Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Counting Down

I’d feel bad about not blogging more but hardly anyone seems to be blogging anymore these days (well, except for Andrew Hamm, but that’s all football stuff and even he's slacked off the past couple of weeks...) I’m starting to wonder whether blogging will eventually go the way of MySpace – something that lingers in the background but that people don’t pay much attention to anymore. Perhaps it’s already there?

Anyway, it occurs to me that there is a lot of counting down going on these days. Thanks to the continual movement of holiday-related retail hype, the countdown to Christmas has already started. More immediately, the countdown to the latest Harry Potter movie is reaching a fever pitch. Personally, I’m counting down to Thanksgiving when I’ll get to see the 1/3 of my family that’s been roaming the country for the past almost-5 weeks.

In stage world, there’s anticipation building for the mini-flood of shows that will start opening this weekend in Richmond -- as per the story in the T-D this past weekend on "White Christmas." But on the national/New York scene, there is an increasing focus on the imminent opening of the Spiderman musical. There were stories about the not-in-any-way surprising delay in the opening a while back and lately the pictures of the costumes and sets that have been released has generated additional press.

I’m still highly ambivalent about this whole endeavor. I love the Spiderman mythology, enjoyed the first two movies (and even the third a little), and am a long-time fan of U2. But I’m just not that excited about seeing all of this adapted for the stage. Sure, it all looks extravagant and all. But will I end up caring about any of these characters? Will the songs be memorable or just pomp-rock in support of spectacle? I will read the first reviews with great curiosity.


Frank Creasy said...

Regarding blogging, Dave: You might be on to something. I do check in on yours fairly regularly but rarely read blogs in general. Since your blog has links to every theatre's website AND blog in town, along with blogs of local theatre people generally, it's a great "home" blog for bouncing about when one is so inclined. Even if you don't have as many updates (hey, your life/your blog), you provide a place to link to all the others' information.

Your question comes at a timely moment, just as Facebook announces its' "Gmail killer" that combines chat and email in a more real-time manner. While those of us working in the business world live all day on email, from a social networking perspective it's considered too formal by most (well - perhaps I should say "most people younger than me"). It's changing all too fast, as I hear the strains of Zager & Evans "In the year 2525" playing in my head!

To you forever from me to you said...

May I ask why there is very rarely strong representation of VCU Theatre in the theatre community dialogue, even though they supply just about every local theatre with fresh and seasoned talent year after year? Actors, designers, technicians, stage managers that do nothing but enhance the quality and reputation of theatre experiences throughout the city.

Yet in all the hub bub about what's happening the epic endeavor of staging Christopher Hampton's master stroke goes entirely unrecognized.

I am obviously biased due to my involvement, but that doesn't deter from the luscious work achieved by all members of the cast, and the design team that have endeavored for weeks to bring this taught, extravagant, and naughty drama to the stage. Any theatre aficionados that miss out on this should slap their wrists and shame themselves for not better supporting the future, and in many cases the active present of Richmond Theatre.

Andrew Hamm said...

Ha ha ha. Yeah, the NFL picks kind of dried up once I had to start rehearsing for This Beautiful City...

It does seem that Facebook posts have taken a lot of the impulses people used to use for blogging, though I'm going to be writing more about the process of As You Like It over on Arkansas Shakespeare's blog.

As for Spider-Man, I'm kind of waiting for the bad reviews to come in. It just seems like such a terrible idea. Julie Taymor used to be a guaranteed yes for me until I saw Across the Universe. She no longer can do no wrong.

Dave T said...

Frank, I agree it's all changing really fast and it makes it hard to know how best to leverage everything to the optimal effect.

Joe, it is definitely unfortunate that the good work of the folks at VCU and U of R and VA Union and Randolf Macon often goes overlooked. There are two points I'll make, not in defense exactly, but as part of my understanding of why this is so:
1. The professional community is underserved so of course the collegiate community is. Companies like CAT and Swift Creek Mill -- established companies that have been around a LONG time and that often do exceptional work -- do not get the coverage they deserve. All I can say is there are definitely critics -- that is, John Porter -- who are distinctly interested in the collegiate scene and try to push it to the fore as often as possible. Style also had an article on SALT last week and tries to feature collegiate theater at least a few times a year.
2. There are no longer any media professionals devoted to the arts scene. All of the theater critics and feature writers in town are freelancers. If the T-D still had a staff writer that covered the "theater beat," I expect collegiate theater would get more coverage. As it is, I know I can't even get close to keeping up with the pro scene so the thought of adding the college scene makes my head explode.

Andrew re: Taymor: I agree. I am interested to see what she does with The Tempest though...

To you forever from me to you said...

Thanks for your reply Dave. Sounds to me like Richmond Theatre needs a voice in the community. A voice that represents the diversity, and breadth of the scene. I know Lisa Kotula (?) has a magazine, we need to make it available to all Richmonders, henricoians, and midlothianites!

AmyB said...

Maybe we are behind the curve, but the main character of our Summer 2011 production at RTP is blogging in character:


Anonymous said...

It's just so rare to see good work in a mainstage in a VCU production. When embarrassing productions like The Glass Menagerie are allowed to flourish in an environment that is said to be "educational" and a professor in a lead role is incapable of delivering her lines as the playwright wrote them and chooses to, instead of listening, to "huff and puff and blow the house down" during Tom's "Tommy Gun Speech", it certainly does not send one rushing to the theatre or rushing to gush about the work that is done there. While it is an important haven for education and for learning, educational level theatre, by design, is not on the level of professional theatre, and to be abashed that it does not receive the recognition, conversation and attendance that professional theatre does and should receive is rather irrational.

To you forever from me to you said...

Anonymous: that is one example. Also, many university theatre programs attempt to model their programs, and their seasons similarly to that of professional theaters. Both in selection and process, though obviously various constraints make that near impossible. However after having been a student at VCU for the past 7 years I have witnessed both brilliant and incompetent work. While the same level of recognition is not expected, acknowledgement and support is most definitely not an irrational desire.

You cite an instant of bad theater, of which there are always many to choose from. If someone refrained from giving attention to a theatre company after one poor production, I don't imagine any company could escape that level of damnation.

Lastly, there has been much gushing following this show. People stunned by the beauty, the power, and the poise with which this play is carried off. Seasoned theatre audiences, artistic professionals and students seeing a play for the first time since high school have all sounded the horn.