Archive for March 2008

Theater Row in Hell’s Kitchen…and a bit ‘o the Bard

March 17, 2008

A co-worker alerted me to a new production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. 

So, I thought I ought to go.  And when I heard who was doing it, I really knew I must, absolutely must, go.

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It was TBTB, the acronym for Theater Breaking Through Barriers.  It used to be called the Theater for the Blind.  I’ve never seen any of their productions, but I figured it would be an interesting interpretation.

And it was.  It was more than that.  It was terrific.  I’m not that fond of the play itself (I just don’t enjoy the storyline that much), but their production was nicely done.  You see, they didn’t really play off the idea of the disabilities, but their real gimmick is that they were only going to have four actors playing all of the parts.  That meant that each actor would handle eight or more rolls.  And, on occasion, both rolls are on stage at the same time.  Talking with each other.

And you ain’t seen nothing til you’ve seen a blind actor doing quick costume changes to talk with himself…and one of “himselves” is a woman.  Kudos.

The show is at Theater Row in Hell’s Kitchen, 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues.  It is my favorite off-off-Broadway venue.  It holds a number of separate smaller theaters (kind of a live theater multiplex) and this play was in The Kirk.  It holds about 100 seats.

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I could only tell disabilities in two of the actors, there was only one blind guy and one who has cerebal palsy.  Another great part is that there was no quarter given to them on account of the disability.  The actor with CP (Gregg Mozgala) had to jump about the stage in his role as Romeo.  The blind actor had to wander the stage and pick up stuff at one point and sword fight at other points.

The Kirk’s inside before the beginning.

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If you look carefully, you may see the wires across the stage floor.  They were used as marks for the blind actor (George Ashiotis).  When he did his switching of roles, it was great.  He did conversations with his off-stage self and would go back and change during it.

But the best switching was done by the lone female (Emily Young).  For a long conversation between Juliet and Paris (she playing both parts), she kept walking back and forth behind a barrier (just behind the small box at the center in the picture above) and putting up her hood to show that she was Paris, or down to show that she was Juliet.  And she kept them straight.  I think we were all at the edge of our seats waiting for a slip, but there was none.

And I say all of this and Nicholas Viselli and Emily Young are probably amazed/amused that I didn’t spot their disabilities (if they have any).  But disabilities weren’t part of the play (although I kept hearing lines about blindness and light that I hadn’t noticed before).  And that was the great thing.  I went to the play expecting to have them put out the lights for a large portion of it to force the audience to “see” the play the way a blind person would, but got a straight-out production of Shakespeare that ignored any limitations.

Oh, and another gimmick that I liked was the idea that they kept putting up Southern and Western accents (and occasional other ones that didn’t work quite as well) into the play.  No British accents, but American ones.  (Viselli’s Texan Mr. Capulet was the best accent.)

Well done.

-H

FUBAR Disaster update

March 16, 2008

As promised, I went up to the general area of the crane collapse.  I knew it would be blocked off well away from the actual site, and of course it was.

The crane collapsed between 1st Avenue and 2nd Avenue on 51st Street.  Here’s a scene from 48th St and Second Avenue.

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I could get as high as 49th Street before they shut down the street to traffic (including pedestrians).

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At 49th Street, there were a number of newscrews doing interviews.

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I don’t know the station or anything.  I did see a truck from Macromedia doing some satellite sort of broadcasting, but no one was around the truck.

The only good news from this is that the death toll hasn’t seemed to grow from the initial four, although there are another four in critical condition.

The sobering picture of the moment (St. Patrick’s is tomorrow and we need some of that, I’d guess).

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If you can’t read it, that the Mobile Command Center of the Medical Examiner.  And there’s an empty gurney outside of it.

Another sobering sight was a truck from the Salvation Army.  They had set up facilities to get residents places to stay.  I don’t know if they allow anyone in neighboring buildings to stay in, but the idea of having 2 blocks evacuated in every direction is horrible.  There are a lot of people living there.  Many thousands, I’d suspect.  Hotel rooms…$300 to $500 a night for a decent place.

Oh, I do need to mention this.  In my previous post, I said I hadn’t heard more sirens and helicopters than usual.  Well, last night the helicopters never seemed to go away.  I kept changing the local channels and seeing live broadcasts from them, too.  It’s still a little weird for me to hear sounds outside the window while watching broadcasts of the events on TV.

UPDATE 3/17/08:  The death toll has risen to seven. 

-H

FUBAR Disaster on 51st Street

March 15, 2008

I was out in Greenwich Village today doing some wandering, and whilst I was there, a crane in the Upper East Side collapsed and destroyed a building that included “FUBAR“, a bar that advertises itself as offering “a heavy drinking atmosphere”.  At least four are known dead at this time.

The mayor has just announced that the bar was not open.  That’s amazing and completely unexpected as it is St. Patrick’s Day weekend and I’ve walked past I don’t know how many groups of “21 year-olds” who are loudly proclaiming their intention to drink.

For me, the most bizarre part is that I’ve been home for about the past two hours and haven’t heard more than the usual amount of sirens and helicopters.  It’s only 10 blocks north of me, maybe a half-mile.

I don’t remember ever seeing the place, but it’s located just a block south of a grocery store I go to quite often.

The way that NYC works, I wouldn’t be able to get close to the site under any circumstances.  If I can, I’ll post pictures later.

-H

Bellevue South Park

March 14, 2008

Across from Bellevue Hospital is a very pleasant little park:  Bellevue South Park.

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It was cold and windy the day I went by there, but you can see that NYC has done a nice little job with the place.  And they’ve done one of their great little tricks:  lots of places to sit.

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The seating doesn’t show up particularly well in the pictures, but it’s there.  I imagine it’s one of those places that visitors to Bellevue can escape to on occasion to smoke a cigarette (rapidly becoming illegal anywhere in NYC) or to avoid the hospital atmosphere.

-H

Bellevue Hospital

March 13, 2008

Long before I set foot in NYC, I had heard of Bellevue.  It seemed to be a staple element of detective novels and crime dramas and the occasional biography that I read.  It was always associated with the worst-of-the-worst sorts of situations:  shootings, stabbings, rape, the homeless and their afflictions, and often psychiatric disorders.

Bellevue is apparently the oldest public hospital in the US (founded 1736), and I can say this:  it is big.  And, amazingly enough, located right next door to another huge hospital center:  NYU Medical.

And it is located very close to where I live.  It’s around 29th Street and 1st Avenue.

When I saw this sign, all I could think about is that it looked somewhat gothic and cool.

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But it isn’t the main building or the main gate or anything in particular.  The main building seems pretty modern.

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Not what I would have expected from such an old institution with its gritty past.  But the front is just a facade.  Inside has to be one of the coolest entrances to a hospital that I’ve ever seen.  I’m not sure of it, but the glass exterior in the picture above is sort of an add-on and they’ve restored (or seemed to) the old hospital front in a sort of mall-like setting.

And I, idiot that I am, forgot to take a picture.  Actually, they prohibit pictures in there, and they’ve got plenty of security.  However, I could have snuck an easy picture without really violating anything as I’d technically be outside of the real entrance area.  However, I was concerned about the light and my flash and didn’t want to bring myself to their attention.

But it gives me an excuse to go back at a better time.

Anyway, this is only one of many buildings in the complex.  They, too, give me a reason to go back, but I don’t know that I’d be able to wander amongst the buildings.  I guess I’ll find out.

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-H