Life in a Day

Life in a Day, a YouTube user-shot feature video, premiered at Sundance and streamed live in select countries yesterday on YouTube (a theatrical release is planned for later this year). It was produced by Ridley and Tony Scott and assembled by Kevin MacDonald together with a team of editors (headed by Joe Walker) from 81,000 raw video clips shot and submitted on 24 July 2010 by the YouTube Community — potentially anyone with a camera and an internet connection.

A Singer’s Notes 27: Christmas Past

Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is a moralizing tale, strictly speaking. It’s one of those that’s mostly tough with the sweetmeats at the end. It’s a story you already know. It is such a good tale structurally that it has proved irresistible to tinkerers of all sorts. The layout works. It has a little bit of everything — ghosts, little children, Christmas stuff, a happy ending. It seems to me the great message of the story is not the happy result of generosity, but something much more private, the promise that there still is time. It is not too late for Scrooge. This is the center of it. Good productions say this clearly. Eric Hill, in the Berkshire Theatre Festival’s Unicorn, got this across clearly. This actor has a technique so finished it disappears. At one point wandering around his premises, he made a series of sub-verbal noises — moans, groans — you knew exactly what he meant. He wasn’t a ferocious Scrooge; he just didn’t care – didn’t want to be bothered. This seemed right to me. He didn’t exaggerate his fear when Marley’s ghost appeared, nor did he overdo the high jinks at the end. I see this same economy in his directing, sometimes almost too much so, as in the recent Macbeth. But there is always a center line to what he does, and there is always cohesion. This was a real performance, not a holiday treat.

In Memoriam Steven Dennis Bodner (1975-2011), Artist-in-Residence, Williams College

Steven was an impassioned artist who always spoke quietly in rehearsal. Indefatigable, his conducting style was something like a smooth shake, a revolving. Precision and passion are not often balanced in a person without effort, but they were in Steven. Steven had something of the hair-shirted prophet about him, especially regarding the music he believed in. He had to endure considerable disappointment on this front. Much of the time his audiences were small. He kept right on going.

The Strange World of Albrecht Dürer at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, through March 13, 2011

In The Strange World of Albrecht Dürer, the Clark produced a fundamentally different sort of exhibition, and a most enjoyable one, which should prove a fertile opportunity for Williams undergraduates and the general public to discover an important body of work from one of the West’s very great artists, Albrecht Dürer. Very few American museums can boast the depth in their holdings of a single artist to attempt this. In Abstract Expressionism the Museum of Modern Art has, with one of the strongest areas of their collection, just created the kind of experience one might find at the Prado or the Uffizi. The Clark’s holdings of Dürer prints are so extensive and of such high quality that they make it possible to offer a survey of similar quality, with 75 of 300 prints in all. The Clark possesses most of Dürer’s subjects and many impressions are of the highest quality. Hence, this exhibition is an ideal opportunity to get to know a body of work that occupies a central place in western culture…

A Singer’s Notes 26: Fall Festival at Shakespeare & Co. and the Madwoman of Cambridge

It could be a tough crowd, but it isn’t. It could be a dull crowd, but it isn’t. It could be an old crowd, but it isn’t. What it is is noisy, what it does is participate. What it feels is true. They carried King Lear out on a cot-like device, and she was dressed in white. She was sleeping…the sleep of the blessed, the first fruits of them that slept. At her side a diminutive girl made a piping Cordelia. There was an immediate hush, the wild beasts were stilled. We heard the words we have heard so many times coming out of adult mouths with adult ideas behind them: “We too will sing like birds in the cage…” This time it had enough simplicity. This time in spite of all the incongruities, it was real. There are a lot of swordfights. The text may be rearranged inelegantly, but as I heard Roger Rees say once, “Some of the best Shakespeare I have seen came from American high school kids.” Girls may be boys, boys may be girls. The young may be old and then young again. This is what Shakespeare did, isn’t it?

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