My first semester at school is coming to a close this week. I finished up a lot of classes yesterday, but still have one major assignment to finish up by Friday. Yesterday was one of the longest school days I've ever had. An important thing to note about classes at CalArts is that while there is a schedule in place, it's open to interpretation. Classes usually run over, and as long as you don't have another class to get to, students and professors are amenable to staying longer. On rare occasions, classes meet earlier than scheduled too. This happened yesterday in my Performance By Design class, where the class met at 6:30am (instead of 8am) to participate in a final group project that involved watching the sunrise. Class finished up just before noon. It was a very enjoyable piece, and I am absolutely glad I didn't miss it, but Monday is a full day of class. In total I had about 16 hours of class yesterday.
The final assignment I have left to work on is my paper project for Richard III. I've been attempting to get some of my plot done over the last few days, but I have been hitting a road block. It's kind of like writer's block. The funny thing about writers block is that writers usually write a ton, they just aren't happy with their end product. I'm kind of in the same boat. I keep plotting lights and systems, but I question if they are what I want in my design. It has been a little frustrating, but my goal is to get over this today. This is the only thing left I have to do this week, so I think being able to finally focus will help me a lot.
In other news, I had the pleasure of a very full day of theatre on Saturday. I went and saw the show my fellow LD designed, Franz Kafka's The Castle. It was a pretty weird show to say the least. I also ended up going to the afternoon matinee of Ray Charles Live! in Pasadena. It was enjoyable to see a new musical followed by a play.
Don designed the show, and my class was lucky enough last to get a tour of the set before the show opened. We spent the time going over the rig for the show with the board op and checking out the moving lights. It was nice to see and discuss the ideas for the show before watching it.
Watching Ray was an interesting experience because the musical is based on his life, but also on the movie Ray. The setting is vaguely situated in a recording studio with a live band in the background. Ray is recording his “live” album, and invites members from his past to record tracks on the album to help tell his life story. From there we go into flashbacks of Ray growing up and how music, drugs and women affected his life. It was presented very theatrically, but I was sort of bored with the story considering it was a musical. When I compare it to other musicals based on artists like We Will Rock You, Mama Mia, Movin' Out and Buddy Holly, it's not some magical exploration of an artist's music. Yes, I agree, some of these other shows are completely outlandish and over the top, but they are creative and have a lot of spectacle, which makes them enjoyable. Ray is a bit different; it's really just a biography of his life. I don't think that makes the piece unworthy of being performed, it's just not what I consider the typical musical based on a performers life. Buddy Holly is the only other musical that I think might fall into this category. But I remember when I went to that show expecting it to be more like a live rock N' roll show. Ray Charles Live! certainly has this element, but only to a certain extent. If you're in the area though, check the show out and make your own judgments about it though. It closes right before Christmas.