DUmb Critic Hack Award: Hilton Als on Midsummer & Iphigenia 2.0

summerseve2.jpgWe’re passing out an good old DUCHY to Hilton Als over at The New Yorker. His normally sharp and funny tongue seems to grind down to a blunt nub in his review of The Public Theater’s production of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” in The Park. While his hardon for Martha Plimpton is hilarious (and not unwarranted), the review is overrun by back history, synopsis and a collage of “like from” references that I’m sure even the most ardent New Yorker-phile would have a hard time deciphering.

But it’s his clumsy handling of war issues when reviewing Charles Mee’s Iphigenia 2.0 at Signature Theatre that really gives him the good old douche:

“Like [Elizabeth LeCompte and the Wooster Group, and of the German choreographer Pina Bausch, Charles Mee] adapts historical texts to reflect the world as it is now: a fragmented place, torn apart by war [emphases mine], by the disintegration of the family, and by politicians who offer a canned performance of authority while disavowing all responsibility.”

Just what part of Hilton Als’ world has been torn apart by war, I would like to know. Well, I take that back. Maybe he’s got friends or fam on the front lines. But for most of us, the war is mainly a psychological stress at most. Our imagination of the world as a war-torn place is nothing compared to people who actually live in war-torn regions, which is, I imagine, the most important part about war that addresses the plight of those who actually endure its grizzly reality. Als I’m sayin’ is that we should be clear and careful about how we phrase things like this. A little rhetorical clarity about war would serve us all well.

Charting Culture

chart.jpgThe New York Times, in yet another attempt to try to be relevant, has applied one of the age-old methods of scientific observation to rock and hip-hop music: The Chart.

If you can understand either of these, you’ve got me:

Next thing you know they’ll be breaking down Timbaland’s beats in long division.

Time(s) To Dance: WTF Edition

Jennifer Dunning tried her best to get the word out about the Nuryev doc on 13. Anyone watch? WTF?

Then today, she waxes poetic (as the once full moon waned) during States & Resemblances at Sitelines (WTF is with the title if this review?)

And Roslyn Sulcas reports on the re-emergence of the Dance Notation Bureau. WTF?

Bayreuth, Schmayreuth

katharina.jpgTimes stringer Michael Kimmelman (making his Counter Critic debut!) reports from the annals of the Bayreuth Festival, a veritable relic of Wagnerian consummation that still has a ten-year waiting list to get into. Wonder how Kimmie pulled it off.

At any rate, the review of Katharina Wagner’s (great-grandaughter of big Rico) enlighted much about how American audiences have no idea how to have fun at the opera. Katharina stages a hugely inapproriate, if creative, rendering of Die Meistersinger, and the audience boos like the entire time, and then Ms. Wagner comes out and takes a bow in an evening gown, smiling away as the audience’s boos verge on tsunami. Awesome! Maybe it’s just that American’s don’t want to boo something they paid good money for.

Long overdue. Really self indulgent.

List of items gone missing as a result of my bag being stolen from a trashy gay bar in the West Village. I know…:

  • The Bag, (cute gray Armani Exchange messanger bag they passed out like candy when the Time Warner Center opened at Columbus Circle)
  • Four buttons: big Mexican flag button (cuz I heart Mexicans); little button with scientific sketch of a homo erectus molar; little “Area Man” button from an Onion sponsored beer fest at Moe’s in Brooklyn; little “Dirty On Purpose” button from an evening at South Paw; little button with a black line drawing of a flower, not sure where I got it
  • My notebook with all my notes, thoughts, and random shit for a performance piece I’ve been working on since last November
  • My little notebook with all my performance review notes, Craigslist hookup numbers and addresses, song lyrics, etc; last entry from the Mark Morris “Mozart Dances” at Lincoln Center
  • A press packet for the “Mozart Dances”
  • A 1978 edition of George Bernard Shaw‘s “How To Become A Musical Critic” I had checked out from the Library (update: I found a copy on Ebay to replace it)
  • Various pens, eye drops, change, lip balm
  • The proverbial iPod

I hope these items have gone to some good use. I also hope the person who took them burns in a fiery grave.

The Trials of Traveling Dancers

airplane.jpgMMDG dancer, David Leventhal, apparently emailed Times stringer Joan Raymond a blithe recount of touring with the company, you know, as if anyone had asked.

I guess us non-touring folk probably glamorize dancers in big companies who get to fly all around the world, meet new people, dine with dignitaries and celebrities, meet funders worldwide, and whose daily occupation helps keep those love handles down to slivers–these put-upon performers will be the first to tell you how much it all sucks.

But the light at the end of the tunnel vision is a little anecdote about a British airport worker who happened to recognize Leventhal and mini-wife/dancer, Lauren Grant. I suppose international recognition for your work does take something away from the otherwise ungratifying drudgery of being a professional dancer.

Three Prongs for Black Opera Audiences

bling.jpgNew York City Opera seeks to court the black community with a “three pronged” strategy, reports Kate Taylor at The Sun.

  • 1st Prong: Cheap tickets (you know, because…well…umm…)
  • 2nd Prong: Operas about slavery (because what other interests would a black audience have?)
  • 3rd Prong: Stage The Marriage of Figaro at the Apollo Theater (on amateur night!?)

NYCO hired marketing genius Donna “Wunder” Walker-Kuhne to get the word out. She had this interesting little insight:

“The money in the black community goes to the church, to family, to education, and then it goes to concerts.”

Umm, you forgot about bling.

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