LOOKING FORWARD TO june
This week I came real close to sailing in a one man sailboat.
|Nate Burger, Alys Shante Dickerson in Court Theatre's 'Titanic.' photo courtesy of Court Theater|
Going the extra mile for theatre during the pandemic means installing three socially distanced, plexiglass sound booths, a task executed by Arnel Sancianco's scenic design in the creation of Titanic (Scenes from the British Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry, 1912). This virtual play is written by Owen McCafferty, directed by Vanessa Stalling, produced by Court Theatre in Chicago, and streaming through July 11th.
Listening was the mode of choice for those in 1912 when the Titanic sank and it seemed appropriate that this show relies heavily on sound.
In the opening scene, fictional character, the clerk of the court (Xavier Edward King) relays a list of materials. Among the items include 1,000 bottles of wine, 75,000 pounds of fresh meat, and four cases of opium. All items found on the Titanic. The clerk introduces the nonfictional characters based on surviving staff and then starts the testimony with the characters' investigation of the wreck.
Being more accustomed to a visual form of artistry, I rely more heavily on my other senses during this show and even close my eyes to avoid distraction. The running notes, and sudden changes in the bass, and shrieking dissonances help convey the angered interrogation made by Charles Lightoller (Ronald L. Conner), the commissioner (Alys Shante Dickerson), and the attorney general (Charles Joughin). Some of the inquiry in McCafferty's playwright highlight specifics that may have been overlooked, like this question posed to Reginald Lee:
Have you ever had glasses?
Have you found them of use?
Lady Duff Gordon (Bri Auida) displays great innocence and naivety and its her contrast in her tone and her quality in speech that creates a powerful image. The sound relays the victim's cries and pleas, and initially, Lady Duff shows very little emotion, until she's overwhelmed by fast pace inquiry in the form of accusations: Did you tell them to row faster in order to avoid the cries? Her facade vanishes and is replaced by a deep empathetic look I'm hoping for.
This Titanic production took inspiration from the pandemic. Its written in the program notes in a discussion with sound designer Mikhail Fiksel:
Between the 109-year old Titanic disaster and today’s pandemic have been integral to shaping the story. The handling of catastrophe, the lack of action and conflicting communication to avert catastrophe, along with the traumatic legacy it leaves behind, all have guided the team’s understanding of the play.
Blackouts of a character's window note transitions in scenes. The video process was made with multiple cameras,so viewers can access to the entire stage and have the freedom to decide which window to focus on. The characters are in formal attire, black suits, and strangely reminiscent of ESPN sports commentary.
As the inquiry gets closer to the sinking of the vessel, the music intensifies, and the feeling is similar to the first time I witnessed Titanic (1997). If only we could carry around compositions like this in our head wherever we went so we could feel moments with more force.
|photo by Trin Carl|
Live on the Bakken Museum Rooftop, The Twin Cities Improv Festival and Black and Funny Improv Festival join forces to bring improv full swing on Thursday, June 24th.
Arriving at the Bakken, I’m reminded why South Minneapolis is the perfect spot for a museum or performance. Beautiful flowers and landscaping surround all sides. There's even a food truck. Perfect for a Taylor Swift music video.
I got my ticket and walked up the stairs to the rooftop, where a tent was pitched, and a grassy canvas was underneath. Dotting the rooftop are glass and metal pyramids similar to the Lourve. I’m introduced to the performers and an introductory act. Then I meet the headliners Denzel Belin and John Gebretatose and their duo group called Ubookuitous / Brotha Brotha.
Denzil and John take the stage. They ask the audience to make whooooo sounds every time there is a transition, indicated by them twirling together in a scene. The transition is to signal the scene's forward or backward motion. Freeze tags allow the characters to switch roles. At one point, Denzil is putting on imaginary wings to fly, and John motions a freeze, and then takes Denzil's position.Simple callbacks are meant to mock one another, and the look is priceless. It's fun to catch instances when the actors break character, overwhelmed by the feeling of joy. It's evident that these two have been doing improv together for a long time.
The audience joins in on a scene when a character’s rhythmic clapping becomes contagious.
“I’m so sorry my emotions have turned you into Martha Graham,” Denzil says
“This is not going to be a PBS special,” John comments.
“No, let's.” Denzil parks himself on a block, his feet dangling like a child watching intently with the possibility of learning something new.
“How can I know my dreams when I don’t know what my dreams are?” Denzil asks. There are moments when he delivers a monologue standing on a box, and he’s reminded that his imaginary world doesn’t coincide with the physical; whereupon the tent’s overhead forces him to duck.
The audience is told to snap their fingers, signaling that the scene will come to a close, but Denzil breaks the fourth wall; letting the audience know that as long as he’s up on his soap box he’s going to continue.
There’s a lot of charge in these scenes and moments one could replay in their head even though the scenes are not scripted, nor based on anything ever written. There are speakers at all the tent corners, but these actors can project sound with very little help. The show is family- friendly and elevator accessible. Your ticket also gives access to the museum. The current exhibit is hands-on and incorporates video animation and electronic art. Get your tickets now through June 26th at https://twincitiesimprovfestival.wordpress.com/
(Pictured above is my favorite improviser Michael Keegan an (actor) with cast of Sesame street)
I ended up going to Wild Mountain in Wisconsin last Sunday. This recreation park has go-karts and an alpine sled ride. It has a underground water slide called the "black hole"( Unfortunately it was too cold for water rides.)
This week I took an UBER client to Rogers, Minnesota. It's an hour's drive and quite unexpected. The driving app tells drivers how far the client is but it doesn't tell you how far the destination is in advance. (otherwise I may not have taken that ride) It was a good chance to catch up with friends (handsfree) on the way back.
A neighbor also gave me some tacos from a barbeque he was hosting. Its been humid but an interesting change.