Posts Tagged With: adventures

Art and Dreams

“Is this art?” asked the man doing a handstand over my head as I lay back, staring up at him. I didn’t know. “I don’t know, either,” he responded before somehow bounding back to his feet and pulling me off on another adventure at the immursive spectacle/dinner theater Queen of the Night.
 
On the other side of my trip into the Diamond Horseshoe, I’ve decided it’s art, but more than art. It’s art+; so much more intense, more personal than anything I’ve encountered before. It blurs the lines between what is and what could be, and when you come out of those murkey woods, you feel a little different than before. This sounds melodramatic, I know, but as most of you know, I’m sort of obsessed with Sleep No More, another experiential theater piece. Yes, part of the reason is the story, I do love Shakespeare, and Macbeth is fascinating. But honestly, it’s that experience. It’s the blurring of that line between fiction and reality, between who I am and who I could be. And in my quest to experiment with that line, I found Queen of the Night. 

Last night found my partner in crime, Sari, and I at the Paramount Hotel, donned in our finest cocktail attire. 

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The first steps into the Diamond Horseshoe seemed underwhelming…and under construction. The walls were bare, white drywall, and the coat check was constructed out of those weird boards they use for scaffolding. I’m still undecided if this is intentional or if it’s actually under construction. Why would it be intentional? Because there’s a slow descent into the night. As soon as you turn the corner, you are faced with an old, weathered marble stair case. Dusty champagne glasses are stacked in the corner of the first landing as if they’ve been uncovered from an archaeological dig. But the deeper you go, the cleaner, brighter, more lavish things are. 
 
While waiting on the stairs, Sari was suddenly whisked away by a lanky blonde man in outlandish clothes, leaving me crushed that I was left behind. But a moment later, another man in short shorts and a black-and-white motley suit coat came up the stairs and caught my eye. We stared at each other for a moment (intense eye contact is a frequent occurrence), and he put his hand on the shoulder of the girl in front of me. ‘Denied again!’ I thought. But he looked up at me again, a wicked gleam in his eyes, extended his hand, and we were off. I was given a slip of paper and told to pick a drink (the drinks were outlandish, full of strange fruits and herbs.) After ordering me to take a drink (“Good girl,” he praised), he vanished. I stood sipping for a moment before I ran into Sari again, returned from her own adventure with a quest to deliver a note. We had a moment to chat before a young woman approached me and asked if I could help her, and I was pulled away again down the rabbit hole. Over the course of the next 30 minutes, I met and assisted the princess, snuck around the kitchens, and scored a whole bottle of Prosecco before I reunited with Sari to compare our discoveries. During all of this, the strangest part, and the most challenging part, was being myself. In Sleep No More I can hide behind a mask, I’m voiceless. I follow wordless instructions. But here, I could engage and be engaged. It was both thrilling and a little terrifying.
 
Soon after reuniting, we were seated, sharing a table on one of the raised platform with a very nice couple. The performance was amazing. Dancing, circus stunts, acrobatics…I’m sure I watched the first half with my mouth hanging open. Later, dinner was served: gilded cages of lobsters, whole roast pigs on spits, heaping plates of ribs. Apparently, if we wanted to try all the dishes, we had to barter. Luckily, we received the lobsters, the hot commodity, and people came to us to trade, bearing plates of rib and the most delicious pork I’ve ever tasted. My poor little grad student body didn’t know what to do with such delicacies!
 
After we’d eaten, the show resumed, as entertaining as ever. Dessert was served in quite an interesting way after a truly beautiful ending to the performance. The whole evening was magical and sensual and transporting.
 

I went into the show thinking I’d come out with an answer: which was better? But the truth is, you can’t compare Queen of the Night and Sleep No More. I love them both in different ways. While in Sleep No More, I am a ghost who haunts the story, powerless to help or harm, enchanted to watch, at Queen of the Night I was the Chloe I might be in a fairy tale. I was the Chloe who made eye contact and boldly put herself in situations that made her slightly uncomfortable. I was the Chloe who believed in true love and ran off, hand-in-hand with strange boys, to raid the kitchen and steal champagne. As to the question Jimmy asked me as he hovered above me, I still can’t say if it’s art. But I will say it’s spectacle and adventure, and just maybe you might leave a little bolder, a little more enchanted than when you arrived.

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The View from Mars

“I need to write a blog about this. I need to write a blog. I NEED TO WRITE A BLOG.”

Or so I’ve been thinking to myself pretty regularly for the past 4 weeks. AND I’M FINALLY DOING IT. Apologies (as usual) for the delay in posting. I can’t even say I’ve been particularly busy. I mean, I have been busy, but I’ve had plenty of free time since the NYU program wrapped up July 13. I’ve had plenty of adventures, too. The New York philharmonic, job interviews, and more recently duck in Chinatown (complete with the head), “Into the Woods” at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, and The Curiosity Rover Landing.

And that’s what I’m going to talk about. When I saw that they would be broadcasting the landing in Times Square, I decided I had to go. I mean, I’m in New York, and this is a big deal, it would be like a big party right? Well, partially right. At first, the whole affair was a bit disappointing. It was on possibly the tiniest screen in Times Square, and to hear we had to hold our phones to our ears, and most of the people in the area were more interested in finding themselves on the big advertising screen over the McDonald’s. Maybe they didn’t know that we were about to attempt the MOST DIFFICULT MARS LANDING EVER, but it was frustrating. Didn’t anyone appreciate what we were about to do? Didn’t this deserve a slightly larger screen, a bigger deal? I’m not sure what I expected, I guess a packed square with trumpets blaring and mars confetti or something.

That said, it was really cool. The closer to 1:31 AM it got, the more people who actually cared gathered. There were some nice people from NASA handing out pins and stickers, several news crews, and some really awesome nerdy shirts (including a bedazzled R2D2 shirt). And as we listened to the NASA landing crew talk to each other, not really understanding what they were saying but hoping it was good, there was finally an air of excitement that felt appropriate. No, the square still wasn’t full, but there was something about being in such a big, shiny place, holding my breath with several hundred others as we watched the anxious faces on the screen. And then…success. It touched down. A cheer went up around the square; one guy behind us was yelling “We did it! We did it!”

Up on the screen, we could see the NASA scientists celebrating. They were hugging and yelling and high fiving. That must be the most amazing feeling, knowing that your hard work put something on another planet. I mean, sure, we’ve done it before, but Curiosity is going to allow us to get more knowledge than ever, and just the sheer difficulty of achieving a safe landing is something to marvel at, no matter how many times it’s been done before.

And then the first pictures came in. Sitting in Times Square, we were seeing pictures of another planet. It was astounding. Truly breathtaking, and definitely anything but disappointing.

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Maybe We Should Have Gone to Hoboken, and Other Adventures

Oh, hello! I haven’t forgotten about you, dear blog, I’ve just been (all together now) SO BUSY! So, a collection of Adventures:

Saturday

We honored the 15th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by going to see Potted Potter, which was absolutely brilliant. Probably the funniest 70 minutes I’ve had in a while, Potted Potter felt like I was watching my friends make jokes (looking at you, Emmy). The jokes were largely things we’ve all laughed about before (“It’s like there’s two parts of the last book, they camp, and then everyone dies. They should make it into two movies, the first part with all the camping, the second part with all the dying.”), but on a bigger, more ridiculous scale. There was also a really epic game of Quidditch, played by the audience and some really violent 8-year-old seekers. It was AMAZING.

After the play, we went to Barcelona Bar, which serves a legendary Harry Potter shot. There was fire, wizards hats, and a lot of awesome. I really need to go back, there’s apparently a Game of Thrones shot (you drink or you die, I hear…). We ended the evening at Pizza Pub for a slice of pizza and a bar-wide sing along with “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Wednesday

One of my good friends in the program is from Brazil, and I was determined to give her a proper Fourth of July. With no grill and no place to go, we decided to have a cook IN. In true New York fashion, we squeezed about 15 people into a space that comfortably seats maybe 6 and with only a minor mishap with the broiler (it’s not Independence Day without some singed fingers, right?) we had a delicious meal of burgers, hot dogs, and various other American foods, including berries and homemade whipped cream!

In which we fail at taking self-portraits and I am too short.

After an excellent pot luck dinner, we headed out for the fireworks. There was some debate over where to go, and we ended up splitting up. Half the group went to Hoboken for the show. The rest of us, deciding they were crazy to go to New Jersey of all places decided to do what real Americans do and go west randomly. It worked for the pioneers, right? Somewhere around 59th St, we stumbled onto the viewing section on the highway, and I stumbled into some sneaky thorn bushes in the divide. But the scratches and sore feet were worth it; we were ready for what we were sure was going to be the best view of the fireworks in the city….except for the trees. Low and behold, when the big boom started, there were trees perfectly blocking our view!

But, the night was not a loss! With some more wandering we managed to find a better view of the show, and following the sea of people through the streets afterwards, we ended up in Times Square. Remember last time when I was talking about the throb of the city? There is no better place to feel excited and alive than Time Square at night, especially after a day of celebrating and firework-watching with your friends.

Friday

Friday was field trip day! We got to go to NYU Bookstore and watch the Espresso On Demand Book machine, which was pretty cool. Then we got some delicious Mexican food in Union Square before heading to Books of Wonder to meet the wonderfully enthusiastic Peter Glassman. One of the things I love best about this program is meeting all the people who are as unabashedly passionate about books as I am, and Mr. Glassman might be one the most passionate people I’ve met. We sat on the floor for an hour listening to him talk about his favorite books and tell us stories about the industry and basking in the glow of his enthusiasm. It was a wonderful afternoon.

I think that’s about it for the big stuff. We went on several field trip in the past few weeks, including a trip to Macmillan in the Flatiron Building which was really neat. We got to see the CEO’s office, which has a balcony overlooking Madison Square Park. It’s one of the prettiest views of the city I’ve seen!  I also went to the MOMA on Friday and reaffirmed that I don’t really understand modern art. I prefer paintings. I loved seeing Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Monet’s Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond. I couldn’t believe how big the water lilies painting was! I always imagined them to be about the poster size that was in one of my high school teacher had on his wall, but the canvas was almost the size of the wall! It was gorgeous.

That brings us up to date! My adventures in the city since last time. Now, this blog post is already too long, which means I need to post more often. But for now, I’ll sign off here!

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