Tag Archives: performance

Monday’s Watch, Listen, Read

An ongoing series where I share what I’m watching, listening to, and reading. Here are this Monday’s picks:

Watch

Prior to this evening’s workshop performance, the only time I had seen Sarah Jones perform live was in 2004, when I snagged a ticket to her off-Broadway show, Bridge & Tunnel. I was completely blown away. It was improv, it was art; it was like watching someone act as both the architect and builder of a character right before my eyes.

Here’s Sarah’s TED talk from 2009. Watch the entire “talk.” You won’t regret spending 21 minutes experiencing cultures intersect and characters emerge through the vessel of one extraordinary human being.

Also, if you’re in New York, get over to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe to see Sarah workshop her new show. In the words of Gloria Steinem (the featured guest at tonight’s show), “Sarah carries the world inside her.” Improv and art intersect with humanity and politics in beautiful, smart, funny, and fascinating ways. I cannot say enough about Sarah and this show except, GO, go go!

Listen

I’m a sucker for string instruments, cellos, violins, violas, basses, harps, and the banjo. I was first introduced to banjo music by the father of my childhood best friend. My friend would go on to play the banjo herself (and amazingly, I might add) when she grew up. Because of that early exposure, banjo music has always held a special, warm little place in my heart. More recently, I was working on a movie where one of our actors was quite the banjo player. He played a few songs off his new album one day. This track, Banana Banjo, is my favorite from his album entitled The Crow: New Songs For the Five-String Banjo. He also plays a mean Foggy Mountain Breakdown:

Four banjo songs in one post! Awesome!

Read

I’m in the middle of reading musician (and fellow Chelsea resident) Rosanne Cash‘s memoir, Composed.

I first read Rosanne Cash’s words in the NY TimesMeasure For Measure blog, before I had heard any of her or her family’s music. It’s an odd thing to read a singer/songwriter and not hear them first, but something in her words and the way she talked about the act of composing a song made me know, instinctively, I would like her work. I’ve always been fascinated by the songwriting and composition process, but I had found it hard to understand or connect with the explanations some musicians gave in interviews. It either seemed to be too general or too insider-y. Cash’s posts on Measure changed that. She was eloquent and insightful and demystified the process for the layperson — without talking down to them. It was the first time I felt as if I was inside the mind of a musician. It was a transporting experience. When the NY Times retired Measure For Measure, Cash’s music helped fill the void — and following her on Twitter helps, too — but it has been great to read her words again. Her beautiful prose and descriptions are, at times, reminiscent of Victorian poetry. I can’t wait to turn the page, but I also don’t want it to end.

If Rosanne Cash’s next book is written in Austen-ian dialogue and features pictures of vintage teacups, I think my book life would be complete.

P.S. For those of you waiting to read about my efforts to retrace the steps of Raymond Enders’ 1914-1924 diaries, I’ll be posting an update on Thursday. Stay tuned!

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Brief Encounter: Huge Cloudy Symbols of a High Romance

“I want to remember every minute, always, always to the end of my days.”

There are very few productions I’ve seen that make me gasp out loud or sit, wide-eyed in childlike wonderment. BRIEF ENCOUNTER is one of these plays. It engages the heart and mind. It’s a vintage love letter and a Vaudevillian magic trick all rolled into one. It’s a step back in time.

BRIEF ENCOUNTER comes to Broadway* with a British pedigree, thanks to director Emma Rice and the Kneehigh Theatre Company of Cornwall, England, who conceived and created the production. The show is an adaptation of the film (of the same name, directed by David Lean) and based on Noel Coward’s short one-act play, “Still Life.” To recap: Noel Cowards short play begets Noel Coward’s movie begets full-length stage production … with music by Noel Coward.

Fun side note: BRIEF ENCOUNTER (the film) was also the inspiration for Billy Wilder’s movie, THE APARTMENT, which became the musical PROMISES, PROMISES, currently in revival on Broadway.

The most endearing quality about this production is its utter uniqueness. You won’t see anything else like this on Broadway. It’s vibrant, beautiful, and smart. There are amazing low-but-feel-high-tech special effects that lend a Michel Gondry/Spike Jonze/Jean-Pierre Jeunet quality to the production, which give it a whimsical, yet cinematic feel. The production’s cast perform duties as special effects artists and musicians, in addition to their parts in the production. No one really has a supporting role in BRIEF ENCOUNTER as each actor is so completely entrenched in their role, and their attention to detail is such that, you feel equally invested in every character’s story. Get swept away in the romance, the fun, and the wonderment. You will not be disappointed in this theatrical love letter.

Stick around after the show because the company continues to charm you with their musical talents and good humor by performing songs (like “Don’t Stop Believing”) in the back of the theatre and dancing with the audience. It’s a convivial setting and an extra treat for the audience.

Make sure to check out Kneehigh Theatre’s website to get a jump on future productions (ed. I’m particularly excited about THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG and hope it comes to the U.S.)

And, if you are in New York, their next production, an adaptation of THE RED SHOES, will be at St. Ann’s Warehouse this winter. Do. not. miss. it.

*Full disclosure: I originally saw BRIEF ENCOUNTER last winter, when the company brought their stateside tour to St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn.