Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Daniel Kitson: Anticipation

I can't really believe in one week I'll be seeing two new Daniel Kitson shows.  I'm off to the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time in 10 years mainly to see these Kitson shows (I'll be seeing some other comedy and theater).

I'm reminded of the quote from one of my favorite movies, Broadcast News:

Tom: "What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?"
Aaron: "Keep it to yourself."

I was lucky to get tickets to Mr. Kitson’s stand-up show Where Once WasWonder.  I also got tickets to his new theater show (current title As of 1.52pm GMT on Friday April 27th 2012, This Show Has No Title).  So I should just shut up about it.  Many people didn’t.  For the past few weeks I was trying to help a friend get tickets to some of the WIP shows in London and every time she got shut out. She’s already become a disgruntled Daniel Kitson fan…and she’s never actually seen Daniel.
Cool memory of winter in the summer heat today.

The anticipation of a Daniel Kitson show definitely gets me worked up a bit (see where I maybe said I'd have his babies). But to be fair I wrote that after having not seen one of his shows for nine months.  I have only had to wait eight months to see these shows, I've had a little audio to get me through some rough patches (it was coup that he released a few recordings of some of his early work this year).  I'm being super-adult and relaxed about it.  Cool even.  I'm being cool.

I'm not bursting with tears or joy (much).  Though I might admit to having cried a little whilst reading the recent Guardian article, The Salinger of Stand-Up.  It's terrible article so don't think I'm on board with this recycled non-story.  I was just overwhelmed for a moment with the realization that I was only a week away from getting to see the man do what he does best.

Articles like that Guardian one seem to play up the "mythology" of Daniel Kitson to ridiculously epic proportions.  He hasn't completely sworn off contact with the human race, gone off the grid and moved to New Hampshire people!  I'm pretty sure he still leaves his house, takes the Tube, and engages in a normal life.  Still putting his pants on, one leg at a time.  Unless he's a maverick in that arena as well.  Hmmm.  File that under, interview questions I would ask if he did press. 

He just doesn't do a lot of press (he does some with major newspapers in fact).  And has not turned his comedy into a product-based commodity with action figures, arena tours, and DVD sales.  It's a lifestyle choice.  It's unusual in his industry to be sure but I'm ok with it (as long as I still can get tickets to his shows).  

The rough part about his lifestyle choice is that all you get are live performances. Alongside the squee-levels of anticipation for one of his shows is the dread that soon it will be over.  There is nothing like the high after coming out of a Kitson show, but there is the inevitable crash afterwards.  But that makes me appreciate it all a bit more.  These are precious, individual experiences played out in a shared space in the dark.  What a wonderful, weird world we live in sometimes.

This is my lot in life as a theater-goer.  Most of what I see on a weekly basis is live performance.  Sometimes it is recorded but it cannot be captured.  All you take away with you are your memories of it (and possibly a T-shirt that says “I’d Do Hamlet” which for the record was totally worth it.)  But honestly I love the feeling of a show filtered through memory.  It’s not how the show actually existed, but it’s how you remember the show and how it made you feel.  

I remember being in the very last row of the St. James Theater Balcony (it often feels there is no distance further from the stage than that) for The Secret Garden.  I remember falling in love with John Cameron Mitchell’s distinctive voice.  Fifteen years later, I'm still haunted by a fantastic show put on by some NYU Experimental Theater Workshop students called Distortion Taco.  I still vividly remember the girl in the show who channeled Janis Joplin.  Sadly I don’t remember Tony-nominee Jeremy Shamos who was also in that show (He’s a very funny tweeter—you should follow him and not just ‘cause sometimes he retweets me though that does make me do the Snoopy Happy Dance when it happens).  But I remember leaving that show thinking these people are going to be famous.  I was shaken to my core by their creativity, inventiveness and the sheer audacity of the work.  It spoke to me.  It felt relevant and meaningful.  And all these years later I still think about how that show made me feel. 

Funny things stick with me and I can't tell if they are real or not.  Was there really a wall of chairs sticking out of the set of The Capeman?  That's what I think I remember.  I definitely remember Jude Law standing up naked in a bathtub in Indiscretions and an old lady behind me shout "He's naked" such that you could see Law reacting to the comment, dealing with it and moving on. 

And even recently, I'd like to think I'll always have the memory of watching Richard Roxburgh laugh himself into tears as Uncle Vanya and not being able to stop crying during the many curtain calls.  Or Cillian Murphy infecting my soul so deftly in Misterman such that I could not breathe when it was over.  And of course the beautiful, shattering reaction of Colin Donnell to Franklin Shepard Inc. in Merrily We Roll Along with his one tear rolling down his face at each performance.

A binder of playbills might record your time spent in the theater or a blog full of reviews...but at the end of it all, theater is the images I have in my head: fleeting, confusing, muddled, and lovely.

Looking forward to what new theater memories stay with me after this trip to Scotland.

1 comment:

  1. Hope you have a brilliant time; cannot wait to hear all about Fringe.