Sunday, July 5, 2009

art I recommend

I am so in love with art, and the brave, hardworking souls who make it.

Two pieces I saw in the last few days have totally floored me.
Now maybe I am coming really late to this party but Up was my first Pixar film. Truth be told, probably one of only a handful of animated movies I've ever seen. I don't know if they are all this good. But this one is. SO BRILLIANT and beautiful and heartbreaking. I cried. Twice. And I smiled a lot. And guffawed a couple of times too.

The other piece, the Broadway musical Next to Normal gave me a similar sensation. I stood in the rush ticket line this morning, which of course only adds to the experience-- should a person be lucky enough to get in. [Or you can get there at 5am, as many people did, mothers and daughters and young Hugh Jackmans with their folding chairs and snacks and theater trivia games.] I listened to so many repeat offenders, young and old people who love this show and are so empowered by it. People were trading lots of stories, how mental illness or the loss of a child had touched their lives personally. Then, tonight, I sat smack in the center of the front row and watched a bunch of sickly talented superstars sing and move and talk in really gut-wrenching, visually-satisfying, emotionally-potent ways. I am so amazed at the boldness of this show-- dealing with this very real, little-talked about subject matter. And it reminds me of how I felt when I saw Rent, in 1997.
And it also reminds me that theater (insert: 'that I like') doesn't always have to cool, or even try to be cool. It will serve me to remember that when people make something that is true and beautiful and depressing and sincere and (seemingly) hopelessly un-commercial it is VERY cool. It is very cool to feel things deeply. Especially in live performance. Sometimes it's easier to feel things more in movies, that distancing effect, (watching movies on airplanes even more so!)-- but it's not impossible to be completely transported by live theater. It's hard, but worth the try I guess.
In the front row next to me tonight two college-age girls held hands as they shook with tears streaming down their faces. Then after the show, they both said how much better they felt and how much people were talking about 'stuff-- because of the show.'
Talking about 'stuff' ... and also empowered and seriously entertained.

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