Music, theater and more to experience at home this weekend
Audience participation is perhaps one of the least regretted live experiences we currently miss. No matter how brilliant a play is, interaction is a big deal for a good number of theatergoers.
So even after Jackie Sibblies Drury’s daringly confrontational “Fairview” won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama last year, some of the curious couldn’t be brought in to see it. Here’s a piece that asked for something deeply, deliberately uncomfortable from a segment of the crowd – although that would be exactly a spoiler to say.
For people who are easily mortified, reading the script might be a perfect solution. Published by Theater Communications Group and available as an eBook, it’s complex and powerful on the page, an extraordinary examination of American life and its sloping playground.
“Fairview,” which starts off as an augmented version of a comedic family drama and turns into something more disturbing and touching, is an excavation of racism and representation. Among its central questions is who can frame whose story and to whom these stories are directed – part of the cultural discussion we had before the coronavirus.
The Pulitzer Prize board, which will announce the 2020 winners on Monday, arguably had a few years off in the drama category. With “Fairview”, however? The judges nailed him.
The Honky Tonk is in the details
When I heard the concerto “Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?” This is normal (for me) when it comes to John Adams’ orchestral training. And the fact that superstar pianist Yuja Wang was the soloist amplified that exquisite beating.
But I also wondered: where in the sound mix in the hall was that layer of honky-tonk piano that was said to overshadow Wang’s own playing? From my seat, this secondary part was flooded by the complete assembly.
Finally, we have an official recording of conductor Gustavo Dudamel’s orchestra performing the work, alongside Wang. Currently, this is a digital only version. But even on a streaming service, it’s an album for headphones, worthy of immersion. Now you can better hear this honky-tonk piano (played by Joanne Pearce Martin of the Los Angeles Philharmonic on this recording) in key moments, although it remains subtle.
Its deliberately “out of tune” sound erupted from behind the imposing edifice of Wang’s playing in the first section of the concerto, just after six minutes and 45 seconds had elapsed. This deranged watermark brings a demonic bitterness to the proceedings. But don’t go straight to this segment. The rest of the work also offers thriving pleasures, the electric bass part recalling some of Adams’ more kinetic recent orchestrations, in works like “The Gospel According to the Other Mary.”
SETH COOLING WALLS
A laughable feast
Jim Gaffigan began the South American portion of his “The Pale Tourist” stand-up tour on March 11, only to cut it short a day later and return home due to the pandemic. The next day, Gaffigan turned the camera on himself and his family to stream live on YouTube for 46 minutes as they had dinner and played a few rounds of charades.
At the end of that evening, Gaffigan told the audience, “We know some of you are separated from your families, so you are part of our family.”
Under the headline “Dinner with the Gaffigans,” he has since broadcast his family dinners from their Manhattan apartment around 6 p.m. EST. The live stream typically opens with Gaffigan’s eldest daughter, Marre, at the piano, while Gaffigan holds the camera, sings a semi-improvised theme song, and introduces the rest of the family (his wife and longtime partner, Jeannie; their youngest daughter, Katie Louise; and their sons, Jack, Michael and Patrick).
Initially a fundraiser for the World Health Organization, Dinners now solicit donations for Imagine Society, a New York-based nonprofit co-founded by Jeannie Gaffigan. Its mission is to bring together diverse groups of young people to reflect on and work on community service projects. Currently, it is focusing its efforts on supplying shelters and pantries with essential items and providing food and personal protective equipment to emergency medical and hospital workers.
Gaffigan also deals with his feelings of quarantine as a correspondent on “CBS Sunday Morning”. But for about an hour each night, you can watch this raw reality show featuring the Gaffigans, party of seven, sheltering in place. As they sing at the end of each show, they are just “here to make you laugh again”.
SEAN L. McCARTHY
Big ideas for little hands
Any parent who handed a bored child art supplies has probably heard the cry of frustration at least once, “But I don’t know what to do!” Now the venerable Art Students League of New York has answers ready. Its new series of workshops offers not only step-by-step activities, but also an introduction to the recognized artists – and sometimes authors – who have inspired each project.
The program, Amy DiGi’s Children’s Workshop, will be broadcast live on Facebook every Sunday in May at 2 p.m. EST. Aimed at ages 5-8, the free 30-minute lessons primarily require household supplies, though some require watercolor or tempera paint (DiGi, an artist herself, will discuss alternatives). Participants can follow all or part of the courses, which will remain on Facebook.
The theme for this Sunday is literacy, with storytelling and art adventures. The fun begins with shadow puppets based on the designs of Annie Katsura Rollins. Each child will invent a little tale about shapes, which will become paper characters in a shadow-box theater. (Kids can make one out of items like a tissue box.) A second project reflects the starry flight over New York City depicted in Faith Ringgold’s picture book “Tar Beach”. After watching a video of Ringgold reading his work, students can draw and color a picture of themselves in full swing.
The following subjects include silhouettes and collages that mimic the techniques of Kara Walker, Romare Bearden and Eric Carle (May 10); brushless painting, à la Jackson Pollock (May 17); and art focused on food and comics (May 24). The last session, on May 31, will allow young artists to exhibit in their own Parisian salons. Inspiration? Gertrude Stein, of course.
Since choosing to postpone the release of her third album, “That’s How Rumors Get Started”, due to the current crisis, country singer-songwriter Margo Price has been busy at home. She recently told NPR that those homebound days consisted of painting, building pillows, and doing jigsaw puzzles with her family; citing music as “one of the only things that [her] feel sane right now, ”she also launched a new internet radio show,“ Runaway Horses, ”on YouTube.
At the start of the show’s first episode, which aired on April 10, Price said she chose that format over the more ubiquitous live-streaming option because singing straight into a camera just isn’t her. style. But being a DJ certainly suits her: she riffs like a late-night radio host, with a warm and conversational performance.
Unfortunately, she also took on the role of praise. The first episode opened with a tribute to Bill Withers, who died on March 30 of cardiac arrest. Last week, she released the first half of her two-part memorial to John Prine, the famous country-folk singer who died of complications from coronavirus on April 7.
In addition to filming a number of his favorite Prine songs, Price sprinkled some homemade audio memos throughout the episode. Recorded in 2017 during an after dinner party on Prine’s back porch, the excerpts are precious documents of her humor and humility. Part 2 of the tribute promises more of these snippets and stories from members of Prine’s circle. It airs Friday at 9 p.m. EST on Price’s YouTube channel.
Finding the time – and focus – to watch a four-hour dance marathon is a challenge, no matter how strong the equipment is. For our new era of online viewing, choreographer Netta Yerushalmy splits her epic six-part series, “Paramodernities,” which premiered in its entirety at New York Live Arts last year, into six one-hour episodes, each ending. through a live conversation. between Yerushalmy and a special guest. It will broadcast one per day on its website, nettay.com, Monday through May 9 at 3 p.m. EST. (OK, it’s after this weekend, but who can follow the day?)
A lively interrogation on the history of dance that offers more questions than answers, the series is as educational as it is entertaining. Part dance, part scholarly conference (but not dry), each section deconstructs a work – or a body of works – from the dance canon of the 20th century: “The Rite of Spring” by Vaslav Nijinsky, “Le voyage nocturne “By Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey” Revelations “,” Sweet Charity “by Bob Fosse,” Agon “by George Balanchine and several pieces by Merce Cunningham.
Blurring the original choreography (precise reconstruction is not the goal here), Yerushalmy links these classics to contemporary dialogues on gender, sexuality, disability, and race. Guests joining her online for what she calls “Paramodernities Live” include poet Fred Moten, choreographer Pam Tanowitz and playwright Jeremy O. Harris.