Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Monday, August 02, 2004


ArtsJournal.com is hosting a group mega-blog of 13 classical music critics, including Kyle Gann, Greg Sandow, and Alex Ross, each of whom I’ve linked to many times here, to discuss the future of classical music composition. A completely speculative and problematic premise has inspired interesting dialogue as well as numerous bumps in the road. The host has invited readers to comment. I’ve been taking part, playing the role of the interested, sometimes cranky, semi-informed dilettante that comes so naturally.


Saw my friend Dan Tierney play Brutus in a free outdoor production of “Julius Caesar” Saturday night. My beloved spouse and I took the toddling dude, who, we shouldn’t have been surprised, had no interest in sitting still and quietly. So my spouse and I took turns missing the play and finally she gave up & took the toddler to a playground elsewhere at the park.

Dan was quite good as Brutus, and the actor who played Marc Antony rocked it too; and this is good, to have the best two actors in the best two roles. The production design had everybody in contemporary power suits until the civil war, at which time they switched to embarrassingly Fred Flinstone-esque Roman garb. It seemed designed to strengthen my prejudice that production “concepts” and Shakespeare don’t mix. The most memorable Shakespeare production I’ve seen was “The Taming of the Shrew” by the Free Shakespeare Company in Chicago in the late ‘80s. No director and *No Rehearsals* -- the producer (one of the actors, a really good acting teacher named Frank whose last name unfortunately I’ve forgotten) assigns the roles, they have a meeting to decide on entrances and exits, and that’s it. So everybody gets their costume together, and it’s a mishmash, and the acting styles are a mishmash, and it worked great. They were all professional union actors. It was refreshing to see actors coming at you directly, unfiltered by some director's “concept.”

A long time ago I had the privilege of working with Theater Oobleck, a terrific company in Chicago that puts on its own plays. Early on we decided never to use a director. A lot of the group had strong political convictions that non-hierarchical life was better for the people living it. I shared that belief, but I also felt that most directors were worse than no director. Good directors are rare.

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