Sunday, November 2, 2014

alFalaq visits The Shakespeare Tavern - Read Georgia

Sitcom the first, thou may’est have been! 
The Comedy of Errors at The Shakespeare Tavern

          So, the birthday of a beloved family member comes 'round and you want to do something new enough not to be cliché but familiar enough to ensure it will be a good time, with no danger of being perceived -- a gag gift, like the yoga gym membership given to your bloated, chain smoking aunt who only wears flip-flops, even to church.  Last year, for just such an occasion, we accompanied my brother to The New American Shakespeare Tavern ("Shakespeare Tavern", for short I guess) and had a fantastic time at the performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream".  So it was the perfect setup for a re-dux this year to take in the hilarity that is Shakespeare's "The Comedy of Errors".  
          Unlike the good ole TV, or summer blockbusters on the silver screen, the theater delves into storytelling in true 3-D; endowing characters and circumstance with a certain immediacy, breathing into them real life since, well, they are really alive, right there in your space with you.  Or more appropriately, allowing your watchful presence right there in their space.  It is an intimate, unmitigated experience of the story, with each character's pathos, each circumstance's tragedy, irony, sardonic or mirth split out just at arm's length, in real time.  The pliability of it, the realness of it, even though you know it is all scripted and acted, draws you in.  There is something irresistible about it.  And even centuries beyond him, Shakespeare's name still looms forth as an unparalleled master of the theatrical stage play.
          A 30 minute drive from anywhere, as is anyplace in Atlanta, could lead you to 499 Peachtree Street, and the slightly urbane-Renaissance edifice of the Shakespeare Tavern, heralded by its prominent, red wormwood sign.  One side note: Parking is located conveniently less than a half-minute's walk from the theatre, just avoid the police-haunted madman who will attempt, in turns, to help you understand the parking payment kiosk, then wanna-whup-yo' ass from a sudden and unpredicted indignation before wandering off, protesting to the open air.  At least that's what happened the Saturday we were there.  Like I said; the theatre: Palpable, immediate and unmitigated.  All parking adventures aside, once you traverse its heavy oaken door and descend the time-polished wooden steps; once you have bandied conversation with the attendant bar keep and ware hocking souveniteur, you pass into the theatre proper, a low-lighted den with warm soft colors encroaching from its corners and emanating from the stage itself.  This is where we were to dine, drink and make merry to quick witted quips tossed about in the gay ole tongue of Her Majesty's antiquarian England.

Original Practice Playhouse
          Known as "The Bard", but just as famous for his rapier-edged quill and sense of wild frivolity, Shakespeare appreciated the tastes of the masses and tailored his stage plays to thrill and tickle audiences in turn.  A master of presentation, he employed creative approaches and gimmicks to engage and hold the street-stood watchers of his day, often bridging the space between actor and audience with dialogue or antics deliberately targeted out into the crowd or at individuals, erasing the barrier and drawing them right into the atmosphere of the characters themselves.  Herein lies a good measure of the Shakespeare's Tavern's charm.  Touted on the placard in its foyer as an "Original Practice Playhouse" it follows an aesthetic devoted to the preservation and enjoyment of the staged works of The Bard as nearly as possible to their original presentation, with all the gags and ploys, which is all very engaging.  When the going gets goofy and that invisible fourth wall disappears, it pays off.

          So there we were, the fam and me, eating our renaissance cuisine and chortling like swollen royalty at the unfolding hapless misadventure that is The Comedy of Errors.  Essentially, Two sets of identical twins (identically named, to boot) separated in their early childhood by forgotten shipwrecks wind up in the same town where, over the course of one day, one estranges the other's pugnacious wife and freaks out her kinder, gentler sister; one inadvertently steals expensive jewelry from the town goldsmith; one makes off with a bag of money; one becomes the terrified obsession of a monstrous kitchen maid with an unstoppable libido; almost all get condemned by the confounded mayor, whom already was pondering the considerable burden of having to unknowingly execute the father of two of them.  By the end of the day, it is much ado about anything but nothing and all from a simple case of mistaken identity.  Watching it all happen it occurred to me I was perhaps seeing the very first sitcom, preserved from years past and born again on a Saturday night in midtown Atlanta.  Centuries whence and innumerable iterations of the same slapstick exasperation and folly spent, I couldn't help wondering if this was where, in fact, it had all begun.   Shakespeare's great craft: actually a premonition of what mean satire countless hordes of couch potatoes would soak up in their living rooms over and over again.  I can't say whether four hundred years of the same mistaken identity plot was what The Bard had in mind, or would even approve of, but after all this time, his language proves just as biting, wince-worthy, thought provoking and rich as ever it was.  And it was all brought to life with robust beauty by the troop there at that minor Stratford on Avon, The Shakespeare Tavern, right on down to the final wrap up, with its gratuitous Scooby Doo group laugh.  Nothing says Happy Birthday like a renaissance style apricot stuffed pork loin sandwich and a glimpse into the first ever sitcom, where the common tastes of the common man ruled the world of entertainment, way before the glamor of good ol' TV.  Huzzah!

Check out alFalaq's latest anthology entitled, THREADBARE, which is now available for Kindle download.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

al-Falaq visits the Doo Gallery: Read Georgia Nutts On Location

For the Love of Munny:
Put Your Munny Where Your Mouth is at Doo Gallery

 For our bi-weekly meeting of Saturday, July 26, 2014, the Georgia Nutts Guild decided to hold court at DooGallery, where facebook friend, Lacye A. Brown of Applehead Toys was hosting the Put Your Munny Where Your Mouth Is art competition.  Local artists would seek to gain prestige and a pot of money for the winning contribution of a "Munny" figure, suitably dressed up, pimped or tricked out according to each's own personal vision.  I'll admit to having had no idea what Munny or MunnyWorld were before this, even if it makes me look as unsavvy and reclusive as I, probably, am.  The MunnyWorld figures are small, plastic featureless dolls acting as a blank slate for DIY hobbyists and other creatives, an open canvas in 3-D waiting to be given a personality through the addition of sculpted embellishment, painting, what-have-you.  

The scene was a little different from what we expected:  we thought a room full of artists would be at tables, stands, whatever, toiling over the face-needy dolls, all taking shape in real time.  It ended up that most of the artists seemed to have already made their works and submitted them, as they were all neatly exhibited before the event even opened.  So it was just Yvonne Walker, Ana’GiaWright, Dap Tales and I (your friendly neighborhood alFalaq) and a couple other artists at tables working what creative magic we had in mind on the spot.  At first it looked as though we might suffer the scrutiny of a certain oddball status.  There were a couple of sideways glances alongside the query as to why writers were inclined to enter an art competition for artists.  C'mon guys -- a picture might be worth a thousand words but we were there to REPRESENT that Literature Is ART, Too!!!  So, with pens in hands, we stitched together clothes and features for our little figures from a fabric of dialogue snippets, descriptive phrases and lines of poetry from our collected works.  REPRESENT, WRITERS OF THE WORLD!

There were lots of intriguing works lining the walls of the gallery, operated by Doug, whom we met (Super nice guy), ranging from the macabre to the fanciful.  I walked around taking it all in as DJ Martian Kites laid on the atmosphere from his workstation.  A contribution from Henry Gonzales illustrated "How to Train Your Dragon to Drive" while just ahead, Slowturtle's piece literally puzzled over "Illuminated Awareness".  "Children of the Watermelon", by Rich Strohmeyer was a real eye catcher, as was (Beth Garland Strachan) Rotten Daughter's grisly alternate ending to the Red Riding Hood tale, "What Big Eyes You Have".  I was swept away by the drink goddesses from Blazon Brickhaus,  "Amaretto Sour" and "Mai Tai".  Kevin Hatchett hung out with us for a while, taking time to get us up close and personal with his monochrome, robo-apocolyptic "Dread".  Lacye (Applehead) of course was putting on show too, with her giant "Mr. Bigglesworth" and "Naughty or Nice",  which has been featured in our Inspired Works of Fiction short series, which will be included in “In a Nuttshell, Vol. 2” available in August.


Despite the seeming cold start, things definitely got warmer as more and more folks; artists and attendees alike; shared excellent conversation with us concerning what the GNG is about and what the Georgia Nutts aim to do: To become ever better writers and Promote The Arts.  I knew it:  People DO still like to read!!  Even pub-crawling zombies, like Cara Caravan who can be seen posing with her nicely crafted work (I'm sorry, Cara!  I didn't get the name of the piece...Bad, al-Falaq!  Bad!  Bad!!) are into the word, man.  So don't get left out!  Read!  Today!!  At, of course.  Or anywhere you like.
Check out our finished product!