Sunday, May 24, 2020

a little bit online

This week the UK National Theatre's online offering is a several-years-old production of A Streetcar Named Desire, with a vocally unrecognizable Gillian Anderson as Blanche. I started to watch it, not because I really wanted to see Streetcar again (I saw it in Ashland in 1977), than because it's Great Literature to which I thought I should give myself Renewed Exposure.

But I was forcibly reminded of the fact that one sits through moderately tedious plays on stage because it's not really practical to leave, and besides you paid all that money to be there. Whereas on the small screen at home it's got to be better than that. I first got tired and quit during the long initial dialogue between Blanche and Stella, because it was so stagy. I decided to come back and press on, but when Stanley comes in, he's the only one of them who sounds like a human being, and I didn't want to risk getting too sympathetic to Stanley, so I quit again.

Today there was a fund-raising webcast by the Berkeley Symphony, and since I had an e-mail notification and (a not unimportant point) I remembered it was on, I tuned in. Several sheltering musicians played unaccompanied solo pieces, usually by Bach, which transfers well to the viola and even the clarinet. I liked best the one by the associate concertmaster, who not only was crisp but who injected a bit of jazz into his playing, very well injected I thought. Conclusion, video from the symphony's last live concert of the finale of Beethoven's Fifth, introduced by the music director as hopeful and encouraging music. Let's see that it is.

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