Something old, something new
For something different, I turned my attention to the North American Cultural Laboratory (www.nacl.org) in Highland Lake, NY, with no preconceived notions. The company’s mission, to “create and tour its own original theatre performances, collaborating with an international circle of artists” continues to evolve and “presents a performance season that features work by local and visiting artists.”
Bob Wiseman, a “Juno-nominated Canadian musician, filmmaker, singer-songwriter, and actor” (www.wikipedia.org) took center stage this past weekend, and since I had nothing to base my humble opinion on, I sat back to (hopefully) enjoy the show. Delighted to find Wiseman amusing, engaging and fresh, I was not alone in my appreciation of this accomplished musician’s unique take on the world he inhabits.
Wiseman’s mixture of original songs and conversational repartee with the audience was peppered with his slightly neurotic, self-deprecating views on the music industry, his affiliation with “mainstream” success and a history of flirting with litigation through the years. It was unclear to me how much of the show was improvised or scripted and I found this to be a part of the show’s charm.
Leaving few stones unturned during the hour, Wiseman addresses racism, homophobia, sexism and civil rights with unbridled enthusiasm and humor, entertaining throughout with an affable charm and charisma that I found endearing, while buying into his unique stream-of-consciousness approach which, at times, seemed to be a salute to the non-sequitur. The NACL still has a few tricks up its sleeve for Catskill audiences and I plan to visit the theatre a few more times before the snow falls.
They may be at different ends of the spectrum, but both the FTAC and the NACL are adapting and winning over old and new audiences at the same time and I am happy (join me, won’t you?) to go along for the ride!