I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
May 30, 2016 - 11:13 a.m.
I'm writing early today. I guess as I got up early that's not as surprising. I thought I had turned my alarm off this morning because it's a holiday but I didn't. That means I did not get enough sleep but I couldn't fall back to sleep now you get to reap the benefits of an early edition of Wise Madness. I even have something to write about.
I think Anaïs has been working on Hadestown as long as I've known her. I have been waiting to see it completed and performed just as long. It is a folk opera based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice (your-id-iss-ee) set in "Post-apocalyptic depression era America." It went from songs Anaïs performed in concert, to an album with other singers playing the various parts including Ani DiFranco as Persephone, Greg Brown as Hades, Justin Vernon as Orpheus, and Anaïs as Eurydice. Then there was a series of concert versions with ever changing casts. I saw all the New York performances. And now I got to see it fully realized on stage at the New York Theater Workshop.
We think this was my birthday present from Kevin, from last year. We aren't sure. But I'm sure that's who I went with. I made the trek down from City Island and somehow got there an hour early. I wandered around the East Village a bit and got ice cream. That's not a bad way to spend an hour.
I have been looking forward to seeing this for ten years. If you were going to design a show for me this would pretty much be it, folk music and mythology, in my geek sweet spot. That set my expectations very high, a recipe for disappointment. Good thing the creators didn't follow a recipe; the show lived up to or exceeded my expectations. This was not just the album performed on a set, this was fully staged. The set was the only thing that was spare. The story was fleshed out; there were new songs and dialogue. It was not quite recitative but it was plain speech either. There was choreography. There was acting. There was lighting. There was magic.
the theme is the power of music to alter reality and the resistance reality has to being altered. That dichotomy is what drives the story. If you are familiar with the story you know how it's going to end. I knew how it was going to end. Yet I kept hoping that it would end differently. That is almost explicitly cited in the show. I felt like Anaïs was reading my mind.
The performances were compelling and powerful. The choreography conveyed the inner thoughts of the characters. What's different from the concert performances is that they were characters, not singers. They were real people, well people and gods.
There were a few times where the orchestra entered the world of the characters. Hermes who acts as narrator even introduced the musicians. The musical director and keyboard player is Liam Robinson of Robinson & Rohe, one of my favorite bands. It's a small world. So now I know someone that in a sense is a character in Greek mythology. It's almost like knowing Heracles.
I tried to picture how it could be performed in a larger venue. It would be perfect for Shakespeare in the Park. I could even see it at the Metropolitan Opera. The story is big enough and I could see it with spectacular sets. I'm just not sure how it would work with the big orchestra. I hope that it gets moved to Broadway. It's selling out and the shows run has been extended. It got an excellent Review in the New York Times. It's not getting an even more positive review by an even more influential source, me. If you don't have tickets yet order, then now. Not later in the day, Now. I'm providing the link, Buy Tickets. Now you have no excuse. I am going to be testing everyone I know on the show so you better see it.
After the show Kevin and I went to eat. I had fried chicken. Then he was so nice, he drove me all the way back to City Island. That saved me so much time. People are being very nice to me. I appreciate it so much. I have amazing friends.
Yikes. I am going to the Met game. I have to leave right now.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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