So glad I saw this show at the Eno. Some of the work made my jaw drop because it was so powerful; all of it was inspirational to this artist. Far too long ago I was one of Mr. Saltzman's students. Looking back on those student years, I believe he was one of two two-dimensional art profs who deserved to be there (granted, there were a couple profs I never had), and in fact were the reason we all enrolled there. His teaching was solid and he worked closely with those who wanted extra help. Yet the clearest picture of him I have in my mind from those days is him brandishing a double-sided razor bade and free-handedly cutting a mat in one swift stroke. The angels are still singing the beauty of that.
The story itself is incomplete. Our story, The Story, is being lived now. The Painted Bird is not an end unto itself. It is a symbol of hope renewed, magic revived, and balance recognized as a thing worth working toward. We point out that bridges need to be built, not that we have built them. No, unfortunately the Painted Bird will not save us from ourselves, we'll have to be the ones who do that.
Lazy stereotypes abound
If we had the answers we'd certainly give them. All we have are questions and the desire to inspire. Art is a mirror.
Emily Weinstein actually does have a legal leg to stand on, as the federal VARA legislation has been called upon by numerous mural artists whose work has been destroyed under similar circumstances. And I don't particularly blame her for not wanting to participate in a meeting called by the group that destroyed her work without bothering to get in touch with her. She told me that she would rather spend her time making new work than spend time helping Caktus heal their public image. She's hurt -- her life's work is gone. And Caktus has shown alacrity by... putting a post on their blog. Time is ticking off and other than that they've done zilch, which makes me wonder how sincere the remorse and shame really is. I don't really understand why a public meeting would take time to put together, and I wonder if they're waiting until enough time passes that they feel safe enough to not call a meeting at all. I hope they get their act together very soon. And in my opinion, this is a cultural disaster for Durham. I've spent a lot of time with the mural with my kids over the years. Our family shed tears when we saw Caktus' gray wall, and I know plenty of others who can say the same. It might not be a disaster for everyone, of course. Different parts of a city become different parts of our lives. For instance, if the Durham Bulls moved away I wouldn't care at all -- the team isn't important to me. But I know friends next door who would mourn that for the rest of their lives. And I care about my friends and neighbors, so I would sympathize. I hope that you, badpoetry, could find a way to sympathize too.
It is truly sad when the Indy does not present the whole story and presents only biased news coverage based on an artist's feelings. One cannot passively stand by and expect any community to protect what you see as your identity - if it's that important you should actively be protecting it and restoring it and educating others as to what it is about. Additionally, the artist actualy has no legal leg to stand on, if researched further this would become evident to the author. And Caktus has shown considerable alacrity in addressing this by offering to have a public forum (that once again the artist passively bows out of) and expressing remorse and shame which is something most companies would not do. And finally, NO, this is not "a disaster." Tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, homeless people needing food those are all disasters. This is a spun biased piece of news, which isn't news at all.
No one has yet posted Valerie Macon's resume in order to enable the public to make educated comments on this situation. I presume that "elitist" was not the word intended, but rather something like the word clique (Sp?) is what happens in all poetry societies, I believe, and also Arts Councils. There always seems to be an "in" group that gets and gives all the attention and it is difficult to crack the system unless one self-publishes as she did. Macon's mind may be overflowing with ideas to share with students. I'd like to see an interview with her to see whether what she has done already is the sum of herlifelong contributions, or whether she is bursting with enthusiasm to locate a readership with whom to share her current and developing convictions. We have no idea of who she really is. No mainline media will review self-published poets or authors so we haven't read about her. The Governor must have had some kind of reliable insider information to have gone out on a limb with the appointment.
I've always been in the camp that anyone can (and should!) make art and share it however they want, or not at all. Community arts programs make that available all around NC and with technology it's becoming even easier. However, I don't think it is in any way elitist to have a practiced writer and teacher serving as poet laureate, especially if they only have 2 years to do the work. It doesn't leave much time to learn on the job. I hope that Ms. Macon continues to write and finds other ways to serve her community through art.
This attitude clearly exhibits the very elitist mentality the governor was addressing. How do you know she couldn't do the job, she wasn't even given the chance. Thank you for supporting the very walls that keep the "regular poetry" followers out. I think the four of you should be ashamed of what you put this poor lady through. For a group that should be leading the way to celebrate a skill that we celebrate from the tobacco barns and lament the way that these voices are "drowned out" in today's world, you surely turned the faucet on one that was trying to be heard. For one that has always been proud of his North Carolina writing heritage, you have given me pause.
Answers: not much and no.
You're a nice guy, Julian.
However, the reviewer and I still disagree on whether the chrononauts controlled the behavior of the three women or the three women, through their respective desires, controlled the the actions of the chrononauts.
I wonder if Bryon Woods opinion of those extras would have been different of the women had arrived at the island on a stylized steamship?
Joseph Bathanti sent the following clarification regarding the founding of the Veterans Writing Collective:
"I cannot at all take credit for founding the Veterans Writing Collective in Fayetteville. I was merely at the initial meeting, with a number of key players, in Fayetteville at Methodist University. Out of that meeting, the Collective was later formed and all the credit goes to poet and Professor Robin Greene, Paul Stroebel and a number of other hard-working folks at Methodist and in Fayetteville who have brilliantly sustained and nurtured it."
Ladies and Gentlemen, thanks for restoring my faith in mankind. How refreshing to read a passionate discussion where respect is shown throughout.
Characters with weaknesses are frequent in theater; they fund most if not all of the great dramas, and it takes strong actors to believably perform them.
Weak performances, on the other hand, are more frequent in regional theater than most of us would like. Though he ignores it, I suspect that shlomo is already well aware of this distinction.
And to answer his question, not only it is entirely fair to demand that all actors on stage be believable, that is actually the minimum acceptable standard for a show produced by one of the region's older and more accomplished companies, for paying audiences.
Should Theatre in the Park's artistic director believe differently, he is welcome to state that view for himself, publicly and on the record.
Playtime is over, shlomo. Ultimately, it's the director's responsibility to make sure that an entire cast is meeting the minimum artistic standards -- and not just the top two-thirds. When that doesn't occur, a mixed but basically favorable review like this one is actually the smallest of consequences.
Mr. Brown should be advised that I have actually seen -- and signed -- my full share of production contracts in my earlier experiences as a director -- well before I researched and wrote a recent cover story about copyright and the theater for INDY Week.
Still, he needn't take my word on copyright and script changes. In the interest of general education, here's a link to an article on the issue from the American Association of Community Theatre. Licensing do's and don'ts from major publishing houses are helpfully included at the bottom of the piece. http://www.aact.org/resources/Script_Chang…
> Nothing the chrononauts did suggested to me....
> [The women's] experiences were a result of free choices they each made,
> not imposed upon them by some outside agency (other than the playwright himself).
Sorry, this is simply incorrect. The women were guided on stage by the chrononauts in the very first moments of the play. They moved the women into place with eyes closed, posed them just so, and then "activated" them by placing jewelry about the heads or throats of two and an arm band on the third. The chrononauts clearly controlled them at first, and repeatedly controlled the "worlds" they encountered thereafter: flipping switches, and turning knobs and cranks prominently placed on the wall of the set. No one besides the chrononauts worked these controls.
It's possible that Mr. Brown somehow missed every example of this manipulation throughout the show. If so, he should be advised that the facts are against him.
Of course. We have no issue with sarcasm.
Brian, I'll take joint responsibility with my dumb-ass phone for mistakenly believing one of my posts had disappeared. While I'm at it, I'll give 100% of the blame to my phone for omitting "not" between "it's" and "missing" in my third post.
FWIW, my biting sarcasm, as demonstrated in my first post, has met the ad hominem threshold for other message board moderators I have encountered.
First, I doubt you have seen the contract signed by the producer of this play. I know I haven't. Therefore, I'm not going to debate whether the producers had the "right" to do what they did or not.
Second, your interpretation of the effect of chrononauts on the "women's agency" in particular and the play in total could not be more different from mine if we had gotten together and plotted to take points of view that were completely at odds. For me, the chrononauts provided a means of providing background as the play moved itself from one scene to another and a means of providing "a less than high-tech simulation of the terrains they [the women] discover" as well as other staging. Nothing the chrononauts did suggested to me that the the women were "pawns" or "lab rats." Their experiences were a result of free choices they each made, not imposed upon them by some outside agency (other than the playwright himself).
Also, a quick google search leading to commentaries on other productions made it clear to me that it is not uncommon for tasks handled here by the chrononauts to be done in other ways that are not in the script. Unfortunately, I haven't seen the script so I will not try to provide specific examples. (OK, I'll debate the producers' rights a little bit.)
Another more open way of looking at things might have allowed you to better enjoy this production.
Disclosure: I (like Julie Ritterskamp) am a friend of the director and I am an acquaintance of others associated with the production. But, I am also an independent thinker. My opinions about this production of On The Verge are driven by what I saw last Saturday night, not who was involved in delivering it.
Semi-sorry about the sarcasm/irony of my first post mostly because it detracts from my effort to now make serious points about my differences of opinion with the reviewer.
Mr. Brown, I didn't remove any comments from this review. If one of yours is missing, I'm not sure why that is. You are welcome to repost it. We don't censor opinions, we only remove off-topic comments or ad hominem attacks.
Unfortunately, on at least one level it doesn't matter if the chononauts, those characters this production chose to add to Eric Overmeyer's script, were clever, humorous or cute as a button.
When theater groups buy the performance rights for plays in the U.S., the contracts they sign bind them to perform the script as written. They cannot legally add or delete material or otherwise alter the play without permission. Licensing houses can and do close productions down when companies make unauthorized changes. Theater artists unaware—or unconcerned—with this fact are actually putting themselves and those they work with at significant risk.
Mr. Overmyer's script is clear. The three women aren't on some holodeck. And in particular, they _aren't_ being manipulated by paramilitary figures invisible to them, who have the power to turn them off and on.
That's not a small change. It effectively removes the women's agency, transforming intrepid explorers into pawns who are being manipulated in this show's opening moments by characters Overmyer never wrote.
In that moment, they're no longer sojourners actually exploring terra incognita. They're more like lab rats instead, being sent through a maze controlled by others. Why? The reasons are never clear -- and were possibly never thought through all the way, since this change seems to be discarded by the end.
Ms. Ritterskamp's willingness to sacrifice a play's momentum on behalf of an entire audience suggests a generous character in defense of friends. But I ask her to spare a thought, please, for everyone else: the paying public who didn't go to a theater to see their neighbors, but simply came to see a play instead. They, along with the playwright, deserve consideration as well. Providing that is a part of my job -- particularly when other stage artists are having difficulty doing so.
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