Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, May 31, 2021

I liked the design of this subway poster for the upcoming season of Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of “Hamlet” paired with the hippie-musical “Hair” so much that I snapped a cameraphone photo of it. Apologies for the middling-to-poor quality; I tried to find a cleaner version online, but no such luck.

What I like best about it, outside of the mock-industrial print design, is the deft visual method of combining two very different stage plays. The image of the skull is instantly associative with “Hamlet” thanks to the famous “alas poor Yorick” scene, while the wavy green lines added along the top of the cranium subtly suggest “hair”. Viola, a mohawked Yorick to define a summer of outdoor theater!

Works for me, anyway.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/31/2008 06:52:19 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative, New Yorkin'
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cross-cutThat wacky Robert Olen Butler is at it again. To follow up “Severance”, an offbeat short story collection about celebrity decapitations, he follows the same critical-thought motif with “Intercourse”, a collection that deals with a decidedly different experience:

The keynote of Intercourse is not connection but distraction. Very few of Butler’s characters are what you would call “in the moment.” Many scheme for political gain: Cleopatra, for instance, services “stone-fingered” Marcus Antonius while remembering hot nights with Caesar and plotting the consolidation of her power—“the first thing I will ask of him is that he kill my sister.” Others see sex as redemptive, a chance to heal past abuses. A Mississippi slave sleeps with a fellow slave in order to cancel out her rape at the hands of the Master; the sixteenth-century Italian aristocrat Lucrezia Borgia sees the consummation of her marriage as a way to negate being raped by her father, the pope. Butler’s best vignettes create, in just a handful of lines, surprisingly rich dramatic texture. Mary Magdalene has sex with a Roman centurion under a fig tree on the day she first sees Jesus; she thinks of the mysterious holy stranger as the centurion ponders his first murder, which he committed earlier that day. Leda is insulted that Zeus, as a swan, stopped to eat barley on his way to meet her.

And it’s not just long-ago historical figures who get the stream-of-coital-consciousness treatment. Among the fictionalized contemporary couplings are Princess Diana and Prince Charles, Bill Clinton and Hillary Diane Rodham, and (what sounds like my favorite) Santa Claus and a workshop elf named Ingebirgitta. Ho ho, ho.

The early review of this book indicates that Butler fell into the same trap as he did with “Severance”, in that the thoughts emanating from the famous characters’ heads are cliche-ridden, due to the impulse to provide a full narrative context in what’s supposed to be an isolated moment. Doesn’t mean I won’t pick it up, although I’ll likely wait for the paperback to come out.

Perhaps not surprisingly, but disappointing nonetheless, Butler passed on a chance to include the much-publicized hookup of his ex-wife and Ted Turner. I think it would have provided a nice piece of revenge, even if it would have hit a bit too close to home.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/31/2008 06:27:56 PM
Category: Creative, Publishing
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