The Tale of Pearl and Edmond
Live Arts: The Teen Theater Team
Through May 20
Live Arts: The Teen Theater Team consists of directors Daria Okugawa and John Gibson, producer Geri Schirmer, and 11 local teens who made a long-term commitment to study various aspects of theater craft. The Tale of Pearl and Edmond, a lavish, intricate, unpredictable concoction inspired by the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, and written by the teens themselves, is the culmination of months of hard work. The cast takes turns reading the story, while the others bring the dialogue and details to life.
The Brothers Grimm might seem like the wrong choice for a teen theater ensemble—too archaic; not cutting-edge enough. Approached from another angle, however, it makes complete sense. These days, it would seem that teens (and everyone else, for that matter) could benefit from a shot of old-fashioned narrative, far removed from the spasmodic visuals of MTV, and several steps removed from the soap operatic flow of “The OC” and the stale dead-body-to-forensic-solution routine of “CSI.”
Specifically for thespians, rehearsing and performing a linear story is an excellent way to practice and demonstrate acting skills, as the challenges it presents are greater than, say, a contemporary piece that reflects the slackness of everyday life and employs random, reality TV-like banter. All of the teens must heft Pearl and Edmond onto their shoulders, and really communicate to the audience with a commanding voice and a strong physical presence (everything from subtle gestures to walking like an old woman to acting like a goat with no props except a little fake beard).
Pearl and Edmond isn’t just a play—it’s a veritable feast of the key aspects of theater arts: how to construct a detailed work of art that continually moves forward; how to create a seamless way of working together that feels grounded in improvisation and experimentation; how to master effective vocal work; how to use one’s body, and so much more. If The Teen Theater Team itself were the subject of a fairy tale, the tale would definitely have a happy ending—and middle, and beginning.—Doug Nordfors
PQ: The Brothers Grimm might seem like the wrong choice for a teen theater ensemble—too archaic; not cutting-edge enough. Approached from another angle, however, it makes complete sense.
Tuesday, May 9
After having him described to me as an Irish acoustic-guitar troubadour, I was unsure of what to expect from singer/songwriter Luka Bloom at Gravity Lounge on Tuesday night. Hailing from Newbridge, Ireland, and with over 36 years of touring experience under his belt, Luka put on a remarkable show filled with genuine passion and glory. Before 1987, Luka was known as Barry Moore, and changed his name after a trip to the U.S.
It’s one of the simple, great life experiences to walk into a music hall having never heard the artist before, and to be completely blown away. Luka’s songs are filled with stories of war, love, solitude, soul shine and life. He captured the moment with each song, and without cue often got the audience singing the chorus. In one song about mermaids, the women in the audience did a sweat “ooo, aaah” that recalled Homer’s sirens calling the men ashore.
His musical dexterity was not perfect, but he had impeccable timing of his chords, as well as an incredible range in his voice. The lower timbre sounded much like Lou Reed, while his high near-falsetto reminded me of David Gray. He switched guitars throughout the night, from a straight acoustic to semi-electric that had a sweet and mesmerizing delay. He was also constantly talking and engaging the audience, and performed three encores well past the bedtime of most of the folk-loving crowd at Gravity Lounge.
Having been truly inspired, I picked up his latest album, Innocence, which Luka graciously signed. (A nice perq for a Tuesday-night small town show.) The album doesn’t quite capture his live sound or feeling, but it showcases his love for humanity, and his thirst for all of life’s experiences and wonder.
Incidentally, I had the chance to ask Luka about the “Irish troubadour” moniker, and he replied “I’m happy with that.” Well, I was equally happy with him and his performance—and it seems that the world is a bit happier, as well. —Bjorn Turnquist
PQ: It’s one of the simple, great life experiences to walk into a music hall having never heard the artist before, and to be completely blown away.
By Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen
Marvel Comics, 22 pages, monthly
Here’s the opening passage to Nextwave No. 2:
“Why do monsters eat people? Human beings are mostly water. Their tissues and fluids retain flavors and other residues from their food. Their bones have a brittle quality. Their skin is warm and pliant. Thirst-quenching, well-seasoned, crunchy and yet chewy: People are the Elvis of snack food.”
This deep thought is in reference to a 20-storey, purple-underpants-wearing Chinese dragon named Fin Fang Foom, who is rampaging through the town of Abcess, North Carolina. When confronted by one of our heroines, he grabs her and tries to stuff her in his pants.
This is why I love Nextwave.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more twisted—or creative—maniac writing comic books today than Warren Ellis. Thankfully, he uses his creative powers for good, not evil (mostly), and over the past decade has been responsible for seminal works like Transmetropolitan, The Authority and Planetary.
Add this delightfully gonzo series to those ranks. The concept is simple: Five D-list superheroes team up to take down H.A.T.E., an anti-terrorism organization that’s actually a cover for a real terrorist network deploying UWMDs (Unusual Weapons of Mass Destruction) throughout America. Hence the Chinese dragon. But rather than just another boring team book (*cough*New Avengers*cough*) Nextwave revels in the absurdities of mainstream superhero comics.
Consider Aaron Stack, the robot formerly codenamed Machine Man. Previously he was so boring that I think even Marvel forgot he existed. Here, he’s a grumpy, sexually inappropriate letch who frequently calls for the death of the “fleshy ones,” even as he saves their necks. And Captain XXXX (his name is too inappropriate to be mentioned directly) is a lazy drunk who’s been given fantastic powers by misguided space aliens. (For comic geeks, the other three team members are monster-hunter Elsa Bloodstone, energy-casting ex-Avenger Monica Rambeau and the New Mutant formerly known as Boom Boom.)
The refreshing anything-goes vibe translates into the art by Stuart Immonen, who continues to develop into a true artist’s artist. On certain projects, like the recent Superman: Secret Identity mini, his work is practically photorealistic—really breathtaking stuff. Here, however, he lets loose, throwing out all the conventions, and the characters take on a cartoonish—but no less detailed or stunning—look. It just looks fun—something comics nowadays sometimes forget they’re supposed to be. God bless Ellis and Immonen for reminding us of that. They’re the Elvis (Elvises? Elvi?) of comic creators, and I’d put them in my pants any day.—Eric Rezsnyak
PQ: You’d be hard-pressed to find a more twisted—or creative—maniac writing comic books today than Warren Ellis. Thankfully, he uses his creative powers for good, not evil (mostly).