The New York Times recently presented a news story about Thomas Painter, a hydrologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. He is in charge of the Airborne Snow Observatory, mapping out snow caps in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. He flies an instrument-bearing airplane that checks out the snow falls that cover those areas. If he’s not flying over the mountains, he’s on the ground using various devices that measure out how much snow fall is over those peaks. He works some eighty hours a week doing what he does. When asked how he manages to work those long hours pinpointing how much snow is present to keep the water drought in line, he just stated, “It’s so much fun!”
In last week’s issue (Vol. 22-No. 14), yours truly made a few notes on one’s happiness levels. Among the many comments made over how one can be happy within their personal domains, one form of happiness is based on what one does for a living, or at least as an occupation. Many folks do a job of some sort based on need and/or through circumstance. Others will perform a task for the same reasons, but get themselves engaged in a job that they find as a pleasure, a joy to do, or even “fun”! Working some eighty hours a week on one job may seem like a lot. But if one is enjoying every minute of it, that amount of time is just a drop in the bucket!
But there are a few folks that don’t see their job is fun! What they do for a paycheck (assuming that these working stiffs are getting some scratch), may be routine, dull, or downright boring! The Gallup Polls generally asks the status on work and employment. As of this writing, Gallup reports that 33.04% of those asked noted that they are engaged in their jobs, while 45.2% said that there are good jobs available. That must be true, since the Economic Confidence Index stands are +4. Compare that level to what is was some nine years ago around this season when it was at -47 and eventually falling further! And during at that time, people became somewhat pleased in their work. Not so much in what they did, but being happy that they still has their jobs!
But those so-called “good old days” are dead and gone. The job market and everything that goes along with it is coming in on a roll! Many employers are having a tough time looking for workers! And those workers are not having the same trouble in finding that work, although they may be a few that are taking a bit longer than others seeking for those jobs!
But getting back to the notion of enjoying one’s employment. This reporter is pleased to note that I’m having better moments in what I do for work. As some of you readers may know, I deal in the preservation of both still and moving imagery. One assignment I have partaken in is to digitize a huge collection of television programs recored off the air on videotape back in the 1970’s, a few years before the VCR craze hit the general public. These recordings will eventually be transferred to a well respected media archive based in New York where they will become accessible to anyone who has the desire to view them for the first time, of the first time in years! (That is what preservation is all about–making everything accessible!) Since digitizing moving imagery has to be done in real time (i.e. an hour-long program will take a minimum of one hour to complete), imagine performing that assignment 2000+ times over! It’s enough work to keep me busy for weeks, perhaps for months! With everything that has to be done, the question remains. Will it bother me in performing everything for all of those days, weeks, and months? Maybe even working seven days a week, especially for the scratch that I will get to complete that task? That answer is simply the same as Mr. Painter’s comment on checking snow cap levels on northern California mountain tops. “It’s so much fun!”
I would be pleased to continue writing here, but it’s time to end this column to get to my other job. Now I’m going to digitize selected episodes of The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder. (c.1974-77). So as the late Tom would say “Gooood night everybody!”
NEWS AND REVIEWS
Performing at the Wallis Anneberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills is the west coast premier of Simon McBurney’s THE ENCOUNTER, a solo performance that tells the true tale of Loren McIntyre, a photographer on assignment for National Geographic magazine who stumbles upon a hidden tribe deep within the jungles of Brazil that changes his purpose of being within that region.
In this performance, Simon starts out in a humble mode, telling the audience how he will present his spin of this remarkable tale. He first notes upon his five year old daughter Noma back in his home town in London, then carries that same audience to the time in 1969 when Loren arrives to a deep remote part of South America to take photographs of the native tribes that reside in that part of the world. As he arrives by plane using the local river to guild him in, Loren, armed with his camping supplies along with a Minolta camera and film stock, is set to take the photo images that really matter for its NatGeo subscribers. But Loren meets up with the natives, only to become part of their existence through circumstances that blend between natural and those set up within his mind. Simon expresses these matters using not only his actions and words, but through sound!
This element of sound is what makes up the bulk of the true meanings of this performance. Taking advantage of advanced audio technology, Simon speaks using various mics placed throughout within what is nearly a barren stage. Within the center of the stage, a head shaped figure is set on a stand. This “head” is really a surround mic device that captures such sounds as if one would hear those noises through natural acoustics. To hear those sound naturally by the audience, each theatre seat is equipped with a headphone. This advanced audio system developed by Sennheiser, is what can be referred to as “3D audio”, where one hears these sounds is a 360 degree method. What the audience really hears is Simon, speaking as narrator (his unfiltered voice), and Loren (a deep sounding electronically altered spoken vocal), along with sound effects, atmospheric music cues, and various voices that mimic much of what Loren encountered among these tribes and what he discovered within the hidden jungles of Brazil.
Simon creates a high energy concept in telling the episodes that started to be a remote photo shoot to a mind alternating “acid-esque trip” that few (if any) will ever experience. Simon, using his words, sounds, and actions, takes inspiration to the book title The Encounter: Amazon Beaming by Petru Popescu, who was able to transcribe much of Loren’s memoir of this journey. Simon himself never had any opportunity to meet Loren in person, but his perception of this man and this remarkable encounter (thus, the title of this performance) stands out through his interpretation by way of articulated patterns and audio effects.
Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin provides the audio effects for this single act show, engineered by Samantha Broomfield, Laura Hammond, and Amir Sherhan. This team of audio managers creates the real backbone to what would normally stand as a solo show featuring a single performer attempting to take somebody’s words to make it as their own, without the standard autobiographical hash-out! In fact, this showcase can be seen and heard as an illustrated radio performance. It’s quite possible to even close one’s eyes to really “see” the saga of a working journalist from the western world to a space that time and civilization nearly forgot!
Simon not only performs this show, he also directs. And these directions lasts a near two hours running time. This means it’s Simon all the way! And after those 120 minutes (give or take) pass, one can be convinced that through the audio, the audience member was really there with Lorne and his movements nestled in the deep brush forests and jungles–A far cry to what would eventually wind up (or not) within the pages of a magazine that would otherwise remain on home book shelves for generations. That is, until somebody finally gets around to tossing those magazines in the recycle bin!
THE ENCOUNTER, presented by Complicite, and performs at the Wallis Anneberg Center for the Performing Arts’ Bram Goldsmith Theatre, 9390 North Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, until April 16th. Showtimes are Tuesday through Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, with matinees on Saturday and Sundays at 2:00 PM. For ticket reservations or for more information, call (310) 746-4000, or via online at http://www.TheWallis.org/Encounter
Broads’ Word Ensemble presents the west coast premier of Barbara Kahn’s THE LADY WAS A GENTLEMAN, a play about one of the better known actresses of the 19th century and the people that she loved, both onstage and off.
The year is 1858. The place is St. Louis, Missouri. The actress is Charlotte Cushman (Dawn Alden), a celebrated thespian of her time. She lives with her spouse, a noted sculptor, in Rome. She’s presently in St. Louis on one of her “farewell” tours in a production of Romero & Juliet where he performs as Romero–a notion when females would perform in male roles. Her right hand woman, Sallie Mercer (Sonja Inge) is a “colored” free and refined woman from Philadelphia. Cushman becomes involved at the same time with hardy frontier gal Jane Partridge (Lacy Altwine), who believes that she has marginalized the affections of Marie Louise Yvette L’Amour (Chantal Thuy) the daughter of St. Louis’ leading citizen, who has developed an emotional crush on her; and her Juliet, who can’t really separate Cushman’s onstage Romeo from her offstage character.
This play focus upon a leading actress of her era whose personal choice was something that was never acknowledged. Although Charlotte Cushman was respected as an actress, her inner feelings toward women as a lifestyle was a matter the was closed and never openly spoken upon. However, it did exist. Perhaps this is why Cushman became “forgotten” over time. The play itself as written by playwright Barbara Kuhn has its plot point and dialogue that goes along with it set within a rather tight fashion. It never fully emphases how the characters feel toward one another, but the actions and illusions are ever present. The cast of performers that also include Maikiko James and Tara Donovan, play their roles in a well developed technique. Kate Motzenbacker directs this program that moves rather well on the theatre’s intimate stage set. Danielle Ozymandias’ costuming is of the period that features a cross between a “southern” look with a bit of the pioneer feel to it all. (St. Louis was considered as the “gateway to the west”, as well as not being too far removed from American southern culture.)
THE LADY WAS A GENTLEMAN perfectly describes the well known actress it speaks about that faded from view over the generations. In today’s era, what is fully respected is the sense of acting on stage, and the lifestyle a selected number of people take to choose for themselves.
THE LADY WAS A GENTLEMAN, presented by Broads’ Word Ensemble, and performs at the Dorie Theatre at The Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd. (at Wilcox),
Hollywood, until April 29th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM. Additional performances take place Monday, April 17th, and Thursday, April 27th at 8:00 PM, and Sunday evening, April 23rd at 7:00 PM. For ticket reservations or for more information, visit online at http://BroadsWordEnsemble.com/ or
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