Copyright 2001 the author, dharmacat.com.
Thursday, 26 July 2001 09:33:31 -0400 (EDT)
To: "David W." <david@>
Subject: my evening with Avery Brooks
Well, okay, me and another hundred or so people.
Avery is playing Oedipus in a one evening production of all three plays of the Oedipus trilogy here at the Shakespeare Theater, and last night they had a "meet the cast" reception for supporting members.
So my mom and I went down. Now, my mother has NO idea who Avery Brooks is, but when he showed up at the buffet line, and then was standing around chatting with various folks, she decided that she had to say hello to him.
Mom is at about 5 feet and shrinking, and her eyesight isn't so great (she's going for cataract removal next week). So the picture is of this small, elderly woman peering up at the very imposing Avery Brooks. She said something about how excited she was about the production (it really should be amazing... Michael Kahn is setting it at an African court, rather than Hellenistic Greek), shook his hand madly, and grinned ear to ear.
Avery was very very gracious. He didn't even giggle. I said hello too, and that i was looking forward to seeing him perform live.
He was the only person to say the words "Star Trek" all night, when he mentioned in passing that the production might get some ticket sales from fans.
Michael Kahn says that he thinks the plays are about self-discovery and redemption (rather than fate and free will). He's doing all three together because he says that the story was very important to Sophocles (who wrote "oedipus at Colonna" when he was 90). Kahn said something like "he (Sophocles) did not want to leave this earth until he had told this story."
The production will be very Africanized. Kahn and his codirector/choreographer spent some time in Zimbabwe doing research, and the chorus will sing and dance.
Tickets go on sale August 10, the
production runs Aug 28 through Oct 21. 2001
"My Evening With Avery, Part II",
"Just Because You're A Starfleet Captain Doesn't Mean It's Okay to Marry Your Mother!"
First, to put the whole thing in context. We saw the Oedipus plays in early October 2001. From the weirdly empty streets, to the quiet skies (National was still shut down), to the troops still stationed on street corners-- it was a city still very much reeling from the 9/11 attacks. And I think this could not help but become a subtext to the plays, which open with the citizens of Thebes pleading with their King to free them from the tragedy that has befallen them. The performance was full of unexpectedly resonant moments, as various characters spoke to the themes of vengeance, suspicion, and grief.
Avery did an excellent job in his portrayal, I think. From Oedipus as arrogant King, to the passages where he accuses his brother-in-law of treason, to his realization of his own crimes, it was a very physical and powerful performance. And he got excellent reviews from the people who are supposed to know what they are talking about... the Baltimore Sun complained that he moved his hands too much but I think that was an intentional characterization and for my money he pulled it off.
As for Kahnís' staging the play, in an African rather than Greek setting-- I think it mostly worked. The costumes and set were interesting, and the "chorus as character" emphasis worked well. The music was a little distracting though. More about the cast and the production can be found here:
Oh yeah, and my Mom really enjoyed the show, too. Big Avery fan now.
last update: 5/29/2002 with Part