Archive for the ‘ Theater ’ Category

I never want to leave Spiegelworld… oh “Absinthe”

Have you ever been to the circus? I mean, back when you were little and could see past the dirty tired animals and the worn out grins on the clowns’ faces. I went. Many years ago. My dad bought me an enormous lollipop which I shared with my sister and which we kept going for almost a week until we woke up to find the treasure covered in ants. I loved going to the circus. I loved the feeling of awe at the heart-stopping tricks of aerial acrobats, and the courage of lion-tamers, and joy at the tricks clowns played on each other, the orderly chaos of it all.

That was when I was a little girl. Well, I finally got to experience all these feelings, and more, all over again in Spiegelworld . Absinthe, this “variety show on acid”, a burlesque and a circus, a surreal trip into a whole other dimension appealed to my adult sensibilities the way the circus charmed me when I was a child.

Beelzy and I rushed to Pier 17, arriving a few minutes before 9:30 just in time to realize the tickets we bought were actually for next week. The ticket clerk straightened everything out for us and we kept on rushing to the lights and sounds of what seemed to be a carnival with a circus tent or two in the center of it all.

Terrible shot, I know

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The Fiery Pit Called Hamlet

Crammed in plastic chairs with hundreds of people inhaling what should have been my fiery oxygen, I prepared to watch this year’s production of Shakespeare in the Park as presented by The Public Theater: Hamlet.

The morning went by more pleasantly. A few of us, hungry for culture, camped out and picnicked for a grand total of a workday, from 6am-1pm, to make sure we got tickets to that evening’s performance. This year was going to be extra exciting as both Hamlet and Hair (playing during the second half of the summer) were put on in 1967, during The Public ‘s first season.

Rivulets of sweat ran down my back into the already formidable puddle by my ass. Gnats and mosquitoes bathed in my perspiration. The air was still. This is Saturday, June 7th, and we are in the Delacorte Theater–an open-air arena–in the middle of a heat wave. Continue reading

The Fight for Farnsworth’s Invention

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The story of the invention of television is apparently a murky one, with two men fighting for the patent. It is also a story of how an industry grew around patents, of the stock market crash, and the last lone inventor. A story loosely based on true events, “Farnsworth Invention” is playwright Aaron Sorkin’s what-if version of events and is currently playing at the Music Box Theater.

Philo T. Farnsworth (played by Jimmi Simpson) was a boy genius from a potato farm in Utah. David Sarnoff (played by Hank Azaria) was a Jewish kid whose family home was burned by the Russians before he and his family immigrated to the United States. The audience watched how they grew from their humble beginnings into two men who have so influenced our lives. Farnsworth threw himself into the invention he first masterminded at the age of 15, while Sarnoff worked to increase his influence and then his capital until he became the president of Radio Corporation of America, and more. They are the two narrators who enter and leave the action of the play, and join in a mighty battle, through a hail of words, which rages in front of the audience in a quick succession of scenes. They tell the story of their lives, and of television. They tell it as they know it, or as they have convinced themselves it has happened.

But how did TV come about? Who came up with that name? How does it work, exactly? All these questions have fascinating answers, which are to be found within the play. Comedic at times, tragic at others, (but never a court room drama) the dialogue and the action never let up. Continue reading

Is He Dead? : A Theatrical Comedy

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“Is He Dead?” is a theatrical production currently playing at the Lyceum Theater on 45th, between 6th and 7th avenue. The brilliant Norbert Leo Butz headlines the show as Jean-François Millet, a struggling painter, in this comical play written by Mark Twain in 1898.

As the curtain draws, the audience is introduced to the jubilant singing and skipping of Millet’s two closest friends, Chicago and Dutchy, as they enter Millet’s humble abode/studio. Next enters papa Leroux, with his two daughters, and you quickly learn that Leroux owes a heavy debt to the nefarious and greedy Bastien André, a wealthy loan shark of sorts. Shortly thereafter, Millet makes his defeated entrance, as he could not sell a single painting. Having an outstanding debt with Bastien himself, Millet and Papa Leroux both wonder how to work out their debt, when Bastien confronts them and demands his pay by 6 P.M the next day. Continue reading

Sixteenth Century Now! An Interview.

For a review of the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, with lots of photos, click here.


Sir Lukas and Lord Connor do battle

The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire (thereafter to be referred to as the PRF) doesn’t just happen because a few hundred people shelled out the cash for costumes. No, it takes a large number of thespians dedicated to being anachronisms. Two such people are John Lukas (Joust Director and Horsemaster as well as “Sir Lukas, the bull of England”) and Kevin Stillwell (Equine Stunt Trainer as well as “Lord Connor, Prince of Stockwell”). You can check out their brief bios here. An interview with these fine men will follow after this short digression on how one can become part of the revelry that is the PRF.

There are three levels of performers at the PRF: The Bacchanalians are professional actors; The Black Friars are volunteers, although no less professional or devoted (some have been performing there for a dozen years); and then there are the independent performers hired for only a season.

Auditions for Bacchanalians take place in January, February and March and the selected actors arrive at the grounds in July and for the next six weeks live on the grounds and rehearse six days a week, eight hours a day. By the time the Faire opens in August, they are ready. Continue reading

The Fare at the PA Ren Faire

Welcome to over thirty-six acres of 16th Century England! Completely reenacted, of course, and better landscaped the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire is not only one of the greatest attractions of Lancaster County (although its fame carried far enough for us to make the trip from NYC) it also boasts one of the largest joust arenas in the U.S., their own vinyard, and Theater as well as theater company. In fact, although you will probably find many other Faires that enjoy that olde “e” you won’t find another joust like this one, nor would you find such a variety of acts staffed by incredibly well trained actors, volunteers and traveling performers.

The grounds are abundant with armories, blacksmiths and clothing stores sporting the latest in medieval fashions and defense. If you feel hungry, never fear, as you can easily fatten up in one of many food stands, sporting such morsels as soup in a bread bowl, amongst other things (never fear, oh vegetarian, you will not be stuck with French fries while all your friends devour substantive meals).


One of the above mentioned blacksmiths in the process of making something sharp. Photo by Beelzy.

At every Faire he adds another piece to his armour. And he doesn’t miss too many Faires. Photo by ETL.

All sorts come to these Faires. Folks who like to dress up in costumes with various levels of attention to detail as well as those who would gawk at them. Beelzy says “Of course, if you’re a dork like me, you’ll prefer to go in costume. Having been accompanied by a buccaneer and a lovely wench, I felt a little out of place in my blue jeans, black t-shirt with witty quote, and trademark green canvas backpack, but only momentarily, as the large assortment of scantily clad pirate babes, buxom rogues, and vixens were enough to keep me distracted from my apparel.”
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Midsummer Night’s Dream Coming to an End in Central Park

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The Summer of Love began with a tear-jerker tragedy of Romeo and his Juliet, and is about to finish up with an uproarious comedy of bewitchment and transformations, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Time is running out for you to partake of this gem. Sunday, September 9th is the last day Dream will be performed at Central Park for everyone who was there since about 7am, waiting faithfully for the free tickets.

Although I have seen Shakespeare in the Park performed with the sum total of a ladder and many fold-out chairs for props, the scenery director decided to take it up a notch for Dream. In the center of the stage stood a monolith of a tree with thick foliage and plenty of hardy branches upon which to lounge, make sweet love to an “ass” and perform acrobatics in general.

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