Went to Kannapolis to be with Laurie the past weekend. On the way there my tire burst outside of Leeds, Alabama. Thanks to AAA (And Laurie, who signed me up for AAA) I got back on the road pretty soon, but for much of the trip I was hyperaware of burst tires on the side of the road. There's a lot of them on Alabama highways. Leeds and Talladega seem to have tire scraps on the side of the road every fifty feet or so.
Laurie and I saw a play: Dark Play at the Charlotte Actors' Studio Theatre, CAST. It's a show about a guy who goes online and deceives people in chatrooms; things get pretty complex and intense. We liked it quite a bit: the cyberdecor throughout the theatre (chandelier-like arrangements of computer mice, etc.) was a compelling touch, the leads performed with energy and intelligence, and all in all it was the kind of vibrant theatre that gets me excited about the medium.
One big frustration: the play had big widescreen TV monitors over the stage adding (mostly unnecessary) illustrations of ideas in the play. There's a big final soliloquy near the end of the show in which the main character describes a near-death experience as a mystical breakthrough, and I got the feeling that it was the sort of thing I want to hear at the end of a challenging play. Sadly I'm not sure, because I was distracted by a barrage of bootleg Chris Cunningham rock video footage on the monitors. No doubt the intention was for the vivid and startling imagery to dovetail with the vivid and startling imagery of the monologue, but the effect was more like showing a bunch of explosions and striptease numbers during Hamlet's 2b or not 2b soliloquy: distraction rather than enhancement. You don't have to be Grotowski to think this kind of lazily conceived distraction from the heart of the show isn't exactly value added. I agree with Grotowski that the long-trendy notion that theatre needs big TV screens to stay relevant is kind of like how Democrats thought they had to be Republican-lite to stay relevant post 9-11. Down with multimedia bombast overwhelming simple human performances of rich and nuanced texts! It's like slathering ketchup on a spring roll.
Postscript: despite my cranky complaints I'm particularly exccited about CAST and hope that I'll be able to participate in their future work once I move to Charlotte. Laurie and I both think it's a going concern, and we want to help nurture it, despite the near-inevitability of a CAST person finding this blogpost and getting annoyed with me.