Business as usual

Closed.

That was yesterday, Thursday November 24th, when America celebrated Thanksgiving.
I am a European. In Europe, there is no concept of Thanksgiving – not in this sense, anyway. We eat our turkey on Christmas day.

I didn’t go to Macy’s Parade this year either. Still not brave enough to face the crowd. Apparently it is enormous and it scares me, to be honest. I’ll have to devise a plan for next year. As of now, I have 364 days to make it work.

I did cook though. Roasted chicken and (sweet) potatoes with rosemary. This is a feat in itself, for I don’t think I cooked more than – say – ten times, since we came to New York. It was delicious.

We ate watching Francis Bacon: A Brush with Violence.  A film where friends and acquaintances speak freely, some for the first time, offering their views and revealing truths about the myth that is Francis Bacon. My favourite artist.

Cheerio then,
Lia

November 23rd, 2017

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

Dadan @ BAM

In order to create Dadan, I started rehearsals with the performers in the summer of 2007.  At that time we had no idea that we would create a piece like this. If a group of men who just wanted to strike the drums would gather and practice intensely, a performance would come out of that energy.

So we told ourselves.

As for the name of the piece, we didn’t have any assurance that we could complete it in the future. But fortunately, in 2009 we were able to create this work called Dadan, and show it to the public.

The word Dadan is written with the kanji characters that literally mean “men drumming,” but at the same time we tried to come up with a name which would put across the sense of drumming when written in roman letters, would feel dynamic, and be easy for people around the world to say.

Dadan saw its world premiere in Tokyo during September 2009, and the success of this initial run led to its foreign debut at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, France, with four sold-out performances in 2012.

Following such success abroad, Dadan toured across Japan in 2012 and was showcased twice at the “Earth Celebration” annual international performing arts festival on Sado Island. Tours in Spain and France followed during 2014, and then in October 2015, Dadan was performed in Hong Kong—a first in Asia outside of Japan. The South American debut took place in March of 2016 in Brazil. 

The 2017 Dadan performances are part of its first North American tour, and are presented as a part of Kodo’s 35th Anniversary celebrations. For Dadan’s US tour, I would like to express my gratitude to the sponsors who made this possible. I hope to be able to continue to create even better performances in the future. I will be very happy if you enjoy our performance.

—Tamasaburo Bando, Dadan Artistic Director

Never has drumming seemed so elegant, flawlessly coordinated, primal, powerful, precise and curiously meditative, until these guys came along.

*first three images from the net

Kodo performed in BAM
March 4th, 2017

Evening At The Talk House

Back in New York with not a moment to waste. Off to The Pershing Square Signature Center for an ”Evening at the Talk House”. Wallace Shawn’s latest play, a dark comedy, a sounding alarm, a dystopian society, the end of the world as we know it. Nothing too dramatic, just a few friends and theatre colleagues getting together on the occasion of the 10-year anniversary of a huge flop they had worked together in, the legendary ”Midnight in a Clearing With Moon and Stars”.

The author, played by Mathew Broderick, introduces us to the rest of the group and they all sit together having drinks and exchanging compliments and mischievous (un)pleasantries. Everything seems perfectly normal – except the more we follow their conversation the deeper we enter into a dystopian world where theatre is dead and people have taken to executing foreign nationals, in order to protect ”us” from ”them”. Who exactly is ”us” and ”them” is open to debate.

But first, there was some housewarming mingling; the audience were treated as guests, with members of the cast offering candy-coloured drinks and jelly babies. If you look closely, you’ll notice Mr. Broderick and Mr. Shawn in his pajamas, casually chatting away with their ”guests”. 

The Pershing Square Signature Center
February 26th, 2017

Crazy electric hair

Of all the glass sculptures in this exhibition, Neon 206 stands out as the craziest. Installed specifically to reflect on the Conservatory windows and the pool outside, it must be seen in the dark or else it would look just like a bundle of bent tubes (which is what it is). But at night it transforms into an explosion of light, the perfect backdrop for those playful shadowy portraits; snapshots of electric dreams.

With this neon light craziness, we bid farewell to the Botanical Garden and the magical world of Dale Chihuly. Next stop, Philadelphia…

Neon 206 (2017)

Chihuly Nights, New York Botanical Garden

October 14th, 2017

A walk down memory lane

When lemonade was served in lace crystal glasses and sipped through grandma’s drinking glass straws. Those lean, sleek pastel coloured things of beauty that were kept locked only to come out when there were visitors – on Sundays mostly. Despite handling with care, they succumbed to their fragile nature, one by one, drink after drink. They were never replaced. It was the dawn of the 1970s and Tupperware had already taken Europe by storm since the 1960s. The plastic age had arrived.

Glow

White Tower with Fiori
Glasshouse Fiori

Chihuly Nights, New York Botanical Garden

October 14th, 2017