Tag Archives: City Theatre

What to do this weekend

Here he's a nearly naked man Three activities this weekend that will make it worth your while to dig yourself out from the snow:

1. The Muckleman is playing at City Theatre through February 18. At the opening night party I asked some people at the bar to help me summarize the play in ten words. We came up with this:

Naked man,
in sand:
Twilight Zone meets Splash
in Newfoundland.

If you’d prefer a real review, check out the Post-Gazette, the Trib, and City Paper. There’s also a mysterious website dedicated to the play, to get you in the mood.

2. If classical music is more your style, on Saturday, February 17, the Butler County Symphony Orchestra will be presenting "Gold." The music will include Tchaikovsky’s Symphony #6 and Shostakovich’s “Age of Gold Polka,” and the guest performer will be glass harpist Jamey Turner, who plays brandy snifters and wine glasses and must be seen and heard to be believed.

3. And then on Sunday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Symphony will be presenting Bronfman Plays Beethoven, which will include works by Mahler and Christopher Theofanidis. Plus, "Accompanying the performance of Theofanidis’s "Rainbow Body" on Heinz Hall stage, the PSO will show spectacular images of dying stars taken by the Hubble Telescope." Interested local bloggers can attend free — see the announcement on Pittsburgh Bloggers for details. You’ll need to sign up by Friday at 2pm for the free tix.

Photo courtesy City Theatre. Pictured (l to r) Nathan Blew, Tami Dixon, Robin Walsh. Photo credit: John Schisler.

Drawing after midnight

Potato masher
Originally uploaded by cynthiacloskey.

Boy, it’s hard fitting everything into a day. Websites to design, computers to fix, emails to answer, bills to pay, cocktails to drink … it just keeps coming. And in the end, it’s you, Faithful Blog Reader, who gets the short straw.

Did I tell you how November ended, with NaNoWriMo and DrawMo and conferences to attend and plays to see and turkey to eat and all? A little, but not the final summary.

Well, the conferences and plays and turkey won out over NaNoWriMo. I wrote just 7,000 or so words of my novel, nowhere near the goal. That was sad.

Drawing went better. I made 30 drawings in 30 days. I had to cram two a day at the end, but that was within the rules. I didn’t do a great job of blogging at DrawMo!, but you can see most of my sketches and everyone else’s in the DrawMo Flickr pool.

The plays were great — Man Is Man, and A Picasso. Maybe a couple more. Seems so long ago, eh? So last year.

But I bring it up because DrawMo didn’t really end. Some of us are continuing in a slightly different format: Instead of making a drawing a day (on average), one makes at least one drawing a month. To give a little structure, there’s a theme for each month. The first theme is "housewares, kitchen things, or appliances." Here you see my contribution. I explained a bit about it over at the DrawMo blog, but in short the key thing is the shadow. It’s straight where the potato masher is not straight. This is the kind of thing one might not ordinarily see, but which drawing causes one to see. It is why I like drawing.

If you’re interested, you can join in on DrawMo any time. There are just a few days left for the kitchen implement assignment — it ends January 14. You can do it! (My drawing took 10 minutes tops … you probably guessed that from looking at it.) To join, visit the DrawMo blog and send a note to India. She’ll hook you up.

A Picasso at the City Theatre

One of my little Picassos1. I have two Picassos. Of course they are reproductions, and small ones at that, little prints in beat-up frames. My grad school roommate Sharon gave them to me — she found them in an antique shop. They depict two harlequins, one on a horse and one with a black mask in hand. The one carrying a mask seems to be a self-portrait: the face is detailed and realistic and resembles a young Picasso, the hands look strong. On the back each bears a sticker, "Made in Italy." Why it would be an advantage for such a print to be made in Italy isn’t clear; Picasso was Spanish and created his great works in France.

2. Last Wednesday I attended the opening night of A Picasso at the City Theatre in Pittsburgh. Being an opening, there was free wine available for all before the show, and an afterparty at Folino’s Ristorante afterward with more free wine and delightful snacky appetizers. It would seem that the theatre was trying to sweeten up the crowd, dispose them to like the play. Such tactics weren’t needed, because the show was excellent. Striking set design (I especially liked the sidewalk grate in the ceiling, through which we heard the sounds of the street above), invisible lighting (which is the best kind — when you don’t notice the lighting, it means it was done exactly right), perfect sound (see street noises above), spot-on costuming, excellent direction, and strong performances by both actors.

3. I should note that without the gratis wine and appetizers, I might still have been disposed to enjoy the show because I had been invited to attend free, as author of this blog. It is now my strong hope that all the theaters in the area will consider blogs — or at least My Brilliant Mistakes — as real press, and they’ll all send me free passes to lots of shows.

Like any reviewer, I shall endeavor to maintain a sense of duty and write truly, not allowing myself to be influenced by free tickets or food or drink or delightful small but elegant gifts.

At it happens, the City Theatre doesn’t want me to review their plays. The newspapers do that already, following time-honored formulae for reviews. So instead, the theatre invited me to attend and maybe write about it, and thereby to expand the conversation and see what would happen.

So, let’s continue this post and see what happens.

4. What is the play about? It’s about the meaning and value of art, and the relationship of artists with their art, and of society with art and artists. Was Picasso’s Guernica a political work? An emotional reaction of anger and sadness to an event, or a protest to an unjust act of war?


Some notes from the program:

I’m not exactly sure that art is terribly effective as a form of protest, but I do think it is effective as a form of reaction and reflection…

I don’t think Guernica stopped World War II, but it certainly was an expression of war…

It’s as if finally all the disparate parts of [Picasso’s] artistic instincts, his style, his concerns, finally roar up together in one thing. The mere fact that Guernica comes to people’s consciousness when you talk about art and war shows just how powerful it is.
–Jeffrey Hatcher [playwright of A Picasso], interview for Philadelphia Theatre Company

Does art matter? Does it matter what a work of art means? Is a person worth more of less than a piece of art? What is vulgarity? Can anyone be truly non-politcal? Is art a lie?

The play asks these questions and doesn’t tell the audience what the answers are. This is part of what makes it a great play — a work of art.

5. Implicit in these questions is another: What is art? I’ve thought about this often lately, as I’ve been sketching almost daily for DrawMo. The sketches I’ve made, particularly the ones created late at night, dashed off before heading to bed so I don’t fall behind my goal of 30 by the end of the month — these are not good drawings. Some look a little like the things they represent, some show something about what I think of the things I’m sketching, but none look like anything I’d hang on my wall.

I’m accustomed to writing badly. The first draft of anything — a short story, software manual, even a blog post — can be quite lousy without hurting the final version, because the good stuff comes in the editing and rewriting. Drawing so far doesn’t feel like that. I can’t revise a drawing the way I can revise writing. I also feel I’m lacking basic skills and techniques that I could use to make things look as I see or interpret them.

So I might expect to feel that these DrawMo sketches are a waste of time. But I feel quite the opposite. The end results are icky, but the process of making them is really interesting, different from other processes.

It helps a lot that there are other DrawMonauts, struggling to get their sketches done each day and posting them. The others’ drawings look terrific to me — some extremely accomplished, others raw but done with charm and wit. Some people post without comment, others complain about where they feel the work fell short. I’m reassured to know they’re like me, I’m like them, and we’re all trying this hard thing for no reason other than to do it. Is that art?

6. Another quote from the program to A Picasso:

To me, there is no past or future in art. If a work of art cannot live always in the present it must not be considered at all.
–Pablo Picasso

City Theatre special event: “Stage Directions”

Unique discussion TONIGHT (Monday 11/13) at City Theatre: "Stage Directions," a discussion by the Artistic Director Tracy Brigden and Artistic Associate Kellee Van Aken.

From the e-newsletter:

[They] will lead a talk about casting and directing plays that have never been done before. Free and open to the public, the discussion takes place at City Theatre on Monday, November 13 at 7 pm.

Designed for both theatre professionals and audiences who appreciate new work, topics include how an actor creates a character when there are no models for the role, ways to solve problems in a script when there are no proven right answers, and the challenges and rewards of totally inventing a play from scratch.