Posts Tagged ‘theater’

The Finesse Arts

Posted in General on January 10th, 2011 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

I recently encountered a person who claimed an interesting job:  teaching theater at a business school.  She said it with a straight face, although that could have been her botox.  But I think that we have all encountered a salesman who could have taught drama to Olivier.  Marketing and theater do seem synonymous. 

And we must remember that, after every major corporate scandals, MBA programs vow to include ethics in the curriculum.  The colleges probably realize the futility of teaching morals to ravenous sociopaths; but with a good acting class their MBAs can fake the ethics.

But how widespread is the Theater of Business?  Today, I saw this job posting.

 KRAFT FOODS – Chicago, IL

So, it is not enough to make cheese.  You have to sing and dance.  Fortunately, a good talent and organization manager will have the foresight to hire Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.  When the cruel bank threatens to foreclose on Widow Kraft’s dairy farm, the kids will put on a show to raise the money for the mortgage. 

Of course, I don’t think that Judy and Mickey are the answer to every scandal or shortfall.  No, for major investment firms you might want Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler.

Irony in Two Acts

Posted in General on April 14th, 2010 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

Act I:  The Limits of My Masochism

On this day in 1865, Abraham Lincoln had a really bad time at the theater.  Of course, many of us have sat through plays, wishing that John Wilkes Booth would put us out of our misery.  Let me recall some of my traumas….

I once worked in Springfield, Illinois.  (There’s a Lincoln coincidence.)  Our state capital has the charm of a big city and the culture of a small town.  One of the aesthetic highlights of the town is to wait outside the Statehouse Inn and see the state representatives stagger out and vomit.  In addition to the unintended farce, Springfield also attempted–or perpetrated–community theater.  While I was there, the repertoire offered “The Lion in Winter.”  It was an unique experience to hear 12th century Plantagenets speak with southern Illinois accents: El-LEAN-or of Actquitting.  I only wished that the cast considered ‘act-quitting.

However, professional productions can be just as dreadful.  Chicago’s generally esteemed Goodman Theater did an updated production of “Richard II.”  The cast wore business suits instead of doublets.  Unfortunately, the Brooks Brothers’ wardrobe does not include gauntlets, so how would feuding nobles challenge one another?  In this production, they slapped each other with legal briefs.  I was actually disappointed that the deposed Richard II was not pinched to death with cell phones.

Now, I would never be so callous as to include school plays in this list of horrors.  No one expects them to be good (although perhaps the seven-year-old Meryl Streep was a remarkable exception–doing “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” when the rest of her class was performing “Peter Rabbit”).  They are just the unavoidable consequence of having relatives.

However, you may also have to endure plays by friends and acquaintances.  I have known several aspiring playwrights.  One colleague from work was impressively prolific without the least talent to justify it.  She wrote a sex comedy without humor, titillation or anything else that would be remotely interesting.  Another acquaintance felt obliged to dramatize his wife’s nervous breakdown.  If boredom is a treatment for psychosis, she now must be cured.

I have since received further invitations to even more plays by my prolific and talentless acquaintances.  For one reason, I am always unable to attend.  You see I am not Catholic.  So going to dreadful plays would not count for time-off in Purgatory.

 Act II: What If….

Welcome to SciFi-History. What if Galileo had experimented with electricity instead of celestial voyeurism. The Church would not have objected–so long as Galileo did not deduce that Jesus was a robot. Now, in this technologically advanced world, here are the events of April 14, 1865:

President Lincoln would have preferred watching Artemus Ward on HBO, but Mrs. Lincoln demanded that they go out for the evening. They teleported to Ford’s Theamax and began their standard quarrel over what to see. Her choice was “Our American Cousin”; he didn’t like foreign films. Robert had suggested “Naughty Nurses of Atlanta” but the President didn’t dare see that in public: a private screening could be arranged. The Lincolns would end up spending two hours debating the merits of the fourteen films before giving up and going home.

All the while, John Wilkes Booth had gone from theater to theater, lunging into seven Presidential boxes and firing away. So far he had killed a meat packer from Wisconsin, a postmaster, and the Siamese ambassador. He had also shot a critic from the New York Times, but that had been intentional.

How I Became an Artistic Genius

Posted in General on April 26th, 2008 by Eugene Finerman – 4 Comments

Although no one knew it at the time, Gaetano Donizetti suffered from manic-depression. (Doctors had no trouble diagnosing his syphilis.) The 19th century composer would be manic to know that his works are still popular; however, he might be depressed to know how they are being performed.

The Metropolitan Opera is staging “The Daughter of the Regiment” in an unique production. The comic opera usually is given a vague setting; it takes place in Bologna and you can only guess that it is the 19th century by the chorus’ uniforms (Epaulets were in!). But the Metropolitan’s production has changed the setting to that epoch of belly-laughing hilarity: World War I. Perhaps the opera should also be renamed “Orphan of the Regiment”, since quite a few French regiments simply ceased to exist after a day of trench warfare hijinks.

If the Met really wanted to update “The Daughter of the Regiment”, set it in World War II. There the “Regiment” could collaborate with a production of “Siegfried” to exterminate a production of “La Juive.” (The characters of “La Juive” do get killed; that 15th century setting could be easily updated.)

Some directors apparently have a compulsion to innovate. Their “interpretations” may be irrelevant, absurd or even destructive to the story, but the audience is supposed to appreciate the director’s fresh, bold vision. I remember a modern dress production of “Richard II.” In this setting, however, contentious nobles could not challenge each other by flinging a gauntlet. No, they were hitting each other with briefcases. I also endured a production of “Tannhauser” where the medieval troubador had become a modern televangelist; for once in my life, I felt sorry for Richard Wagner.

I am surprised that no artistic genius has relocated “The Mikado” to post-war Hiroshima. The Lord High Executioner could be back from a long weekend at Nanking (where the punishment fit the crime of being a breathing Chinese). And “the three little maids from school” could be one woman with three heads; radiation can be innovative, too.

Oh, and I envision “Gypsy” set in an 18th century French convent at the time of the Revolution. Mama Rose is the Mother Superior, and the only way the nuns can be saved from the guillotine is if Louise takes off her habit….

(I can’t tell if I am in my manic or depressive phase.)