One of the great joys of my early days in professional theatre was a Blade Runner-esque version of Of Mice and Men with an extraordinary actress and an amazing person, and even though our paths have not crossed in many years, my thoughts have gone to her several times, and I finally looked her up to find that she is just as extraordinary these days.
Reading, Messy by Tim Harford, I came across this story of how for his most famous concert and most successful recording, Keith Jarrett played a broken and under-sized piano and despite its limitations reached new heights.
The opera house, possibly because they had no interest in the late night jazz series, had supplied a small out of tune and broken piano.
Jarrett played anyway finding a way to to make himself heard and improvising music around the limitations of the piano.
Jarrett was prepared for this as he had already been playing concerts with no music and no rehearsal.
“Sleep-deprived and harried that night, and his mood wasn’t helped by the fact that the opera house had supplied a relatively small, poorly tuned piano rather than the Bösendorfer grand that he requested. Even after an emergency tuning, the instrument supposedly sounded like a toy, with shrieking high notes and little projection in the low registers. On the record, having passed through two microphones, the piano has an almost otherworldly sound, like it’s five stories high and made of glass. Jarrett plays it harder than he does on his other solo recordings, bashing the keys and keeping largely to the mid-range notes, perhaps out of frustration. “What happened with this piano was that I was forced to play in what was—at the time—a new way,” he explained years later. “Somehow I felt I had to bring out whatever qualities this instrument had.”
In a gossipy article on Death and Taxes (http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/204250/11-actors-everyone-hates-to-work-with/?-0) about actors no one likes to work with, all the other stories were rumors from others, but MP said this about himself.
“Homeland” actor Mandy Patinkin admitted to New York Times Magazine that, on the medical TV drama “Chicago Hope,” he was too big for his scrubby pants. “I struggled with letting in other people’s opinions,” he said. “I never let directors talk to me, because I was so spoiled. I started off with people like Milos Forman, Sidney Lumet, James Lapine, unbelievably gifted people. So there I was saying, ‘Don’t talk to me, I don’t want your opinion.’ I behaved abominably. I don’t care if my work was good or if I got an award for it. I’m not proud of how I was then, and it pained me.”Share This:
Q. One thing that impresses me about your work is that you totally avoid the whimsy trap. How do you do that?
A. I guess it’s by trying to stay true to my own sense of humor and avoid the cloying. We try to never be so ironic that we’re making fun of the pieces. With “War and Peace,” for example, we never wanted to be making fun of Tolstoy — though we might make light of Tolstoy at times. You want to be telling a story and give the audience a cathartic experience, which is more rewarding in the end than just cheap laughs.Share This:
Deaf and Hearing Join Together
Last night Alane and I saw a Taste of Sunrise at the Wheelock Family Theatre in Boston. It’s a play about a young deaf boy growing up in rural Illinois at the time of the Great Depression and it’s performed by a mixed cast of deaf and hearing actors and it’s about living in and between those two worlds. It is the kind of performance where you are not watching a fiction–even though it is that with some great performances, particularly Elbert Joseph as Tuc–but instead you are with these people experiencing the world anew. Actors speak the lines that are signed; other actors sign the lines that are spoken; the signing is woven into the action of the play making almost every word an action brings an intense energy that brings each member of the audience into the action aware of her or his hearing or deafness. To help out even further there are surtitles (the lines of the play projected on a screen above and behind the actors). This a play to be experienced, and the chance to catch it is next weekend Friday at 7:30pm and Saturday and Sunday at 3 pm. The theatre needs to be full, and it’s a chance not to be missed.
We have already missed the first of these three plays being performed as The Ware Trilogy that played at Emerson Stage at the end of last month, and once you have seen this, you will want to see part three The Edge of Peace, also starring Joseph, which will be at Central Square Theater; April 3-5, and 9-12, 2015.
Tickets to Wheelock https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/177
Central Square https://www.centralsquaretheater.org/shows/the-edge-peace/
As part of a Twitter-ersation @wethehumanities, I have been thinking, with experts in the field about medieval music, the behavior of scientists and now tonal languages throught these exchanges, I was reminded of one of the most wonderful people I have worked with in my life, the actress/stroyteller Gcina Mhlope. Check out her websiteShare This:
Another discovery. I have told people for years about the Indian dance company from Tamil Nadu and Kerala that I toured with in the 1980’s, and today, I found a video from that exact tour with the same dancers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ktVN3EBF5UShare This:
As part of my thinking about what I am going to do next, I have gone back and found this stream of photos. I was a profit share stage manager on this show, performed by the New Internationalist Theatrefrom April 28th until May 16th, 1982, at Theatrespace in the basement of William IV Street, Charing Cross, London. I worked on several other shows there afterwards.
There are other plays in this stream.Share This: