Although I'm not a vegan, I shudder at the sight of an entree which features an entire fish (head, tail, and skeleton) looking up at someone from a plate. And yet there are certain foods which I heartily enjoy (chopped liver, prune whip yogurt, fried cauliflower) that are anathema to others.
Chacun a son gout!
"... to provide financial support for the pre-production developmental process of new, universally themed plays that have already been calendared for premiere. Funding can be used for workshops, readings or other activities designed to enhance the development and ultimate success of the new works once they are premiered. New works eligible for funding under the TWI are only those already included in the theatre’s schedule for the current or coming season."
Playwright Jason Craig as Beowulf (Photo by Jessica Palopoli)
As someone who attends a great deal of theater, it is rare for me to react so negatively to a new work. On such occasions I try to remind myself that, while I may not be the target audience for which the show has been created, many people in the theater are enjoying themselves immensely. There are fans out there for such work and, if you bill it, they will come.
Some audience members had already seen the production several times and could point to details of the music and staging that had changed as a result of an additional workshop process following the show's initial run at the Ashby Stage. Others were deeply into the music.
Personally, I found Craig & Malloy's writing to be horribly juvenile. I thought Rod Hipskind's stage direction was sophomoric and pretentious. But as the old saying goes "Opinions are like assholes, everybody's got one."
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San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum, which opened its doors to the public on June 8, 2008, includes a new performance venue (the 225-seat Richard and Rhoda Goldman Hall) that can be used for film, lectures, chamber music, comedy and theater. To coincide with its exhibition entitled Warhol's Jews: Ten Portraits Reconsidered, the museum commissioned a performance piece from Josh Kornbluth, the Bay area playwright, performer, stand-up comic and television talk show host who juggles almost as many hats as Jan Wahl. Here's Kornbluth's trailer for Andy Warhol: Good For The Jews?
The ever cuddly and huggable Kornbluth, who is well known to Bay area audiences from his autobiographical monologues Love and Taxes, The Mathematics of Change, Ben Franklin: Unplugged, Citizen Josh, as well as his filmed versions of Haiku Tunnel and Red Diaper Baby, scores another well-deserved hit with his new show. Because this a commissioned piece, Andy Warhol: Good For The Jews? starts off with the requisite plugs for the new museum. But soon after describing how the piece began to come together, Kornbluth does something quite remarkable.
By explaining his own process as a writer trying to come up with material about an artist he knows very little about -- and whose work he finds strangely alienating -- Kornbluth delivers a model lesson in how to explore art, discover the artist's process and how it relates to the viewer's own history, and find meaning in a work which might seem impervious, imperfect, or irrelevant. As Warhol's painting of Gertrude Stein is projected onto the ten screens lined up behind him, the audience sees how closely the bone structure and geometry of Kornbluth's face matches that of Gertrude Stein's. It is a moment of unintended magic which, when I brought it to Kornbluth's attention, caught him completely off guard.
Having experienced several of Kornbluth's monologues, I'm always struck by the intelligence with which he shapes his arguments, the sheer craft of his writing, the lovableness of his transitions, and the warmth and humanity which rest at the core of his performance style. As he has done with taxes, mathematics, love and Communism, Kornbluth's struggle to find the entry point to understanding a difficult topic engages the audience, comforts it, and humanizes the experience of finding a way to appreciate something which may feel like it came from another planet.
Plans are afoot to release a DVD of Andy Warhol: Good For The Jews? at some point in the future. While it will obviously be of great interest to hardcore culture vultures, modern art and Warhol fans, there is an important secondary market for the DVD that should not be ignored.
Kornbluth's latest monologue is an invaluable teaching tool for arts educators, gallery owners, and potential museum docents that can show them how to communicate their passion for art in such a way that the average person is drawn into the thrill and mystery of art rather than being repulsed or threatened by the often fetishized, overly precious pseudointellectualism that runs rampant throughout the art world.