Friday, October 19, 2007

The storm which swept through the Midwest is now upon us, and the last two hours there was a deluge. Have to say: what a week!

I had anticipated a slow week with a few press screenings. (But - i'm sorry - but i'm getting tired of documentaries! Please!) Instead, i wound up with two audits and a play....

The first audit was for the evening of translated Portuguese literature at Housing Works on Wednesday. Now, just in case you think this sounds rather specialized and you begin to wonder what kind of audience there might be, i must say that the event was packed! For a reading, they had about 70 people! There weren't enough seats for all the people. And the evening was very smooth, with three translators reading works.... one caveat: i wish they had handed out some sort of program or list of works, because i'm very unfamiliar with Portuguese literature and would have liked to have known the names of some of the poets and writers. (I'm not at all familiar with Portuguese, so when they said the name, i had no idea how the name would be spelled.) But it was fascinating.

I didn't think i'd find the Lark Theater Company so enjoyable, but i did. This is a group that mostly does readings of new plays, allowing a workshop atmosphere for playwrights to experiment with their work. The play was called "City Of" by a writer named Anton Dudley. The reading was done very inventively. No real "staging", but effective in placing the actors around the room, rather than just letting them sit together.

But (again) the place was packed! There was an audience of over 100, and it was a very variegated crowd. I sat next to a middle-aged African-American couple, who had been coming to see these readings. There were a lot of young people (of course), and not all of them were simply other theater professionals. There were two young women who work together in an office and they lived nearby, and they became aware of these readings and have now become regular patrons. So it was a wide-ranging audience, and the play might be described as "experimental" (though, of course, not by me, since i'm the avantgarde maven around here), but it had distinct echoes of Gertrude Stein and various poets like William Carlos Williams... but the audience stayed for the whole thing (i didn't see any walkouts) and most of them stayed for the discussion period after. And i listened to the people on the way out, and the audience members were just so excited at the prospect of a "new" work!

And i have to say that the Lark Theater must be credited: they didn't just sit around, they have a real staff that has tried to market their theater to the neighborhood, and they have gotten people like those two girls (one Indian, the other Chinese) and that black couple. And if you multiply that... and suddenly, on a Thursday evening, you have people who are willing to come out and take a chance to hear a new play.

And it makes me think that there really is hope in this city, that the woes of Broadway and even the commercial off-Broadway theaters are just so much piffle, because there really is a venturesome audience out there, if you can take the time to develop it. And i saw that audience for a reading of Portuguese-language literature, and at a semi-staged reading of a new "experimental" play.


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