Creative Times 2

I’ve continued to monitor some of the events and offerings going on online. There are so many now that it is hard to keep up. But here’s just a sampling of the live and recorded art that you can enjoy during lockdown. Some of the ongoing events, classes and resources from the previous post are still active, so take a look there as well. All times are Eastern unless otherwise noted. Events are free unless noted with $.

First, here is how to host virtual watch parties on various streaming services.

Ballet/Dance Performances Upcoming:

April 9 7PM and archived through April 12. Alvin Ailey Dance Company. Judith Jamison’s “Divining”

April 16 7PM and archived through April 19. Alvin Ailey Dance Company. Rennie Harris’s “Lazarus”

April 23 7 PM and archived through April 26. Alvin Ailey Dance Company “Night Theater”

April 17 7 PM BST (2 PM Eastern Time) Metamorphosis, The Royal Ballet on demand and for free via the ROH’s Facebook and YouTube channels.

Ballet/Dance Performances Ongoing:

Boston Ballet has released video of dress rehearsals for its delayed performances

Dance themed streaming film: And Then We Danced. Directed by Levan Arkin.  Available via the Olympia Film Society. “A passionate tale of love and liberation set amidst the conservative confines of modern Georgian society, AND THEN WE DANCED follows Merab, a devoted dancer who has been training for years for a spot in the National Georgian Ensemble. The arrival of the talented and rebellious Irakli throws Merab off balance, sparking an intense rivalry and a forbidden desire.” In Georgian with English subtitles. Runtime 113 minutes. Rent the film for $12.00, get 48 hours to view the film online. 50% of the profits will go to your local art house theater!

Theater/Film Performances Upcoming:

April 3-26 Williamston Theater. These Mortal Hosts. This live performance was canceled due to Covid but it is being offered streaming with ticket sales benefiting the performers and the theater. $

April 6 2 PM Eastern/7PM GMT The Globe Theater’s Hamlet streaming on Youtube available until Sunday 19 April.

April 7 12 PM Eastern Bolshoi Theater Opera Boris Godunov

April 9  1 PM: From the Department of Theater and Dance at Wayne State University. Learn choreography from the play Mary Poppins.

April 9 2 PM: Official Jane Eyre, full performance, a collaboration with Bristol Old Vic, filmed by National Theatre Live at London’s National Theatre.

April 10, 7 PM 2 PM Eastern Cosi fan tutte Royal Opera on demand and for free via the ROH’s Facebook and YouTube channels.

April 10 2 PM Eastern Andrew Lloyd Weber’s full length Jesus Christ Superstar will air on Youtube.

April 10 8PM Actors from the Stratford Festival (Canada) will be doing a staged reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream from their various living rooms. Streaming on Youtube. Set a reminder by following the link and if you miss it live it will be archived there.

April 11 1 PM From the Department of Theater and Dance at Wayne State University. Learn the dialects from the play Mary Poppins.

April 11 6 PM Phoenix, Oregon film. One day only. Presented by the Michigan Theater and State Theater in Ann Arbor. $

twelfth-night-production-photos_-2017_2017_photo-by-manuel-harlan-_c_-rsc_23419857b35fee74f76138967eff00002337f7.tmb-img-912April 11 7:15 PM (Not clear what time zone) Royal Shakespeare Company and Marquee TV are teaming up for a Twelfth Night Online Premiere Watch Party.

April 18 Noon. Shakespeare in Detroit will be performing Antony and Cleopatra via Zoom/YouTube on and again the following day. The link is not yet up, but will be posted on their Facebook page.

 

Theater/Film Ongoing:

Apollinaire Theater Company (Massachusetts) is doing a series of free interactive online play & film script reading gathering (by video meeting). You can to become part of the show — from a safe social distance.  Download and read the script, choose your favorite parts and, if your name is drawn, you become part of the production or just sit and watch if you wish.

This week’s schedule:

Thurs. April 9, 7:30
(gather 7:00-7:30)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
•Hosted by Andrea Lyman

Friday April 10, 7:30 (gather 7:00-7:30)
A Streetcar Named Desire
by Tennessee Williams
•Hosted by David Reiffel

Saturday April 11, 7:30 (gather 7:00-7:30)
Arsenic and Old Lace
by Joseph Kesselring
•Hosted by Andrea Lyman

Sunday April 12, 3:00 (gather 2:30-3:00)
Sense and Sensibility
Screenplay by Emma Thompson Based on the novel by Jane Austen
•Hosted by Brooks Reeves

Cirque du Soleil is offering streaming content including show and behind the scenes footage

National Theatre (London)is streaming a free play every Thursday at 7PM GMT.

The Show Must Go On Online will be streaming all of Shakespeare’s plays in order

Theater without Theater (Instagram) is posting everything from songs from canceled productions to full performances.

Center for Puppetry is offering a regular series of streaming shows and puppet making workshops see their web page for upcoming dates.

Broadway Plays and Musicals You Can Watch from Home

Marquee TV
offers a 30 Day free trial of its streaming service with performances by
the Bolshoi, Royal Shakespeare Company and Classic Spring Theater
Company’s Oscar Wilde season.

Corona Virus Theater Club. Linking writers and actors to produce streaming content.

Keep on Writing 2020 creates a new Twitter length play each day.

Belarus Free Theater is streaming 24 of its productions on Youtube. English subtitles available.

Happenstance Theater’s Moxie production. Winner of two Helen Hayes Awards! Outstanding Costume Design and Musical Direction
A theatrical collage inspired by the Great Age of Vaudeville, infused with the joys and struggles of its performers’ lives. In homage to the style and spirit of this immensely popular theatre from the late 19th Century, Happenstance Theater brings old Vaudeville back. $10 rental supports the theater. $

I, China. Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar as told through the eyes of one of the play’s minor characters. The review of this performance in The Guardian says “There’s no shortage of Shakespeare and other live drama to watch online during this period when we are shut out of theatres. But Crouch and Owusu don’t just deliver spellbinding poetry: they urge us to create our own and, most importantly, assure us that we can’t fail.”

Virtual Theater and Learning from Chicago Children’s Theater on Youtube.

The Guardian’s List of the “Hottest Front-Room Seats.”

Film

Talking Shorts, an online magazine devoted to short films, has organized the My Darling Quarantine Online Film Festival.

Each week, the site will host seven shorts curated by the international
film community on the theme of of “dystopia.” Vote on your favorites, and if you’re able, donate to the GoFundMe the site has set up to support both Medecins Sans Frontiers and cultural workers who have been impacted by the various shutdowns.

Cinema Detroit is hosting virtual screenings of indie films. Buy a ticket and they’ll send you a link to stream. $

Cinetopia Film Festival rent and stream independent movies. Support independent film makers. $

Michigan and State Theaters Virtual Cinema. Streaming independent films to support independent filmmakers and the theaters. $

Acme Screening Room. Rent and stream current independent films. $

Music Box Direct. Streaming service that brings international art house films and tv to your living room. 7 Day free trial. $

National Film Board of Canada has more than 3,000 films free online

Music Upcoming

April 6 3:30 PM Streaming singing lesson “How to Sing Freely” with Arden Kaywin.

April 6-11: The Dennos Musuem Center in Traverse City, MI is holding a “Live and Local” streaming concert series. Most shows start at 7PM visit their page for the full schedule.

April 7 4 PM The Marriage of Figaro Finale Houston Grand Opera Studio video premieres on Youtube.

April 10 6:30 PM Eliza Gilkyson 6:30 PM Album release live streaming show

April 11 4 PM Singer songwriter Gary Owen

April 12 1PM Andrea Bocelli On Easter Sunday, by invitation of the City and of the Duomo cathedral of Milan, Bocelli will give a solo performance representing a message of love, healing and hope to Italy and the world. Livestream on Youtube.  Follow the link to set a reminder.

 

 

Music Ongoing

Classical

Michigan Opera Theater’s “MOT At Home”

The Metropolitan Opera is offering nightly live streaming.

Paris Opera is screening select performances (including Swan Lake) online free

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Live Streaming on its Youtube Channel

Boston Symphony Orchestra At Home

London Symphony Orchestra performance archive (new concerts streamed every Sunday and Thursday)

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Digital Concert Hall, free access if you register before March 31 (voucher code: BERLINPHIL)

Fred Hirsch, pianist and composer, is livestreaming a free mini-concert from his home every day at 1 PM on Facebook.

The Guardian’s list of classical music and opera to stream

Other Genres Ongoing

 

 

Club Passim (Massachusetts) is streaming a series of concerts, mostly acoustic/americana each day at 6 or 7 PM. Visit their Live Stream page to see the schedule.

Cafe Lena has a streaming “Stay at Home” series every night at 8 PM.

Virtual Music Events Directory

Rufus Wainwright Livestreaming Daily

Mary Chapin Carpenter is doing songs from her kitchen on Facebook

Will Hoppey, NY Singer-Songwriter, is holding regular living room gigs every Wednesday and Saturday at 6 PM.

Randy Cormier, a Berkshire, MA musician is posting regular videos from his yard on his Youtube channel. (If you like Bon Jovi, give him a listen.)

While baseball is sidelined, Fenway Park’s organist is giving 30 minute streaming concerts called The 7th Inning Stretch every day at 3 PM.

Harry Rollins shares some of his favorites from his music collection and the stories behind them in “Cool Quarantine” KCRW radio.

Matthew Way has a daily DJ dance party streaming on Facebook at 6 PM

Also check out the #keepthemusicgoing hashtag on Youtube. It seems to be mostly classical and musical theater, but there is a long list of original content to go through.

Arlo Guthrie has posted a video from an earlier concert to help get donations for the Pete Seeger’s Clearwater Hudson River revival project after its major fundraising event was canceled due to Covid.

Literature Ongoing

Unemployed NYC Booksellers launch online bookstore

Insideout Literary Arts/Citywide Poets have daily writing prompts and a virtual poetry slam every Saturday from 3-4 PM.

Reading list of books and authors that were to be featured at the canceled PEN World Voices Festival

Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor has a digital event series called At Home with Literati. Check their calendar to see upcoming author events.

Children’s Lit

Upcoming

April 7 1 PM Story and Illustration. Join Professor Tommy Karr, Director of Theatre Management, as he reads a chapter from the beloved classic, Mary Poppins. An author and illustrator himself, Professor Karr will illustrate a part of the story while he reads!

Children’s Lit

Ongoing

David Williams releasing a free children’s audiobook every day for 30 days

Resources from Children’s Literature Authors
Looking for something useful to do during distancing? The New York Public Library needs volunteers to correct computer transcriptions of oral histories.

Dolly Parton is reading children’s stories live various evenings at 7 PM.

Other Arts Upcoming

April 6 (Beginning) The Tate in London is offering a curated tour of its Andy Warhol exhibition via its Youtube channel.

April 13 (Beginning) The Tate is offering a curated tour of its Aubrey Beardsley exhibition via its Youtube channel.

April 29 5 PM: “Lets Draw Picasso’s Guitar” class for ages 8-12. $

 

 

 

 

 


Other Ongoing

Nikon is offering free online photography classes throughout April

Taxi Magazine’s list of celebrity streaming concerts and classes

Virtual Field Trips

Virtual Tour of Michigan’s Science Center

Fast Company’s List of Free Online Drawing Classes by Famous Illustrators

Virtual NYC Arts. Massive amounts of stuff here.

Free Shakespeare coloring book

Finally The Social Distancing Festival has a large list of upcoming live streams.

When Everything Stops We Sing

I’ve been thinking about that Matthew Arnold quote a lot lately.

Wandering between two worlds, one dead
The other powerless to be born,
With nowhere yet to rest my head
Like these, on earth I wait forlorn.

It is as though we got here via a bridge that collapsed behind us and we’re standing on a platform with the way forward obscured by heavy fog.

The support systems you would rely on when you’re going through a rough time are going through a rough time. Lots of great causes to donate to, lots of artist friends to support, lots of businesses you value that are stressed— and no money coming in. You just want to give everyone who is disrupted, anxious, depressed, broke, lonely, a hug.  And you can’t.

If we were oblivious to it before we are not now. We do not exist in isolation. We are interdependent. We need each other. We need a deeper connection than a social media feed. How can we share what it is to be human while keeping a distance?

A couple of weeks ago our ballet master class tour ended, and we faced some challenges getting my partner Valery Lantratov back home to Moscow. When Russia closed its borders to Europe, but not yet to America, I scrambled to find a flight from Detroit to Moscow that was affordable and did not go through Europe. It’s not so easy to find a flight to Moscow from here that does not go through Europe. I found one from Chicago on Azerbijani Airlines that went through Baku, but this was less than ideal, and so we had to drive to New York where we could catch a direct Aeroflot flight. Things were changing quickly at that time, and long story short, we got him back home two days before JFK closed for all international passenger flights.

It was an emotionally draining experience. Being in the airport itself was a bit like being among the last two people in a horror movie who have not yet been taken over by the body snatchers. To send him off and to be left alone there was even more ominous, especially given the uncertainty of when he would be able to come back.

I sought refuge at the home of nearby friends. He is a musician, and his work had dried up a couple of weeks before. Because he makes his living from playing live he was not sure when he would have income again, and of course, he missed playing and being with people.

We came up with a system, using a cell phone, and a tripod, to put on a little live streaming show. We didn’t announce it in advance, not knowing if it would work. We thought a few friends might log in. What happened was quite amazing. About 50 people discovered the feed and logged in, and they posted requests, and thanks, and said it was just what they needed. A half hour later the video had been shared and more than a hundred had seen it. By the next morning it was 1,500.

For the duration of the show people felt connected, music and art have always done that. They share an essential aspect of what it is to be human across distance and time.  To hear a familiar song, to know that others are experiencing it with you, is to remember that our culture connects us, that our humanity connects us, even when things around us seem to be falling apart. We are still us.

That’s why people are singing from their balconies, and dancing in the streets. We are still us. We still sing. We still dance.

The arguments we’ve been making for years for art tend to fall flat. The grant writers and the patrons of the arts ask for and give funding in spite of these arguments, not because of them. They are disingenuous. The people who make art don’t want you to support it because it helps downtown development. They don’t want to have music classes in schools because it improves math scores. They want art to be supported because art matters.

What we have learned this past month is that when the buying and selling stops we need to know that other people have felt what we do, and that it connects us. When everything else stops, we sing.

Here’s a song for the friends you’re thinking of who you can’t be with physically at this moment.

 

 

 

 

Creative Times

While theaters and clubs are shuttered, artists are finding new ways for us to be “alone together” as singer-songwriter Will Hoppey is calling his regular dining room “tour.”

As my second career is ballet master class tours, I started out to make a list of virtual ballet classes offered by our studios. It turns out someone else is doing that quite well. (The best way to find out about upcoming virtual ballet classes and to discuss logistics with other teachers and students is the “Virtual Ballet” Facebook group.)

But I wanted to put together a list of some of the arts offerings that are out there in the virtual world. Many of your favorite artists and arts organizations are making classes and shows available during this time, but my personal favorites are the low tech creations by sidelined artists stuck in their houses who want to reach out to the rest of us stuck in our own houses. People are reaching out all over the world with their senses of humor intact. I’m uplifted by all of the creativity and desire for connection on display.

I love this one from the dancers of the Moissiev Ballet Ensemble.

Ballet dancer Danil Simkin also has some funny quarantine videos on his Facebook page.

Here are some of the other things that I’ve compiled for your streaming pleasure and edification:

Ballet/Dance Performances Upcoming:

March 27, 7PM GMT (3 PM Eastern Time) Peter and the Wolf, The Royal Ballet on demand and for free via the ROH’s Facebook and YouTube channels.

April 17 7 PM BST (2 PM Eastern Time) Metamorphosis, The Royal Ballet on demand and for free via the ROH’s Facebook and YouTube channels.

Ballet/Dance Performances Ongoing:

Boston Ballet has released video of dress rehearsals for its delayed performances

Ballet and Dance Classes

ProBallet Ilya Kuznetsov’s Youtube/Instagram channel has online classes every day. Here’s one featuring Maria Alexandrova and Vladislav Lantratov of the Bolshoi Ballet.


CLI Studios. Free live dance classes

Dance Center of San Antonio. Register for online classes, with corrections.

Louisville Ballet Facebook Live Streaming Classes, March 13-April 5.

  • 3/15 12:30 -1:00 pm Intermediate Ballet Barre
  • 3/18 6:00 – 6:30 pm Pilates
  • 3/21 11:00 – 11:30 am Beginning Ballet Barre

Visit their web page for more information.


Pop-Up Ballet from Principal Ballet, Reston.  March 16-20
Free streaming Ballet class perfect for kids under 7 at 10:35 AM.

Ballet with Rebecca Lemme. Video of 40 minute barre class.

Debbie Allen has been offering a series of classes. Follow her Twitter for announcements of upcoming events.

Broadway alum Tommy Bracco (Pretty Woman: The Musical, Newsies)
launches #QuarantineCombo, a dance video series on Youtube.

Pointe Magazine and Dance Spirit have the hashtag #Livingroomdance going on their social media. Share your home routines.

Ballet/Dance Resources:

Dance Magazine’s list of virtual classes.

Dance Spirit magazine has put together a list of online classes. 

Pointe Magazine’s List of Online Dance Courses (Mostly for a fee)

Resources for Moving Dance-Based Pedagogy Online

Theater/Film Performances Upcoming:

March 24-29: 58th Annual Ann Arbor Film Festival  The festival will be live streaming its entire program for free!

March 22-April 2: Boston’s ReelAbilities Film Festival
(running March 22 through April 2), devoted to films about people with
disabilities, will also be presenting movies and discussions online for
free.

March 26-29: Apollinaire Theater Company (Massachusetts) is doing a series of free interactive online play & film script reading gathering (by video mAeeting). You can to become part of the show — from a safe social distance.  Download and read the script, choose your favorite
parts and, if your name is drawn, you become part of the production or just sit and watch if you wish. Tentative Schedule

Thurs. March 26, 7:30 (gather 7:00-7:30)

Sonia Flew

by Melinda Lopez

•Hosted by Andrea Lyman

Friday March 27, 7:30 (gather 7:00-7:30)

Jaws

by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb. Based on novel by Peter Benchley

•Hosted by David Reiffel

Saturday March 28, 7:30 (gather 7:00-7:30)

Out of Sterno

By Deborah Zoe Laufer

•Hosted by Andrea Lyman

Sunday March 29, 3:00 (gather 2:30-3:00)

Dr. Stragelove

By Stanley Kubrick & Terry Southern, Based on the novel “Red Alert” by Peter George

•Hosted by David Reiffel


March 27-29: Botton Dog Theater Company has made the one man show A Wilde Fan availalbe on Youtube.

April 3 7PM BST (2 PM Eastern) Acis and Galatea, Royal Opera on demand and for free via the ROH’s Facebook and YouTube channels.

April 5 1 PM: Shakespeare in Detroit will host a live abbreviated reading of Taming of the Shrew

April 10, 7 PM BST (2 PM Eastern) Cosi fan tutte Royal Opera  on demand and for free via the ROH’s Facebook and YouTube channels.

April 11 7:15 PM (Not clear what time zone) Royal Shakespeare Company and Marquee TV are teaming up for a Twelfth Night Online Premiere Watch Party.

Theater/Film Ongoing:

 Theater

National Theatre (London)is streaming a free play every Thursday at 7PM GMT.

The Show Must Go On Online will be streaming all of Shakespeare’s plays in order

Theater without Theater (Instagram) is posting everything from songs from canceled productions to full performances.

Center for Puppetry is offering a regular series of streaming shows and puppet making workshops see their web page for upcoming dates.

Cinema Detroit is hosting virtual screenings of indie films. Buy a ticket and they’ll send you a link to stream.

Broadway Plays and Musicals You Can Watch from Home

Helen Mirren reads Shakespeare

Patrick Stewart Reads Shakespeare’s Sonnets (His Twitter feed)

Marquee TV
offers a 30 Day free trial of its streaming service with performances by
the Bolshoi, Royal Shakespeare Company and Classic Spring Theater
Company’s Oscar Wilde season.

Corona Virus Theater Club. Linking writers and actors to produce streaming content.

Playbill has a regular feature going of new videos put out by sidelined actors.

The Guardian has a list of its choices for the best streaming options

Film

Talking Shorts, an online magazine devoted to short films, has organized the My Darling Quarantine Online Film Festival.
Each week, the site will host seven shorts curated by the international
film community on the theme of of “dystopia.” Vote on your favorites, and if you’re able, donate to the GoFundMe the site has set up to support both Medecins Sans Frontiers and cultural workers who have been impacted by the various shutdowns.

Music Upcoming

Classical

March 28, 8 p.m. Boston Artists Ensemble presents French Connection

March 29, 3 PM.  Boston Lyric Opera’s Norma Free on Demand starting March 29.

Norma, starring Elena Stikhina, conducted by Music Director David Angus, which was shuttered due to the health crisis, will be available for Free
On Demand audio streaming on the websites blo.org/norma and classicalwcrb.com and accessible for the next month.

Other Genres


Club Passim (Massachusetts) is streaming a series of concerts in upcoming days, mostly singer/songwriters.

Thursday, 3/26 – Zachariah Hickman’s Parlor of PlayfulnessZachariah will be livestreaming HERE at 8pm EDT

Folk, Singer/Songwriter

Friday, 3/27 – Trace BundyTrace will be livestreaming HERE at 3pm EDT
Acoustic, Guitar
Saturday, 3/25 – Matt Smith’s 50th Birthday Watch Party Set 1“Rebroadcast” from Feb. 12th!

We’ll be hosting a watch party on FaceBook at 6pm EDT 
Singer/Songwriter, Folk, Celtic 

Sunday, 3/29 – Peter Mulvey
Peter will be livestreaming HERE at 7pm EDT
Singer/Songwriter, Fiddle, Folk Pop

Music Ongoing

Classical

The Metropolitan Opera is offering nightly live streaming. 

Paris Opera is screening select performances (including Swan Lake) online free

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Live Streaming on its Youtube Channel

Boston Symphony Orchestra At Home

Pianist Igor Levit presents daily (or nearly so) Hauskonzerte via Twitter

Operawire’s list of opera companies offering free livestreams

London Symphony Orchestra performance archive (new concerts streamed every Sunday and Thursday)

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Digital Concert Hall, free access if you register before March 31 (voucher code: BERLINPHIL)

Fred Hirsch, pianist and composer, is livestreaming a free mini-concert from his home every day at 1 PM on Facebook.

Other Music

First a few more videos from artists around the world:

Virtual Music Events Directory

Broadway World Living Room Concerts

Rufus Wainwright Livestreaming Daily

Mary Chapin Carpenter is doing songs from her kitchen on Facebook

Will Hoppey, NY Singer-Songwriter, is holding regular living room gigs. See his Facebook page for times and dates.

Virtual Corner Club
I’ve created an interactive Spotify List where you can share the music of some of your favorite local artists whose gigs have been canceled during social distancing. Add the music of the folks you’d been going out to see on the weekend (please no more than three tracks by any one
artist) and share the list. We can all discover some great new artists.

Museums/Art

Lunch Doodles with Kennedy Center Artist in Residence Mo Williams 

Google’s Interactive Frida Khalo Exhibit

Download Free Coloring Books from 113 Museums 

My Modern Met’s List of “Eclectic” Online Exhibits 

Online Art Challenges

10 University Art Classes You Can Take for Free Online

Literature

Unemployed NYC Booksellers launch online bookstore 

David Williams releasing a free children’s audiobook every day for 30 days

Resources from Children’s Literature Authors
Looking for something useful to do during distancing? The New York Public Library needs volunteers to correct computer transcriptions of oral histories.

Insideout Literary Arts/Citywide Poets have daily writing prompts and a virtual poetry slam every Saturday from 3-4 PM.


Other

Taxi Magazine’s list of celebrity streaming concerts and classes

Virtual Field Trips

Resources for Artists

Springboard list of Emergency Resources for Artists 

Article on How Musicians Can Ask Fans for Support 

Large List of Resources for Opportunities and Relief for Freelancers 

Creative Capital’s List of Artist Resources

Backstage Magazine has listings
for paid voice over jobs that can be done remotely. To get access to
the application pages you must be a paid subscriber.

Robert Rauschenberg Emergency Grants.  An emergency grant program that provides one-time grants of up to $5,000
for medical or dental emergencies.  The grants are available to visual
and media artists, and choreographers living anywhere in the United
States or U.S. Territories.

Michigan Music Alliance has created a fund to help musicians

Emergency Grants for Museum Curators

Of course, this is just the stuff that has been coming across my radar. I’ll keep you posted as I find out about more.

Down the Memory Hole: Donald Trump’s 1999 Presidential Flirtation

You rarely hear much these days about Donald Trump’s 1999 shot at the presidency as the candidate of the Reform Party. Because I enjoy going through old newspaper archives, I thought I would take a look back at commentary on Trump’s campaign (or was it really a PR campaign? The commentators were not sure) of 20 years ago.

Fri, Oct 29, 1999 – Page 19 · Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) · Newspapers.com

Thu, Dec 2, 1999 – Page 19 · Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut) · Newspapers.com

Thu, Dec 2, 1999 – Page 19 · Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut) · Newspapers.com

Thu, Dec 2, 1999 – Page 19 · Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut) · Newspapers.com

Mon, Oct 25, 1999 – 1 · The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, New Mexico) · Newspapers.com

Thu, Nov 4, 1999 – Page 7 · South Florida Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) · Newspapers.com

Donald Trump views on abortion, 1999.Donald Trump views on abortion, 1999. Sun, Nov 28, 1999 – Page 108 · The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida) · Newspapers.com

Wed, Sep 22, 1999 – 22 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com

Sun, Nov 28, 1999 – 60 · The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) · Newspapers.com

Sun, Jan 23, 2000 – Page 3 · Herald and Review (Decatur, Illinois) · Newspapers.com

Sun, Nov 28, 1999 – 60 · The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) · Newspapers.com

Tue, Nov 16, 1999 – 12 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com

Mon, Nov 29, 1999 – 9 · Sioux City Journal (Sioux City, Iowa) · Newspapers.com

Thu, Oct 21, 1999 – Page 14 · Tallahassee Democrat (Tallahassee, Florida) · Newspapers.com

Wed, Dec 8, 1999 – 3 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com

Thu, Nov 18, 1999 – 8 · The Daily News (Lebanon, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

Thu, Nov 18, 1999 – 8 · The Daily News (Lebanon, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

Wed, Dec 8, 1999 – 3 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com

Thu, Dec 9, 1999 – 50 · The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) · Newspapers.com

The Multi-Directional Public Pose

Watching Desperate Romantics on Pluto recently I found myself wondering about our current era in arts. How do we approach art making and receiving in our age? Who would the “pre-Raphelites” be?

Each age has an idea about what art aims to do, and argues over it. Having a sense of the goal of art allows one to critique it, to recognize corruption, how it deviates from the ultimate expression of that goal.

Writing this I am reminded of a scene in the movie Dead Poet’s Society in which Robin Williams’ character John Keating has his students rip out the introduction to a book on poetry, which conflicts with his own philosophy of the purpose of literature.

The film came out when I was in college, and the perfect age to accept its message.  It is an age in which your whole life is focused on finding yourself and your place in the world. One of the great challenges is to separate what you really think and feel from what you’ve been taught you should think and feel. And at this moment, Keating’s view that the purpose of art is to lead the viewer to greater self-discovery and self-expression made perfect sense. I cheered the liberation that came with tearing the introduction out of the “Pritchard text.”

A number of years later my father gave me a book that was nearly falling apart. My father was raised in a home that did not emphasize book learning, and after dropping out of high school, he enrolled in the Marines which gave him the opportunity to take the GED and use the G.I. Bill to go to college. The book, Sound and Sense by Laurence Perrine.This book, along with a supportive teacher, was the gateway that allowed my father to become a professional writer.

When I started reading Sound and Sense something about it sounded familiar “Once we have answered the question, What is the central purpose of the poem? we can consider another question, equally important to full understanding: By what means is that purpose achieved?”

After a bit of research I discovered that indeed Sound and Sense was the model for the hated “Pritchard” text in Dead Poet’s Society. Perrine warned against the “false approach” to literature that “always looks for a lesson, a moral, a bit of moral instruction.”

Today I believe Perrine/Pritchard were in the right. The way to judge the value (The film version of the book calls it “greatness”) of a work of art is to measure the result against its aims.

I also recognize that Keating won the day. Today, judging by the many writing blogs I’ve come across, we tend to talk about art as self-expression. We use the word “creativity” to refer to inspiration, not the hard work of making something out of that spark of inspiration. We’re most likely to critique art in terms of the moral instruction embedded within it.  Art is affirmation, instruction and an illustration of how we should be in the world.

Arts movements are influenced by technological change. The invention of photography meant that a realistic image could be captured. This sparked Impressionism as artists tried to capture what a camera could not.

Our era is defined by the invention of ubiquitous computer technology and the interconnectedness that came with the internet.

I would argue that the biggest impact of this on literature is not that ebooks have changed the economics of publishing (although they have), but that the smartphone has fracutred our attention.

I recently went to the theater and during intermission, instead of sitting and talking about the first act, a large portion of the audience was checking their phones. Almost all experiences of art today are interrupted by the checking of Facebook and Twitter. There are pictures of friends, news headlines. Every experience becomes a mosaic or patchwork quilt.

At the same time, we edit out the pauses in some forms of entertainment. We watch an entire season of television in a week instead of over the course of a year with week-long breaks.

Creators can no longer count on their works being experienced in the form in which the artist envisioned them. Everything is remixed.

Books have always been enjoyed in isolation, and now, with streaming, you can enjoy music and theater the same way. You watch what you want, when you want, on a device that is always in your hand.

Yet, while we may experience these media in isolation, we do so with an awareness that we will be called on to act as critic, to give 4 stars or to post to a blog. We will have the opportunity to comment on the work and make that part of our public persona. That makes us self-conscious viewers.

How does the self-conscious audience and the self-conscious creator– aware of how the work might be star-rated and dissected–shape the current art movement?

My sense is that in the online environment, as we fight for attention and likes, and try to “build a platform” in order to have any chance of making a living, we are prodded to see ourselves more in competition for scarce resources than as a “brotherhood.”

It is common to say that the internet has made it possible for the first time for the audience to participate. Art used to be a one way street, the artist created and the viewer consumed. This is true only of the 20th century, when recording and broadcasting made it possible to reproduce and send works across space and time in one direction. For most of human history most art was participatory. People told stories by the fireside, they went to the theater in person, the popular songs were sheet music that you played at home, or songs that you sang at a party with friends.  Artists existed in communities, which supported them and knew them.

What is different in our era is having participation by an audience with whom you have no personal or physical connection. Today an artist can put something out, and it will be built upon, commented upon, and so on, by people the artist has never and will likely never meet. Unlike mass communication it is participatory, unlike the older forms, it is not community oriented.  This environment creates a multi-directional public pose.

So what should we call this moment?

 

 

 

 

 

Bosie the Birthday Boy

The_Age_Sat__Oct_15__1938_2It’s October 22, and being the anniversary of Lord Alfred Douglas’s birth, it is the traditional time to post about his awfulness.  “Evil queen” and “a dick” are a couple of the memorials that flashed through my twitter feed today.

I usually try to find a little something of interest to share on the day. (Last year it was an obscure interview Douglas did about Oscar Wilde for a French journal.)

In 1938, around the time of Douglas’s birthday, The Age, published an article on the old poet’s self regard. Here are a couple of excerpts.

The_Age_Sat__Oct_15__1938_

 

The_Age_Sat__Oct_15__1938_3

Desperate Romantics

DesromsI have just finished watching the 2009 BBC 2 series Desperate Romantics, which is streaming for free on Pluto these days.  Ten years down the line, I imagine the statute of limitations on spoilers is probably passed, but if you haven’t watched this yet, I’m letting you know that I’m going to talk about plot points from the end of the series.

Desperate Romantics is a fun (it is customary to say “racy”) modern-paced, boy band version of art history. Dante Gabriel Rossetti is the swaggering front man of the band. He gets all the attention and the women. John Everett Millais is “the cute one.” He’s the guy who can play six instruments well, can learn any instrument he picks up, he writes the tunes that bring the band to the attention of the hot critic of the moment. (Also he wears a fantastic purple coat.) William Holman Hunt is the drummer. They call him “Maniac.” Finally there is Fred. He’s the guy who loves music and musicians, and decides to be the manager.

As in any good VH-1 Behind the Music, we follow the band from its beginning as a brotherhood of struggling artists. Then life experiences and varying levels of success pulls them apart. At the end Millais is trying to get the band back together again but it seems the reunion tour is just not going to come together.

All three of the artists have amorous adventures with women that came into their lives as model/muses. Poor, loyal, Fred–the only one who is not paired up in the series– is the first to spot the aesthetically perfect milliner Lizzie Siddal. All of the artists fight for the chance to paint her, and Millais has the first success. But she is drawn to the bad boy Rossetti, who promises to bring her into the world of artists by teaching her to paint.

The drama centers more on love making than the art making. The only painting that is really dwelt upon is Millais’ Ophelia. It is used as a foreshadowing device, and Lizzie Siddal by the end of the tale, becomes Ophelia, driven mad by love of an inconstant man. This Ophelia drowns herself in laudanum.

ophelia-john-everett-millais

Each episode begins with a disclaimer that historical liberties have been taken. Not knowing a great deal about the historical figures, my commentary will focus on how they were interpreted as television characters.

Millais is the marrying kind. He is serious and stable and blissful in his family life. Hunt is driven by an internal conflict between a religious desire to renounce the flesh and his lust for a woman of low birth. Rossetti is a selfish womanizer whose brief marriage to his co-muse is depicted as disastrous. The a-historical Fred is mostly there to narrate it all.

The passionate relationship between Rossetti and Siddal gets the most screen time and attention. Siddal is drawn to Rossetti because of his talent and because he can usher her into a new world. She has artistic ambitions of her own, and he helps her to realize them, in spite of his own occasional jealousy at her success as he struggles.

She worries that he will never marry her and give her security. His inability to commit is chalked up to his enjoying the chase and only wanting what he can’t have. Yet, after Siddal almost dies from an overdose, Rossetti reluctantly marries his great love. Rather than being happy ever after, it is the beginning of the end. For Siddal’s artistic mentor John Ruskin stops giving her financial support and tutoring after she is a married woman, and Rossetti is already flirting with his next model at the wedding.  The distraught Siddal takes her own life.

Rossetti is crushed and vows to change his ways. He throws a book of poems that he wrote into her grave. In the last scene, however, he digs the grave up in order to retrieve them.

Thus the problem is cast as Rossetti, and by extension, Hunt, valuing art over relationships. The drama seems to come down firmly on the side of relationships over art. These men could not really love, and that is a tragedy.

In our culture, we tend to attribute characters’ actions to innate personality and character and we give much less weight to societal and external factors.  Was Rossetti broken emotionally and Millais healthy or could there be another explanation for the successes and failures of their relationships?

All of the members of the brotherhood prioritized creating art. Rossetti had less commercial success. To prioritize art, for him, meant financial struggle and irregular income. (He is squatting in someone’s atrium for most of the story.) Millais had early, and continuing, commercial success. This allowed him to prioritize art while making the kind of comfortable living that would allow him to raise 13 children with the help of various servants.  If Millais were squatting and only getting the occasional commission he might be as reluctant to marry as Rossetti. If Rossetti were rich he might have bought a palace for his muse, and even if he did have affairs, it might not have threatened her entire sense of safety.

It strikes me that while we do tend to chalk male character’s actions up to “character” we make more allowance for the effect of social forces on female characters. We’re quite ready to see female characters as being acted upon, in spite of their best efforts. Although Lizzie Siddal is a strong character, with talent and ambition in her own right, she is thwarted time and again by social forces. When she marries she becomes, in society’s eyes, a wife, and loses her external financial support for her art. Yet, she is not married to a man who can give her the traditional role of wife. He is reluctant to have children. He is powerless to support her career. He is not even able to stay focused on her when he finds a new muse model.

After her death the brotherhood sits with Rossetti and discusses the tragedy of his character, his inability to love what he can have. We’re not invited to question Siddal’s love for Rossetti. Does she also prioritize art over love? Is she attracted to Rossetti because she believes the only way to realize her art is to attach herself to this man?

Whether Siddal actually took her own life, or whether it was a tragic accident, has been much debated.  The official report was accident, but Siddal as Ophelia is a much better story.

Watching this series got me to musing on what artistic period we’re living in today, and that will be the subject of a future post.