A New Reign at Kings Theatre

King's Theater, Flatbush, Brooklyn

I’ve got all my life to live, and I’ve got all my love to give, and I’ll survive. I WILL SURVIVE!

So sang Queen Diana Ross at the grand re-opening of King’s Theatre in Flatbush, Brooklyn. On that cold, February night, Ross’s words were less about spurned love than the stage on which she was performing: After almost 40 years of disuse, decline, and decay, this monumentally beautiful palace was back – all to the tune of a $95 million restoration, the product of a public/ private partnership.

If this hypnotic, sold-out evening was any indication, the Kings will continue to survive, dammit. It will survive.

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I got a few, harried iPhone pictures in while attending Ross’s concert – check them out… and then see the theatre for yourself.

The theatre is 3,200 seats strong, and not one of them is bad. (Believe me. I was in the very rear of the mezz and almost felt the ruffle of Ross’s tulle gowns.)

Kings Theatre, Flatbush, Brooklyn

The governing principle behind the space’s design seems to be “more is more;” it’s impossible to argue with this philosophy when greeted by a box this sumptuous, this lavish:

Kings Theatre, Flatbush, Brooklyn

Unlike, say, a typical Broadway theatre, the Kings is incredibly open, the mezz extending over only a few rows of the rear orchestra. This openness makes the space really feel like an arena.

Kings Theatre, Flatbush, Brooklyn

King's Theater, Flatbush, Brooklyn

The lobby is no less impressive than the house…

King's Theater, Flatbush, Brooklyn

… and it features several architectural treasures like this old lighting unit.

Kings Theatre, Flatbush, Brooklyn

Renovations this extraordinary face mind-numbing obstacles of politics and finance… so three hearty cheers to everyone involved in an urban renewal this miraculous. THANK YOU for bringing this gorgeous gem back to life!

Did you think I’d crumble?
Did you think I’d lay down and die?
Oh no, not I! I will survive!

To learn more about this and other so-called “Wonder Theaters,” click HERE. See what’s playing next at the Kings HERE.

Faves of 2014

The Few Samuel Hunter

Before the deluge of 2015 begins, let’s look at the year just past and note some favorites! I make no claim to “best” (what do you this this is? Buzzfeed?!) but these seven shows spoke and sang to me in ways original, moving, raucous, or surprising.

As for what’s “trending” here, institutional off-Broadway looms large. Though most of these shows didn’t pull in Broadway-sized audiences or paydays, they were no less towering that their Main Stem cousins.

Without further ado, the Faves are…

THE FEW, at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
Sam Hunter’s intensely moving new play proved that love grows best in little playhouses. The story of three sad sacks and the newspaper that brings them together, this oh-so-small production felt like an oh-so-needed sigh: refreshing, humane, and a little teary.

A DOLL’S HOUSE, at BAM via The Young Vic
A perfect classic presented with all the energy and surprise of a new play. Expert underscoring hit home Ibsen’s chilling, inspiring tale—as did the frantically careening turntable set.

AN OCTOROON, at Soho Rep
You know how so many plays are “funny”? (Read: Not funny.) Well, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s latest work about racial history in America actually was funny, not to mention disturbing, affecting, and just the right amount of insane. Lucky us, this whirlwind of a play is coming back to NYC in the spring.

BOOTYCANDY, at Playwrights Horizons
I mean, really—how could you not enjoy a play called BOOTYCANDY? Like Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, playwright Robert O’Hara here tackles issues of race and America, but to entirely different and original effect. This work was jaw dropping in the true sense: It amazed, but also shocked.

 ALLEGRO, at Classic Stage Company
Director John Doyle had his masterful way with this famous flop by Rogers and Hammerstein. Staging, music and performances coalesced into an evening that stayed with me long after curtain call.

ON THE TOWN, on Broadway
This explosively energetic revival reminds you just how effective dance can be in a Broadway musical. The glorious score—played by a city of an orchestra—was none too shabby, either.

YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU, on Broadway
Who could possible argue with the pure, escapist charm of this perfect comedy? Annaleigh Ashford in particular nails the kooky glee of Kaufman and Hart’s hilarity.

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But what do you think? Anything been egregiously overlooked? Comment below—the Internet needs to know!

Photo of THE FEW by Joan Marcus.

Nothing to Write Home About

What does a 67-year-old flop musical have to do with a new play from one of New York’s hottest young writers?

Well, not much at first glance. ALLEGRO (the musical, now at CSC) and POCATELLO (the play, now at Playwrights Horizons) are separated by a world of sensibility and execution.

But out of sheer dumb scheduling luck, I happened to catch both of these productions within a few days of each other… and whaddaya know—they’re utterly sympatico and each other in ways that seem deliberate (though of course they’re not). Together, they tell a revealing story about the meaning of home in America, from the early 20th Century right up to today.

Rogers and Hammerstein’s ALLEGRO ­is a fascinating fable about the life of an idealistic doctor, “Joe.” After years of low-paid but fulfilling work in the small town where he grew up, Joe moves to Chicago to take on big-name, big-money patients. But most of their needs turn out to be mild, if not silly, and soon Joe longs to practice “real” medicine again. At the end of the show (spoiler!) Joe returns home, where his skills can be of better use.

There’s a clear moral in all of this: A person is at his best and most authentic while at home, away from the frenzy and posturing often found in big city life. In the wonderfully ironic title song, Hammerstein’s frantic city-dwellers sing, “Don’t stop whatever you do/ Do something dizzy and new/ Keep up the hullaballoo!” ALLEGRO wants us to do just the opposite—to stop pointlessly moving, to stay loyal to heritage, and to seek truth over material gain. Home, the show argues, is where this happens best.

“Eddie,” the center of Sam Hunter’s POCATELLO, couldn’t agree more. He’s the manager of an Olive Garden in Pocatello, Idaho, a small town choking with chain stores. Just as his city has lost most of its local character, Eddie has lost any sense of real family: His father is dead, his mother is distant, and his brother is never around.

Despite this, Eddie struggles to build community between customers, his employees, and his family… even if it’s over chewy, unlimited breadsticks. Even if it’s with a tacky “Famiglia Week” promotion. The setting isn’t ideal, but it’s what he’s got to work with.

As POCATELLO unravels the struggles of its humble cast of characters, it indirectly comments the world at large, a world where local connection and loyalty disappeared with independent bookstores and family-owned grocery stores. In ways quiet and unassuming, it argues that America is quickly losing its small towns—and sense of home.

POCATELLO, then, becomes a disheartening postscript to ALLEGRO. Imagine it: If Joe (the doctor) had lived in our time, and had returned home to a town like Pocatello, what would be waiting for him? A place equally soulless to the one he had left, that’s what. A place unlike the rich, life-affirming sanctuary R&H believed small towns to be.

Of course, the characters in POCATELLO aren’t all doomed to isolation, and some are able big connections before the play’s end. But these connections are in spite of the small town environment, not because of it.

A century away from ALLEGRO, POCATELLO answers its urge to “go home.”

The response?

“Home is gone”

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Lead photo (ALLEGRO) by Matthew Murphy; final photo (POCATELLO) by Jeremy Daniel.

“Much Ado About Nothing” Isn’t Just a Comedy

Much Ado About Nothing

You can call it a comedy all you like, but MUCH ADO is nothing of the sort. Though often funny and sometimes hilarious, Shakespeare’s yarn of headstrong lovers is fascinatingly woven with threads of malice, cruelty and sadness.

Melancomedy” is more like it.

Onstage now in a wonderful Shakespeare in the Park production directed by Jack O’Brien, this MUCH ADO gets all the laughs you’d hope it would… but it also prompts rage at the injustices performed by fickle, proud men. Over and over, the play’s women play victim to male (or at least authority-based) idiocy; the results are sure to leave you fuming, but also newly appreciative of that Shakespeare fellow’s wisdom.

There’s a lot to this play, but the bit that concerns us here is this: When Claudio (Jack Cutmore-Scott) is tricked into believing that his fiancé Hero (Ismenia Mendes) has been unfaithful, he abruptly jilts her at the altar. It’s an absurdly extreme reversal: Soaring professions of love are replaced by fits of sharp-tongued barbs that traumatize Hero so seriously she almost dies.

You can feel the audience’s loathing toward Claudio in this charged moment. Why is he so quick to believe the worst about someone he claims to love? Why does he not ask for her side of the story? Why does he act so swiftly, without any room for question? (Hero’s father behaves similarly, slandering her without pause as she weeps.)

Then again, is such flip-flopping to be unexpected, considering the haste with which Claudio corralled Hero into engagement? After all, few were the words exchanged between them before Hero’s father presented her, trophy-like, to Claudio.

Thankfully, the truth does eventually out: Hero’s name is cleared and, true to form, Claudio and the father promply revert back to adoration. All’s well that ends well, right?

Of course not!

Shakespeare seems to be saying that love can only be partly successful in a world where half the population is refused agency. True, Claudio loves Hero by the end of the play, but what’s to happen the next time she’s accused wrongly? The next time he flies off the handle?

The play also suggests that men suffer from such an imbalance, too; that they are less than they could be, and behave worse in a world where women are either saints or whores, where the sexes sit on an unbalanced and unchanging seesaw of power.

All this from a play usually praised for its romance, wit and laughter.

Yes, the romance, wit and laughter are there, but the play is bigger and better than just that. By incorporating streaks of darkness, it becomes profound, moving and relevant.

It becomes, well, true.

Photo by Joan Marcus

I Don’t Know About You, But I’m Feeling 42: The Times Square Theater

DSC03648I recently got a super cool peek inside the Times Square Theater, the last of eight houses on 42nd Street to see rehabilitation since city/state seizure (and Disney) happened in the 1990s. Theater architecture geeks will recall that the seven other spaces on the Deuce have met a variety of ends, some as Broadway theaters, some as converted commercial spaces, but that all of them remain preserved in some essential way – PRAISE BE!

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The Times Square is poised for something between legitimacy and conversion: Currently under construction, it’s set to house something called BROADWAY 4D. Described as “a 3D, film-enhanced show incorporating in-theater special effects,” it will showcase “songs from Broadway musicals by the likes of Rodgers and Hammerstein and Andrew Lloyd Weber” to be performed by “stars of Hollywood and the Great White Way.” (All this from the Post –– read more HERE.) As for that fourth dimension, there will also be “scents, climatic changes and extravagant sound.” Oh my!

Before major construction got underway, I snapped some pictures of the wonderful space. Scaffolding mars the view in a major way, but use your imagination so see beyond the metal rods to a house that vibrates with history, spirit, and capital-B BROADWAY!

Here’s a view of the theater from the south side of 42nd Street:

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You’re probably under the mistaken impression that you saw Spider-Man at the Times Square –– the theater’s long, beautifully columned exterior sits adjacent to the small façade sported by the Foxwoods (recently home to Spidey and Co.). But the Foxwoods actually sits on 43rd Street; its 42nd Street entrance is really just a hallway that extends halfway up the block where theater proper lives. The Times Square fits cozily into the elbow created by this “neck” entrance. See my hideous, completely not-to-scale drawing if you’re confused.

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But why stare at maps when there are real-life gems to see? LET’S GO!

First, check out the wonderful old stage space and the maw of the proscenium, home to the original productions of Noel Coward’s Private Lives and the Gershwins’ Strike Up the Band…

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… but be careful not to fall into the trap space!

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Back in the day, harried chorus girls scampered their way through this door up to their dressing rooms…

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… and beautiful sets hung in this gaping fly space.

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Here’s a view from the stage, out at the house. JAZZ HANDS!

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A wider view from house right of the orchestra…

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Anxious playwrights — now long gone — paced here, at the back of the house…

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More delights await upstairs…

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… in the mezz!

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Lift a small window on the theater’s second level, and you get a closer look at the columns on the facade.

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Back downstairs, through the rear-house exit…

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…is the facade. That floorspace in the right of the shot is actually 42nd Street sidewalk.

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And there you have it. She’s certainly in need of some serious work, but it’s exciting that the ongoing repairs are in service of making the space a theater and not, y’know, a Burger King. (No joke there: The chain was one of several… shall we say interesting tenants… that expressed interest in the Times Square –– read about that saga HERE.)

Fare you, well, Times Square Theater, and we’ll see you on the other side!

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Onstage at the Times Square Theater

READ MORE ABOUT OLD THEATERS ON 42ND STREET!
— Eat wings at the old LIBERTY THEATER — READ! READ! READ!
— The AMC is actually an OLD BROADWAY THEATER — READ! READ! READ!

Best of 2013!

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theater-words is a little late to the game here—hello, January 5—but no matter: Let’s do some “best of”-ing! In descending order, the shiniest theatrical jewels of the season were…

1. FUN HOME, Public Theater
Perfection. This Tesori/Kron/Gold masterpiece, an expert adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s glorious memoir, is the kind of musical I’d take to a desert island. Multiple viewings are a must to fully appreciate it. #broadwayismissingout #pulitzermaterial (MORE)

2. MATILDA, Broadway
It’s all been said. The best. (MORE)

3. THE APPLE PLAYS, Public Theater
Taking in these four plays over one cold weekend in December was one of the major highlights of my theatergoing life. Why can’t all shows be this sensitive, wrenching and incredibly acted? (MORE)

4. MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG, West End via Menier Chocolate Factory
Ok ok, I technically saw a video broadcast of this astonishing production, but who cares: The wonderful actors at the center of this Sondheim classic gave it the richest, most soulful core an audience could ask for. Many tears were shed. (MORE)

5. THE GLASS MENAGERIE, Broadway via American Repertory Theater
A classic play somehow became more itself thanks to an unconventional staging. Everyone involved needs to clear some room on their awards shelves… (MORE)

6. THE FLICK, Playwrights Horizons
The idiot audiences who stormed out of this epically intimate new play should stay out: Annie Baker’s melancholy, spare style is frikkin’ awesome.

7. BETRAYAL, Broadway
The vitriol aimed at this fantastically sexy production was entirely unwarranted. Great play, great actors, great gay subtext.

8. DOMESTICATED, Lincoln Center Theater
A fantastic, no holds barred night at the theater. Bruce Norris’s provocative message went down easy thanks to the sheer entertainment value of the proceedings.

9. HANDS ON A HARDBODY, Broadway via La Jolla Playhouse
The show with the porno title was actually a sweet, tear-jerker of a Broadway musical. Buy the CD—the score is wonderful. Oh, and can I lead up the Alison Case fan club? K thanks.

10. HERE LIES LOVE, Public Theater
David Byrne, Alex Timbers and Annie-B Parson had a kick-ass, disco love child in this killer, environmental show. A musical to convert those who say they hate musicals!

(N.B.: PIPPIN and VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE would’ve definitely made the cut—with Andria Martin and Kristin Nielsen how could they not?!—but I saw them out of town in 2012, and rules are rules!)

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A great crop, no? Totally absent, however, are more formally experimental plays. The “riskier” shows I caught this year largely left me cold, and not just because more adventurous companies can’t pay heating bills. Here’s hoping next year’s list has a few cracked-out, crazy entries!

LET’S GET GOING, 2014!

TheaTour!: Loew’s Theater, Brooklyn

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Deep in Brooklyn sits the old Loew’s 46th Street Theater, a faded film palace now annexed by a furniture store. It’s beyond repair—and not beautiful enough to mourn—but still worth the peek I got on a recent Sunday.

Here’s how the space looks from the street…

photo 2 copy 2But here’s what you see once you convince the owners to let you back in the storeroom! (Would that all storerooms looked so cool…)

photo 3See what I mean about “beyond repair”? But also kind of ruin-porn beautiful…

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The space under the mezzanine is part of the furniture store, so it’s been walled off…

photo 2… but the balcony still exists, even if it’s very dimly lit.

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The space is interesting on closer inspection, too… and creepy!

photo 5I shut off the lights as I left, but one, lone bulb still shone from the stage. The space might be filled with furniture, littered with garbage, and crumbling from disrepair, but wonder of wonders… it’s still got a ghost light!

photo 4You, too can visit this crumbly-beautiful theater! It’s at 4515 New Utrecht Ave. in Brooklyn. Get a good book, hop on the subway, and make a day of it. Just don’t go on Saturday—per the area’s Hassidic population, the area totally shuts down on the Sabbath.

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GIMME GIMME MORE!
– TheaTour!: Clowes Memorial Hall
– #broadwayproblems

 

 

 

 

 

 

TheaTour!: The Mark Hellinger Theater

Mark Hellinger TheaterThe Mark Hellinger is the most beautiful theater on Broadway.

It hasn’t housed a show since 1989.

Sadness of sadnesses—I know. Despite this shockingly gorgeous interior…

Mark Hellinger Theater…despite this intricately designed and perfectly executed ornamentation…

Mark Hellinger Theater …despite this tremendously preserved craftsmanship…

Mark Hellinger Theater…despite all of this, the Mark Hellinger sees no dancing feet, no 11 o’clock numbers, no matinee ladies.

How can this be, you ask?

Once upon a dark time—the 1980’s!—the Nederlander Organization (then the owner of the Hellinger) leased, and in 1991 sold the space to the Times Square Church, which has operated the 1,600-seat jewel ever since. “It’s a question of economics,” Nederlander’s Arthur Rubin said at the time. “We can’t fill the theaters we have, and the city has not given us tax abatements when the theaters are dark.” With that, the one-time home of hits like My Fair Lady and Jesus Christ Superstar disappeared from the boards.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that the Times Square Church has taken exquisite care of the space, and makes it open to the public. I took a self-guided tour between services on a recent Sunday and was thunderstruck at the theater’s glory.

Care to look around?

The theater’s plain exterior, on 51st Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue, belies the glories within.

Mark Hellinger TheaterMark Hellinger TheaterThere is one interesting outdoor feature, however. This fellow, one of a pair!

Mark Hellinger TheaterInterestingly, the theater’s entrance used to be on Broadway. But nowadays, entering on 51st, visitors enter into this blindingly beautiful lobby…

Mark Hellinger TheaterAbove everything hangs a chandelier…

Mark Hellinger Theater lobbyBut the true glory is inside, where the sumptuousness is unending. Click on the panorama below for a better view.

Mark Hellinger TheaterThe boxes are worthy of the world’s starriest celebrities, dignitaries and the like.

Mark Hellinger TheaterThe Hellinger is not without quirks, though! On the far sides of the house are narrow, two-seat rows. As beautiful as they are, they’re also kind of hilarious. “Enjoy your date in the privacy of your own row,” you imagine a box office guy telling a customer. “You’ll love it!”

Mark Hellinger TheaterBut these photos only hint at the thrill of seeing the space in person. Drop by some afternoon and bathe in the gold-leaf patina of it all. (The church’s hours and can be found HERE.)

As for whether or not the Hellinger will ever again house plays or musicals, a 2010 Playbill.com article says that the answer, for the forseeable future at least, is no. Ah well. One wishes that, back in 1989, a less theatrical space had been volunteered to the church (the Minskoff, anyone?) but such was not to be.

Still: At least the Hellinger still exists. Shines. Sparkles.

Mark Hellinger TheaterAll photos by theater-words.

CLICK HERE to see all the AMAZING SPACES of TheaTour!

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Favorite Moment: FUN HOME

Fun Home Public Theater Michael CerverisThere’s a lot to love about Fun Home, the hot new musical down at the Public Theater. It’s got great material, a talented cast, the most beautiful set in town, and—wonder of wonders—very few projections! So, picking a “favorite moment” here is a terrible, Sophie’s Choice kind of conundrum.

And yet… hard decisions have to be made.

But before that, some background: Fun Home tells the true, growing-up story of lesbian cartoonist Alison Bechdel, and is based on her fantastic graphic memoir of the same name. Both book and musical tell a swirling tale of family, growing up and sexuality. It’s deep, meaningful, fun stuff.

At the Public, three actresses play “Alison,” the narrator and protagonist. The eldest (Beth Malone) looks back at the story of her life by way of elementary- and college-aged versions of herself, played (perfectly) by Sydney Lucas and Alexandra Socha. Adult Alison struggles to reconcile her coming out and life-narrative with those of her father, a difficult, closeted gay man (Michael Cerveris).

The Three Alisons

The Three Alisons

My favorite moment of the show comes early, as adult Alison goes through an old box of heirlooms and, on the other side of the stage, child Alison does the same with her father and their own box. As Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron‘s wonderful musical plays, we gradually realize that the two boxes are, in fact, one and the same, here realized at different times in Alison’s life.

In an unobtrusive moment—one that could only happen in the theater—adult Alison and her father each reach into their respective boxes, and (cue the shivers) each pull out the same, silver coffee pot.

Incarnating this single pot twice, across decades, is a simple, Proustian way of saying everything about time, memory and history that no essay or description ever could. (Clearly, that’s not stopping me from trying!) Instantly, past is both infinitely removed and utterly of-this-moment; the object takes Alison back, but also emphasizes how far away that “back” is. I’m reminded of the wonderful line in The Glass Menagerie: “Time is the longest distance between two places.” Indeed—no more so than two places separated by a few feet of stage and a lifetime of experience.

This moment also illustrates unique power of simultaneous action, a device the theater shares with few other forms. Unlike a film, a play can stage two scenes and versions of the same character in direct physical proximity and have them interact. A few years ago director Michael Mayer spoke to the Times about this phenomenon in reference to his On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, praising it as “the beautiful theatrical gift of simultaneity.” Like Fun Home, Clear Day divided its protagonist between separate actors to (my opinion) brilliant effect, and thus let the audience in on a kind of dramatic irony: We got a perspective—wide, complex, funny—the characters never had, and got to see “self” interact with “self” in an imaginative, otherworldly and theatrical way. Fun Home does much the same, never more so than in this beautiful coffee pot moment.

Interestingly, simultaneity is also a prime feature of graphic novels, Fun Home’s form-of-origin. A caption “happens” alongside a picture; the resultant power can be in repeated emphasis (a picture illustrates what a caption describes), or in dissonance (a picture illustrates the opposite). Either way, the result equals more than the sum of the disparate parts.

In Fun Home’s coffee pot moment, the power is both one of repeated emphasis and one of dissonance: the pot, seen twice, shows how some things never change; Alison, also seen twice, shows how completely other things do.

Cool stuff. Cool stuff, indeed.

photos by Joan Marcus

Short & Sweet

Alice Munro

Alice Munro

Much of the buzz surrounding Canadian writer Alice Munro’s recent Nobel win came from her affinity for the short story, a form usually spurned as a kind of bastard stepchild of literature. Munro doesn’t write the long, drawn-out novels the Nobel committee (and many readers) generally prefer; her concise, concentrated narratives pack whole lives into paragraphs, sweeping movements into a few pages. The effect is often riveting and sort of eerie—at the end of a good one you think to yourself, how did she do that?—and so quickly! Munro’s brand of elegant economy isn’t usually rewarded, so her win here counts as a real achievement.

As in literature, the theater doesn’t generally hold brevity as a virtue. Popular marathon performances (Gatz, The Coast of Utopia, Life and Times) are extreme examples of a general bent: Ticket-buying audiences prefer like their theater served in hefty, 90-plus minute servings, thank you very much.

But there is real value—and fun!—to be found in much shorter pieces, plays no longer than 30ish minutes or so. I recently saw three such works in various stages of development under the collective title Ladder to the Moon at HERE, and stand behind their shortness: Size needn’t matter!

Ladder to the Moon Here Arts Center

The first of these playlets—Harold, I Hate You by Amanda Szeglowski—imagines a trio of Girl Scout-like gals traipsing through the woods, voicing their anxieties in counterpart to a disembodied voice in a tent. The girls’ worries run the gamut—they fret over everything from death-by-mulch-grinder to sleepover abandonment. Their movement is highly stylized and choreographed, as are their mostly expressionless, monotone speaking voices. Before you know it, the story is over… and the briefness of these collective conversations is part of what makes the play successful: Enhancement might’ve spoiled the creepy and anxious space so quickly conjured.

The second piece, Ghost Stories (a product of Tiny Little Band, Jerry Lieblich and Stefanie Abel Horowitz), also trades in the world of worries, this time through—duh—ghost stories. Three narrators beckon audience members onto the stage, gather them around small lamps, and tell spooky tales of the supernatural. We’re talking good old fashioned, gather-round-the-campfire ghost stories. There’s some commentary, but mostly it’s the scary goods told straight up… and it’s awesome. The simplicity of good storytellers telling good stories holds up spectacularly, and, because it doesn’t need to prop up a two-hour evening, can stay as spare as it needs to be.

Ryann Weir’s The Dinosaur Playthe final piece, tracks two disenchanted employees at a zoo. Layering on their depressing-beige uniforms, polishing visitors’ glasses and ultimately pausing for a treatise on dinosaurs, they wallow in the doldrums of their sad-sack lives. (In a particularly funny/sad moment, one employee explains why it’s “financially irresponsible” for the workers to stay in their low-paying jobs.) Again, the impact comes swiftly and needn’t wallow. Clarity comes in the quickly-formed setup, climax and resolution (such as it is) of the narrative.

One, twice, three times Ladder to the Moon proves you don’t need to drone on to make a point or an impact. In that spirit, I’ll stop now, toast brevity, and shut the hell up.

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