearts and dreams, are…fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks." I can't wait.

3 comments:

CrimeNotes said...

I liked "Calamity Physics."

Also, CNN and MSNBC are far dumber news sources than TDS, Wonkette, or Cole Slaw Blog. They spent half the night talking about feelings.

Jeremy said...

I think Isherwood would've benefited from googling the Internationalist like I did to see what's been written about it in the past. His review did seem a little facile, although I agree with the overall assessment of its success. The play makes more sense to me as an exercise in the subversion of fancy-free-American-abroad cliches. Each scene might've been at home in another work, although typically the opposite of what you want to happen actually happens. That's one take on it ...

Jason Grote said...

Hey, thanks for the link.

Jeremy, I agree with you. I also think the production had problems - it was a lot more at home at the Culture Project with downtown actors like Heidi Schreck and Travis York. Some of the performances were great, but the leads were a little schmactory and the whole thing seemed overproduced. Anyway, that's a good take.

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