Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Shakespeare in the Park: Richard III

Sunday night, I had another drawing outing with friends to see the New York Classical Theatre's production of Richard III. This event had many things to recommend itself to us, chief among them that it's free (!), that it's outside in gorgeous Central Park, and that it's Shakespeare. As a New Yorker, summer to me means Shakespeare in the Park, but I'm tired of the Public Theater's productions at the Delacorte Theater, where you wait in that giant line to see the latest Hollywood defector try their hand at mangling the Bard (here's lookin' at you, Julia Stiles. But I don't mean you, Jamey Sheridan! You, I totally heart). Last time, I got in line at 3 am (yes, in the morning!) only to *not* get a ticket! Outrageous! I shook my fist at Joe Papp and said never again! The NYCT's production is outdoors for reals, as in, no amphitheater, no seats, no concessions, no line to wait in. There are no biggie stars, but I like that better, 'cause then, in my mind, that actor can completely be villainous King Richard III. The actors are good (and are good at projecting), and for fun, the action and the audience picks up and moves every 10 minutes or so. It can be a little distracting, but it can also be a little fun.

It was a mild, balmy June late afternoon, and you could barely hear the car horns of Central Park West, when Richard made his power-grab.

I, that am rudely stamped, and want love's majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
Into this breathing world scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them -
Why I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity.

The Queen and Buckingham making up, though not for real, and not for long.

Richard slaughters pretty much his entire family, but comes off with the big prize.

And he'd have gotten away with it, if it weren't for those pesky ghosts. And Richmond.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Matmos and So Percussion at (Le) Poisson Rouge

I went with some friends to hear Matmos and So Percussion play a show at (Le) Poisson Rouge this week. Lichens opened for them. I've never heard of him, but he played an interesting set consisting of only one song. Although perhaps when a song passes the ten minute mark, you make some allowances. It was just one guy, whom the interweb tells me is named Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe. I'd like to tell you more about how he made music, but all I can say is that it seemed to come from a box with a lot of wires coming out, which he would manipulate to different effects. And his incredible voice. It was an ambient swirl of sound with his otherworldly vocals on top. His visuals were extra trippy too, with brightly colored shapes dripping into each other.

I've seen So Percussion a couple of times (see my earlier post about them here), but never Matmos. While waiting for them to come on, my friends and I discussed the cactus sitting on a stool. It seemed to be wired up, but just how would it be "played" or "percussed?" Our only answer: very carefully.

So Percussion did not disappoint. They did indeed "play" the cactus, coming out one at a time, and gathering around it, plucking the spines in playful counterpoint. The cactus is a good example of the unexpectedness and the humor that I've come to associate with So Percussion. They seem like pretty quiet guys. They don't do a lot of stage theatrics and hardly any talking, but they always provide some surprises and a lot of their humor comes through in the music.

So Percussion moves around a bit onstage, but the duo who are Matmos pretty much stay put behind tables. From where I was standing, I had a hard time seeing them. Now that I've been introduced to their music, I'd love to hear more. Matmos makes music out of everything from pouring water to samples of heart murmurs. And it's not just an exercise in musical idiosyncrasy, they actually make it tuneful and exciting to listen to. They also seem like the Gilbert and George of the experimental music world and how can you not like that? Also, I read that Drew Daniel teaches at my alma mater, Johns Hopkins! Charm City, indeed. Despite my obstructed view, I managed one drawing of MC Schmidt as he told a ridiculously funny story.