Broadway by Light (1958), a film directed by William Klein

”I did this book on New York: black-and-white, grungy photographs. People said, “What a put-down–New York is not like that. New York is a million things, and you just see the seamy side.” So I thought I would do a film showing how seamy New York was, but intellectually, by doing a thing on electric-light signs. How beautiful they are, and what an obsessive, brainwashing message they carry. And everybody is so thankful for this super spectacle. Anyway, I think it’s the first Pop film.” – William Klein (source)

It’s been almost three years since we came to live next to Times Square – just off, still ”too close for comfort”. I’ve been crisscrossing Broadway every working day of the week, at least twice; sometimes during the weekends too. I have seen it by day and by night, sweating in the sizzling summer heat and glimmering after the rain, covered in snow and confetti, flooded with crowds and quasi-empty (yes, it does happen – rarely, but it does). But seeing it through Mr. Klein’s lens adds a whole new poetic dimension to the reality of Broadway, as we know it today.

It begins with these words:

”Les américaines ont inventé le jazz pour se consoler de la mort, la star pour se consoler de la femme.

Pour se consoler de la nuit, ils ont inventé Broadway…”

Click on the stills gallery for a larger view or, better yet, bedazzle yourself by watching this beautiful short film (only about 10′ long), here:

March 8th, 2018

Sunday in the park with George

On a Saturday evening at the Hudson Theatre, exactly one month after its reopening on February 11th, 2017.

First opened in 1903 it served many a purpose: theatre, radio & television studio, club, porn cinema, events venue and, making a full round, a theatre again. And a Broadway one at that.

Many of its original features have been lovingly restored, like this magnificent Tiffany glass ceiling. But the seating has been completely redesigned with chairs adjusted to fit the average human measurements and not the other way round as in most (or all) other Broadway theatres.

It opened with the revival of ”Sunday in the Park with George”, a play inspired by George Seurat’s masterpiece A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

Jake Gyllenhaal embodied the master of pointillism and, on his side, Annaleigh Ashford performed the role of his muse and lover, Dot. The story unfolds with the perfectionist master obsessing over his work to such an extend that he ends up alienating the bourgeoisie, his peers and even his lover. His relationship is damaged, his fellow artists have rejected him, and yet…

Nothing will stop him from his quest to ”finish the hat”.

The story kicks off like this:

ACT I
Time: 1884.
A white stage. George, an artist, is sketching.

GEORGE
White. A blank page or canvas.
The challenge: bring order to the whole. (As he continues to speak, the white stage is transformed into a park on the island of La Grande Jatte. Trees descend onto the grass; a bottle glides into view; a cut out couple appear in the distance. The lighting gives the impression of early morning.)
Through design.
Composition.
Tension.
Balance.
Light.
And harmony.

1. SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE
George is sketching. Dot is posing.

DOT
George. (no response) Why is it you always get to sit in the shade while I have to stand in the sun? (still no response) Hello, George? There is someone in this dress! (twitches slightly, sighs, mutters to herself)
A trickle of sweat.
The back of the head.
He always does this.
(hisses)
[…]

Until the painting was complete.

[…]
Forever
By the blue
Purple yellow
red water
On the green
Orange violet mass
Of the grass

DOT
In our perfect park

GEORGE
Made of flecks of light
And dark

ALL
(except George end Dot)
And Parasols…

People strolling through the trees
Of a small suburban park
On an island in the river
On an ordinary Sunday…
(All begin to leave very slowly, except Dot, who remains in the park, and George, who steps outside the park.)
Sunday… (A blank white canvas descends.)

GEORGE
(looking in the book again)
“White. A blank page of canvas. His favorite. So many possibilities…”
(He looks up and sees Dot disappearing behind the white canvas.)

Sunday in the Park with George
Music: Stephen Sondheim
Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
Book: James Lapine

The Hudson Theatre, Broadway
March 11th, 2017

The Present

For our New Year’s Eve.

Any suspicion this would be a one-woman show, was proven wrong; the Aussies know a thing or two about team work. But what a delight to watch Cate Blanchett live on stage! If nothing else, to reaffirm what a phenomenal actress she is – being the heart and soul of the play yet a convincing member of the team.  Albeit a leading one.

Playbill excerpt : ”Variously known as Platonov, Wild Honey, Fatherlessness, and The Disinherited, Chekhov’s first play was not discovered until 1920, some 16 years after the playwright’s death. Upton’s adaptation, according to press notes, is set “post-Perestroika in the mid-1990s at an old country house where friends gather to celebrate the birthday of the independent but compromised widow Anna Petrovna (Blanchett). At the center is the acerbic and witty Platonov (Roxburgh) with his wife, his former students and friends and their partners. They may appear comfortable, but boiling away inside is a mess of unfinished, unresolved relationships, fueled by twenty years of denial, regret and thwarted desire.”

There were certainly fireworks during the play. And gunshots. And aggravation and awkwardness. The full friend & family real-life drama that is an integral part of a Russian soul.

Matched only with the end-of-year Times Square closure-for-the-festivities drama, because of which at least a quarter of the theatre-goers kept arriving well into the play.

The Sydney Theatre Company performed ”The Present” by Anton Chekhov in a new adaptation by Andrew Upton.

Barrymore Theatre, Broadway

December 31st, 2016

Initiation ~

~ to the wonderful world of Broadway.

A quiet start, none of the big musical productions of which I am not a big fan anyway, but with The Humans; a play that has now completed two very successful rounds off- and on Broadway, so much so that a national tour has been announced for November 2017.

It is about a family from Pennsylvania, visiting their younger daughter and her boyfriend on Thanksgiving Day. The kids live in an old semi-basement apartment in Lower Manhattan, complete with loud neighbours, weird noises, electricity and plumping systems that had seen better days – long time ago.

Most of us have been involved in similar situations (minus the Lower Manhattan apartment) some time in our lives, with a family drama unfolding within a few hours around a dinner table. Perhaps that’s what makes this play so successful, besides the beautiful playwriting (by Stephen Karam), excellent staging (by Joe Mantello) and fine performances by the entire cast: the fact that we can all relate to any number of people, funny or awkward situations, acidic conversations, emotional reconciliations, fragile human relations, at any given point during the play.

Schoenfeld Theatre
236 West 45th Street
New York

November 9th, 2016

No more photos, please…!

Giraffe
Fortune

Baked enamel on steel plate, granite, 2014

This diva is part of A Fancy Animal Carnival, a series of eleven bronze animals by Taiwanese artist Hung Yi. Every animal is painted in colourful folklore patterns and represents a narrative, expressed through traditional Taiwanese symbols and motifs believed to bring luck.

I didn’t know that giraffes bring good fortune, did you?

Hung Yi

Artwork on 37th St. & Broadway (until April 15th, 2017)

October 9th, 2016