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Archive for the ‘NEW!’ Category

Little Moments of Freedom, Fireworks & Spontaneous Song

In 21st Century Culture, FOR YOUR CONSIDERSTION, I Can Sing!, Millennial Generation, NEW! on July 5, 2011 at 5:11 AM

Surprised, I See The 4th Of July Fireworks From My New York City Balcony from Gidget Widget on Vimeo.

I was late for the party uptown. I looked at the clock. I knew it. I’d miss the fireworks… again. Then, BOOM! I ran to my window to look out and to my surprise a perfect view. So, after battling with the door leading out onto our balcony, I stood watching them, a perfect view. I had my phone in my hand. I turned on the video record and then, for no reason, I started to belt out the “Star Spangled Banner.”

A piece of life captured in its moment. Perhaps, little things like this, go unnoticed. Yet, all together they add up. Each of us experience these pockets of moments, insignificant to many, but special for those who share them.

Celebrating Independence allowing for freedom to experience life, here’s a July 4th record by a young woman in New York City, USA.

Monday NYC Theatre, 2005: “From Tel Aviv To Ramallah”

In 21st Century Culture, FOR YOUR CONSIDERSTION, Millennial Generation, NEW!, NEWS AND COMMENTARY on June 29, 2011 at 10:24 AM

From Tel Aviv To Ramallah  was a production I attended, spontaneously and alone, on a rainy Monday night in Manhattan, late 2005.  As many theatre patrons know, Mondays are the day of the week when many theaters are dark (no performance.) But sometimes, these are the best opportunities to catch the magic of live theatre. And here’s how I managed to catch this one particular night which resonates more and more with each passing year.

Here in New York City, a smorgasbord awaits the avid theater-goer. Even if you are on a budget (students or starving, Bohemian artists; or cash-poor adventurers, like me,) folks have ways of getting tickets. The catch is, most discounts demand the person be ready to go the day-of the performance.

Well, there’s a reason why I love seeing theatre, at the last minute, with no expectations. To elaborate, The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict inspired a number New Plays Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway in 2005 and I found myself trying to attend as many as possible. A handful of these plays challenged perceptions, offered insight, a human story, all those things that made other productions worth the risk. To bluntly put it: if I allowed the synopses and especially, the critical reviews, to pick and choose which productions I saw then, I’d have missed the best one.

The habits for overtly political theatre may be a time honored tradition in theatre history but what is it more akin to in the 21st Century? What politics are we addressing and how?

Every time we sit down for a performance arts piece, centered around modern day conflicts and cultural-politico-socio-ideologies, we risk exposing ourselves to the moribundity of Populist Theatre. (Not just theatrical mediums but all media and its audiences are more easily are mistaking political for populist propaganda.) A bad-habit we are all forming, because it is becoming all to “normal.”

That is, to employ mechanisms like “definitive archetypes,” portraying only selective pieces of information, building upon one opinion, one perception of a war, stereotyping each of the cultures involved. Pounding cheap, theoretical conjecture into an audience already over-saturated in Op/Ed news and information.

In the case of certain productions about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and also, the War On Terror, the human experience serves only to cater for the intent of Populism. To add emotional impact, ignite the zeitgeist, am I correct?

A reflection of the humanist struggle when the forces of Political or Cultural Movements subsume a person’s existence?

See, this is why I like walking into a production, understanding the risk, not knowing much about it, and hoping for a jewel.

As part of the Out Loud: New Play Reading Series at Ars Nova in 2005, the show From Tel Aviv To Ramallah performed for only that one night. And for those 75 minutes or so…  Man, I wish I could bring Yuri Lane and his solo production here, today, for people to see. I think its message is more important than ever.

At a small but inviting performance venue on 54th, between 10th and 11th Avenue, I took my seat among the small audience. Two young men, maybe 16 years old, were sitting in front of me, excited to see their favorite beatbox performer and drinking Red Bull. They came in from Connecticut. They were not expecting a powerful piece of theatre and neither was I.

Yuri Lane avoided all the aforementioned pitfalls for the Political and Populist Theatre productions. He did it simply. With minimal design, he told us a story. Using his skills with beatbox, language, rhythm, gesture; using three light cues to distinguish SR, SL and Center; finally inverted pictures, multimedia projected on the backdrop, he set the scene for a fable about one young man from Tel Aviv and one young man from Ramallah.

Instead of showing us who was wrong and who was right, he told us of Amir and of Khalid. The idea that dreams and ideals of youth exist in separate microcosms outside the larger reality of (the Israeli-Palestinian) conflict set the story in motion. We learn about two different, but also similar people, whose goals are not unlike yours or mine. One wants to be a DJ. One wants to own an Internet Cafe. They share the threat of attacks. And their journey shows how a gradual diffusion of the greater reality into each microcosm, negates the youthful idealism for a future independent of violence and injustice. Both have their dreams compromised. Both must transition from adolescent to adulthood. Both must face each other in the end and the choices they make, leading them to the final moment of the play. A vision of peace comes down to two young men, who make one choice. Peace, perhaps, may not be realized by Treaties or United Nations intervening, or a great leader’s solution, but perhaps, it begins with a choice. An understanding.

And the audience is left without any clear answer about who is right, who is wrong and why one side is bad versus the other. Why would we presume an understanding? How to solve the permutations of a conflict, as deep and complicated as the Israeli-Palestinian hostilities?

Rachel Havrelock wrote and directed this play.

Is our civilization so solid that you do not fear to shake the pillars on which it rests? Can you not see that all falls in upon you if one column be shattered? Could you not have learned if not to love one another, at least to tolerate the great virtues and the great vices of each other? Was it not your duty to attempt –you have never attempted it in sincerity– to settle amicably the questions which divided you, the problem of peoples annexed against their will, the equitable division of productive labor and the riches of the world? Must the stronger forever darken the others with the shadow of his pride, and the others forever unite to dissipate it? Is there no end to this bloody and puerile sport, in which the partners change about from century to century– no end, until the whole of humanity is exhausted thereby?

ROMAIN ROLLAND, “Above The Battle,”

Journal de Geneve_, September 15, 1914.

First Attempt at FOGGY DEW, Live Recording

In 21st Century Culture, FOR YOUR CONSIDERSTION, I Can Sing!, NEW! on June 4, 2011 at 4:06 AM

      In case the WordPress Player gives you problems, you can also listen to the same recording on SoundCloud (link below)

This is a beautiful song, one I am sharing as I am learning to sing it. Forgive my faults as improvement will come. But it’s much harder than I ever anticipated. Plus, my “instrument” is rusty and breathing exercises are a must. Why? Well, if you’ve ever tried to sing “Foggy Dew,” the way Maeve Mulvany sang it, then you know how FEKKIN’ HARD ‘TIS!!

But songs like these ought not be forgotten. If they can still be heard in music halls or pubs, live and without any force except for the balladeer’s story, then I would be honored to be able to sing it one night, myself. So, hence, a work-in-progress and my sincere gratitude for the support.

PS. You can tell me if you think it sucks and why. I know it needs improvement. Feedback helps. Even if it isn’t positive.

here: http://soundcloud.com/gidgetwidget/foggydew_1

Telephone Games: Today’s News Media Without Journalism

In 21st Century Culture, FOR YOUR CONSIDERSTION, NEW!, NEWS AND COMMENTARY on April 6, 2011 at 6:48 PM

PROPAGANDA: Control The Media - The Media Controls Us

CAN YOU TELL THE DIFFERENCE?

April 6, 2011 — New York City

So, I’m adding some new links on my Blog Roll and went to the ArtsJournal: Theatre Daily News site for its http address, when an article from a few days ago caught my attention. “The Tangled Web of Broadway’s Spiderman,” read the headline. And like an idiot, I clicked on it, hoping to find something valuable. Of course, what I found and read was exactly the opposite. As 88% of all music has the same chord progressions, 99% of all news media, today, has the same “Opinion Progressions.”

Yes, the Idealist in me proves powerfully stubborn because of a personal faith in our culture’s positive aspects. Especially when it comes to seeking Journalism in an era when News Media has been absolving itself of whatever moral and ethical structure journalists hold as unspoken and sacred. The Newshounds and journalists out there, risking their lives in the field and/or battling to maintain a standard for the moral and ethical guidelines of their profession, DO EXIST. But can we, the readers and consumers, tell the difference between Op/Ed Conjecture and Op/Ed Journalism? Specifically, are we aware of how to differentiate between an article forming its conclusions based on incomplete information and one that forms its opinion from a complete analysis of evidence and source material?

Remember playing “The Telephone Game” or “Operator” when you were a kid? I do. I think my first memory was from around 1984…. The teachers instructing us how to play, as we, little fidgeting students, sit in a circle on our classroom floor….

“Now, I am going to whisper something in Ada’s ear,” the teacher said, “then Ada’s going to whisper it into Nat’s ear, and so on. Now, after you have passed the message along, try to remember what you heard and what you whispered to the person next to you. Once it goes all the way around the circle, I will ask Ada to tell the class what I whispered in her ear. Then, I will ask Tommy, who will be the last person to hear the message, to tell the class what he heard. Let’s see what happens!”

Everyone erupted into astonished giggles when we heard Ada’s answer and then, all began laughing uncontrollably when Tommy answered. I forget exactly what the little messages were, now that I’ve grown up, but I remember how much they were changed as they passed from one person to another. For kids, discovering how easily misinformation occurs and how silly it is that words can be misunderstood or changed, makes for a fun game. We all were shocked and excited by what occurred, eager to play again. All talking at once, telling each other about “what I heard and passed along,” because it all differed from the original message and then, even differed from the final message. For children, this is a wonder to learn and a big deal when first confronted with this kind of inexplicable chain of reaction. I’ll never forget the experience and the lessons of this little childhood exercise in communication.

After a few rounds of playing “Telephone,” eventually someone realized it would be even funnier to deliberately change the message. After the results caused mass hysteria among the 18 pint-sized rugrats, they quieted everyone down and turned the game into a lesson. Suddenly, it was no longer about playing a game and we listened solemnly to our stern teacher. “See what happens when we gossip? When we whisper secrets to each other? How easy it is for us to either misunderstand or, ON PURPOSE, change the story, even by just a little bit?  This is why we do not tell secrets and why you cannot trust gossip to be real. Because even if we are honest and do not mean to, we all can easily miscommunicate and easily misunderstand.”

CONTINUE READING

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THESPIANS: Turn On The Dark

In 21st Century Culture, FOR YOUR CONSIDERSTION, NEW!, NEWS AND COMMENTARY on April 4, 2011 at 7:48 PM

NEW YORK CITY

April 4, 2011

My appeal begins and remains directed towards theatre practitioners in America. I write in defense of innovation. I write in defense of our patrons and our audience. I write in defense of our predecessors and their achievements. I write in defense of our theaters’ future, of our theatre.

In lieu of Julie Taymor’s latest work, the public outcry from the theatre community, on behalf of the actors and performers, is justified. Unions need to adapt in the changing industry. As do the production companies who are financing and supporting the collective of artists involved. However, what lessons are we really learning from these events? Mistakes occur, yes, but how do we identify and understand the lessons involved?

More than anyone, the theatre community must adapt. That point, sadly, has become evident. We possess an awareness, the capacity to change and evolve in ways most people, including fellow theatre artists, have yet to realize.

The outcry over problems surrounding SPIDERMAN: Turn Off The Dark made sense, but only to a certain point and concerning elements usually kept out of the public’s view. (By this, I mean, how often do you have your tech week open to the press and for the public to watch?) What began as legitimate issues turned into a backlash deliberately fueled by news propaganda and gossip. The critical response went beyond reason. And now, under the full weight of its consequence, what has been achieved?

The resulting events will only negate the efforts and abilities for the visionaries capable of adapting and evolving theatre in the 21st Century.

Failure lies not with Julie Taymor, nor with her production, but with each of us who remain silent. I witnessed the very people who employ a skepticism for theatre critics buy into the critical responses written — often more than twice daily in the New York Times, I must add. People who actually went to SEE the production, and who wrote about it, gave an entirely misleading impression of the experience. I can say this confidently now that I have finally seen the show for myself, this past Friday, April 1st.  (I hope to see it again before it closes mid-April for “renovations,” absent the visionary behind the elements that make the show worth the price of admission.) Furthermore, any one interested in effectively implementing multimedia technology with a theatrical design platform? You owe it to yourself to witness this production. Sadly, there are less than 16 performances left.

Yes, I appeal to the theatre community to share accountability for denying Taymor’s production the chance to be realized when it is so close. No one spoke to the reality of the logistical elements necessary for its creation. I ask this question genuinely: Why?

Can we not have consideration for the logical problems it faced? My Goodness, any person who has staged a show, on Broadway or in a community center, at least has an understanding for the way unexpected problems arise. Knowing how the technical elements demanded the complete renovation of the Foxwoods Theater, I cannot fathom the extent of scrutiny over its development issues. Are we not well aware of how many Broadway houses lack the structural and engineering capacity to support a lot of modern technical  designs? Let alone, the unprecedented and awesome concepts apropos of the team of designers working with Taymor for this  production? It had to be built IN-HOUSE. Developing it elsewhere and then, once it had worked thru all the kinks, importing its staging to Broadway was an impassable obstacle. It boggles my mind to think that we expected this show to be farmed and harvested for Broadway the same way GUYS AND DOLLS or BOOK OF MORMON has been.

Have we allowed ourselves to become so blinded by convention and by antiquated traditions that everything making this show a valuable contribution to the theatrical arts has been ignored? Or are we forgetting what got us here in the first place? André Antoine and Alfred Jarry, Adolphe Appia and Gordon Craig, F.T. Marinetti and the Futurists, Tristan Tzara and the DaDaists; Erwin Piscator, Antonin Artaud, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Frederico García Lorca; and the women like Velska Gert, Vesta Tilly, Loïe Fuller, Isadora Duncan, Gertrude Stein; and from them, we have the precedents for Bertolt Brecht, Jerzy Grotowski, Peter  Brook, Samuel Beckett, Pina Bauche, Judith Malina, Merce Cunningham, Peter Schuman, Richard Foreman, Bob Fosse… These are only a few of the names offering a brief glimpse reminding us of what the Editors and Writers for The New York Times either ignorantly or maliciously forget to acknowledge. They do not have to concern themselves about such chicanery because THEY are The New York Times.

Who dares to question them? Who dares to speak up when the Emperor has no clothes?

Strange how meanwhile, The NYT articles will eagerly invoke the names of Chekhov, Ibsen, Shaw, Miller, Williams, etc… We would have none of their preferred, and often referenced, geniuses had it not been for effort and risk.

No one expects our general audience to be well versed in the rich history and precedents from late 19th and 20th century’s theatrical theory and practice. Many, however, possess a solid understanding and wealth of knowledge. Theatre artists know the danger of underestimating their audiences’ intelligence. The news media and press, on the contrary, risk nothing by presuming otherwise and no one holds them accountable. Denying their readers of the relevant information about SPIDERMAN: Turn Off The Dark, and instead, offering selective bits in order to substantiate their critical opinions, to the New York Times, I shout, “CALUMNY!”

Yes, I hold The New York Times accountable for engaging in a pernicious campaign to achieve a biased editorial objective. This has remained evident in the coverage and criticisms of Op/Ed articles published in the print newspaper and online blogs. Furthermore, the cumulative coverage apropos of Taymor and Spiderman, reveals how they dared to presume an ignorance of the readers and theaters’ audience, and did consciously manipulate those who trusted in this  “journalism.”

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