Archive | November, 2010

A Free Man of Color

29 Nov

Ah, the thea-tah, as synonymous with New York as the Empire State Building. I didn’t feel the glare of the bright lights of Broadway, however. I headed to Lincoln Center Theater at the Vivian Beaumont, to see Jeffrey Wright and Mos Def in A Free Man of Color.

Set in the decadent pre-Louisiana Purchase New Orleans, Jeffrey Wright plays Jacques Cornet, a lothario who has his way with the women and wields incredible influence over the men. Then Thomas Jefferson sends James Monroe and Robert R. Livingston to Paris on a shopping expedition, and all kinds of 1800s hell breaks loose.

The first act started out with a blast of colour, costumery and set changes that had me consistently wondering, “How did they do that?!” As for the performances, I wasn’t expecting such a swashbuckling-Keith-Richardsian-Johnny-Depp-in-Pirates-of-the-Caribbean feel; and that may seem like a strange description, since Jacques Cornet’s opulent world was miles from the dirty, bootlegging pirate world, but I guess it was the exaggeration that took me by surprise. But it worked. All of that braided gold, cerulean blue, and regal purple that pomped-and-circumstanced across the stage in one florid outfit and prop after another wouldn’t have meshed. Both the acting and the presentation had to be decadent.

 

The second act proved more tricky. All the deep racial issues and realities we were spared watching Jeffrey Wright seduce anything in a dress came barrelling stage front and centre. Mos Def, who plays Jacques Cornet’s slave, betrays Cornet for his freedom, Toussaint L’Overture makes an appearance and dies in prison, and Cornet is abandoned by the men formerly in his debt and becomes a slave under new American rule. No more foie gras, no more grapes, no more plush four poster beds in which to ravage woman after woman.

Amid all the drinking and debauchery, Veanne Cox‘s turn as Doña Polissena, a skittish, sex-deprived scientist trying to learn about the causes and cures of yellow fever was a highlight. How her stiff, tightly-buttoned foreignness quakes and crumbles beneath Cornet’s touch is memorably witty.

So, A Free Man of Color may not deal with the whole picture of the Louisiana Purchase as gravely as other productions, but the turn from frolicking rowdiness to kneeling, enslaved and broken makes the end result that much more upsetting.

 

A Free Man of Color

Playing now though January 9

Lincoln Center Theater at the Vivian Beaumont

 

Happy swashbuckling,

K


 

 

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Beef Like Butta

21 Nov

Now that my midterm research project is all done, I can get back to business….(damn you grad school).

I recently went to the Stone Rose Lounge at the top of the Shops at Columbus Circle for late night drinks, a follow-up to attending  “A Free Man of Color” (post to come later). Plush seating, wood panelling, and swanky Brit rock won me over before I even sat down. Funny enough, my first show of Fashion Week had been at 9 AM in the lounge, but the view at 11 at night was something else all together. Radiohead played a soundtrack to the view of cars rushing around Columbus Circle four stories below. I was hovering above quintessential New York, the sky infused with light from skyscrapers, Art Deco complexes rubbing shoulders with modern glass and steel marvels. And then we ordered the Kobe beef skewers.

I’ve watched those Food Network shows where the likes of Giada De Laurentiis and Ina Garten talk about different foods melting in your mouth. Quite frankly, I thought they were being ridonculous! How can beef, a thick, hearty meat, melt in your mouth?! The Kobe beef skewers at the Stone Rose Lounge truly proved me wrong. Presented in such simplicity – literally just on the skewer with a hint of garnish – sliced oh so thinly, and coated in a sweet, BBQ-ey sauce with Asian undertones, this beef was DIVINE. It seemed to evaporate upon touching my tongue. Of course, I made inappropriate noises, told the waitress that I would like to marry the chef, and had to have the plate pried from my sauce-coated fingers. I think about that beef everyday, and that chef, who I need in my life, some way, some how. If ever you’re in New York, visit one less store on your shopping day and spend the money on the beef skewers. That deliciousness will last longer than the cute dress, trust me.

The Stone Rose Lounge

Time Warner Center

10 Columbus Cir., at 58th St., 4th fl., New York

212-823-9769

Bon Apetit!

-K

The Big Picture at the MOMA

3 Nov

Barnett Newman's "Vir Heroicus Sublimis"

So I recently had the opportunity to check out Abstract Expressionist New York, an exhibit going on now through to April 25, 2011 at the MOMA.

In the grand scheme of art, I’m sure there are a few people who don’t get abstract expressionism. Ginormous canvases painted in one or two colours, and nary a bird, a stream, or a couple holding hands in sight. Just blocks of colour. I don’t have the answer about what makes abstract expressionist pieces so incredible. I just know that they are truly awesome, in the strict sense of the word, and that looking at a piece like this of Mark Rothko’s can make me cry. What am I feeling to evoke such a response? I have no idea. But amid the tourists with the fanny packs and the tall lanky man with the weird glasses, I give in to the tears.

Mark Rothko - I didn't take down the name of this one.

 

The view from the Mark Rothko room

 

I find a strange beauty and complexity in these pieces, and I’ll admit, I almost never understand what I feel. Seeing these pieces however does make me think of lost art, and of the genius lurking in remote locations where life is about survival not pleasure.  I always wonder who’s out there, what treasures have yet to be discovered?

 

Jackson Pollack - Number 1A (I think)

 

If you haven’t been over to the MOMA yet, I suggest you hit up Abstract Expressionist New York. Just let this genius that has been discovered, and the colour, and the scale wash over you.

The Museum of Modern Art

11 West 53 Street  New York

(212) 708-9400

www.moma.org

La vie est belle!

K

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