Bard summer, post 1

OK, so we got this assignment to do the blog, but it's also that I am eager to share and would have been writing this anyway (except maybe I'd stick to Russian), so here goes.
Life at Bard is amazing. And I'm not just talking about the weather (or someone I met here by chance:
Yes, the Hannah Arendt . You can see all these stones and a coin on her tombstone from people who wanted to pay homage to her.)
First of all, we have a really terrific class on Musical Theatre read by James Bagwell. He is such a brilliant and inspired lecturer. As a musical theatre fan I cannot say I learned a lot of new facts, but I am seeing a totally different perspective of American musical theatre. It's like a jigsaw puzzle made out of the very same bits, but with a different image! It's kind of hard to explain, but it's really quite a revelation when you start hearing music written by American composers as, you know, American music. 'West Side Story' or 'Oklahoma!' will never be the same for me again.
There is also a broader contexts for American musical theatre that I can now feel, like 'The Tender Land' by Aaron Copland or 'Four Saints in Three Acts' by Virgil Thomson – the way the border between academic and popular music is crossed in the American culture is really fascinating. I have heard quite a lot of it in the lectures or public talks given by Thomas Hampson, but I guess you really have to come to the US and go to the theatre here to feel it. And – yes, the James's lectures.
Speaking of musical theatre, we went to see a local production of Oklahoma! here at the Fisher Centre. Normally at the SummerScape they have a play and an opera done, but this year they switched drama theatre to musical. And I must say... it's a wow. Pity we only caught the closing night (we only flew in the day before), because really, I would have attended each and every performance of this production if I could.
What Daniel Fish (the director) did, is he turned this big-scale show with a huge chorus into a ten people story, and in that he was supported by Daniel Kluger who provided new musical arrangements for just six people (including himself) – basically a bluegrass band – giving the show a very fresh and intimate sound.
They also twisted the plot a bit so that the things would be much less black-and-white than they used to be. I do realize that the Rodgers and Hammerstein bit was quite dark for its time, dealing with rape and murder, let alone the problems of territories, but it kind of lost its teeth over time and I feel that it mainly looks all happy-go-lightly to modern public. People would go see Okla to relax rather than think.
So what Daniel Fisher did is quite similar to what my favourite directors in the 'operatic department' are doing now. He made the moral of the story less obvious, and yet very haunting, by changing the plot around Jud. Or rather, by making things look so bright in the first act you get totally distracted from all the troubling hints you get, and then in the finale it's just BANG! – and the world is upside down.
I had tears in my eyes. (And thought of Martin Kusej, although is there any time when I do not? ;))
I hear the production is moving to New York, so strictly speaking I am not allowed to give away much more spoilers; I also cannot show you the sets as they are copyrighted – but if by any chance you do see it in New York, you would want to stay in your place during the interval for this:
Yummy :) Only do eat it fast because in the second act the screw is turned so tight you wouldn't be able to.
Ah, another thing that I loved was that all the choreography was taken out of the dream sequence. And it was so goddamn scary with the cast just standing still all through the music.
I need to run now to my yoga class, but this is really only the beginning, as I have a lot to tell about 'The Wreckers': I've seen two tech rehearsals, talked to the staff and even got to meet Thadeus Strassberg just now. I hope I'll be able to use the 24h computer lab on campus.
Lots of love to you all, and I miss you, and this computer has no Russian keyboard, but you do know where to find me on Facebook.
Oh, and nale, cotilina, LOOK!
And BTW (nale, I thought you might want to know this as well), he pronounces his last name something like "oaty" ;)))
Американец, чо. :-)) Как они только что ни произносят. Впрочем, хозяин - барин, а может, ему и виднее.
Сходил на сайт прекраснейшего. Заценил, да :))
He's also brilliant at working with the chorus. Like, in 'The Wreckers' the chorus is really one of the strongest impressions.