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Ong-Bak was a 2003 film that I'd intended to see in the theaters, but never got around to. It was on sale for pretty cheap, so I picked it up, and I'm glad I did.

I was thinking about what makes a good movie, or, really, a good story for me. For me, I need at least one protagonist who I respect -- someone who has something noble in him or her or itself. I need people to not be overtly stupid in ways that are TOO out of character for them. I need actions to have consequences -- if you're going to have a car chase through a city with cars flipping all over the place, I want the ramifications to be clear-- I don't want to see three buses blow up, and then be expected to be happy because the one minivan in which we can see the face of a little kid and a puppy DOESN'T fall off the cliff, although forty other cars just like it did . . .

That doesn't mean that I can't like a movie in which forty cars DO blow up, or in which cities are destroyed, or in which 95% of the population of the Earth is killed -- I just want those things to have effects on the characters and on the world. I want acknowledgment that people in the world who don't actually have names in the credits are still people. Hell, I've even been mollified by a little talking head on the news saying something like, "In the aftermath of the city-destroying battle, three people were treated for minor scrapes and bruises, and a small kitten needed its tail splinted. We'll be keeping you updated on the kitten's condition . . . " You know -- just SOMETHING so I don't have to imagine all the death and horror that the movie itself doesn't care about. And I don't have to wonder why the filmmakers don't care.

TRANSFORMERS has characters who I'd started out respecting, but everybody acted enough like an idiot that, by the end of the film, they'd lost that part. And everybody acted like an idiot. And lots of innocent people died, some for laughs. (Shia LeBeauf is running through the city, with the All Spark, which has the power to bring machines to life -- the problem being that, if this is done in an uncontrolled manner, they're just mindlessly hostile. He falls against a car. Cut to inside the car, where two Valley Girl types are. "Did that dork just dent my car?" And the steering wheel grows claws and reaches out to rip off her face. Now, THAT'S comedy, right?)

I'd have to time it, but I would bet that ONG-BAK has the same amount of violence and action as TRANSFORMERS. It also has two people who clearly die, and two people who might, all of which are dramatically appropriate. The bad guy's death is thematically appropriate, poetically just, and ironic. Now, of course, in REAL life, that much blunt trauma causes permanent damage or death, but, for a martial arts film in which the characters are NOT using lethal attacks, I'm willing to accept that it's all "stun damage" as we say in HERO system.

There are, I think, five guns in the movie. Three are taken away from goons with a surprise attack; one is just shown. Only one is fired. Guns are FAR more menacing in this movie -- the good guy has to back off at one point because a bad guy just shows one. No matter how superhuman he is, he's not bulletproof and he knows it.

The weapons used are knees, elbows, boards, tables, chairs, and, once, a big bowl of ground dried Thai hot peppers. (Yeah. You ever wonder how to make that "sand in the face" trick REALLY effective?)

And then, let's get to the huge, glaring main thing here.

I remember when CGI was awesome. 1986, for instance with "Luxo, Jr.". Yeah, seeing that baby lamp playing with that ball? That was cool. 'Cause we were sitting there going, "WOAH! Look at the RAY TRACING on that! See? They've got SURFACE REFLECTIONS! And SHADOWS!"

Yeah. THAT was cool.

But CGI hasn't been awesome since 1995. Sure, TOY STORY was awesome partially because it was CGI. But nobody went to see TOY STORY 2 because it was CGI -- you went for Buzz and Woody and the story. CGI, by that point, was just a tool.

Hollywood hasn't seemed to realize this. I'm pretty sure that Michael Bay still thinks that CGI is awesome.

It's not.

However, a person running at an obstacle that is higher than their head, and jumping, and twisting their body so that they get over the obstacle through sheer athletic ability?

Awesome.

It was awesome when the Minoans and Etruscans did it, it was awesome when it was a qualification for entry into the war-band of the Fianna in Celtic mythology, it was awesome when jongleurs in the Middle Ages did it, or warrior monks in ancient China, or acrobats in the nineteenth century United States. It's awesome when Jet Li, David Bell, Jackie Chan, or Tony Jaa does it.

It will continue to be awesome as long as unmodified human beings exist. If, at some point, the only way to HAVE an unmodified human being is to call up the template for one, build it, and download your personality matrix into it, if you do that, then exercise that body enough to be able to do this, and then do it -- it will STILL be awesome.

Real live people demonstrating real live athletic skill, showing their ability to push real live human bodies to do things that are within the bounds of physics, but only just -- that will ALWAYS be awesome.

And that's why ONG-BAK is a good movie, and TRANSFORMERS isn't.
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Last season, there was a swath of productions of Titus Andronicus, as college troupes saw it, realized it was a fun play which didn't deserve its negative reputation, and decided to perform it themselves. I would be really happy if the same thing happened with King John this season, and the Actors' Shakespeare Project production, playing now until June 8th, demonstrates why.

See, Titus picked up a reputation as being too bloody and over-the-top to be performed, but a couple good productions, including ASP's, showed folks that "bloody and over-the-top" is not actually a BAD thing in a play. This play has a reputation as being so full of deception and plot twists that it can't be followed -- and it doesn't deserve that. Oh, it's chock-full of deception and twists, but that's a good thing. I suppose that, if one was reading the play, one would have trouble following who was backstabbing whom, but when it's performed on stage with a competent cast, the actors are able to take you through with no trouble whatsoever.

Yes, the plot twists and turns, and you never know what's going to happen in the next scene. But, no matter where you go, there you are. It's not hard to keep track of what's going on, even if you can't predict what will happen next.

It's sort of like one of those walking labyrinths, like the one that my parents built in their backyard, or the ones that a number of churches have painted on the floor. It consists of a single twisting path, looping back on itself, but with no deviations. You walk through the path, never knowing quite what the path will be, but nonetheless, never getting lost. There is only one path, and it takes you through it -- no matter how convoluted it looks from the outside.

Hold onto that image, by the way. We'll be coming back to it.
Warning: Class 5 plot twists within )
So -- to conclude: the Actors' Shakespeare Project shows us that a complex plot need not be a confusing plot. Their actors and production team lead us through the labyrinthine paths of King John's many betrayals and twists, letting us feel the emotional impact of each one, but never losing us or confusing us.

Tickets are forty bucks, plus or minus a couple bucks depending on which seat, for adults, thirty to thirty-five for students. But remember, guys: they also may have student rush tickets available just before the show, for just fifteen bucks. I encourage you to go and check it out -- I'd like to see if you in the college companies like the play as much as I do. If so, I'd love to see what you'd do with it if you put it on yourselves.
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Is "Uwe Boll" pronounced "Weeble"?

I found out that he gets his financing from German investors under a law that allows money funneled into entertainment properties to count as a tax writeoff -- because of deductions and the like, his investors actually make money if he loses money. Didn't Mel Brooks write a movie about that?
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The first question about any production of Henry V -- any production going back to the first time that Shakespeare's company put it on after he wrote it -- is "how do you deal with the audacity of trying to put an empire-spanning war, including one of the most dramatic battles in English history, on a stage?"

Shakespeare's answer was to, in effect, "hang a lampshade on it". Do you know that phrase? It means to call attention to the ridiculousness of a concept, to encourage the audience to go along with it. Actually, the time Shakespeare REALLY did this was in Twelfth Night, when, after the "big reveal" of everybody disguised as everybody else and all the other wackiness, one of the characters says, "If this were play'd upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction." In Henry V, he uses a slightly different tack. He simply tells the audience that the task of representing what he's representing is impossible. So we, the audience, will have to fill the rest of it in.

I assume most of you know the speech that opens the play. If you're not familiar with it, you may want to take a quick look at it before I go on.

Now, there are two ways you can go with this: you can take this as a challenge to fight against, and prove that you CAN do more to represent reality, or you can embrace it, and trust your audience to fill in the gaps. Of course, one can debate about what Shakespeare would have done if he could -- if he could, would Shakespeare have done a Cecil B DeMille "cast of thousands"? Would he have preferred to do a Battle of Agincourt with seventy thousand CGI warriors fighting?

It's an interesting question, but "what Shakespeare would have done" is not terribly relevant to the question of how a director wants to present the play.

The Actors' Shakespeare Project, under the direction of Normi Noel, has chosen to embrace the "trust the imagination" school of thought. They present a lean, spare production, in which the forty-some-odd characters in the play are portrayed by five actors: Ken Cheeseman, Paula Langton, Doug Lockwood, Seth Powers, and Molly Schreiber.

The space they use is the basement of the Garage in Harvard Square, the same space they played Titus Andronicus and Love's Labours Lost last season. Those of you who have seen those productions can remember the . . . challenges . . . of the space, not least of which is the big freakin' support post smack dab in the middle of the room.

This production uses a similar layout as they did in Titus, making the support post the center point of the stage, with seating on all four sides around it. This, naturally, means that, no matter where you sit, there WILL be times where you can't see exactly what is happening, or, at least, you can't see the facial expression of characters. Of course, the blocking they use attempts to minimize these problems, but it nonetheless can be frustrating. I know that some people I've talked to were annoyed by this when ASP put on Titus in this space, so be aware that many of the same issues exist.

But they also use this. It is a small space, and an awkward one, and they use that as part of the energy in the play. When Ken Cheeseman asked, ". . . can this cockpit hold/The vasty fields of France?", a ripple of laughter went through the room, as we recognized the simple truth of that. The Prologue worked in a way I've never seen it work before -- because the space was so small, the task of bringing forth this tale so impossible, the idea of presenting the scope of the story so ridiculous, that we, the audience, accepted the task of filling in the gaps with our imaginations.

Who remembers Infocom text adventures? Like Zork and the rest? There was a way in which the best-written ones were more immersive than games written today with photo-realistic graphics and all the rest. There are ways that radio plays are more immersive than television, and books are more immersive than radio.

And storytelling can be the most immersive of all.

That, at least, is the goal of this presentation of Henry V. The role of "Chorus" -- aka, the narrator -- is taken by different cast members at different times. And, for me, those were some of my favorite moments in the play -- when one of the members of the cast comes out, and talks to us, filling in bits of the story that just can't be staged.

Because of the space, because of the energy of the production, I, at least, felt comfortable allowing my mind's eye to fill in all the action sequences. This goes for the fight scenes, too. In previous productions, I've seen the fights done (in movies) with special effects and realism, I've seen impressive fight choreography, and once, I saw the fights done as interpretive dance. That last one was kind of embarrassing to watch.

In this production, the fighting happens offstage. We see people running in, exhausted, wounded, and sick, or victorious and bold, or disheartened, and from that, we know what happened. There is one exception: just before the "Once more into the breach" speech, they use a rather symbolic piece to show the English onstage attacking and being thrown back -- and, to me, that was one of the weakest moments in the play.

One final bit that I want to mention is the final scene, where Henry woos Katherine, the Princess of France, as part of the treaty to make a lasting peace between England and France. In order to have a happy ending (or, rather, as happy an ending as you can honestly have in a history), the play ends with a romance, to end the violence. The concept is that this marriage is, or at least, can be, a marriage of love, as well as one of political expedience, and Molly Schreiber and Seth Powers get only one scene in which to attempt to have two people meet and fall in love.

They nail it. The scene is just adorable. I don't know what else I can say about it. Maybe "KAWAII!!!"

Henry V
Directed by Normi Noel
January 10 – February 3
Downstairs at The Garage
38 JFK Street, Harvard Square
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Lis and I just saw Juno, a movie that Roger Ebert considers the best movie of the year. He's seen it three times and loves it.

Short review: it is, actually, that good.

You know, I almost regret how much I knew about it going in; I wonder what it would be like going in with no idea what it was about.

Just to give you genre: it's about a teenage girl and her family, and it's funny and interesting, and the entire family is intelligent and you LIKE them.

No main characters are stupid, there are no "idiot plots", the plot doesn't have misunderstandings or stupidity. The whole family genuinely loves and supports each other. All the main characters are basically decent people.

I'd use the word "heartwarming", except that I HATE heartwarming movies. It's not treacly or sappy or stupid -- it just works.

I'd love to see it again.

Except that would mean going back to a movie theater.

I'd forgotten just how much I HATE movie theaters, now that they have ads before every movie. I mean, okay, I've gotten used to the slide show while you're waiting which includes stupid movie trivia and ads for the local car dealership. I can deal with that. I CAN'T deal with actual, y'know, ADS, playing for the entire time you're sitting there waiting, and then for a good ten minutes after the start time of the movie. AFTER the lights went down, there were maybe a half-dozen ads -- and two trailers. I like trailers. I hate ads.

I mean, we paid ten bucks a ticket, and then MORE money to buy nachos and soda (the popcorn looked really gross -- they pre-bag it) -- and if I'm paying money to get in, I don't want to see ads. Okay, I can deal with little ads in the playbill, a list of sponsors in the back of the playbill, and maybe a quick verbal "thank you to our main sponsor this evening, Corporation X/Dr and Mr Jane Smith/The Foundation for Basketball in Ballet" or whatever. But not actual COMMERCIALS. That's just over a line. I can't point exactly to where the line is, but "thanks to our sponsor" is clearly on one side of it, and a three minute commercial for a brand of soda is clearly on the other.

So, I WOULD go back, except I don't want to deal with a theater. The second-run theaters around here are a lot more tolerable about that stuff: I can usually deal with them, so I may wait until second-run. Or buy the DVD when THAT comes out.
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When we were in DC for the Marlowe plays, we went out to lunch with our friend Akiva Fox, the dramaturg for the company. Over lunch, he'd mentioned that he'd found a movie version of Thomas Middleton's (or maybe Cyril Tourneur's) play The Revenger's Tragedy. It was filmed in 2002, and put together by Alex Cox, who was the director of Sid and Nancy and Repo Man. It's set in a post-apocalyptic Liverpool, and stars Chris Eccleston as Vindici (The Revenger), Derek Jacobi as the Duke who killed Vindici's beloved, and Eddie Izzard as the Duke's son Lussurioso (The Lecher) who is trying to seduce Vindici's sister.

Okay. Let's recap. A Jacobean revenge play, set in a post-apocalyptic world, directed by Alex Cox, and starring Christopher Eccleston, Eddie Izzard, and Derek Jacobi.

It took Lis WEEKS to track down a copy in any of the libraries we are members of.

We watched it last night.

Those of you who have Netflix? Put this one on your queue. It's not one I'd watch over and over again, but it was fun, and it's definitely worth watching, at least once.
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If you've seen Shakespeare's Richard II, and you're watching Marlowe's Edward II, it's kind of weird, because Shakespeare's play is running through your mind while you're watching Marlowe's play, and it's like having double vision, so you get dizzy.

Also, Lis and I were talking about how Marlowe sometimes has problems with the payoffs of scenes he sets up -- he'll hang a gun on the wall in Act I, have people refer to it as they're favorite gun in Act II, in Act IV, have someone tell stories about how that was the gun that was used to kill traitors by his father and his father's father, and how an old gypsy had given a prophesy about how it would someday be used to save the country but bring ruin on the person doing it . . . and then never do anything with the gun.

And then there's Doctor Faustus:

"Aha! I have harnessed the very power of Satan! I control the WORLD! They called me MAD at university -- MAD, the called me -- but I will show them all -- I WILL SHOW THEM ALL! I CONTROL THE VERY POWER OF HELL! And NOW I SHALL USE IT to PROVE that they SHOULD HAVE LISTENED to me. Yes. . . yes. . . Mephistopheles: listen to my command: GIVE ME TENURE!!! And maybe a stipend. Um. And can you help me maybe look up some references for my latest paper, and get it in shape to submit it to a journal?"

Actually, knowing some grad students, I'm no longer convinced that that's unrealistic. . . .
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So,. the other day, [livejournal.com profile] temima and I saw the Beowulf movie, in IMAX 3-D.

I'm sure most of you have seen Hal Duncan's review of the movie, and, the thing is, while I cannot find a single thing to disagree with him about, I somehow feel that I enjoyed the movie more than he did.

See, here's the thing: in the movie, everything that, in the poem, somebody else also saw, Beowulf does, more-or-less. Oh, there are changes: Wiglaf, far from being a young warrior in his first battle when he faces the dragon, is Beowulf's oldest friend and comrade-in-arms -- the very first time we see Beowulf, he and Wiglaf are talking. And the battle against the dragon is entirely different. When fighting Grendel, Beowulf manages to wrap a big ol' chain around the monster's arm, and get it around a post, giving him the leverage he needs to rip off the arm, but he DOES rip off the arm and it IS a superhuman feat of strength.

But, the things which nobody but Beowulf sees? Those may be entirely different . . .

Beowulf is always in the company of other warriors, except once -- when he goes in to fight Grendel's mother. So, who's to say that his account is accurate? And that whole bit of the movie is the bit which most people seem to hate most, but which, to me, works the best.

The movie uses the source material of Beowulf to tell a different story than the poem. The movie creates a story from which the poem could have possibly been created -- but it's not the same story. The idea is that the poem is the story that Beowulf is letting people believe -- but it's not, entirely, the true story.

And I find that kind of subversion a lot of fun.
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This is probably one of the most intimidating reviews I've ever attempted to write. Robert Brustein is perhaps the most significant name in
American theater criticism in the past several decades. He is the person who, in many ways, codified and defined what a competent theater critic
should know and be, and what a competently-written theater review should include. Lis and I are trying to write things that fit in with some of
his ideas of criticism.

He is also the author of the new play The English Channel, which just had its world premiere at the newly-refurbished and gorgeous C.
Walsh theater at Suffolk University -- and therefore, there is a chance that he'll read this thing.

Um, Prof. Brustein, if you read this, please feel free to criticise our criticism -- we'd actually be very glad of your opinion of our opinions.

The English Channel is an example of the developing subgenre of "Will&Kit" fiction. There are enough examples out there of stories which imagine the relationships between Shakespeare and Marlowe, and their contemporaries, that one can start to notice themes and tropes among them. The stories range from the highfalutin' literary to porn, and even a few which are both.

Brustein's play isn't either extreme, but has elements that would appeal to fans of both types.
Read more... )
In general, The English Channel has a decent but unoriginal plot, four fascinating characters, and amazing language. It very much works as a play, and deserves to be played regularly. And this is a worthy first production of a worthy play.

There are four more productions, next week:

Thursday, September 13: 7:30 pm
Friday, September 14: 7:30 pm
Saturday, September 15 3:00 pm & 7:30 pm

All seats are General Admission. Please note that the content of this play is not recommended for children.
Tickets for the general public are $30 and $15 for students with ID.
Box office: Theatre Mania, 866-811-4111
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Obviously, there are going to be spoilers here. So here's a cut-tag.
Read more... )
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How did I like the play? It was really great seeing [livejournal.com profile] adrian_turtle, [livejournal.com profile] felis_sidus, [livejournal.com profile] rebmommy and Dad, and [livejournal.com profile] temima. That's how I liked the play.

I dunno. I thought this play would work for them, but I felt that the wordplay just fell flat, because of their lack-of-rehearsal style. The verbal volleys actually DO need practice to work well.

And the audience for free Shakespeare in the park usually includes enough kids that they don't seem comfortable delivering most of the dirty jokes well.

And that's most of the jokes.

One of the Dromeos was pretty good.

On the other hand, Lis came up with an idea -- what about doing Comedy of Errors with Groucho as both of the Antipholiuses, and Chico as both of the Dromeos. We haven't figured out what Harpo would do.
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Lis and I saw two plays this weekend; she's going to review one, and I agreed to review the other. But I'm procrastinating.

So, instead, I'll mention that, while we were in Lee (a town out in Western Mass, in the Berkshires), we stopped at a diner for lunch, which we discovered was the diner in the Norman Rockwell painting "The Runaway" -- that's the one with the police officer sitting on one diner stool, and a little kid sitting on the stool next to him, and they're talking (the kid has a little bundle of stuff on the floor by the stool). At the next table was a half-dozen college-age kids, who were talking about, among other things, their religious upbringings. In the course of this, one of the women mentioned a Jewish joke that neither Lis nor I had heard before -- this is a rare event.

Q: How do you get rid of rats in a synagogue?
A: Give them bar mitzvahs. You'll never see them again.

Pittsfield, Massachusetts has a really neat museum. It's the town art/science/history/aquarium museum. It's, like, three floors including the basement. Top floor has some paintings and sculpture, including some plaster casts of Famous Statues (Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Thrace, that sort of thing), and some gorgeous Italian nineteenth century stuff. It also has space for temporary exhibits, which is what drew us there -- it was a traveling exhibit of Toys Of Our Childhood -- Slinky, Spirograph, Mister Potatohead, Matchbox cars, Easy-Bake Oven, you know the sort of thing. Mom -- you have to go out there in order to take a picture with the human-sized cutout of Barbie.

I suspect that they cleared out exhibit space for that, because there was also a room with just exhibits piled up. They had a mummy. And lots of other stuff that you couldn't see because it was basically jumbled together like in someone's attic. So I suspect that all those exhibits and paintings and stuff are SUPPOSED to go in the rooms where the traveling exhibit was.

The main floor has rocks, including radioactive ones, dozens of taxidermied animals and birds, dioramas of the wildlife of different environments, collections of seashells, and the like.

The basement is an aquarium, with a few other animals besides -- a good selection of snakes, a scorpion (with a black light -- did you know that scorpions are fluorescent under ultraviolet light?), a (Judy, avert your eyes) tarantula, frogs from around the world, toads, turtles . . .

We also went to the Norman Rockwell museum. There are a few Norman Rockwell paintings I'd like prints of, some to send to other people. For instance, I think my niece needs a poster of "Shiner". That's the one of a girl sitting outside the principal's office, clothes torn, hair messed up, with a huge black eye, and an even huger grin on her face.
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Lis and I saw a preview screening of the movie based on the Neil Gaiman novel based on the Neil Gaiman/Charles Vess comic book Stardust.

Less-than-good stuff in the movie:
The pop song they wrote and played over the closing credits.

Greater-than-good stuff in the movie:
Everything else.
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It doesn't suck.
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So, Lis and I saw the Industrial Theatre's production of Henry IV today. It'll be playing again tomorrow at 2, next weekend on Saturday and Sunday at 2, where we saw it, on the lawn of the First Parish Church in Taunton Center, then it will be at the Sanders Theater at Harvard on the 27th, and in the state park in Easton on the 28th and 29th.

All shows are free -- just show up.

So, is it worth showing up?

Short answer: sure! It's free!
Read more... )
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Two word review: "Don't bother."

A longer review, with which I fully agree, is here.

This is not the worst movie ever made, not by a long shot. There are LOTS of movies worse than this one. See, in order to be really bad, you have to be trying to do something, and either succeed, but it's a really bad thing to try to do, or fail amazingly utterly. This movie isn't trying to do anything. At all.

So, it's really not anything other than pointless and boring.

It's like . . . you know how martial arts films have plots which are just kind of vague excuses to string together fight scenes?

Imagine that someone made a martial arts film, but totally forgot to put in any martial arts. And then, when they realized that, #1, they had no martial arts, and, #2, their movie was twenty minutes long, put in, oh, 140 minutes of CGI ships, and the occasional town, blowing up, for no particular reason, and CERTAINLY no reason that you care about. Lots of people die, I guess -- "hey! That monkey just shot a missile into a bunch of soldiers!" but you don't care about any of them, either positively or negatively.

Except. . .

Okay, fine, I'll put in a "spoiler" cut, even though, if you've not seen it, you should just not bother, and if you have seen it, you know you shouldn't have bothered.
Read more... )
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The Actors' Shakespeare Project is finishing off their third season with
an extra, bonus play, a six-person Love's Labour's Lost, a
light, fluffy, and funny play to balance out a season which would
otherwise be entirely about psychotic princes killing their families.

If you include the 2000 Kenneth Branagh movie version, Lis and I have now
seen LLL four times. In those four times, we've seen it done
more-or-less straight once.

This wasn't that time.

(For the record, it was the 2006 Huntington Theater production, reviewed
by Lis
and by me. The
other one was the 2005 ART student-troupe production, which I also reviewed.)

As pure entertainment, it works very well. If you want to laugh and enjoy
yourself for two and a half hours, this is an extremely good way to go
about it. The belly-laughs started within thirty seconds of the actors'
first appearance on the stage. They use physical comedy, including
slapstick, and very clearly let you know what you're in for -- and they
deliver handsomely on that promise of entertainment and humor.

So it works as entertainment. Which makes it worth watching. But how
does it work as a production of Love's Labour's Lost?
More discussion within -- spoilers will abound; if you're planning on seeing it, you may want to wait to read this until after you do. )

About the venue: [livejournal.com profile] imaginary_love_ mentioned that she
had problems with the venue as it was set for Titus.
I'd
like to reassure her that the venue is entirely re-arranged for this
performance, and that I don't think she'd have the same obstructed-view
problems that she had then. The production has very simple set dressing,
and the stage is placed against a wall. While, for Titus,
they used the support pillars of the building as part of the stage (or, at
least, that's how I recall it), in this case, those pillars are simply
things that the risers for seating are built around. Titus
used a very creative and evocative set-dressing, but, as [livejournal.com profile] imaginary_love_ discovered, no matter how good that is, it rarely
comes without some sort of cost; this is much less experimental, a much
more typical setup, with seating on three sides of the stage. It's one of
the ways to set up a room that I consider typical, and consider a
generally solid choice for performing Shakespeare.

We didn't notice any of the problems with heat that she'd had, but, then,
this WAS an evening performance on a pretty nice night.

So, to summarize: first, it's a heck of a lot of fun. Second, doing it
with a six-person cast is not simply a gimmick, but it strengthens the
play by allowing everybody to concentrate on one or two of the stronger
roles in the play, while de-emphasizing the weaker ones. Third, after a
season of murder, psychosis, paranoia, and treachery, the ASP really
deserves to get to do a fun, light play. And finally, you
deserve to see it.

Prices and schedule are available at http://actorsshakespeareproject.org/
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Robert Altemeyer did a bunch of studies over the decades about authoritarian personalities. There are two kinds of personalities in this: people who want to be in charge of everything in a fascist manner, and people who want someone else to be in charge of everything. In some ways, the second group, the people who want someone to boss them around and take away their freedom, is the more interesting group, because, at least for me, they're harder to understand.

Dr Altemeyer summarized his decades of research in a breezy, easy-to-read book called "The Authoritarians", which he has now released for free, here:

http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

I don't know if I learned much from it -- it largely confirms my prejudices about authoritarians. However, it, at least, is based on actual double-blind peer-reviewed research, instead of on my gut prejudices.

In any case, it's fascinating, and rather terrifying, reading. I've always assumed that my prejudiced gut feelings about authoritarians were somewhat more extreme than reality; in fact, authoritarians are even more like my prejudices than I guessed.

June 2017

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