Monday, June 25, 2012
Manhattan Theatre Club presents...
By David Auburn
Directed by Daniel Sullivan
At MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
(261 West 47th Street)
Through Sunday, July 8
In a terrific performance, John Lithgow brings the legendary columnist Joseph Alsop to life in THE COLUMNIST. Stephen Kunken, as NYT Vietnam correspondent David Halberstam, and the rest of the supporting cast are terrific also. Daniel Sullivan – currently directing As You Like It for Shakespeare in the Park -- does an ingenious job of making this bio-play unfailingly interesting.
Following the generally available facts about Joseph Alsop reasonably closely, the play begins with an illicit homosexual one-afternoon-stand that Alsop had in Moscow, which led to an attempt by the KGB to blackmail Alsop – a fierce anti-communist. Alsop, however, deflected the attempt by letting the State Department, FBI and CIA know explicitly (the play suggests they already had a pretty good idea) that, yes, he had been having homosexual flings all over the world.
The play describes the extent to which Alsop was widely known throughout the country because of his widely distributed column, and the power he had in government because of his strong opinions and extensive readership.
Alsop (this background was not really described in the play) came from an important WASP family with ties to Roosevelt. Using his connections as leverage, Alsop developed extensive connections throughout the government, which he then used to start his column of insider national news.
Kind of bored with Eisenhower, Alsop welcomed Kennedy’s election, and the play describes Alsop’s love of Kennedy, and the extent to which he was grieved, and almost unhinged by Kennedy’s death. After Johnson became President, Alsop became a fierce advocate of the Vietnam war.
The play is told essentially from Alsop’s point of view. The anger that opponents of the war in Vietnam felt toward Alsop, and indeed the whole cultural change that came in the late 1960’s, to which Alsop was out of tune, is alluded to in the play, but is seen in the play from his and not their point of view. Then it is filtered through Lithgow’s sympathetic demeanor, so the play tamps down the fierce anti-Alsop emotions of the time almost completely.
In the first act it is surprising that the high drama of the KGB attempting to blackmail Alsop, and Alsop deflecting it, happens almost entirely offstage, only alluded to but never shown.
Indeed, much of the first act is essentially exposition describing Alsop’s place in the world, and the excitement of Kennedy’s inauguration and then the tragedy of his assassination – as seen through the eyes of Alsop. It is very affecting. It is powerfully evocative for those old enough to have lived through it, and illuminating for those who are too young.
In the second act, Alsop’s attempts at a marriage and at raising a step-child are the focus, as well as his becoming increasingly out-of-touch with a changing world. And here, the drama (all from Alsop’s point of view) is so active and Lithgow so emotional that he becomes almost beet-red faced and apoplectic.
THE COLUMNIST is running only through July 7, and it is worth seeing… for Lithgow’s skillful performance, as well as for a look back at a very important man at a very important time, and a view of that time from this man’s unique perspective.
(By the way, the Manhattan Theater Club has a very pleasant theater, with a fine lounge at the lower level.)
To put the events of the play in context, here are some dates:
1910 – Joseph Alsop is born (Oct 10)
1928 – Alsop graduates from Groton School
1932 – Alsop graduates from Harvard
1933 – President Roosevelt (D) takes office
1934 – Alsop reports on the Bruno Hauptmann trial for the Saturday Evening Post
1938 – Alsop publishes a book: "The 168 Days" about the attempt by Roosevelt to enlarge the Supreme Court
1941 – Alsop enlists in the Navy and becomes Staff Historian to the Flying Tigers
1941 – Alsop is captured by the Japanese, but repatriated soon after
1945 – President Truman (D) takes office
1945 – Alsop begins a column called “Matter of Fact” with his brother Stewart
1953 – President Eisenhower (R) takes office
1958 – Stewart resigns and Josph Alsop becomes sole author of “Matter of Fact”
1961 – President Kennedy (D) takes office
1963 – President Johnson (D) takes office
1969 – President Nixon (R) takes office
1974 – President Ford (R) takes office
1974 – Alsop retires
1974 – Stewart Alsop dies of leukemia
1977 – President Carter (D) takes office
1981 – President Reagan (R) takes office
1989 – President Bush (R) takes office
1989 – Joseph Alsop dies (Aug 28)
Here are some links and more notes on Joseph Alsop and the play:
THE COLUMNIST OFFICAL SITE
THE MANHATTAN THEATER CLUB
MTC ON TWITTER: @MTC_NYC
JOSEPH ALSOP ON WIKIPEDIA
NOTES FROM THE PRODUCERS:
THE COLUMNIST by David Auburn, directed by Daniel Sullivan, at MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street) through Sunday, July 8, with John Lithgow, Margaret Colin, Boyd Gaines, Stephen Kunken, Marc Bonan, Grace Gummer, and Brian J. Smith .
Columnists are kings in midcentury America and Joseph Alsop wears the crown. Joe is beloved, feared and courted in equal measure by the Washington political world at whose center he sits. But as the ’60s dawn and America undergoes dizzying change, the intense political drama Joe is embroiled in becomes deeply personal as well.
David Auburn, author of the whose Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning returns to MTC with this fascinating new work to be directed by his Proof collaborator Daniel Sullivan.
The creative team for THE COLUMNIST includes John Lee Beatty (scenic design), Jess Goldstein (costume design), Kenneth Posner (lighting design), John Gromada (original music & sound design), Rocco DiSanti (projection design), Charles G. LaPointe (hair & wig design), and David Caparelliotis (casting).
THE COLUMNIST was developed with the support of Tennessee Repertory Theatre through its Ingram New Works Fellowship and Residency.
Tickets for THE COLUMNIST
are available by calling Telecharge at
online by visiting
or by visiting the
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre Box Office
(261 West 47th Street).
Ticket prices are $67 – $121.
Please note, THE COLUMNIST is dark on Mondays.
Please note, there will be no performance on Wednesday, July 4.
• THROUGH SUNDAY, JULY 1:
Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 PM,
Thursday through Saturday at 8 PM.
Matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 PM.
• MONDAY, JULY 2 – SUNDAY, JULY 8 (FINAL EXTENSION):
Monday and Tuesday at 7 PM,
Thursday through Saturday at 8 PM.
Matinees on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 PM.
Labels: broadway, Daniel Sullivan, David Auburn, David Halberstam, John Lithgow, Joseph Alsop, Manhattan Theatre Club, Stephen Kunken, The Columnist, theater
It is just a bit ironic that THE NEWSROOM, a terrific and inspiring new show by Aaron Sorkin about creating newscasts on television that broadcast important news, ran until 11:15, preventing the audience from watching the actual 11:00 news, which - sadly - rarely carries more than about 2-5 minutes of important national and international news, and usually sandwiches that in after local tragedies, and it's done by a quarter after.
A valuable nightly news show is not just getting scoops -- which is the subject of the premiere -- like getting the first news out about the Gulf oil spill. If THE NEWSROOM can define what it means to produce a "valuable" nightly news show night after night, and make it inspiring and seem like fun! it will be doing something important. (For one thing it may inspire fine future newscasters! And, perhaps, even present newscasters!)
But quality is not the opposite of popular; and a high quality show that no-one sees may be impact-free.
The greatest impediment to valuable news, it seems to me, is the promulgation of two sides to an issue on which only one side is speaking the truth and the other side is not, and failing to distinguish between the two. In the worlds of science and law ("the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" is not a bad standard for nightly news shows) there are ways to help make statements conform to the facts. News reports must find a way to do the same, not give equal weight to every argument.
A valuable, quality newscast it seems to me must be diligent in finding the facts, accurate in reporting them, distinguish between serious arguments and simple evasions, cover many important subjects while prioritizing the time spent on each, keep finding new information while not forgetting the basics, be relentless in questioning sources, and realize that the follow-up can be more important than the initial scoop. At the same time the stories should be clear and interesting!
What makes an Aaron Sorkin show interesting is the importance of his subjects, the energy and passion with which he presents them, plus his fine language, and also the skill with which it is directed and acted. Everyone (almost) on the pilot episode was terrific. Jeff Daniels played the lead character, the news anchor star. Sam Waterston played the head of news. Alison Pill was a beautiful and delightful intern who was made an assistant, then made associate producer -- a fast riser! Emily Mortimer did a great job as the new Executive Producer, but her English accent, and English nationality give her American patriotism speeches a strange discordance. (Emily was born in England but holds dual UK and US citizenship. Many - not all - shades of diversity exist in the cast, and it would -- to me at least -- "feel better" if Emily's character acknowledged her English roots together with some kind of American -- that of course means US -- integration.)
The premiere episode was directed by Greg Mottola.
Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy – anchor of the News Night program on ACN.
Emily Mortimer as Mackenzie MacHale – News Night's new executive producer.
Alison Pill as Maggie Jordan – promoted to associate producer of News Night.
Dev Patel as Neal Sampat – writer of Will's blog and news scanner of the Internet
John Gallagher, Jr. as Jim Harper – a producer who works with MacHale
Thomas Sadoski as Don Keefer – News Night's former executive producer
Sam Waterston as Charlie Skinner – in charge of the News at ACN
Olivia Munn and Jane Fonda will join the cast in future episodes.
THE NEWSROOM -- OFFICIAL SITE
SUNDAYS AT 10:PM ON HBO
THE NEWSROOM ON WIKIPEDIA
Labels: Aaron Sorkin, Alison Pill, Dev Patel, Emily Mortimer, Greg Mottola, HBO, Jeff Daniels, John Gallagher, Jr., Sam Waterston, The Newsroom, Thomas Sadoski
Monday, June 18, 2012
THE BORGIAS - SEASON TWO FINALE
The season two finale of The Borgias on Showtime was one of the truly great hours of television drama.
I will not summarize this episode here. I suggest you just watch it. It will be re-run on Showtime over and over. It is not really necessary to know much about (or even probably not any of) the story even if you have never watched this series.
This episode is 2.10 - The Confession. The links below should provide you with all the background you might ever want.
2.10 - The Confession
Written by Neil Jordan, Guy Burt
Directed by David Leland
Every one of the principal characters (and each of the supporting players) delivered a brilliant performance.
Jeremy Irons --Rodrigo Borgia - Pope Alexander VI
Francois Arnaud -- Cesare Borgia, Son of Rodrigo
Holliday Grainger -- Lucrezia Borgia, beautiful daughter of Rodrigo
Sebastian De Souza -- Alfonso of Aragon, Lucrezia's suitor in 10.2
THE BORGIAS -- SHOWTIME OFFICIAL SITE
THE BORGIAS - WIKIPEDIA
THE BORGIAS - WIKIPEDIA EPISODE GUIDE
THE BORGIAS -- IMDB
THE HISTORICAL BORGIAS -- WIKIPEDIA
Labels: Cesare Borgia, Francois Arnaud, Holliday Grainger, Jeremy Irons, Lucrezia Borgia, Neil Jordan, Pope Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borgia, Sebastian De Souza, Showtime, The Borgias
Sunday, June 10, 2012
TONY AWARDS 2012
TONY AWARDS 2012
American Theatre Wing
66th Annual Antoinette Perry
Live from the Beacon Theatre in New York
CBS Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET.
Neil Patrick Harris host
Audra McDonald and Hugh Jackman had the most affecting acceptance speeches. Porgy and Bess had the best production number.
Clybourne Park (Play) Once (Musical) Death of a Salesman (Revival) and Porgy and Bess (Musical Revival) were among the top winners. James Corden beating out a bunch of superstars was the big surprise. (He was funny in his little demo-scene from One Man, Two Govnors.)
Neil Patrick Harris was a downer as host. His opening number was a tribute to the falsity and fake happiness that is in fact the worst, not the best, of Broadway. The rest of his hosting was flat.
A. R. T. The American Repertory Theater at Harvard, run by Diane Paulus was a big winner, with 10 nominations and two wins (Revival and Musical Actress) for Porgy and Bess; and, additionally, Once was workshopped at A. R. T. on the way to Broadway.
Director THE GERSHWIN'S PORGY AND BESS
Artistic Director A.R.T. (where ONCE was workshopped)
Photo by Eric Roffman - QPORIT
8wins/11 - "Once"
10 - "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess"
10 - "Nice Work If You Can Get It"
9 - "Peter and the Starcatcher"
8 - "Follies"
8 - "Newsies"
7 - "Death of a Salesman"
7 - "One Man, Two Guvnors"
TONY NOMINATIONS AND WINNERS - 2012
"Clybourne Park," Bruce Norris
"Other Desert Cities," Jon Robin Baitz
"Peter and the Starcatcher," Rick Elice
"Venus in Fur," David Ives
"Leap of Faith"
"Nice Work If You Can Get It"
Revival of a play
"Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman"
"Gore Vidal's The Best Man"
Revival of a musical
"The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess"
"Jesus Christ Superstar"
Book of a musical
"Lysistrata Jones," Douglas Carter Beane
"Newsies," Harvey Fierstein
"Nice Work If You Can Get It," Joe DiPietro
"Once," Enda Walsh
Original score (music and/or lyrics) written for the theater
"Bonnie & Clyde," music: Frank Wildhorn; lyrics: Don Black
"Newsies," music: Alan Menken; lyrics: Jack Feldman
"One Man, Two Guvnors," music & lyrics: Grant Olding
"Peter and the Starcatcher," music: Wayne Barker; lyrics: Rick Elice
Performance by an actor in a leading role in a play
James Corden, "One Man, Two Guvnors"
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman"
James Earl Jones, "Gore Vidal's The Best Man"
Frank Langella, "Man and Boy"
John Lithgow, "The Columnist"
Performance by an actress in a leading role in a play
Nina Arianda, "Venus in Fur"
Tracie Bennett, "End of the Rainbow"
Stockard Channing, "Other Desert Cities"
Linda Lavin, "The Lyons"
Cynthia Nixon, "Wit"
Performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical
Danny Burstein, "Follies"
Jeremy Jordan, "Newsies"
Steve Kazee, "Once"
Norm Lewis, "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess"
Ron Raines, "Follies"
Performance by an actress in a leading role in a musical
Jan Maxwell, "Follies"
Audra McDonald, "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess"
Cristin Milioti, "Once"
Kelli O'Hara, "Nice Work If You Can Get It"
Laura Osnes, "Bonnie & Clyde"
Performance by an actor in a featured role in a play
Christian Borle, "Peter and the Starcatcher"
Michael Cumpsty, "End of the Rainbow"
Tom Edden, "One Man, Two Guvnors"
Andrew Garfield, "Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman"
Jeremy Shamos, "Clybourne Park"
Performance by an actress in a featured role in a play
Linda Emond, "Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman"
Spencer Kayden, "Don't Dress for Dinner"
Celia Keenan-Bolger, "Peter and the Starcatcher"
Judith Light, "Other Desert Cities"
Condola Rashad, "Stick Fly"
Performance by an actor in a featured role in a musical
Phillip Boykin, "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess"
Michael Cerveris, "Evita"
David Alan Grier, "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess"
Michael McGrath, "Nice Work If You Can Get It"
Josh Young, "Jesus Christ Superstar"
Performance by an actress in a featured role in a musical
Elizabeth A. Davis, "Once"
Jayne Houdyshell, "Follies"
Judy Kaye, "Nice Work If You Can Get It"
Jessie Mueller, "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever"
Da'Vine Joy Randolph, "Ghost the Musical"
Scenic design of a play
John Lee Beatty, "Other Desert Cities"
Daniel Ostling, "Clybourne Park"
Mark Thompson, "One Man, Two Guvnors"
Donyale Werle, "Peter and the Starcatcher"
Scenic design of a musical
Bob Crowley, "Once"
Rob Howell and Jon Driscoll, "Ghost the Musical"
Tobin Ost and Sven Ortel, "Newsies"
George Tsypin, "Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark"
Costume design of a play
William Ivey Long, "Don't Dress for Dinner"
Paul Tazewell, "A Streetcar Named Desire"
Mark Thompson, "One Man, Two Guvnors"
Paloma Young, "Peter and the Starcatcher"
Costume design of a musical
Gregg Barnes, "Follies"
ESosa, "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess"
Eiko Ishioka, "Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark"
Martin Pakledinaz, "Nice Work If You Can Get It"
Lighting design of a play
Jeff Croiter, "Peter and the Starcatcher"
Peter Kaczorowski, "The Road to Mecca"
Brian MacDevitt, "Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman"
Kenneth Posner, "Other Desert Cities"
Lighting design of a musical
Christopher Akerlind, "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess"
Natasha Katz, "Follies"
Natasha Katz, "Once"
Hugh Vanstone, "Ghost the Musical"
Sound design of a play
Paul Arditti, "One Man, Two Guvnors"
Scott Lehrer, "Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman"
Gareth Owen, "End of the Rainbow"
Darron L. West, "Peter and the Starcatcher"
Sound design of a musical
Acme Sound Partners, "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess"
Clive Goodwin, "Once"
Kai Harada, "Follies"
Brian Ronan, "Nice Work If You Can Get It"
Rob Ashford, "Evita"
Christopher Gattelli, "Newsies"
Steven Hoggett, "Once"
Kathleen Marshall, "Nice Work If You Can Get It"
Direction of a play
Nicholas Hytner, "One Man, Two Guvnors"
Pam MacKinnon, "Clybourne Park"
Mike Nichols, "Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman"
Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, "Peter and the Starcatcher"
Direction of a musical
Jeff Calhoun, "Newsies"
Kathleen Marshall, "Nice Work If You Can Get It"
Diane Paulus, "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess"
John Tiffany, "Once"
William David Brohn and Christopher Jahnke, "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess"
Bill Elliott, "Nice Work If You Can Get It"
Martin Lowe, "Once"
Danny Troob, "Newsies"
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Regional Theatre Award
The Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington, D.C.
Isabelle Stevenson Award
Special Tony Award
Actors' Equity Assn.
Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre
TDF Open Doors
Labels: American Theatre Wing, Cynthia Nixon, Death of a Salesman, Diane Paulus, Follies, James Earl Jones, John Lithgow, Newsies, Nina Arianda, Once, Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Gershwins Porgy and Bess, Tony Awards
Saturday, June 09, 2012
OPEN ROADS: NEW ITALIAN CINEMA 2012
THE FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER
OPEN ROADS: NEW ITALIAN CINEMA 2012
June 8 to June 14
OPEN ROADS: NEW ITALIAN CINEMA 2012
THE ARRIVAL OF WANG
Photo Courtesy of Open Roads & The Film Society of Lincoln Center
OPEN ROADS: NEW ITALIAN CINEMA 2012
Photo Courtesy of Open Roads & The Film Society of Lincoln Center
Open Roads: New Italian Cinema will take place from June 8-14. This year’s lineup includes debuts, a return of favorite filmmakers as well as several award winners including TERRAFERMA, Special Jury Prize winner at the 2011 Venice Film Festival and Là-bas: A Criminal Education, Winner of “Lion of the Future” award at the 2011 Venice Film Festival.
A diverse selection of titles also includes comedies such as STEP INTO PARADISE, ESCORT IN LOVE and the return of genre cinema with THE LEGEND OF KASPAR HAUSER starring Vincent Gallo and THE ARRIVAL OF WANG. The 2012 lineup expertly showcases the fact that today’s young Italian filmmakers are embracing classic storytelling and breathing new life into them.
The series will feature directorial debuts by two of Italy’s finest screenwriters, Francesco Bruni whose debut EASY! was voted best film in the “Controcampo Italiano” section of last year’s Venice Film Festival and Ivan Cotroneo’s comedic turn in the director’s chair with KRYPTONITE. Other debuts include filmmaker Pippo Mezzapesa’s ANNALISA and the debut feature by the De Serio brothers, Gianluca and Massimliano, titled SEVEN ACTS OF MERCY and features astonishing performances by lead veteran actor Robert Herlitzka and newcomer Olimpia Melinte.
Such masters as Ermanno Olmi will return this year with THE CARDBOARD VILLAGE, a striking parable about the defense of faith in a world posed to deny it; the new film by Ferzan Ozpetek, MAGNIFICENT PRESENCE, inspired by Antonio Pietrangeli’s Ghosts of Rome and has been brilliantly updated; and one of Italy’s most popular contemporary filmmakers Carlo Verdone, who has returned to the screen with a kind of Odd Couple for the new millennium titled STEP INTO PARADISE.
Another highlight this year includes winner of Best Documentary at the 2011 Golden Globe awards in Italy, Gianfranco Giagni’s film Dante Ferretti: Italian Production Designer. A tribute to one of the greatest artists working today, winner of three Oscars (most recently for the extraordinary look of Hugo) and a key, longtime collaborator of directors ranging from Fellini and Pasolini to Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton and Martin Scorsese.
Open Roads: New Italian Cinema has been organized by The Film Society of Lincoln Center together with Istituto Luce-Cinecittà - Filmitalia and the support of Ministero per i Beni e le Attivitá Culturali (Direzione Generale per il Cinema) in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute of New York. Special thanks to the Alexander Bodini Foundation, Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimó and Antonio Monda for their generous support.
Take advantage of a special Three Film Package! Buy 1 ticket to 3 different films, and save. Pricing structure for this is - $30 General Public/ $24 Students & Seniors/ $21 Members.
Prices: $13 General Public/ $9 Students & Seniors/ $8 Members.
All screenings will be held at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater, located at 165 West 65th Street, between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway.
FILMS, DESCRIPTIONS & SCHEDULE
Annalisa/Il paese delle spose infelici
Pippo Mezzapesa, 2011, Italy; 82m
Another standout in a year of several impressive Italian feature film debuts, Annalisa follows the exploits of two young men from Apulia who, judging from their own parents’ lives, don’t seem to have too many auspicious prospects. Veleno is new in town, but manages to strike up a friendship with Zaza, a charismatic, talented soccer player who dreams of playing for Juventus. One day a bit of excitement comes to town: the secretive, somewhat eccentric Annalisa climbs to the roof of the local church and threatens to jump off. Annalisa goes on to form an emotional ménage à trois with Veleno and Zaza, who learn the source of her despair and vow to protect her from it. Mezzapesa brilliantly captures the rhythm of teenage time: events occur unpredictably, haphazardly, with great attention paid to providing the texture and atmosphere of these young lives. The three leads—Nicolas Orzella, Luca Schipani and Aylin Prandi—are uniformly terrific. Director Pippo Mezzapesa in-person!
*WED, JUN 13, 8:15PM
OPEN ROADS: NEW ITALIAN CINEMA 2012
THE ARRIVAL OF WANG
Directors Antonio and Marco Manettiand Actress Francesca Cuttica
Photo by Eric Roffman - QPORIT
The Arrival of Wang/L'arrivo di Wang
Antonio & Marco Manetti, 2011, Italy; 80m
A respected Chinese interpreter, Gaia, receives an intriguing if somewhat mysterious phone call from an old client: they need her services as soon as possible, although they can’t say much about the job for which they’re hiring her. Led blindfolded to a secret location, she’s put into darkened room where a soft voice at the other end of a long table says in perfect Chinese, “I am Wang.” But who is Wang, and why are the authorities taking such pains to keep him under wraps? A new generation of Italian filmmakers is rediscovering the pleasures and possibilities of genre filmmaking, and The Arrival of Wang is a proud representative of this trend. The dialog is razor-sharp, and the action moves briskly; just as we become certain that we understand what’s truly happening, brother directors Antonio and Marco Manetti come along and pull the rug out from under our feet, sending us back to square one. With Ennio Fantastichini and Francesca Cuttica. Directors Antonio & Marco Manetti in person at June 10 screening!
*SUN. JUN 10, 7:50PM; WED. JUN 13, 4:15PM
The Cardboard Village/Il villaggio di cartone
Ermanno Olmi, 2011, Italy; 87m
One of the genuine masters of the Italian cinema, Ermanno Olmi (The Tree of Wooden Clogs) returns with this striking parable about the defense of faith in a world posed to deny it. An old church is scheduled for demolition: the paintings have been taken off the walls, the sacred objects put away, and a giant, mechanical arm starts to take down the life-size crucifix that hangs over the altar. Yet, despite seeing the destruction of a place in which he has devoted so much of his life, the old priest (Michael Lonsdale, in a beautiful performance) feels a certain joy, for stripped of all its decorations the building has returned to its true nature as a meeting place for humanity and the Divine, where the poor and the desperate can find a haven. As so often in his work, Olmi—who recently celebrated his 80th birthday—starts with a philosophical or spiritual themes and then fashions a story that gives these themes a powerful, very contemporary relevance.
*FRI. JUN 8, 4PM; TUES. JUN 12, 8:50PM
Dante Ferretti: Italian Production Designer/Dante Ferretti: Scenografo italiano
Gianfranco Giagni, 2010, Italy; 52m
A loving, insightful tribute to one of the greatest artists working in cinema today: Dante Ferretti, winner of three Oscars (most recently for the extraordinary look of Hugo) and a key, longtime collaborator of directors ranging from Fellini and Pasolini to Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton and Martin Scorsese. Ferretti discusses his art, taking us to those places that have inspired his designs as well as sharing and explains his sketches and models. Those interviewed for the film include Leonardo DiCaprio, Terry Gilliam, Giuseppe Tornatore and Martin Scorsese. A valuable introduction to the little-heralded area of production design so crucial for the impact of a film, Dante Ferretti: Italian Production Designer was awarded Best Documentary at the 2011 Golden Globe awards in Italy. Dante Ferretti in person!
*SAT. JUN 9, 5:30PM
Diaz: Don’t Clean Up This Blood
Daniele Vicari, 2012, Italy/Romania/France; 127m
Daniele Vicari’s searing rendition of the events surrounding the horrifying and still controversial police raid at the Diaz Pascoli School in Genoa during the 2001 G8 Summit was one of the most hotly debated films at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. The summit was drawing to an end; although there had been numerous clashes between the police and the many protesters who had descended upon the city, things had been calm for hours. Around midnight, dozens of uniformed police officers arrived at Diaz, a temporary shelter for the many international protesters, as well as a site for various social forums. For the next two hours, the police moved down its hallways, indiscriminately attacking everyone they could find, sending dozens off to the hospital or a detention center. Described as the greatest European human rights tragedy since World War II, the events at Diaz continue to fester in Italian politics—a terrible wound that still has not been healed.
*FRI. JUN 8, 9PM
Francesco Bruni, 2011, Italy; 95m
Voted best film in the “Controcampo Italiano” section of last year’s Venice Film Festival, Easy is the terrific directorial debut by one of Italy’s finest screenwriters, Francesco Bruni (Caterina in the City, The First Beautiful Thing). Fabrizio Bentivoglio is wonderful as Bruno, a formerly talented writer who now ghostwrites celebrity autobiographies. To make ends meet, he also gives boring, listless private lessons to bored, listless students, one of whom, Luca, is on the verge of being expelled. One day, Luca’s mother comes to see Bruno and reveals that Luca is actually his son, born of a tryst when she was a student and Bruno was a schoolteacher. Moreover, she informs Bruno it’s time for him to do some parenting. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Easy chronicles one man’s unusual path to growing up. Director Francesco Bruni in person at June 9 screening!
*FRI. JUN 8, 1:45PM; SAT. JUNE 9, 7:30PM
Escort in Love/Nessuno mi puO’giudicare
Massimiliano Bruno, 2011, Italy; 95m
Alice (Paolo Cortellesi) lives a phenomenally pampered life, surrounded by servants and every gadget imaginable. Then one day, her somewhat shady husband is killed in a car accident, and Alice learns the horrible truth: the family is completely broke, all the opulence based on dubious loans tinged with some underworld connections. Alice must find a way to support herself and her son, but she’s a bit lacking in the marketable skills department, until she discovers the wonderful world of escort services. Although still quite attractive, Alice needs some training in what seems to have become a highly professionalized field in contemporary Italy. So she turns to Eva, a long time pro, and soon she’s off to a new career... and an Italy she barely knew existed. In the best tradition of Italian comedy, Escort in Love offers pointed political criticism in between its explosions of laughter. Actor Raul Bove in person!
*SUN. JUN 10, NOON
Michele Rho, 2011, Italy; 120m
Two brothers, Alessandro and Pietro, live in a small village in the Apennines at the end of the 19th century. When their mother dies, she leaves them with a magnificent bequest: two beautiful horses, from which they can make their livings. Several years later, the brothers are still close, yet it’s clear that each is increasingly eager to pursue his own, very separate dreams. Horses has a welcome, deliberately old fashioned quality: there is a marvelous integration of the stunning natural landscapes and the emotional lives of these characters, and the deliberate comparison between the brothers is never far from the center of narrative attention. Yet the film doesn’t feel mechanical or predictable: even when we can feel the hand of fate in the lives of these characters, we know that at any second the action can hurtle into another direction.
*MON. JUN 11, 8:30PM; TUES. JUN 12, 1:30PM
Kryptonite!/La kryptonite nella borsa
Ivan Cotroneo, 2011, Italy; 99m
Noted screenwriter Ivan Cotroneo (I am Love; Piano, Solo; Paz!) makes an impressive passage to the director’s chair with this sharply observed, bittersweet comedy about a large, colorful Neapolitan family struggling against both changing times and internal tensions. Nine years old in the early Seventies, Peppino sets up the family landscape for us: dad Antonio sells sewing machines when not cheating on his wife Rosaria; his young aunt and uncle, Titina and Salvatore, are enjoying the era’s various revolutions, although not always together; cousin Gennaro wears a cape and thinks he’s Superman. Cotroneo has a terrific sense of the period, which he captures with small but telling details; the world is changing all around his characters, and their anxiety and even befuddlement with this new world is always shown with sympathy—even when it’s laced with humor. The first-rate cast includes Valeria Golino, Luca Zingaretti, Fabrizio Gifuni and Cristina Capotondi. Director Ivan Cotroneo in-person!
*MON. JUN 11, 6:15PM; THURS. JUN 14, 1PM
Là-bas: A Criminal Education/Là-bas
Guido Lombardi, 2011, Italy; 100m
“Down there,” in French “là-bas,” for many Africans is simply a password for Europe, the place that has attracted so many of them in the past decades. One of those caught in web is Yusouf, a talented young artist promised a job by an uncle already established in Italy. Unable at first to find his uncle, Yusouf makes his way to Castel Volturno, about 18 miles from Naples and home to about 20,000 African immigrants, the vast majority clandestine. Discovering the various legal, semi-legal and outright illegal ways these people struggle on day by day, Yusouf also gets to witness the role of the Camorra, Naples’ deadly version of the Mafia, in their use and exploitation. For his first film, Guido Lombardi relied heavily on Kader Alassane, the singer who plays Yusouf and served as Lombardi’s guide into the shadowy world of Africans in Italy. Winner of a “Lion of the Future” award at the 2011 Venice Film Festival. Director Guido Lombardi in person!
*SUN. JUN 10, 10PM
The Legend of Kaspar HAUser/La leggenda di Kaspar HAUser
Davide Manuli, 2012, Italy; 90m
Original, innovative, and often witty, David Manuli’s second film riffs on the famous European legend about Kaspar Houser, the mysterious, “wild boy” who simply appeared on the streets of Nuremberg in 1828. Shot in luscious black-and-white, the film follows this updated Kaspar after he washes up on the beach of an almost deserted Mediterranean island, clad in a track suit and sporting an iPod. Found by the Sheriff (the one and only Vincent Gallo), who thinks the stranger might be some kind of Messiah, Kaspar is initially welcomed into this tiny community. But the Duchess, absolute ruler of the island, feels threatened by this new arrival, and thus sends the Pusher (also the one and only Vincent Gallo) to take care of Kaspar before he becomes a problem. Drawing inspiration and imagery from Westerns, surrealism and sci-fi, The Legend of Kaspar Houser also features an extraordinary, pulsing soundtrack by electronic music composer and sound artist Vitalic. Director Davide Manuli and actor Claudia Gerini in person!
*SAT. JUN 9, 10PM
OPEN ROADS: NEW ITALIAN CINEMA 2012
Director Ferzan Ozpetek
Photo by Eric Roffman - QPORIT &
Magnificent Presence/Magnifica Presenza
Ferzan Ozpetek, 2012, Italy; 105m
The new film by Ferzan Ozpetek (Steam: The Turkish Bath, Facing Windows) is the story of Pietro (Elio Germano), an aspiring actor approaching 30 who’s just moved to Rome. After crashing with a cousin for a while, Pietro finds his own place, a rather extraordinary apartment offered for an extremely reasonable price. Pietro moves in, but begins to notice that each night when he returns some of his things have been moved. It soon becomes clear to him: Pietro is not living alone. A wry, insightful comedy liberally inspired by Antonio Pietrangeli’s Ghosts of Rome (Fantasmi a Roma), Magnificent Presence has been brilliantly updated and filled out with more details about Pietro’s spectral housemates—who include Margherita Buy, Vittoria Puccini and Cem Yimaz, among others. Shocked and upset (not to mention scared) at first, Pietro soon figures out a way of cohabiting with his lodgers--the only group with which, he has to admit, he’s ever truly felt comfortable. Director Ferzan Ozpetek and actor Elio Germano in person at June 8 screening!
*FRI. JUN 8, 6:15PM; MON. JUN 11, 4PM
My Tomorrow/Il mio domaNI
Marina Spada, 2011, Italy; 88m
As she stands before audiences giving her motivational lectures, human resources manager Monica (Claudia Gerini) is the very portrait of success. Yet there is something that simply doesn’t feel quite right. Is it unfinished business with her father, who lives alone in the country? Or her romance with her boss, who seems to be growing more distant? Or is it her nephew, who’s getting more and more lost while his mother looks on helplessly? Director and co-writer Marina Spade creates a terrifically rich character study that avoids clichés and simple explanations for Monica’s situation, offering a portrait of a very contemporary woman who seems capable of having it all until one day she wakes up and realizes that’s not really what she wants. Spada also offers a fascinating look at Milan, a very different kind of Italy that rarely makes it into the movies. Director Marina Spada in person!
*SAT. JUN 9, 3PM
Seven Acts of Mercy/Sette opere di misericordia
Gianluca and Massimliano De Serio, 2011, Italy/Romania; 103m
One of Cravaggio’s greatest masterworks depicts all seven Christian acts of mercy (feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc.) in one magnificent painting; the debut feature of the De Serio brothers depicts a reimagining of these acts in the contemporary relationship between an old man and a desperate young woman. Discharged by the hospital, cancer patient Antonio collapses on his way home and is saved by Luminita, adrift and living on the edge of a shanty town. Going back to Antonio’s house, the two enter into an intense, emotional game of cat and mouse, each vying for control while doing all they can to mask their respective vulnerabilities. The De Serios are blessed with two astonishing lead performances—veteran actor Robert Herlitzka and newcomer Olimpia Melinte—who each bring extraordinary complexity to their characters. A haunting work, and an auspicious debut by two young filmmakers already widely praised for their shorts. Directors Gianluca and Massimliano De Serio in person at June 10 screening!
*SUN. JUN 10, 2:30PM; TUES. JUN 12, 4PM
Shun Li and the Poet/Io sono Li
Andrea Segre, 2011, Italy/France; 96m
Many recent European films have chronicled the social and personal consequences of the recent wave of immigration to Europe, but few with the delicacy and insight of Andre Segre’s lovely film. Brought to Italy by a “broker” who she’s slowly paying off while saving money to bring across her son, Shun Li (Zhao Tao, Jia Zhang-ke’s muse in Platform and The World) is sent from her factory job to a bar in Chioggia, a small island in the Veneto lagoon. There she strikes up a friendship with Bepi, a fisherman nicknamed “the Poet,” himself a representative of an earlier immigration to Italy from Eastern Europe. The two come to share a special understanding between them, and their relationship transforms them both. Segre effectively draws us into this “immigrant world,” not simply to expose its unfairness but to reveal the ways in which immigrants create their own special kinds of support systems. Director Andrea Segre in person!
*SAT. JUN 9, 12:30PM
Step Into Paradise/Posti in piedi in paradisO
Carlo Verdone, 2012, Italy; 119m
One of Italy’s most popular contemporary filmmakers (and frequent Open Roads guest) Carlo Verdone returns to the screen with a kind of Odd Couple for the new millennium. Only now it’s not a couple, but three divorced men who decide to share an apartment together in Rome. All three are drifting towards uncertain futures while still stuck in unresolved pasts. One (Verdone) is a record collector lost in a world of classic rock; another (Pier Francesco Favino) is a former film critic reduced to writing gossip columns. The last (Marco Giallini) tries to sell real estate as kind of excuse to meet women. Clearly a response to the economic and spiritual crisis gripping Italy, Step Into Paradise is not surprisingly also hilarious, one of Verdone’s most sharply observed comedies. These housemates may not know how to solve their own problems, but each is full of ideas about how to help the other two. Actors Pierfrancesco Favino and Marco Giallini in person at June 10 screening!
*SUN. JUN 10, 5PM; MON. JUN 11, 1:30PM
Emanuele Crialese, 2011, Italy/France; 88m
Filippo, whose own father was lost at sea years ago, lives with his mother and grandfather on a small island off the coast of Sicily. Still untouched by tourism, the island faces a challenge from the dozens of clandestine immigrants who each week try to make the island their launch pad for getting to Italy. One day when Filippo and his grandfather Ernesto are off fishing, they see a woman and her son about to drown; they save them and bring them to their house—but will they now report them to the authorities, as has been strictly ordered? A lyrical moral tale for our times, this fourth feature by Emanuele Crialese (Respiro, The Golden Door) combines the dreamy, magical-realist quality that runs through the director’s work with a hard-hitting social critique. Winner of a Special Jury Prize at the 2011 Venice Film Festival. A Cohen Media Group release.
*WED. JUN 13, 2:30PM & 6:15PM
PUBLIC SCREENING SCHEDULE
Friday, June 8
1:45 EASY (SCIALLA), 95 min.
4:00 THE CARDBOARD VILLAGE (IL VILLAGIO DI CARTONE), 87 min.
6:15 MAGNIFICENT PRESENCE (MAGNIFICA PRESENZA), 105 min.
**Director Ferzan Ozpetek and actor Elio Germano
9:00 DIAZ: DON’T CLEAN UP THIS BLOOD, 116 min
**Director/Writer Daniele Vicari in-person
Saturday, June 9
12:30 SHUN LI AND THE POET (IO SONO LI), 87 min.
**Director Andrea Segre
3:00 MY TOMORROW (IL MIO DOMANI), 88 min.
**Director Marina Spada
5:30 DANTE FERRETTI: ITALIAN PRODUCTION DESIGNER (DANTE FERRETTI: SCENOGRAFO ITALIANO), 52 min.
7:30 EASY (SCIALLA), 95 min.
**Director Francesco Bruni
10:00 THE LEGEND OF KASPAR HAUSER (LA LEGGENDA DI KASPAR HAUSER),
**Director Davide Manuli and actor Claudia Gerini
Sunday, June 10
12PM ESCORT IN LOVE (NESSUNO MI PUO’GIUDICARE) 95 min
2:30 SEVEN ACTS OF MERCY (SETTE OPERE DI MISERICORDIA), 103 min.
**Directors the De Serio Brothers
5:00 STEP INTO PARADISE (POSTI IN PIEDI IN PARADISO), 119 min.
**Actors Pierfrancesco Favino and Marco Giallini
7:50 THE ARRIVAL OF WANG (L’ARRIVO DI WANG), 80 min.
**Directors the Manetti Brothers
10:00 LA-BAS: CRIMINAL EDUCATION (LA-BAS: EDUCAZIONE CRIMINALE), 100 min.
**Director Guido Lombardi
Monday, June 11
1:30 STEP INTO PARADISE (POSTI IN PIEDI IN PARADISO), 119 min
4:00 MAGNIFICENT PRESENCE (MAGNIFICA PRESENZA), 105 min.
6:15 KRYPTONITE (La kryptonite nella borsa) 98 min
**Director Ivan Cotroneo
8:30 HORSES (CAVALLI), 120 min.
Tuesday, June 12
1:30 HORSES (CAVALLI) 120 min
4:00 SEVEN ACTS OF MERCY (SETTE OPERE DI MISERICORDIA), 103 min.
8:50 THE CARDBOARD VILLAGE (IL VILLAGIO DI CARTONE), 87 min.
Wednesday, June 13
2:15 TERRAFERMA 88 min
4:15 THE ARRIVAL OF WANG (L’ARRIVO DI WANG), 80 min.
6:15 TERRAFERMA 88 min
8:15 ANNALISA (IL PAESE DELLE SPOSE INFELICI), 82 min.
**Director Pippo Mezzapesa
Thursday, June 14
1:00 KRYPTONITE (La kryptonite nella borsa) 98 min
The Film Society receives generous, year-round support from Royal Bank of Canada, American Airlines, The New York Times, Stella Artois, the National Endowment for the Arts and New York State Council on the Arts. For more information, visit www.filmlinc.com
and follow @filmlinc on Twitter.com
Labels: Carlo Verdone, Dante Ferretti, Ermanno Olmi, Ferzan Ozpetek, Gianfranco Giagni, MAGNIFICENT PRESENCE, Olimpia Melinte, Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, Pippo Mezzapesa, Robert Herlitzka
Friday, June 01, 2012
SLEEP NO MORE -- REVIEW & GUIDE
SLEEP NO MORE
AT THE McKITTRICK HOTEL
CREATED BY PUNCHDRUNK
SLEEP NO MORE
Nicholas Bruder as Macbeth and Sophie Bortolussi as Lady Macbeth
Photo by Yaniv_Schulman
SLEEP NO MORE is a hypnotic, atmospheric, brilliant, amazing, immersive, interactive, theater/dance/movement/art-installation/mystery/adventure. It has been said to induce insomnia.
Based loosely on that Scottish play (the title comes from Act 2 Scene 2) plus a dash of Hitchcock, it takes place in a long abandoned, but newly, intricately restored hotel in Chelsea. You, entering this building through a dark corridor, divest yourself of coats and packages, take a playing card which is your entrance key, don a mask -- Eyes-Wide-Shut-like -- embark on an elevator from which you are dropped off on one of six or so dark floors nearly every inch of which contains something strange and interesting, left to examine the space on your own, find the cast of players (recognizable because they are maskless/barefaced), and experience whatever may happen.
What happens is breathtaking set-pieces of movement, fascinating spaces, mostly ominous music, a story that is hard (nay, impossible) to follow on a single visit, and surprises.
The movement/dance in the set-pieces, suggestive of singular moments from the sources, but almost wordless, are fantastic.
See it if you can. See it again if you can.
SLEEP NO MORE, created by Punchdrunk.
*** NOTE ***
June 5 2012
Randy Weiner (a producer of SNM) and Diane Paulus (whose American Repertory Theater brought SNM to the US) will be speaking at the
Music Theater Group on June 7:
$30 DISCOUNT TICKETS
$15 STUDENT TICKETS
A GUIDE TO SLEEP NO MORE
SLEEP NO MORE
Nicholas Bruder and Sophie Bertolussi with audience members
(c) Photo by Robin Roemer
There are two schools of thought about how to enjoy SLEEP NO MORE (SNM) (or any show) on a first visit. The first is to know as little as possible about the show and just discover the experience. The second is to come prepared.
For myself, I fall into the first school of thought, because I want to know what the experience is like for a complete newbie; and if I want or need to, I’ll go again (and I do want to go to SLEEP NO MORE again).
However, for most other people I would suggest knowing a little about the experience before you go, especially for Sleep No More. You will have more fun, be less confused and frustrated, see more and experience more, and better understand the evening.
So, in my opinion, PART II contains enhancers, not spoilers; but virgin-experience purists may want to skip the rest of this article until after they have spent their first evening at the McKittrick.
The information in the next sections consists of my advice to you -- based on my first visit to the show, plus what I gleaned from the references listed in PART IV. (Part III, below, is about the production team.)
What you want to know BEFORE you have tickets:
• Get tickets as soon as possible. They are selling out!
• For any performance, get tickets as early in the performance as possible. The earlier you get in, the more you will see!
What you want to know BEFORE you go to the show:
• Dress comfortably, and wear comfortable shoes; you will be moving all evening up and down stairs, and over bumpy surfaces.
• Note that if you are traveling as a couple or a group, you can choose the clothes you wear to help you find your mate(s) in a crowd in a dark room.
• Use comfortable eye-wear; you will be wearing a mask and some people may be uncomfortable with the mask, or have trouble seeing with glasses through the mask eye-holes. And it will be dark, so clear vision will help keep you safe and allow you to read small print in dark rooms.
• Eat something before you enter the theater; you may be able to buy a drink, but not get any real food easily all evening. (You may be able to get food before the show next door to the McKittrick at the Americano Hotel –- see link #40 -- I had an excellent snack there.)
• You may want to have a watch you can read in a dark room, so you can pace yourself through the evening – or even rendezvous at some preset time with friend(s).
• Do not bring anything you do not need. You will check your coat and anything you are carrying at the theater before you get into the show.
• Bring ID to prove you are of age. Even if you are well past the point where there is any doubt. They still check it.
• Bring some cash. At least $3 for the check-room, $10 or so for each drink (+ tips?).
What you want to know GOING to the show:
• The McKittrick is on West 27th Street, west of 10th Avenue. Unfortunately, 27th is not a through street from the east; it starts at 10th Avenue. To get to the McKittrick from somewhere east of 10th Ave, you must choose a street north or south of 27th that does go through to 10th Ave; and then you travel up or down 10th to 27th and then go west the rest of the way.
• There may be street parking in the evening. But be careful. Some spots that look tempting may not be legal parking. (Check both the time-signs and that you are not in a driveway or construction spot.)
• Go early. You may have to wait on line a while. (Or, with good luck, there may be no line and they may let you in before your official time.) The earlier you get in, the more you will see, the better off you will be. (Note - correction: a reader helpfully pointed out that a previous version of this paragraph kept saying 37th st -- the correct street is 27th!)
What to know when you GET to the show:
• Waiting on line your ID will be checked and your hand stamped.
• As mentioned, you may have to wait on line a while. Quite a lot of people come to each show and they all have to be checked in.
• You will follow the line through a dark passage to the check-room where you will check anything you are carrying: you want to be free to roam. ($3.)
• You will continue to a check-in desk where your reservation/ticket will be checked, and you will get a playing card, which is your ticket.
• You will proceed through a really dark, labyrinthine passage (unless there is a simpler path that I missed) into the bar.
• There may be a variety of drinks to choose from. A bit of a buzz may enhance the action, but don’t drink too much: you need good coordination, lots of energy and great speed to move swiftly through dark rooms with bumpy floors, and not get a twisted ankle as you keep up with the actors. (Note: I did not like the "absinth and lime" very much -- quite weak, not very tasty, and lukewarm; but, on the other hand, it was not strong enough to interfere with my coordination and speed!)
MILD ENHANCERS, BUT (PERHAPS) GENTLE SPOILERS
What to know when you GET PAST THE BAR to the show:
• You get to put on a mask, are told not to speak, get on an elevator and get left off on a floor.
• To be let off alone on the sixth floor is something special.
• Cast members do not wear masks. The best way to experience the show is to follow them around. (Note: Some are more interesting than others.)
• Do not be afraid to look at things the characters write, to open drawers and doors, and be sure to go from one floor to another (follow the exit signs).
• The BlackMasks (ie people in black masks!) mark off spaces which are not accessible. They can also help in case you have a problem.
• The set decoration of the building is so amazing that one way to enjoy your experience is to simply explore the space. But I’m not sure that exploring the space (or reading any books or notes) will help at all in “understanding” the “story.”
• Note that you may have trouble reading things -- it is very dark, and much of what is written is very small, and when you read it, it may or may not help much to unravel any of the story lines.
• Actions take place simultaneously in different rooms on different floors. There are many story lines, many floors, many characters, and many rooms.
• There are roughly 3 repetitions/cycles of the story in every 3 hour show, each cycle ending in a (mini) banquet scene (I’m told; I never saw it). So if you think you have seen something before, you probably have. Go somewhere else. (To experience all three cycles, of course, you must enter early, at the beginning of a show.) Then, at the end, there is one half-hour final (maxi!) banquet scene (different from the other banquets, with the entire audience, and not to be missed).
• There are “1-on-1's” (also called 1:1's and one-to-one's) in which a cast member will interact with a single member of the audience -- these encounters can be among the most interesting and memorable of the evening... let them happen. (Note: During the final banquet a cast member sidled up to me from the back. Took my hand. Held hands with me and gently cuddled up against me until the end of the show; gently guided me up the stairs to a lounge as the show ended, lifted up my mask and kissed me gently on the cheek. It was sweet. Was she hitting on me or was it part of the show? Alas! It was part of the show.)
• From what I hear, if your 1-on-1 includes the offer of a drink, take it; it’s real alcohol.
• It is impossible in any one cycle to see everything. And there are also unique 1-on-1’s. In one evening, even if you arrive as a first cycle starts, and make brilliant choices about where to be at every moment, it is impossible to experience everything in one visit.
• Most of the action is in the form of abstract dance movement with very few words. The skill of the actors is stupendous.
• The actors are amazing physical performers. Not just during their scenes! They have the ability to slither backward thorough a crowd in a dark room. And suddenly zip away to another place -- they are hard to follow.
• Everyone in the audience was extremely well behaved; and the cast interacts brilliantly with the audience. I was sitting on a chair at one point in the show and a character ever so gently eased me off the chair; only a moment later a character was thrown onto the chair I’d just vacated.
• The producers recommend that couples split up and experience the space separately. Then talk about their experiences at the end. One reason is that it limits your ability to spontaneously follow the action. Also, couples -- especially going hand in hand -- tend to obstruct other people’s movements. On the other hand, some couples that have experienced it together have suggested that this gives them a bond, and a better way to compare notes.
• There is a large cast, and from performance to performance they may rotate roles.
• There are also reports of celebrity actors sometimes taking a role; and in some 1-on-1’s a member of the audience may be given a task to play as part of the story.
• The show is based loosely on Macbeth, with an overtone of Hitchcock (especially Rebecca).
• The set pieces consist of mostly wordless, abstract, spectacular dance and movement pieces based on scenes from these sources and some others.
• Many of the set pieces include nudity. Some involve strobe lighting. The ambiance is film noir and suspense, witchcraft and madness. The underlying story, of course, is the killing of a house guest -- the assassination of a king.
What to know AFTER THE SHOW:
• Stay around for drinks and music in the lounge. The music is terrific!
• Buy a program. It may or may not be available on premises; you may have to order it online.
• Buy another ticket. Sleep No More again (and again).
• There are also special events, “themed evenings”, “afterparties.” I do not know exactly what these are, but some of the links below describe a MAY DAY party and a NEW YEAR’s EVE party. (See links #37 & #38) Some special events can sell out almost instantly; if you hear about one and want to go, make your reservation quickly!
• Underground Eats is having a special event at the McKittrick on June 3. (See link #39.)
The SPACE and The CHARACTERS:
Here is a rough guide to the space:
Feel free to explore, but if you are by yourself, then there probably is something more interesting happening somewhere else. There are a lot of people at the show, so they must have found something to draw them away. It is generally better to follow actors (as a way to find the action), than to pick a spot and wait for some action to come to you.
According to “a girl named Zelda” in a comment on the “unfinishing blog” (see below in PART IV for reference link #2 – and also links #17 And #18) here’s what’s on all the floors:
5 - Hospital Ward, including doctor's offices, a padded room, a room full of beds, a room full of bathtubs (yes these get used), and a surgery observation room. The forest, which includes the witch's hut, is also on this floor. (I think there are public bathrooms on this floor.)
4 - Street of shops, the speakeasy/pool hall, Hecate's duplicate of the Manderley bar (location of the witch's rave).
3 - Macbeth's bedroom, Macduff's suite, crumbled courtyard, cemetery.
2 - Hotel lobby, Manderley Bar (covered in sheets), bank of phone booths.
1 - Duncan's quarters, several small chapels, balcony overlooking the forest/ballroom
Lower Level - forest/ballroom/balcony
The CHARACTERS (Based on the program, but I’m guessing a bit here)
Hecate (Probably in a red dress)
Witches (One may be male and in some scenes nude)
Agnes Naismith (aka The Second Mrs. De Winter?)
Matron of the sanitorium
Nurses (Probably looking like nurses – one may be male?)
J Fulton - Tailor
Mr. Bargarran – Taxidermist
Catherine Campbell – Housekeeper (aka Mrs. Danvers?)
The 2nd Mrs. de Winter (the woman with a suitcase?) and Mrs. Danvers (probably in a black dress?) are characters from Rebecca.
THE CREATIVE AND PRODUCING TEAMS
AND ACTIVE THEATER
Punchdrunk is a British theatrical group founded by Felix Barrett, the company’s artistic director. Maxine Doyle is co-director and choreographer. For about 12 years Punchdrunk has been developing site-specific and immersive theater (SSIT), in which the performance takes place in an environment designed for the production, and the audience is free to move about, experiencing the action in the space in which it happens.
Punchdrunk seems particularly interested in adaptations of classical theatrical pieces for this format. In 2000 they did a production of Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard. Inspirations for other productions have included: Sophocles Oedipus Rex and Antigone; Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet and Stravinsky’s Firebird; Ionesco’s The Chairs; and Peter Weiss’ Marat/Sade.
Punchdrunk, at least in Sleep No More, separates the audience from the cast with masks, and most of the action is abstract dance with minimal dialog, if any.
While Punchdrunk may have developed the most sophisticated examples of SSIT theater, this kind of experience does have a history, including Tamara, a Canadian play that had a long series of runs in several cities from 1981 to 2002. (I saw a NY production.)
Slightly different (more participatory & interactive and less site-specific), Playing With Reality is currently doing Interactive Theater in which a member of the audience joins the cast as the central character of a completely improvised story. Members of Playing With Reality call themselves InterActors.
The sketch comedy group TMLMTBGB, downtown, brings audience members into some of their sketches. And at THE PIT, Open Improv’s are a kind of more intense participatory theater.
Diane Paulus and Randy Weiner created The Donkey Show, which is a cabaret experience inspired by Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.
As interactive computer programming and interactive computer games developed, along with performance art, art installations, and such real-life reality events as the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst, in which she became a central cast member in a real life real street-theater event that was not of her own devising, the idea of interactive, immersive experiences within art installations as theater began to evolve.
Perhaps a good term for immersive, interactive, site-specific live theater, with the audience participating more or less actively, would be Participatory Theater or Active Theater.
Sleep No More was developed in the UK and brought over to the US for a staging in Brookline, MA (outside of Boston) by the American Repertory Theater (A. R. T.), the spectacular theatrical company in Cambridge Mass, currently headed by the brilliant Diane Paulus.
After the run at A. R. T., Sleep No More was brought to New York by the producing company EMURSIVE, which is especially interested in immersive, provocative theater.
One of the principals in EMURSIVE is Randy Weiner, who is the husband of Diane Paulus, and is the co-writer of The Donkey Show.
Weiner is especially interested in immersive, provocative theater, and he is a Managing Partner of The Box in New York and London. The Box is a singularly sexual and expensive late-night nightclub. In New York, according to reports, it was the subject of some complaints (settled according to reports). In London, it was said to be a favorite of a Royal Prince, and in both cities it may have both investments and patronage from noted international movie stars. (Some reports on The Box are listed below. See links #32 - #36.)
AND MORE ACTIVE THEATER STILL TO COME …
I, myself, have been interested in -- and began working on -- interactive projects as soon as personal computers became available, and I am currently developing a production in which audience members are integral participants in a site specific, interactive, immersive theatrical experience inspired by a politically and sexually intense classical play.
A recent article in the New York Times described an experiment in which Tod Machover, a member of the MIT Media Lab and a collaborator with Diane Paulus on an opera was testing the possibility of enhancing Sleep No More with computer technology built into the masks. (Making it into a live and immersive computer game???) (See links #11, #26 and #31)
Sergey Brin of Google was recently seen in San Francisco with Google Goggles – enhanced reality eye-wear that could ultimately make the entire world the theater in which you are immersed.
The number (and passion) of links and on-line comments related to Sleep No More suggests that Active Theater may be striking an important and special chord with its audence!
LINKS AND REFERENCES
#1- SLEEP NO MORE – OFFICIAL SITE
NEWS ARTICLES, EXPERIENCES & REVIEWS
#2- COMMENTS -- BASIC INFO
#3- SLEEP NO MORE AT A.R.T. IN BOSTON
#4- MOVING INTO CHELSEA
#5- NYT ON PREPARING THE MCKITTRICK FOR SLEEP NO MORE
#6- CHIC AND BUBBLY
#7- INSIDE NEW YORK
#8- BROADWAY WORLD
#9- NYT REVIEW
#11- NYT ON ADDING COMPUTER INTERACTIONS TO SLEEP NO MORE
#13- BLEEPMAG – INTERVIEW WITH CAST MEMBERS-- GO TO Page 37!
#15- DEBORAH COSTELLANO
#17- GUIDE TO THE MCKITTRICK HOTEL
CREATORS AND PRODUCERS
#19- AMERICAN REPERTORY THEATER (A.R.T.)
#20- PUNCHDRUNK OFFICIAL SITE (may not work in all browsers!)
#21- PUNCHDRUNK ON WIKIPEDIA
#22- SLEEP NO MORE - PUNCHDRUNK
#24- THE DONKEY SHOW
#25- THE DONKEY SHOW - REVIEW
#26- TOD MACHOVER AND DIANE PAULUS – OPERA OF THE FUTURE
#27- TAMARA ON WIKIPEDIA
#29- PLAYING WITH REALITY
#30- QPORIT VISITS PLAYING WITH REALITY BACKSTAGE IN 3D VIDEO
#31- GOOGLE GOGGLES
#32- THE BOX OFFICIAL SITE
#33- THE BOX-SOHO ON WIKIPEDIA
#34- NEW YORK TIMES ON THE BOX
#35- DAILY MAIL ON THE BOX
#36- YELP COMMENTS ON THE BOX
#37- MCKITTRICK MAY FAIR
#38- NEW YEAR’S EVE AT SLEEP NO MORE
#39- UNDERGROUND EATS AT THE MCKITTRICK HOTEL
FOR FOOD AND DRINK BEFORE OR AFTER:
#40- AMERICANO HOTEL
Labels: Diane Paulus, Emursive, Hitchcock, Macbeth, McKittrick, Playing With Reality, Punchdrunk., Randy Weiner, Sleep No More, Tamara, The Box, Tod Machover