Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Truths within Falsehoods.

I recently read an article about the poet Yeats, who, as a young man, apparently wanted to find proof that fairies were real. I can dig it; when I was a kid I was spellbound by The Neverending Story, movie and book, and I tried to find a book that could transport me to a fantasy land. In a sense I was successful; The Worm Ouroboros, A Voyage to Arcturus, and all those Oz books did the trick. But Yeates was frustrated by the fact that, while he knew logically that fairies were make-believe, he found the fairy tales of old country folk to have a realistic, authentic texture.

Alan Moore once said that "All stories are true," meaning not that they're all literally true, but that they all tell truths about the people who tell or listen to the stories. I think fairy tales, or rather stories about fairies, have the ring of truth because they are based on the aforementioned Irish country folks' observations about life. Folks had noticed that the natural world shared many characteristics with humans: kindness, cruelty, wisdom, caprice, beauty, ugliness. Fairies are the places where human characteristics and the natural world's characteristics flow together, overlap.

New subject: I got the soundtrack to the recent Broadway revival of How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and it's quite good, but it cuts one of my favorite songs: Cinderella Darling. They probably thought it was too sexist, but there's a sexist streak running through the whole show. Start cutting the sexism, and where do you stop? I thought about this some during our production of Kiss Me Kate; it's full of dated gender politics that don't quite match the values of anyone in the cast or crew. How, then, do we justify doing the show when it seems to present values that we can't endorse? "It's just a musical" is an obvious answer, and while glib, I think it's basically on the money. Reviving old musicals is a kind of antiques restoration project; we're not presenting them as representative of our views, but as the views of our ancestors. The best way to treat sexism and such in these shows is probably to present them as relics, and perhaps to cheerfully upend them from beneath. A wink to the audience should be enough. After all, the dopey General I played had little to do with my actual estimation of real-world generals, and I don't think anyone was really confused about that-the joke was too broad to take straight.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Another Closing, Another Show...

Kiss Me Kate has ended, and I'm in the usual post-show glum phase. I feel like I've finally entered a world of signs, symbols and portants made manifest... as if the blend of elements that is the stock in trade of musicals is precisely the kind of creative expression I've wanted to participate in all this time. Much love to Andy for encouraging me to audition and for casting me, and to the cast and crew!

Michelle, our leading lady, was very encouraging, supportive and patient with this stumbling novice. We did a duet in which I mostly let her do the heavy lifting. Every night I took so much pleasure from hearing the singing... Frank, I hope you won't think I'm just trying to butter you up when I say that not only is your voice a treasure, but your deft comic acting set the tone for all that was funny in this production. Too Darn Hot lived up to its title, thanks to Michael's swinging singing and some all too exciting ensemble dancing.

I'm still exausted (more from the strike and the cast party than the production) but I aim to do more musicals.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Another Opening, Another Show...

Kiss Me Kate has opened! The first week (of two) is over, and although I don't have the benefit of knowing how it looks and sounds from the audience, I think we have a really strong show. I'm really proud to be associated with it.

My General's uniform includes authentic WWII officer's clothing, which I found intimidating. I felt like I didn't have the right to wear the uniform, but no ghosts have materialized thus far. I've also decided to get some contact lenses. I've never wanted the things; I like glasses, and I can usually fumble around the stage pretty effectively without them. But over the last few years it's dawned on me that my poor vision has a subtle but significant negative effect on my onstage interations with fellow performers. It's hard for me to make eye contact and communicate through the eyes if I can't see the other person's facial expressions except through a glass darkly.

If my lack of posts doesn't make it obvious, I've decided to live without a computer to call my own, and I've been very, very busy. I'd rather have too little time for blogging than too much, but I do want to make this a weekly thing at the least.