Just me talking about costume-y kind of stuff
Dallas Fan Expo
Even though it was pouring rain, again, and we were under another flood warning, we got in the car and headed to Dallas anyway. The drive was uneventful, which is good. We saw some lovely lightning displays and the Trinity was way up, but not anywhere near being over I 30. We parked in the parking garage for $15 and made it safely inside the convention center still warm and dry and an hour early. It was a great day. I got to talk to two contestants from Face Off, we went to a Q&A with Billie Piper, Carrie Fisher signed our Star Wars poster, and I got to see a ton of great costumes.
FAce Off's Eric Z and heather
These two Face Off contestants, Eric Zapata and Heather Henry, were scheduled for four workshops over the weekend: FX Makeup 101 on Thursday, Zombies on a Budget, on Friday, Face Off Sci- Fi Workshop on Saturday, and FX Blood Gags on Sunday. When I stopped by their table, Heather was busily air brushing a model and Eric was showing off his prosthetic work, some of which was for sale, I introduced myself and told them that I was really a costume designer but that I taught a beginning makeup class at the community college in Waco. I shared that I use Face Off as a teaching tool in my class. Students watch it on Tuesday and then we discuss it in class on Friday. While Heather painted, Eric and I had time to chat. Once Heather was finished with her creation, she was kind enough to talk to me as well.
Eric Zapata, originally from Victoria, Texas, went to Tom Savini's School of Makeup Effects in Pittsburgh, and then relocated to Austin. Eric told me he decided to audition for Face Off because Ian Cromer from Season Two, who was friend of his from Tom Savini's, told him he should audition. Eric said that even though Ian had told him all about his experiences, it didn't prepare him for how difficult the challenges were. Here's an interview with him after his first season on Face Off, Season 4 when he was 22. http://www.slackerwood.com/node/3541
Unfortunately, Eric didn't win Season Four, Anthony Kosar was the champion that year. Eric was eliminated on the eighth episode: the Bio-Luminescence challenge. However, Eric was invited to compete on their web series, Face Off Redemption, and ended up winning, which allowed him to compete on Face Off Season 6: Vets vs. Newbies. Unfortunately he was the first of the vets to be eliminated. He told me that he's a sculptor and not a drawer/painter and watching Anthony Kosar, the season 4 winner, draw and paint so easily, made him wish that his own skills were better. He told me that if he had to do it all over again he'd have chosen Cinema makeup school, which has a broader approach, instead of Tom Savini's, in which the primary focus is gore and monsters. Anthony Kosar, who runs his own school now, Kosart Atelier, was trained in fine art and that is the primary focus of his school.
I offered my opinion on what makes a successful Face Off contestant is a person's ability to stay calm in the face of chaos and to treat others with respect when things get tense. Eric's opinion was that people who could do that, like Anthony Kosar, were as rare as unicorns in the FX makeup business. Eric offered Rick Baker as an example of the calmest, most respectful man in the business and I heartily agreed. I shared with Eric that when I was in graduate school in a prosthetic makeup class, our teacher brought in Rick Baker and Dick Smith for a one day workshop with us. Afterwards we were invited to a screening of Little Big Man, for which Dick Smith had won an Oscar for best makeup.
Heather Henry, from Dallas, took her theatre and art classes at a community college, which is how she got started in makeup. From there she went to Jo Blasco makeup school in Orlando, FL. She competed in Season 2 when she was 33. Heather was eliminated on the sixth episode, the Underwater challenge. Here's an article about her experiences on the show: http://junkyardarts.com/in-depth-w-the-artist/in-depth-w-the-artist-heather-henry/
I asked Heather if it was true, what I'd heard last year from Chloe Sens (another Austinite from Season Six) that contestants weren't allowed any contact with anyone outside of show nor were they allowed any electronic devices, no computers, cell phones, anything. Chloe had told me that they were quarantined in order to make sure they were competing on their own knowledge and therefore were not allowed to do any research for any of the challenges outside of the anatomy books and other reference materials already in the studio. Heather confirmed this and added that the hardest part is not so much the individual challenges, as the marathon of them going on back to back. They have three days to complete one challenge so that they work six days a week completing two challenges in six days and then one day off to rest. Heather said that that was hard but it was harder to do that and then not be able to communicate with your family members at all while you are on the show. Her opinion on what makes a successful Face Off contestant is the ability to endure. "Face Off is a marathon, not a sprint. If you audition for the show, you should be ready for the long haul" she said.
Q&A with billie piper
Billie Piper plays Rose Tyler on Doctor Who. Rose was the first companion to be introduced when the series was rebooted in 2005. She's was raised by a widowed mum, worked as a shop girl, and was in a relationship with Mickey until the Doctor came along and whisked her away to share in his adventures. Rose's character was in every episode through the end of Season Two, was brought back for the Season Four finale, and did a one-off for "Day of the Doctor".
The designers that created Rose's costumes were Lucinda Wright (Season One), Louis Page (Season Two and Four) and Howard Burden ("Day of the Doctor"). In terms of color pallette, Rose's wardrobe echos her character's name: she dresses in a lot of dark pinks with a trend toward deeper hues in the "rose" garden like orange, red, maroon, and purple. She wears a lot of natural fibers like denim jackets and blue jeans, leather jackets and/ or cotton hoodies. England is often damp and cold, hence all the layering with jackets and hoodies. She wears either boots or "sand shoes" because being a companion involves a lot of running.
Billie was asked which were her favorite costumes. She said that she didn't really have any posh dresses except for the Dickensian dress in "The Unquiet Dead" which she loved as well as the 1950's dress from "The Idiot's Lantern". The rest of the time she spends in jeans, pants, or leggings and a variety of T-shirts and hoodies. A girl from Wichita Falls asked Billie about the Wichita Falls T-shirt she was wearing in "The Girl in the Fireplace". Billie had no idea Wichita Falls was in Texas.
Billie mentioned her outfit from "The Day of the Doctor" joking that it could easily have been designed for Stevie Nicks. I should mention that Billie isn't playing Rose in that episode, rather she is a shape that The Moment felt The Doctor would find comforting. So she is not in Rose's signature pinks, but is dressed in tattered neutrals. I felt it might have been stolen out of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome rather than Stevie Nick's wardrobe. The Q&A video has been added below, posted by Adam Perez.
There were a lot of girls cosplaying Rose at the Con. In fact, her character is so popular to cosplay, there are guides to buying pieces to make your own Rose wardrobe for almost every episode. I've included a wide range of them below. Most of them were found on this website:
We were there early, she was running late, on Princess Time, Rob said. We sat in line for an hour and a half until we heard she wasn't going to be there until 12:30. We gave up to go do other things. The line manager told us to take our ticket with us and come back later. We checked back at 2 and there were a gazillion people in line so we left and checked back at 3 and there were still a gazillion people in line. We figured that it just wasn't going to happen and we were going to leave without seeing her. However, with a lot of help from Jennifer Dunham and line manager Babs, we were able to get her autograph.
I told Carrie that when Star Wars came out I was seven and Rob was nine and that we'd spent all our allowance money every Saturday going back to see it again all summer long. She asked us if we met in line. I told her, no, we were in different towns, but that we'd met in high school. She thought that was just darling and signed our poster, "Carrie Fisher, from the Cantina bar". She had her dog Gary Fisher with her at the table in his own chair and all his snacks laid out on the table. Yes, his tongue hangs out like that all the time. Q&A photo courtesy of Rachel Parker.
Total cost of the day: 3 tickets $110, parking $15, lunch at the venue $40, Carrie Fisher's autograph $70.
Dan Starkey Interview
In the Q&A with Dan Starkey, which I neglected to get on tape but wish I had, he was asked by Sylvan, about the makeup application process and having only having three fingers to act with, as well as his Butler costume and his space suit armor. Dan said that it takes about 2 and a half hours to get into his makeup and once it's on, he has a lot of trouble hearing the other actors. Because it makes his chest, arms, and head so much larger than normal, he also has a hard time not bumping into furniture, doorways, and people. He has a really hard time doing things with only three fingers, like pouring tea and operating dials and other "controls" on board ship. He says he prefers his Butler costume to his space suit armour because it's actually made of cloth and is easy to put on and take off. The space suit armour has to be powdered before he can get the pants on and even then he has to have help pulling them up. Because the costume, makeup, and gun weigh so much, Dan has a hard time just completing the tasks his character has to do on screen but he says the crew is extremely sensitive to his needs and allows him to sit down whenever he needs a break. One interesting thing about the costume and makeup is that because it's so bulky, almost like being in American football pads, he's allowed to do all his own stunts. He can fight, run, fall, and jump and not get hurt when he's wearing all that padding.
Here is a video that the BBC did of Dan getting his Strax makeup on. It's time-elapsed and condenses the 2.5 hour process into less than 2 minutes.
This interview was done in London in 2013 before Peter Capaldi was announced as the new doctor. The journalist asks him much the same questions that he was asked in Houston. The bit about his costume and makeup comes up at the 6:04 minute mark.
In Dan's Q&A, he mentioned this interview that he'd done in makeup and costume for the BBC. He answers kids' questions about his character and the show as Strax. Dan does an amazing job thinking on the fly and coming up with what Strax would say. He's such a wonderful person and so sweet for doing this for kids.
Andrew Love Interview
Former McLennan theatre student, Andrew Love, has done hundreds of voices in the last ten years after graduating from the University of Houston's theatre department. His resume is filled with anime shows, which I have included in the gallery. He signed a photo for my son Sylvan, who watches some of the shows he's done voices for. He asked Sylvan if he wanted a vampire, a werewolf, or a Frankenstein. Sylvan picked vampire because Vampire Hunter D was the first anime show he ever saw. Of course that movie was made when Andrew was 4, so he wasn't in it, but Sylvan doesn't care.
While we were catching up I asked him about his career. Even though he's done a ton of voice work, he still has to have 3 other jobs to pay the bills. His day job is working for a law firm. There's a wikipedia article on him. Too bad it doesn't mention that he went to MCC. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Love
And he's listed on this website for voice actors as well: http://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/Andrew-Love/
He also worked with the Classical Theatre Company to read Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope. for us at the Con. Yes, a man named Ian Doescher adapted the Star Wars films into Shakespearean verse in 2013. It is getting pretty popular to do readings of his adaptations for Comic Cons as well as for Star Wars Day, May the 4th. Our own Banskton's Comics supports a group here in Waco that does these. During the Fall HOT Con they did Star Wars: Verily a New Hope and during the Spring HOT Con they did The Empire Striketh Back.
Total cost of the event: 3 Tickets $132.92, Hotel 2 nights $327.58, Dan Starkey and photo $40. Peter Mayhew autograph $40.
Kneehigh's Tristan and Yseult
My first Houston production was supposed to be at The Alley. However, The Alley is being renovated this season and it's not finished yet, much like the way all major construction projects go over deadline and over budget. If you are wondering how The Alley will look when the dust settles, this was hanging in the lobby.
So the entire 2014-15 season of The Alley's shows are being held on the University of Houston campus. My sister graduated from U of H so I've seen several shows there. They had a very nice facility when my sister was there with three different spaces, The Wortham Theatre, their proscenium stage, The Quintero Theatre, their black box space, and Studio 208, a combination rehearsal and performance space. Since my sister's time, they've had three major renovations: new seating in the Wortham theatre in 2001, a $4 million expansion to the School of Theatre and Dance which got the entire complex a new lobby and new rehearsal spaces, and new rigging with digital and LED installation in the Wortham and Quintero in 2013. Tristan and Yseult was staged in the Wortham theatre, a 565 seat proscenium theatre with a fly rail system.
Tristan and Yseult is not an original Alley production. Rather, it's a touring production from the United Kingdom's Kneehigh Theatre Company, based in Cornwall. This is their original work: conceived, written, created, composed, and executed by the members of Kneehigh.
This is the preview video that The Alley had up on their website, which is what made me originally decide that I needed to see this production.
This was the lobby display which gave information about the cast, the co-creators, and the director, Emma Rice.
Emma Rice was just named the new director of The Globe theatre in England. She'll take over in April, 2016. Here's the link to the BBC news site if you'd like to read the article for yourself: http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-32547966
The program notes informed me that Tristan and Yseult was created 10 years ago as a site-specific piece. It was to be performed in two outdoor venues only, one of them being at Restormel Castle in Cornwall. Because of the popularity of the show skyrocketing, the National Theatre invested in the production to adapt it for an indoor presentation. This is a re-mounted version that had been touring the US. Houston was its last city and we saw the production on its closing night. We were so very lucky we got to see it.
If you are not familiar with the story of Tristan and Isolde (as her name is usually spelled) it is the source of Mallory's Le Morte d'Arthur as well as a one of the sources for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Here is the link to the Wikipedia article detailing all the medieval sources and variations of the story as well as its many adaptations into literature, music and film. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tristan_and_Iseult
Wagner wrote an entire opera about the two lovers.
The tale of the doomed lovers is simple enough. King Mark of Cornwall is invaded by King Moreholt of Ireland. Tristan, a French knight and possibly Mark's bastard child, saves Mark and the Cornish people from the Irish attack by killing Moreholt. Mark declares that he will further humiliate Moreholt's corpse by marrying his sister, the Irish princess, Yseult. He sends his faithful knight Tristan to sail to Ireland and collect her. Yseult, awaiting her brother's return, boards Tristan's ship and heals him from his battle wounds. They fall in love. She then discovers that her beautiful foreign knight is responsible for the death of her brother and of course, she now hates him for it. Tristan tells her that he must bring her back to Cornwall where she will marry Mark. She decides that she should drink a love potion to make her fall in love with Mark since she wants to be a dutiful wife. Accidentally or on purpose, both Yseult and Tristan drink the love potion and begin an affair aboard ship. Once she meets Mark they fall instantly in love with one another, regardless of the presence or lack thereof of the love potion. Once the wedding takes place, both Tristan and Yseult are plagued by guilt for they both love Mark and want to do what's right by him, however they cannot banish their love for one another and continue the affair. Mark finds out, of course, and instead of executing them, he banishes them. He loves them both too much to kill them. Tristan and Yseult go live in the forest for three years until Mark, on a hunt, comes across them asleep in one anther's arms. He drives his sword between their two bodies and rides off. When the lovers awaken, they realize that they cannot continue to hurt Mark and that maybe the passion that they once felt has worn off. Yseult goes back to Mark and they reconcile. Tristan sails off and finds another woman named Yseult who he marries even though he doesn't love her. At the end of Tristan's life and still suffering from his battle wounds, he sends for Yseult to come heal him. If the ship's sails are white she is aboard, if black, she refused to come. Tristan's wife, Yseult, lies to him and tells him that the sails are black. Tristan dies of a broken heart as well as his wounds. When Yseult arrives at the castle and sees that she is too late to save him, she dies as well. It's a sad, sad tale.
what kneehigh did with the legend
In the Kneehigh production, the story is set in the Club of the Unloved. Whitehands is the owner of the club and acts as the unofficial narrator of the story. The club is designated by a neon sign and positioned on the upper platform stage left where the musicians are set up. I should mention now that everyone in Kneehigh is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, actor, and dancer. They are an amazingly talented group of performers. The "Unloved" are the backbone of the show. They act as a chorus, telling the story, moving the scenery, bringing props on and off stage, dressing the actors, and operating all the wire work that goes on. Everyone in the cast, except for Whitehands, is one of the Unloved until it's time to take off the hat, nerd glasses, and rain coat and become a leading character. There is a running gag with the Unloved. They often don bizarre headbands with things attached that relate to the scene. At night they wore headbands with stars on, at the wedding they wore white balloons, in the forest they wore foliage. This is a photo of the Unloved and their fearless leader, Whitehands, played by Kirsty Woodward.
Here's a closer view of the musicians in the club. The show was scored so that there was music underneath the dialogue most of the time and there were many songs. They've released two of them on a compilation CD that we bought after the show. You can find the link at the end. The music alternated between hauntingly beautiful, hilarious, and tragically, heart-breakingly sad. The musicians in the club were playing songs of unrequited love from the 1950's as the audience was being seated. The house lights were on and as we were enjoying the music, the Unloved got out their binoculars and notepads and began mingling with the audience trying to spot love.
The central platform has a giant pole that serves as a ship's mast toward the back. This holds the wires which suspend the sails of Tristan's ship, his hammock, stage curtains, a hanged Irish soldier, both Tristan and Yseult after they've drunk the love potion, Frocin in his attempt to catch the lovers in their tryst Mission Impossible style, and a crow's nest that Whitehands watches the last third of the show from. The next photo shows the dancing that celebrates Mark and Yseult's wedding. You can see the metal runway in the background that serves as the gangplank to the ship.
Here's the scene where Yseult and Tristan "accidentally on purpose" both drink the love potion and get ridiculously drunk doing it. Yseult's handmaiden, Brangian, brings two identical bottles out for them explaining that "this one is the sweet wine for you, Tristan, and this one is the love potion for you, Yseult. Now, whatever you do, don't get them mixed up" As she exits, she says, "But in my experience, a love potion is just an excuse for wild abandonment with one you already love". As you can see from the photo, being in this show requires an amazing amount of physical dexterity and possibly circus training.
The production breaks the fourth wall with abandon. From the very beginning, the Unloved are out in the audience using binoculars to look for love. When King Morholt invades, his army drops propoganda onto our heads: small, white, quarter sheets of paper that "Proclaim to the People of Cornwall that following the occupation, this land is henceforth a member of the Irish territories and will be governed under Irish law". Right before the wedding, the audience is told to get out the balloons we hid in your programs and blow them up but do not tie them. When Mark and Yseult are pronounced man and wife we are told to let them go. All the balloons were white; It was beautiful. We are made to shout Long Live King Mark and Queen Yseult!
There are two more characters I haven't told you about yet, Frocin and Brangian. Frocin is Mark's lap dog, a loyal soldier who excels in doing Mark's dirty work. He hangs the Irish soldiers and burns Morholt's corpse but it was Tristan who successfully defended Cornwall from the invasion and saved Mark's life. For this feat, Tristan becomes Mark's cherished soldier thus making Frocin's heart burn with jealousy. Naturally, Frocin plots to expose the affair that he is sure Yseult and Tristan are having, in order to win favor with Mark and regain the love he feels he has lost to Tristan. When he presents unrefutable proof to Mark, in the form of an ill-gotten sex tape, Mark is enraged and banishes Frocin from Cornwall saying that Frocin stole from him the only good thing in his life, his love for Tristan and Yseult. Frocin is heart-broken and joins the ranks of the Unloved with a welcoming kiss on the forehead from Whitehands.
Brangian is Yseult's faithful handmaiden. She desperately tried to prevent Yseult's affair with Tristan, but failing that, she protects Yseult's secret by taking her place in the marriage bed so that Mark will not realize that Yseult is no longer a virgin. When Mark makes love to Brangian, she falls in love with him, and despite the humilation of being forced to leave her lover's bed and take the stained sheets with her, she still loves the man who deflowered her, despite knowing that her love must remain secret and unrequited. Brangian is played not by an ingenue, but by a middle-aged man. At first her part is comedic. A man wearing a dress is always funny especially when he's/she's running after a real woman, doling out advice much like the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, yet failing to get his/her mistress to listen. Later on, during the wedding night scene, we forget all about his maleness and just see a frightened, vulnerable victim of love's cruelty. The director, Emma Rice, had this to say about her casting decision, "I have long been angered by the obsession with beauty and I feel, not only that this is not true to life, but also stops the collective imagination. When we see a pretty , thin, young girl play a virginial maid, nothing is challenged, nothing is opened, nothing is revealed. When I give this part to a middle-aged man, the opposite happens. We laugh at him/her, and then we imagine, and then we feel. This brute becomes so frail and and so vulnerable that it breaks our hearts. This is something you can only do on stage. On film, it would be weird; but here, in the world of the imagination, the audience can be transported, surprised, and deeply moved."
From this point on the show just gets more and more heartbreaking. It is finally revealed that Whitehands is Tristan's wife, coincidentally also named Yseult. Tristan is now dying, awaiting the ship he sent to bring Yseult back to him to heal him again. He has ordered that if Yseult is aboard the sail will be white, if not, the sail will be black. Tristan begs Whitehands to tell him if the sails are Black or White. At this point, Whitehands addresses the audience to reveal that she has loved Tristan with all her heart but that he only married her because her name reminded him of his lost love and has never loved her. She says, "Me? I have loved him wholly since the first moment I set eyes on him. but he can't look at me. It's always been this way with him. He walked on air, his eyes distant, and no matter how I bathe his wounds or what feasts I prepare, I cannot make him see me. I am half a wife. I warm his bed, but not his body. I serve his wine, but he is not mine." She asks Tristan if he loves her but he only answers her question with the same one of his own, Black or White? Whitehand says, "When we are born we are baptised in white, we are married in white, and when we die, we are buried in a white shroud. It's hard to keep things white. Dirt loves it, blood loves it, sin loves it. If one were baptised in black, it would not show the dirt picked up along the way." As she gives this speech she removes her pristine white gloves and replaces them with black ones. Tristan again demands to know, "Black or White?" Whitehands says, "The loved attract love, if you are already loved, more love just seems to come your way. Whereas us--the Unloved--must take Fate in our hands. So don't judge me. Those of you with pits in your stomachs, with rents in your hearts, will know. Bugger goodness! And damn the boats that do not carry love my way!" Kirsty Woodward gives the performance of her life as she answers with all the unrequited love, jealousy, and anger in her heart, screaming, "You want to know? You really want to know if your precious Yseult is coming? Black! The sail is black!"
As soon as she tells the lie, Wagner's "Liebestod" wails out of the darkness as one of the Unloved runs in with a model ship with a white sail and runs a full circle around Tristan. Then another Unloved with a huge white flag runs in and does the same, then the curtain used as Tristan's sail at the beginning is flown in covering the entire back of the stage with yards and yards of white fabric. As the music swells, Tristan, believing Yseult has not come and too ill to see the White Sail, dies as Yseult makes her desperate entrance, dressed all in white and running as fast as she can down the gangplank to her dead lover. She embraces him, sobbing, and dies herself. To put an even finer point on the whole theme of unrequited love, we are reminded of the other broken hearts in the show as King Mark comes down the gangplank only to see Yseult dead over Tristan's body. Brangian follows Mark down, longing for the man who unknowingly bedded her. There was not a dry eye in the house.
Here is the link to their website, where you can get most of the information that was in the program, as well as information about the other shows that they've done and their upcoming productions. Below is the downloadable study guide for students. It's a 49 page booklet with all kinds of interviews with the cast and crew, designers, directors, and creators of both the company and this production. There are lots of production photos as well.
study guide for students
original music from the show
This is the CD we bought after the show. It's available on their website. Unfortunately it only has two songs from Tristan and Yseult on it. But the plus side is that it has 10 more songs from their other shows and all of them are beautiful. You can get your very own copy by clicking on the merchandise button on their website. Their website also has audio files of the songs from the show. I'd add them here but I can't since I don't pay for that extra feature.
Total cost of the event: 3 tickets $78, CD $10.
RUsh R40 Tour, Austin 360
This was supposed to be a blog about the Zilker Park/Austin Shakespeare production of Taming of the Shrew, but due to Mother Nature's fury and some I-35 road closures, it just wasn't meant to be. I offer you instead a blog about a rock concert. Not just any rock concert, but a Gesamtkunstwerk, a German term which Wagner used to mean a synthesis of many art forms.
If you are not familiar with Rush, they are a Canadian power trio that has been around for 40+ years now. Geddy Lee, bass and vocals, and Alex Lifeson, guitars, formed the band in 1968 when they were fourteen years old and still in junior high school. Neil Peart, drummer, joined them in 1974 when their original drummer, John Rutsey, left the band for health reasons as his diabetes was completely out of control and management feared that touring would kill him. They have produced 20 studio albums as well as numerous live albums and compilations. They have been awarded 24 gold, 14 platinum, and 3 multi-platinum albums, and have been nominated for seven Grammys. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. Over their careers, the members of Rush have been acknowledged as some of the most proficient players on their respective instruments, with each band member winning numerous awards in magazine readers' polls. Due to their advancing age, all three members are in their early 60's, the band has announced that this 40th Anniversary tour will be their last large scale tour.
With that in mind you should know that I own all their albums, I have seen almost all their tours since I was allowed to go to Austin as a high school student in 1985 and see a concert. I have seen them in Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Las Cruces, NM, and Inglewood, CA. Some tours I have seen twice. One tour I saw twice while pregnant. That should clue you into the rabidity of my fandom. And it's not just me. All their fan base is this dedicated to the band. And all of us are great with sorrow that this may be the last time we will ever see them perform live.
The brilliant thing about this concert and why I'm using the term Gesamtkunstwerk, is that not only did this one show encompass their entire musical career it also combined film, video, art, scenery, projected scenery, costumes, extras, robotic lighting, lasers, and smoke in order to tell the story of their band from the present day back through time to the beginning where they got their start by playing high school dances in the gym. There were three screens onstage, a large one in the center flanked by two skinny ones on either side. Above and off stage there were two more large screen on either side of the stage. If you were not already aware, the giant stacks of Marshall amps that you normally see at rock concerts these days are all fake. Sound is run through the PA and not through a stack of 20 Marshall amps. Rush pokes fun at this convention by using various props instead of a stack of Marshall amps because they are funny guys and like to make fun of the industry and themselves. Onstage for the beginning of the show were steam punk set pieces from the last tour, Clockwork Angels. As the band moved backward through time with their set list, the stage crew, dressed in bright red coveralls, began removing set pieces and/or transforming them into different set pieces from earlier tours. The steam punk backline gave way to the time machine backline from the Time Machine tour, then the chicken rotisserie backline from the Snakes and Arrows tour, which gave way to the dryers backline from the Vapour Trails tour, which gave way to the Marshall stack backline which is what they used through the Test for Echo tour.
At the same time that the stage crew were changing the physical scenery, the projected scenery was also changing to reflect the earlier tours' scenery. For Roll the Bones, the projected scenery formed a wall of dice that stacked itself from the ground up. The lighting was just what you'd expect these days: all robotic and probably controlled from an engineer's ipad. The light show was fantastic. The interesting thing about the technical aspect of the show was that it started out very high tech and as they got further back in time they were using their 21st century tech to simulate less high tech of the late 20th century, and then in Act II, there was a projected proscenium arch and red curtains on the three screens at the beginning but by the end we were watching the concert from bleachers in a high school gym decorated for a dance with an actual giant disco ball. The two remaining amps were now sitting on school chairs. Geddy introduced the last song by saying, "We're going to play a song for your from our debut album."
I mentioned film earlier but I haven't talked about it yet. As a pre-show treat, Rush has been making short films for us. They've been doing this for the last several tours now. Their films are always funny and make fun of themselves. The Time Machine tour film, The Real History of Rush, was especially funny with Geddy playing the Italian owner of a diner, Gershon's Haus of Sausage, Alex as an obese sausage-eating mad scientist with a time machine, and Neil as O'Malley, an Irish cop. All of them wear silly costumes and even sillier moustaches. Younger versions of themselves, dressed in lederhosen, are called Rash and are a polka band, with "Alex" playing an accordion and "Geddy" playing a tuba. Alex uses his time machine to "help" the boys find a new sound as it takes them forward through time from polka to country to disco to the prog rock band they were when they recorded Spirit of Radio in 1979. As the pre-show film ends, the band takes their places and starts the show. For R40, they gave us a pre-show film, an intermission film, and a post-show film. The pre-show film is animated and takes a time machine approach where their characters change costumes and moustaches as they go forward through time to arrive in Austin. There are a ton of references to their albums, song titles, and personal lives. The intermission film is just a bunch of outtakes and bloopers from their previous films for the Clockwork Angels, Time Machine, Snakes and Arrows, and R30 tours. The post-show film is what supposedly happens after they leave the stage. They are "not on the list" for the after party being held by their album art characters in their own dressing rooms. I've included all three videos below thanks to edgeofthewind's youtube channel.
pre-show short film
intermission short film
post-show short film
set list from the Austin 360 show
Video/Animation Vignette:The World Is...The World Is
The Main Monkey Business
How It Is
Roll the Bones
Between the Wheels
Video/Animation Vignette: No Country for Old Hens
The Camera Eye
The Spirit of Radio
Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres Part I: Prelude
Cygnus X-1 (The Voyage Part 1 & 3 with Neil Peart drum solo)
Closer to the Heart
2112 Part I: Overture
2112 Part II: The Temples of Syrinx
2112 Part IV: Presentation
2112 Part VII: Grand Finale
What You're Doing
Working Man (with "Garden Road" outro)
the entire concert
If you want to see the entire show, all 3 hours, here is the link to edgeofthewind's channel. She includes pre-show, intermission, and post-show footage. It's an incredibly complete-ist documentation of the experience.
Total cost of the event: 2 tickets $100.
Sense and Sensibility
I was excited to see the Dallas Theatre Center's production of Sense and Sensibility for a couple of reason. First, my friend and fellow Aggie Player, Christie Vela, was playing Mrs. Dashwood. Second, having never been to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Kalita Humphreys Theatre, and as I was a big fan of Falling Water, I was excited to see this historic building. The outside was just as I imagined, cantilevered with no ninety degree angles. Frank Lloyd Wright may have had a brilliant and original vision for the outside of the building but the inside is a practical mess. The lobby is elegant with gold Art Deco columns. The interior of the house was upholstered in red velvet cushions and red carpet but the seats were so close together I felt like I was sitting on top of my husband rather than next to him. The worst part of the experience was a trek to the bathroom at intermission which was a hellish nightmare. FLW completely ignored traffic flow. The line to the bathrooms snakes down a narrow spiral staircase and into a claustrophobic hallway. The only doors to both the women's and men's bathrooms were right next to each other at the end of the hallway. Getting in and out of either of the bathrooms felt like walking the corridors of a WWII submarine.
After the show, Christie led me on a tour of the backstage areas and it is clear that the lack of space in the dressing rooms, the green room, and the wings, make for a difficult time for the actors and crew to get around and get their work done. Christie said that when the building was in process FLW insisted that there should be no elevator. He built a ramp from the loading dock door up to the stage area. Anecdotal stories say that the minute FLW left the work site, a freight elevator was installed to lift scenery up to the stage. When FLW came back for the opening, the elevator was hidden by a piece of scenery. Later, the ramp was turned into stairs. Christie also told me that although the building is now a historic landmark for the city of Dallas, they have not been doing due diligence to maintain it. The carpets were threadbare in spots, the columns were chipped, the fountain wasn't working. The whole place just seems sad and run-down, which is unfortunate. I completely understand why the Wyly Theatre was built and now houses most of the DTC season.
However, despite the ridiculous and impractical design of the backstage areas of the theatre, the production didn't suffer. The direction, design, and acting were superb. The designers were all USA members imported from New York. Many members of the cast were Equity members. The fresh, new adaptation by Kate Hamill was fast-paced and full of dramatic action rather than the word-heavy exposition-laden versions currently available. The costume design was both clever and elaborately detailed. I was thrilled when I discovered that the DTC had produced a video of the costume designer, Moira Clinton, talking about her work. The show runs through May 24. I would highly encourage you to reserve your tickets now.
Seams and sensibility
Before the play, Christy Vela gives a free, 30 minute talk sharing her research and love of Jane Austen's life, novels, and the impact her work had on her contemporaries and still has today. After the performance, Daniel Duque-Estrada and various other actors host a conversation about the performance. Christie and Daniel are both members of Actors' Equity Association as well as Brierley Resident Acting Company members.
An interview with Costume Designer, Moria Clinton. Moria is a member of the United Scenic Artists Union and works professionally in New York. She graduated from the Yale School of Drama.
Meet the dashwood sisters
An interview with Laura Gragtmans and Morgan Laure who play Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. Laura is a member of Actor's Equity. Morgan is a student at SMU Meadows School of the Arts.
DTC's Study guide
This is a free download for teachers to use in their classrooms provided by the Dallas Theatre Center and available on their website.
Total cost of the event: Tickets $59.
Free Comic Book Day
As usual, we had a great time at Bankston's. This year was special because it was Bankston's 30th Anniversary and they were giving away a ton of cool prizes. Rob won an original run of STAR WARS stamps and a Hulk poster. We also got extra free comic books for coming as a family in costume. And, because we were there early, we got a free limited edition poster of the Bankston's family drawn by Greg Peters, the guy that does Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain, and autographed by the Bankston's guys.