I’m no hoarder, but I’m not keen on throwing things away either. As a result, I am completely on board with recycling, reusing and (my new personal favorite) repurposing. Wiktionary.org defines repurpose as “to reuse for a different purpose on a long-term basis,” which includes altering the original, e.g. “the church was repurposed as a nightclub by removing the pews.” Repurposing is big here in the Upper Delaware River Valley and I often stop to admire the clever projects that my friends and neighbors have produced. Whether it’s candlesticks from old wine bottles, benches refashioned from wooden pallets, or fridge magnets out of old keyboards, endless ideas surface daily and the scope of some projects are inspiring.
While making plans to attend a reading of Harold Pinter’s “A Slight Ache” in Liberty, NY, I checked in with Liberty Free Theatre’s artistic director and founder Paul Austin.
Knowing that the company is on the move and presenting shows in a variety of locations, I wanted to be sure where I was headed. “Tonight’s reading is the second in a series of events presented in collaboration with the Liberty Museum and Arts Center (www.libertymuseum.com ) Paul told me, “while awaiting completion of the new theatre space, anticipated to be ready sometime next spring.” Recalling my theatre history classes from college, I was unsure if my interest was leaning more toward Pinter or the new space that Austin and Co. are readying, but as it turned out, both were pretty interesting. As for the reading, “A Slight Ache” was written for radio presentation in 1958 and has been described as a “tragicomic” play that “concerns a married couple’s dreams and desires, focusing mostly on the husband’s fears of the unknown, of growing old, and of the ‘Other’ as a threat to his self-identity.” (www.wikipedia.com ). Austin and Karen Young are consummate performers, and although I was often tempted to close my eyes and absorb the words (as originally intended) it was impossible to take my eyes off of Young, who is riveting. Her impressive resume (“Torch Song Trilogy,” “The Sopranos”) makes sense, given her nuanced, layered and incredibly charming performance in Pinter’s confusing, wordy and unpredictable ode to manners and marriage. Austin was (as always) equally up to the challenge and if anyone can make Pinter accessible, it’s these two.
As for the “new” theatre space, it’s actually something old. Once the site of Katz’s Bakery, which flourished in the late ‘60s and remained in business until 1989, the LFT (www.LibertyFreeTheatre.org ) has big plans to repurpose the somewhat decayed interior, and I was excited to be given a sneak peek. The space is cool, the project is underway, and the future, rising from the past, looks bright. To participate in making the dream a reality, visit the web site, or call 845/798-1527 to contribute.
Along the same vein, I had to remind myself that singing sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson (AKA Heart) have been topping the charts since rising to fame in the mid-1970s with a string of smash hits, selling more than 30 million albums worldwide. While their popularity has never really waned, the ladies have grown and evolved over the years and remain (according to Wikipedia) one of “the most commercially enduring hard rock bands in history.” Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year, Heart is currently on tour with Jason Bonham (son of the late, great drummer John Bonham) and the tribute to his dad—“The Led Zeppelin Experience,” which thousands attended last Saturday night on the grounds of Bethel Woods (www.bethelwoodscenter.org ). Led Zeppelin is widely considered one of the most successful and innovative rock bands in history, so the double bill made perfect sense. Hardly an “imitation,” I would call the “experience” the Mother of all cover bands, and with Bonham at the wheel, the band (and Heart) was amazing. Zeppelin is also in the Rock &Roll Hall of Fame, and the museum states that the band was “as influential in the 1970s as the Beatles were in the decade before them.”
The tour culminates with a 30-minute “special encore” performance with Heart and Bonham together paying tribute to more than 300 million records sold, and is a fitting tribute to the legendary drummer who climbed the “Stairway to Heaven” in 1980. Son John’s drum skills are pretty impressive as well, (the apple doesn’t fall far) and his heartfelt words rang true. “I don’t think my father had any idea of the legacy he was creating,” Bonham told the crowd, “and I want to thank you on behalf of my entire family, for supporting us and helping to pass the music of Led Zeppelin on, from generation to generation.” The Pavilion was rockin’ and my heart swelled a bit as I observed the audience leaping to their feet repeatedly. As is often the case at Bethel Woods, there was a “Whole Lotta Love” goin’ on.