Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fun in the City

After a sleepy and fairly unproductive Tuesday, mostly spent reading old NY Times e-mails and creating a "Locale Mix" on my iPod, I awoke early yesterday to sunshine (somewhat) and a big day in the city. Having planned on seeing at least one show this week, I was checking things on Playbill for student rush info and the NY Times for the day's news. And thankfully I did! To my great surprise, the current revival of David Mamet's (Ma'am it) Oleanna, starring Bill Pullman and Julia Stiles, is set to close early this Sunday after slumping sales. Lacking a green witch, a Tony, Disney backing, or megawatt stars (sorry Bill and Julia), the show has not been able to compete with all the other rich offerings on Broadway this year. My $25 cash in pocket, I headed out to the big city to secure my tickets and spend a solo day in Manhattan. The show was fantastic; searing in its intensity and scope. The play follows a college professor and one who student, who after seeking help from him in his office, charges him with sexual harassment, threatening his upcoming tenure decision. The play is part classic Realism, an office-bound version of cat and mouse, and part philosophical debate, a dually visceral and intellectual work. I thought the play was relevant for me and for now, having just come from the world of academia and all its committees, rules, and regulations. The economic squeeze that Carol (the student) eventually puts her professor is very real, thoughts of losing a house or loan falling through all the more pressing as our economy continues to tank. I thought the two actors' performances were quite stellar, living up to one of Mamet's best and most famous scripts. As the lights slowly faded, the office blinds mechanically lowering, a sound effect giving the impression of the coming battle, Stiles and Pullman appeared out of the darkness, as if in mid-scene. With the house sparsely populated (it was a Wednesday matinee after all) and the news of the show's closing made public, I was anxious to see what these two actors had to give us. They did not disappoint. After somewhat of a slow start, the fire ignited between the actors and didn't let up until the play's shocking ending. What was most exciting about this production was that rather than watching two celebrities onstage or expensive theatre magic, the acting (and the script) was really the star of this production, rather than the dancing, music, or flashiness of most Broadway shows. I told Julia Stiles as she was signing my Playbill (oh yea, I got the ink), that I hoped to see them both back at the Tony's. She politely smiled and looked at me like she thought the Tony's was a bad thing. She was very down to earth, simply signing programs for the few of us that were waiting at the Stage Door, then walking down the street for lunch with a friend, disappearing into the crowd. Mr. Pullman was a little more movie-starish, having been famous little longer than Ms. Stiles, but still kind, signing programs and taking photos with fans. It was an excellent way to spend an afternoon and an excellent use of $25. The rest of my night included a bit of shopping, avoiding the rain, a yummy dinner of Asian noodles and grilled Japanese eggplant, and karaoke with a friend. It's funny, as we took a taxi back to Queens, fed up with the rain and the subway, the view from the Queensboro bridge was still able to take my breath away, the moonlight reflected on the water between the mountains of bright skyscrapers, the city calm and tranquil in its rainy slumber. How lucky I am to live here, living my own life, seeking my own dreams.


  1. What a perfect title for your blog. Sounds like a perftect day in the Big City, doing what you love. Have you looked into being a critic yet. Your writing really makes it easy to imagine being there.
    See you soon, Love, Mom

  2. Bradley! This is terrific! You should think about doing critiques as a profession. :) It sounds like you are in heaven there, and I think everyone knew that would happen. I'm so happy for you. And what a great blog! Keep it up.
    Your old roomie,