Filling the Gap: Theater Stories from the Mountains and the Plains

May 29th, 2013 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

By Denise Tessier

One of the comments  left on my colleague Arthur Alpert’s excellent post on the Journal cutting its theater coverage suggested that:

The (New Mexico) Compass or the (Weekly) Alibi could step into the vacuum by adding and increasing theater coverage with well written previews and reviews, and pick up readers in the process.

As an East Mountain resident and regular reader of The Independent in Edgewood, I would direct those interested in theater reviews to the Mountain Musing column by Wally Gordon, which lately has carried theater stories with regularity.

In his column, “Theater Scene is Growing,” published earlier this month, Gordon (who long ago worked for the Albuquerque Journal and who founded the Independent) echoed Alpert’s recommendation of Talkin’ Broadway, writing that:

. . .the best outlet for Albuquerque theatrical views is a New York outfit, Talkin’ Broadway (which I have agreed to join as a critic). It covers not only New York happenings, but also theater in 20 regional cities, including Albuquerque.

Sure enough, while Gordon has had reviews in the Independent quite often recently, he posted one on Talkin’ Broadway May 20 about “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress,” a production of the Duke City Repertory Company.

No longer saddled with the day-to-day details of ownership at the paper, Gordon continued his column by popular demand after selling the paper to staff members.

Last month, he also mused about “56 Up,” the latest in a series of films started in 1963 that looks into the lives of a group of Britons every so many years; it had recently played at Albuquerque’s Guild Theater. As a frequent film viewer, one part that lingered after reading “’56 Up’ – Life is for living,” was Gordon’s clear comparison of American and foreign films:

In American movie dramas, there is almost always an epiphany and a dramatic climax. Events lead toward a well-rounded conclusion, a finality, a true end.

In French and many other European films, by contrast, the emphasis at the conclusion is often not that something has ended but that life goes on. Just as the Victorian novel often ended with a marriage, as if that was the destination and rationale of life, so American films often conclude with one of the three D’s – death, divorce or disease.

But the French don’t seem to believe in endings. Yes, life changes us. Yes, we endure trauma. But after the trauma changes us, we, our lovers, our families, our communities and our nation endure.

Once when I was living in Arica, an African told me, “You Americans believe life is good or bad. We Africans know it just is.”

Also worth noting is Gordon’s May 15 story about an actual theater – and its visionary architect. “Paoli (sic) Soleri Amphitheater – monument to a dream” was prompted by the death of Paolo Soleri, who had died in April in Arizona at the age of 93. Gordon listed the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater in Santa Fe along with the Eiffel Tower as two rare examples of an architectural structure bearing the name of its creator, rather than of an owner, function or location.

After serving more than four decades as a concert and event venue in Santa Fe, and considering that the Paolo Soleri is still under threat of demolition by the Santa Fe Indian School, which owns the property, it would seem that a story about Soleri’s death would have been carried by the state’s leading newspaper, the Albuquerque Journal. But it was only carried in Journal North.

Gordon’s columns may be accessed online a week after publication by going to The Independent archives and scrolling through the pdf of the paper to his column, usually around Page 6, or by going directly to his columns at the Mountain Musing archives.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • Arthur Alpert

    Denise, thanks for following up.
    FYI, since the Albuquerque Theatre Guild made its protest, the Journal has run a lot of theater stuff in the Sunday Arts section; and ATG sent the editors a “thank you.”
    Also, I’d made the point that Albuquerque theater affects the local economy positively, which should help the Journal long-term. A few days ago,when a friend and I dined in Old Town before catching “The Producers” at ALT, the waiter explained how the restaurant’s business waxed and waned with shows at UNM, ALT and elsewhere.
    There really is a local theater/business nexus.
    Arthur Alpert

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