There has been numinous articles written and found in print and online (mostly in the latter than the former) on how wonderful a smartphone is. These little devices do perform lots of tasks, such as finding all of the answers to questions asked at the moment (perfect to settling bar bets), finding one’s way to wherever they need to go, accessing their favorite (and perhaps not so favorite) song list of tunes not heard anywhere else–except on smart phones no doubt, and the list goes onward. (Oh yes! These little devices can also send and receive phone calls, too–in case anyone has forgotten!)
Those above described functions are some of the upsides of having this little handy dandy device always ready, willing, and able to serve at nearly a moment’s notice that’s stashed in a pocket, purse, or nestled in one’s hand! With those upsides to the count, there are the downsides. And those downsides really don’t have anything to do with the phone itself. It tends to lean toward the person (or persons) using the device in question.
There have been countless opinion polls and reports from those stating the positive usage of phones and those that are anything but sweet. Perhaps one of the biggest complaints (if not the biggest) comes from speaking on a phone where the user is talking too loud, or forever using the texting function when it really shouldn’t be used.
This form of annoying usage comes from people using their phones in some kind of public place where others are present within close range, usually set within public transportation devices. (Bus, shared taxi, airplane, etc.) The texting part of annoyance is within a set there others are present again, fixed upon an event where attention is expected from those present. This form of episode is usually found within a performance in a theater or auditorium type setting.
Many movie theater managers report complaints from patrons stating that they become annoyed because somebody within the darkened theater is texting during the feature, making that soft glow from the phone seen by others trying to watch the flick. It seems that the texter is rather bored with the film, so that same person insists on sending a message to somebody informing them about news that seems to be more of a concern that watching the movie.
When it comes to attending a live performance, that’s a whole different matter! When attending a concert, one might get away with texting, since the band performing plays rather loudly where the audience reacts to what’s going on stage, not paying much attention to the texter–unless it’s a classical concert where one is expected to pay attention to the orchestra, although the orchestra doesn’t involve much movement while on stage. (Not counting the conductor of course!)
Plays on the other hand are a whole different issue. Here, the audience is affixed to the action that the performance of the piece curtails. They are seated in a darkened theater where minimal light blankets the audience. If one turns on their phone to text, that glowing light is enhanced, sending those around the phone user distracted with what’s going on the floorboards. If one is seeing a show in an intimate space, that problem not only becomes annoying to those in their seats, but even for the actors performing on stage.
There has been various news reports that those around the texter has taken measures into their own hands by grabbing the phone away from the user in order to stop the texting.
There was a report filed last month via The Associated Press that during a performance of the play Shows for Days performing at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater located at the Lincoln Center in New York, Patti LuPone stopped her performance in order to snatch a cellphone out the hands of a texting audience member during the play’s second act.
“There’s an arrogance and defiance to these people,” she stated in the news story. “I think it’s gone too far….Audiences are as upset as actors. It’s only between two and four people a night, but the minute it goes off or a screen turns on, your attention is shattered.”
LuPone added: “(The patron) was texting through the entire first act — she was sitting at the far end [of the theater]. … I couldn’t believe she came back after intermission. And when I came back, she was still texting!”
In spite of this annoyance, situations such as the one noted above are rare, but they do happen. This writer who attends many plays housed in theaters that hold 99 seats or less, has personally seen those texting during the play. However, this writer has yet to go “Rambo” on somebody snatching a phone away from the texter. However, that doesn’t mean yours truly will never go that far, but don’t push your luck!!
But such occurrence won’t be the first of this series, and sadly, won’t be its last. But if one needs to talk and/or text during a performance of some kind, there is the act of getting out of one’s seat to use the phone. Of course, one will have to climb over others unless one is seated at the end of the isle. But as Ms. Lupone tweeted all over the place, she texted(?) “Turn those cellphones off!”
NEWS AND REVIEWS
Rick Segal is featured in FISHERS OF MEN, a tale that unfolds upon the final moments of Simon Peter during the era of the Roman empire, and performs at the Hudson Theater in Hollywood.
It’s c.64 AD, just a few weeks after the burning of Rome under the rule of Emperor Nero. Various accounts state of the cause and blame of the fire that destroyed a good portion of the city. There was one group of people that were appointed to be responsible for the blaze, regardless of the real cause. This group were known to be called “Christians” who were followers of a messiah that performed miracles and promised a new heavenly life. Around the time of the festivities that featured sporting games in the Roman amphitheater, the Roman authority rounded up those that were known Christians in order to find those in authority of this sect. One person was Simon Peter, one of the twelve apostles that followed the man called Christ. As a captive, Simon turns toward a fellow prisoner that speaks about his own self, as well as vocalizing upon other matters. He states upon how he will keep his faith, even if this admittance will cost him his life, as well as the lives of others that hold this same credence. But his faith is strong as his will, along with the others who share this faith that they will become Fishers of Men.
This solo performance written, directed, and performed by Rick Segal tells the saga of Simon Peter (later to become Saint Peter) within different aspects. Although he is the sole person performing on stage, he plays a number of roles, only changing into other characters through voice and facial expressions, never missing a beat as he morphs from one character to another. The performance is broken down in twenty scenarios in two acts; Again, each episode is woven in a seamless pattern never breaking the continuity. The stage setting itself is most minimalist as consisting of a black backdrop with a few candle devices set within the foot of the background. Rick as Simon Peter only dons a white “toga” type outfit that suggests the standard clothing of the common citizens of the largest city in the Roman Empire, and perhaps at the time, the world. But it’s Rick’s performance that carries the show from its opening moments to its final climax!
Although this presentation speaks of the dawn of Christianity and is taken upon the nature of a few passages found in the New Testament, this showpiece is more historical in setting that it is as religious doctrine, although it does hold a spiritual mood and atmosphere. Rick speaks in modern English, the equivalent language of the “common (wo)man in today’s contemporary times. So for those play attendees that do hold a believe within the shared gospel as spoken by Rick as Simon Peter. or for those that enjoy historical drama minus the spiritual overtones, this performance presents intense drama that never lets down for its entire 100 minute running time sans intermission.
FISHERS OF MEN is a fantastic performance that contains intense emotional drama, and teaches a part of would history. One can do as the Romans do for experiencing a quality stage piece as Rick Segal presents! This show is highly recommended!
FISHERS OF MEN, presented by Matafied Productions, Inc., and performs at the Hudson Guild Theater (Mainstage), 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. at Hudson Street, one block west of Wilcox, Hollywood, until August 30th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 3:00 PM. For more information or to obtain tickets online, visit http://www.Plays411.com/FishersOfMen
CONSCIOUS GETTING UNSTUCK HOMELESS TO HOLLYWOOD, a semi solo performance by Merle Conscious Soden about her life living within the urban landscape of Harlem, New York, experiencing drugs, the art of rapping, and living a life with a deadly illness that holds no cure, performs at the Hudson Guild Theatre in Hollywood.
In her performance, the woman known as Conscious tells her tales as a person living in the ‘hood located across 110th Street in Harlem–or to be precise, around 130th at Madison Avenue. She speaks about her father (a cop that was later gunned down) and mother (involved with dealing drugs), and the various elements in this woman’s urban lifestyle, from befriending a girl that wanted to be a rapper-later taking the stage name of Queen Latifah, dealing with drugs as a seller and consumer (and getting high on the stuff she was peddling), receiving an athletic scholarship at Syracuse University, becoming nearly homeless, confessing that she is gay, being stricken with AIDS, taking a security job that links her in getting with Hollywood based celebrity clientele as their bodyguard, writing a memoir about her past experiences, getting a few film options on the written material, winding down to receiving an engineering degree at Florida International University (FIU) as a doctorate.
If the above description of this performance reads as a rambling laundry list of events, one would be correct on that issue as this show follows that trait. Dr. Merle Conscious Soden a.k.a. Conscious tells her story that holds a lot of promise within her material on hand. However, the performance itself resembles a verbal tale as told by somebody (a stranger perhaps) unsolicited while at a bar after a number of intoxicating substances! She doesn’t tell her episode the same way as a solo performer would in a one (wo)man show, but she just rambles, sometimes breaking continuity in the process if not stretching her story to make in even longer! (Does one really have to know how she caught AIDS and how the process functions, as well as having her take her unnamed AIDS medications on stage to prove that she is a carrier of the disease?) And what makes things a bit difficult, the audio and video effects used in her show sometimes drowns out her material, from overly loud music tracks, to showing a rather long (ten minutes or so) segment of the feature version of her self published book Getting Unstuck. (Not counting the making solicitations on getting this film financed!) Although a segment of this feature (assumably with the same title) was run as projected from a video projection device onto a vintage home screen–the same kind one would use to show 8mm home movies and/or slides from a Kodak Carousel slide projector–it didn’t necessarily enhance Conscious’ live performance! In fact, it distracted from the live flow of the show, although the feature segment shown resembled a decent (for what it is) TV melodrama as seen on BET or its offshoots that cater to Black/African-American audiences. And the final element that this writer will comment upon is the notion that the show is billed to run around ninety minutes. The performance this writer viewed ran some two hours–some forty five minutes too long as that stood!
Self directed, written, and produced by the performer, CONSCIOUS GETTING UNSTUCK… is a showcase that holds vast potential. Sadly, that potential didn’t appear on stage! As Conscious stated to the audience as to introduce the show, she said that being from New York, theater is a whole lot better over there that what it would be in Los Angeles. (She did state that Hollywood is better for movies!) This may be true to a point. Then again, this performance takes place in Hollywood–not New York! And since theater is better out in NYC (according to her anyway), perhaps this showpiece will vastly improve if played near her old stomping grounds. Once this reviewer sees this show again in the New York city area, another review for this performance will be composed, and the commentary made will depict a better outcome. Until then, stay tuned!
CONSCIOUS GETTING UNSTUCK HOMELESS TO HOLLYWOOD,presented by Closed Eye Film Productions, performs at the Hudson Guild Theatre (smaller stage), 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. at Hudson Street, one block west of Wilcox, Hollywood, until September 19th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM.
To obtain tickets online, visit http://www.Plays411.com/Unstuck
THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E (Warner Bros) stars Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo. He began his unique life as a master thief while in the service during W.W.II, able to crack safes and strongholds lifting exquisite goods ranging from objects d’art to precious metals. After spending a few years behind bars, he “reformed” by becoming an agent for the CIA. Now it’s 1963, and the cold war is gaining momentum. He’s presently based in East Germany keeping track upon a nuclear weapon that the “reds” are building. It’s backbone is Dr. Udo Teller, a rocket scientist who was part of the Nazi party and was one of Hitler’s personal favorites. But he has gone missing as he holds the many secrets behind the creation of this bomb. Napoleon discovers that his daughter, Gabrielle “Gaby” Teller (Alicia Vikander) works as an auto mechanic in East Berlin. She is the link to not only find her father, but able to proceed toward the stoppage of the creation of the atomic device. Although his name may be “Solo”, he won’t be working alone. Through his operative and CIA boss Waverly (Hugh Grant), he is teamed up with a young KGB agent, Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer). As from their opposite sides, they at first don’t get alone with one another, even participating in a few fights. But since they are working upon the same goal, these trio of players-Solo, Illya, and Gaby-are out to stop this bomb. They eventually drift toward Italy’s capital city Rome, where Dr. Teller may be held captive by a criminal cabal run by Victoria (Elizabeth Debicki) the spouse of a multimillionaire shipping tycoon where she herself has her own agenda.
This feature film is based on the 1960’s-era television program of the same name created by Sam Rolfe that originally starred Robert Vaughn as Solo and David McCallum as Illya. That series was created to take advantage of the spy craze that was going on thanks to the success of the James Bond movie series. This feature takes upon its own advantage of the era (early 1960’s) and develops as a feature that plays more as a spy movie of that time, rather that the TV series itself. (Bigger budgets available makes a real difference with an estimated amount of $75 million placed in this picture!) There’s plenty of action and thrills depicted, from fast paced vehicle chases, shoot outs, and all of the dangers and close shaves involved when it comes to being a spy as depicted in spy-type film epics! The screen story by Jeff Kleeman & David Campbell Wilson and Guy Ritchie & Lionel Wigram with screenplay by Ritchie & Wigman adds lots of the above noted action, along with dialogue that isn’t tired and cliché-ish as in the tradition of later James Bond films. It also offers plenty of eye candy as well, from the settings of Rome from the period, to the styles that were common ground from the era. (James Hambride provides the lead art direction with Joanna Johnston’s costuming design.) These elements, along with the cold war settings, makes this title stand out on its own. Although recalling the TV series may help in getting aquatinted with this movie, it’s not necessary to view (or remember) the series. It’s just one action packed thriller that covers just about everything one desires to see in a action adventure title that isn’t based upon a comic book or graphic novel!
Although there is violence depicted, none of it is very graphic as very little bloodshed is depicted. Guy Ritchie , who directs this film, eventually wanted to make it as “family friendly” as one could get away with! That is why it holds a “PG-13” rating mostly for the on screen antics. In fact, no character even cusses! Perhaps that is how spys conducted their business. It was shoot first, ask questions later–or even cuss later if at all!
This title, along with a few others coming out this week, makes the weekend of August 14th as the last serious wave of summer movies released. As summer turns into fall, the next string of features coming down the pike will change its tone from high strung action picks and knockabout comedies, to those that are more of a serious nature; full of heavy drama and heavier characters. These are the type of films that cater to those that vote for movies eligible for various awards. Although that’s OK for what those stand for, those same movies do not necessarily have the same entertainment value. THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E is not only entertaining, but holds a lot of future potential. Perhaps Warner Bros. will create new installments in the future. That all depends how well this title dose box office wise. Only time and return of investment will call those shots out!
Now playing in both regular movies houses and selected IMAX theaters nationwide.
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