In my humble opinion

Mad Max, Patsy Cline and Charlie Brown walk into a bar…

By JONATHAN CHARLES FOX
Posted 8/18/21

It’s like the old joke about a priest, a rabbi and a duck—but different. And not necessarily funny. While I’ve had enough of cabin fever to last a lifetime, I’ve been …

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In my humble opinion

Mad Max, Patsy Cline and Charlie Brown walk into a bar…

Posted

It’s like the old joke about a priest, a rabbi and a duck—but different. And not necessarily funny. While I’ve had enough of cabin fever to last a lifetime, I’ve been reluctant to join the crowds attending concerts and standing in lines, what with the virus-related numbers once again climbing exponentially. And, like many of you, I’m sick of wearing a mask—especially in this god-awful heat. Still, like some of you, I trust the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), mostly because I failed basic science in high school. I’m pretty sure it knows more than I do when it comes to public health, so I’m wearing a face mask when I’m out in public. Again.

That said, I’m picking and choosing what events to attend, which to eschew, and those to avoid altogether.

Before we slid back to going to “hell in a handbasket” (as you-know-who would say) I had penciled in “Crazy about Patsy Cline: Starring Erin Crosby” at the Forestburgh Tavern, currently known as my home away from home. I know I’ve written ad-nauseam about the playhouse this season, but with the stringent safety protocols in place on their campus of entertainment venues, I’ve felt safe from the boogeyman. Still, FBP producer Franklin Trapp sent out an email to all ticketholders last week recommending once again donning masks inside the tavern and theatre, following the not-so-new guidelines set forth by the CDC.

I glanced at the website (www.fbplayhouse.org) and read that Crosby would be performing some of Patsy Cline’s greatest hits and that “up until recently, Erin spent almost eight years as a backup singer and featured vocalist for the wildly popular and award winning New Orleans-style band “Brother Josephus and the Love Revolution.” I remembered being wowed by that group awhile back and was excited to hear Crosby’s tribute to Patsy Cline.

Not only is Erin’s voice perfectly suited to Cline’s greatest hits, but she shared little-known tidbits about the singer’s career. “Irving Berlin wrote this in the 1930s but it has long been recognized as a country song, because of Patsy,” Crosby informed the rapt audience, before launching into a plaintive rendition of “Always.” I was unaware of that, and of the fact that Willie Nelson wrote Patsy’s biggest hit “Crazy,” one of the 104 songs Cline recorded in just eight years before her tragic death in 1963 at age 30. It’s safe to say that I’m now crazy for Erin Crosby, too.

The next day, a note from another Erin caught my attention. “I hope to see you at ‘Correspondences’ performed by the LEIMAY ensemble (Masanori Asahara, Krystal Copper and Ximena Garnica) this weekend,” Hurleyville Performing Arts Centre (HPAC) Program Director Erin Dudley wrote. “I think you once said that ‘performance art’ was not really your thing, but I’m a total ‘avant-art-dork’ [her words—not mine] and I think you’ll be impressed!”

Dudley was right on the money concerning my aversion to performance art, but if nothing else, I have an open mind, so I went. Since the show was slated to be presented outdoors and with social distancing in place, I agreed to check it out, showed up, and stayed, even after reading this description of what I was about to experience: “With Correspondences, multidisciplinary artist duo Ximena Garnica and Shige Moriya offer multiple entry points for spectators to engage with questions of being, interdependence, and coexistence.”

Doing my best to grasp what I totally failed to understand, I read on. “Performer, observer, machines, natural elements and the urban square mingle in an entangled poetic microcosm while opening inquiries into animate life and environmental ethics.”

“Wait… what?” I said out loud, pretending (for something completely different) that I was talking to the dog, who was blasé about the entire “experience” already. The performers were wearing gas masks and made their way to Plexiglas cubicles that were scattered about the grounds, removed their robes and climbed into the boxes, which were partially filled with sand and attached to machines with hoses that blew the sand about, in order for “audiences to witness 35-minute activations.”

Not only was I puzzled by the message being telegraphed (Collapse of civilization? Another world war? Environmental destruction? All of the above?) I found the images of humans (possibly) dying/reanimating while undulating in a Plexiglas cube disturbing, depressing, and disquieting. In other words—performance art at its finest. IMHO. I scribbled “Mad Max in a Box” into my notebook and breathed a sand-free sigh of relief as I drove off, in search of something less perturbing.

Catching “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” at the (uh huh) FBP the next day was way more in my comfort zone. This time, the performers (Renell Taylor, Elise Shangold, John Zamborsky, Ethan Van Slyke, Andrew Faria and Susana Wickstrom) were so incredibly appealing, so committed to their roles (Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, Snoopy and Sally, respectively) and so, so freakin’ talented that the alarming images of post-apocalyptic Mad Max and friends all but faded as the kids romped their way through the easily digested fun-filled world of Charles Schulz and his beloved “Peanuts” characters. Does that make me shallow and less of an intellectual than the cast of “Correspondences?” Probably. “Potato/Potahto” as you-know-who would undoubtedly declare.

For more on HPAC and its wide range of programming, go to www.hurleyvilleartscentre.org

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