News / Events
- A play reading directed by Anna Kohler
- Clavisimbalum Concert this Wednesday
- Jay Scheib Interview in The Artery
- MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble Concert
- Jupiter Quartet Concert No. 2 at MIT
- In the Lewis Music Library today and tomorrow
- David Deveau soloist with Longwood Symphony Orchestra
- Harpsichord Recital by Peter Sykes
- A Concert of Music by Elena Ruehr
- TIMEOUT REVIEW OF SCHEIB, PLATONOV
- Who is Jay Scheib?
- Scheib play reviewed in the NYTimes
Keyboard player, conductor, and researcher specializing in medieval repertoires, David Catalunya cultivates a double profile as a performer and musicologist. He has brought the sound of his clavisimbalum to the most prestigious concert halls and Early Music festivals throughout Europe. He is regularly invited to give courses and master-classes at international centers of Early Music, such as the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, the Grieg Academy, and the ESMUC in Barcelona. This event was funded in part by the Council for the Arts at MIT.
Written by Chris Remington
March 7, 2014
MIT Director Jay Scheib Takes Theater to the Tech Age
For the conventional theater aficionado, a Jay Scheib production could be a tough sell. His modernized version of Chekhov’s “Platonov” just finished a run in New York City.
Scheib, both a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and a Guggenheim Fellow, has developed a trademark style by capturing the acting on stage with an HD camera for a simulcast film presentation — for this performance it was titled “The Disinherited.”
The talented actors in “Platonov,” which was unpublished until 1923, proved their skill both on the stage and on the big screen. At the start of the performance, the maid, Jacob, played passionately by Laine Rettmer, recounts the plight of intractable debt and a graphic suicide attempt through a riveting monologue. During the climatic moments of her speech, Scheib films a close-up of her face, displaying trickles of tears. “The camera opens the space — it provides me more real estate to work with,” explains Scheib during a coffee shop interview near the theater. “It changes the architecture of the play, which is crucial to the psychology behind it.”
March 8 | Sat | Homegrown Portraits. MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, Frederick Harris, Jr., Music Director. Mark Harvey, guest conductor-composer. Featuring a world premiere composition by Adrian Grossman ’14, a new arrangement of Mingus’ Portrait by Peter Godart’15, De-Evolution Blues & Saxophrenia by Dr. Mark Harvey, and music by Guillermo Klein, Kenny Werner, Jamshied Sharifi, and Thelonious Monk. General admission $5; Free, in advance only via Eventbrite, to MIT community with MIT email address. Tickets: http://mitmta.eventbrite.com/and at the door.
The Jupiter String Quartet’s Beethoven Cycle at MIT
March 7 | Fri | MIT Guest Artist Series presents: the Jupiter Quartet in the second concert as part of the complete Beethoven String Quartet Cycle performances at MIT (2013-2015). Beethoven: Quartet in G Major, Op.18, no. 2; Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 74 ‘Harp’; Quartet in E minor, Op. 59, no. 2. 8pm, Kresge Auditorium. General admission $5; Free, in advance via Eventbrite, to MIT community with MIT email address. Tickets at http://mitmta.eventbrite.com/ and at the door. Funded in part by the Center for Arts, Science and Music and Theater Arts at MIT.
Photo: L Barry Hetherington
March 5 | Wed | MTA Composer Forum presents: Charles Shadle, MIT Senior Lecturer in Music and Theater Arts. Western Saddlebag: Cowboy Songs and the Craft of Composition.
The talk will focus on Western Saddlebag a newly composed suite of arrangements of traditional cowboy melodies for piano. 5pm, Lewis Music Library, 14E-109. Free. Refreshments will follow.
March 6 | Thu | “Open-Score Introduction to the Beethoven Quartets” hosted by MIT Lecturer in Music Teresa Neff and the Jupiter Quartet. Quartet in G Major, Op. 18, No. 2; Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 74 “Harp”; Quartet in E minor, Op. 59, No. 2. The Jupiter Quartet will present the works on their 8pm, March 7 Kresge Auditorium concert and play excerpts, with scores and facsimiles available for use by the audience. Q and A and reception following. 6:30pm, Lewis Music Library, 14E-109. Free. Refreshments will follow.
MIT pianist David Deveau will be performing the Emperor Concerto with the Longwood Symphony Orchestra (Ronald Feldman, music director) on Saturday, March 15 at 8pm in Jordan Hall. Here’s the link for tickets:
Fri Jan 10 2014
Leading experimental director-designer Jay Scheib continues to blur the lines between mediums with a “live-cinema performance” of Anton Chekhov’s unfinished first play, performed by a cast that includes Mikéah Ernest Jennings, Sarita Choudhury and Tony Torn, and broadcast live each night to select local movie theaters.
Platonov, or The Disinherited: Theater review by Helen Shaw
You can obviously do what you like with Chekhov’s unpublished, untitled first drama, commonly referred to as Platonov: After its rejection in the 1870s, Anton himself cannibalized it for parts, then abandoned it. Therefore, the battered old melodramatic monster actually seems to benefit from the Jay Scheib multimedia treatment; its louche content and still-tangible sense of authorial neglect make it seem as though it wants to be tossed aside, roughed up, dirtied, burlesqued.
Scheib’s adaptation, Platonov, or The Disinherited, scrambles together existential and erotic angst: Womanizing schoolteacher Platonov (Mikéah Ernest Jennings) has lost his lust for life, even as he careers from wife Sasha (a compelling Ayesha Ngaujah) to lover Anna (glorious Sarita Choudhury) and old flame Sonya (Virginia Newcomb). This summer day, most are drunk, the heat has gotten to everyone, there’s a vague threat of violence in the air. Anna’s Cherry Orchard–esque estate is slipping lazily away from her, and while her vulgar suitor, Porfiry (downtown treasure Tony Torn), would be a practical solution, she can’t quite bring herself to the point of decision.
Scheib and company apply their usual strategies of luxurious disarray, live-edited video (the director backs around onstage, filming and giving murmured instructions) and faux-stumblebum staging mayhem. Caleb Wertenbaker gives the ensemble an astonishing environment—a red-lit sauna, an AstroTurf-floored house and a bedroom stretch under a single dominating, drive-in-sized screen. As ever, the set conceals a great deal; we must peep around the obstructing walls by looking through windows and into mirrors or by waiting for the video feed to show us what lurks behind.
Platonov‘s more instantly pleasurable than some of the group’s other works—Scheib’s company is now thick with anarchic theater creatures and clowns, capable of great humor even as their director jams a camera under their chin. Exempt from the joy are bracketing anachronistic monologues spoken by Laine Rettmer (the first one discusses the Internet bubble and Nirvana), which turn back toward a wooden, anhedonic style—perhaps Scheib’s attempt to frame the play’s juiciness with something icy and nonescapist. Well may he try though, because—jump back, avant-gardeers—there’s a real danger that we could be having an old-fashioned, rollicking good time. It’s still a Jay Scheib joint, so there are deliberate longueurs and desultory pacing that balks at any kind of dramatic propulsion. But Chekhov’s overheated plaintiveness perfectly meshes with the playpen atmosphere, and suddenly there’s no joke too small or silly for the camera or Choudhury to find.
The play and its production do other kind offices for each other: What in Chekhov is a portrait of a postaristocratic class watching its primacy decline becomes a sly commentary on the eternally losing tussle between theater and film. This show’s innovation is a bit of a gimmick: The live-edited video is broadcast to local movie screens à la the Metropolitan Opera in HD. Yet even those of us in the room were looking compulsively at the screen rather than at the actual bodies in front of us. So, wait, who is being disinherited here? Could it be liveness itself that is lost in a nostalgic haze?
Suddenly we imagine theater as a Chekhovian heroine—a self-deluded beauty, spending her favors unthriftily and refusing to see the changes that threaten to make her obsolete. In a certain mood, that could be depressing. But here, with the cast firing guns at each other six to the dozen, it simply seems like one of those marvelous, weary Russian jokes.—Theater review by Helen Shaw