Sunday, October 27, 2019

Back from NYC, Part 3: The Play's - no, the Acting's - the Thing --- Day 8/203

Walk:  NO; the windstorm is Howling
Distance: 0, Yoga

So, the main event of Ciwt and her friend's New York trip was Yale Educational Travel's Theater Weekend, a three day affair featuring three Broadway and off-Broadway plays. The plays were selected by a Yale Drama School professor/lecturer, sent to attendees to read ahead of time, initially presented by various Yale experts (including a budding actor) and then discussed before and after with fellow (and very bright!) attendees.


Our first play was Tennessee Williams' The Rose Tattoo. Having read the play, our entire group reported being jarred by the director's take when they saw it.  Since its Broadway premiere in 1951, the play has been regarded - and presented - as a drama exploring love, sexuality, religion, the immigrant experience among other topics.  But The Rose Tattoo Ciwt and her group saw was played as comic farce (with row upon row of pink flamingos across the stage no less).  This changeup was not well received by our group who speculated (along with our Yale professors) that the 'modification' might have been made to appeal to younger playgoers with short attention spans and little interest in the then-thorny issues Williams was grappling with.  

Who knows?  But what our group uniformly agreed on was the tour de force performance by Marisa Tomei, who played Serafina, the central figure in the play.  Tomei is too old and way too beautiful
for the role, but her acting is so alive and wonderful to watch, Ciwt and others settled right into it.  (The same is easily said for the very young Tomei in her My Cousin Vinny Oscar winning role and, in Ciwt's mind, for all the roles she's played throughout her career.  Also, would you ever believe the Tomei in the picture above is nearly 55 years old?)

Eileen Atkins and Jonathan Pryce in The Height of the Storm

Our next play was also a feast of excellent acting by two of the most revered actors on stage and screen, Eileen Atkins and Jonathan Pryce.  And again our discussion revealed that, the acting aside, most of us weren't sure we had understood the play entirely and weren't particularly fond of it in any event.  The elephant in Storm's living room is Alzheimers or some form of dementia. And, the entire Yale Travel audience being of a certain age, you can imagine that many members had or were currently having experience with those syndromes somewhere in their lives.  

Ciwt and her friend played hooky on the last play.  No big stars there, and the topic was Irish alcoholism, as if we haven't heard about that for ever and ever.  Plus we were interested in going to the movie, Parasite,* instead. 

As much as she enjoyed her fellow participants and the play discussions, Ciwt questioned the play choices.  But, now that she's home, she's so glad she saw them because the very plays she questioned are the ones currently receiving the most media attention.  The New Yorker, The NY Times and countless other media are full of buzz about them.  Usually Ciwt reads such reviews from a distance, feeling very curious and wishing she could see the productions.  This year Ciwt finds it immensely satisfying that she was right there.

* More on that movie in another CIWT.



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