Archikulture Digest

Number 3: March, 2000

The battle for the Orlando Art Mausoleum hangs in the

balance – Can Mayor Hood chase those pesky Methodists off their God –

given and fully-paid-for land downtown, or will dentist Gordy wrench

this crown from the jaws of victory? Can the Power Puff Girl save the

only monument she’s likely to get her name on at this late date? Zoinks

  • tune in next month when the votes are counted and the corpses of

political careers are hauled from the killing fields of O-town!

Moby Dick

By Herman Melville

Adapted and directed by Ken Conner

Theater Downtown

Staring Mark March, Lou Hilaire, Larue Jackson</B>

Call me impressed. Idealistic Ishmael (March), no longer satisfied

with the abuse in the merchant marine service, signs up for 3 years

before the whaling mast. Along with master harpooner QueeQueg (Jackson), he sets off with deranged Captain Ahab (Hilaire) and a crew of mimes

to hunt the oily cetaceans. Ahab has cracked the whale code, and can

predict where and when whales will appear. While this could accelerate

the ultimate extermination of the blubbery mammals, Ahab has a higher

calling in mind – vengeance. It seems a certain albino with a taste for

sea captain appendages did him wrong, and he means to even the score.

Moby turns up just as he planned, strong as a norwester and not amused

by Ahab’s persistence. Ship and crew are lost, with none but the soggy

Ishmael left to tell the tale. It’s sad, but short.

Moby represents a Primal Force, something Man cannot fight with any

certainty, nor set on stage. The minimal set forces the crew to create

the space and sense of sea by action alone Subtle sound effects and a

cast swaying with Star Trek precision create a tinge of sea sickness in

the audience. Whale boats are small, and no one gets to leave the stage

for the entire show. Tuneless sea chanteys complete the mood.

Melville’s novel is long and difficult, but Connor’s adaptation renders

it like the liver of a whale, leaving only the essential oil of man’s

struggle against the elements. You can pray to your gods, you can temper

the finest steel with blood, and you can contain the entire world in

your head. Yet when the time comes, when your time comes, you are at

time’s mercy. Keep you lines taut and your harpoon sharp, and leave

vengeance to God.

Three Penny Opera

By Bethold Brecht and Kurt Weill

Orlando Theater Project and Seminole Community College

Director – Bobbie Bell</b>

In order to extract the last crumbs of money from the poor, one must

exactly follow the letter of the law. That’s the policy of J.J. Peachum,

outfitter and licenser of London’s begging community. It’s a closed

shop, and like the teamsters, no one cuts in.. No tickee, no beggee.

Now married to his daughter Polly is another London Legitimate Business

Man, deadly Mackie MacHeath, alias Mac the Knife. A multitalented

artist, he works in murder, pimping, arson, and provides critical

employment to London’s criminal class. He also extracts a toll from

those not likely to get a Gold card, just in a bit more direct manner.

Papa’ none too pleased, as running a brothel isn’t quite as upscale as

shaking down cripples. Vendetta and operetta ensure and soon enough,

it’s hang time for Mackie.

A combination of professionals and student work together to stage this

recently re-translated classic of Weimar Germany. A series of slides

projected over the proscenium adds a Tennessee Williams feel to this

portal of man’s bestiality to fellow man. The mixture of Pro and Am

makes the production bit uneven, but still enjoyable. Several players

stood out, including MacHeath (John DiDonna), the over-the-top Polly

(Jacqueline Grad), and best of all the rubbery Josh Siniscalco as Mr.

Peachum, who looks like John Cleese without any bones. Music came from

a cheesy wheezy barrel organ played on a synthesizer, lending a suitably

low-class note to the evening.

Never one to mince words, Brecht preaches the real misery of poverty,

true today as in the 1923 German economic collapse. You’re taken in by

the story, hoping to see Mack swing but in the end its you who feels the

guilt. Give a buck to a bum – maybe they’re too lazy to work, but maybe

they’re not. You don’t get to decide.

Love Notes: A St. Valentines Day Pastoral

Performance Space Orlando

Written by John Shanley, Dorothy Parker, Sam Shepard, and others

Directed by Arlen Bensen</B>

Love is a multi-variate problem, as I’m sure your calculus professor

reminded you every February 14. Opening this year’s solution at Bistro

PSO is a paean to the romantic man that tamed the American West, at

least in the minds of those who don’t travel much. Big guy J.J.

Ruscella roars into the intimate PSO room, looking for love and whiskey,

not necessarily in that order, and not too good if you please. What

would a good woman do to win him, and save him from those twin evils men

love so much? It’s not healthy, that’s certain. Ruscella and Angela Jo

Strohm swing from the wild west to the even wilder high school years,

exploring what it takes to have a first love, and even more dangerously

to express that love with the six gun of rejection always lurking around

the corner.

Interspersed with poetry, readings, and a segment from Shepard’s “Danny

and the Deep Blue Sea”, Love Notes constructs a strong presentation for

the packed house of lovers and others. Intimate is a bit of an

understatement for this tiny venue, especially with the Bistro seating,

beach blanket bingo wine chillers, and a half dozen active actors

bouncing around emoting. The evening’s finale showcased Sam Shepard and

Joseph Chaikin’s post-beat poem “Savage/Love.” With the cast safely

tucked up on chairs on risers, each equipped with a personal lamp

dimmer, they described the fracture of love, one phase at a time. This

show is certainly a BYOB – Bring your own boyfriend.

Literary Erotica and Sensual Nonsense

Performance Space Orlando</B>

Experiments, whether theatrical or scientific, sometimes succeed and

sometimes fail. This evening of experimental performances and reading is

no exception. The theme was Love and Sex, all in honor of one of the

main guilt holidays (Christmas and Mother’s Day are the other two

leading examples). The strongest piece opened the show, with drag king

Brian Alexander reading “The night the lights went out in Georgia.” This

piece of backwoods pop sleaze takes on an entire new meaning with

the addition of the world weary TV confessing to messing in the wrong spot.

Another strong piece took up a Point/Counterpoint discussion of the

etiquette of oral sex. Sexy Sandy Nelson took the point for the “It’s

not required, so be glad” side, while David MacKey covered the “Jane you

ignorant slut” angle. Tasteless? Of course. Enlightening? Not really.

That’s why it was so good.

Weaker pieces include a reading of ‘dirty’ jokes, non quite up to

Playboy standards (I always read it for the jokes. And the nudity. But

mostly for the jokes). A review of selections from the Victorian Erotica

collection “The Pearl” was interesting, but suffered from the narrator

stumbling over the words, and searching for the sections she was to

read.

LE & SN represents the fourth cut at presenting literary naughtiness to

a select audience in a continually evolving presentation. Some of these

pieces are ready to expand to the relatively wider audience of the Fringe

Festival, and some are only fit to suspend in formaldehyde for future

caution. Caveat Amator.


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