I actually agree with both sides of this argument. I, as a student, have only been able to go see many shows because of reduced or PWYW events at theatres both in my hometown and on Broadway. Those reduced prices have allowed me to see shows I definitely would not have been able to see at full price. I do also agree that PWYW events bring in more people that might not usually go to the theatre. Whether it's because of lack of funds or simply uncertainty, removing the monetary pressure on these people makes the theatre less intimidating and more accessible.
On the other hand, I do think that these types of things can bring people to the theatre that will not enjoy or experience it in the way it was intended, and could potentially hurt their future views and expectations. When the cost of something goes down, people have a tendency to see it as lesser, consciously or not, because to them it physically has been devalued. I think it's good to give people an opportunnity to be proven wrong, but I don't think that's possible in every case.
Well, OK, but even the mainstream 80s was better than this list.
What good 80s music may sound like (still)
If I could pick a "Worst of the 80s" playlist, this would be about 99% of it.
My thoughts about "Bent," now playing at Threshold Repertory Theatre in Charleston, and why everyone in this country should take the time to see this play:
"I believe in the sun even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when not feeling it. I believe in God even when He is silent."
These words, discovered on a cellar wall in Cologne, Germany after the end of World War II, scrawled by an anonymous writer who likely perished, are what came to mind when I first read this astounding play. Believing in love even when not feeling it is what "Bent" is all about. It is a love story: a love story for the human race that is particularly apt for those fickle times like the 1930s, and horrifyingly, today, when we, the human race, have fallen out of love with each other.
"Bent" is an historical play. For those who don't know the history, the plot unfolds the day after the Night of the Long Knives in late June 1934, when Hitler executed those whom he considered to be a threat to his power. One of these men was Ernst Rohm, a principal in the SA (the 'legitimized' organization that evolved from the Brown Shirts). He was also a homosexual. As a result of his demise (along with about 85 other "conspirators"), all gay men became, in effect, political enemies of the state, and they were shipped off the concentration camps in droves. The were treated even worse than the Jews. They were the lowest of the low.
Come the end of the war, many of these people remained incarcerated for, or under suspicion of, the "crime" of being homosexual. Laws in Western Europe freeing gays from this stigma of shame did not come about until the 1970s. What makes it even more incomprehensible is that we in the United States are still trying to make it a crime, socially and legally, to be gay, to be lesbian, to be bisexual, to be transgender. Just today, a politician in our state of South Carolina (with the oxymoronic name of Lee Bright) has put forth a policy similar to the one signed last week by the governor of North Carolina. It is too much to fathom that transgender bathroom privileges in the Carolinas and the existence of gays in Mississippi could possibly be considered a threat to religious freedom, but that's the situation: denying rights and privileges to an entire segment of the population because it is your inherent, God-given religious liberty to do so. And here we thought it was only the Nazis who were crazy.
This play is about homosexuals. You will see homosexuals kissing. You will see homosexuals hugging. You will see homosexuals' naked backsides and privates. You will see homosexuals getting the shit beaten out of them. You will see them having orgasms. If the abundance of of all this frightful homosexual "closeness" bothers you, all I can say is: Please get over it. In essence, grow the hell up, and really, truly learn what it means to love. Learn to love people who are different from you. Learn to appreciate that people who appear to be so different from you really aren't that different at all.
I play an older gay man in this play. I am not gay. One of the leads in this play is gay, the other isn't. In my dressing room, I share space with a body builders, a yoga instructor and a drag queen. We don't recoil from one another. We enjoy each other's company. We talk. We laugh. We make the same distasteful backstage jokes that are made in every green room in the world. As actors, we are fully cognizant that in acting and finding our characters, we are laid bare. We are vulnerable. We are open. We are allowing ourselves to be hurt. We are giving others access to our souls. Which brings me to my next point:
What is important about this show, and the absolutely brilliant acting, writing and direction that comprise it, is that this is a show about people. People who, like all people, make mistakes and make excuses. We fluff up who we are, and we also deny who we are. The principal character in this play denies he's a queer to get a "better deal" being a Jew. He denies his friend and contributes to his death. He denies his connection to love, until he learns that love transcends life. We are all Peters in this world, not seeing what is plainly and simply in our sight. Our silence eighty years ago was unacceptable. Our silence today is simply unholy.
This is a play about love for our fellow man. No matter how much we may hate, our hate does not make us whole: it reduces us to fragments. It makes our lives the equivalent of carrying heavy rocks back and forth from place to place. Can you feel the sun? It's there. Can you feel love in absence of a touch or a caress? Yes, you can. "Bent" is a love story and it is a soaring song of hope. In this day and age, when we are beset by our own dark Nights of Long Knives, we need a glimmer. A small shaft of light that we can stand in, close together, and share the warmth.
"Bent," written by Martin Sherman, is directed by Jay Danner and features Patrick Arnheim, Randy Risher, Brandon Martin and Jimmy Flannery. "Bent" enters its final weekend tonight, Thursday, April 7, and runs through Sunday April 10. Curtain time is 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, with a 3:00 matinée on Sunday.
Highly recommend. The experiences of these two men, really four, are universal to all humanity at some point or another and always result in pivotal moment that ultimately changes the course of one's life. The story itself is timeless and engaging. Skip the mascara, bring a hanky.
Just saw the play with the playwright in attendance. Incredibly moving story of love, undeserved and unrequited. Highly recommend it.
Should say 'Derek' not 'David'. Saw this last night. Awesome awesome awesome cool show
It's Derek Ahonen.
Nice detailed review, thank you. Looking for a play to take out of town theatre enthusiasts to for some fun. Going to try this production.
I couldn't disagree more with this review. The script is smart, funny and accessible. Ms. Graci's immaculately choreographed transitions from scene to scene were a joy to watch. The performances were spectacular, especially Ms. Haring's tour-de-force turn as Marie Antoinette. Although he rightly praised the gorgeous, inventive costumes, the reviewer missed the finer points of the scenic design and completely ignored the stellar lighting and sound designs, both of which were among the best I've seen at Pure. Scenically, the design takes inspiration from Philippe Starck's Louis Ghost Chairs, crafting everything from tables to archery bows in clear acrylic. Like the script, it presents historical details in a modern aesthetic, while metaphorically nodding to the fact that Marie is without privacy and perpetually on display. The sound design also plays with the anachronistic aesthetic, setting the action against French covers of pop music that infuse the show with a sense of playfulness and rebellion. The lighting design continues the theme with clear acrylic footlights adorned with fleurs-de-lis, using them to ominous effect in a design that evokes time, mood and place effortlessly in the confines of a black box space that is extremely difficult to work in. This show is smart – really, really smart – and an absolute joy to watch.
Such a pleasure to have worked with these wonderful people and to call them my friends. They are each brilliant in their own way, and I cannot wait to see them succeed, and hopefully be a part of their productions in the future!
A - Always. B - Be. C - Closing.
Yeah, I've only seen the movie.
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Thank you, Pure Theater, for giving us another wonderful performance! Slow girl was riveting!
Sounds like a great read…just one more reason we should all pick up a good read. Makes me think of this great commercial for literacy: http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/charleston/sugar-bean-sisters-a-funny-parade-of-oddball-characters/Content?oid=4880201
I think some people who read that this is a "graphic novel" may think it's relentlessly sexually graphic in the sense of "Giving a vivid picture with explicit detail" (one definition of "graphic" in the online Oxford Dictionary). But really it just means that it's 252 pages of pictures (probably averaging about 5 pictures per page), the VAST majority of which have nothing to do with sex. The few frames that do relate to sex are exceedingly tame. Not titillating. Sit down and read it with an open mind. It's very artistic and touching.
I wonder how many of the backwoods Bible-thumpers objecting to this book or play ever took the trouble to look at it. If they have a problem with Fun Home, they must be positively mortified by any PG-13 movie shown in theaters these days. The only reason they aren't outraged by most serious literary works from the past several centuries is that they are equally ignorant of their contents. It is inspiring to see CofC taking a stand against the voices of darkness by staging this work of art.
@dp4, plenty of those great literary works faced similar bigoted attacks from an ignorant and reactionary religious faction. If you are titillated by a panel or two of hand drawn sex in the context of a serious memoir, the problem is with you. It doesn't lessen the impact of the story unless you are an idiot.
@Streetlaw, sarcasm doesn't work very well when it's defending a perspective that is so ridiculous it already seems like it has to be satire. I don't know what point you're trying to make.
The more graphic the better. All sinners, be they gay, lesbian, adulterers, blasphemers, liars, polygamist, or involved in incest, bestiality or the like, need to be proud of themselves and march together with their heads held high. Any religion that denies freedom of choice and self expression is obviously unconstitutional. As to allowing children to participate as thespians in what must certainly be consider a mildly pornographic theatric performance, there is just something sick about that.
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