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Daily Threads / 21 August 2023 Monday-ish Mond...
Last post by KathyB - Aug 21, 2023, 06:46 PM
Today I went grocery shopping and bought a bunch of Stouffer's and Lean Cuisine. I forgot to get garlic, so I need to go out and get that tomorrow. I also forgot to bring in my reusable bags, so I got charged 10¢ for the privilege of using one of their bags.  :P Fortunately, I was able to stuff everything (except for the gallon of milk) into one bag, so I didn't need to pay for more bags.

Today was very hot, but it didn't hit 100°--only 99°.

Today also marks the start of the second week of the latest PBS pledge drive.

Bernadette is barking like crazy at something outside, and I can't see what it is. It's probably one of the neighborhood huskies. For some reason, she LOVES huskies.

Tonight I am going through all the performances for all the Denver Center Theatre Company's shows for the season, and writing down which performances have talkbacks after them. I usually try to schedule my tickets for talkback dates, although I am probably not going to see a talkback for every show. I would really like to see the talkback for the last show of the season, The Lehman Trilogy, but I'm not sure I need to see one for the stage adaptation of Emma. Clyde's is another show that I think would benefit from seeing a talkback. It looks like there are a lot of talkbacks for several shows in the 20s of May, which is also when the tour of Company comes through, so I'm thinking I'll be seeing a lot of theatre in a short stretch. I also want to see the Arvada Center's production of Great Comet, but that's in February and March.
The Work / Re: HERE WE ARE
Last post by scenicdesign71 - Aug 19, 2023, 01:58 AM
Here comes the NY Post, stirring up shit in its usual fashion.  (Headline notwithstanding, nothing herein will be especially "shocking" to anyone who's been paying attention).

Stephen Sondheim's mysterious final musical has shocking Act 2: insiders

Movies / Maestro
Last post by scenicdesign71 - Aug 19, 2023, 12:56 AM
Variety:  First Trailer for 'Maestro' Finds Bradley Cooper Embodying Composer Leonard Bernstein

Neither Sondheim nor Laurents is currently listed as a character on the film's IMDb page.
But Jerome Robbins is.  (Played by Michael Urie, no less).  So make of that what you will.

Plays / Re: Contemporary Set Design
Last post by scenicdesign71 - Aug 17, 2023, 10:47 PM
Quote from: scenicdesign71 on Aug 16, 2023, 08:32 AM[Contemporary Set Design] what I will call this thread, for lack of anything better.

...or "Contemporary Design for Live Performance," maybe, just to broaden things a bit...  (And even "live" might need rethinking if at some point I decide to start rattling on about motion-picture production/costume design)...

...also, "contemporary" might be a slight stretch for Bread and Puppet -- which is apparently still going strong, but which turns 60 this year.  Nevertheless, I'll post this here, because where else?

Scanning their Wikipedia entry, I'm reminded of B&P's psychedelic stilt-walking Uncle Sam, an icon of Vietnam-era political street theatre.  Thirty-odd years ago as an NYU sophomore, I recall using an old Life magazine photo of him as research for Hair in Gregg Barnes's costume design class at Playwrights Horizons.  (I probably still have the costume sketch that resulted, kicking around somewhere.  My memory is fuzzy, but I likely meant for him to appear at some point during the first-act "Be-In," the lengthy second-act acid trip, and/or the final sequence).

Plays / Contemporary Set Design
Last post by scenicdesign71 - Aug 16, 2023, 08:32 AM what I will call this thread, for lack of anything better.

Last week's NYT Magazine included an article by Isaac Butler about the "minimalist" aesthetic that has supposedly overtaken Broadway in the past decade or so (pegged, with surpassing arbitrariness, to the 2014 BAM import of Ivo van Hove's Angels In America, as though consciously austere stage design were a 21st-century invention previously unknown to New York theatergoers).

It made my head spin a bit, since, as recently as the very tag-end of 2021, the NYT's Jesse Green had been airing his concern about the supposed recent proliferation of "hyperdesign" that he saw as arrogating to itself -- or being obliged to pick up the slack for -- too much of the theatrical storytelling process that ought properly to fall to playwrights/composers, directors and performers.

To be fair, neither writer actually seems to be saying anything as simple as "there's too much (or too little) scenery on Broadway stages these days" (though both still manage to court the comments-section self-righteousness of theatergoer/consumers feeling confirmed in their intuitions of the profligacy and/or miserliness of Broadway producers, and the pandering and/or pretension of directors and designers).  It's actually rather hard to tell just what either writer is trying to say, since the trends they're ostensibly spotting are dubious, their explanations vague and cursory, and their pet examples no more persuasive than any number of counterexamples would be in each case.  Each makes a few astute observations about the handful of shows they choose to cite; neither succeeds in pegging those instances to any plausible shift or movement governing modern set design more broadly -- or indeed, even in usefully defining such a shift or movement, in either case.  (Apparently you'll know this alleged "hyperdesign" and "minimalism", respectively, when you see them.  But, given their reliance on wholly subjective calibrations of excess or insufficiency relative to some chimerical Goldilocks ideal, your mileage will almost certainly vary enough to call these terms' usefulness into question).

Butler allows that his so-called theatrical "minimalism" can be done well or badly, and that it's not really (or not just) a question of quantity.  Further clouding the issue, he shoehorns in this season's Camelot and Shucked, quite bizarrely in both cases*, as supposed instances of a trend that might better be described as "design that strikes some unspecified audience segment -- approvingly or not, but with notably little understanding of the subject in any case -- as 'simple' by some nebulous, incoherent definition that even its slightly-more-knowledgable avatar in the NYT fails hard at articulating."  Cramming all that into the shorter and chic-er "minimalism" does not, unfortunately, make it any less scattershot or more meaningful as a way of describing what's been happening on New York stages over the past decade -- though it does muddy an already woefully-misunderstood term into near-meaninglessness.

What has been happening here -- as might be inferred from the publication of two such seemingly diametrically-opposed essays in such relative proximity by the paper of record -- is more interesting and less easy to summarize in a provocative (and, in each case, too brief for its own good) think-piece. If anything, the reality of contemporary B'way scenography suggests a relative absence of broadly-identifiable trends and a plurality of design approaches that ought to be cause for celebration rather than concern, and ought to inspire expansive critical approaches rather than reductive ones.

More to follow, probably...

*Shucked gets dinged, in passing, for its "skeletal" set (designed by Scott Pask) -- very minimalist, no? ::) and yet, curiously enough, Tony-nominated.  Meanwhile, Camelot's heavy use of projections (by 59 Productions, on Michael Yeargan's set, both also Tony-nominated) suggests to Butler a dearth of both budget and imagination -- since, as everyone knows, projections don't count as "real" design.  (Sorry, what year are we in?).  If these are our top contenders, he seems to imply, then spectacle is clearly in weirdly short supply on B'way -- except that, beyond lazily flashing the code-words "skeletal" and "projections," he hasn't even begun to support his (pretty much insupportable, imo) point.  It may or may not have been a banner year for Broadway set design; but a glance at these very examples -- despite both being obvious long shots against precisely the lavish old-school spectacles he somehow seems to imagine sinking out of fashion (Some Like It Hot [Pask again] and the eventual winner New York, New York [Beowulf Boritt]) -- is enough to show that "minimalism," or anything that could even loosely fit under that sloppy rubric, has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Daily Threads / 15-AUG-23 Cold Front Tuesday
Last post by DiveMilw - Aug 15, 2023, 07:34 PM
Yesterday and today the temperatures have been in the high 90s.  This is 10 degrees less than it has been at least the past two weeks.  At 7:30 PM the inside of my apartment was 73 degrees with the help of the air conditioner.  The past two weeks it was 76-77 degrees at that time of day.  Temps are supposed to go back up towards the end of the week but I hope they don't.  It has been almost bearable being outside.  
TV / Re: Only Murders In The Buildi...
Last post by scenicdesign71 - Aug 14, 2023, 01:57 AM
NYT piece about the show-within-the-show, with songs written by a collection of 21st-century B'way all-stars:

For Only Murders Season 3, Not the Same Old Song and Dance

The Work / Re: COMPANY
Last post by scenicdesign71 - Aug 12, 2023, 09:00 PM
Lately I've been "finding" rhymes that I'd somehow missed for years, then second-guessing whether or not I had actually missed them, or just noted them so long ago that I'd long since stopped registering them as such.  So much of what makes Sondheim great is not flashy cleverness, contra his critics, but simply gorgeous writing in which technique, however unearthly, is properly subordinated -- often to the point of invisibility -- to serve whatever dramatic or emotional effect he's trying to create.

But reading a FB friend's transcription of part of "The Little Things You Do Together" just now, I discovered a rhyme that I'm pretty sure has never before registered to me as such:

It's not talk of God and the decade ahead that
Allows you to get through the worst.
It's "I do" and "You don't" and "Nobody said that,"
And "Who brought the subject up first?"

(rewritten in 2018 as:

It's not wedded bliss and what happens in bed that
Allows you to get through the worst.
It's "I do" and "You don't" and "Nobody said that,"
And "Who brought the subject up first?")

Someone on also points out -- which I'd also never noticed -- that the thumbnail marital-spat sketched in these lines gains an even sharper comic edge by beginning with the nuptial-sounding "I do" (and its instant contradiction, followed by tactical scrambling).

Daily Threads / 11 August 2023 Friday
Last post by KathyB - Aug 11, 2023, 08:06 AM
Happy Friday to everyone who celebrates it, and even to those who don't. Tomorrow I am going to a picnic, and I'm debating whether or not to take B.

That's all I've got. :(
Daily Threads / 03-AUG-23 Weekend Getaway
Last post by DiveMilw - Aug 03, 2023, 06:45 PM
I decided I needed to get away for the weekend.  Fortunately, flights aren't too full this weekend so I will be able to get to Scottsdale, AZ.  That's right, I'm going someplace where it is even hotter than it is in Texas.  I am a fool!!  :D   One reason for the trip is that the last time I was at my friend's house there I left a pair of socks I meant to bring home with me.  Now I will be able to correct that mistake.