at the theatre: king lear

While I might have initially scoffed at the obscene ticket prices for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s recent six-week residency at the Park Avenue Armory, I nevertheless gave in and did the unthinkable: I paid. Full price, no less. With a mandatory 20% donation to the RSC on top of the advertised ticket price, the total came to a quasi-operatic $300 – plus service charges, natch – for a pair of second-best seats in the house. (Prime seating could be had for the offensive price of $250 a seat.) And yet, perhaps the blogger doth protest too much. This is, after all, an historic event: the opportunity to witness the most famous Shakespearean company on the planet perform a half-dozen of the master’s plays in repertory inside a full-scale replica of its Stratford-upon-Avon home. And despite not caring for Greg Hicks’ interpretation of the title role there is no denying that in the three-plus hours of King Lear I got my money’s worth of family betrayal, infidelity, fratricide, banishment, madness, murder, and a particularly visceral removal of one character’s set of eyes. (Plus, no matter how well I think I know the play, the image of Lear carrying the corpse of his innocent daughter, Cordelia, is as emotionally shocking as it is cruel.) It’s enough to make me wish I had purchased my tickets earlier in the run, so I could see these actors in The Winter’s Tale, too, or Julius Caesar – not that I could afford it, mind you. All of which makes me wonder: at these prices, who’s filling the stalls at the Armory? Or perhaps the more significant question is, who isn’t?

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the greatest generation

Tom Brokaw’s book, The Greatest Generation, is the story of a generation of Americans who grew up during the Great Depression, went on to fight in World War II and later helped build and shape the post-war America we know today. (Coincidentally, a great quote pops up in the course of August: Osage County: “The Greatest Generation? What makes them so great?  Because they were poor and hated Nazis?  Who doesn’t hate the Nazis?!”) On the shore of San Diego Bay the spirit of the men and women who served is commemorated with a collection of U.S. military heritage art – just across the harbor from Naval Base San Diego, the principal homeport of the Pacific Fleet. Located in the shadow of the decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Midway, the artworks – including tributes to Bob Hope and a massive interpretation of Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famous Times Square photograph – offer an especially poignant setting in which to remember and reflect.

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