Saturday, March 10, 2007

Beached Whale

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Sometimes NYC can have some enviable offerings. Like this production of "Moby Dick Rehearsed," a play by Orson Welles. I would actually go and see this if I could. From the NYT review:
It’s easy to forget that Welles was first a man of the theater, and this ferocious drama, a poetic examination of one man’s obsession, is, among other things, a celebration of the stage. It begins almost offhandedly with a group of actors filing into the theater where they are to perform “King Lear.”

In a light, almost documentary style, Welles satirizes backstage small talk: the complaints about critics, pay and academics. When one performer talks about the need for theater, another corrects him: “Nobody ever needed the theater — except us. Have you ever heard of an unemployed audience?”
Welles was apparently obsessed with Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Recreating it for stage and screen was an ongoing obsession of his. The theater review mentions YouTube footage of Welles reading from the epic novel. Here is the famous opening to the novel. Notable, beyond the booming voice and dramatic pauses, is Welles' face, lit well indeed, but seemingly exuding luminosity at certain angles, despite the beard. There are moments in this clip, fleeting, that reveal a stunning, angelically angular visage belying the berth and boom and pomp: