December 2004

Claudine Jones

Scene4 Pre-Show Jitters

I open up Outlook this evening and the mail tumbles into the Inbox.  I've got 10 more messages—from MoveOn, True Majority, Act for Change, Your Vote Matters—and I'm thinking this time next week, it'll all be over. What did I do in the last week or two except take a well deserved break and go to shows & movies? Well, I've thought a lot & I'm doing some halfway-to-heaven, vibe-projecting, spirit-propelling englishin' towards Washington & the Grand Usurping Pretzeldent.   

I asked the young woman making my veggie pattie sub for Tuesday's lunch whether she was going to vote. Her eye sharpened up and she said she had been voting ever since she turned 18 & now she's 21 & looking forward to this election. Don't know why I think she's liberal except that we're in the Bay Area and she's in a poor district of Oakland.  My colleague at work says his mom is a one-issue voter and her issue is right to life. I caught myself blurting out that I personally loathe abortion, but it seems absurd to crush the very system that leads to fewer procedures through education & free birth control & I'll be damned if I'll accept the idea of government enforced gestation.  Well, she's a born again & she's a one woman crusade. Where have I heard those terms lately?

Here's what I've seen on my newly cleared calendar:


This caught me by surprise: in a time of pretentious voiceover in trailers twice too long, comes the story of … The Yes Men   Dr. Andreas Bichlbauer and Mike Bonnano circle the globe in search of somebody who will not take them seriously.  The only ones who stand up to them are some students at their 'lecture' who do what anybody faced with incomprehensible idiocy would do: throw food.  2 ½ out of 4 Stitches on the Laf-o-meter.

The Motorcycle Diaries

I saw this trailer so many times I was ready to barf.  Gael Garcia Bernal is too darling to turn later into a fanatical revolutionist, but the asthma was way scary.

Friday Night Lights

This was so much better than 'Volcano' with Tommy Lee Jones, formula-wise, but then Billy Bob is a better actor than Tommy Lee, I think.   

Going up River: the Long War of John Kerry

I would talk to my brother about this when he gets back fromFrance.  He's gone back to visit family & thought he might be at loose ends having no traveling companion.  I said he should go on from there back to Saigon (sorry, Ho Chi Minh City) and he took it under advisement.  I should mention that he has hundreds of slides and negatives, taken there in '68 that no one has ever seen.  

Team America

Saw this on a lark, particularly wanting to capture some of the South Park BLUncut madness. Should have guessed, after hearing Trey Parker confess to Terry Gross on FreshAir  that he does stuff just to do it, that it mostly likely would not be up to that level.  

Stage Beauty

Let's do this one first, even though I saw it second:  any actor will go nuts seeing this.  It's like something Bill Macy said on Actor's Studio recently (paraphrase) –you know, when it is just dead forced and yet some people will say 'ooo, great performance!' It's a question of taste, subjectivity.

I don't think that is the true issue, though.  The director's choice or the producer or whoever—production team, right? Two actors mauling each other during the final death scene of Othello, in 1660, as though Stanislavski had time traveled to their theater.  How on earth could an elephant of that size & dimension make it to greenlight much less the cineplex?

Being Julia



I saw four productions this month, but I also closed a show, about which I have something to say next time.  But these: all Equity or at least BAPP, and perhaps the 'least' of the bunch turns out to be the tightest.   

The Opposite of Sex

I've forgotten why I penciled this musical in; the advertised 'Broadway' cast members were exactly that.  Polished & brassy, Disney voiced & distant. Sold out performance.  (See above about 'taste'.)


World premiere play by local actor Dan Wilson.  I got drawn in by Stephanie Prentice--I particularly liked her scenes with Melissa Culross.  Since I know Dan, it was a teeny distraction to discover that one actor could have been his twin and that pretty much everybody talked with his rhythms.  Well, that's the playwright's voice!


A stage literally awash with gallons of water and patterns of light played with precision on our state of the art Thrust at Berkeley Rep, for a modern look at the ancient.   


My old buddy (non-Equity) was in this nutty parody of an old BBC radio show gone Gene Autry.  I chatted him up before I went, like we always do for each other's shows—just see how it's going, whether it's time for seppuku or whether we may make it past opening. He said he didn't remember ever feeling this: he actually was excited at the idea of going to the theater each performance.  He, (who almost always enjoyed mostly the process of finding his 'bits' during rehearsal,) was in love with the rest of his cast & crew.  

I went to the final matinee of this show wherein at the end, the cast paraded past us and for ten minutes stood out on the front piazza of the theater and sang cowboy songs from the show while all around clapped and smiled in the sun.  It had not been a great show—even the director admitted that the cheesy dialogue was so hopeless they gave up on it. The amazing thing was that they had found something of a heightened state in this particular production.  The oddest byproduct of this appeared in the synchronicity of movement, the anticipation and timing, and assurance that flows out over the seats to the back of the room.

If only they could bottle it.   

©2004 Claudine Jones

Like an orthopedic soprano, Actor/Singer/Dancer Claudine Jones has worked steadily in Bay Area joints for a number of decades. With her co-conspirator Jaz Bonhooley, she also has developed unique sound designs for local venues.  As a filmmaker, she is doing the final cut of YOUR EAR IS IN YOUR NOSE, destined for release next year or whenever her long time technical task wizard Animator Sam Worf gets his head out of his latest render.

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