The Unbearable Banishment: <i>...perchance to Dream; Aye, there's the rub.</i>

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

...perchance to Dream; Aye, there's the rub.

My disembodied spirit glided high above the burning Arabian desert sand. The Palm Jumeira passed below me and faded into a mist as I floated out over the cool blue Persian Gulf. The air was perfumed with saffron and deep lavender, the warm desert sun prickled my back.

My wife flopped her arm over and punched my chest. "You're late. Oh...wait. It's Saturday. Sorry."

She fell back to sleep within seconds because that's her superpower. I watched the shadows on the ceiling change shape as dawn broke.

*     *     *

I recently saw a piece of avant-garde theater that was directed by and starred Ethan Hawke. I can't say it was the Worst Play Ever, but the parts that I didn't nap through were pretty bad. Vincent D'Onofrio, another veteran who should have known better, was also in it. There wasn't an intermission, which I believe was by design so that the audience couldn't escape. Me no get.

I can appreciate that actors want to takes risks and shake things up once in a while. I respect that. But my tastes are mostly pedestrian. You can take the boy out of Ohio but, etc. For me, experimental theater always looks like self-indulgent, ak-ting 101, scarf and beret-wearing nonsense. Other actors might understand it, but I zone out. I have the same complicated relationship with jazz. Some of it is very beautiful. I feel it in my heart. But some of it is just a blob of formless noise. Musicians showing off for other musicians. I try to keep an open mind. I love Waiting for Godot and that's a pretty out-there piece of writing. [This fall Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are doing Godot. Professor Xavier is Vladimir. Magneto is Estragon. Or, Captain Picard/Gandalf. Take your pick.]

It didn't help that before the play I ate a pastrami sandwich that tasted like a rubber garden hose AND it was two below zero outside with a biting wind howling off the Hudson River and down 42nd Street. There are so many elements that factor into an actor's performance.

*     *     *

And you thought you were having a bad day.

This is a dance piece. "Dance" is their term for it, not mine. I think it's closer to performance art or theater. The Caravan Project was performed by kooky Japanese artists Eiko and Koma in a trailer parked in the lobby of the Museum of Modern Art. Stuffed with what looked like animal hair, debris and guts, the pair moved in super-slow motion climbing in and out of their lair. They wore what looked like mummified fabric and chalky, white make-up.

As usual, I have no clue what it all meant but it made me laugh. The best part was watching the horrified looks of patrons who unknowingly stumbled across it. This would have terrified my 6-year old.


Blogger Gorilla Bananas said...

The Japanese duo look suitably kinky, but the slow pace of their act is annoying. Do they expect people to hang around for hours watching them? I would have yelled "Hurry up!". I remember the Dude and Walter watching avant-garde theatre in The Big Lebowski. It looked pretty weird.

February 5, 2013 at 3:12 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

According to the review that ran in the NY Times, people watched them for hours. I enjoyed it but seven minutes was plenty for me. I must admit, to my utter chagrin and shame, that I've never seen The Big Lebowski. I don't know how I avoided it all this time, this cultural touchstone.

February 5, 2013 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger mapstew said...

I'd pay to see Patrick Stewart & Sir Ian McKellen just having a chat over a pint!

The best thing about my job (apart from the millions of Euros I make!) is that after all of my ladies kiss me goodbye each morning on their way to work/college I turn over and go back to sleep. (Sorry, couldn't resist!) :¬)

February 5, 2013 at 5:32 PM  
Blogger OldLady Of The Hills said...

There are very few theatre pieces I would walk out on---but I certainly have left---Right In The Middle, when it was just too much like torture...! Sometimes actors get involved with plays and other "theatrical" projects because they want to support the writer or director, etc....I saw a film not long ago that was just atrocious...and there were some truly gifted and famous actors involved. It certainly wasn't for the money---there was no money or very little money involved. They were all good fiends of the Writer/Director....They all wanted to support him because he IS talented....But.....Oy Vey...!

As to the thing at MOMA.....It sounds and looks really silly.....I once went to a so called "Modern Dance' evening and one woman just stood there brushing her very long hair....incredible! I left after that one! LOL!

February 5, 2013 at 6:20 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

I have sat through some truly dreadful plays. Two by Sam Shepard come to mind. But I rarely walk out. I always hope for redemption in the second act. Plus, if you never expose yourself to bad art, you never fully appreciate just how good, good art is. The dance at MoMA was silly, but I was entertained. That's all I ever require.

February 5, 2013 at 9:21 PM  
Anonymous daisyfae said...

Visit Lebowski immediately. Do not go to work, do not pass go. you should see this. so that in the future, when i say "Shut the Fuck UP, Unbearable", it will make more sense...

February 5, 2013 at 11:56 PM  
Anonymous daisyfae said...

once i discovered The Wine Rack (a combination sports bra/camelback that can conceal an entire bottle of wine, or vodka) i have never had to endure shitty theater sober. it is awesome, AND it gives me two additional cup sizes. you might be able to pull it off... but you'd have to check the vanity at the door and wear a baggy shirt to cover "moobs"...

February 5, 2013 at 11:59 PM  
Blogger dinahmow said...

I'm still waiting for Godot...and I was reading the damn' thing! I know. I'm not a man. Look, the director needed someone to cover it, OK.

I've never seen Lebowski either, but now I know where 'shut the fuck up!' is from. Thanks, Daisyfae!

February 6, 2013 at 1:20 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

There was a Lebowski convention here in the city last year. All the principal actors and the Coen brothers showed up. It's a big deal but I just haven't gotten around to seeing it yet. I haven't seen Gone With the Wind or The Sound of Music, either. I'm culturally deficient.

February 6, 2013 at 6:57 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Didn't you do a post on The Wine Rack? It's burned into my memory.

February 6, 2013 at 6:59 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Is that movie as big a deal out there as it is here in the states? It's a cultural icon. You and I can form a support group. People who haven't...

February 6, 2013 at 7:00 AM  
Blogger savannah said...

i knew a performance artist once and the bitch soured me on the experience forever! but that's another story. xoxoxox

*get a copy of TBL now.*

February 6, 2013 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Kono said...

I had all kinds of shit to write until i saw that you've never seen the Big Lebowski? what the fuck man. I'm about to become an ordained minister in the Church of the Dude, (just so i can marry people and do other weird quasi-religious shit for kicks) i've been told countless times that i reminded people of the Dude or that the Dude could be based on my life and that was before i took up my study of Dudeism (only to see how closely it related to Konoism and the two are quite similar) but with all these high brow plays you attend you've never seen this flick? I don't even watch movies and i've seen it, abide yo abide...

And had i known that being pretty would let be bang Uma Thurman, act in bad movies, direct shit plays and write even shittier novels i still wouldn't wanna be Ethan Hawke, what a turd.

February 6, 2013 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Some performance art is pretty imaginative. Plus, it occasionally involves nudity and it's the only time I can see a naked lady and not have it result in divorce proceedings. So that's a plus.

February 6, 2013 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

I've nothing against Lebowski, I just haven't gotten around to it. I know! It's crazy! So much pleasure there for the taking. I'm slack. I must find out what all this Dude talk is all about. And it ain't just you.

Ethan Hawke is doing just fine, despite my biting commentary. He's not sitting in a desk in an open-architecture office with a lot of other drones. Maybe I'm being superficial but the truth is I'd probably trade places with him in a second. Shitty plays and novels notwithstanding.

February 6, 2013 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger Ellie said...

But how is your romance with your make believes? ;-)

February 6, 2013 at 3:07 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Both McKellen and Stewart are a little long in the tooth. Hope they have the energy for eight shows a week!

Everyday is Saturday for you! I'll bet you've been punched in the chest by a girl or two. Or three.

February 6, 2013 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Are you kidding me? How is anybody's romance with their make believes? Perfect, of course.

February 6, 2013 at 3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is it with spouses who can fall asleep in seconds? My husband can do that too. It makes me want to smother him.

Experimental theater is not my bag at all. I've seen "updated" versions of The Tempest and other Shakespeare plays, and other weird stuff, and it just does nothing for me. I get what they're going for, but I don't care.

February 7, 2013 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Her abity to fall asleep instantaneously is the single greatest injustice in our marriage.

I've actually seen some experimental pieces that worked, but most don't. As far as The Bard is concerned, I prefer to see them in the period in which they were intended. I recently saw the wonderful hatchet-faced Alan Cumming do a one-man Macbeth (?!) set in a mental asylum. That was pretty different.

February 7, 2013 at 12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still haven't seen 'Waiting for Godot,' but I keep hearing so much about it, I must add that to my bucket list!

February 7, 2013 at 5:25 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Hi there! I never expected to like it but it's great. It's surprising how funny it is. I saw Nathan Lane and John Goodman do it. Goodman is such a huge mountain of flesh in person. Larger than life. He ate up the stage, and that's not easy to do when you're opposit a loudmouth like Nathan Lane.

Is your name a nod to the 1968 sci-fi horror clunker The Green Slime?

February 7, 2013 at 5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I go to a fair bit of experimental theatre, I suppose because my boredom threshold is quite low and I like being surprised or weirded out. IME the ratio of rubbish to brilliance is the same in everything else. It follows the old adage - "95% of everything is crap. Just pay attention to the 5%".

February 8, 2013 at 8:27 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

But do you know what? Catching that 5% wave makes it all worthwhile. Have you ever sat through a piece that really made your jaw drop? It's happened to me a couple of times. The first time I saw Godot, Lucky's stream of consciousness soliloquy blew my mind for weeks.

It all becomes an attempt to relive that one moment. It's like playing a slot machine. The payout is out there somewhere. You just have to be in the right house on the right evening.

February 8, 2013 at 9:22 AM  

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