(SHORT NOTES) Really Happy Stuff: Chaplin, Chekhov, and the Neurotic Imagination

I miss having the time to write posts once or twice a week. Funny how school takes time away from the things you may love or really want to be doing.

Nevertheless, here are a few things I’ve done recently that make me feel lucky to live where I do. I offer these as recommendations of things to do and see if you’re in the area, but also as events you can look for no matter where you live or go to school. There are movie screenings, theater performances, and book talks anywhere you go. Get off your computer and go find them. You’ll learn things, and learning things feels good.

So, here goes this week in Really Happy Stuff, with nowhere near as much commentary and analysis as I’d like because if I don’t get back to animating my teacher will be mad.

1. Silent Films/Live Music: The Masters of Slapstick with the Alloy Orchestra at the World Financial Center

The Arts World Financial Center’s mission is to “serve as the leading showcase in Lower Manhattan for visual and performing arts—from the intimate to the spectacular –presenting both emerging and established artists.” I recently went to an Arts WFC screening of three silent films while a three-man musical ensemble provided live musical accompaniment. Watching Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Fatty Arbuckle fall and jump and romance reminded me that 1) silent films are best enjoyed with a live orchestra and 2) we talk too much when you can sometimes say more without saying anything at all.

2. Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters at the Classic Stage Company

Going to the theater has become one of my favorite things to do in the city. I feel lucky to have seen a performance of CSC’s Three Sisters featuring Peter Sarsgaard, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jessica Hecht, and many other notable stage and screen actors who all spoke afterwards in a discussion with the audience. Most interesting comment in response to a question on how Austin Pendleton directed the show: “He didn’t care what we did as long as it was in response to something one of the other actors did.”

3. “Comedy and the Neurotic Imagination,” a talk with Jonathan Ames

A perk to attending screenings and performances in New York is the author or director often speaks at the event. This week I went to The New School’s Arts in Mind series where I finally got a chance to meet one of my creative heroes, writer Jonathan Ames (HBO’s Bored to Death.) A therapist moderated the talk, which unexpectedly turned into what I can only describe as a free therapy session. Questions addressed topics such as mental illness and creativity and, more important, how they relate to one another. Jonathan highlighted how useful he feels after writing in light of his depression and inner turmoil as a creative person. I wanted to hug him. I told him this after the talk. He smiled.


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