Monday, June 21, 2010

quo vader?

I spent Saturday afternoon with Darth Vader.

That would not be worth mention on any other day.  I long ago discovered the dark side of the force.  That goes a long way toward explaining my choice of profession.

But on Saturday, we were joind by Master Yoda, Chewbacca, and a cast of hundreds.

Well, hundreds with bows in hand, a song on their lips, and control boards galore.

Star Wars in Concert came to Spokane,  And we joined them there.

I could simply link you over to the Concert web page -- and stop there.  But, I won't.  I have some things to say.

Nice things.  And some -- observations.

Last week I wrote that Disney shows are quintessentially American.  Simply not a French idea.  (Of course there was that unfortunate Les Misérables business.)

And this concert is every bit as American as any Disney show.  Full symphonic orchestra.  Chorus.  Lights.  Film clips.  And the music of John Williams.

Music that was revolutionary when the series began.  Symphonic in nature.  Wagnerian in leitmotif.

But it all served one purpose -- to tell a saga that reflected the very nature of the American Dream -- hope, freedom, justice, good triumphing over evil.

Overall, it all worked. 

The music was well-selected.  Covering both the brassy fanfares and subtle string pieces of John Williams.  With narration by Anthony Daniels -- an actor whose voice is far more familiar than his face.  He played C-3P0 in all six films.

The only disappointing part of the trip was the audience.

I thought I had seen some cold audiences in my lifetime.  You have not laughed until you see an elderly Lancashire audience at a pier show.  There are more laughs in a morgue.

Matters were not that bad in Spokane.  But it was close.

Even movie audiences stamp and shout at the first notes of the Star Wars fanfare.  This audience politely clapped.  Young children nervously shuffled during the softer pieces.

Anthony Daniels introduced one piece of music with a story about the young Anikin Skywalker creating a robot by te name of -- [dramatic pause] -- C-3P0.  An obvious applause line.  Met by silence.  You could hear crickets chirping in the back of the arena.

And the arena.  Having good symphonic musicians play in a sports arena is like asking a hockey team to skate in a swimming pool.

And what does this have to do with Mexico?  The concert is passing through the west coast on its way to Canada -- from Mexico City.

I really wish I could have seen the concert there.  The Star Wars series is about as American as entertainment can be.

I wonder how the Mexican audience received it?  After all, the country has it shares of Han Solos -- and Darth Vaders.


Chrissy y Keith said...

I grew up just 80 miles away from Spokane and lived there for 4 years. It is my observation that the audience you encountered was typical. They probably expected more of a visual show rather than sound.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in southeastern Washington, about 150 miles from Spokane, an urban center of the state's eastern side.

It is considered impolite and affected to make oneself the center of attention at any public performance. Stomping, yelling, crying out would simply be appalling behavior by local standards. Or, should I say, it would have been when I was growing up, learning social mores from my Victorian grandmother who had her beginnings in the 19th century.

Rural values were prominent then.


Steve Cotton said...

Chrissy -- It is hard to say what they expected. The people around me just sat -- until the end. [See below.]

ANM -- As I have noted before, you are a person of place. And your rearing is showing. What I do not understand is why people trained in self-effacing behavior will not show emotion during a performance, but will then jump to their feet at the close of the performance in a tumultuous standing ovation. I have several theories. None of which would get be invited to Spokane again. What gives?

Irene said...

Glad to see you changed Hannibal to Han.

Anonymous said...

The end of the performance is the proper moment for the crowd, the entire crowd as an anonymous group, to show its collective appreciation.

Even during this proper moment of showing emotion, there are limits. Someone, say, like you, standing up and conspicuously yelling "Bravo" would be considered a bit much. The locals would think you were trying to put on a European affect, and, thus, make yourself the center of attention, not the performers.

Knowing one's place is very important in such a culture. It is a sign of bad upbringing to try to occupy a place that is not rightly one's own.

You, I fear, would be tagged as not only "too big for his britches," but you would also get tagged as exhibitionist, always drawing attention to yourself. In short, they would not get you.

Come to think of it, they didn't get me either. But I had the good sense to leave, while you, on the other hand, chose to travel to Spokane.


Adrienne on E Street said...

As earlier comments indicate, culture is,perhaps with a capital C, geographical and situational. Some would say Salem, Oregon has no cultural environment, yet we have local live theater that has enthusiastic audiences that show gratitude with maybe too-frequent standing ovations, draw world-class speakers, and have open-air and intimate indoor venues. Enjoy the art for its value to you, and disregard the attitude of others - as my mother used to say "consider the source, and ignore it."

Steve Cotton said...

ANM -- The only problem with your theory is the standing ovation was accompanied by whoops and hollers. What I call rodeo noises. Plenty of attention-calling going on there.

Adrienne -- You are absolutely correct. The only relevant question is whether I enjoyed myself. I did. But I wish we did not have to travel so far to see it.

Anonymous said...

But, Steve, whoops and hollers are what they do on the eastern side of the state -- no effeminate, pseudo-European bravoing.