I’m Tweeting too

April 12, 2009

After some initial hesitation, I’ve happily gobbled up the Twitter cool-aid. You can follow me at twitter.com/laurapalotie, should you feel so inclined.

In the meantime, I encourage you to check out the following NYT pieces about the way in which this recession is eating into nonprofit arts initiatives. Juilliard’s scholarship-driven arts program for gifted but underprivileged children was recently nixed (see the story here), while renowned nonprofit theaters are struggling to meet their fundraising goals (story available here).

And they say that the arts thrive in tough times….

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As the economy falters, there has been much discussion about its impact on the arts. And although slight dips are seen here and there (golden child ‘Wicked’ was down four percent earlier this year, for example), it appears that Broadway is alive and well, yesterday’s New York Times reported. But as the article states, not the same can be said for Off-Broadway, as finding necessary backers for a show becomes more challenging.

I have no doubt that my friends in the Off-and Off-Off Broadway communities will scratch their heads as the $31 million Spider-Man-musical stomps to Broadway in early 2010.

For Rising Phoenix Repertory, commissioning most of its projects for the dimly lit back room of an East Village restaurant doesn’t just present an opportunity to cut down on production costs. During the past three years, the understated intensity of the Seventh Street Small Stage at Jimmy’s No. 43 has come to define the work of this Off-Off Broadway company. The group’s latest effort, a monologue play by frequent Rising Phoenix collaborator Crystal Skillman, plays into the intimacy of this space in all the right ways, juxtaposing the realism of its setting and characters to explore the inherent absurdity of the human mind.

Running about 60 minutes, ‘Nobody’ features monologues from six characters who have all shown up at the same restaurant on a given day. While some relationships and connections within the group are revealed, there are no direct exchanges; in fact, the six remain almost completely stationary throughout the work, staring, preoccupied, into space. The subject of dreams shows up in each narrative, as these characters revisit the demons of their past relationships in the confines of their nightly visions.

The train-of thought flow of Skillman’s language finds a comfortable home inside the charged monotone of her characters’ voices, and there are moments in which ‘Nobody’ sounds like a spoken-word poem. That her words demand true concentration from an audience further speaks to the necessity of this tiny, unstaged space. It’s not often that a theatergoer has the opportunity to observe, from just a few feet away, as an actor tears into the subconscious of a character. It’s not an experience one is likely to forget.

‘Nobody’ plays tonight and tomorrow at 6pm. For more information, see http://www.risingphoenixrep.org.

Announcing my return…

February 25, 2009

My contract at Inc.com (and my time as a blogger for Fastcompany.com) came to an end as 2008 wrapped, and I’m now back to posting my insights on New York’s cultural life here. As always, I welcome and appreciate your readership.

This Thursday, I’ll be heading to Jimmy’s No. 43 to check out the newest offering from one of my favorite local theater companies, Rising Phoenix Repertory. The group commissions most of its performances for this Lower East Side basement restaurant, and this work, authored by Crystal Skillman, is no exception.

Go to Rising Phoenix’s web site for more information on the show. I’ll be posting my thoughts on ‘Nobody’ here on Friday.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m currently blogging on culture and entertainment for Fastcompany.com. In case you haven’t been able to get to the ‘Culture Nuggets’ page, below are some links to my recent posts:

My wrap-up of last week’s American Idol controversy

A Post on Twilight Becomes Night, a documentary on the closing of small shops in New York City

Some comments on United Artists’ gamble with Tom Cruise

Feel free to read and comment.

 

 

Where I’m writing now

April 16, 2008

In case you’ve been wondering about my recent absence, I invite you to visit my new blog on Fastcompany.com, where I’m now reporting and commenting on the arts for a typically business-inclined readership.

Below is the URL:

http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/752238

I’ll of course be periodically checking in here as well to recommend any spirited new voices that I come across here in New York.

Thank you for reading!

 

In lieu of my last post, I decided to expand my blog coverage to all the performing arts phenomena I observe, both locally and in the news. Living in New York, I often come across inspiring (and at times depressing) stories that not only pertain to jazz, but pop and rock music, theater and even indie film.  I write for actorslife.com, a resource site for actors trying to break into the business, and thus frequently meet noteworthy characters in the theater world as well.

But don’t worry, jazz will stay on–as it, even more than most other art forms, is in need of a forum. 

I recently made a separate page for the Michael Blake Q&A I created a couple of weeks ago. Below is a link to the piece:

https://lpalotie.wordpress.com/2007/11/24/q-a-with-saxophonist-michael-blake/

He has a lot of experience heading up ensembles and recording in this strange, sometimes fickle landscape, so he had a lot of valuable insights to offer.

Technology headache

November 29, 2007

During the past couple of days I’ve been struggling with the limitations of free technology. As some of you may have noticed, my Youtube video of Big Apple Jazz was grainy and smudgy because of the site’s 100MB limit, and I wanted to find a way to upload it in a clearer format (after I tweaked a few of its choppy transitions).

I found a few sites that allow a user to upload larger videos, including xdrive and Stage6. My tries with Stage6 (a very sci-fi looking video site) have thus far stumbled into the following roadblocks:

1)The editing software I use (Avid Newscutter) is on NYU J-school’s computers, not allowing me to download the Stage6 software as I size and export my video.

2) In modifying the video into Divx format, Stage6 seems to format the video so that it appears zoomed in and magnified on the screen.

3) I’m not able to easily embed a Stage6 link into my blog.

After I resolve these hurdles, my next step will be to invest in some editing programs for my laptop (currently an IBM) and hopefully soon purchase an apple computer for my podcasts and videos; Garage Band seems to have facilitated a lot of my colleagues’ lives.

Amy recently posted pictures of all the equipment she uses–she has managed to record both crisp sound and video of professional caliber. I encourage using her list as a starting point.

Links:

Amy’s post: http://amyvanvechtenmusicky.wordpress.com/2007/11/18/arsenal-of-toys/

Stage 6: http://stage6.divx.com

Xdrive: http://www.xdrive.com

(image from pcasistance.hit.bg)

Harlem’s casual jazz hub

September 21, 2007

Yesterday my videocamera and I spent the afternoon at Big Apple Jazz in Harlem, a combined souvenir shop, performance space and café launched by tour guide Gordon Polatnick in early 2006. Although not a musician himself, Polatnick has made the city’s jazz history his specialty, and can point out the legendary addresses and street corners where bodegas and fast food restaurants now stand. Billie Holiday was discovered just a block away from Big Apple Jazz, and the church on the corner of 132nd and Seventh Avenue used to be home to the famed Lafayette Theatre.

The block between 131st and 132nd Streets on Seventh Avenue wouldn’t, without the presence of Big Apple jazz, seem like worth the trip these days. Sure, the area is home to nifty pieces of history—the middle divider of 7th avenue, for example, is home to a stylized statue commemorating the Tree of Hope that stood there in the early 20th century(check out Polatnick’s site for a detailed history) –but few tourists or casual jazz fans are quite hardcore enough to trek uptown just to snap a photo of the now-unassuming block. Polatnick’s decision to buy a space in the area was undoubtedly strategic, because musicians, out-of town visitors and jazz enthusiasts now have a reason to literally visit the era when this art form ruled. Not to mention, it’s one of the few places in the city where musicians can mingle and casually jam while passersby sit down for a cup of coffee and hear excellent live jazz at no extra cost.

Polatnick also offers jazz tours around the city and can suggest a customized club itinerary based on your personal jazz taste. Big Apple Jazz hosts live music in its wood-paneled back room every day from 2pm on.

(image from harlemonestop.com)