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by Sarah Zupko

9 Feb 2009

On February 9, 1964 the Beatles made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show fully launching Beatlemania in America and changing American pop culture forever. It was one of the real milestones of television and the growth of mass culture with more than 74 million viewers watching that single telecast. Unlike in this highly fragmented modern media age, virtually everyone with a television or with access to one watched show and the 1960s as we remember them were born. The Beatles also made their first stadium appearance that week on February 11th, playing before a sold-out crowd of screaming kids at Washington Coliseum.

 

Also this week in pop past, Texas honky-tonker and Grand Old Opry mainstay Ernest Tubb was born (1914) and early rock and roll pioneer Bill Haley died (1981).

 

Ernest Tubb - “Tomorrow Never Comes”

 

Bill Haley - Rip It Up

by PopMatters Staff

9 Feb 2009

Rap royalty joined the extremely pregnant M.I.A. for a turn through “Swagga Like Us” last night.

by PopMatters Staff

9 Feb 2009

Evan Sawdey commented in his Grammys essay this morning about the seemingly random match-up of artists last night during the telecast. Well not entirely random, they all share in common moving major change. About this pairing he said, “Coldplay’s Chris Martin delivering a sensitive piano rendition of “Lost!” only to have Jay-Z barge in half-way through in order to move more copies of the Prospekt’s March EP?” It doesn’t entirely work, does it?

by Matthew Sorrento

9 Feb 2009

The set of this drama defines suburban anxiety: Four chairs, each at a corner of the stage, are centered around a bed. Four characters take their spots, awaiting the looming confrontation. Playwright Craig Wright obviously relishes the benefits of the theatrical medium, which allows such heavy visual allegory. Such a design wouldn’t fly in the even the most stylized cinema.

We know two couples will be finagling before long, as we’ve seen so many times before. I can’t shake this play’s association to We Don’t Live Here Anymore, a 2004 film over-concerned with married folks’ need to stray—so concerned is it with infidelity that the film forgets to develop its characters. The same is true in the new anti-nostalgia film Revolutionary Road, whose lifeforce drains under such weighty thematic grounds. 

Yet, in the opening monologue of Wright’s drama comes redemption, especially as performed by Amanda Grove as Cathy in Luna Theatre Company’s new production (Walnut Street Theatre, Studio 5, Philadelphia, through February 14th). We recall that the language is the thing in true stage drama, and the set its mere bag of bones. Cathy recites a letter—if it existed or is imaginary, we are unsure—in words of loss and desperation coming at the end of something. Her spotlight fades, as she takes her seat to see her life unravel. A fade in reveals David (Damon Bonetti) and Beth (Janice Rowland) on the bed (transposed to a motel room), turning us in medias res to the status their affair. At once promising, it is now crumbling at the foundation. 

Regretfully, the drama’s strongest players sit out the first scene. They are Grove and Chris Fluck (playing the wronged husband, Brad), a standby for Luna. When an interviewer perplexed over what exactly makes Gene Hackman such a powerful actor, Woody Allen responded casually: “It’s a reserve of energy.” We cannot call Fluck another Hackman, but he has access to a similar kind of power. His arguments with Rowland in later scenes make the latter seem not to register. Fluck was far better matched against Mary Lee Bednarek in Luna’s 2005 production of Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love, in which he grounded the drama-mystery’s final revelation in pathos as much as fury. 

As a woman about to be abandoned, Grove steals her scenes with Bonetti, who plays her husband moving on and has trouble evening out a Minnesota accent. Grove suggests there is subdued rage behind her character’s inquest, a right to know all as she forces her husband into goodbye sex. Orange Flower Water wears the clichéd cultural archetype of couples mixing like a subversive persona. Blasé anxieties turn visceral, indeed.

by PopMatters Staff

9 Feb 2009

Radiohead, not surprisingly, turned in the best performance last night at the Grammys. They played a super percussive version of “15 Step” with help from the USC Marching Band. Visually and aurally electrifying.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Exposition Dumps Don't Need Dialogue in 'Virginia'

// Moving Pixels

"Virginia manages to have an exposition dump without wordy exposition.

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