17 October 2011

Much Ado About Nothing

I had the choice this past evening of going to the movies or to the theater. At the former I might have seen Moneyball with Brad Pitt or The Ides of March with George Clooney.  The former had received very good reviews and I enjoy Brad Pitt’s acting: I was not averse to paying my money down. The latter film received only tepid reviews, but I have great respect for Clooney’s engagement in politics and his willingness to address issues of some public concern (albeit somewhat sanitized for public consumption), and so I was not averse to paying my money down.
On the same evening, the Guthrie Theater was performing Seamus Henry’s The Burial at Thebes, a retelling of the story of Antigone, and Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Since neither play was sold-out (a eventuality of rare occurrence out here in the mid-West, I am happy to say) rush tickets were available. I could see either play for half-price.
What to do?
I have always adored the movies; for a period of my life I saw at least two movies each week. I am always happy in the movie theater, sitting in the dark staring up at the big screen envelope my images and sound. I am, however, appalled at the absurd incomes of these actors. Whatever they are doing it is not worth the millions and millions of dollars they earn from each project to which they sign contracts. I am also weary of the cult of celebrity that occupies the news, print media and television fare. Years ago I stopped watching sports events because the players were absurdly overpaid and I resented their compensation packages given the nature of their occupation. I could no longer rationalize my support of this system. And so, last night I opted for the theater where I know the actors are paid not much better (if better at all) than those in the teaching profession. And Much Ado About Nothing proved to be the perfect choice for the evening:  Shakespeare’s play is superb, and better than I remembered, the acting was excellent, and the staging and design competent and beautiful.  I left the theater satisfied and inspired. I had spent the evening not with people who peopled People magazine, but with those who thought better of meand maybe even of themselves. I did not feel exploited, a safety that I discovered is rare these days when I venture out into the public world.


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