Skip to main content

Samuel Barnett and Mark Rylance in Twelfth Night.
There's nothing wrong with watching television. You will never find a "kill your television" bumper sticker on any car of mine. But there is something special about live performance. It's more difficult to do, for one thing—and again, difficult isn't always better, but sometimes it's good to trade our couch-sitting clothes for going-out clothes. There's a particular pleasure to following the same story and set of TV characters week in, week out, to sharing that experience via social media with friends we don't often see. There's also a particular pleasure to hearing and seeing something live and available only in that moment, something that will be different in the next performance, something shared by everyone in the room with you, whether you know them or not. And sometimes it's transcendent.

At intervals, I become obsessed, or maybe possessed, by a live performance. Usually it's music; the creak and throb and texture of the live voice not smoothed and perfected in the studio, the way sound becomes a tactile experience, the sway or stillness, the silence or shout of the people around you. When you get down to it, being part of an audience is a collective experience we don't most of us get on a regular basis, and it can heighten the immediacy of the performance itself. Then, too, we are seeing the performer unedited and in 3-D. Even if we don't get the close-ups of TV, we see or hear things we wouldn't in the physical effort of performance.

For years my ongoing performance obsessions have been two musicians: Australian country singer-songwriter Kasey Chambers, and "hardcore Americana" musician Tim Eriksen. You may gather, if you listen to them, that I have a thing for intense, stripped-raw vocals. When you see a musician perform over decades of your life, and still more when your relationship with the music and musician become deeper and more complex, music can raise the ghosts of your own past, of where and who and how you were other times you heard a song. I see ghosts, too, as well as rapturous dancing and virtuosic choreography during performances of the Mark Morris Dance Group.

Sometimes, though, a performance comes from nowhere to grab you, enchant you, tear your heart out. The mime show (no, really) I saw a couple years ago that shocked me by delighting me. And, recently, two performances a metaphorical world apart: the recent Broadway production of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and figure skater Jeremy Abbott performing in Stars on Ice.

Like I said, different.

There may be no end to the glowing reviews that have been written of this production of Twelfth Night on Broadway and, before that, in London's West End and at the Globe Theatre. But the well-reviewed can be a letdown in the end and what's excellent isn't always lovable.

But lovable this production is at two levels. It's hilarious, but at different places than most productions of Twelfth Night. Rather than asking us to laugh most at the pomposity and ultimately the torment of Malvolio, Malvolio is played with soul and longing. He's still an ass, but he's not a caricature. We're allowed, encouraged even, to feel bad for him, which fixed the problem I had had the previous time I'd seen Twelfth Night, when ultimately I felt a little dirty about the parts of the Malvolio storyline that were played for laughs. In the Globe production, though, the rage that leads Maria to torment him is also made comprehensible; nothing comes out of nowhere (and if you want laughs, Paul Chahidi's Maria is a droll marvel). As much of a revelation as the shifted angle on Malvolio is, though—and to be clear, I think this read of the character should be used far and wide—ultimately I was most affected by Mark Rylance's Olivia. Rylance somehow plays Olivia for broad humor and yet simultaneously conveys her yearning and her sorrow. It is a stunning achievement. Also stunning is Samuel Barnett's performance as Viola/Cesario; he and Joseph Timms as Sebastian are made up and bewigged to be virtually identical, yet by subtle differences in stance and movement you can always tell who is supposed to be the woman in male drag and who the man.

How crazed was I (were we) by this performance? The next day, after some mooning about, we looked at each other and agreed we just had to see the production of Richard III being done in repertory with Twelfth Night. (Excellent, but not really a delight of a play, you know?) And if we hadn't seen Twelfth Night toward the end of its run, I'd have found a way to go back.

And then there's the latest performance to grab hold of me.

Exhibition and show skating may have, over the years, given rise to more cheesiness than greatness (hey, I saw the Smurfs at the Ice Capades as a kid), but now, at a time when competitive skating too often becomes a mathematical exercise in racking up points with little attention to music, performance or just pure skating, Stars on Ice and exhibitions are a chance to see skating performances that are coherent, that have an internal logic and emotional core beyond point values, that mesh fully with a song, beginning to end.

To be fair, Americans had probably the most interesting men's competitive programs this past year—namely, Jason Brown's deservedly viral Riverdance free skate and Jeremy Abbott's quirky, elegant short program, which sadly may be best remembered for the fall he took—and got up from—at the Olympics. But one of Abbott's Stars on Ice performances (naturally the one they didn't show on the television airing of the tour last weekend) is ... well, it's my current obsession.

Skating to English singer-songwriter Ben Howard's "The Fear," Abbott moves around the ice followed closely by spotlights; the rest of the ice is dark. The symbolism of the lighting isn't hard to read with the lines of the song:

I've been worryin' that my time is a little unclear
I've been worryin' that I'm losing the ones I hold dear
I've been worryin' that we all, live our lives, in the confines of fear
But it doesn't have to work, and it does; he's confined by the beam of the lights, but moving insistently, searching. It's also about becoming—"I will become what I deserve," the song says. It's beautiful skating-as-skating, it's dancing, it's a remarkable mesh of movement and song. It was one of those moments that catches you by surprise in its power. And you wonder if you're imagining that the rest of the crowd is as captivated as you are, until, at the moment your heart catches in your throat, people begin clapping in rhythm, not to a pounding beat or obvious urging from the performer but because the moment makes it so. Alas, for now, outside of memory or live performance, it seems only to be available in two videos shot at different shows from not particularly close up and in not very high quality. But when you've seen and been possessed by such a performance, even a crappy video comes a little bit to life as it interacts with the memory.

I went to Twelfth Night because I got tickets for Christmas. I went to Stars on Ice on a whim. It's a good reminder of how revelatory that whole getting-out-of-the-house thing, that being-in-a-room-with-strangers thing, can be. And when one of those strangers records such a performance, YouTube can provide a lovely—if not necessarily high-quality—reminder.

A day I doubt I'll ever forget, and a song it makes me cry to hear live to this day.
So Kasey Chambers plays New York City days after I move there, and plays a song that speaks to why I'm in the city to begin with.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 09:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Theatricals.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  The best live performance I have witnessed (9+ / 0-)

    Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Jewel Box Theater. I realize that it's not high brow, but it was wonderful. I loved every second of it. The props were ingeniously Freudian in keeping with the theme of the show, and it was a delight to watch. I cannot say enough good things about that performance. I wish I could see it again and I would take my kids to see it. They would love it!

    "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

    by GreenMother on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 09:11:23 AM PDT

    •  rocky horror (8+ / 0-)

      is brilliant. i watched the film again, last october, and then i had to watch it several more times, over the next week or so. i'd have loved to have seen it on stage, with tim curry. i did get to see him in spamalot, which also was brilliant.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 09:19:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Tim Curry (6+ / 0-)

        I once heard Tim Curry interviewed on Fresh Air.  He told Terry Gross that all his feminine mannerisms as Dr. F were an imitation of his mother.  Once his sister came to a performance, saw the resemblance, and laughed her butt off.  After the performance she went backstage and asked Tim "does she know?"  He replied: "no, and please don't tell her."

        Better to hide your tax returns and be thought a crook than to release them and remove all doubt. [Adapted from Abraham Lincoln]

        by Caelian on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 11:06:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I personally prefered this fantastic live (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          version to the film, but I can imagine Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon and Meat Loaf with original cast, tearing up a live stage.

          "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

          by GreenMother on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 02:24:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The first opera I ever saw... (7+ / 0-)

    ... was Philip Glass' "Galileo Galilei". I had front row center seats, at eye level with the pit conductor. It was the final dress rehearsal, before the official premier at the Goodman Theater in Chicago.

    It blew my mind!

  •  Audra McDonald (10+ / 0-)

    I saw Audra McDonald in "Lady Day at the Emerson Bar and Grill" at Circle in the Square a couple of weeks ago and I saw Neal Patrick Harris in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" at the Belasco yesterday.

    NPH was wonderful but Audra is going to win a Tony.

    God gave you free will to define God, use it to make the best God that you can.

    by Dotty Gale on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 09:16:40 AM PDT

  •  I'm glad both of my kids were/are in (7+ / 0-)

    drama in junior high and high school.  Both have seen plays on Broadway and in Chicago, as well as lots of live concerts.  There's nothing like live performances.

    the woman who is easily irritated

    by chicago minx on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 09:16:42 AM PDT

  •  live music is best (8+ / 0-)

    and feste is one of my favorite characters in all literature. i'd love to see those productions!

    every year, i try to see everything at the oregon shakespeare festival, which is a bit of an inaccurate name, because festivals are usually for short durations and osf runs from march through october, is the largest repertory theater company in the country, has over a hundred full-time equity actors and three stages, and performs nine to eleven plays each season. i've seen shakespeare in london, and i've been to stratford three times, but osf at its best is every bit as good.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 09:17:40 AM PDT

    •  Might I suggest the University of Colorado, and (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Laurence Lewis, RiveroftheWest

      its Shakespeare renditions at the outdoor theatre on campus, in the Summer?  

      Way back, when doing some post-grad work there, I must confess I learned little in the classroom, while hearing those on stage, outside the open windows.  I really don't blame the poor Professor.  He was so badly upstaged by those who,  most probably,  didn't even realize they were the competition, it was no contest.  

      And then, there was the opening night of the debut - at the Central City Opera House - of the great American work on Colorado's H.A.W. Tabor, "The Ballad of Baby Doe", which went on to the Met, in New York.

      No question, or argument, whatsoever.  Live is best!

    •  My all time favorite was OSF's Arcadia (3+ / 0-)

      Not just OSF, but all time performance on stage. Brilliant Stoppard play and just magical setting. Hard to believe it was in 1996!

      Two stories unfold onstage, the search for information on a lost ancestor (brilliant, even if it doesn't sound so) and the 19th century mathematics genius, Thomasina and her tutor.

      The two timelines run in parallel and eventually all the characters are on the stage at the same time but it is not magical realism. The great wheel of time has separated the two pairs, 20th and 18th century.

      But when they address their lines, they could be speaking across time to the others, the hair went up on the back of my neck, so eerie and magical was the effect.

      Other than that, Stanford's production in 1969 of Jaques Brel Is Alive And Well with a better-than-Broadway cast replacing the ok Broadway baritone with the best baritone ever. Wish I knew his name!

      What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

      by TerryDarc on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 12:21:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, Arcadia! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TerryDarc, RiveroftheWest

        I saw the recent Broadway revival and loved every minute. Unusual for me, I read the play before I went, and I was so glad I did!

        "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

        by sidnora on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 01:24:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Would love to see it again! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, sidnora

          I saw on Wiki that it's still being produced. Long enough for OSF to bring it back - it was enormously popular. We saw it twice and would have gone again but for tickets.

          What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

          by TerryDarc on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 04:37:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  that was great (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but there have been so many...

        hamlet with dan donohue or marco barricelli, othello with derrick lee weeden, othello with anthony heald as iago, winter's tale set in the 50s and 60s, troilus & cressida set in iraq, pericles with richard howard, henry vi with michael hume as gloucester...

        or crumbs from the table of joy, aristocrats, other people's money, school for scandal, oleanna, seven guitars, mad forest, animal crackers, last year's streetcar named desire...

        i could go on...

        The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

        by Laurence Lewis on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 01:52:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We've been living 5 minutes walk from the theaters (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, Laurence Lewis

          for 20+ years. And trying to afford the ever-increasing ticket costs...but, it's a great venue, fine actors and directors. I think only Donohue (a treasure) is still with OSF - staring in Richard III, I think. Marco and Derrick Lee, among many others, were wonderful.

          Recently it seems that OSF is getting away from Shakespeare: just 4 plays this year including the dubious Two Gentlemen of Verona (never seen it, so this is the year).

          What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

          by TerryDarc on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 04:36:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  we always seem to lose some good ones (0+ / 0-)

            but many of the core company have been there for more than a decade. i could probably list a couple dozens. donohue himself left for a few years, then came back. and of course, outstanding new talents always emerge.

            i have been a little concerned about keeping the focus on shakespeare, because as much as i love all the different playwrights they stage, it is for me, first and foremost, shakespeare, and one of the few places in the world where you can see first rate stagings of the less popular plays. i love them all, and they can take supposedly lesser plays like troilus and make them brilliant. i also like some of their unusual castings. it's early enough in rauch's tenure for me to have formed an opinion, but i do prefer him to appel.

            The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

            by Laurence Lewis on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 10:46:04 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Having just finished performing (11+ / 0-) a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, you will get no argument from me.
     photo IMG_20140402_220707_zpsh9izs53s.jpg

    My lovely wife and I saw a production of Twelfth Night in Spring Green last summer.

  •  I have been involved in community theater (8+ / 0-)

    for the past 5 years, and there is nothing better than watching live performances.

    Talented performers are not only found in NYC or in LA, but in Denver or Salt Lake City or Albuquerque (where we have over 40 theater companies!)

    If you can't afford, or don't live near, Broadway in NYC, I urge you to look in your local papers entertainment section and find a local theater group, and go see their show. You might be pleasantly surprised. You might pay $15.00, and see some wonderful theater.

    And if you ever wanted to be a part of live theater, volunteer for a show or two at your community theater. Actors still have to rehearse and learn lines, lights still have to hung, sets built and painted, costumes made, whether on 42d Street NYC or Main Street USA.

    Who knows? You might start out as a stage manager and four years later, be producing Shakespeare!! Along the way you will work hard, be creative, and make some wonderful  friends.

    There is no right and wrong, there is only interesting, and less interesting. - Sam Mendes, Vanity Fair, March 2014

    by dmb0857 on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 09:40:36 AM PDT

    •  Fact is, (6+ / 0-)

      my second-favorite production of Twelfth Night is one my high school did...

    •  Wonderful comment. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Albuquerque has some very nice theater.  Santa Fe too!

      I've seen some college productions of musicals which I found better than the Broadway or touring versions -- meaning, to me, that where they may not have had all the showy technical things, they had much more heart (and a lot less "Broadway musical theater" mugging and playing to the audience).  

      Same with some local productions of plays -- a lot less glitz, but more heart.  Often the glitz gets in the way.  I know of some playwrights who have seen our little second or third productions of their plays, and liked them better than bigger, showier Oregon Shakespeare Festival or Ontario or Royal Shakespeare Company premiers.

  •  Jersey Boys (4+ / 0-)

    for those of us of a certain age.  I met a university literature professor recently who can amaze you with his prowess in the field.  But when we got talking about our favorite night out of entertainment he said, without hesitation, Jersey Boys.

  •  simple (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, dewtx, Oh Mary Oh

    I find when I go out, I am looking for something simple.  Stage lost to TV because TV can create the illusion of perfection, or complexity. So many live shows try to compete, and as a result TV is many times the better choice.

    But going out and spending 20 buck to hear a local singer, or see a local production, gives us something TV can't.  Community.  Experiencing an event with everything.  And because the experience is ephemeral the imperfections are equally fleeting.

  •  We have loved going to Shakespeare Santa Cruz (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewtx, Oh Mary Oh

    Not sure how long it will last now, but it has been a joy going to plays in a redwood grove, the company is first rate.

    Used to love going to rock shows when I was younger, and had the chance to experience some concerts in really intimate settings on occasion (Los Lobos with 35 other people in a recording studio... incredible!).  Now it's the SF Symphony - looking forward to a performance this week.  We haven't been to the new SF Jazz Center yet, but want to see some shows there, too.

    Libertarianism, n: A political philosophy some people embrace after the roads have been paved. (Stolen from Kurt Weldon)

    by lineatus on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 09:58:19 AM PDT

  •  Live performances have a different energy (4+ / 0-)

    Every time—because the performers themselves may have different experiences while performing.

    Two examples from my own experience: I attended the premiere performance of Harbison's Requiem by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and a repeat performance a few days later. The premiere, on a Thursday, was, for lack of a better word, flat: everybody seemed out of sorts, and the final "In paradisum" seemed to end in purgatory rather than the celestial heights. Two days later, the performance went much more smoothly, and the ending soared. As I learned from some of the choristers, they had an extra long rehearsal the morning of the premiere, and were exhausted by the evening.

    As a performer, I can also attest to this. I did a run of performances of Sweeney Todd about ten years ago, playing the part of Pirelli. (The irony of an Arab-American baritone playing an Irishmen playing an Italian tenorino was not lost on me.) However, the problem was that the weekend of the shows, we were all coming down with a nasty bug. By the final show, it had hit me, too, making my singing voice a shadow of its usual self. So that left me with the acting parts to "make my mark"—and I acted the heck out of the role that night.

    So there's nothing like live entertainment, precisely because you never know exactly what you're going to get. (Especially if you're doing improv!)

  •  My favorite, and thrilling, live theatrical moment (3+ / 0-)

    was attending "Angels in America: Millenium Approaches" in the Alley Theatre's smaller theatre-in-the-round stage in Houston. What an amazing, and amazingly written, play wonderfully performed by the Alley's group of repertory actors. When the angel makes its grand appearance at the end, I was blown away. A perfect ending in anticipation for the second part "Perestroika" with the all its wonderful characters Harper Pitt, Hannah Pitt, Ethel Rosenberg, and the vile Roy Cohn. The HBO version with Al Pacino and Meryl Streep was very good, but nothing can replace the live version I saw in that little theatre in Houston.

    But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, ... there are few die well that die in a battle; ... Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; — Shakespeare, ‘Henry V’

    by dewtx on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 10:04:09 AM PDT

  •  Oregon Shakespeare Festival is one of our fave (6+ / 0-)

    destinations - we usually go twice a year. We have seen some stunning performances there, both comedy and drama. And most of the great stuff we've seen isn't Shakespeare. We have come to actually prefer their non-Shakespeare performances.

    Some recent great ones:

    August: Osage County
    Animal Crackers
    All the Way
    Romeo and Juliet
    Henry V
    Two Trains Running
    My Fair Lady
    A Streetcar Named Desire
    The Tenth Muse

    And several others I can't think of off the top of my head.

  •  There's something about (7+ / 0-)

    being able to say -- honestly -- I was there.

    Here in Denver we have Red Rocks, one of the most amazing performance venues in the country, if not the world.  There truly is nothing like a show on the Rocks.

  •  A thousand recs. We sat right on the stage for (7+ / 0-)

    this Twelfth Night.  It was, beyond a doubt, one of the life-changing performances I've ever witnessed (and I'm an actor by trade).  Just watching them getting dressed in those costumes--each made only with materials that were available at the time the play was written--and seeing the actors' gradual transformation during that process, was thrilling.  We also went back to see Richard III, which was also brilliantly done (Rylance and Samuel Barnett as Elizabeth particularly) but without the same delicious rewards.  The woman sitting beside me at Twelfth Night told me she'd seen the show three times, as she said "just to keep my joy alive."

    As a theater practitioner, I can tell you that live theater is not the same as a film or tv in any way, because the exchange with the audience is a really significant part for all involved.  It's a communal exchange.  We have come together since the earliest days of the theater--audience and performers and technicians--to try to figure out our world all in the same space.  Tina Packer, of Shakespeare and Company, gave a lecture when I took their Intensive years ago and have never forgotten, called "Theater, Theology and Therapy."  It was her contention that the community came together at the theater to work out the problems they were facing, and in the deaths of kings and villains, experienced the relief of a catharsis that made it unnecessary for them to actually go out and kill one another.  It hasn't helped us as a culture that we keep removing ourselves from the experience of exploring the world together.

    Another extraordinary theater experience for me, out of many,  was Ruined by Lynn Nottage--the Pulitzer-Prize winning story of real human women's experiences in the Congo war.  When we left the theater, still shaking from the heartbreak of their lives, we were confronted with eye-level photos of the actual women that had been interviewed in the making of the play.  I got weak in the knees.

    "It ain't right, Atticus," said Jem. "No, son, it ain't right." --Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

    by SottoVoce on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 10:20:42 AM PDT

  •  We caught both "Twelfe Night" &... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh, sidnora, RiveroftheWest

    ..."Richard III" on the same day, matinee, dinner then evening show. Though, in retrospect, I would have rather see "Twelfe Night" as the evening show.

    As a lifelong fan (and employee) of live theater, these are two of the finest productions I've seen. Both were brilliant, eye opening takes on plays that I didn't think could be made anew.

    To my list of great live performances I would add:

    Peter Hall's ground breaking production of the complete Oerestian Trilogy at the National Theater in London, 1981
    (It was seeing this production that made me decide to try to have a career in theater.)

    Death Of A Salesman on B'way with Brian Dennehy, 1999

    National Actors Theatre - "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui" w/Al Pacino, Steve Buscemi, Dominic Chianese, Billy Crudup, Charles Durning, Linda Emond, Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Novella Nelson, Chazz Palminteri, and Tony Randall. 2002

    "Saint Joan" National Theater, with Anna Marie Duff, 2007

    Al Pacino again as Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice", B'way 2011

    "El Penitente" Martha Graham Dance Company, danced by Mikhail Baryshnikov for the 100th Graham Anniversary Celebration, City Center, NYC.

    Queen: Night At The Opera Tour, 1976

    an obscure Irish quartet called U2 in a 350 seat rock club in Madison WI, 1980 or 81.

    Stevie Goodman opening for Leo Kottke - mid '80s

    the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton, Jazz at Lincoln Center, 2011

    That's a brief selection of 40 years of live performances.....

    "It's never too late to have a happy childhood." - Tom Robbins - Political Compass sez: -8.25, -7.90

    by ARS on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 10:39:21 AM PDT

  •  Spent spring break in New York (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chicago minx, sidnora, RiveroftheWest

    and saw 5 plays.  Favorites were 'Kinky Boots' and 'All the Way'

    Agree that nothing touches live performance.  Spent 19 years involved in drama at my school and last year performed in 'Music Man'   Friday I will go see them do 'Mikado' as Anime combined with Steam Punk.  The director is both a wonderful teacher and a brilliant performer.

  •  Live Shakespeare/Broadway here every summer. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Great performances, usually 2 or 3 Shakespeare plays and then a couple Broadway-type productions.

    It's outdoors, wonderful amphitheater; we get the cheap seats, bring our low-back chairs and a picnic dinner (with wine, of course).

    Great productions, talented cast, great location.

    We've been season ticket holders for going on five years, it's our main entertainment here in the summer.  

    When atlatls are outlawed, only outlaws will have atlatls.

    by wheeldog on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 11:15:33 AM PDT

  •  That's why I'd like to be rich enough (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chicago minx, niemann, RiveroftheWest

    to attend plays, musicals, concerts, ballets, etc.  I used to go to quite a few live productions in the past, but just can't afford it anymore. :((

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 11:19:53 AM PDT

  •  beautifully written diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    will have to postpone link/vid stuff for later this pm.
    thanks !

    TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes? -- Addington's Perpwalk.

    by greenbird on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 11:19:57 AM PDT

  •  agree (4+ / 0-)


    Working musician and band-leader here, teach music history and performance and coach ensembles, typically ensembles in which classical musicians are getting their first taste of playing by ear and from the memory (instead of the page). Completely agree with the utter superiority of live performance to any recording, no matter how technically perfect the latter.

    Can I also just say how much I appreciate it when you write about music? I'm a huge fan of your Sacred Harp book and, while I totally understand and support why you'd want to write about larger issues of labor, working-class identity, and so forth, you can sure turn a phrase about music.

    thank you!

  •  Although no where near the level (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    niemann, RiveroftheWest

    discussed in this piece, I participate in community theater for the very same reason - there's nothing like the immediacy and thrill of a live performance both for the actor and the audience.  

  •  Twelfth Night (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    was one of the very finest things I've ever seen on a stage, in more than half a century of theatergoing. And you didn't even cover the extraordinary production values.

    I gather you did see Richard III as well, as did I. I wish I'd seen it first, so I wouldn't have been disappointed. While it benefited from the same meticulous production, it's still Richard III, a play that often leads otherwise excellent actors into paroxysms of scenery-chewing (I mean, Richard's a villain, we know it from the minute he opens his mouth, then what?), and sadly, it exposed Mark Rylance's limitations too. I previously thought he had none.

    Twelfth Night is a much better play. Even though it's "only" a comedy, it explores the depths of human feeling in a way that Richard's caricatures don't. And the cast were all up to that task.

    "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

    by sidnora on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 01:22:37 PM PDT

  •  Tim Eriksen is into shapenote singing, right? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Since the All California Sacred Harp Convention in January, I have found shapenote social singing to be far more fulfilling than any TV or other media.  I love live performance and theater, but what happens in Sacred Harp is not performance nor theater, but it is hair-raising and addictive.  I feel like we humans let a lot go when we became entertainment-entrained.

  •  Also, I am chagrined by Terri Gross (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    covering Television so much of the time.  As a sometime sound designer for theater and as a radio theater author/practitioner, I feel that the very best of TV is a small percentage of the joy gotten from even just-adequate theatrical productions.

    I was thrilled in 1972 in England to see the Royal Shakespeare Company's revival of Peter Brook's A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Talk about eye-opening for this Midwestern 17-year-old!  

  •  I enjoy live theatre (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and currently subscribe to two local companies.

    We started going one summer after my niece, 16, came for a several week visit.  What to do with her?  OK, she (and my sister, her Mother) like theatre.  So, we booked several shows.  And really liked it!  Kept going to three different companies for a few years, then pared down a bit.

    Live theatre is current: you and the company are together in the same place and time.  This simple fact explains quite a bit of the attraction.

    A lot of theatre is political: Homebody: Kabul, Accidental Death of an Anarchist come immediately to mind.

    A lot of theatre is timeless - stories and situations that reveal the human situation that can be centuries old, but still work (in the right hands).

    For people in the bay area, I recommend Berkeley Rep (Berkeley, duh), ACT (SF), as well as a newer group with lots of shows and very low prices, Shotgun Players (Oakland).

    I've seen fewer productions from Marin Playhouse (Mill Valle), Aurora Theatre (Berkeley), and California Shakes (Orinda), but they are also worth checking out.

    The company we had to give up, sadly was Magic Theatre (SF).  I still miss it.

    Everyone born after Star Wars came out is basically a Democrat. -- Save The Clock Tower

    by jotter on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 02:54:50 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for this front page diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It is nice to see someone celebrating and promoting live performance.

    So often there is a reverse-snob "anti-elitist" sense toward live theater -- even here.  I remember in a diary a few years ago, even our Alan Grayson mocked a Republican politician for "going to the theater".

    I like Alan Grayson, but I royally chewed him out in the comment section -- also pointing out that the vast majority of theater people I know are strongly liberal.

  •  That was a great show. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, AR2

    We also saw the RSC Twelfth Night at the Belasco.  It was the best live Shakespeare that I have seen to date.  (I found "Feste" particularly inspiring)  Like you, I tried to get tickets to see the other show, but none were available...  I know one of the musicians, and even loaned her an instrument to use (one of the rauchfipe's they played at the very end of the show), so I got some extra details.

    The costumes were hand made from period correct materials, and they had huge "bibs" backstage so the performers could get a drink during intermission.  (like the originals, some of the costumes you are essentially sewn into).

    The music was traditional for the time, and was played on period replica instruments.  The swords weren't sharp, but were steel.  I have no idea how they managed it, but there were real beeswax candles burning on stage.  (up here fire regs say all candles are fakes).  Some of the performers got hazard pay as a result.

    They decided to replicate the staging typical of a traveling show, hence the boxes for seating on stage.  (We managed to get seated there, loaning the horn had its benefits).

    Like a proper period performance, it was an all male cast, leading to the little bit of irony of a man playing a woman who was passing as male. (and did a convincing job of female playing male).

    Oh yea, one note about the theater itself:  It happens to have the largest private collection of Tiffany studio glass.  All those medallions on the ceilings, and the shades on the light fixtures aren't replicas.  By the same token, apparently the restoration didn't extend past the theater itself.  All the upstairs dressing rooms, while they had the broken windows replaced, didn't get any other attention.

    This planet needs a lot more kids who think taking a lawnmower apart is more fun than playing a videogame. Check out Hjürl (pdf) Imagine if IKEA sold siege engines.

    by rjnerd on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 04:11:25 PM PDT

  •  Players can not fake acting. (0+ / 0-)

    It must be right to eye. ear. brain and heart.  

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site