Archive for January 18th, 2015

delicate-balanceI’m back after a few days away from the blog.  Part of that time was spent on a quick trip into NYC for some theater, meeting up with a class from our local high school led by their teacher (who is also our good neighbor and friend Bill Hynes) to attend a matinee of Edward Albee’s masterful play A Delicate Balance.  The cast was stellar headed by Glenn Close and John Lithgow along with Martha Plimpton, Bob Balaban and British stage veterans Lindsay Duncan and Claire Higgins.  The play has the guise of a normal drama (with highly comedic elements) dealing with themes concerning family and personal relationships but is really an exercise in absurdity as an already fractured family unit tries to cope with an existential terror being experienced by their best friends, a married couple who take refuge in their grown daughter’s bedroom.

It was a grand thing to see, watching these extraordinary talents perform this complexly structured piece.  They seemed like musicians to me, all working to bring their separate parts together into a living thing beyond themselves.  Indeed, looking down on the stage from our balcony seats, you could see a geometry in the way the characters set themselves and in the way their dialogue moved back and forth that reminded me very much of the shapes of music that I often see in my head when I am listening to music.  Albee himself has said that his plays often resemble pieces of music when they are going well and this seemed to be the case.

It was powerful stuff and was heightened even more by the fact that our friend had arranged a talk back session for his class with members of the cast.  Immediately after the show ended and the rest of the audience had departed, the class moved to the front rows of the theater and had a short session with stage manager Roy Harris and actors Claire Higgins and Bob Balaban, who played the married friends who were suffering the fear.  All were extraordinarily gracious and giving in dealing with the class and gave real insight into how this revival of the play had evolved and grown within the time of the run, how each performance was different , with its own rhythm and, sometimes, a different interpretation.

They pointed out a mistake in the performance that, to almost everyone outside the cast and crew, had went by unnoticed.   But to the cast it was like a spark that brought everyone into a type of hyper-focus.  They all felt that the play from that point on was electric and, indeed, to this untrained eye, this seemed to be the case.  It was highly enlightening and the kids were absolutely thrilled to be able to ask questions and get really thought out answers.  One even was hoisted on to the stage so that she could experience the thrill of looking out at the empty Broadway theater.  It will be a day that will live with those kids for  a long time.

And that made a great day of theater even more so.  Many kudos to Bill Hynes for providing this wonderful for the these kids as well as for teaching them such challenging material.

Well, it is Sunday so that means a little music to kick off the day.  I’ve noticed that Gillian Welch, a longtime favorite of mine, had fallen out of my listening rotation so I thought I would try to reinsert her distinct sound.  Here’s The Way It Goes.  Have a great Sunday!

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