Heard at SIB:
SIB is, of course, the trade show held in Rimini, Italy every other year. Rimini, I must point out, is the birthplace of Federico Fellini and, in the past, SIB has seemed like an event straight out of one of his films. The show focuses on the club market, which means that the attendees have always included an army of DJs, club kids, models manques, and other unidentifiable types. This year, in its brand-new convention center, SIB has become a tad more mature. The frantic carnival atmosphere has dissipated a bit, to be replaced by a rather more professional atmosphere. Gone are the bubble machines filled with naked people, laser strip shows, sexy models perched on auto hoods, and the notorious sex machine, an adults-only variation on the horse you used to ride outside the dime store. Still, things haven’t calmed down totally—on the last day, there was a man dressed only in red bikini briefs, red body makeup, and an Indian bonnet.
The ribbon cutting at SIB
Anyway, the buzz at the show was determinedly optimistic, with everyone swearing that business has picked up in 2002, with better times to come. In fact, people do seem to be gearing up for increased activity. Both Clay Paky and Martin Professional are building new facilities, while SGM, another Italian moving light manufacturer, is adding on to its headquarters. There are some new faces, as well. Pearl River, the China-based lighting company, is making a bid to become an international player, with the addition of Paul Dodd, who performed the same services for the Italian company f.a.l. And Robe Show Lighting, a Czech company that has performed OEM services for several other well-known names, is now going to sell its own products as well.
Other interesting developments: Martin Professional launched a new lighting control console, the Maxxyz, which is meant to compete with the big boys, such as the Wholehog, the GrandMA, the Obsession, and others. If that happens, it should increase Martin’s already sizable market share…Martin also threw a spectacular dinner party in a sumptuous villa located several miles outside of town…SGM has three new consoles, the Regia Live, Regia Opera, and Regia Pro, which could help give this company, a big international player with a low US profile, more of a presence here…SGM also had a big party at Prince, a local disco; the festivities included Italian freestyle bartending finals competition…Clay Paky’s latest product lineup includes the Stage Profile Plus SV, which has a kicky framing device that allows you to do any number of things….Coemar is going through lots of changes, with Ian Kirby onboard to head up the new Coemar UK and Miami-based Tracoman, renaming itself Coemar US.
The show floor
Also, Programmi e Sistemi Luce, distributed in the US by OmniSistem, has a new followspot that will compete with such companies as Lycian…COEF has a new automated wash light, the MP 700, which should be ready by the fall…Noted LD Luc La Fortune was on hand, speaking about his lighting techniques. His busy schedule includes a new production staged by Deborah Brown, the choreographer who works with Cirque du Soleil…Other projects getting talked about included the upcoming Paul McCartney tour, lit by Roy Bennett (Chain Master is heavily involved in this one, as is High End, with the Catalyst), as well as the Vina del Mar Music Festival in Chile, the work of Pat Henry, who also has another music festival in Acupulco in May…There was, of course, plenty more. For more information, including a look at the latest products, see the next issue of Lighting Dimensions.--David Barbour
Seen and Heard at the Midtown Marriott Marquis: The TDF Irene Sharaff Awards ceremony and reception, featuring costume designer luminaries and the people who love them (and are dressed by them), was held last week. Following greetings from TDF managing director Veronica Claypool and opening remarks from Greg Poplyk of the TDF Costume Collection, the TDF Irene Sharaff Young Master Award was presented to Gregory Gale and the late Jonathan Bixby, whose partnership began over 13 years ago and produced costumes for Broadway's Urinetown, Street Corner Symphony, and the 1994 revival of Hello, Dolly!, as well as countless Off Broadway productions, national tours, and international productions. Playwright, screenwriter, and Drama Dept. artistic director Douglas Carter Beane discussed his collaboration with the designers, laughed about Bixby's irrepressible sense of humor, zinged the Weislers, and presented the award to Gale and to Bixby's sister, who quipped that she would've loved to call her baby brother "Young Master Bixby."
The next award to be presented was the Artisan Award, which went to wigmaster (and 1995 TCI Award winner) Paul Huntley. Huntley, who is currently represented on Broadway by The Producers, Contact, Cabaret, The Crucible, Mamma Mia!, and Noises Off, has also worked in film (Dr. Zhivago, The Nanny, Cleopatra) and on TV. Costume designer Jane Greenwood filled in for actress Irene Worth, who died weeks before the ceremony, as presenter. Joking that she'd be unable to be as funny as Beane, Greenwood went on to regale the audience with stories of Huntley's wig wizardry on such stars as Laurence Olivier, Margaret Lockwood, Bette Davis, Ralph Richardson, Elizabeth Taylor, even Greenwood herself. Then, in what is now a TDF tradition, a film produced by costume designer and TDF Young Master of 1999 Suzy Benzinger highlighted the career of the Posthumous Award winner Cecil Beaton.
Lifetime Achievement Award winner Theoni V. Aldredge was unable to attend the ceremony, so costume designer (and 1998 TDF Irene Sharaff Young Master) Martin Pakledinaz both presented and graciously accepted the award, reading remarks and thanks from Aldredge. Aldredge, who was cited by the TDF as "perhaps the most recognizable name in the costume design business," has won Tonys for Annie, Barnum, and La Cage aux Folles, an Academy Award for The Great Gatsby, and various Drama Desk, Variety Drama Critics, and Maharan Awards. Aldredge was also inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1990.
In addition to the designers and presenters mentioned above, minglers at the cocktail reception afterwards included actresses Dana Ivey and Polly Holliday, performer Charles Busch, and designers Carrie Robbins, Woody Shelp, Desmond Heeley, Gary Jones, and Willa Kim, along many other dignitaries who (unfortunately) went unrecognized by this correspondent. To go to the Costume Collection's website (at the TDF site), which features more info about the winners, click here .--Liz French
Seen Onstage and in the Air: Houston Ballet's new production of Peter Pan, with choreography by Trey McIntyre, sets by Thomas Boyd, costumes by Jeanne Button, and lighting by Christina Giannelli. Houston Ballet continues to produce original works that feature inventive dance and design. Peter Pan was a crowd pleaser, with exciting choreography that not only eschewed the extensive miming typical of most story ballets but also incorporated graceful flying sequences involving fanciful corkscrewing pirouettes. McIntyre wrote the libretto based on the novella by James M. Barrie, and his goal was to present a story that was both comical and sinister, à la Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. Look for the full story on EntertainmentDesignMag.com in May and in Lighting Dimensions magazine in June. In the meantime, check out The Houston Chronicle's comprehensive production coverage, which includes video and audio clips and design sketches.
Seen and Heard and Vibed On: Urban Tap at the Joyce Theatre, an evening of tap, break dance, capoeira, third-world and Western instruments, exotic vocals, and live video mixing by a multicultural troupe from Haiti, India, Brazil, Tunisia, and even the wilds of French Canada, Philadelphia, and California. French Guiana native Tamango is the weaver of this tapestry (if you'll pardon the expression). He moved to Paris as a child, formally trained in art, and began tap dancing in his early 20s. Over the years he has gathered this caravan of performers who jam and improv and "vibe on" each other, creating what has been described as a kind of Cirque du Soleil-cum-Voodoo ritual. Enhancing the atmosphere of the performance is colorful lighting by Michael Mazzola (with associate LD Susan Hamburger) and layered video effects by Jean "Naj" de Boysson. There are several small video cameras mounted on the mic stands around the stage, plus handheld vid cams and pre-recorded video clips that Naj mixes, manipulates, and multiplies into a kinetic kaleidoscope across the screen that spans the back of the stage. World peace through global dance-music-video fusion. Vibe on, Tamango.--Amy L. Slingerland
Seen at the Movies: With the 2001 Oscars finally out of the way, we can all ignore Hollywood for a few months. Fortunately, 2002 has so far brought several richly rewarding foreign films to American theatres. First came Alfonso Cuaron's Y tu Mama Tambien, now comes a very different sort of road movie from France--Laurent Cantet's Time Out. Very loosely inspired by the true story of an unemployed family man who masqueraded for decades as a World Health Organization worker, the film painstakingly places the viewer inside the experience of the jobless middle-aged protagonist (French stage actor Aurelien Recoing) as he spends his days driving the scenic highways around the French-Swiss border, cooking up illicit schemes to bring in money, and perversely enjoying his solitude. Pierre Milon's cinematography matches the hushed, contemplative quality of the music and of the film itself. We keep catching reflections of Recoing's strangely content visage in car windshields, in glass office building doors, and wonder: has the character found a resolution to the ambivalent feelings so many of us feel about work?
I think Cantet's film is a masterpiece; not so Michael Haneke's The Piano Teacher, another French-lingo movie to open in New York today, though it's something to see. Isabelle Huppert, winner of the Best Actress Award at Cannes, stars as a Vienna music conservatory instructor who puts on a good show of sexual repression when she's not prowling porn shops and drive-in movies (to spy on lovemaking couples) or indulging in genital mutilation. Oh, and did I mention that she shares a bed with her possessive mother (Annie Girardot), even though their flat seems perfectly spacious? The teacher eventually comes unglued under the romantic ministrations of a young student (Benoit Magimel, also a winner at Cannes), whose notions of courtship don't necessarily involve razors as sex toys. Haneke is a real cool customer--a detached observer one might call a scholar of exploitation, but he keeps you watching. The appropriately sterile cinematography and production design are by Christian Berger and Christoph Kanter.--John Calhoun