I've been sitting around all day wondering what to blog about (well, when I wasn't reading an amazing MS for a lovely and talented Twitter friend) and I just realized that I have had some adventures these past two weeks that I can tell you about!
Last Saturday, because I had some extra bus tickets I had to use before they expired, and because it sounded like lots of fun, I went into the city to meet up with my lovely intern friend Ari so that we could have a writer meetup and sit in a cafe and put some words onto some (computerized) paper. It was loads of fun. We went to a place called Argo Tea across the street from the Fashion Institute of Technology (coincidentally where my best friend goes to school - why have I not been to this place before?!?) and they have some really delicious tea and really tasty pastries. Actually, I'm glad that I didn't know about this place earlier in the summer, I would have spent entirely too much money eating lunch there. I actually managed to get quite a lot of words written as well, which was great. I've never done the typical set-up-camp-in-a-cafe-and-write thing, and I had sort of expected to be distracted by the public setting, but I wasn't - it's New York, nobody really pays much attention to anybody else. I was glad to have the designated time set out to just WRITE - and occasionally discuss writerly things with Ari - in a place where I had no Olympics to allow me to procrastinate. (Seriously, the Olympics are murdering my productivity. Or, well, I guess I'm allowing them to murder it.) So, thanks for a grand afternoon, Ari! :)
The weekend before that saw some adventures too. My friend Lisa - who you will all remember as my roommate from London, with whom I had such great adventures - came to stay with me for the weekend and watch the Opening Ceremonies (which were fun, but slightly weird - although Voldemort vs. Mary Poppins? Yes please). We also went into the city that Saturday (more bus tickets that needed to be used) and we saw War Horse at Lincoln Center. This is actually the third time Lisa's seen it and the second time I have (we saw it together in London, and she'd seen it in NYC prior to that) and I would absolutely go again. Lincoln Center has this amazing student rush program called LincTix - go check it out, it's fantastic! Because we got thirty dollar tickets. And - can you believe it?
WE WERE IN THE FRONT ROW.
There are a lot of theatres where sitting in the front row doesn't actually sound like fun - most traditional proscenium style theatres (the ones with the big arch over the stage) have the front row set back from the pit, and you'd consequently be craning your neck the whole show trying to see what's going on. The stage at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center isn't like that - the front of the stage juts out into the audience (I am trying and failing to remember what the theatrical term for that is. Theatre nerds? Enlighten me?) and so even from the very front row, you aren't at a disadvantage. There were a few things we missed out on, because they were on the other side of a prop, but as we'd already seen the show, that was not a problem at all.
Guys. I don't think I have raved to you yet about how much I love War Horse. But. I LOVE War Horse. It is quite possibly the most beautiful piece of theatre I have seen in ever - both visually and emotionally. It helps that the history nerd part of me gets incredibly choked up just thinking about World War I, because it was so very pointless and yet so very devastating.
That scene is from the end of Act I, which is just such a vivid, heartbreaking scene. The whole production is such a beautiful look at the story of the war, and just how much it affected everyone involved - English townsfolk, English and German soldiers, French people trapped in no man's land, and yes, of course, the horses.
The horse puppets are absolutely stunning. Joey (the main horse) walked right past me twice two weeks ago, and I was rather as giddy about it as I was as a horse-obsessed ten year old about real horses. The detail on the puppets is amazing - Joey is a hunter, half Thoroughbred, half draft horse, and his design is really quite different from his friend Topthorn, who is all Thoroughbred, and so is much more angular and lean. It was wonderful to really get to see all that beautiful detail from so close. And the puppets absolutely move like real horses. The actors controlling them are really wonderful - you honestly forget that they are there at all, that you are not watching a real horse. The moment in Act I when Albert, Joey's human, jumps up onto the puppet for the first time is just magical. It all seems so very real.
That's an interview with the actor who played Captain Nicholls in London in 2010, and it's a really good close-up of just how well the horse puppet moves. It's really pretty amazing.
That's the official West End trailer, and it showcases another thing I love about this play: the music. I of course bought the soundtrack when I saw it again two weeks ago, because it is really beautiful music, and it fits so well into the play. It isn't a musical; the songs are more like a film soundtrack, but there is one character called the Songmaker who serves as a sort of narrator or Greek chorus to thread the show together. There's one song, called Only Remembered, that both opens and closes the show. It was initially an English hymn, but the lyrics take on an entirely different meaning when set against the stark backdrop of World War I.
Who'll sing the anthems
And who will tell the story?
Will the line hold, will it scatter and run?
Shall we at last be united in glory,
Only remembered for what we have done?
I'll spare you the English-class style breakdown of poetry, but I think the song really captures the bittersweet ending of the show - the characters have done heroic things and terrible things, and they have seen so much. It's really a show to bring a packet of tissues to, but it is absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful. I would see it again. I would recommend it to just about anybody (except perhaps small children. It is a bit, well, upsetting. It is war, after all).
I'm so glad Lisa got to come visit for the weekend (if you're reading this, Lisa, I can't wait to see you back at school soon!!!) and that I got to see War Horse again. Huzzah for tea and friends and writing and good theatre! All things that make for a very happy Caitlin. ^_^