I recently returned from a nice family vacation. We hit the Shakespearean Festival again. It's funny because I remember after writing about it last year, Rhett left a comment, asking me which plays I wanted to see. Ironically, I ended up seeing the one I didn't list. And it was disappointing. But my choices were limited by our limited time there and the limited number of plays showing on the night I could go. So I saw Candida.
The theatre was maybe half full. I've never seen a theatre that empty there. That should have been my first clue.
I didn't think it was a bad play, but I wasn't the only one who thought it was a bad production. My parents and I sat there during intermission trying to pinpoint the problem. We narrowed it down to a few things. My dad felt like they cast all the plays for the year and then at the last minute had to cast this one with the actors who were available. And then he thought the lead was overdirected. I'm a fairly forgiving audience member, but I think it was Candida, the lead, that didn't do it for me. The character is a strong, beautiful woman. She's supposed to be 33 with an eighteen year-old admirer. And other characters mentioned how all the men are in love with Candida. If that's so, shouldn't the audience be taken with her as well? If you look at her picture you can see she's quite beautiful, but she can't pull off mid thirties. She LOOKED at least 50, maybe 55. And she was CREEPY. Well, she played it creepy. The way she glared at other characters when she spoke to them and moved around on the stage. The play is written to be witty and sweet at times, but there was this one scene where she could have pulled out a dagger and slit her husband's throat and I wouldn't have been surprised. Look at this picture with her by the fire. Tell me she doesn't look like she's going to strike poor Marchbanks at any second.
Anyway. After the curtain call not one person stood for an ovation. I've never seen such an underwhelmed audience. A couple of my parents' friends happened to be at the play that night, Larry and Diane. Diane studied drama at the U of U and so we needed her opinion. She said she liked the play, but Candida was creepy.
The last leg of my trip was in Las Vegas. I called Rich up (who has been spoiled with visitors almost every weekend since he moved there in May). I'm glad I called him because he said, "I think we should go see Cirque du Soleil." He remembered when I was there a month ago for work that I wanted to go but it was all sold out. Yay! I was stoked. We bought tickets to Ka. The title Ka is inspired by the ancient Egyptian concept of the "ka," an invisible spiritual duplicate of the body that accompanies every human being through this life and into the next.
I'm almost embarrassed to write about it because I'll sound like a complete dork, but I just LOVED it. Last month at my conference our keynote speaker showed us a clip from Cirque's "O" and it moved me to tears. Ridiculous, I know.
Ka didn't induce tears, but I was in awe of the whole production. Apparently it was a leap for Cirque to do an actual story for one of their shows. The whole thing was almost operatic. The drama, the costumes, the music, the choreography -- incredible. Turns out Rich and I didn't completely follow the story, but whatever. I couldn't believe what these humans were able to do. There's something inspiring about watching people push themselves beyond borders, doing things you would never even dream to attempt. I mean, 60 crazy acrobats could have fallen to their death that night.
Nothing was confined to the stage -- including the stage itself. It transformed into so many different elements, I'm not even going to begin to describe them all. But I will talk about my favorite parts:
After the acrobats swung around on the mast for awhile, trying not to fall off, they all eventually fell. But then a thin veil closed over the stage and suddenly we were watching the characters plunge deep into the ocean. The lighting made it believable with the bubbles following the acrobats as they sank and as they "swam" up with ocean ripples above. I was mesmerized. It was beautiful.
It was really simple, but it had whimsy so I loved it. The only lighting was a small candle and it cast a large shadow on the veil behind the two characters as they playfully created the most elaborate shadow puppets I've ever seen.
There were a couple. The first one blew me away because the stage transformed itself into what I can only describe as a Plinko board (remember The Price is Right?). Warriors "shot" arrows at the stage and the acrobats dodged them for awhile, but then they just slid from the top down, weaving through the arrows (actually pegs that shot out from the stage rather than on to the stage, I'm assuming). They just fell down the steep decline swinging around and slipping through pegs like little plinko disks.
The second battle scene was cool because the stage was now vertical and they were all attached to strings, some facing down some facing up, so we essentially had an aerial view of the battle.
The Slave Cages
This one actually scared me -- the first time in the production where I lost a little faith in the acrobats because the guy running at the top of his hamster wheel slipped a little and for a second the entire audience held their breath praying he didn't fall to his death. I wonder if he does that for kicks. Probably. It was insane.
That show was worth every penny. I was telling Rich I need to splurge more often on these things. I tend to shy away from big spectaculars like this because of their expense. It's what other people with a lot of money do, but now it's what I do. Who wants to go see "O"? You won't be sorry.
Inbetween Candida and Ka I was in San Diego. You're probably as tired of reading as I am of writing, so I'll just provide a slide show. I tried to find a few photos that didn't have my nephew in them.