Monday, March 24, 2008

New York City!

Got back from a four day trip to New York last night. Had great fun, met wonderful people, saw some amazing theatre, good art, and good times. A quick run down:
Went to a few galleries, saw experimental video work about women and sheep, which used images varying from interesting to cliche and music varying from dull to crappy to speak about the unique spiritual complications and implications of female sexuality, and "polymorphus perversity" which was disgusting yet playful, and did the most unexpected things with a pile of large black dildos, some atypical andy warhol stuff, some interesting autobiographical large scale paintings. All that was in Soho. In Brooklyn, we missed some gallery openings, but went to the afterparty, which was in a huge garage type space full up with hipsters and dozens of giant 20' x 20' paintings, most of which were not very good, but were curious simply because of the uniformity of the large size and the obvious unsaleability of the content. anyone who has the space to hang such a large peice is probably not going to want splattery graffiti-inspired work. Is this artist a modern hipster sisyphus, or do they know their work will not sell and are making a statement about artistic integrity?
Went to a few shows, The Adding Machine (on Jonathan West's insistance) and Notes From Underground (an adaptation of the novel by Dostoyevsky). more on that later.
Spoke with great people. The people at the Brick, and this guy from Sponsored by Nobody (a group with similar goals) who gave us great advice and contacts for Paint the Town.
Spent a lot of time chasing underground art around on the subway system. There were multiple galleries, concerts, events and activities that we valiantly tried to attend, only to discover that shit was closed when it shouldn't have been, addresses were listed in the paper wrong, that there are tricky streets with the same name in Brooklyn and in Soho. I guess that's what happens when you go to a huge sprawling city and want to get deeper than the tourist experience.
Okay, on to the theatre:
The Adding Machine is a great Brechtian musical. I hate musicals, but this really worked, because it played with the form, and embraced a sort of mediocrity in order to then criticize it. I think i like Brechtian musicals (Urinetown being another exception to the "no musicals" rule) because they're pedantic. For some reason, if people are gonna be singing at me, it's only enjoyable if they're singing lessons at me. Perhaps i watched too much sesame street as a kid.
Notes from Underground at the Brick was the best theatre i've seen, from almost any measure. Apples and oranges this play was the best. Best acting i've seen, best presentation, best writing, best energy, best set design, best lighting, best everything, except sound. The sound was a little wonky and didn't fit (coulda been a lot worse) and also The Nonsense Company (which, because of this play is now my second favorite theatre experience) cannot be touched when it comes to sound. This adaptation approaches Dostoyevsky from the completely opposite angle that Chamber's Crime and Punnishment took, and blew it out of the water.

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