Skip’s Quips: Movies and What to Make of ‘Uriel Acosta’

Blog Sketch 082813I’m afraid I’m none too knowledgeable about the world of avant-garde theater, so this post might lead anyone with more than a small understanding of the genre to look askance at me.

This past Saturday, I went to see the Target Margin Theater’s production of Uriel Acosta – I Want That Man! at The Chocolate Factory in Long Island City. What does this have to do with film? Well, the thoroughly bizarre performance – which had something to do with the life of the titular Jewish philosopher, the Yiddish play about him and all sorts of other related material – featured some very interesting video-centric content, including images of bearded men, Hebrew words and more projected onto plumes of smoke drifting upon the stage area. The performance also included a bit of curious puppeteering that was projected onto screens for the audience’s viewing pleasure. So there was a significant multimedia component.

Unfortunately, it didn’t stop the production from being rather dull and confusing – the many sequences during which the actors spoke their lines loudly and concurrently exemplified this issue. Still, the piece got me wondering about the future of cinema and how it could relate to live theater … how these media could be juxtaposed in creative ways. There’s no reason to think these are exclusive from one another, but while theater may include snippets of film, you’d be hard pressed to find movies outside of The Rocky Horror Picture Show where live performance forms an integral (albeit cosmetic) part of the experience. Perhaps we need more of the latter, though in a form where we’re not reacting to the proceedings onscreen but in accord with them. That somehow our decisions affect what happens in the movie.

That may sound like a futuristic idea, but it’s already been toyed with in films such as Fahrenheit 451, in which the characters participate in mundane teleplays whose characters seem to react to the outside participants. Hopefully, a new breed of this type of thing could be more involving.

There’s a chance this has already been done, by the way, and I’m just not privy to it. So if I’m wishing here for something that’s already obsolete, I apologize in advance.

2 thoughts on “Skip’s Quips: Movies and What to Make of ‘Uriel Acosta’

    • Agreed–that’s definitely something that might be tough to do, though for concerts–say, a performance of Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky cantata with the film shown in the background–it seems more viable. Perhaps we can leave it to the avant-garde to craft films with theatrical components!

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