Saw a Shakespeare play last spring in Toronto, Hamlet [Prince Hamlet]. Doris offered me a ticket. Separate from great acting, staging and lighting the audience was sort of put into an altered state. Hamlet was played by a woman, Ophelia by a man and most of the actors had to learn sign language and deliver some lines signing. Some of the lines weren’t understood by us in the audience unless we could speak sign language.
When I took my seat at the start noticed some audience members who were signing and I thought about them during the play. Thought those people will understand these signed parts and are probably excited about this, assuming they’re deaf, they never get to experience theatre where they are included. I enjoyed thinking about this and the effort that went into the many dimensions of this creation.
Some people left after the intermission. I didn’t anticipate that, thought everyone was having the same experience as me just like Evan Parker.
There is a radical technique in wind playing called circular breathing. The player, on flute, saxophone etc. appears to endlessly exhale – the sound can last longer than the length of an ordinary breath. The technique is to inhale a little air into the lungs while the air already pushing through the mouth continues uninterrupted. It’s accomplished using ones cheeks to push during the moments when the nose is inhaling at least that’s how I can do it but not strong enough to do with an instrument. In the 80s John Oswald invited me to play with him opening for Evan Parker who’s circular breathing was so effortless, more than anyone I’ve ever seen. He came on stage and musically went straight into 4th gear, and his body and face were relaxed and he played for 45 minutes straight. Not one rest note for 45 minutes. Like being on hallucinegenic drugs.
After 15 minutes people started to leave, a steady trickle continued to exit for the rest of the show. I think some of them, maybe all of them, were oblivious to the mind blowing virtuosity happening then and there. I bet instead they were frustrated like when one doesn’t understand why certain art is as it is. Why are they communicating in sign language when most of us can’t speak sign language!
Is the flip side thousands lined up dropping hundreds of dollars to share the same air as some latest pop thing?