Thursday, January 29, 2009

Winsome Picks

Hi Everybody.

Ima start doing weekly updates on interesting art stuff, since Mr. Schmartsy seems to have given up on doing so. These are the things i plan on doing in the next week or so.

1. The Dig at the BTC. Going tonight. Renaisance has done some of the best theatre I've seen in Milwaukee (but also some of the most mediocre). The Dig is a world premeir by a local playwright, too.

2. Visual Arts tour Saturday. If it was summer we'd be biking. Hoping to hit The Armoury, The Borg Ward, White Whale, Haggerty, Portrait Society, and the new Green Gallery East. It'll be like Gallery Night, without the bourgeois hordes.

3. Speaking of bourgeois hordes. The Rep has cheap tickets for anyone under 40, and they're doing a show that looks potentially interesting, and no, it's not the one about suburban purebred dogs.

That all i got planned for the next week. I'm looking forward to next month though. A rare treat in Milwaukee: Brecht by someone who at least claims to understand Brecht!


spags said...

'The Dig' sounds interesting. Almost a Lovecraft-ian plot. Would like to hear what you think of it.

We got a good season ticket plan at the main Rep theatre based on those cheap tickets; $10 a seat for all 6 shows. Granted, we have to sit all the way on the very end of the seating, but we're in the 6th row. Pretty good. We're hitting 'Trouble in Mind' this SAT.

k said...

TROUBLE IN MIND is really good. Text is fairly astonishing - not only in how well it's aged, but worse to how culture hasn't - the race issues in the play still seem fairly spot on. What's worse than all this to my mind, this is a tight text (she won an Obie for it, for all that implies), and I've never so much as HEARD of Childress before. I don't understand why she's not covered in basic history texts, why we don't teach her stuff, etc etc etc. Speaking as a former theater history teacher, of course. sheesh.

Rex Winsome, AKA Ben Turk said...

Kurt, you're right. Trouble in Mind is quite good. One of the best I've seen from the rep. I find Amiri Baraka's treatment of the same sort of subject (Dutchman) more exciting, but this is definitely also interesting, and i kind of doubt i'll have a chance to see Dutchman on stage anytime soon.

The only place i've heard of Alice Childress before is a pop song. According to the program notes, Trouble in Mind was ALMOST the first play by a black woman on broadway, but the producers wanted her to rewrite the end and change the title, which obviously she couldn't do without betraying the work itself, considering that it's about a black artist refusing to compromise to the white establishment. Perhaps this refusal to compromise at the time she was writing is related to her absence in theatre history books.

I won't review the The Dig, because i've finally learned that if I haven't got anything nice to say about theatre then I'd better shut my fucking mouth.

But, on the other artsy activities, i'm less likely to be hassled, so here's my reviews:

We didn't make it to all the galleries we'd planned, but really liked the Haggerty, White Whale, the Armoury, and the Borg Ward's shows. Especially the Haggarty and the Borg Ward's. Borg Ward had lots of really nice proletarian (by Goddard's definition) photographs of urban decline inMilwaukee's distinct landscape. Priced cheap enough that even i could afford to buy one too.

The Green Gallery's show was either well-intentioned but inept and uninteresting, or a mean immature joke on it's subject matter. Either way, it's a peice of shit. Or maybe it's just "Providence", my term for this trendy art movement sweeping the country. A movement so thoroughly steeped in irony and ambiguity that the artists and curators can't make the above distinction even themselves.

Also saw some films i didn't mention in the post this weekend.

On the screen: Herzog's documentary about Antarctica at UWM. Which was amazing, funny, human, intelligent and beautiful.

Also on the screen: "Slow Moves" at The Alchemist, presented by Transmutative Cinema. I'm super excited that these guys have connected and made the alchemist occasionally into the only venue other than UWM for truly independent cinema (cuz, let's face it, landmark, rosebud, and even the times have fucking sold out). I've seen Wes Tank's great DVD collection, so i know there'll be some good stuff coming, but SLOW MOVES does not bode well. Its laughably bad (literally, half the audience was laughing). It's got all the very worst aspects of independent cinema- a dumb white male protagonist, obviously somewhat autobiographical, who drifts through life on stupid emotional responses to his own inadequacy, told in a series of shots and montages that vary from "sloppy and dull" to "pointless goddard-rip-off". Ugh.

On the small screen: rented a couple films and watched them back to back after seeing the dig. First was The Strangers. This film when compared to Funny Games, which it is deeply indebted to, had absolutely no fucking balls at all. Second, was Vagabond. This is a good French New Wave film about a fully committed nihilist traveling the french countryside.

It's funny, most of the stuff i saw this weekend drew influence from Goddard and Brecht. Half of it shared not only the style, but also the intentions and substance and it succeeded. The other half used Brecht and Goddard methods to try and make the banal and sentimental look new and interesting which failed utterly. There's a lesson there.

spags said...

I really enjoyed TROUBLE IN MIND as well. Lee Ernst, who played the director, is in most of their plays. Very solid actor (I first saw him in Richard III there; he was quite strong in that). Good to read your thoughts on the subject. It was still quite timely.

Well, I take it you didn't enjoy THE DIG. I still may check it out.

Also, I caught Herzog's piece on Blu-ray a few weeks ago. As stunning as some of his shots were, it were the society escapists that intrigued me more. Also, I love Herzog's brusqueness (i.e., when he summarizes that one cat for going on way too long with his story).

Rex Winsome, AKA Ben Turk said...

Yeah, the escapist stuff is the most interesting part of that film. Herzog's brusqueness is strange, cuz somehow he manages to still be respectful of the subjects as he brushes them off. There's the sense that he'd really like to make a film where that guy rambles on for hours, but knows he just can't fit it in with everything else. It seems like his straightforwardness is what makes it work.

erin b said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Oops. Thwarted by technology. This is what I meant to say...

Rex. Love the blog. Anyway, although I don't always agree with your opinions on theatre in Milwaukee, I am saddened to see you partially silenced. I believe that open dialogue is what we need as artists to better ourselves and our offerings. You can learn something from every review. Glowing or not.

Hopefully, that can be a possibility in this city someday and we can all start to make some real progress.